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Category: References (Page 2 of 5)

Looking at something else.

Notes for Hot Topics – Approaches of Various Churches to LGBTQ+ Issues

These are notes that may be of interest to those who have heard my message for May 28, 2023 in the hot topics series. It addressed some approaches of various churches to LGBTQ+ issues in church life.

For convenient access, we have hosted a page with the Friends Church Southwest counsel on contemporary issues from 2016 on our church website. The 2016 version of Faith and Practice is available as a pdf file online here from FSW. The 2016 counsel on contemporary issues begins on page 11. You should be aware that new statements on contemporary issues were included in the revision to Faith and Practice approved in February, 2023; however, the 2023 version does not seem to be published online yet. In the interim, we have a pre-publication draft of the 2023 Faith and Practice that can be downloaded here. The new counsel on contemporary issues begins on page 18. There may be small changes in what was approved at the annual conference that are not in the pre-publication version.

This is the website for City Church Long Beach, which I mentioned in the message for May 28, 2023. There is a 2018 YouTube video in which the City Church pastor, Bill White, explains how City Church came to their approach to being radically welcoming. He cites Romans 14 and 15 as being foundational to their approach. The video is about 14 minutes long and worth your time to view. Bill writes much more, and writes well, on this topic at this website.

Mark Yarhouse is a Christian counselor who has written a number of books that many Christians find helpful. He works with the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender, which offers many resources oriented towards addressing sexuality from a traditional Christian perspective. This is their statement of faith. If you hold a traditional Christian view of sexuality and need resources, check him out. His knowledge is broad and his advice practical and loving.

Redeeming Sex is a challenging book by Debra Hirsh, who with her husband Alan led a church that welcomed those from unusually difficult or broken life backgrounds – people who were quite uncomfortable in most churches. I found quite compelling the Hirsh’s approach to the ministry to which God called them, described in the later chapters of the book. Essentially, they accepted broken people as they were (we are all broken) and focused on Jesus. This book is open and frank in its discussion of sex and sexuality.

Beyond Gay by David Morrison is a book in which the author describes his journey from working with a major gay advocacy organization to a very different life with Jesus. He began worshipping at a church accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles (for which he remains thankful) and then moved to a church with more traditional teaching on Christian sexuality.

Matthew Vines started the Reformation Project as an organization committed to “advancing LGBTQ inclusion in the Church,” where he serves as Executive Director. His goal is to offer “theological resources for an orthodox and affirming Christian faith.” Matthew Vines is one of the most prominent Christian advocates for same-sex marriage.

The website I mentioned that lists churches to clarify their approach to LGBTQ issues and women in leadership is There are other similar websites.

Notes for Hot Topics – The Bible and Sex

This weeks message is on the Bible and Sex. Here are links to some of the resources that I used and that you may be interested in pursuing for more information.

Matthew Vines is a well-known gay Christian activist and speaker. He is known for a viral YouTube video, entitled The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality, and for his speaking and writing to re-interpret the Bible so as to leave room for same-sex relationships for faithful Christians. There is a transcript of his Youtube video that I found very useful in pursuing study. Vines doesn’t so much present new arguments as effectively use social media to publicize scriptural interpretation that was little known before. He usefully converys the various approaches to scripture that are employed to support committed same-sex relationships as an option for a Christian marriage.

Joshua Gonnerman, a Phd student in Historical Theology who calls himself a Gay Christian, wrote an article rebutting Vines’ arguments. In this article, he refers to Elizabeth Scalia’s article entitled Homosexuality: A Call to Otherness? that many find helpful. Gonnerman also wrote powerfully on the churches failure to be family for gay people.

There are a number of links to other resources that one can trace from the articles and websites above. The Spiritual Friendship website is a place of links to good resources and frank discussion around issues related to sexuality.

I’ve appreciated the insights of Sam Allberry over the years. He has a website. He is an effective public speaker and popular writer more than a scholar.

Robert Gagnon is one of the most accomplished scholars focused on Paul’s letters in the Bible and sexual issues. He has a website. Gagnon is thorough to a fault. Reading him is like reading a commentary! (The Kindle version of his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice has 667 pages.) He also wrote a book with Dan O. Via entitled Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views where his consideration is only 58 pages. Via’s opposing argument is only 39 pages. Then each gives a response to the other. The first of the “top reviews” of this book on Amazon can give you a taste of what you would find in the book. A couple of years ago I worked my way through the audio and some assigned reading for Gagnon’s Regent College course The Bible, Homosexuality, and Sexual Ethics and decided I didn’t need to tackle the books.

