WILL THE REAL SAM ALLBERRY PLEASE STAND UP?
by Rev Thomas Littleton
In recent months leading up to Revoice 2019 (which took place this past week) the Southern Baptist media machine was in full swing to KEEP Revoice 2019 out of the news. The efforts of some in the PCA to address and condemn the “LGBT+ Flourishing” conference from 2018 have made recent denominational headlines and been the topic of multiple blogs . But the SBC regulars like Denny Burk and Albert Mohler have had nothing to say about this years event and its SBC ties even though TGC and SBC thought leader on LGBT sexuality and gender Mark Yarhouse was a keynote speaker at Revoice 2019.
A series of articles by anti -social justice /Dallas Statement leader Tom Buck served to focus attentions on part of the LGBT+ problem in the SBC by turning the spotlight on Sam Allberry and his UK based ministry “Living Out”. At issue were some 6 year old articles posted on the Living Out website. Much of the deeper controversy on Allberrys ministry were left out of the discussion. Hardly a peep was being spoken about the current and ongoing controversy of Revoice 2019 and its considerable ties to the ERLC/ TGC/ and Albert Mohler’s SBTS or that SBC/TGC favorite Mark Yarhouse spoke at Revoice 2019.
(From the Revoice social media Mark Yarhouse speaking at Revoice 2019 )
The Buck / Allberry skirmish launched a TGC interview between Allberry and 9MARKS editor Jonathan Leeman. Tensions calmed after a contrite Allberry agreed to “audit the Living Out website” . However no mention was made of the Living Out “LGBTQ+Inclusion Audit ” for churches or that Leeman’s ( and Mark Dever) own 9MARKS churches began to implement the Living Out training and audit in the Fall of 2018. All was nicely smoothed over and even Tom Buck tweeted out his deep appreciation of his brother Allberry and expressing thankfulness for his ministry. The sad reality in the SBC is that a major pro LGBTQ+ movement is thriving in our midst and those in leadership are either playing DODGEBALL or SOFTBALL with it. This reality may set in far too late to stop the movement.
So let us take a look at who introduced Sam Allberry to the people of the SBC and how he became a TGC editor .
(This article is a portion of a chapter in the forthcoming book “Social Injustice” available http://www.gatekeepersonline.com/socialinjusticebook . You may preorder the book now. Type is the code Thomas for a free audiobook )
WILL THE REAL SAM ALLBERRY PLEASE STAND UP :THE ALLBERRY LIVING OUT ORIGINS AND INTRODUCTION
The ERLC conference on The Gospel Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage introduced a host of new speakers to the SBC in 2014 all claiming to be
‘same-sex attracted (SSA), but celibate’ Christians. (some professed to be in mixed orientation marriages- homosexual married to a heterosexual––yes dizzying by design). Though not advocating FOR gay marriage or approval of active gays in the church, these
speakers represented a chorus who would begin with the SSA language, and in time,
advocate openly for singles adoption and foster care supported by the church. By 2018,
the SSA talking points would include open attacks on the nuclear family as an “idol” and
brazenly deny that heterosexuality is normal or should be the object of a believer in their future identity.
The “idolatry of family” language comes straight from the halls of Drew University Theological School and feminist theologian, Janet Fishburn. The attack on
the Christian family is driven by political goals seeking the eventual outcome of
weakening and destroying the incubator of Christian conservatism in American culture,
which hinders the advance of progressive causes like the feminist agenda.
Among the herd of SSA speakers introduced at the 2014 ERLC conference was
the soon to be rising star, Sam Allberry––a self-proclaimed SSA gay priest from the
Church of England. The British Parliament had redefined marriage in the UK by a 2013
decision. The Queen had signed gay marriage into law and 2014 witnessed its
implementation. The Church of England, being a state Church where the Bishops have
seats in the House of Lords and the Queen is the head of the Church, required
compliance to and embracement of the law of the land.
The Church of England has very small weekly attendance. By 2017, the number
of actual weekly attendees was below 725,000 out of a population of 67 million.
