Emily Timbol

What is The Reformation Project and Why Does it Matter?

Jul
10

logoIn about two months, I’ll be flying to Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, to attend a four day conference aimed at reforming the church’s current teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Forty-nine other people will be joining me there who believe, like I do, that something needs to be done to stop the mistreatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people within the church

The conference is being held by The Reformation Project, started by Matthew Vines, whose sermon about the Bible and homosexuality turned into a viral video, shared by thousands.

There is no doubt in my mind that God is at work with this conference, its leaders, attendees, and me.

Four years ago, when I first started to feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit leading me to where I am now, I had no idea the struggles I’d face. I thought, foolishly, that being motivated by a love of the Gospel, and a desire to treat people with love and respect, would be uncontroversial. That everyone who professed faith in Christ would support me.

I was wrong.

What followed my decision to become someone who seeks change in the church was attacks. Personal, vicious attacks. Aimed at my faith, my character, and my intelligence. These attacks came from friends, close family, and countless strangers.

But these attacks are only a glimpse of what my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends have experienced. The more alienated I felt from the church, the more close I felt to these people, many of them Christians, who just wanted a place where they too could worship the Lord. At the same time I was feeling the pain of isolation, I was feeling the power of empathy.

When this was all beginning, I lamented to my mother about the struggles of being, “different.”

“I just don’t feel like I belong anymore,” I said.

“That’s because you’re a reformer.”

“What?” I asked.

My Mom smiled at me and shook her head, “It’s never easy for reformers. No one likes to be told they need to change. But the church can’t survive if someone doesn’t do just that.”

When The Reformation Project first contacted me, that conversation came to the forefront of my mind, and I smiled and thanked God for the sprouting of a seed I hadn’t realized was planted.

My mom was right (she usually is.) Reform needs to happen. And this project, led by the incredibly intelligent Matthew Vines, is seeking to make those changes happen.

I was wary, at first, by the word, “Reform,” used by someone seeking to apply that term to something as unchanging as the Bible, Christianity, and Christ.

But what the Reformation is seeking to change is not Scripture, or Christianity. What it’s seeking to change is the wildfire of misinformation that has caused far too many well meaning Christians to burn with hurtful words, actions, and attitudes towards their LGBT friends and family. What I, and the other reformers want to change is not what the Bible says, but what people have mistakenly taken it to mean, when it comes to rationalizing discrimination and homophobia.

This isn’t a project with the goal of twisting Scripture to fit a certain agenda. It’s a project dedicated to the thoughtful, measured re-examination of everything surrounding those scriptures that have been misused.

The other reformers and me have spent roughly 10-12 hours per week reading academic and theological articles from authorities on both sides of the issue. John Boswell, Richard Hays, William Webb, Robert Gagnon, David Halperin, to name just a few of the dozens we’ll be reading. History, literature, psychology, sociology, are all examined, interpreted, and applied to the issue of just what it means to be a Christian and LGBT.

We’re only a few weeks into our summer of learning, but so far I can say this: when all is said and done, I won’t just have an opinion on whether or not being gay is a dis-qualifier for being an active Christian in the church. I’ll have an education on it.

An education that I’m going to use going forward, in my journey to fight those who seek to use the Bible as a weapon of discrimination. That is why The Reformation Project matters, and that is why I’ve found myself falling more in love with Christ, the more I dive into this work.

The church can never stop reforming, if it wants to continue doing good in the lives of people within it. I’m so blessed to now be a part of a group of reformers who believe the same, instead of having to go it alone. For that, I thank God.

 

The Reformation Project’s Statement of Faith:

We believe in:

  • The inspiration of the Bible, the Word of God.
  • The Triune God, eternally existent as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • The supremacy of God the Father, who created all things seen and unseen through Christ our Lord.
  • The deity of Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation, fully God and fully man, head of the church, author and finisher of our faith; His death for our sins; and His resurrection and eventual return.
  • The regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

4 Responses to What is The Reformation Project and Why Does it Matter?

  1. Stay strong, Emily! As a gay Christian, I personally thank you for your bravery.

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