Record – Newsletter

RECORD Spring 2018

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Following his death, Billy Graham was honored with a special issue of Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical periodical he founded in 1956. CT recognizes that, “the forces gathered and unleashed at the Berlin, Lausanne, and Amsterdam meetings [initiated by Graham] constitute a third worldwide ecumenical movement, every bit as important as the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. The amazing thing about the evangelical movement is that it is sustained not by a single organizational entity, but by multiple parachurch organizations, independent of each other but dreaming a common dream.  Graham’s genius was his ability to inspire people, not to follow him, but to strike out on their own, following Jesus by proclaiming the gospel in their own way; and then to call them together, to inspire and equip thousands more to do the same thing. We may never see his like again.”

And, indeed, it was at the 1983 Amsterdam meetings that Ravi Zacharias first came onto the world scene.  Inter-Varsity staffer Steve Schimmele was there with Inter-Varsity’s “Twenty-One Hundred” project.  After Amsterdam, Ravi was inspired to launch a more active apologetics ministry.  When Ravi was speaking at a Christian businessmen’s meeting in Ohio, D. D. Davis was led to give him the initial financial gift and pledge of further support that propelled RZIM into being.  D. D. had also generously supported the graduate studies of his nephew, EC’s founder, who’d been on Inter-Varsity staff at Penn in 1964, but then wasn’t reappointed because he backed same-sex partnership for evangelical Christians.  Early in EC’s history, Steve joined EC and has been an EC officer ever since.

Over the years, Blair has counseled BGEA associates who struggled to come to terms with their homosexuality.  Some then have been actively involved in EC’s ministry.

Back in 1956, as Graham’s New York City Crusade was being planned in cooperation with the council of churches, Bob Jones, Sr. led Fundamentalist opposition, claiming that Graham was “compromising” with modernists.  But it was the power of the Gospel that was preached by this wise “plundering of Egyptians”, not the weak tea of the modernist ministers.  Dr. Bob also railed at the17 year-old future founder of EC for his objecting to BJU’s anti-Graham stand.  Little did Dr. Bob know then, that he was shouting at the kid who’d introduced his uncle to BJU, the businessman who’d become BJU’s biggest donor.

In the early ‘80s, bestselling author Patricia Cornwell, now married to a woman, was writing Ruth Bell Graham’s authorized biography.  She and the Grahams had been good friends since her childhood.  She notes that Bob Jones, Jr. helped her in working on the bio.  Sixty-two years after Jones, Sr.’s anti-Graham diatribes, BJU president Steve Pettit – no doubt with the approval of BJU’s Chancellor, Bob Jones III – issued a public statement on Graham’s death, expressing BJU’s sympathy to the family and recalling that, “Graham desired that men and women hear the Gospel and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We rejoice for all of those who accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation through his ministry.”  These are illustrations of the ever-reforming transitions within historic Christianity’s work-in-progress.

At Salon, Matthew Sheffield observes: “The North Carolina-based Graham was different from his Southern peers. Even before the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, Graham agitated for racially integrated church services. He also invited black preachers, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to speak onstage with him. Graham later bailed King out of jail when he was imprisoned for protesting segregation. ‘The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross’, Graham told a Mississippi congregation when an usher resisted his order to remove a rope line that separated blacks and whites during a 1952 rally”.

But The New York Times caricatured Graham and the Gospel: “Graham led his followers to seek comfort in versions of Christianity familiar to his core constituency, the white population of the Southern, formerly slave-holding region of the United States” – as if his message of Christ’s Gospel wasn’t the very same that was preached in black churches all across the South! Leftist columnists attacked what they misread as Graham’s support of Republicans but didn’t notice, e.g., Graham’s criticism of evangelical organizations for being “over-Republicanized”.

Each year, at EC’s Columbus Day Weekends in Ocean Grove, we honor special anniversaries of major Christian leaders.  At our 2018 weekend, we’ll be gratefully celebrating the centennials of Billy Graham and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  We’ll recall their Christian legacies and view our historical Graham and Solzhenitsyn collections.