Numbers continue to decline rapidly, and fears are increasing among church leaders
that forcing gay marriage on the church may cause an even more rapid decline. The
response was to call for a report or study, and the task was assigned to Sir Joseph
Pilling a retired agent of the British Department of Health. The end goal of the effort was
to address the issue of the acceptance of gay marriage in the Church of England. From
the Pilling Report came a recommendation two year facilitated “conversation” (in other
words, a controlled dialogue or dialectic) on the issues of homosexuality and marriage.
This “dialogue” was to be carried on by selected leaders and controlled by the church
and conducted in various locations around the UK. Part of what arose as representing
the “historic, conservative” view of marriage and sexuality was a ministry called Living
Out, which was founded by an assortment of same-sex attracted, gay, Church of
England priests. One of those priests was Sam Allberry.
Operating from the position of fixed sexual orientation, and resourcing the same
psychological community researchers and leaders like Mark Yarhouse and Stanton
Jones, Living Out conducts conferences across the UK using various approaches and
nuanced language. For example, though the front page of the website states halfway
down that they prefer to use the label ‘same-sex attracted’ instead of the phrase ‘gay
Christian,’ the opening paragraph on the site states, “We are a group of Christians who
experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas
that gay Christians can often face.”
Living Out leaders, including Allberry, have enjoyed massive promotion and
acceptance as the go-to source for issues related to LGBT+ in the Church of England.
This is despite the often self-contradicting and nuanced language which often confuses
readers and listeners. Allberry’s book, “Is God Anti-Gay?” became a hit among
evangelicals leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Living Out––though left on center by
promoting fixed homosexual orientation, and not historically biblical at all––became the
new “conservative/biblical response to homosexuality and marriage” in the Pilling
Report conversations. To date, the members of Living Out remain publicly opposed to
gay marriage, yet push for narratives of inclusion and ordination in the name of celibacy
or “mixed orientation marriage” adherents by LGBT+ members of the church and clergy.
Allberry and others from Living Out were invited to speak in the 2014 ERLC
conference in the US and soon became very popular with The Gospel Coalition (TGC)
as writers and speakers in TGC conferences. Allberry became an editor on LGBT
related issues for TGC, and writes and speaks for ERLC and Russell Moore––the
advocate for change in the US conversation on LGBT-related topics. Allberry also went
to work for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries as a speaker and writer. These
positions placed Allberry and Living Out at the very heart of the LGBT and marriage
issues, providing “answers” which is actually driven by a politically motivated order of
Parliament in the UK for a State-owned Church of England. This reality, and how it
relates to the church in the US, where the two are separated in order to protect religious
freedoms guaranteed in the US Constitution, has thus far failed to become part of the
serious questions that have arisen as a result of the Living Out advocacy for SSA
Couples living together, singles adoption, and church “hospitality” toward the LGBT+
community, taking several years to come to the full attention of more conservative
By 2019, though, it has come under scrutiny and objections have finally
been raised. Allberry had also been joined on the TGC/ERLC conference circuit by
others like Rosaria Butterfield, who is billed as a pastor’s wife and homeschool mom,
and is also a former lesbian and liberal academic whose specialty is in critical theory
and queer theory and literature informed by Freud, Marx, and Darwin. At present, over a dozen people with a variety of backgrounds and “testimonies” have been employed by
TGC and ERLC to further the SSA—celibate—LGBT narrative in the biblically
conservative US denominations churches, seminaries, and parachurch movements.
The great common uniting factor is the embrace of fixed sexual orientation and the
ever-present influence of Mark Yarhouse, and American Psychological Association
(APA) compliant “Christian psychology.”
A Turning Point for Allberry and Living Out
Allberry, and to a lesser degree, Living Out and others in the SSA narrative, have
enjoyed unfettered access and unquestioned influence in the US churches. The various
Reformed movements and parachurch organizations like TGC and ‘Together For the
Gospel’ (T4G) have shown an insatiable appetite for the SSA talking points and every
nuanced variation and application of them. This changed in spring of 2018.
