“God and the Gay Christian”: Religious Conservatives Are Running Scared.

Within days of its publication, Matthew Vines’ “God and the Gay Christian” has evoked a flurry of angry denunciation from a wide range of Christian bloggers and scholars, with news headlines like “Pro-gay book ‘exceedingly dangerous’”, “Pro-gay book departs from Christian tradition”, “Should Christians Use the Term “Gay Christian”?” (the writer thinks not), “Haven’t You Read? Answering a modern-day Pharisee”, “Some Honest Questions for Professing ‘Gay Christians’”, “A shameful day in evangelical Christian publishing” and“Deception: Christian publisher sells soul for mammon”

God and the Gay Christian

The extent of this reaction is remarkable. “God and the Gay Christian” is hardly the first book to challenge conservative Christian conventional wisdom on the subject, and not even the first from a conservative, Evangelical perspective. The Anglican Canon Derrek Sherwen Bailey began the reassessment of the biblical evidence almost sixty years ago, and has since been followed by a wide range of scholars and other writers, from the full range of Christian faith traditions, including Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and more.

Nor is it necessarily the best, by any standard – certainly not in terms of scholarship. One of the interesting responses to the book is a newly published e-book by faculty from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,  “God and the Gay Christian? a response to Matthew Vines. Writing about this at Patheos, Owen Strachan notes

Vines’s book is not dense in terms of scholarship. Hamilton and Burk catch numerous exegetical flaws and errors in his argumentation that their facility with their original languages allows. Indeed, one sees the strength of a program of scholarship in comparing the two books. Vines is a smart person, but he has no formal theological credentials. Hamilton and Burk are able to offer numerous critiques that Vines’s book cannot treat.

– “Thoughtlife”, Patheos blogs

In my own review, I found that although the book has much to recommend it, I had some quibbles of my own: there is some arrogance in seeing himself as a unique trailblazer, and an uncomfortable blending of form: biblical commentary bookended by the story of his personal journey of discovery.

If it’s not the first, or the best, of its kind – why has it provoked such a strong response from his critics?

The answer, I suspect, is that they are running scared. Public assessments of same – sex relationships is changing rapidly, even among evangelical Christians, and the defenders of continued discrimination and exclusion know it.

Quite why (in my view) these conservatives should be “running scared”, I leave for my next post.

Recommended Books

Vines, Matthew: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships

Countryman, L.WilliamDirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today .

Glaser, Chris: The Word Is Out: Daily Reflections on the Bible for Lesbians and Gay Men

Goss, Robert: Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible

Guest, DerynMona WestRobert E. Goss, and Thomas Bohache, (eds)The Queer Bible Commentary

Helminiak, Daniel: What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality

Martin, Dale B. Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation

Rogers, Jack Bartlett. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church

Sharpe, Keith. The Gay Gospels: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People.

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