According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, November 16, 2015

Building Bridges of Understanding Between the Traditional Church and Gay Community



A year and a half ago, before the enactment of the civil rights law permitting marriage between gay couples the Washington Post noted of progressive evangelical Tony Campolo:

"Campolo, who ran for Congress in 1976 as a Democrat, considers himself to be
theologically conservative but socially progressive. He is against legalized abortion
and  gay marriage while being progressive on issues related to poverty, race and
American diplomacy.

"While not embracing same-sex marriage, Campolo has said the two sides could find
a detente if the government would “get out of the business of marrying people and,
instead, only give legal status to civil unions."

                                                             Washington Post Report, January 14, 2014

Then, in early June of 2015 before the civil rights law was passed later in the month, Tony Campolo, along with retired editor David Neff of Christianity Today, reversed their positions on heterosexual marriage to recognize the civil rights of gay couples to wed. When they did this Christianity Today was quick to note their change from the traditional views of the evangelical church:

'When a prominent evangelical leader, like Tony Campolo, announces his support for gay
marriage, it’s likely to get reporters’ attention. It is indeed news, in that it is still unusual
to hear an otherwise orthodox Christian announce heterodox views on sexuality. But in the
case of Campolo, it may not be the kind of news that garners much attention. (One reason:
His organization Red Letter Christians has argued for same-sex marriage several times.)

"But we were surprised when former CT editor David Neff on Facebook praised Campolo’s
move. As he put it in an email to me clarifying his comment, “I think the ethically responsible
thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also
believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church
should fortify traditional marriages.”

"At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion. Saddened because we firmly
believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to
be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman. We’ve stated this view explicitly in many
editorials, and it is implicit but clear in many of our feature stories."

                                                                                         - Christianity Today, June 9, 2015


From Wikipedia it is noted:

Tony Campolo and his wife Peggy have participated in very public debates and discussions
about the place of lesbians and gays within church and society. Tony Campolo contended
that homosexuality was a sin in practice, though not in orientation. His wife, Peggy Campolo,
disagreed, holding that committed, monogamous homosexual practice was not a sin; she
supports full equality for homosexual, bisexual and transsexual persons. Regarding marriage,
Tony Campolo states that all couples should have the right to a civil union with all the legal
rights that are associated with such a contract:

"I propose that the government should get out of the business of marrying people and, instead,
only give legal status to civil unions. The government should do this for both gay couples and
straight couples and, leave marriage in the hands of the Church and other religious entities."

On June 8, 2015, Tony Campolo released a statement changing his position on the issue of gay
relationships, and stating that he now supported full acceptance of Christian gay couples into
the Church. He cited several reasons including the institution of marriage primarily being
about spiritual growth instead of procreation, what he had learned through his friendships
with gay Christian couples, and past examples of exclusionary church traditions practiced
"by sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong."

                                                                        - Wikipedia section on LGBT Sexual Debates



This past weekend my wife and I attended Tony and Peggy's Campolo's discussion of gay marriage originally to be presented as a soft-debate between Tony, as a progressive traditionalist, and his wife Peggy, who speaks the progressive non-traditionalist viewpoint. No less were we attracted to the discussion because we too carry the same soft-division between one another in our own household as a married couple.

However, after scheduling the Campolo's public speaking engagement Tony later declared his support for the gay community around the same time that the U.S. civil law permitted same sex marriage. He therefore spoke apologetically of his reasons for making this personal change from traditional non-acceptance to non-traditional acceptance of gay marriage, rights, fellowship, ministry, and community.

From the audience's perspective one could tell Tony had come to this momentous conclusion in his overwrought spirit thoughtfully and compellingly. That with heavy heart and prayerful spirit he had taken pains to search out his past attitudes towards the gay community and found them to be inaccurate in assessment, and unworthy of the gospel of Christ, as a minister to the redemptive power of Jesus.

