How do I end a series of comments on an author’s work and begin another series?  How do I switch from one book to another or in the case of John Stott, how do I switch from two books to another book?  Since December 2014 (when I started St. John Studies), I have transitioned from one book to another twelve times. 

It is not easy.  Leaving John Stott to go to another book is like leaving an old friend.   There was a time when I truly needed his book Basic Christianity.  Reading his fundamental explanation was helpful since I was a new Christian.  When I was commenting on his complex book The Cross of Christ, I thought it would be good to contrast the complex with the basic.  It worked for me; maybe some readers got something out of this approach too.  I never know.

Now it is time to move on and as I move on, I am taking on a topic that is very controversial today, a topic that is having an impact on my church; what role should LGBTQIA+  people play in the United Methodist Church?

How do I plan to work with this topic?  I hope to have a balanced discussion of these ideas from a “conservative” approach to the topic [Kevin DeYoung] to a “balanced” approach [Preston Sprinkle] to a “liberal” approach [Peter Gomes]. *

The goal is to learn, to understand this issue, acknowledging that it is too complex to encapsulate in just three books, but I am going to try anyhow.  My process is to go from one book to another, keeping readers focused on the process by referring to where I am in the discussion.  At times it may seem like the “liberal” approach gets too much attention, but Gomes’ book is sixteen chapters long and the other two are 10 [DeYoung]  and 13 [Sprinkle].

Right now, people in the United Methodist Church are reacting to this topic by disaffiliating from the UMC because they fear that the church is getting too open to acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, but is it?**  Why all the uproar over the topic anyhow?  I had a substitute pastor deliver a sermon before my church and she bemoaned the impact this discussion was having on the United Methodist Church.  I remember her saying how concerned she was because this issue was “breaking” her church.

With this as a background, I will try to navigate through this topic the best that I can.  At times I may touch on some points that are enlightening; at other times I may not do an adequate job.  The latter is not my intent. 

One thing I can say about this issue.  It is on the minds and hearts of many Methodists right now and will continue to be a matter of concern for many days ahead.  Also, it should be a matter that all Christians take up; we need to figure out how we feel about this community of people.  For my church,  the motto for evangelism has been for many years “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.”

Does that motto mean something or is it meaningless?

We will see…***

*Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?;  Preston Sprinkle  People to Be Loved;  Peter Gomes  The Good Book.

**see video:

*** Disclaimer:  I am a learner like you.  I am not a seminary trained theologian.  I have a PhD in communication but not in theology.  I am a Sunday School teacher.  I do have a “natural curiosity” about my faith.  I want to learn more and through my learning, I want to grow closer to God.  I volunteer in several places at my church but  I am not a paid staff member.  Officially, I do not represent the church.  As Thom Rainer would say, I try to be a good “Church Member” but that is really all I am–a member of the church, like you.

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