On February 2, 2023, I began the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken on St. John Studies: I began a three-book discussion of the LGBTQ+ issue in the Christian church since that issue is at the forefront in my church and since that issue is changing the United Methodist Church in America.
On that date in February I introduced Peter Gomes to the readers of this blog. Gomes passed away on February 28, 2011 but his book entitled The Good Book is a thorough discussion of the Bible and what it means in our world today. Gomes was a preacher and theologian at Harvard Divinity School and Minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church. He was highly regarded as one of the country’s great preachers. Gomes was gay and he felt his sexual orientation did not interfere with his worship of God.
I began this three book discussion with his book because it is the longest of the three. There are sixteen chapters.
In the first three chapters of Gomes’ book he has discussed Christians’ dedication to Bible reading [or lack thereof]. He explored the history of the construction of The Bible and the central place The Bible has in Christian worship. The topic of interpretation of Scripture was next, followed by three factors that impact interpretation [or three temptations]. Some Christians idolize God’s word too much Gomes thinks. Following that discussion, I looked at the Bible as a defense for the status quo [an excuse to avoid change]. Then how can two diametrically opposed politicians read the same Book and go different directions politically [Jesse Jackson and Pat Buchanan]? Finally at the end of chapter three of Gomes’ book I address our society’s inability to have civil discussion of cultural issues today [outside and inside the church].*
Now it is time to turn to another view and introduce the author, Dr. Kevin DeYoung. He is an American Reformed theologian and author. He is currently the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church, in Matthews, North Carolina. DeYoung was born in South Holland, Illinois, and largely grew up in Jenison, Michigan, where his parents Lee and Sheri DeYoung worked for Words of Hope – an international media ministry based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both of his grandfathers were from Dutch Reformed backgrounds. DeYoung graduated summa cum laude from Hope College in Michigan in 1999 and then received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts in 2002. He completed a Ph.D. in Early Modern History focusing on the theology of John Witherspoon at the University of Leicester.
DeYoung has authored many books on Christian living and various theological issues but the one we will be discussing is What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
Russell Moore states that “DeYoung takes on the most pressing issue of our day: whether we will be conformed to the spirit of the age or whether we will follow Christ. Against the sexual revolution and its high priests, DeYoung presents an alternative vision, the ancient wisdom of a Christian sexual ethic.” Rosaria Butterfield describes the book as a help for “Christians to navigate the shifting cultural landscape of sexuality and find confidence and hope in how the Bible directs your steps.” Robert Gagnon feels that DeYoung has “written a good and faithful treatment on the Bible and homosexual practice for the average churchgoer.”
Will DeYoung agree with Peter Gomes on the LGBTQ+ issue? No. That is why I chose his book to discuss. In his introduction [which will be my next post] he begins his book with “What Does the Bible Teach about Everything” and the intro sets the tone for the book which is a defense of the passages in The Bible that condemn same-sex relationships.
Is it good to turn to other views about a topic to really begin to understand it? I think so and that is why Kevin DeYoung is the next author in our three-book discussion, so buckle up as we explore the point of view that does not encourage LGBTQ+ activity within the church.
*All these discussions occurred between February 10, 2023 and last week [April 28, 3023]. One post was on the issue of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church and its effect on my church: “The Shrinking Center” on April 8, 2023.
**My source of facts about DeYoung is Wikipedia.
*** Moore is the President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Butterfield is a former tenured Professor of English at Syracuse Universiy; Gagnon is an Associate Professor of the New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
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.