 EC’s 2018 Presidents Day Bible Study weekend in the Pennsylvania mountains was focused in the neglected book of Lamentations.  Attendees, some of whom had never bothered to read this Old Testament book, were surprised and encouraged by how very much it meant to them by the end of the weekend.

 The GCN board’s separation of GCN’s faithful founder, Justin Lee, from GCN, (now operating as “Q Christian Fellowship”) has prompted sadness and disgust from longtime GCN folks. At, it’s reported that: “Many of GCN’s supporters are frustrated by what they call a lack of ‘transparency’ in the process and the statement.”  Michael Craddock commented on Facebook: “This statement makes me really uncomfortable and I think GCN owes us a transparent explanation.”  Said Shane Price: “The lack of transparency in this situation is an unacceptable abuse of the board’s privilege.” Read more →

RECORD Winter 2018

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Justin Lee founded and, for some 16 years, led the evangelical Gay Christian Network in support of biblically-serious Christians in faithfully living their lives as same-sex attracted persons, whether in a monogamous partnership or in celibacy.

But, the GCN Board suddenly announced: “Justin and the Board have come to realize they have differing perspectives”.  In a joint announcement, it was stated: “Due to irreconcilable differences about the direction and future of the organization, Justin Lee and the GCN Board of Directors have agreed to his amicable separation from the organization.  Justin Lee will no longer serve as the executive director of GCN.”

Both parties are legally bound to an agreement of non-disclosure, so Justin could not go into details about the matter though he’s told his many supporters and friends: “I can only tell you that I am, of course, crushed and would appreciate your prayers.”

Justin has now founded Nuance Ministries, a non-profit ministry “dedicated to using education and gracious dialogue to change anti-LBGT attitudes in Christian communities.” His new ministry is based on the same concerns he’s had all along, the same biblical principles outlined in his 2012 book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate and his next book, Talking Across the Divide. Check this out at

The 31st Annual Evangelicals Concerned Presidents Day Bible Study Weekend will be, as always, up at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania’s eastern mountains. But due to deep snow in recent winters at The Kirkridge Lodge atop the mountain, we’ll be meeting this time at a lower elevation – at The Kirkridge Farmhouse.  The dates are: Saturday afternoon, February 17 through Monday lunch, February 19, 2018.

The 76th Evangelicals Concerned Summer ConnECtion will be in the Pennsylvania mountains at Kirkridge, the weekend of June 1 – 3, 2018 (Friday afternoon through Sunday lunch). EC’s founder will again keynote the ConnECtion and our guest keynoters will be Holly Chaisson, Houghton College Newspaper Editor and Alumna, and Matt Carden, Attorney & Christian Higher Ed Consultant.

The 16th Annual Evangelicals Concerned Fall Festival will be held on Columbus Day weekend. Again, we’ll be meeting at Ocean Grove on Jersey’s shore.  Besides preaching, EC’s founder will lecture on our centennial honorees, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Billy Graham.  As usual, there’ll be displays of our honorees’ autographica and mementoes.

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RECORD Fall 2017

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The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), in cahoots with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has released “The Nashville Statement”, the latest big antigay manifesto.  The Southern Baptists published their first antigay declaration, along with their protest against Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson’s proclamation of Gay Pride Day, back in June 1976 – a year following the founding of Evangelicals Concerned.

Drafted at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, (You can’t make this stuff up!), The Nashville Statement was published online on August 29, 2017.

Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry objected to The Nashville Statement’s identification with her city, where discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal.  She was in the early days of mourning over her 22-year-old son’s death from an opioid overdose, four weeks before.  Yet, she stepped up to defend others who, while not facing the same challenges her son had faced, must still cope with tougher lives than necessary, given the antigay Christians’ persistent faultfinding over involuntary same-sex orientation and committed same-sex marriages in the lives of their neighbors, members of their own families and fellow church members.

In spite of immediate and well-informed evangelical criticism against The Nashville Statement, the CBMW has scheduled a Nashville Statement follow-up event for 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky, to continue its fight against all who find themselves differently oriented sexually.

