Thursday, July 02, 2015

A brief open letter to Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel church in Chino Hills, CA.


Dear Jack,

You don't know me, and I don't know you.  I had never heard of you before last night when, while driving to Trader Joes and flipping through the radio stations, I landed upon a Christian station broadcasting one of your sermons.  I have been a devout Christian and faithful church-participant for over 30 years and am also nearing completion of my Master's degree in Theology--so I appreciate a good, well-thought-out and well-delivered sermon.

Unfortunately, the sermon I heard given by you--which was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling about same-sex marriage--was none of these things and, in fact, stands as one of the most spiteful, misinformed and strident screeds I have ever listened to.  "Surely," I thought, "I am hearing this out of context," so when I got home I looked up your church's website and found the sermon there and watched it.  It was that second listening, in its entirety, which prompted me to write this brief message.

We may disagree--as many devout Christians do--on how we interpret the Biblical texts that pertain to homosexuality, but that is not my concern here.  As one who affirms the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons into society and church, I disagree with many of my fellow Christians, and we do so in a spirit of mutual respect and fellowship.  Conservative Evangelical Christians such as Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, Kathy Baldock, David Gushee and James Brownson (to name a few) have provided plenty of detailed and scholarly exegesis on the Biblical texts which offers a viewpoint different from your own.  So I'm not going to rehash those theological arguments here.

What I'm more concerned about is the spirit in which you address these matters.  It is certainly not a Christ-like spirit.  It is proud and haughty.  It is vindictive and mean.  It is Pharisaical.  It is ideological and fear-mongering.  It smacks of Fascism in the guise of the Gospel.  It is very, very ugly. 

And it is rife with lies and distortions.  For example, you claim that now that gay people can legally wed, "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them."  Really?

I know that, as a Calvary Chapel pastor, you place great emphasis on a particular eschatological framework.  Part of your eschatology includes a belief that in the End Times there will be a great apostasy; a great "falling away."  I would suggest that this great falling away is indeed happening, only it is a falling away from grace and from love.  And your behavior epitomizes this apostasy.  You come in fear and anger and accusation, not in the name/character of the Lord.

I realize that criticism such as this will only feed your persecution complex.  You seem to invite it and glory in it, believing that it is an indicator that you are following Jesus.  I would suggest that in this too you are mistaken.  Critical confrontation directed at you for your harsh rhetoric is not an indicator that you are being a disciple of Jesus, but rather that you are being an asshole.

Sincerely,

-Danny Coleman

Addendum (added 3/23/18):  To my astonishment, this has been the most widely read post I have ever had on my blog.  I have not listened to any messages by Jack Hibbs since I wrote this post in July of 2015 but, judging from the comments left by his supporters, I would guess that he has not toned down his grace-less, exclusionary, fear-mongering rhetoric.  In 2015 Hibbs claimed that if gay people were allowed to legally wed "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them."  Same-sex marriage has now been legal across the U.S. for two and a half years and, of course, Hibbs', paranoid prophecy has not come to pass.  What has happened over the last two and half years is that there are a lot more happily married couples, and the massive shift among Christians from rejecting to affirming people who are LGBTQ has continued.  - DC

46 Comments:

Blogger Katrina Martin said...

Thank you!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Steveo said...

You are wrong Danny. The bible is very clear on homosexuality as it is on all sin. Much of the church is not standing on Biblical teaching anymore and instead is standing on man's teaching. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as it so a covenant with Jesus and his church. Two homosexuals marrying is not a Christian covenant and it is a sin.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hello Steve,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I used to believe as you do, because it was what I had been taught by people such as Jack Hibbs. What changed my mind and heart was the Holy Spirit and careful study of scripture. The thing is, these teachings from people like Hibbs about gay people are not just wrong, they are very harmful. They hurt people whom Jesus loves. This anti-gay rhetoric destroy lives. It is utterly un-Christ-like.

Rather than rehashing here the case for gracious and respectful inclusion of gay and transgender people into the church, I would suggest (if you are in any way inclined) you read the books I linked to in the post above.

Blessings to you.

-Danny

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Tristan said...

