Record – Newsletter

RECORD: Summer 2017

(PDF version available here)

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

(PDF version available here.)

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.”

Read more →

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

(PDF version available here.)

“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 →

RECORD: Fall 2015

(PDF version available here.)

Tony Campolo affirms same-sex couples. On June 8, 2015, he explained: “I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as [my marriage]. Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families.” He notes: “Rest assured that I have already heard – and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage. … Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.” But, he says, he’s “old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases” against other things we’ve since changed our minds about. “I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again.”

David Neff, Christianity Today’s longtime editor-in-chief and National Association of Evangelicals executive, salutes Campolo’s support for same-sex couples. Neff, who retired in 2013, writes: “God bless Tony Campolo. He is acting in good faith and is, I think, on the right track.” Neff told CT’s current editor, Mark Galli: “I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”

Campolo’s announcement wasn’t surprising, but recent shifts on these issues by Neff and other evangelical leaders have caught the conservative religious establishment off guard. Those in charge at Christianity Today, World magazine, conservative churches and other antigay institutions and agencies are frantically pushing back.

Instead, they should be receptive to warnings against, yet again, “making the same kind of mistake” that’s been made repeatedly, and regretted repeatedly, throughout church history. Indeed, what are now seen as atrocities committed by church leaders of the more distant past and cruel and embarrassing mistakes of later eras, even in recent times by CT, World, Southern Baptists, Southern Presbyterians, et al., should be enough of an alert.

Yet, the Religious Right’s Mark Tooley, while easily granting that the church was wrong on issues of women as teachers, slavery, etc., mocks Campolo’s caution: “So …we all know better now and so too on same sex marriage. Let the nuptials begin!” But Tooley misses the point. The words of caution come with sad memories that, in each case, it was always only after the mistakes were made and the damage done that we all admit, “we all know better now.”


Looking Back: Evangelicals and Homosexuality

To put current events in the context of some of the relevant background of evangelical responses to homosexuality – as well as to other social issues in the past and to the shifts on these matters – we interrupt Record’s usual format with the following retrospective.

Much of what’s been written on same-sex issues and evangelical response today suffers from self-serving polemics on all sides and, even more so, by a serious ignorance of history. The following overview is meant to give some corrective perspective.

Bob Jones, Sr. was right: “You can’t move without producing friction.” The moves by Campolo, Neff and other evangelicals are producing lots of friction. Sparks fly as Mark Galli, on behalf of the flagship of evangelicalism, resists these moves. He quickly distanced himself and his employer, Christianity Today, from the empathy shown by Campolo, Neff and other evangelicals who’ve lately joined the evangelicals who, over many decades, have given their support to same-sex couples.

Among these more recent supporters are Baptist ethicist David Gushee, Nashville megachurch pastor Stan Mitchell, former NAE executive Richard Cizik, and pastor Fred Harrell of the (formerly PCA) City Church in San Francisco.

In 1975, Ralph Blair founded Evangelicals Concerned for just such support. He’d written, The Bible is an Empty Closet, and began by saying: “There are no homosexuals in the Bible. Ruth and Naomi were no lesbians. David and Jonathan weren’t gay. Neither were Jesus and John, the men of Sodom, cult prostitutes, slave boys and their masters, nor call boys and their customers. The Bible is an empty closet.” He meant that both antigay and pro-gay propagandists look in vain to find a homosexual in the Bible. Read more →

RECORD: Summer 2015

(PDF version available here.)

San Francisco’s most prominent evangelical church no longer requires same-sex attracted members to remain celibate. No longer a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America, the thousand-member City Church is now affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.

City Church elders call for reflection: “Imagine feeling this from your family or religious community: ‘If you stay, you must accept celibacy with no hope that you too might one day enjoy the fullness of intellectual, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical companionship. If you pursue a lifelong partnership, you are rejected.’ This is simply not working and people are being hurt. We must listen and respond.”

Similar stands have been taken by other megachurches such as the Eastlake Community Church of Seattle and GracePointe Church outside of Nashville, where the announcement was greeted with a standing ovation. Not all are pleased, though, and some have left.

 

A Calvin College sociologist’s study on creationism may give hints to dealing with antigay attitudes in churches. Jonathan Hill finds that one’s family’s beliefs about creationism, and even more so, the “social pressure from the congregation”, are significant factors in one’s holding to creationism. Hill notes that this “intersection of certain beliefs with certain contexts is the only sure-fire way to lead to a certain creationist position.” On “those who accept human evolution and believe God is involved in this process” – somewhat analogous to evangelicals who affirm support for same-sex couples – Hill says, they’re “confident in their beliefs [and] arrive at their position in idiosyncratic ways that aren’t easily captured by the types of measures available in this survey”, i.e., in sync with the pronounced opinions of family and local church.