The Nashville Statement is a religiously framed assault that overloads others with a burden that The Statement’s heterosexual authors and signatories don’t, and wouldn’t, load onto themselves.  Thus, The Nashville Statement blatantly disregards The Golden Rule.  Jesus rebuked such Pharisees, calling them “hypocrites” and “whited sepulchers” for their self-righteously loading unbearable religious demands onto others while they refused to lift even a finger to help, much less, identify with, or empathize and offer any realistic support to those they self-righteously oppress. (Matt 23:27; Luke 11:46)

The Nashville Statement also seriously fails to take the whole Bible seriously.  It blatantly disregards the historical contexts and the incarnational reality of the Bible.

Evangelical Bible scholar Peter Enns calls attention to this in his “Lansdale Statement”, his ingenious parody rebuttal to The Nashville Statement’s outlined “Articles of Affirmation and Denial”.  In his own Article 1, Enns asserts: “WE AFFIRM that God, having given us minds, rejoices when we use them.  WE DENY that God intended Scripture to relieve us of this responsibility.”  In Enns’ Article 2, he states:  “WE AFFIRM that Scripture, by God’s wisdom, was written by actual people in actual historical contexts for actual contextual reasons, and that such contexts are central to proper biblical understanding and application.  WE DENY that Scripture, which reflects the wisdom of the Creator, is simply sitting there waiting to be used irrespective of its various contexts.”  Enns helpfully continues through seven more spoofs against the erroneous assumptions and the unwarranted applications in The Nashville Statement. Read more →

RECORD: Summer 2017

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2017 is another milestone year for Evangelicals Concerned.  In early June we held our 75th summer ConnECtion retreat, our Diamond Jubilee (considering all of EC’s summer retreats in the East, Midwest and West, since 1980).  Besides another keynote from EC’s founder, we heard a keynote from Sully screenwriter Todd Komarnicki and excerpts from the inspiring words of the missionary, Amy Carmichael, read and commented upon by Jane Bradbury.  Longtime conferees agreed it was one of the very best EC retreats ever.

In February, we held our 30th Annual Presidents Day Weekend Bible Study up in the mountains along the Appalachian Trail.  We studied the Book of Proverbs and heard a lecture on philanthropist D. D. Davis in this, the 100th year of his birth.  We watched a video of Ravi Zacharias’ 1983 address at Billy Graham’s Amsterdam conference for itinerate evangelists.  Later that year, Davis met Zacharias in Ohio and financed RZIM’s founding.

Over the upcoming Columbus Day weekend, October 6-8, 2017, EC will again meet at Ocean Grove on the Jersey shore for our Fall Festival – our 15th.  We’ll commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s Reformation for a return to Scripture, Grace and Faith.

Walter R. Hearn, biochemist, veteran leader in the evangelical American Scientific Affiliation, poet, and a 2005 keynoter for Evangelicals Concerned, has passed away.  In his long scientific career, he taught in the medical schools at Yale and Baylor as well as at Iowa State University and, later in life, he was the professor of Christianity and science at New College, Berkeley.  He was also the author of Being a Christian in Science (InterVarsity Press).  His wife, Ginny Hearn, a longtime leader in the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, survives him.

Of the over 100 EC keynoters since 1980, seventeen of these sisters and brothers, including Walt, have passed on into the nearer presence of the Lord: John F. Alexander, Mary V. Borhek, R. Maurice Boyd, Val Clear, Gary Cooper, Virginia West Davidson, Nancy A. Hardesty, Walden Howard, Kay Lindskoog, Mildred Pearson, Howard L. Rice, Rosalind Rinker, Charlie Shedd, Gerald T. Sheppard, Lewis B. Smedes and James Tinney.