If you want a very, very simple overview of the interpretations of scripture related to same-sex issues, consider the New York Times article Debating Bible Verses on Homosexuality. The article Evangelicals Open Door to Debate on Gay Rights is a useful introduction to the current state of affairs among evangelical Christians.

A Podcast episode on Quaker abolitionist Benjamin Lay!

The Rest is History podcast had a recent episode over-enthusiastically entitled The First Abolitionist covering the life and abolitionist work of Quaker Benjamin Lay. Lay set out to convince Quakers in the Americas that slavery was a great evil back when slavery was simply taken for granted over most of the world. As usual, historians Sandbrook and Holland are tastefully entertaining in their telling of Benjamin Lay’s otherwise sobering story. Please note that his podcast contains description of the torture of enslaved people, and is not intended for younger audiences.

For more background on early Quaker abolitionists, see articles on John Woolman and Anthony Benezet.

Benjamin Lay painted by William Williams in 1790. Image from National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, via Art Resource, New York

A new podcast from The Atlantic

​I listened to a new podcast from The Atlantic recently called Holy Week. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, just before Holy Week of 1968 leading up to Easter on April 14 that year. The podcast is about the fallout from King’s assassination, reviewing some of the events and personalities of the times. It considers some of ​​what his assassination meant to those for whom Martin Luther King Jr. represented hope… or weakness! And more…

​I remember the week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In my mind I can picture the burning cities and clashes between protesters and police or soldiers that I saw on the evening TV news as a boy. Traumatic times, indeed.

To make it even more interesting, read Alan Jacob’s essay The Blues Idiom at Church in Comment for more insight and an interesting application.

​​I think perhaps this is all related to why I so appreciated Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black! The perspective he presents has much in common with what I learned from the Quaker side of my family (particularly my grandfather, Albert Pike), who also taught me to appreciate Martin Luther King Jr. as a boy.

All of these are well worth your time.

What is Thy only comfort in life and death?

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…

from the Heidelberg Catechism, Day 1

I found those words at the beginning of the catechetical response to be encouraging. Of course, there is more detail to the complete answer in the catechism. Catechisms tend to be wordy! (Not that I object to the rest of the response…)

Q. What is Thy only comfort in life and death?

A. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

I recorded a message related to this thought for January 15, 2023, after returning from a family trip to Ireland.

For an historical Quaker catechism, check out Barclay’s Catechism here (Quaker Heritage Press) or here (Google Books) or here (Wikisource).

Seeing Color Newsletter/Journal of John Woolman

In the recorded message this week, I mentioned the free newsletter Seeing Color. This note is to make the link to it available. If you subscribe, it will come in email each month.

I also mentioned the Journal of John Woolman. The text is freely downloadable or can be read online. Some may find the older style of his writing difficult. There is also a free audiobook version available on Librivox. You can read from a browser or get the Librivox app for your phone. There are updated and edited versions for sale in all the usual places.

Major Resources for Revelation 2021 Messages

These are the three major resources I’m revisiting for the 2021 series of messages on Revelation. I’m using the series to address topics requested by members of the congregation that can fit into this approach. Apparently there is a lot of talk in the vein of The Revelation making the rounds! So this is not a straight through-the-text extended series like we did in 2017.

Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination – Eugene H. Peterson

Revelation: Four Views - Steve Gregg

Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey through the book of Revelation - Darrell W. Johnson

For more comments and more resource recommendations, see my post regarding resources on The Revelation from 2017.

Jesus and John Wayne by Kristen Kobes Du Mez

Jesus and John Wayne is the eye-catching title of a book by Kristen Kobes Du Mez. The subtitle is even more provocative: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. It’s a fine historical account written for a general audience detailing exactly what the subtitle says, with extensive documentation of sources. I lived through much of it what she is writing about. It is troubling, indeed, and helpfully contextualizes much that is troubling in the church today.

To learn more about the author, one can find a set of four interviews Skye Jethani did with Kristen Kobes Du Mez on The Holy Post podcast. These interviews summarize some of the points covered in the book:

  1. Cold Warriors: The 50s and 60s
  2. Culture Warriors: The 70s and 80s
  3. Tender Warriors: The 90s and 00s
  4. Fallen Warriors: The 10s and Today

Lastly, Jim Lyon did a really fine, more personal, interview with the author on the All That to Say podcast. He interviews Kristen Kobes Du Mez about her background and faith in a very wholesome and helpful manner. I found this interview quite helpful.

This is a book that many are talking about, and rightfully so. Kristen Kobes Du Mez will take some heat for this work – just like her Lord did, when He told the truth.

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