“Still,” Hill reasons, “for those who want to promote ideas of evolutionary creationism this can be instructive. We do know what tends to shut down openness to evolutionary creationism. Ideas promoting evolutionary creationism are not likely to shift the perspective of many without attending to the issues of social context highlighted here. Strategies, for example, that open up space in congregations to have conversations about human origins without endorsing a settled position could go far to allowing Christians to entertain ideas that once seemed implausible.”

 

“When it comes to support for gay marriage, a lot of it depends on who you know” says Ed Stetzer, church planter, executive director of LifeWay and a contributing editor to Christianity Today. LifeWay surveys find that, like other folks, evangelicals who have friends who are gay or lesbian are much more likely to say same-sex marriage should be legal than those who don’t. Among evangelicals who favor legal same-sex marriage, the figure nearly doubles for those with gay or lesbian friends compared with those without them – from 20 percent to 38 percent.

 

Alan Turing saved millions of lives by cracking the Nazi Enigma code. In 1945 he was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) and in 1951 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. But the following year, his government arrested him for being a homosexual and he was given the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration. He chose the latter and within two years he was dead – probably by suicide.

The Imitation Game is the film that recalls his brilliance and his social isolation as a closeted homosexual. Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette, in her World magazine review says it’s “a well-written film with one unsurprising flaw: It’s now politically correct, obligatory even, to push homosexuality as a personal preference.” Her twist, including that snarky “personal preference” jibe, no doubt pleases her Religious Right editors but bears false witness to Turing’s tragic experience. She complains: “The film rather blatantly suggests that governmental intolerance ruined Turing” – as if it didn’t. In conclusion, she says: “I would have appreciated this film more if it gave full disclosure on the tragic side of Turing’s life choice [sic] rather than easy accusations about society’s intolerance.”

Read more →

RECORD: Spring 2015

(PDF version available here.)

2015 marks the centenaries of two good friends of EC: Bob Rayburn and Charlie Shedd. Bob was the first evangelical leader to encourage us in starting Evangelicals Concerned in 1975. Charlie keynoted EC connECtions in 1997 (East) and 1998 (West). Bob was founding president of Covenant College and Seminary and directed its D. Min. program. He was also pastor of Wheaton’s College Church and wrote books on worship and on his Korean War experience. He died in 1990. Charlie and his wife, Martha, wrote many bestsellers on everyday Christian living. His radio program’s popular sign-off was: “God loves you and so do I and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.” He died in 2004.

Throughout the years, EC supporters and over 100 keynoters have included John Alexander, Harry Boer, Cynthia Clawson, Roy Clements, Don Dayton, Reta Finger, Nancy Hardesty, Phyllis Hart, Hendrik Hart, Walt Hearn, Wally Howard, Fisher Humphreys, Paul Jewett, Kay Lindskoog, Ken Medema, Eugenia Price, Ros Rinker, Letha Scanzoni, Lew Smedes, Chuck Smith, Jr., Dave Myers and Nick Wolterstorff.

EC’s 73rd connection, May 29-31, will greet keynoters Carol Ann Vaughn Cross of Samford University and James V. Brownson of Western Seminary. EC’s 13th Fall Festival at Ocean Grove will remember the centenaries of Anna Bartlett Warner, Fanny Crosby, W. H. Doane and Booker T. Washington. Ralph Blair will preach. Our 28th annual EC Winter Bible Study weekend was held in February and the focus was on hostility to Christ and the Gospel according to Matthew.

The 2015 Gay Christian Network conference drew some 1,400 evangelical gay men, lesbians and family members to Portland in January. They came from 46 states plus D.C. and 14 countries. Thousands more witnessed the event via live streaming. Vicky Beeching, Jeff Chu, Danny Cortez and Justin Lee were keynoters. Several ex-“ex-gay” leaders who’ve long since denounced that failed movement attended, including Jeremy Marks, John Smid, John Paulk, Tim Rymel, Michael Rodgers and Anthony Scott.

GCN, founded in 2001 by Justin Lee, includes same-sex marriage supporters as well as gay folks committed to celibacy. Lee keynoted EC connECtions in 2005 (West) and 2007 (East). Ralph Blair is a charter member of the GCN Advisory Board.

“Ten years ago this would have been unthinkable.” This is Peter Jones’ misinformed response to evangelical support for gay and lesbian Christians. A Presbyterian Church in America minister and director of truthxchange, he laments an evangelical megachurch pastor’s saying: “I refuse to go to a church where my friends who are gay are excluded from Communion or a marriage covenant or the beauty of Christian community.” Jones derides this conviction as a “decision on emotive and subjective ground” but more and more evangelicals are seeing it as an application of the Golden Rule. Read more →

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