 Frank Worthen, long time “ex-gay” leader, has died.  He was 87.  His father died when Frank was just 13.  Then, as he’s said, his pastor, who was gay, “mentored” him into “the homosexuality lifestyle”.  From age 19, and for some 25 years, he was actively involved in the promiscuous gay scene in San Francisco.  He recalled it as depressing.  In his mid-40s, although financially successful, he was otherwise empty and was ready to kill himself.  A young Christian employee took him to church, reconnecting him with his childhood faith in God.  He then met some gay men who’d started an “ex-gay” ministry.  One of these was John Evans, “Ted” in the “ex-gay” book, The Third Sex.  Evans soon left that group and became one of the first folks in Evangelicals Concerned in the west.

At 55, Frank met Anita.  She and Frank married.  They then become leaders in Exodus, the “ex-gay” network.  They worked with founders of Melodyland’s EXIT ministry and other “ex-gay” leaders who’d later all leave the “ex-gay” movement with apologies for all of the harm their false promises had caused to so many.

John Paulk is one of the best known of the former “ex-gay” activists, having chaired Exodus and the “ex-gay” efforts at Focus on the Family.  Upon hearing of Worthen’s death, Paulk graciously posted this heartfelt tribute on Facebook: “I will never forget getting off the bus in 1987 on my journey from Ohio to California and Frank wrapping me in his arms. … No matter my journey, he always loved me unconditionally.  May the Lord give your soul and heart rest, my dear Frank.” Read more →

RECORD: Spring 2017

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“Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P”.  This was The New York Times headline on April 22, 2016.  Given the LGBT anxiety over the election results – Columbia professors even wrote, “the cluster of suicides this month can have no other meaning” [since retracted] – it would be useful for both the Left and the Right to gain more accurate perspectives on Trump’s history and LGBT issues.

Before the election, Times’ political correspondent Maggie Haberman pointed out that Trump’s “views of gay rights and gay people are what most distinguish Mr. Trump from previous Republican standard-bearers.”  She noted, for example, that, “Elton John and his longtime boyfriend, David Furnish, entered a civil partnership on Dec. 21, 2005, in England under a law the country had just enacted granting recognition to same-sex couples. The congratulations poured in as the two men appeared at a joyous ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, amid a crush of paparazzi.  Donald J. Trump, who had known the couple for years, took to his blog to express his excitement.”

According to the Times, Trump “has nurtured long friendships with gay people, employed gay workers in prominent positions, and moved with ease in industries where gays have long exerted influence.”  Gregory T. Angelo, Log Cabin Republicans president is cited: “He will be the most gay-friendly Republican nominee for president ever.”

The Times’ article went on to state that Trump’s “history with the gay community is a long one.  He donated to charities focused on the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.  In 2000, when he briefly considered running for president, he gave an interview to The Advocate, a gay magazine, in which he supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to “include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”  The Times notes that, “sixteen years later, gay rights advocates are still trying to persuade Congress to pass a similar measure.”  She quotes Trump’s saying: “I know many, many gay people. Tremendous people!”  The Brookings Institution’s Jonathan Rauch, who calls himself “an unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual”, affirms that Trump has long “spoken more inclusively about LGBT people than have previous GOP nominees”. Read more →

RECORD: Winter 2017

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The 2017 Evangelicals Concerned calendar includes our 30th Presidents Day Winter Weekend Bible Study, our 75th ConnECtion and our 15th Fall Preaching Festival. 

   The Presidents Day Weekend Bible study will be February 18-20 at The Turning Point at Kirkridge Retreat in the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.

ConnECtion2017 will be June 2-4 at The Nelson Lodge atop the mountain at Kirkridge.  Todd Komarnicki, film producer and Sully screenwriter, will keynote, as will actress Jane Bradbury, who’ll read from Amy Carmichael’s devotionals.  Ralph Blair will also speak.     

The Fall Preaching Festival, in grateful celebration of the Luther 500th, will be October 6-8 at Ocean Grove on the Jersey Shore.

Gay marriage and an Islamist’s mass murder in an Orlando gay club ranked 9th and 10th among lifetime events that Americans say impacted them most.  This Pew Research found that Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 slaughter was the event that most impacted Americans’ lives.

