• Bryan Christopher

    “Certain ways of reading scripture are no longer plausible and other ways become imperative. These transformative encounters with people, especially with suffering people, are probably indispensable for scales falling from one’s eyes and being able to think about this issue in a different way.”

    Amen. Thank you, Daniel, for your brave stand and for demonstrating what it means to love inclusively, something that Jesus demonstrated in spades. And thank you, Eliel, for providing a platform for truth, faith and love.

  • Thank you Eliel for this interview. It’s lovely to see David speak about what changed in him. I’ve been reviewing what I’ve learned in church history class at a conservative Canadian Bible College, and the Protestants were considered heretics in their time too. Those who fought against slavery were social and religious outcasts. I feel like this is the next big shift.

  • Refreshing. Timely too. In a month or two most of Alabama will move on, just as Rev. Gushee has — many wondering what the fuss was all about.

  • Jack

    In other words, what moved Gushee to change his mind on what the Bible said about these issues was not deeper scholarship but a desire to make the Bible speak to his angst after he found out his sister was a lesbian.

    His compassion is admirable but his intellectual honesty is less than stellar.

    The honest solution would have been either to walk away from the Bible completely or to deal with the chasm between it and his sister’s orientation or inclinations in a matter-of-fact way.

  • Rev. Mo. Martha Rogers

    Your black and white, either/or, left-brain hyper-rational view does not allow for scripture to be read in its fullness. We read with mind, heart, and soul. The Holy Spirit allows for huge paradigm shifts which are well-documented in scripture and in faith communities’ development of understanding over time. We do not have to deny scripture or leave the Christian faith. You grossly oversimplify David’s journey and in the process, your judgmental view is extremely disrespectful.

  • Eliel Cruz

    I purposefully asked Gushee and David Cortez the same question because inevitably people would respond like this. Did you see my interview with Pastor Cortez? What are your thoughts on it?

  • ben in oakland

    @jack,

    or we could simply stop pretending that the badly translated and thoroughly abused passages in the bible which purport to talk about homosexuality actually don’t.

    Or we could stop pretending that it is impossible that we modern people could ever be smarter, more compassionate, and more understanding than our remote ancestors.

    Or we could stop pretending that the bible’s clear justification for witch burning, jew hatred, slavery, segregation, and the subjugation of women — or so it was “clearly justified” at the time– were just aberrations about what God really wanted…

    But this time– THIS TIME– we finally have it right about whom bible believing Christians are supposed to despise and harm.

  • Jack

    Rev. Rogers, based on your own use of the word, you are being judgmental, and by noting this, I am being judgmental of your being judgmental. It becomes a never-ending cycle. That’s the problem with trying to silence discussion by using that word. For the one finger we point at others, the other four are pointed right back at us. That means you….and that means me.

    It’s better for people to quit trying to silence each other and instead deal with issues honestly and openly. That’s what living in a free society is about. Disagreements are inevitable and to paraphrase Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably the greatest American theologian of the 20th century, the true test of tolerance is how we handle disagreements over things we care most deeply about. That requires a tender heart and a tough mind…..and the former leads to the latter if we let it.

    When it comes to the Bible and LGBT, there is a conflict. The question is how we handle that conflict. For those of us who both hold the Bible in high esteem and feel compassion toward precisely the people whom it seems to be condemning, the answer is not easy at all. But any answer must not sweep the conflict under the rug by making the Bible simply say what we want it to say. Whatever the answer is, intellectual dishonesty isn’t it.

    On a human level, it comes down to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as we would like done unto you. I don’t want to distort the intended meaning of an ancient writer or writers any more than I would want someone distorting my own communications today. The better way is to face the discrepancy between what those writers wrote and what many good-hearted and well-meaning people wish they had wrote. Deal with it — with honesty and integrity….without having any desired outcome in mind….Deal with it, even with the knowledge that it might feel uncomfortable along the way.

  • Jack

    Well, Ben, in response to your post, whatever I say will probably sound a lot more like Rev. Rogers or Gushee. I think that from my perspective, your post may be going too far in the opposite direction.

    I don’t disagree in principle with their view that if modern views contradict our long-standing views of Scripture, it’s legitimate to revisit those longtime views and do further digging to make sure those old views are honest interpretations of the intent of the writers.

    My beef with them is when they arrive at predetermined conclusions of what they want Scripture to say and then they come up with rationalizations to make that happen — at least to their own satisfaction.