Allberry, Living Out, and Yarhouse Get Too Close to the Fire
The TGC and ERLC conference on racial relations and the Martin Luther King, Jr
legacy in Memphis TN was the beginning of the end for unquestioned allegiance to
those two organization by many. The accusations of “white privilege” and that “southern
Christians worship Jim Crow as Jesus,” along with efforts to validate the poor theology
of MLK, sent shockwaves through the evangelical community and gave rise to concerns
leading to loud objections and statements of descent like the “Dallas Statement.” Within
days of this controversy came public the knowledge that Sam Allberry and Living Out
were promoting TGC co-founder, Tim Keller, speaking in London on LGBT identity, and
“for their US audience” they promoted the radical “Revoice Conference.” Revoice, to be
held in St Louis, MO in July, was/is openly “promoting LGBT+ thriving in historic
Christian tradition.” Many of the younger TGC LGBT protégé writers and multiple ERLC/
TGC/ PCA members were either promoting and/or speaking at the Revoice event. This
included Living Out partner Wesley Hill, and fellow Keller-progressive PCA leader, Scott
The promotion by Living Out and Allberry of Revoice became even more
disturbing as Revoice rolled out its full line of workshops and speakers. These included
gay Catholic activists and multiple gay campus ministry leaders clearly under the
influence of TGC–Carson–Christ of Campus Initiative–Yarhouse white paper from 2010.
Mark Yarhouse, who openly embraced Revoice 2019 when he became a speaker for
the second year’s event, was behind the scenes promoting and defending the inaugural
event on social media along with Allberry and Living Out. Revoice workshops and
speakers aggressively advocate for LGBT+ Christianity and Queer Christianity while
promoting the “treasures of Queer Literature, Queer Culture, and Queer Theory in the
church and in the New Jerusalem.” These realities, along with Revoice advocacy for the
church to “embrace the LGBT+ community at large” led to an awakening from a six year
SSA conversational stupor to the realization that on the back of nuanced language and
SSA–celibacy, LGBT+ Queer Christianity is now inside the camp of conservative
evangelical Christianity in America, and the players listed in this writing have had key
roles in bringing this reality to pass.
A lessor known fact is that Revoice founder, Nate Collins, is a disciple of TGC,
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), and Southern Baptist leader, Albert
Mohler. Collins spent nearly 15 years as a student, student leader, and later, teacher of
the New Testament at SBTS. ERLC’s Russell Moore is also an Albert Mohler disciple,
having spent over 20 years at SBTS before ascending the ERLC position and seeking
to alter Southern Baptist views on welcoming LGBT. It’s also important to note that
several ERLC council members and contributors openly endorsed Revoice.
Mohler disciples like Denny Burk and Owen Strachan of Council for Biblical
Manhood and Womanhood wrote articles of semi-support through a “wait and see”
attitude toward the event. In actuality, these same circles of men had presented and
discussed these “Revoice”-advocated ideas when presenting academic papers at the
annual Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) events since at least 2013. Mohler made
several attempts at giving the radical event the benefit of the doubt, but never
mentioned the name of his disciple, SBTS Nate Collins, who was still teaching New
Testament at Mohler’s seminary when the Revoice event was founded. Mohler
remained silent about Collins in his multiple public statements and writings until an
August 2nd, 2018 article just after the Revoice July event. In this final critical article,
Collins is named nine times, but his SBTS ties are NEVER mentioned by Mohler.
Revoice is now established as a 501(c)(3), and remains as a movement with ties that go
deep within both the SBC and PCA denominations and their flagship seminaries, SBTS
Revoice 2019 is being given deep cover by the mainstream press with
virtually no coverage of the event at all, in spite of its ever-deepening radical narratives.
Sam Allberry and Living Out, in June meetings with TGC’s Tim Keller, had
introduced a Church LGBT+ Inclusion Audit including the word “Biblical” to assert that
churches needed to be put to the test with a ten point set of statements to be marked by
congregations as “true, false, (or) not sure.” The audit was praised in the June meetings
with Keller by his wife Cathy, who endorsed it and insisted she was making copies and
taking them back to use at Redeemer, the Keller’s NYC based congregation. Living Out
did not go public with the audit in featured media outside the conference until August,
after the Revoice conference was done and controversies were hopefully dying down
related to it.
