The Prefix Christian

Weaknesses revealed in Andrews University 2015 statement on homosexuality
By Ron Woolsey

Beware of becoming a Prefix Christian! What exactly do I mean by coining the phrase “Prefix Christian?”

“Prefix:” An affix placed before a word. . . to modify a term’s meaning.

“Christian:” 1) of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings. 2) exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ: Christlike. 3) a person who exemplifies in his life the teachings of Christ.

The teachings of Christ are only made known by the study of the Word of God, and by being led by the Holy Spirit through that study, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

In the early Christian movement, prefixes were not necessary, for to be a “Christian” meant simply and clearly to be a follower, a disciple of Jesus Christ, one who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, his Savior from sin, one who patterned his life after the Example, Jesus Christ.

However, very early on the concept of “Prefix Christians” began to emerge upon the scene, and the apostle Paul addressed the issue thusly: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, . . .that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? . . .He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13,31).

During the Protestant Reformation prefixes began appearing as little windows of the light of truth were opened upon the dark world of religion. As the great Reformers became popular and then died off, followers formed creeds around the established, yet incomplete, array of doctrines taught by their mentors. Therefore, denominations began to form, such as Lutheran Christians, Baptist, Calvinist (Presbyterian), Methodist, etc. Actually, the very fact that these “Prefixes” were used was a clear indication that the establishment of fundamental beliefs was an incomplete process. We might say of the Lutherans, they were followers of the teachings of Martin Luther who was just beginning to understand the light of truth through his personal study. Much, much more light was to flood the Christian world as the Reformation progressed. But when the Reformer passed, the adherents to his teachings embraced what he had taught and closed the door, generally speaking, on more advancing light.

Today, because so many “Prefixes” are used to identify the hundreds of Christian denominations now in existence, it is incumbent upon one to actually use a prefix to identify the form of Christianity to which he adheres.

To add a prefix to the word “Christian” is to qualify the meaning of the word “Christian” by either attempting to clarify the meaning, or by altering, or modifying the meaning.

Adding Clarity

A “Methodist Christian” would therefore be an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ as spelled out through all the accepted doctrines, or statements of belief, of the Methodist denomination. The same would be true of the “Baptist Christian” and the “Seventh-day Adventist Christian.”

In all these and similar cases the prefix is adding clarity to the understanding of the meaning of “an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ.” In other words, the prefix explains the understanding of what it means to be a “Christian” through the understanding of biblical doctrine.

Altering, or Modifying the Meaning

Other prefixes used actually, though perhaps unintentionally, might even alter the very meaning of the word “Christian.” For example: “Social Christian,” “Non-denominational Christian,” “Contemporary Christian,” “Liberal Christian,” “Conservative Christian” (Descriptions reserved for another day).

The “professed Christian” is one who does take the name of Jesus Christ as his Lord, Master, and Savior, but may or may not actually incorporate the meanings of “Lord,” “Master,” and “Savior” into his daily life and behavior.

Let me quickly state that although all Christians are “professed Christians,” the “true and faithful ones” are Christians known only to God, for He alone knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. Jesus referred to Nathaniel as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Obviously, Jesus makes a distinction between “professed Christians,” (in name only), and true ones.

A Disturbing Trend

The concern of this study is the ever-increasing use of these modifying prefixes in conjunction with Christianity today, actually altering the true meaning of this profession, especially regarding one particular issue that I find to be very disturbing.

Over the past few years, and in light of numerous judicial rulings around our country and the recent Supreme Court ruling, homosexuality is being embraced as an “acceptable alternative lifestyle.” Many gays who have grown up in a Christian culture are wanting to remain within that culture, but without denouncing their homosexuality. In other words, they wish to continue with their “profession” of being Christian, but also to identify as gay. Hence the term “gay Christian.” They may profess to be living celibate lives, suppressing their homosexuality, but by clinging to the prefix, do they truly have a change of heart? Sins of the heart precede sins of overt behavior.

When I became a Christian 24 years ago I chose to turn my back on a number of vices in addition to homosexuality: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, dancing, lust, just to name a few. As a Christian, from that time forward it never crossed my mind to attach those vices to my Christianity by self-identifying as a “lusting Christian,” a “pothead Christian,” a “smoking Christian,” and certainly not a “gay Christian!” As a new child of God, accepting Jesus as my Savior from all those vices, renouncing those behaviors, entering into His school of discipleship, and patterning my new life after His life, I did not want to identify with the sins of my past from which I was turning, no matter how strong the temptations to indulge once more. I worked to starve and bury the old while feeding the new.

Yet today there is an ever-increasing push to incorporate prefixes into Christian identity, especially when it comes to homosexuality. But in all fairness, if we can accept the terms “gay Christian,” and “bi-sexual Christian,” then why not other oxy-morons? Such as: “lusting Christian,” “adulterous Christian,” “polygamous Christian,” “pedophile Christian,” “masturbating Christian,” or “polyamorous Christian.”