Christian country superstar Carrie Underwood has voiced wholehearted support of marriage for same-sex couples.  In January, she gave an impromptu performance at Passion 2017, a major 3-day evangelical event where over 55,000 members of the collegiate generation packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Afterwards, she tweeted: “What an incredible night!  Thanks for letting me be a small part of it!”

But Wesley Wildmon, a heterosexually married grandson of the founder of the Religious Right’s American Family Association, wasted no time in sending out his open letter publicly protesting her presence on stage.  AFA’s 27-year-old Director of Outreach blasted the evangelical organizers of Passion 2017 for permitting the appearance of one who supports “those who practice homosexuality”.

Jen and Brandon Hatmaker are two more evangelicals who support marriage for same-sex couples.  Co-stars of a popular real-life family series on HGTV, they’ve now learned how very quickly there can be a costly backlash to such empathy and support.

Jen’s public comments came in response to a question from Religious News Service’s Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical who is same-sex attracted though committed to celibacy.  He asked if she supported marriage for same-sex couples and she replied: “I would never wish anything less for my gay friends”.  She explained, “Just like the rest of us, [they] need marriage support”.  Her husband then defended the position on Facebook.  Ever since, bookstores, e.g., Southern Baptist LifeWay Stores, have refused to carry her books.

Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnutt notes that Jen’s position is consistent with her overall approach, though applying it to same-sex issues was too much for many other evangelicals to accept.  Shellnutt says: “Jen is very sensitive to the outsider … she is so passionate about including others: cultural outsiders, the homeless, racial minorities, people who have been hurt by the church”.  She adds that Hatmaker’s recent comments only “clarify and update what she’s said previously.”

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RECORD: Fall 2016

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Kirk Franklin, black contemporary Gospel singer, is apologizing to gays for the homophobia in the black churches.  Says Franklin: “More than anything, I’m trying to peel back those layers [that] keep people away from God and keep people away from experiencing the love of God, [and all that] gets in the way of the true essence of one of the most simplest things we could ever say to somebody: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’.”  Referring to the “hurtful and painful things that have been said” about gays in the black churches, he says: “It is horrible that we have made it where the Bible is a homophobic manual.  That’s not what the Bible is.  I mean, you want to talk about things that God gets at – pride and jealousy and envy and arrogance.  But what we also see is God sending his son to save us all, because we are all, straight, gay or whatever, lost and in need of a savior, and there’s room at the cross for all of us.”

Sammy Rhodes blogs: “An Apology to LGBTQ Brothers and Sisters from a Theological Conservative”.   He is a college chaplain in the Reformed University Fellowship of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America.

After the mass murders in Orlando, Rhodes humbly confessed his and his fellow evangelicals’ silence: “I’ve (often) cared more about my theology appearing ‘correct’ and orthodox than I have about loving millions of LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  … I’m speaking mainly for myself, although I hope I’m not alone.”  He asked for forgiveness for, among other things, the hate and injustice, for jokes, for not listening and “for being more like Job’s counselors than anything resembling Jesus.”

Rhodes has also written a book, This is Awkward: How Life’s Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection. The Religious Right’s World magazine reviewed the book with a note of caution.  Jen Wilkin said his “discussions of sexual dysfunction may be too much information for younger teens” and his “quotes from movies like Brokeback Mountain might also be construed as recommendations”.  Yet, his book addresses college students, not “younger teens”.

A “Shame List” of the “absolute worst” Christian colleges for LGBT students is meant to point up “harmful and shameful acts of religion-based prejudice and bigotry”. “Shame List” schools have requested or received religious exemptions to the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX.

Yet, for decades, some administrators, professors, students and alumni of these “Shame List” schools supported gay students.  But much of that was certainly unofficial, under the radar and before the muscle of the Religious Right began to be exercised and scared off likely donors. Read more →

RECORD: Summer 2016

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“We’re actually looking to revel in the partisan divide”, laments Joe Clark, after the killings at the Orlando gay club, Pulse. Writing at the Presbyterian Church in America’s byFaith website, he observes: “In the wake of mass violence, a common pattern is emerging among tech-literate, socially connected Christians. Rather than hearing the news and turning to God, we turn first to social media. If we wanted to learn the facts about the incident we would look to news agencies. Too often, though, we’re actually looking to revel in the partisan divide. Even without looking we know the various angles that will be played out (e.g., gun control, the violence of Islam) and want to jump into the fray to join our ‘team’.” Clark urges that Christians, instead, move through prayer, pause, grieving, love and Christian hope.

