Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
In our Theology Postconference, we focused on the theme of The Ministry of the Gospel and Gender Dysphoria. Mark Yarhouse was our speaker. His first two messages helped pastors and leaders to understand this issue from a biblical and scientific perspective, with the final message focusing on a pastoral response.
Here are the messages of this Postconference:
We have posted recordings of all Yarhouse’s plenary lectures, along with his bibliography and notes on our Theology Conference webpage. These messages (minus the notes and bibliographies) will also be posted on our new Theology Podcast webpage over the course of the next few weeks.
Because this topic is a new one for many, I include below excerpts from my introduction.
The culture has long moved beyond homosexuality and same-sex matters such that it is considered the norm. However, we in the church continue to think through and ponder the Scriptures, affirming its truth and authority, while we wrestle with and pray over pastoral responses. The cultural push now is the presentation and acceptance of gender dysphoria. While we in the church continue to think through the past cultural agenda, which is important, the cultural mandate of normalizing gender dysphoria presses on ahead. It is vital for us in the church to learn about gender dysphoria and to understand it through the lens of Scripture, the absolute and ultimate authority, so that we can engage in pastoral care to those affected, both directly and indirectly.
The title explains that what we do is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Biblical truth and the gospel of Jesus Christ are the foundation of what we believe, the absolute and ultimate truth, what we affirm as sola Scriptura. This is also foundational for how we live, for God’s truth we affirm is also the means by which we grow in holiness and are conformed into the likeness of the Son. It is the only means through which we will truly flourish. From this foundation, we will focus on ministry among those who identify as, struggle or suffer with or are affected by gender dysphoria. This also includes those who know or love someone who so identifies. Although our title addresses gender dysphoria, the phenomenon, our focus will be on the person who experiences gender dysphoria, which emphasizes the role of pastoral care and shepherding.
There are not many Evangelicals who are providing insight into gender dysphoria, much less are those who are actively seeking to provide pastoral care to those who experience gender dysphoria and their families affected by it. Mark Yarhouse is one of those few individuals.
Yarhouse affirms the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. He acknowledges the Scriptures as the absolute and ultimate authority. Furthermore, he is theologically anchored. His concern is to affirm the truthfulness of Scripture and apply those truths in a fallen world in which we provide care to people who experience gender dysphoria. He senses a call to minister directly to those suffering from gender dysphoria and families and others affected by it. This is why he has been asked to address this topic, as there really is no other Evangelical who speaks in such an informed manner on the subject.
In the EFCA we are grounded in the gospel and tethered to the text of Scripture. We are also deeply committed to living out this truth of Scripture. And we do so in a fallen-yet-redeemed-though-not-yet-glorified world. There is sin, hurt, and brokenness. And yet in the midst of this, the gospel offers hope. We engage in pastoral care not only to share God’s truth with others, but because it is our only hope, our only true way of flourishing as God ordained.
As we engage in pastoral ministry of the gospel in the local church in the moral realms of human sexuality and gender dysphoria, we are an outpost of heaven. We reflect God’s eschatological people who offer the hope of the gospel in a context of love produced by the gospel which reflects the now of the kingdom. And we are often reminded through our pastoral care of our groaning, which reflects the not-yetness of the kingdom, as we await final redemption.