It was a courageous act and one requiring public declaration as a former traditional evangelic. As a result one of the first things Tony needed to do was to shutter the very ministry he had founded for "at-risk youth" - the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. Primarily because it was supported by traditional Christians and churches holding to doctrines against homosexuality. He also quickly discovered public denouncement by former collegial institutions such as the stalwart evangelical magazine Christianity Today which dutifully informed their readers of Tony's change of attitude - even as he shared his great burden of spirit, searching prayers, and multitudinous biblical studies for direction and counsel from the Spirit of God.

Using the recent example of Alan Chamber's own "conversion" as the former director of Exodus International (quoted immediately below), a ministry once committed to "helping homosexual men and women become straight" (to politely quote them), Tony likewise apologized for the deep hurt and misunderstanding he had committed over the many years of his ministry to the gay community. To use the years remaining to him to learn to accept and love all his brothers and sisters in Christ, and not just some, who are to be of one spirit in the unity of the body of Christ.

So when comparing Alan Chamber's own assessments of his ministries with Tony's we may note how difficult these very personal decisions were made - and are being made - by other progressives within the body of Christ. Especially when brought home by the personal identity crisis seen and experienced in the lives of sons and daughters, spouses and friends, and perhaps even one's self.

And when recognizing this reality within humanity, to be very careful not to commit the sins of bullying, gossip, evil, and abuse, within the body of the church. But to be wise in one's words, thoughts, and behavior. And if necessary, to read and understand the latest literature written in psychology, psychiatry, gender studies, and health documents, on homosexuality. That it is more than a derogatory name, or specist condition, but a living and breathing human being standing before God and the world seeking fellowship, care, reflection, and love.

What then can we say in the aftermath of heartache, tears, guilt, and denunciation? But to encourage to err on the side of love. To do no harm. To search out the Spirit of God and seek His peace between our gay brothers and sisters, loving each unconditionally whether we agree with this or not. To be make peace with our fellow gay Christians knowing of their differences but who are likewise actively seeking the same God of love and peace as their non-gay heterosexual brothers and sisters.

For Tony, as for many progressive Christians, this is the right thing to do, and must be encouraged, given the struggle of the traditional church to honor God and His Word in all things. And especially in a day-and-age where politics and brutality would push the hot buttons of our sinful beings advocating intolerance, injustice, and merciless judgment.

To be Christ-like is to chose the harder path. The path of misunderstanding. The path of social criticism. The path which chooses to stand with those suffering injustices from both the world and the unressurected church. To seek the Spirit of God in surrendering pride so as to embrace the loveless, the despised, the reviled, and the broken.

"What would Jesus do?" He would do what should be done. He would chose the narrower path. The hard path of hatred and be found where the self-righteous dare to tread but where the godly go fearlessly to the defense and aide of the afflicted. Peace.

R.E. Slater
November 16, 2015

For a full replay of the event we listened to at Mars Hill Church go to this link here.
We thought Tony and Peggy Campolo explained their position kindly, graciously, and
positively, for the questioning church seeking reconciliation to the gay community.

Click here for video link



* * * * * * * * * * *


Group apologizes to gay community,
shuts down 'cure' ministry

by Ed Payne, CNN
Updated 2:04 PM ET, Mon July 8, 2013

After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to "help" gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology.

"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change -- and they want to be heard," Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said Wednesday.

The announcement comes less than a day after Exodus issued a wide-ranging apology to the gay community for "years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole," a statement from the group says.

"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus. "For quite some time, we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."

Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has "ongoing same-sex attractions."

"It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church's treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt," Chambers said. "Today it is as if I've just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church."

New focus on a therapy

Exodus, which has promoted "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ," has de-emphasized conversion therapy in recent years as more of the counselors in its network have abandoned the practice.

The American Psychological Association defines conversion therapy as aimed at changing sexual orientation, but adopted a resolution in 2009 condemning the practice.

In it, the organization said "mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments."

But the same resolution also encouraged therapists to consider the religious beliefs of clients who say such beliefs are important to their views of homosexuality.

The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1975.

But yet with the apology, some things have not changed, according to Chambers.

"I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them," he said. "I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek."

A new ministry

With the closing of Exodus International, the board of directors voted to begin a new and separate ministry called Reduce Fear.

"This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation," Chambers said. "Our goals are to reduce fear, and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities."