Nope, sorry Danny, Steveo got it right. Both the old and new testaments make it clear homosexuality is a sin. And this is coming from someone who has struggled with same-sex attraction since puberty. I know what God says about the issue, especially in Romans chapter 1. It is wrong, and quite frankly, arrogant, to think you can overrule God's word. We live in such a politically-correct society where pointing out sin is labeled as "hateful" and "intolerant". Granted, not all Christians point out sin with the purest intents, yet many do, and are still labeled "haters". We tell homosexuals they are in sin and in trouble with God because, well, like all sinners, THEY ARE! Warning against sin is one of the most loving things you can do as a child of God. Just like if you have a 3-year old child, you're not going to allow him to play ball in the streets. It's not because you're being "hateful" and "intolerant". It's because the consequences of doing so is dangerous and potentially lethal. With sin however, it's not potentially, it DOES lead to death, specifically spiritual death and the lake of fire eventually after final judgment.

It is because Jesus loves us, that He tells us, REPENT. That was the very first recorded word that came out of His mouth when He first began His ministry. There's a good reason for that. Without repentance, you will perish (Luke ch 13). Telling people sin is sin is not hateful, it is loving. What's hateful is allowing gay people to think what they're doing is ok in the eyes of God, to remain unrepentant, and that there will not be consequences for that. You, Danny, are being the hater, just like Jonah, who did not want to preach repentance to the Ninevites.

Granted, Pastor Jack can be sarcastic at times and he raises his voice when he's fired up and passionate about what he's speaking of. Yet, I know this man, and he's most certainly not the things you accuse him of being. You assume too much, and much of your judgment can be brought back to you as well. You would do well to preach at yourself and heed your own words.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Tristan,

Yeah, I've heard all that before. It's pretty boilerplate stuff. I actually used to spout some of it myself until the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was sounding like a sanctimonious Pharisee rather than a disciple of Jesus. The thing is, nobody buys those justifications for treating LGBTQ people badly anymore, except for the increasingly marginalized fundamentalist Christians who unthinkingly repeat them.

A few years ago, I happened to be spending a couple of weeks at a seminary in the Midwest and discovered that the Gay Christian Network was holding their annual convention nearby. By this time I had already invested a considerable amount of time and effort into studying the handful of Biblical texts used to condemn LGBTQ people, and had concluded that folks like Jack Hibbs are horribly mistaken in their exegesis. I decided--as a straight, married man--to attend the GCN convention and see what it was all about. Once there, I stood in the midst of hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Christians as they worshiped Jesus with all of their hearts. The Holy Spirit was manifestly present. It was powerful and profound and holy. I felt a bit like Peter at the house of Cornelius (see Acts 10).

So, yeah, I've done the Biblical work and then actually put myself humbly into the midst of those I had previously (and wrongly) condemned. I wish men like Jack Hibbs would do likewise. It is spiteful and dishonest rhetoric like his (example: "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them.") that causes great damage to these people whom God loves.

As I wrote to the previous commenter, if you have any inking to learn more, I would suggest you read the books I linked to in the post above.

9:26 AM  
Blogger T. Anders said...

Please just remember that God created Adam and Eve...not Adam and Steve.

You ARE entitled to your "opinion," Danny, but your "opinion" is NOT what matters...it only matters what God's Word says! And your argument, Danny, is NOT with Pastor Hibbs, but with God, Himself; but unfortunately, by the time you realize that, you'll be standing face to face with your Creator. Take it up with Him at that time.

I DO agree that we are ALL accountable for our attitudes with which we address scripture, but I've heard Pastor Hibbs myself on this matter, and I believe only a person who wants to continue in his sin or in support of the sin of homosexuality, would find what he says objectionable.

By the way, we are never to CONDEMN the homosexual (we are to love the homosexual)...but we are to condemn the lifestyle.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hello T. Anders. By bringing up the tired old cliche about "Adam and Steve" I assume you are trying to suggest that since the first human couple is depicted as a male and a female then other pairings are against God's will. I wonder then how you explain the thousands of humans born each year who are intersex; that is, they are both male and female or neither completely male or female (sometimes anatomically, sometimes chromosomally). Are those people and their relationships invalid too? Should they be prevented from marriage since they are neither strictly male or female? Do you blame their existence on "the fall"? If so, aren't you now extrapolating beyond scripture into (as you put it) "opinion" (or as most Bible scholars would term it, "interpretation")?

