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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No, I Do Not Accept Your Apology, Dr. Bob Jones


Thenewcivilrightsmovment.com reports on a significant apology from one of the most outspoken anti-gay leaders in America.

Thirty-five years ago, Dr. Bob Jones III, grandson of the founder and current chancellor of Bob Jones University, made this statement during a White House protest:
"But it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands."
Dr. Jones finally attempted an apology with these words:  
"I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger — were my name not attached. I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners." 
BJ Unity, a movement in support of LGBTQI people who are harmed by Bob Jones University and other Fundamentalist Christian organizations, accepted his apology with this statement:
"We are grateful that Bob Jones III has taken responsibility for these words; words that have caused deep harm for many more people than any of us knows. This means a lot to us because it represents the beginning of a change in the rhetoric and conversation."
Thenewcivilrightsmovement.com asks if its readers accept this apology. I do not and here's why. The entire statement of Dr. Jones is all about Dr. Jones. He regrets these words because they don't represent him, they are in opposition to his theology, he never preached such a sentiment, he wishes they could be erased. Nowhere in his full statement is any forgiveness even asked for. It is a statement of personal regret. 

But here's the main reason for not accepting this "apology." There is not one word in the full statement that addresses the LGBT community or even begins to acknowledge the tremendous harm  begun thirty-five years ago that continues to this day. Not one word. When he finally gets around to the supposed apology, here's what he wrote:
"I apologize for the reflection those remarks bring upon Jesus Christ, Whom I love; Bob Jones University, which I have loved and served; and my own personal testimony."
There you have it. His victims are invisible to him and remain outside his purview. The real people who initially bore the brunt of his remarks and their successors today remain invisible to him. His apology needs to be addressed to the very people he threatened with stoning. Until that happens, I'm sorry, Dr. Jones, I can't accept your feeble effort to redeem your conscience. It's too little, too late; not just for me, but mostly for your victims.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dr. David Alan Black Reviews My Book

I just finished reading Steve Kindle's new book, I'm Right and You're Wrong: Why we disagree about the Bible and what to do about it.



"The current landscape of biblical disagreement is literally worldwide," bemoans Steve, adding, "Many of us think our way is superior to most, if not all" (p. 1). He's right of course. I often ask my students this question: "If we have a perfect source [the Bible] and a perfect teacher [the Holy Spirit], then why do we disagree among ourselves so often?" The answer is obvious: It is we who are not perfect. None of us ever thinks perfectly logically, nor is any one of us ever completely filled with the Spirit. As Steve notes, "Reason is never 'pure' reason; it is always a product of how we perceive logic" (p. 17). 

What to do then? The book concludes with many helpful suggestions, a few of which I mention here (my words, not his):


  • Be aware of our own attitudes and presuppositions.
  • Recognize that some disagreement is inevitable.
  • Let humility guide the discussion. Always.
  • Read Scripture in light of its historical context.
  • Let the Holy Spirit be our guide.
  • Be open to change and even correction.
  • Be willing to agree to disagree for the sake of the Gospel.

Steve notes that the goal is "...not to appear scholarly, or erudite, or to win arguments, but to follow Jesus as a faithful disciple" (p. 36). And that is a point, I think, on which all of us can agree. 

[Enegion Publication's] series is called Topical Line Drives. This one hits it out of the park.
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Dr. Black is a world-class Greek scholar and author of one of the most popular texts in seminaries.  He teaches at Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  His interest in my book is humbling.  Here's the link to his blog: http://daveblackonline.com/blog.htm. You'll have to scroll down a ways, or use Ctrl f and search for Steve Kindle.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Check Out My Latest Book--Please!

As of last week, my new book, I'm Right and You're Wrong: Why we disagree about the Bible and what to do about it, was published by Energion Publications. Although it isn't specifically about LGBTQI issues, it goes a long way in explaining how people can, and do, differ on major biblical issues. Here's a little of the Introduction:

How many times have you had a conversation with someone that involved a disagreement over the Bible? And how many times have these conversations led to interruptions of friendships or even extended family disputes? Some of these disputes have split congregations. Even the more mild disagreements can leave us perplexed.  Why is it that something so plain to one is so obviously unconvincing to others? This often leads us to search for ways to convince others through honing our interpretive skills, doing elaborate word studies, consulting scholarly commentaries and the like.  In the end, however, people don’t easily change their minds, and we are left to wonder why. 
This book differs from most in that rather than looking at how to interpret the Bible properly, we’ll examine the sources of disagreement among interpreters.  We all have our own ways of trying to understand the Bible and they are close to our hearts.  Many of us think our way is superior to most, if not all.  But we will not venture into who is right and who is wrong in our interpretations.   What concerns us here is why we interpret the way we do and what our attitude should be toward those with whom we disagree.
It's a short book. The average reader will finish it in about two hours. It's part of the Topical Line Drive series. The publisher describes books in this series as "direct and to the point...designed to demonstrate a point of scholarship or survey a topic directly, clearly, and and quickly."

There is now and always has been serious disagreement among Christians. This will likely never change. Disagreement isn't a bad thing; it helps us think through our own positions, and reminds us that no one is capable of getting everything right. The problem with disagreement comes when we are so convinced of our own rightness that we diminish and even disdain all other interpretations. This book is an effort to understand how disagreements can be useful in bringing people together, not tearing them apart. It explains why we disagree, that it's almost impossible for any two people to see things exactly the same, and why humility is our best partner in interpretation.

To see more about the book and how to order, here are a few links:
Energion Publications
Amazon Books
Barns and Noble and Nook

It's available in softcover ($4.99) and in the Kindle Reader format. ($.99)
Let me know what you think.