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Answering Dr. Bill Coates of FBC Gainesville

Answering Dr. Bill Coates of FBC Gainesville


     This could be and as far as I remember is my first time answering directly the assertions of another Pastor in my area. Rest assured this is very personal but my thoughts are not intended to be vicious in any way. I feel that anyone who has read Dr. Coates thoughts need to understand that there is a very different, quite possibly a polar opposite opinion in town.

     I refer to Dr. Coates statement that is printed on the web site This web site, unknown to me until this article seems to be very far to the left in the Doctrinal arena and has several articles that paint conservatives in a poor light. The statement with the article in its entirety is as follows…

Dr. Coates wrote:

People of deep faith and convictions exist on both sides of the LGBT and gay marriage question. Ultimately, it comes down to how an individual interprets Scripture and how churches interpret Scripture. If read with strict literalism, one can always point to passages that appear to condemn many kinds of behavior. For example, Malachi 2:16 says, “‘I hate divorce,’ declares the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty.” But does this mean that God hates the divorced person? The person who may have resorted to violence? Of course not. Other Biblical passages make this clear: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), “none is good but God alone” (Mark 10:17), “love one another with mutual affection” (Romans 12:9). Jesus also warns us about judging others when we ourselves are far from righteous in our own thoughts and actions. Reading the Bible literally can lead us to the embracing of attitudes that in fact move us from Christlikeness. I had a deeply spiritual and Godly professor who taught me my greatest lesson in seminary: “We are all going to err in life either on the side of grace or on the side of law. Since we are going to err anyway, always go with grace.” That perspective is the one I have chosen to live by. It is also the one churches should choose. Each church will have to decide how to walk through this marriage equality debate. I think we should respect those who choose to allow their ministers not to perform same-sex weddings out of their own deep convictions, and I think we should respect churches that choose to allow their ministers that right, for they make their choice out of deep convictions, too. Baptist congregations, with no bishop over us, must decide individually which choice they will make. Our own congregation, First Baptist of Gainesville, Georgia, will have to make that determination, and I, as minister here, will abide by that decision. As with most things in life, we have to balance. In this case, we must balance our esteem for the dignity of every person, gay or straight, with the harmony of the congregation we are part of. It is not easy, but it is possible. Jesus teaches us to love God and love our neighbor, just as Moses taught. We cannot love our neighbor and treat him or her as a second-class citizen at the same time. I say this: I do not always know what the truth is, but I can always tell what love is. I believe love is the greatest of all, and to do the loving thing will always be the right thing. Most congregations will eventually find their way there.


I’d like to address a few deep differences I see within this writing and I would suggest between my theological views and those of Dr. Coates.


1st, Dr. Coates states that “people of deep Faith and Convictions exist on both sides of this debate.” I actually agree with this statement, but find a flaw in how it is purposed to impact his conclusions. Rev Coates states this as a reason to seek a common ground yet I see it as an opportunity to seek God’s answer. For example the leaders of ISIS have a deep Faith in Allah and deep Convictions that anyone who will not follow their religion should be killed. My deep Faith and my deep Convections are totally opposite to this. These two ideologies will never be able to find a common point nor is there room for compromise. Having a deep Faith in an opinion or deep Convictions for your stance are never substitutes to what God has already declared. Many people of deep Faith and Convictions will be eternally separated from God.


2nd, Dr. Coates introduces the time honored debate on literalism. Is God speaking literally concerning the subject of Homosexuality? This tool is the liberal’s best friend. Don’t like what the Bible declares then just say that it isn’t to be taken literally. Hard time accepting the 7 day creation…. it’s not literal, ark not big enough… it’s not literal, Jesus resurrection not possible… it’s not literal. As with many other writings you will find two of the styles within scripture, figurative or literal. Literal carries with it the meaning of the words as intended while figurative requires further understanding beyond the words and uses forms such as a simile or writing metaphorically. How do we know the difference? Well in just a few words I can sum it up. The text will declare the form! There is nothing within the scripture that lays out a figurative or non-literal understanding of the Biblical view of Homosexuality. The scripture concerning Homosexuality is found within larger writings that are also literal. It is impossible to think that scripture has anything other than condemnation for Homosexuality. Reading the Bible literally, where it is intended, and being obedient to those truths are the very essence of being Christlike. To reject Christ teachings and at the same time hold a false notion of being Christlike is beyond delusional.

3rd, Dr. Coates states that each Church will have to make up its own mind on this subject but never indicates that he would seek God’s guidance or search the scriptures to come to a decision. It’s all in the hands of the congregation for him and how they seek to balance their Faith and what the world is demanding and after they make that determination he would abide by it, a balance of sorts. I love my congregation but I doubt seriously that I could remain as their Pastor if they introduced or accepted anything as a congregation that is contrary to scripture and I am positive that I would be asked to leave if I held a view that was unbiblical! If the Word of God isn’t the foundation for the beliefs, Doctrines and Theology of your Congregation then I assure you the foundation is sinking sand.

4th, Finally and most revealing in this article is the illusion that if we reject Homosexuality then we are treating others as “second class citizens”. Dr. Coates would have you to believe that a rejection of a person’s sin is a rejection of them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We accept all into the services of our Church. We have welcomed people trying to escape alcoholism, drugs, those that have cheated on their spouses and several couples who were living together. We cared about them, included them and told them the truth. First class treatment as Christ has commanded and that First class treatment always includes honesty. It was Christ who said “Go and sin no more”. I have Homosexual friends that know they can call on me any time to come to their aid. I’ll pray with them, help them and share with them but I’ll never lie to them and say that God accepts their lifestyle.


I conclude by saying that I always know what truth is, Truth is the very Word of God, but love is allusive and often wears a mask to hide the evil that lies underneath.


Darryl D Womack

Senior Pastor

Montgomery Memorial Baptist



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