Speaking of "opinion"/"interpretation"... I'm having trouble finding out much about Jack Hibbs' educational background. Where did he receive his formal biblical and theological training? Or is he just winging it? I ask because I know that many Calvary Chapel pastors are not well educated. For myself, I am seminary trained, with a Master's degree. My understanding of scripture, including what scripture says (and doesn't say) about homosexuality is based on rigorous study using proper hermeneutics. This provides at least some safeguard against simply spouting one's opinions or parroting what one has been taught by one's (equally uneducated) mentors.

Regarding your use of the word "lifestyle"... I'm curious to know exactly what you mean by "lifestyle." The reason I ask is that I know many LGBTQ people and many married LGBTQ couples. Some of the most mature and devout Christians I know--who consistently bear fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)--also happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Their "lifestyle" looks pretty much like mine and, I would assume, yours. They go to work, go to church, go shopping, raise their kids, pay their taxes, pay their mortgage, etc. I find nothing particularly condemnatory in that.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Bible Believing Christian said...

Amen! Thank-you.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Joshua Hernandez said...

We have found a tear ladies and gentlemen. 30years of being a christian? Why does it sound like u are a new believer. Jesus died for everyone, but how is it bad to tell people the sin is wrong? The bible speaks for its self. It has no opinion. Lying with a man like a woman is an abomination. Plain and simple, u can even read it from the new living translation. Its not ur opinion or his that matters, its the bible. BIBLE=TRUTH

12:05 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Joshua! FYI, it's "tare," not "tear." :)

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I choose to follow the God inspired Holy Word. That's what Jack Hibb preaches. End of story.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny. Trans gender people have it rough enough without haveing to defend themselvs to opeionated people especially when the only openion that counts is that of Christ.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sin is sin is sin. Is sin other then being gay a less sin? So if you don't include All sinners into your church then why are you that think you should not allow LGBT allowed in the church? God loves ALL and can forgive ALL right?

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the first one without sin go tell the gay visitor or member to leave the church.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you condemn all the other sinful lifestyles of all the other church members as you do the gate person. If not then you are being selectively condemning All sin is sin in the sight of God. Just because we see gay lifestyle being a very visual sin and not being able to hide it as easy doesn't make it any worse or better. Point out the sin biblically and treat them the same as aLL other sinners

10:41 PM  
Blogger Brother Derek B said...

Danny, after reading your comments, I am confused as to what your post is really about. Is it that LBGTQ people are really no different than you or me or that homosexuality is a sin in the Bible?

If it is the former, then I totally agree with you. Any Christian knows that the heart in ALL human beings is wicked from birth. This is why we need Jesus in order to stand in right-standing before God. Gay people, or anybody else, is no different. We are all the same in this respect.

If it is the latter, then you are simple deceived if you believe that homosexuality is not considered a sin in the Bible. A child could tell you that from a plain reading of scripture. No higher education required and the verses that point this out are many.

Jack Hibbs is a good pastor and speaks from the Word of God. This is not in question by anybody I know who....reads the Word of God.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A True Born of the Holy Spirit persons still struggles against the sins in their flesh,
But they don't take the Holy Scriptures and twist them to approve sin.
If you are acutely doing that, and say the the Holy Spirit is leading you to di this, you might want to ask the Spirit
Why Homesexuality is ranked as a SIN IN THE BIBLE!!

7:22 PM  
Blogger TheBoev said...

Aren't we taught to be like Jesus? To love the sinner regardless of the sin? Taking His name in vain, coveting, murder are all sins in the eyes of God. No sin is more grievous than the other. We don't cast out sinners, we love them where they are. Judgement is not mine or yours to heap upon your brothers and sisters in Christ. When I stand in front of my Father I believe he will look at me and see if I loved fully, gave of myself to those in need, and acted as close to the way His son taught us as I could as a broken human. He won't be looking for whether or not I stood in condemnation of sinners. God's grace is infinite, nothing mere humans can comprehend. Jesus paid the price for my sin as he did for all who believe.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Cova said...

