It, good and evil, certainly is true that you cannot build without a foundation as the host of the NPR show noted. The fact that this guest didn’t find his answer satisfying is not the appropriate measure of whether it was true or not. I didn’t see the show, I don’t know what was said or in what context, just wanted to note that truth matters, and ultimate truth matters ultimately. So yes, I believe the foundation we build on is critical and it is obvious that you do as well, thus your emphasis first to cast doubt on Scripture so that we have to base our conversation on a different authority that fits us better – not so demanding.
I see that you “recognize the authority of ‘love your neighbor,” “do not judge,” and “show mercy”, but I’m curious how, for instance you can see an authority in “do not judge” without making an effort to understand what Jesus meant by that, beginning with the immediate context. In the parallel passage in Matt 7 He goes on to say “first take the log out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to take the spec out of your brother’s eye”. Note that you have to be discerning of good & evil, seeing your own sin and dealing with it and are responsible then to help your brother with the spec in his eye, not leave the spec there – all of it requires recognition of right and wrong – judgement in the sense of being discerning but not in the sense of condemning since that belongs to God alone. Jesus also says in the verses that follow to not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine – commanding us to judge what is a “dog” or “swine” based on some objective standard.
You reference what you call “conflicts” in Scripture that I “would seem to have to acknowledge.” But there is no “black is white” contradiction or inconsistency in the Lord’s commands and I see none in those passages. It is easy enough to see that God has the authority to judge and to use His chosen people Israel to bring that judgement (or natural disasters or any other means He chooses). The fact is that the people of Canaan got what we all deserve. The root of the problem is that when we reject God’s authority over us and declare our own wisdom supreme, then His wisdom looks foolish and even illogical to us. When Jesus was asked about the people whose blood was shed by the Romans while bringing their sacrifices, and about the people on whom the tower of Siloam fell, He responded that “the same will happen to you if you do not repent.” Not really a very satisfying or solace giving comment, but a comment the King has the right to make and does so with the full authority to back it up.
In reference to idolatry you gave some food for thought – let’s say I’m standing before the throne of God and I say, “Lord, I think you should commend me for doing as I felt was right, because I was being very careful not to turn You into an idol. In fact, Lord, I heard Your voice but knew I was in danger of making Your voice an idol if I listened to it. I think far to much of You to believe that you meant what it sounded like and I know that since I was made in Your image You must be pleased with my creativity to invent a righteousness of my own doing.” Do you see the absurdity of charging that believing God is idolatry against Him? How did you handle your children when they played that game? Would you have bought that argument as a defense when you were judge?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The antithesis to that statement is found in Is 8:20 “…if they do not speak according to this, they have no dawn in them”
You are wondering if the river we arrive at is that same. I believe the answer is “no.” Homosexuality is sin – period. So is adultery, hatred, lying, even failing to do what we know is right for the Scripture says “he who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” What I am saying is that we ALL have sinned against a just and holy God. What I am saying is that we ALL need to be delivered from the condemnation and guilt of our sin, delivered from its power in our lives, and given new life and a secure hope in Christ. Julian’s problem is not sexual orientation or mixed up genome, it is sin. Sexual perversion is a result of the sin in us, not the cause of it. My hope is in Christ, He is my righteousness, He is my guarantee, His power brings about a desire for holy living in me….and it is unloving to look at another’s sin and say “but it works well for you.” No, love demands that we reach out to others to warn them of judgement to come and point them to reconciliation in Christ.
So, is Julian welcome? Yes. Is Robert welcome? Yes…through the gate of repentance and faith in the finished work of the Son of God. The Gospel calls out that there is redemption by Christ’s own payment for all who repent and bow before Him. It is for those who know their sin and hate it and know that they cannot save themselves. He calls us to abandon our own will and submit ourselves to Him as Lord. Jesus went to the people of the lowest reputation, lost, hopeless, and imprisoned in sin, and He rescued them out of it. He did not leave them in it and try to make them feel better about it. But for those who stubbornly cling to and justify their sin there can only be the dreadful anticipation of judgement to come.
“For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18
God is clear that there are two classes of people in the world – those who trust Him and put no confidence in themselves, and all the rest.
The call is not one of condemnation, but of warning to turn from the wrath to come and run to Christ.
I hope that gives a little better clarification of what the Christian issues are – just what Scripture says they are.