Last week, Woke Preacher Clips posted a video of PCA pastor Scott Sauls asking Christians to compare their marriages to homosexual relationships. On a podcast with Jeff Norris, a pastor at Perimeter Church, Scott Sauls said the following.
Is your heterosexual marriage as committed as some some gay marriages? Some gay marriages are deeply committed, as out of step with scripture as they are. Your marriage commitment needs to be at least on the same level…to have some sort of credibility.
In broader context surrounding the quote, Scott Sauls was pointing out a call to not be hypocrites. Perhaps this is a mitigating factor, but in general he did just ask that we compare our marriages to inherently degenerate relationships rather that asking us to compare and adhere to the standard of God. The broader context of the segment is worse. Sauls recommends anyone answering questions on sexuality read Preston Sprinkle and Sam Allberry, two proponents of side b theology.
Additionally, there is a posture that the church has been too mean to gays, rather than bending over backwards not to offend homosexuals and family members of homosexuals. Woke Preacher Clips was frustrated with the posture that seems all too common in the church.
Yet again the broader context of Scott Sauls is worse, not just his Big Eva background but his history on this specific issue. Scott Sauls is the Tim Keller of Nashville, an observation I made before finding out prior to pastoring at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, he served as a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. Sauls is an active pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America.
During the buildup to the 2019 PCA General Assembly, Scott Sauls endorsed the Revoice Conference, which began in 2018. In June 2019, Sauls wrote:
When I first announced my appreciation for Revoice’s core message as stated above, I experienced a backlash from a few folks that I did not expect. To be fair, some of the backlash was warranted because of a seminar title that appeared later on their website that was provocative, potentially misleading, and in many ways unhelpful. To Revoice’s credit, they humbly listened to their critics (including me) and have since become more careful with their words. They have also since released a detailed doctrinal statement, a statement on sexual ethics and Christian obedience, and a statement on public posture and Christian witness.
It’s worth noting that a minimum issue with the Revoice statement on sexual ethics and Christian obedience allows for the label of “gay Christian.” This point, Sauls spends a great deal of time defusing.
On this issue, Scott Sauls has a demonstrable pattern of trying to ascertain a middle ground or simply asking, “can’t we all just get along?”
Going in to General Assembly, whatever they may or may not think of Revoice (there should be room to disagree agreeably in our preferred methodologies and nuances), I hope my fellow ministers and elders will carefully consider the following thoughts.
My hope here is to resist and renounce all slippery slopes. This includes slopes that slip liberal left as well as ones that slip conservative right. The left-leaning slope subtracts from Scripture. The right-leaning slope adds to Scripture. Both create division in Christ’s Church, and both invite the Lord’s displeasure and judgment (Revelation 22:18-19).
In defending the use of the term “gay Christian” which Sauls insists that he does not use, he states:
We also embrace Luther’s famous assertion that Christians are “simultaneously saints and sinners” until the Lord returns. Until that day, we will never be one without the other. Biblically, we aren’t merely permitted to use the word “sinner” in reference to ourselves. Rather, we are required to do so. It is only when we confess our sins—both original sin and volitional sin—that we are healed.
Many PCA ministers and elders resonate with, preach, and teach John Piper’s concept of “Christian hedonism.” We allow this because we accept Piper’s own explanation of what he means by the word “hedonist.” To Piper, a Christian hedonist is one who seeks her or his ultimate pleasure in God. With this new reframing and redefining of a word that is typically associated with seeking pleasure through self-indulgence, promiscuity, and sin, we nonetheless accept and embrace and even champion Piper’s alternative use of the term.
Why can’t we offer similar charity and latitude regarding the use of words, especially when such words are placed within the context of statements like this one from the Revoice website:
Scott Sauls seems to level sin as though there’s not a socio-political agenda surrounding homosexuality and transgenderism, the latter of which unexcusably receives no mention in his post. Scott Sauls would conclude his lengthy essay stating that there are no subversive elements at play in the PCA.
In the end, my own bottom line is this. Whether or not Revoice (or Harvest USA) is our cup of tea, I hope we in the PCA can at least agree and seek unity around one, simple fact. It remains indisputably true that not a single minister or elder in the PCA denies, diminishes, or doubts the historic, biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality.
As though Greg Johnson does not exist, Scott Saul’s words would age poorly as the PCA has made multiple efforts to disqualify gay-identifying pastors for these obvious division.
The Tim Keller Question
Scott Sauls is undoubtedly the Tim Keller of Nashville, which begs the question of Tim Keller’s influence in the church. As Keller is noticeably influential on Sauls’ views on sexuality, he was ready to embrace the Revoice Conference.
Scott Sauls is not the only pro-Revoice pastor to draw a connection to Tim Keller. Grant Hartley, an original Revoice alum, credits Tim Keller as the inspiration for his views. At the time of reporting this claim, Evangelical Dark Web noted that “Either Hartley is correct about the connection, Hartley is making up the connection to either impugn Keller or legitimize himself.”
Grant Hartley is not an anomaly. Scott Sauls is part of a larger pattern of side b proponents in Big Eva and their connections to The Gospel Coalition, a subject to be continued in a separate article in the series on exposing Revoice.
The credence that Scott Sauls gave Revoice and side b theology is why he is frustratingly tone-deaf on issues relating to sexuality to this day.