One outspoken “Prefix Christian,” a gay activist graduate from Andrews University claiming to be a bi-sexual Seventh-day Adventist Christian, has worked to organize straight/gay alliances on many Adventist university campuses, alliances that work aggressively to prevent the message of salvation from homosexuality from being presented on campus. He has recently called upon Christians to stop using certain words and phrases in order to communicate with the LGBT community. This call in and of itself implies that the Christian community and the LGBT community are two opposing and incompatible entities, therefore inadvertently conceding the term “gay Christian” to be an oxymoron.

He attempts to muzzle Christians by suggesting as unacceptable such Christian phrases as, “Love the sinner but hate the sin,” “The Bible clearly says,” “Homosexuality is a sin,” “Jesus can change you,” and “Go, and sin no more.” He is basically saying, “To communicate with us you must not disagree, but rather agree with us. You must not offend us with your biblical difference of opinion, for we view that as rejection. You must use our terms, for we find them preferable to the words of God.”

It pains me to see Christians kowtowing to such demands of the gay agenda, when instead they should be offering a compassionate message of hope, of healing, of transformation into the image of Christ, of victory in Jesus.

In a recent sermon from the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University the following statements were made:

“There are those among us who self-identify as gay or lesbian who follow Jesus with all their hearts, but struggle with the celibacy He is calling them to embrace. It can be a desperate struggle, which is why the church, community of Jesus, the family of God, must be a place of refuge, safety, healing for heterosexual and homosexual, a place of compassionate confidentiality.”

Now, this “healing” seems to me to be a healing of hurts, but not necessarily a healing of hearts, not a healing that leads to transformation of mind as well as behavior, for the pastor goes on to quote from a newly voted statement from the Andrews University Seminary:

“. . .Non-practicing gay persons should be welcomed into membership and church office. All should receive spiritual care from the church (Gal. 6:1).”

The pastor then inserts, “It doesn’t matter how you identify yourself. You are welcome, in membership and in leadership. . . ! That’s what they are saying.”

He then continues with the Seminary statement, “We stand against any antipathy or hostility toward homosexuals as well as any cultural biases that fuel a lack of Christ-like love for them. . . We strongly affirm that homosexual persons have a place in the Seventh-day Adventist church.”

In spite of all the statements in the seminary document that suggest gay Christians must resist temptations just as any other Christian, when it goes on to state, “We strongly affirm that homosexual persons have a place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” I can assure you, having been there myself, this is an opening door to compromise with the gay agenda. This statement allows for the “Prefix Christian” to assume membership and leadership alongside those who are accepting a new identity in Christ. It offers them equal voice, equal vote, and equal opportunity.

At the same time, those who have dropped the identity of homosexuality and are walking in newness of life are often viewed as unrealistic, dogmatic, and presenting a damaging message. But friends, the gospel of salvation from sin, in thought, word, and action is not a damaging message. It testifies of our God as omnipotent, rather than impotent.

This leads me to another line of questioning: If a gay Christian is practicing celibacy, then he must know that homosexuality is sin, right? And if he, as a Christian, is accepting Jesus as his Savior from sin, then why carry the label of that sin as an identity? If homosexuals are not to enter the kingdom of God, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, then why would one want to self-identify as a “gay Christian,” labeling himself as a Christian who will not enter the kingdom of God? To be a celibate “gay Christian” is to suppress the homosexual behavior, but what about the lust of the heart? What about starving the old, and feeding the new? Can one truly overcome the sin with which he chooses to continue wearing as an identity?

Let us not forget the warning of Jesus, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. . .” (Matthew 7:21).

Jesus also said, “If the Son, therefore set you free, ye are free indeed!”

Do we not believe these powerful words of Jesus? Himself our Savior from sin, even the sin of homosexuality?

A true Christian is one who should “Bring every thought into captivity,” “presenting his body a living sacrifice,” “letting this mind be in him which was also in Christ Jesus,” “being transformed by the renewing of the mind,” so it can be said of him, “Such were some of you” (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:1,2; Philippians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11).

For as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) And this is where 2 Corinthians 5:17 comes into play: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [a new creation by the hand of the omnipotent Creator]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” To which Ellen White comments, “The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, & new tendencies.” And, “A genuine conversion changes hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong.” (RH 04/12/1892; Letter 105, 1893) Do we believe these words. . . ?