The audit began to be implemented in the UK almost immediately, and by
September 2018, were being welcomed into three 9MARKS churches in the US. One of
these churches was the high profile Southern Baptist congregation of TGC leader and
9MARKS founder, SBC pastor Mark Dever. The audit at this point called for Christians
in compliant churches to be willing to “share their children with [clearly implied] LGBT
people.” It also called for policing pulpits, private conversations and even thoughts of
congregants for discussions and attitudes deemed inappropriate, and for the hiring of
Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend, along with this writer, began to expose
the Living Out / Allberry “Church LGBT Inclusion Audit.” Others in Christian media
followed, exposing the controversial and arrogant ‘putting churches to the test’ audit.
The most controversial “sharing children” statement in number nine of the audit was
changed to read “share family time,” and Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist SBC church
was removed from the Living Out website. 9MARKS pastor and ERLC Council member
and ‘Dever-protégé,’ Garrett Kell, and his SBC church Del Ray Baptist, continued to be
listed as the host of the LGBT inclusion training and audit implementation. Allberry continued speaking on the topic of sharing children in the fall of 2018, as part of the
ERLC “Cross Shaped Family Conference,” and echoed the controversial talking points
of Revoice by decrying the “idolatry of the nuclear family” by the church. This language
is taken directly from the feminist theologian Janet Fishburn, of Drew University Divinity
School, and her 1991 book by the same title. Little had actually changed except a slight
shuffle on the Living Out website.
The labeling of traditional and Christian biblical views as an idol is a cultural Marxist approach to destroying the foundations of society and taking over the primary institution where values, convictions, and character are shaped.
In the case of the feminist theologian, Fishburn, the political motivations are glaringly
displayed, as well as her advocating for replacing the nuclear family with the
communitarian vision of the church as family, as long as that church is not stuck in
Christian principles from the Victorian era, and resistant to progressive political
movements advocating for the causes of “race, feminist and gay rights.” Sound familiar?
ERLC’s Russell Moore, in his book which provided the theme for the ERLC 2018 Family
Conference, shares the family “replacement” ideology and echoes much of the Fishburn
message and progressive political talking points.
Allberry appeared to be getting some much needed scrutiny in the SBC from
Texas pastor Tom Buck in the spring of 2019. Buck wrote several articles on
controversial topics related to LGBT and SSA-but-celibate “couples” on the Living Out
website. There were several problems with the Buck approach, however. For one, the
articles mentioned in the criticisms had been posted on the Living Out website, as
confirmed by Allberry, for over six years. Why were leaders in the SBC only becoming
concerned about them now? Buck, who is part of the anti-social justice Dallas
Statement, also did not delve into the core of the SSA issues related to their origins in
the APA and Yarhouse. In fact, at least one of the articles from the Living Out website
cited Mark Yarhouse (who will be a keynote speaker at Revoice 2019) and his research
with Stanton Jones of Wheaton as a primary source. The issue of “orientation” was left
to continue to dislodge the Christian community from the LGBT “conversation” from
being anchored soundly in and confined to biblical context. Mohler, Keller, Moore and
TGC remain successful in keeping the view that LGBT+ orientation is fixed and is a
viable Christian view.
The controversial Living Out articles in question in the Tom Buck writings were
taken down. Buck had a nice conversation with a “humble” Allberry, and in a social
media post, declared him a valued brother in Christ. The importance of this compromise
was Buck’s role in The Dallas Statement, one of the most public efforts thus far
opposing the Social Justice movement.
In the midst of the Allberry “controversy,” and while Revoice 2019 was coming
public with its event details with virtually zero mention, TGC and 9MARKS Jonathan
Leeman interviewed Sam Allberry at Midwestern Seminary during the TGC 2019 mini
conference. Both men are editors––Leeman for 9MARKS, and Allberry for TGC. Both
work with ERLC and Russell Moore, and both are very skilled wordsmiths. In this
interview, Allberry shifts from the use of the term “orientation,” saying “it is no longer
working for us now.” He and Leeman then retreat to the biblical term “temptation” when
framing the conversation on SSA and homosexuality among professing Christians.
