Jeff Iorg Blog


Equal Dignity

Jun 29 2015

            The Supreme Court has discovered “equal dignity” in the Constitution.  It was an amazing bit of detective work, uncovering something hidden for about 240 years.  Now that equal dignity has been cited to grant gays and lesbians the legal right to same sex marriage, it will be interesting to see who comes forward next demanding equal dignity.

            What is being overlooked in the current decision is it only applies to the L and G in the LGBT acronym.  Lesbians and gays are now recognized as a protected class, given rights based on the assumption their sexual orientation is genetic and its expression is protected behavior.  When will the “B’s” in the acronym get the same recognition by the Court?

The B’s are bisexuals, meaning their sexual orientation is toward both men and women.  Following the same logic just used by the Court, bisexuals should come forward soon and demand plural marriage.  The polygamists, not currently part of the alphabet acronym describing sexual identity, should support them wholeheartedly.  Again, following the reasoning of the Court, these groups have a valid case for further redefining marriage to assure their “equal dignity.”

There is no question legalizing same sex marriage is a crescendo moment in American history.  Only naïve people believe this crested wave will now ebb, that this was all the LGBT community really wanted.  It’s only the first wave, with many more social changes on the way.  People who choose to advocate biblical morality and traditional marriage are in for some serious challenges in the next few years.

Over the weekend, media repeatedly referred to us as “right wing extremists.”  That’s an interesting label.  Until last Friday, we represented the same position held by the Church for centuries and U. S. law since our country’s founding.  In two generations, we have moved from community pillars supporting moral standards to extremists threatening the newly established social order.

We have also been accused of being “on the wrong side of history.”  Every society that has abandoned moral standards has declined precipitously or disappeared from history.  It’s hard to believe our culture can be so arrogant as to ignore such a clear historical record – but we are, and we will pay the price for our hubris.

Right now, we are on the wrong side of the polling – but not the wrong side of history.  Truth has not changed.  Laws do not determine morality.  Our responsibility to help people find fulfillment through obedience to God’s standards has not abated.  We press on!

 

Racism

Jun 23 2015

Racism is wrong.  That’s as direct as I can be.  But why?  Those of us with a biblical worldview have a theological answer – the best source for a timeless answer.  Every person is created in the image of God.  Every person deserves respect – because they bear God’s image, not because of or in spite of any external image they bear.

            The recent racially-motivated church shooting in South Carolina is deplorable.  The response from the victims has been the polar opposite – a powerful example of grace beyond understanding.  Their response is rooted in their profound commitment to respecting God’s image in another human being – even one who committed horrible crimes against them.  Their witness of God’s love is humbling and inspiring.

            Among the political commentary surrounding this issue was one observation so out-of-touch it shocked me it would come from a supposed expert on world events.  He said, “It’s shocking something like this could still happen in the 21st century.”  Friend – what world are you living in?  Racism is pervasive in every culture, in every country, and on every continent.  It is a primary source of civil war, economic oppression, human trafficking, and tribal conflict around the world.  Failure to recognize that, particularly by a supposedly urbane news commentator, is amazing.

            Why is racism so insidious?  Again, a theological answer.  Humans are sinful creatures, created in the image of God but broken by sin.  We consistently live out our fallen nature – that’s one of the only absolutes in this world you can count on every time!  While political solutions are helpful in managing the problem, real change comes when individuals acknowledge their sin, change their behavior, and make better choices.

            Christians are responsible to lead in this area – both by personal example and through influencing public policy.  Make sure you do both – overcome your prejudices and support public policy that recognizes the value of every person.

 

Gateway Seminary Closer to Reality

Jun 16 2015

            The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Columbus, Ohio, approved our request for a name change to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 17, 2015.  Because this is a by-law change by the SBC, it requires an affirmative vote in two consecutive conventions.  So, while the vote was overwhelmingly positive, it was not the final decision.  That won’t come until June 2016.

            In the meantime, we are now tasked with getting ready for the change.  This is a monumental undertaking!  We have to change everything from the business cards to the signage at all our campuses.  We will also be developing an entirely new website – ready to launch as soon as the final vote is taken next summer.  For now, we are still proudly Golden Gate Seminary – while at the same time getting ready to launch as Gateway Seminary in less than a year.

            When an organization changes its name, it runs the risk of losing its identity.  We are doing several things to keep that from happening.  We are celebrating our history and carrying it forward in the form of artifacts, historical records, and public displays.  We are keeping our tagline – biblical, missional, global – which summarizes our three foundational commitments.  We will retain many of our employees – including our core faculty.  We will also keep living out our commitment to multicultural and intercultural ministry.

            These are exciting days to be at Golden Gate.  If you were not able to hear my report to the SBC in Columbus, go online at www.sbc.net and listen to the archived version.  God is at work through our school in dramatic and humbling ways.  We have a front row seat to history being made!

 

A New Identity

Jun 08 2015

As we have moved ahead with our relocation efforts, one aspect that will soon be determined is our new name.  Our current name, “Golden Gate Seminary,” connects us with a beautiful bridge and rich heritage in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Under that name, we have sent almost 9,000 graduates across America and around the world.  We celebrate our alumni and value our history.  Our current name has served us well and helped define our identity.

We have determined, however, that bearing a name so closely associated with an iconic landmark won’t serve us as well when our primary campus is in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles.  When we began seriously considering relocating, we also began analyzing the options and factors related to a new name.  Our Board of Trustees ultimately decided to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to change our name to “Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

This new name is desirable for several reasons:

1.      It eliminates geographic identity – since our program can be offered anywhere in the world.

2.      It connects to our heritage as Golden Gate Seminary – Gateway is already the name of our magazine.

3.      It has multiple marketing angles - gateway to your future, gateway to the world, gateway to your ministry, etc.

4.      It is distinctive – no other seminary has this name.

5.      It retains our Baptist identity and denominational affiliation.

6.      It can be used with our award winning logo, nameplate, and tag line.

7.      It follows the well-received pattern established by LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC and Guidestone Financial Resources of the SBC.

Next week, our name change will be considered by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Columbus, Ohio.  Based on previous discussion and decisions by the SBC Executive Committee on this issue, we anticipate a positive outcome.  We will, of course, answer questions about the issue and abide by the final decision of the convention.

Our name change is actually a by-law change by the SBC, requiring action in two consecutive conventions.  If the vote is positive this year, we will start preparing for a potential launch of our new name in 2016.  We will, however, still be Golden Gate Seminary for at least another year.  See you in Columbus!

 




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