When A Letter to My Congregation came out early in 2014, it was difficult to predict whether voices like Justin Lee, leader of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn, would multiply or dissipate. Since then, however The Reformation Project, led by Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, and the work of significant evangelicals scholars like David Gushee (who wrote the forward for A Letter to My Congregation) and Jim Brownson, at Western Seminar all added to a sense of growing momentum. This was only reinforced by the recent change of heart announced by Tony Compolo, a well respected evangelical voice for decades. Pastors like Fred Harrell at City Church in San Francisco and Danny Cortez from New Heart Community Church in Whittier, California, and Adam Philips at Christ Church, Portland have either adopted the Third Way explicitly or used it as a resource in moving toward full inclusion, as have others around the country. Language and theological perspectives differ, but the church is finding a new way forward in an attempt to put “Love your neighbor as yourself” into practice in the face of harmful exclusionary policies. The following article in Reuters offers a recent and helpful summary.
Emily Swan and Ken Wilson were interviewed on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty which aired June 24, 2015. They start by sharing briefly about their “birth story” of choosing to follow the Third Way in their church community. A few key moments in the interview highlight what Third Way is all about.
Danny Cortez was dismissed from the Southern Baptist Convention for refusing to enforce its policies against people who are LGBT. Before his dismissal, he stood trial before the ruling body of the SBC and defended his Third Way approach on the grounds that the SBC had already defacto adopted it with respect to divorce and remarriage. This post from Danny picks up that theme.
I responded earlier to the Tim Keller review of my book, A Letter to My Congregation, noting aspects of the review that I found wanting. But Keller mentioned two things that required further reflection on my part. First, he noted the importance of William Loader, a New Testament scholar who has written extensively on sexuality during the New Testament period and whose work I missed. Second, Keller, citing support from Loader, disputed my view of Romans 1 as an attack on pederasty, temple prostitution, on the grounds that these were not consistent with the “mutuality” implied in Paul’s choice of words, “men…were consumed with passion for one another.” So I ordered Loader and read it to see for myself. And here is what I discovered. Continue reading
I was honored to have my book, A Letter to My Congregation (along with God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines) reviewed by Tim Keller. Keller is an influential pastor and pastor of pastors. It wouldn’t take much humility on my part to regard him as my better. As far as I can tell we share similar passions in ministry: making the gospel accessible to the growing ranks of the religiously unaffiliated and those in cities where church attendance is low, dealing with disputable matters (like science and faith) as though a world hungry for God is watching us. Keller’s concluding remarks about the tone of my book were therefore especially welcome. I am also honored to be associated with Matthew Vines, a courageous gay Christian who has written a powerful book. (See Vines’ response to Keller’s review.) I’ll focus on Keller’s critique of my book. Continue reading