Danny, you accuse Jack of being proud and haughty, vindictive, mean,ideological, and fear-mongering. I see nothing of those qualities in Jack Hibbs and I listened to the same Sermon. From your letter it sounds as if these characteristics, could be attributed to you. Why do you fear the Truth of the Word of God? This letter of yours is indeed mean, vindictive, insulting, and haughty! Surely you can not be proud of this letter, when you share none of the love, or grace of our Dear Lord. You sound like a very angry man, and a very deceived man. If you believed the Holy Spirit of God was with the LGBTQ that day you so "humbly" put yourself in their midst, I fear you may be deceived, as the Holy Spirit would not pour itself out on a group of unrepentant sinners, and would be considered an abomination by our Lord. Perhaps you are so angry as a result of questioning your own sexuality and are in fact struggling right now with GOD. In any case a bit of further self examination might be a good idea, as you have clearly been deceived by the father of lies. Yes Danny the apostasy has begun and it has started with people such as yourself, when you have the audacity to call another, whether he be a man of God or not , an ahole.I fear Jesus would not be very happy with you in that regard. Oh and one more thing , it's not very "humble" to say that you are "humble". Take a look in the Spiritual Mirror , my friend .

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny Coleman it IS people like you that is morally bankrupt and goes against all that the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob declared to be good in HIS sight and we Christains just sat on our hands while lawlessness was changing all that God established. I believe it was demonic forces that made so many of us sympathetic to the homosexual community. We had this attitude "aww,god(god of this world that is loves them we must love them) NO!!! we must NOT accept this lifestyle and continue to be silent ...Not sure in what spirit you are trying to fool ppl with,but I see right through your subtlety in how you began your letter as subtle. No matter how politically correct of how you ppl twist the WORD of God it is time that we Christains stand up and reject this!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who struggle with the sin of homosexuality are welcome in the church as are all of us sinners. But all of us are expected by God to turn grom our sins and at some point completely overcone tge behavior and replace it with God's virtues and with a new lifestyle. This applies to prideful, liars, thieves, people having premarital sex, people cheating on their spouses, molesters, drug dealers, drug addicts, porn stars, porn viewers, party animals, drunkards, self righteous people, homosexual people abd some. The point is that whatever our sin struggles are, God will take us as we are but expects us to abanfon ans denounce those sins. In the context, homosexuals cant keep practicing the sin and still claim to walk with Jesus too. They should have support as they wrestle with this difficult struggle but should eventually overcome practicing it. I say this with love and empathy for a struggle that is very real and about many sincere people dealing with homosexuality.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Charlie Leonard said...

Amen

4:15 AM  
Blogger Charlie Leonard said...

Hey Mr Anon! The New Teastment comes down hard on sexual sin as it points out the exact nature of sexual sin and what’s does to the believer. So we can see that sexual sin has a massive impact with massive consequences, more so than say the sin of lying, gossip & slander. So grow up, get real & get honest!

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to have an answer for everything. The thing you should be worried about is answering to God for leading people away from His truth. You are on VERY dangerous ground as anyone who leads one of his little ones astray are.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Merry Christmas Anonymous!

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nick said...

Quote !! "I AM A CONTEMPLATIVE PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN"

Sorry no such being exists. In addition to the other apostasies spouted by you, you probably favor abortions on demand as a means of contraception up to and beyond due dates. Your fellow progressives are all into this as well. Have been responsible for nearly as many human deaths and suffering as this other well known progressive cult - Marxists. Governor moonbeam believes that any of us who deny the progressive orthodoxy can't be Christians. But he has less of an audience than even Jesus.

God through Jesus can forgive even this, but you had better hurry. If you had paid attention to the Old Testament you might realize that the window between the renewal and return of Israel and the end of the world are within the space of a single person's lifetime

12:01 PM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Happy New Year Peter Nick and thanks for visiting my blog! I never cease to be entertained by the comments left here by Jack Hibbs' defenders.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You end your letter to Pastor Jack Hibbs by calling him a curse word. I believe the spirit that is guiding you has a name. It is not a holy name. You have been guided by the father of lies that old serpent the devil. I pray the you break free.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous lance said...

Don't throw your pearls people. I believe it says in the new T, that if they are not going to listen throw them out of the Church. That is not loving or even nice, but God said let it happen. God would have saved the whole city if there would have found one good in S &G. So I am sorry for you Danny. You speak of a different Holy Spirit then I serve.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just remember what is said in Matthew 7: Not all that say Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Just because there is a group that believes in the homosexual lifestyle doesn't mean that it isn't sin. Those that don't repent their sins and stay right with Jesus will meet their second death. I will pray for you and those in your community that you repent. I would never want to hear the Lord say "depart from me, you workers of inequity. I never knew you

6:56 PM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

There is no ambiguity in the Bible concerning homosexuality...it is condemned in the Old Testament and condemned in the new testament. There really is no room for debate...Homosexuality is a sin, it's as simple as that.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

What's funny about your assertion that "there really is no room for debate" is that there is, in fact, considerable debate going on. More and more Christians, and Christian leaders, are concluding that the interpretation that "homosexuality is a sin, it's as simple as that" is mistaken and has caused terrible damage.