It's meant to align with Jesus' New Testament message found in John 13:34 -- "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

"From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we're all prodigal sons and daughters," Chambers said. "Exodus International is the prodigal's older brother, trying to impose its will on God's promises, and make judgments on who's worthy of His Kingdom.

"God is calling us to be the Father -- to welcome everyone, to love unhindered."


* * * * * * * * * * *


Building Bridges of Understanding:
Tony and Peggy Campolo on Homosexuality

The Gay Christian Community



Dr. Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern College in suburban Philadelphia, is a well-known and highly respected voice in evangelical Christianity today. Dr. Campolo is an ordained Baptist minister, a popular speaker, author of numerous books, and founder of a ministry which reaches out to poor and hurting people worldwide in the name of Jesus.

Dr. Campolo's position on homosexuality is conservative: he believes that the Bible forbids all homosexual activity. However, he does not support attempts to "convert" gays into straights; rather, he advises gay people to pursue celibacy. His position is what some refer to as "Side B."

Peggy Campolo, Dr. Campolo's wife, takes a different view. She supports monogamous, same-sex relationships, and believes that marriages should be recognized in the church for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Peggy's position is what some refer to as "Side A."

Two committed Christians with two different views - yet they are able to share the same bed each night and respect each other's faith. How do they do it?

Tony and Peggy Campolo have spoken about their divergent opinions on homosexuality to churches and other Christian organizations. In 2003 they addressed a gathering of gay and supportive Christians on this topic. We've been given permission to make this entertaining and enlightening presentation available via the web, so just use the links below to download and listen to Tony and Peggy speak!

Part 1 - Tony (2.86 MB)

Part 2 - Peggy (2.35 MB)

Part 3 - Tony (2.08 MB)

Part 4 - Peggy (0.95 MB)

If you were impressed by this presentation, please consider visiting Tony Campolo's website to learn about supporting his ministry.


* * * * * * * * * * *


Evangelical Progressive Tony Campolo of Red Letter Christians


From Franklin Graham to Tony Campolo, some evangelical leaders are splitting over gay marriage


June 9, 2015

Ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, many evangelicals are wrestling with the question of whether you can support the issue and remain an evangelical.

Evangelicals are America’s least likely religious group to support same-sex marriage, but a handful of leaders and churches within the movement have divided publicly on the issue in recent years. Some are wondering whether the shifts are a signal of what’s to come, whether evangelicalism could fracture or whether divided evangelicals can continue to happily live under the same umbrella.

Just in the past few days, Tony Campolo announced his support for same-sex couples’ inclusion in the church, while Franklin Graham announced that he would pull Billy Graham Evangelistic Association accounts from LGBT-friendly Wells Fargo bank. On top of that, retired editor of Christianity Today David Neff announced his support for gay marriage.

The three recent cases represent different approaches within an older generation of evangelicals, a group that tends to hold financial and theological influence among other religious leaders and institutions.

“This issue will eventually break relationships: personally, congregationally and institutionally,” said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who called today a “crucial moment.” “There’s not going to be any way around it.”

White evangelicals remain deeply opposed to same-sex marriage. Just 27 percent favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry, while 70 percent oppose it, according to the most recent survey research from the Pew Research Center. The support among evangelicals has still jumped 13 percentage points since 2005.


A shift among older evangelical leaders

Campolo, a progressive evangelical leader who counseled President Bill Clinton through the Monica Lewinsky scandal and is a sociology professor at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, announced on his Web site Monday his support for same-sex couples in the church. Most evangelical churches tend to exclude same-sex couples from membership and within leadership.

“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” Campolo wrote in a statement.

After years of publicly taking the opposite stance of his wife, Campolo wrote that he changed his position by interacting with gay couples and studying the Bible. Ultimately, it was through his own marriage that he concluded that “marriage should always be primarily about spiritual growth” and that Christian gay couples can reflect that goal.

Campolo, who declined to be interviewed on the topic, announced in 2014 that the organization he founded nearly 40 years ago would close [sic, the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education]. At that time, he remained opposed to same-sex marriage. Campolo’s shift at 80 years old was not a surprise to some, as he stands on the progressive spectrum anyway.

