Some Resources and Readings From The Reformation Project
I’m mostly recovered from the incredible, but spiritually and emotionally exhausting Reformation Project conference in Kansas City, MO. If you’d like to read more about it, check out this piece I wrote for Red Letter Christians.
Quite a few people have asked about the prep period and readings that the reformers did prior to the conference. There were over 1,000 pages from dozens of theologians and authors, and two complete books, so I can’t feasibly list everything. What I CAN do though is provide a summary of the articles that I found the most helpful, infuriating, inspiring, and insightful. The ones below should give you a good idea of what we debated, learned from, and dissected, on our journey towards being affirming Christians.
John Boswell, Logos and Biography, Chapter 31.
“Finding oneself in conflict with the church is a hallowed Christian tradition. Suffragettes, abolitionists, pilgrims, Protestant reformers, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis, early monastics – almost every major reformer in Christian history was condemned and opposed by other Christians for beliefs or lifestyles of both.
Although it took most of a century, the claim by Southern segregationists that blackness was the curse of Ham eventually inspired more disrespect for its white supporters than for the black people they hoped to keep in servitude. It is worth remembering, however, that many of those who argued for it at the time doubtless believed that they derived their views from the Bible than from social prejudice.”
Gareth Moore, A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality, Chapter 5 – “The Bible for Heterosexuality?”
“Is this [the Garden of Eden] not a model for us? Are we not presented here with a model of humanity such as God wills it, and are we not therefore obliged to follow it? No. We are not disciples of Adam, but of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. What is essential for us here is not the will of Adam but the will of God.”
Jack Rogers, Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Chapter 5 – “What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say about Homosexuality.”
“When we see Jesus as the fulfillment of the law (Matt. 5:17), we understand that our challenge is not meticulously to maintain culturally conditioned laws, but rather, with Jesus, to love God and love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40).”
“The claim that the image of God is rooted in the male-female relationship leads us away from the biblical text. When I was on the task force on homosexuality at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, one of our members, a former missionary with a PhD in New Testament, argued in favor of the Barthian view that a person was not fully human unless in a heterosexual marriage. His argument offended various committee members, including a never-married woman who was a former missionary. Our one gay member quietly said, “That sure makes it hard on Jesus.“
Martti Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World, “Chapter 6: The New Testament.”
“But condemning “homosexuality” is not Paul’s main concern. His words about same-sex conduct in Romans 1:26-27 are one example he chose from his tradition to illustrate how badly the world needs grace and, at the same time, to set a trap for anyone who would read his words with feelings of moral superiority or religious bigotry.”
Phyllis A. Bird, The Bible in Christian Ethical Deliberation Concerning Homosexuality: “Chapter 5 – Old Testament Contributions.”
“This perception rests, I believe, on a fairly understanding of Scripture and its relationship to experience. It treats the Bible as divine oracle or law, abstracting its words from their literary and social contexts and absolutizing them as statements of timeless rules of principles that stand over against changing social practices and values.”
Dale Martin, Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation, “Chapter 7 – Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32.”
“Ultimately, my purpose is to insist that modern scholars cannot blame their heterosexism on Paul precisely because the form their heterosexism takes-its assumptions, logics, ways of framing the question- is completely different from the form of Paul’s heterosexism, as can be seen through my sketch of the different (indeed, conflicting) grammars of the ancient and modern ideologies.”
Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, “Chapter 16 – Homosexuality.”
“Can homosexual persons be members of the Christian church? This is rather like asking, ‘Can envious persons be members of the church?’ (cf. Rom 1:29) or ‘Can alcoholics be members of the church?’ De facto, of course, they are. Unless we think that the church is a community of sinless perfection, we must acknowledge that persons of homosexual orientations are welcome along with other sinners in the company of those who trust in the God who justifies the ungodly…..at the same time, I would argue that the pastoral task of the church is to challenge self-defined homosexual Christians to reshape their identity in conformity with the gospel.”
William Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, “Chapter 2 — A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic.”
“While continuing a negative assessment of homosexuality today, even of its least offensive form, the Christian community should reserve its greatest denouncement for the vilest forms of homosexual activity. A second cultural difference is the increased awareness today of various environmental and biological influences in shaping sexual preference. While these influences should not overturn a negative assessment of same-sex relationships, they should clearly give us a greater degree of compassion for those who struggle with homosexual feelings and behavior.”
Robert Gagnon, How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture and Does Scripture’s Indictment Apply to Committed Homosexual Unions?
“It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture’s sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce…Are we being unreasonable in giving precedence to some sins over others? Should we concede these other matters as well and be more consistently disobedient to the will of Christ? I don’t think so.”
Mark D. Smith, Journal of the American Academy of Religion LXIV/2, “Ancient Bisexuality and the Interpretation of Romans 1:26-27.”
“Paul’s proscription must be taken in the context in which it is presented. For him, humanity is full of corruption, as is evident in the lives of all persons, and Paul (as well as other biblical authors) does not place any special emphasis on censuring homosexual activity; rather the opposite is the case. Paul devotes many more pages to the unjust use of money than to homoerotic activity. Nevertheless, I do not think there is any avoiding the conclusion that Paul considers homosexual behavior to be sinful.”
George Chauncey, Jr., Christian Brotherhood Or Sexual Perversion? Homosexual Identities and The Construction Of Sexual Boundaries in the World War I Era