The “Gay Christian Network” will be hosting their annual Mountain Top Experience conference in January 2011. According to their website, contemplative/emerging Christianity Today editor Philip Yancey will be this year’s key note speaker: (click here). Little needs to be said here, but as Roger Oakland pointed out in his book Faith Undone, one of the propensities of contemplative/emerging figures is a move toward acceptance and embracing of the homosexual lifestyle. Below is Oakland’s article on “Sexuality in the New Reformation.” It is a dreadful shame when a highly popular pro-claiming Christian author like Philip Yancey helps to remove the opportunity for practicing homosexuals to find their way to true repentance and freedom in Jesus Christ.
“Sexuality in the New Reformation”
by Roger Oakland
(from Faith Undone)
It may seem out of place to include a section on sexuality in this chapter on the postmodern reformation. However, one aspect of the topic cannot be ignored, and it has become an earmark in the emerging church—that aspect is related to homosexuality.
In this section, I am merely going to present certain statements made by those in the emerging church for the purpose of showing you this paradigm shift in attitude toward sexuality. How you interpret these statements is up to you, but it is my prayer you will look at them through the eyes of Scripture. One thing is for sure, after reading this section, I think you will agree that emerging spirituality is attempting to redefine how Christians view and think about sexuality. I begin first with the Word of God:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
One example of this new reformation mindset on sexuality can be found in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. Kimball devotes an entire chapter (called “The Church is Homophobic”) to homosexuality and says that Christians need to reinterpret what we thought the Bible says about homosexuality. He states:
Because this is such a huge issue in our culture, and because all of the tension and discussion on this issue is over what the Bible says about it, we can no longer just regurgitate what we have been taught about homosexuality.… We cannot do that any longer … We must approach the Bible with humility, prayer, and sensitivity, taking into consideration the original meaning of Greek and Hebrew words and looking into the historical contexts in which passages were written.… we can no longer with integrity merely quote a few isolated verses and say “case closed.”1
Quite honestly, and some people might get mad at me for saying this, I sometimes wish this [homosexuality] weren’t a sin issue, because I have met gay people who are the most kind, loving, solid, and supportive people I have ever met. As I talk to them and hear their stories and get to know them, I come to understand that their sexual orientation isn’t something they can just turn off. Homosexual attraction is not something people simply choose to have, as is quite often erroneously taught from many pulpits.2
Kimball does not stand alone within the ranks of the emerging church in his permissive, accepting view of homosexuality. Someone else in this camp is Jay Bakker, son of Jim Bakker of the former PTL Club. In an interview with Radarmagazine, Bakker says, “I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin’”3 (brackets in original). On Bakker’s website, he upholds this view.4 And in a December 15th, 2006, interview with Larry King, the following conversation took place:
KING: Would you say that you’re part of the liberal sect of Christianity?
JAY BAKKER: Well, I definitely say I’m a little bit more liberal than probably most, yes.
KING: You, for example, in your church would you marry gays?
JAY BAKKER: If the laws passed, yes.
KING: You favor there being a law, though?
JAY BAKKER: Yes, I do.5
Brian McLaren expressed his views (or lack of them) over the subject and stated:
Most of the emerging leaders I know share my agony over this question [on homosexuality].… Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” … Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements.6
One pastor who runs a ministry that helps homosexuals leave the lifestyle, can help us see the extent of these changing attitudes toward homosexuality. He explains:
They call themselves new-evangelicals. Philip Yancey devoted a whole chapter to homosexuality in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? He thinks we need to extend grace to people who can’t change their homosexuality.… Tony Campolo thinks people who can’t change their homosexuality should live in celibate homosexual partnerships. His wife thinks gays should just get married to each other. Lewis Smedes agrees with Richard Foster. They all seem to agree there are some gay people who cannot change their homosexuality, are not able to live celibately and therefore exceptions should be made for them.7
The pastor, an ex-homosexual, disputes those in the church who publicly embrace homosexuality, and he believes there is an answer to these postmodern views. He states:
Since when are Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, Tony Campolo and Lewis Smedes experts on the changeability of homosexuality? … I have lived this issue for most of my 42 years. For seventeen years I’ve helped hundreds, maybe thousands, of people come out of homosexuality. I’ve never seen two healings alike. And I’ve never seen someone who by the grace of God could not be healed. Now that’s what’s so amazing about grace! It empowers us to live a moral and transformed life in Christ.8
In 2004, Philip Yancey (author and editor for Christianity Today) accepted an interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge for Whosoever, “an online magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered Christians.” When Chellew-Hodge asked Yancey about his views on gays and lesbians in the church, Yancey answered:
When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people. There are a few—not many, but a few—passages of Scripture that give me pause. Frankly, I don’t know the answer to those questions.9
My question to Yancey and other proclaiming Christian leaders is why don’t you know the answer? The Bible is clear on this matter. We may not always understand but part of being a Christian is accepting God’s Word and trusting that it is truly just that. Yancey may not be an emergent leader, but his beliefs certainly fit with emerging spirituality. The following statement he makes shows he shares a similar disregard for biblical doctrine:
Perhaps our day calls for a new kind of ecumenical movement: not of doctrine, nor even of religious unity, but one that builds on what Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common.… Indeed, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have much in common.10
(from Faith Undone, chapter 12)
1. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church, op. cit., p. 137.
2. Ibid., p. 138.
3. Interview with Jay Bakker, “Empire of the Son” (Radar, http://radaronline.com/features/2006/12/empire_of_the _son _par t_ iii.php).
4. Bakker’s website: http://www.revolutionnyc.com/links.htm.
5. Interview by Larry King with Jay Bakker; see transcript: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0612/15/lkl.01.html.
6. Brian McLaren, “Leader’s Insight: No Cowardly Flip-Flop: How should pastors respond to “the Homosexual Question”?(Christianity Today, January 23, 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/leadersnewsletter/2006/cln60123.html).
7. Mario Bergner, “Conversations with Jason about Homosexuality” (Redeemed Lives News, Spring/Summer 2001, http://www.redeemedlives.org).
9. Interview by Candace Chellew-Hodge with Philip Yancey, “Amazed by Grace” (Whosoever online magazine, http://www.whosoever.org/v8i6/yancey.shtml).
10. Philip Yancey, “Hope for Abraham’s Sons” (Christianity Today, November 1, 2004).