It was great for the Solas team to be back in Forres Baptist Church for a follow-up Confident Christianity event, focussing on the controversial subjects of sexuality, gender and the gospel. These are topics which are important for many reasons and which the church has not always been good at responding to, or talking about. For a start, there are many LGBTQ+ people who believe that gospel and the church is not for them – whereas the welcoming, gracious message of Jesus is for everyone. Then there are folks who will push-back against the gospel because the ethical standards taught in the Bible are so at odds with so much of contemporary western culture. The question we looked at together was, how we can share the Bible’s message with both grace and truth.
Our guide through these complex and sensitive subjects was Dr Ben Thomas, who came up from Oxford to speak. Ben has spent many years researching issues of the Bible, the gospel and sexuality, and has come to orthodox/traditional conclusions which he has lived out himself. He spoke with great sensitivity, making it clear that while discipleship is a challenging thing for all of us, God’s grace in Christ is the very best thing for any of us to experience.
In his first session, Ben shared his testimony and then looked at issues of sexuality. In particular he focussed on the Bible’s view of sex, and how we can share the gospel faithfully and wisely with LGBTQ+ friends, family members and colleagues. The second session was more complex, as Ben navigated the issues of gender and gender identity. His guide through the current terminology in these debates was very helpful and insightful. What shone through these sessions was that God’s transforming grace is what everyone needs, regardless of their identity in any aspect of their lives. The gospel of Christ is indeed good news for everyone!
Jon Mackenzie, pastor at Forres wrote:
“It was great to welcome Dr Ben Thomas and Gavin Matthews up to Forres to hold an evening Solas event with controversial subjects! We spent the night looking at how to share the gospel with LGBTQ+ people and how to approach transgender issues which are becoming more frequent in our churches. It was a very welcoming and informative night with a Q&A session that could have run on past midnight! This Solas event was a superb way for us to tackle difficult subjects with clear biblical guidance, open discussion and lots of useful information. This is the second Solas event we have run as a Church and they have drawn a lot of interest from our fellowship and others, and we look forward to running more in the future.”
In John’s gospel he described Jesus coming into the world like this: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Grace and truth were abundantly evident in Ben’s really helpful guide through these sensitive subjects in Forres. Holding firmly to to biblical truth but also commending the gracious, transforming gospel of Christ, which promotes human flourishing on the other – was the hallmark both of the talks and the Q&A session at the end. There were many really insightful and helpful contributions from the floor – which were hugely appreciated by all.