“Now is not a time for returning rhetorical fire.” And, “It is certainly not a time for people on either, or any, side of a moral or political dispute to attempt to score points or advance an agenda.” These comments from Robert George, a conservative Christian activist and a Princeton University professor of law, followed news of the Pulse tragedy. “Outrageous and defamatory [responses] can be forgiven” immediately after such a “truly traumatizing event when people are angry and grieving.” Some blame all Muslims or all Christians, the Left or the Right but, said George, it’s “time for grieving and solidarity”.

Bruce Bawer wonders why, “on CNN and Fox News, one politician after another professed to be ‘shocked’ by the jihadist terror attack in Orlando.” This veteran gay writer reminds his readers: “Islamic law, after all, is crystal clear on homosexuality. … In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, as well as in parts of Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, homosexuality is indeed punishable by death.” He acknowledges, “Yes, there are self-identified Muslims who harbor no antigay prejudice; I suspect that more than a few of them are actually apostates who – aware that Islam considers apostasy too, a capital crime – choose to keep quiet about their infidel status.” Against media mantras that Islam’s 1.5 billion adherents are “tolerant, peace-loving, etc.”, Bawer observes, “The fact is that the great majority of those 1.5 billion Muslims also belong to varieties of Islam that preach contempt for, and sever punishment of, homosexuals”.

Bawer states: “Incredibly, many gays still don’t get this – or refuse to get it. They cling – mindlessly, one wants to say – to leftist ideology, which tells them that Muslims, like gays, are an official victim group, and thus their natural allies. They see Christians as their enemies – though even the most aggressively antigay Christians in America, namely the ‘God hates fags’ crowd at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, don’t go around killing anybody. Perversely, some gays support the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, which demonizes the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East.” Read more →

RECORD: Spring 2016

The 74th summer conference of Evangelicals Concerned is set for June 3 – 5, 2016. Guest speakers will be Tony Campolo and Abigail Santamaria. Campolo, a world-renowned preacher and a bestselling author, is emeritus professor of sociology at Eastern University. Santamaria is a first-time author with Joy, her acclaimed biography of C. S. Lewis’ late-in-life wife, Joy Davidman, published in 2015, the centennial year of Davidman’s birth. EC founder Ralph Blair will also be speaking.

Yet again, since 1980, this summer retreat will be at the beautiful mountaintop site of all our eastern connECtions – Kirkridge Lodge on Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Trail.

Steve Hayner, once the national President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, endorsed a same-sex married housing policy as President of Columbia Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church (USA) school in Atlanta. A Hebrew Bible scholar who taught at Fuller, Gordon-Conwell and Trinity Evangelical seminaries as well as at Regent College, Hayner passed away in 2015, a year after being diagnosed with cancer. He was a longtime friend of our EC ministry and he’d hoped to keynote an EC retreat someday.

In conversations with Steve Hayner, “my views on [same-sex married housing] were crystallized”, says John Azumah, CTS professor of World Christianity and Islam, in his comments in First Things. Azumah explains that, “since we cannot discriminate in our enrollment on the basis of sexuality, we cannot discriminate in housing either.”

Azumah, a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, goes on to assert that the popular liberal “dismissal of African objections to homosexuality as not indigenous but as ‘echoes of Western missionary positions’ is rather symptomatic of the condescending and patronizing attitudes” he’s encountered and repeatedly rebuked in the rhetoric of “progressive” Protestants. “Africans”, he points out, “have not changed their position and have never needed Americans like [antigay Fundamentalist preacher] Scott Lively to educate them about sexuality.” Says Azumah: “American Evangelicals might have gone to Uganda to campaign for anti-gay legislation, but so did other powerful figures on the gay lobby side, including President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, threatening African governments with the withdrawal of aid if they didn’t conform to the new Western normal.” Azumah concludes: “Until liberal American Christians begin to take interest in African Christian thought and seriously engage with it, dialogue between the two will remain tortuous, if not impossible. As a senior African scholar recently remarked, liberal Christianity is a totally different religion and Christian Africans will have to learn to dialogue with it as we do with Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism.”