Orientation and Re-orientation

The new seminary statement goes on to say: “In this statement we differentiate between homosexuality as an orientation. . . and homosexual practice. . . Our nature is marred and corrupted by sin from birth; it is damaged with inherited and cultivated tendencies toward sexual (and other kinds of) lust in both either heterosexual or homosexual persons. Yet, because of the atoning blood of Christ, those redeemed are not condemned and can receive victory over those tendencies and inclinations… While homosexuality is a distortion of the Edenic ideal, “there is no condemnation” for homosexually oriented persons as long as they “are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1) and do not harbor or act upon their orientation and propensities. It should be emphasized, however, that the biblical materials condemn homosexual practice, but there is no castigation of innate homosexual orientation per se.”

This statement treats homosexual orientation as though it were fixed when a dictionary definition speaks of orientation as a direction of choice. As a former pilot, I never allowed the headwinds, crosswinds, tailwinds or the violent storm to determine my orientation. On the contrary, I made every correction necessary to maintain the orientation of my choice in order to assure my safe arrival at my chosen destination. For the past 24 years, having been gay myself, but having chosen a new orientation and destination for my life, and now being married for 23 years, I have practiced, by God’s grace, not allowing the crosswinds of Satan to determine my orientation, nor my destination. Re-orientation is a viable choice every Christian can and must make.

In closing, I contend that the “Prefix Christian” who attaches sin to his identity is not truly living up to his Christian potential, but is rather living with a “patchwork character.” And,

“Christ gives man no encouragement to think that He will accept a patchwork character, made up mostly of self, with a little of Christ… Soon it is all of self and none of Christ… Christ looks with pitying tenderness on all who have combination characters… The patchwork religion is not of the least value with God. He requires the whole heart. No part of it is to be reserved for the development of hereditary or cultivated tendencies to evil” (Letter 105, 1983; Letter 31a, 1894).

The word “Christian” really needs no modifying prefix. As a disciple of Christ one is either allowing Jesus to be Mentor, patterning his own life after the discipline of Christ, without reservation, or he is not really a disciple at all.

“Through all ages and in every nation those that believe that Jesus can and will save them personally from sin, [in thought as well as in word and behavior], are the elect and chosen of God; they are his peculiar treasure. They obey His call, and come out of the world and separate themselves from every unclean thought and unholy practice” (RH 08/01/1893).


9 replies on “The Prefix Christian”

I read all of this document, in its entirety, the intelligence is there, but it didn’t read or sound like the “Spirit” o f “GOD” came with it.
Meaning, folk when “JESUS CHRIST” died upon that cross…. That was not done to “Negotiate” for your redemption, or to Compromise, “GOD’S Love, but to bring into play what is written, in the book of Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
“HOMOSEXUALITY” is a “Spirit” that is totally unnatural to the soul. For a Man to have a desire for a woman, married or not, is totally natural, that desire toward the “Female” is created within Him, because this was the help meet that was created for him.
Now, it is Satan, that twists that desire into another Man, that makes this “SIN” so deadly… Because the “Eternal” seed that is created within a man is wickedly wasted on the same sex, corrupting and going against the order from “GOD” to be fruitful and multiply.
It was why “GOD” specifically destroyed “Sodom and Gomorrah” in a hurry, “GOD” showing “HIS” displeasure with this kind of sinful nature was very displeasing.
Of course, it is written: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
….however, it is also written: For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans :14
Giving all of us the power to overcome “SIN”, outlining the power that is created within us. For Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is “HE” that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Therefor we must all come to the conclusion, and conclude that
….and besides, the natural reaction when a soul “SINS” is to hide it… Conceal it….. Not “Flaunt” It! LGBTQ”S
….and that proof comes from out of the Garden…. Adam! Adam! Where Art Thou???
Therefore, Satan, In The Name Of “JESUS CHRIST” I Rebuke Thee… Get Thee Behind Me…

Thank you, Ron. I’ve been wanting to put together a similar presentation. To identify with our temptations, inclinations and weaknesses doesn’t seem to honor the mighty, saving power of Jesus that makes us Christians. Knowing that God is able to heal and restore makes all the difference.

Amen to this article. When we come to Jesus He changes everything including our desires for the old life of sin, regardless what that sin is.I know from personal experience that we can overcome the desire for sin.

Lot stood on the door way to address homosexuals before his evacuation from Sodom and Gomorrhah,and listen to his address….and he said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”
He told them “NO,my friends”…..Lot was firm and said NO.There are times we have to stand ground when people throw ideas that are contrary to scripture and simply say NO.It means even those who find even thoughts of sexual pervasiveness (adultery ,homosexuality etc), crossing their minds they must exercise their choice to say “NO” to these feelings
those who address brothers struggling with this sin must state clearly that ,”NO ,MY FRIENDS DO NO DO THIs WICKED THING”
By Gods power they can overcome this practise and be in one family and in harmony with God…..”my friends”
Lot offered his friends the right life style and offered his daughters…..Teach the right orientation to those who are lost
However the practise of homosexuality is “wicked”.Preachers who try to make it less evil speak like the serpent in the garden ,”being more crafty” and they eventually ask the question “Did God really say ” and challenge scripture
Joseph faced a temptation and said these words to MRS Potiphar “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Eventually,Joseph ran away from Mrs Potiphar
its time to run with the right message!.Thank you Ron!