    As to the examples you gave in your post, I will pick two of them as an example of where their approach actually worked quite successfully: attitude to towards Jews and views on racial segregation.

    Regarding the Bible’s attitude toward Jews, not only does the best of modern scholarship challenge Euro-Christendom’s view that God has disowned the Jews; historians affirm that the earliest views of the church also contradict that view. That’s a powerful one-two punch against anti-Semitic replacement theology. Add to it a third factor – -that once Gutenberg’s printing press was invented (1453), and once the Reformation happened (beginning in the 1500s), the two events kicked the door open for every literate person, not just ecclesiastical potentates, to read the Bible for themselves. And that led directly to the emergence of Bible-only sects which almost uniformly saw on its pages a philo-Semitic rather than anti-Semitic stance. And the fact that to this day, the most pro-Jewish or pro-Israel sects are precisely those which stress the Bible over church tradition on all matters, suggests that the actual Biblical text is philo-Semitic and not anti-Semitic.

    On the issue of racial segregation and discrimination, the main biblical text used to justify mistreatment of black people was the Genesis curse on Ham’s son, Canaan. But the passages in question have nothing at all to do with black people or Africa. They were fulfilled centuries later by the fall of the Canaanite peoples, who were not in Africa, nor were they Africans. They were situated in and around where Israel stands today. The Canaanites partly did it to themselves….the evidence for their sadism and cruelty, seen in archeology and hinted at through classic understatement in the Bible, was so stark, researchers were known to weep, especially over the physical evidence of mass torture and sacrifice of children. Worship services were more like assembly lines of mass torture than anything else. It was quite possibly humanity sinking to its lowest point, which is saying a lot.

    So those are two examples of where the evidence for wrong interpretation of Scripture is quite obvious, and the “fix” for them quite easy.

    Would that it were that easy to fix other clashes between what Scripture appears to say and what many people want it to say. It isn’t….and that’s where I disagree with the Rev. and Gushee. They think there’s a simple answer when there is not. And there are a number of examples, not just ones involving gay issues.

    And the answer is to check both our own modern presuppositions about morality on the one hand, and whether ancient interpretations we have always assumed to be accurate in fact are accurate.

    We have to engage on both ends if we are to be honest….otherwise, we are showing cultural bias, either for our own modern views or for older, more ancient views. We should show bias for neither, but be willing to be challenged at both ends.

  • Doc Anthony

    I think your post of 7:45 pm, pretty much nailed it, Jack. Good summary, and thanks.

    Meanwhile, surfing around a little, I noticed that Dr. Robert Gagnon has responded to Dr. Gushee’s defection in a Christian Post article (10-19-2014). That article, like Jack’s 7:45 post, cuts to the chase quickly, is very down-to-earth, and is indeed worth reading.

    Check it out readers, IF you dare.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/david-gushees-gay-switch-biblical-scholarship-and-slanted-reporting-128817/

  • Cris M.

    @Jack,

    I used the framework of one of your arguments.

    But I took liberties and wrote in my own example…

    “Regarding the Bible’s attitude toward GLBT people, not only does the best of truly modern scholarship challenge traditional Christendom’s view that God has disowned “the gays”; many historians affirm that earlier passages of the Bible also contradict that view (since those passage do not take into consideration what we know about biology and sexuality today; nor is there consensus about the accuracy of translations.) That’s a powerful one-two punch against GLBT convert-or-be-celibate theology. Add to it a third factor – Once theologians started viewing the Bible through a temporal and cultural lens (only recently), and once the church started listening to the experiences of the GLBT community (even more recently), the door was opened for every thinking person, not just proponents of dogmatism, to examine the Bible AND science AND the personal experiences of others for themselves. And that led directly to the emergence of a group of Christians which almost uniformly saw on the Bible’s pages a philo-GLBT rather than anti-GLBT stance. And the fact that to this day, the most pro-GLBT or pro-affirmation Christian groups are precisely those which stress the Good News of the Bible over damaging and dogmatic church tradition on all matters, suggests that the actual Biblical text is philo-GLBT and not anti-GLBT.”

    “So that is another example of where the evidence for wrong interpretation of Scripture is quite obvious, and the “fix” for it quite easy.”

    If we are to be honest… that sounds like an equally valid argument, doesn’t it?

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