Brad Harper teaches Bible and theology at evangelical Multnomah University and his eldest son, Drew, is openly gay and has left his Christian faith. Together, they’ve written a book, Space at the Table, about their father-son relation that has gone from the wondrous early years through painfully strained years during Drew’s coming out, and on to a rekindled warmth and respectful disagreement. Enthusiastic about the opportunity to write their book, they both are concerned that their respective communities will label them sellouts. Brad regrets the harm done by the “ex-gay” movement and advises other parents to steer clear of it.   Still, Drew says: “Who am I, if I’m not my father’s son?” and Brad says: “Who are you, if you’re not my son? Of course you are my son. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter whether you agree or disagree with me, rebel against me and my ways, you will never stop being my son.” Read more →

RECORD: Winter 2016

(PDF version available here.)

Christianity Today’s “most read article” in 2014 and in 2015 was on a gay issue. In 2014 it was on World Vision’s decision to hire gay Christians in same-sex marriages – a policy quickly dropped in response to hostile donor backlash. In 2015 it was on Obergefell v Hodges, the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage for same-sex couples.

 Barna Research’s top story in its 2015 “Year in Review” was the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage for same-sex couples. According to the evangelical pollster: “Active, practicing faith is more of a factor than either age or religious self-identification when it comes to supporting or opposing the Court’s ruling. Just one-third of practicing Christians under the age of 40 (35%) favor the ruling, compared with three-quarters of non-practicing Christians under 40 (73%).

Obergefell v Hodges ranks as No. 2 in the year’s top ten news stories, according to Bart Gingerich, managing editor of the Evangelical Channel at Patheos and a student at the Reformed Episcopal seminary. He says: “Many evangelical congregants now face anxiety over their jobs as their employers and workplaces have declared themselves openly hostile to biblical sexual mores, which are now labeled as bigotry.” His No. 1 ranked news story is “Continued Persecution of the Global Church”.

“We lost the entire culture war with that one decision!” That’s what James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder, is telling his supporters about the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage for same-sex couples. He says a “foreboding, black cloud” came over him a few days after the ruling, as he was “lying in bed and Shirley was not there yet.”

Dobson seems not to catch the irony of his lament over a ruling that treats others as he and his wife and supporters want to be treated, have been and still are treated, while they wage a culture war against others who wish to have the same structured rights for their marriage. Focus folks still refuse to take seriously the call to love others as themselves in summary of God’s Law and Prophets. And their refusal is in the Name of the One who gave that summary and call.

Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton has written, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor (Moody Press). He says: “Sincere regard and warmth can take place between those who live at extreme ends of [the same-sex marriage] social chasm” and notes that he’s learned this from his friendships with writer Jonathan Rauch and philosopher John Corvino, two conservatives who articulately defend marriage for same-sex couples. Even so, Stanton caricatures homosexuality as “a particularly evil lie of Satan”.

Most American Christians (54%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society. This latest finding from Pew Research attributes the increase in acceptance to the views of the Millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996).

Evangelical trends have shifted between 2007 and 2014 as follows: from 16 to 26 percent in the Assemblies of God; from 31 to 40 percent in the Church of the Nazarene; from 41 to 49 in the Presbyterian Church in America (the shift in the mainline Presbyterian Church USA is 52 to 65); from 31 to 35 in the Churches of Christ; from 23 to 30 in the Southern Baptist Convention (the shift in the mainline American Baptist Convention is 40 to 54); from 23 to 27 in the Seventh-day Adventists and from 44 to 56 in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (the shift in the mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is 56 to 73). In historically black churches, the shift has been 54 to 61 in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and 35 to 54 in the National Baptist Convention. Read more →

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