Amen. I too have experienced victory over an addiction to porn and self abuse. Nothing is too hard for my God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is interesting in Lot’s case though…the response he got from the men of Sodom:
Genesis 19:9 “And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.”
Do we not hear the same cry of “Don’t judge!” coming today from this crowd? “Don’t judge! (while we barge into and take over your church, your conference, your schools, even your homes. We will do what we want with you, only do not judge us. Go along with us or we will deal worse with you)”

Sin is not to be embraced or compromised. We are not to accept what God condemns. As a man thinkth in is heart so is he.
The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.—Education, 56, 57.

I think in the same way that people can alter our intended prefix of being an SDA christian, the intended prefix of these members referring to themselves as gay christian might be being altered. Motivation is being ascribed even though only God or a prophet can know it. The quotes this article uses don’t necessarily have to do with inherited or cultivated desires from the past, but I do see them as necessarily having to do with any present and future homosexual actions. One quote from Pioneer Adventist Church is being focused on too much to the exclusion of all else. In the same way that people take quotes from the bible outside of the context of everything else that is said elsewhere. So I don’t see the prefix “gay christian”, or words of the Pioneer Adventist Church as necessarily showing approval for homosexual sex. And if it’s not necessarily their intent, then we are counciled to keep our suspicions to ourselves.
In the same way that 1 Corinthians 1:10 refers to our unified beliefs, I refer to our unified beliefs. They are the 28 fundamental beliefs and the official Church Manual of the Seventh-day Adventist church. From what I recall they define our biblical unity by saying that those who willingly give into homosexual temptation without repentance should be excluded or removed from membership. It doesn’t say that people who have homosexual temptation should be excluded. It is always referring to the practice, and as far as I have seen this does not contradict The Bible or Ellen White. It is the same as in Matthew 18, which is entirely direct quotes from Jesus. Verses 15-17 give room for repentance from a sinful action. In Verse 21 Peter came to Jesus and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? The answer Jesus gives shows us that we are not necessarily instantly healed of all of our sinful behaviors.
The Ellen White quotes also aren’t necessarily referring to temptation. And from my recollection of reading what else she has said, such an interpretation would be contradictory to other writings. My experience is that she says we are to walk in the other direction than our sinful temptations, and that we don’t necessarily get away from them instantly. It’s just like how God wanted the seed of Abraham to walk towards Israel but they had some trials first. The rest of the quotes given from The Bible also have to be within the context of that example.
So I don’t see the Pioneer Adventist Church as necessarily opening a door to homosexual practice, but I do see that they are necessarily bring us in line with our unifying doctrines. If what is being said is that their motivation is to open the door to homosexual practices, then only God or a prophet can know that. To say that it will is to fall for the slippery slope fallacy. It is possible, but I don’t yet see hard evidence so we should keep such suspicion to ourselves until such time. Therefore this article seems out of place to me and only serves to damage the reputation of this website and the goal of unifying our church organization’s structures with the doctrines voted in by the General Conference.

Zachary, the point being missed with these prefixes is the whole point of gospel, which individuals like Ron Woolsey and myself have personally experienced with many others (and the result of our experiences is too similar to be just individual differences but rather a divine hand accomplishing the desired end), which is victory over sin, not by our own struggles, but by a divine hand delivering us from those struggles. The battle has already been won by Christ. The victory is ours for the claiming, and we should all be moving forward each day to new victories. Not struggling on the same point for a lifetime. The similarity between our experiences is that we no longer identify ourselves by our temptations. If I were still the way I was and were to speak the same way as these people, I would call myself a “closet perv Christian” since I struggled with an addiction to porn, fantasy, and self abuse in secret. I don’t identify by this anymore though. If I were to add a prefix it would include another prefix, that of “Ex”. I don’t need to however. Instead I can claim the promise that the Lord will give me a complete victory over every single sin in my life and character before I either die or probation closes. And this is reflected in Paul’s words in 1 Cor 6:11 (quoted in the above article) “Such WERE some of you”. If a person sees a need to attach a prefix to their Christian walk, either they are sincere but in darkness and shouldn’t be in positions of wide influence, or they have nefarious intent. The truth must be set plainly before them. If they refuse to believe the words of God then they are bringing judgement upon themselves. Men will not be judged because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they rejected the truth and/or opportunities to learn the truth.

Thank you for dissecting the Andrews article a bit more and pointing out some serious flaws. At first reading, it certainly made sense to me but I can see my error in accepting some of their subtle ideas. It is vital to NOT identify sin in our lives and we should most definitely be putting it away, not linking it with our Christianity. Very good points! I like the title “Pre-fix Christian”….clever!

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