The effort to further explain the articles on the Living Out website and the Tom
Buck criticism is used to advance what is to be taken as a spontaneous conversation
where Allberry shows contrition, agrees to “audit the Living Out website” and offers up
humility while explaining his positions. Even as this effort to rehabilitate their image is
taking place, Allberry is able to find himself in even more controversial comments after
asserting once again that his homosexual desire is not in itself sinful, and that replacing
it with heterosexual desire and “lust” is not his goal, nor that of the gospel. Allberry is
asserting that the SSA desires in the hearts of himself and others (which even identify
them and their faith) do not hinder their pursuit of holiness. This assertion and
the attack on heterosexuality as normal are totally in the face of Jesus’ own warnings
against “looking to lust,” Matthew 5:28, and in James’ clear warning that the desire of
the heart is the seedbed for sin and death, James 1:12-15. The irony is that Leeman
and Allberry, for the moment, abandon the APA/Yarhouse “homosexual orientation”
framework, and use the biblical term ‘temptation,’ while in the very same discussion fail
to recognize or acknowledge the truth about temptation and the desire (in this case SSA
desire) which James addresses.
It should be noted also that both Revoice and Living Out Allberry are presently attempting to give historic context and validation to their LGBT+ Christianity narrative by tagging onto the legacy of John Stott. Stott is a favorite of TGC when promoting their social justice narrative, and is one of Tim Keller’s mentors.
Some have even dubbed Keller the ‘new Stott.’ Much of the SSA language, again, as
noted, was launched in the 2010 Lausanne South Africa meetings, where Keller was the
It should also be noted that at the SBC annual meetings in Dallas, Texas, and
several other such Leeman and Allberry conversations, that we also find Leeman and
his boss, TGC leader Mark Dever, discussing Leeman’s new book advocating “third
way” politics. In the interview, these Baptist leaders are attempting to nuance language
over Christian opposition to abortion relating to Christian voting habits. Jonathan
Leeman is a graduate of the London School of Economics, which was founded by a
Fabian socialist, and is an epicenter of global progressivism. Dever revealed this fact in
the SBC interview, while Leeman’s 9MARKS bio makes no mention of it. Leeman does
mention that he served in DC as an editor for a global economics magazine, but refuses
to name the publication when asked multiple times. These public discussions are given
the appearance of men thinking through complex topics in public view. They are meant
to appear spontaneous and contemplative, when in fact, far more background should be
considered before taking any such conversations about Christians’ political convictions,
voting habits, or views on LGBT+ at face value. We must ask, “who are these people,
and what goals are they actually pursuing?”
The Unseen Layer Behind the LGBT+ Christian Conversation: Money – Money –
Money – Money – M – O – N – E – Y
In 2014, a secular political activist organization or “LGBT equality”–the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC)–launched the faith focused, “Project One America,” (POA). The
“project” focused on three southern states: Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama. Though
part of a larger broad “faith” focus, POA mainly directed their attention on evangelical
denominations that do not affirm homosexuality and equality. Funding came for this
project from an unannounced source, but totaled over 8.5 million dollars. In April, 2014,
HRC brought this project to Birmingham and the state of Alabama. In this same effort,
HRC organized and opened their politically focused operations with the Alabama State
HRC chapter. Southern Baptist, PCA, and other conservative churches of note were
targeted for infiltration, being “put to the test” for inclusion. HRC then went from these
faith efforts with guaranteed meetings with ERLC and conservative Christian leadership,
to the fall of that year being welcomed into the ERLC/Russell Moore conference spoken
about previously. By 2017, HRC boasted that this Project One America budget for 2018
alone was over $26 million for one year. How much of that funding went into
cooperating entities and individual efforts by hands inside evangelicalism is not known.