Monday, May 22, 2006

Former Fuller Prof Pens Volume Supporting the "Welcoming" Position on Human Sexuality

It is not every day that one of your former professors pens a book so outrageous and so polar opposite to one's own views. Sadly, the recent publication of Jack Rogers' Jesus, the Bible, And Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church (John Knox Westminster, 2006), comes to us as just such a book. Notice a recent press release involving Rogers and dealing with the upcoming debate in the United States Senate regarding the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment.

...WHAT: Media conference call by national religious voices calling for fair-minded religious leaders to begin immediate action in opposition of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment vote the week of June 5...

* Reverend Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Ph.D., president of the Chicago Theological Seminary.
* Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, fifth senior minister of The Riverside Church. Forbes is the first African American to serve as senior minister of this 2,400-person congregation associated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Churches of Christ. Before being called to Riverside's pulpit, Dr. Forbes served from 1976 - 1985 as the Brown and Sockman Associate Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
* Dr. Jack Rogers, professor of theology emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
* Dr. Scott Haldeman, assistant professor of worship at Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the author of "American Racism and the Promise of Pentecost."...

BACKGROUND: At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 10, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) announced that the Senate would vote on a Federal Marriage Amendment during the week of June 5. The proposed discriminatory amendment would, for the first time, change the U.S. Constitution to treat one group of Americans differently from others.

A broad-based coalition of religious leaders will issue an immediate call to colleagues among clergy leaders of the church to speak out now against this discriminatory amendment.

These religious voices will call attention to the fact that the Congressional leadership is seeking to divert the attention away from the hard issues that Americans face at this moment. They will speak about how this diversion shows a troubling lack of moral leadership.

Jack Rogers was one of my professors at Fuller where he taught Philosophical Theology for about 17 years. He was famous then for his book, Confessions of a Conservative Evangelical, which might have been better titled Confessions of a Former Conservative Evangelical and later for his several books attacking inerrancy. Interestingly, both he and R.C. Sproul did their doctoral studies under G.C. Berkouwer!!! Fascinating fork in the road, heh?

Now he has come out with a new book, Jesus, the Bible, And Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, showing the maturity of his scholarship on the trajectory he began decades ago. After he began his challenges to the authority of Scripture, he found a way to support other controversial positions regarding the Bible. Rogers' scholarship has been subjected to strong rejoinders by several evangelical scholars who have challenged both his historiography and his revisionism regarding post-Reformation history. Finally, he has found a way to endorse the "Welcoming" position, as described on the web site:

"In a powerful new book, evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers argues unequivocally for equal rights in the church and in society for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout history, he observes, Christianity has moved towards ever greater openness and inclusiveness. Today's church is led by many of those who were once cast out: people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people.

He argues that when we interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, we see that the church is called to grant equal rights to all people.

Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality describes Rogers' own change of mind and heart on the issue; charts the church's well-documented history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups; argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture; debunks oft-repeated stereotypes about gays and lesbians; and concludes with ideas for how the church can heal itself and move forward again.

A fascinating combination of personal narrative, theology, and church history, this book is essential reading for all concerned with the future of the church and the health of the nation.

"This is an extraordinary book, arguably the best to appear in the long, drawn-out debates within churches over homosexuality," says J. Philip Wogaman, former senior minister at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

"Rogers book will be useful to people of ALL mainline denomination..." says the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. "For those who truly wish to know what the Bible does and does not say, this is a real find."

That the former senior minister of Foundry United Methodist in D.C. and gay bishop Gene Robinson endorse the book just about says it all, doesn't it? Watching the slide of so many leaders of evangelicalism into Scripture-denying forms of revisionism breaks my heart, especially when many of them were former professors of mine!

Tonight I was listening to another one of Berkouwer's former students, R.C. Sproul, speak on the importance of sola scriptura, the formal principle of the Reformation. May we recover the great "solas" of the Reformation in the face of a church increasingly in sync with our culture in asking the original question: "Has God really said?"


roy said...

three things come to mind Dennis...

first it is a bit unfair to condemn the book by saying "That the former minister of Foundry United Methodist in D.C. and gay bishop Gene Robinson endorse the book just about says it all, doesn't it?" My guess is that those two would endorse many things with which you would agree...

2nd, I'm struck by the reality that every time the church has moved forward in a significant way it involved seeing the scripture with new eyes. That was no more obvious than during the Reformation when those who turned the church upside down saw things in scripture that had not been seen there before. Perhaps this is just such a time?

Finally, the issue of the Marriage Amendment... Public policy questions are never simple but this one seems clear to me. Regardless of how one sees the issue of homoseuality, I cannot understand the argument that removes rights from someone. We have all seen instances where a gay man who has nursed his life partner with AIDS is refused entry into an ICU because the "immediate" family doesn't want him near. Or when a lesbian couple who have raised children together from birth and when the biological mother is killed in a car accident, the children are taken from the only home and family they've known because there is no biological or legal tie there, only a covenant of love not acknowledged by the government. The examples go on. The marriage ammendment is immoral and worse than that, it is a political ploy because nobody, including those who genuinely advocate it, beleves it will ever become law.

revdrron said...

"I cannot agree with those who say that they have 'new truth' to teach. The two words seem to me to contradict each other; that which is new is not true. It is the old that is true, for truth is as old as God himself" - Charles Spurgeon

enjoy, ron

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog through doing a search on Berkouwer. I am the author of a book on Berkouwer - 'The Problem of Polarization: An Approach based on the Writings of G C Berkouwer' (also a blog - Like you, I emphasize the 'sola scriptura' principle which you have highlighted in your concluding reference to R C Sproul. This emphasis is reflected in my other blog - Hope this is of some interest to you.