By Josiah Espinoza | June 28th, 2019
On June 24th, 2019, Kevin Mannoia, a Chaplain of Azusa Pacific University defended the Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 (ACR 99). According to an article by Greg Burt on California Family Council, APU’s Chaplain Kevin Mannoia testified in favor of this “California Resolution directing pastors and counselors to affirm LGBTQ identities and behavior.” This resolution calls on “counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators, universities” and institutions with “great moral influence” to stop perpetuating the idea that something is “wrong with being LGBTQ.” According to the article, “ACR 99 also condemns attempts to change unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion as “unethical”, “harmul” and leading to a high LGBT suicide rate.
Sad but Not Surprising
As a graduate of Azusa Pacific University’s School of Theology (BA in Theology) I am saddened by the blatant disregard of biblical teaching on gender confusion and LGBTQ ideologies by Kevin Mannoia but I am not at all surprised. In my last year of Undergraduate study at APU I was introduced to critical race theory, Liberation Theology and post-modernistic literature. In one of my courses, Theology Through the Margins, we were introduced to literature from Michel Foucault, Frantz Fanon, James Cone and even Queer “Theology” as a legitimate field of study within biblical theology and orthodoxy. I have seen the rapid descent into heresy and unorthodoxy within APU’s School of Theology. Though in the recent past they have come out with a statement affirming biblical marriage and sexuality , and have also asked all of their employees to sign the statement, they have been relatively silent on disavowing critical race theory, liberation theology and the practice of homosexuality on University grounds. In their statement, the University claims to be in favor of “God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman” but they do not expel a student or bring disciplinary action against a student practicing this unbiblical lifestyle.
ACR 99 is Anti-Gospel
Just reading ACR 99 on the California Legislative Information website, it seems as if the resolution is only calling pastors, counselors, educators, etc. to not participate in “conversion therapy”. There are certain connotations automatically tied to the phrase “conversion therapy”. People are inclined to imagine a patient strapped to a chair with electrical wires taped to their head, with doctors claiming that this form of therapy will “get rid of their gender confusion or homosexual feelings”. Others imagine a pastor trying to “cast out demons” or using unorthodox and unbiblical practices to try and “force a conversion” in someone struggling with LGBTQ sentiments.
The reality is, as a minister myself, counseling is gentle, loving and caring. When a congregant member comes to me, struggling with an addiction, with sexually immoral feelings, depression or anything else, the goal of the Christian counselor or pastor is not to change that small portion of a persons life, but to pray that the Lord will transform the heart, soul, mind and body through the gospel of Jesus Christ. ACR 99 is anti-gospel because it is a resolution claiming that pastors and Christian counselors should not be able to help their own congregant members and patients through “conversion therapy”. The Christian counselors form of “conversion therapy” is the gospel because the gospel converts the whole sinner not just their gender dysphoria or their homo sexual feelings. A true biblical counselor will gently and courageously lead someone to the feet of Jesus so that they would repent and believe in Jesus for the salvation of their soul and the transformation of their entire being. ACR 99 is anti-gospel because the resolution will condemn leading someone to Jesus as a form of “conversion therapy”. The gospel is not “conversion therapy”, it is the conversion of the entire person, it is the power unto salvation! Once someone bows the knee to King Jesus, the Holy Spirit will reside within the person to help transform their feelings of gender dysphoria and homosexuality to God established and biblical sentiments of gender identity and sexuality. As a minister, a graduate of APU and an employee of APU, I am greatly grieved at this news. Though Chaplain Kevin Mannoia did not go as a “representative” of Azusa Pacific University, the fact that his very presence was there approving of ACR 99 reflects on the leadership of APU and it reflects on the University as a whole.
How should APU respond?
Azusa Pacific University claims to be a Christian institution that has put “God First” since 1899 but it seems to me that public pressure, the desire to appeal to a secular student body and the continued descent into leftist/progressive ideologies has polluted APU’s view on biblical orthodoxy, sexuality and morality. They have weakened their stance on upholding a biblical perspective and have catered to the voices of the LGBTQ community. John Welsey is turning in his grave.
If there was any other time that Azusa Pacific University should come against this with full biblical conviction and courage, it is now! As a former student, I call on Azusa Pacific University to stay true to the Authoritative and Infallible word of God, to stand by biblical principles and reject the actions of Kevin Mannoia in defending ACR 99. As an employee I call on the President of APU to disavow any and all LGBTQ beliefs and practices as heretical and unbiblical. As the worship minister in my local church, The Gate Church of the High Desert, I call on APU to reject ACR 99 and to distance themselves from any agreement with such a blatant attack on Ministers, Pastors and Christian Counselors to be able to practice their faith according to Scripture and the First Amendment. Lastly, as a Christian, I call on Kevin Mannoia to repent of this unbiblical act, to reject ACR 99 and LGBTQ ideologies and to biblically minister to students who desire to be counseled out of LGTBQ feelings of gender confusion and sexual immorality by the power of the gospel.
I pray that Azusa Pacific University will see this important task that is in front of them. I pray that they stand for truth, righteousness and holiness. I pray that the Lord will bless APU if they follow the Lord and his word, but that the Lord’s judgement will be swift if they do not. Lord have mercy on us sinners!