“The less surprising it is, the more mainstream it’s become,” said Matthew Vines, an author and speaker working for evangelicals to become more LGBT inclusive. “Even if you knew it was coming, the fact that it came and it’s not surprising is itself a sign of changes that are happening.”

But Campolo joins a handful of Baby Boomer evangelical leaders who have shifted into supporting same-sex marriage. Just 21 percent of evangelicals who are above the age of 50 favor gays and lesbians marrying legally, compared to 37 percent of evangelicals between 18 and 49, according to Pew.

A domino effect?

After Campolo’s announcement, David Neff, retired editor in chief of Christianity Today who still writes a column for the magazine, indicated his similar support on his private Facebook account, drawing notice from some observers.

Neff confirmed his support for same-sex marriage in a statement. Neff says that he still holds a high view of biblical authority, but that he has learned to read the relevant biblical passages in a different way than he used to.

“I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships,” Neff said in a statement to CT. “I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”

CT issued an editorial Tuesday, writing that “we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion,” and “yes, another couple of prominent evangelicals have come out in support of gay sexual ethics.” The magazine that Billy Graham founded reaffirmed their position that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“We at CT are sorry when fellow evangelicals modify their views to accord with the current secular thinking on this matter,” CT’s current editor Mark Galli wrote. “And we’ll continue to be sorry, because over the next many years, there will be other evangelicals who similarly reverse themselves on sexual ethics.”

While a small number of evangelicals appear to be shifting, including Sojourners’ Jim Wallis (who announced his support in 2013) and ethicist David Gushee (who announced his support in 2014), many evangelicals remain steadfast in their opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Evangelicals are like dominoes,” said Randall Balmer, a historian at Dartmouth University. “We’re seeing one more indication that evangelicals are moving on this issue rather dramatically, as is the rest of the culture.”

Holding the line on gay marriage

On June 5, Franklin Graham urged Christians to pull their financial support from LGBT-friendly companies like Tiffany’s, which advertises wedding bands for gay couples, and Wells Fargo bank, which has used a same-sex couple in its advertising. Graham said he will move accounts from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association out of Wells Fargo.

“This is one way we as Christians can speak out — we have the power of choice,” he posted on Facebook. “Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards. Maybe if enough of us do this, it will get their attention.”

Graham ended up putting the organization’s money into a bank that that has sponsored a Gay Pride festival fundraiser. Graham’s publicist did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.

One question will be is whether evangelicals who support same-sex marriage will continue to call themselves evangelical or whether they might find a home in more progressive mainline Protestant traditions. With no official doctrine or pope, evangelicals often debate simply who gets to call themselves an evangelical.


There is no universally shared definition of “evangelical,” but one of the ways evangelicals tend to define themselves is by their regard for the Bible as the ultimate authority. For a majority of evangelicals, the concept of LGBT inclusion collides with the authority and proper interpretation of the Bible. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of white evangelicals see “a lot” of conflict between homosexuality and religious beliefs, the highest religious group to see a conflict between the two.

Overall, the percentage of Americans who support gay marriage is much higher among those who see “a little conflict” between homosexuality and their faith is much higher than those who say they see “a lot” of conflict between the two (54 percent compared to 27 percent).

A small number of evangelical churches have announced their shift on same-sex relationships in church. For instance, a prominent evangelical Christian church in San Francisco announced in March it will no longer ask members who are LGBT to remain celibate. And earlier this year, GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tenn., and Seattle’s EastLake Community Church reversed their celibacy policies.

Evangelicals in the pews don’t always follow what national leaders say publicly. Many of them do not follow what many leaders have said on support for climate change or immigration reform, for instance.

The issue reared its head in 2014 when World Vision announced it would allow its employees to be in same-sex marriages. The policy was short-lived; the $1 billion relief group reversed it within 48 hours after supporters threatened to pull donations.

Mohler also noted the number of evangelical pastors and leaders who don’t speak about same-sex marriage from the pulpit or otherwise.

“Every one of us is going to have to give an answer in short order,” Mohler said. “There are good number of evangelicals who have been trying to fly under the radar. It isn’t going to work.”


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