8:45 AM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

Let's assess what's really going on here. The Biblical stance on homosexuality is clear: it's a sin. BUT YOU DON'T LIKE THAT. And you don't WANT homosexuality to be a sin. And you meet nice homosexual couples who you feel love each-other and you think there's nothing wrong with what they are doing. Not to mention the moral-climate is such that it is difficult to oppose homosexuality because you may be labeled a bigot, homophobe, etc. And so because of all the aforementioned you don't WANT homosexuality to be a sin and so you are trying to conjure up explanations as to why the Bible doesn't say/mean what it very clearly says/means. It's a sin, there's no room for debate...but that doesn't stop people such as yourself from pretending like there is.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

It is amazing how much you assume to know about other people's thoughts and motivations. ;^)

11:26 AM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

Whatever the reason(s) is/are, you are embracing homosexuality not because of what the Bible says but because of some personal motivation. Homosexuals should be loved like any other sinner, homosexuals should be allowed into church like any other sinner. A born-again homosexual may still struggle with homosexuality just like any born-again individual can continue to struggle with their pre-salvation sins. But you are doing nobody any favors by assuring them their sin is God-sanctioned, and to a degree you should be ashamed of yourself.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Once more, despite not knowing me you assume to know much about me...

Untold multitudes have been profoundly harmed (including having their faith destroyed and even being driven to suicide) by harsh, judgmental, and ignorant rhetoric like that spouted by Jack Hibbs and yourself.

The reality is that there is a massive shift taking place of how Christians understand what scripture says about homosexuality and what God's orientation is toward people who are LGBTQ. I believe it is a Spirit-led shift back to the radical inclusiveness that Jesus modeled and taught. You (and Hibbs) can rail against it all you like, but that shift is still occurring.

I don't expect you to agree with my position at this juncture but, like so many of us, you may find yourself at some point (perhaps, like me, after extensive prayer and Bible study) having a change of mind (or, to use a Biblical term, repenting). Or maybe not. Either way, the fundamentalist Christianity taught by Jack Hibbs is rapidly losing influence and credibility because it has been so wrong and so hurtful in so many ways.

12:05 PM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

Like I've said this whole time (and which you have yet to overtly disagree with): the Bible is clear with respect to homosexuality, but you don't like what it says. So you keep watering-down Christianity to your heart's content, but some day you will have to answer to God for perverting His word and calling that "progress".

12:27 PM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

To avoid any ambiguity, here it is: The Bible is not at all clear about homosexuality--and certainly not in the sense that so many fundamentalist evangelicals have been taught. If one is genuinely interested in looking into why I say that, the hyperlinks in my original post will direct one to excellent resources that go into great detail. If one is not genuinely interested in considering that possibility, then there is little more that I can say or do.

12:51 PM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

I appreciate your willingness to post comments from opposing view points. Good day.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Thank you. And good day to you too.

1:04 PM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

I would like to issue you an apology. Although I stand by everything I said, I would like to apologize for my tone. I went back and re-read your original blog post and your point was not so much that homosexuality is not a sin, as much as it was that homosexuals ought to be approached in a particular manner. So I apologize for the overall tone of my responses.

I would like to say a couple of other things though. I actually attend Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and I think that, overall, Jack Hibbs is an outstanding pastor. With respect to the sermon you heard, there are two ways of looking at what he said. Obviously you take what he said in an cocky/harsh/mean type of way. Given the climate at the time with respect to homosexuality, and given that the courts had effectively bypassed the will of the people by implementing gay marriage, I took his attitude as bold/brave/powerful. IMO it took a lot of courage for Jack to take that strong of a stance at that time given Southern California's attitude towards homosexuality and what the courts had just done. BUT I do agree with you that the general approach with respect to homosexuals ought to be that of compassion/love just like it ought to be for any sinner.

Lastly, even though this may just upset you, I would nonetheless like to extend some compassion to you. You live in Seattle which, from my experience, is even more gay than San Francisco. When I was in Seattle for three weeks I saw an unbelievable amount of homosexual couples...and this is coming from a guy who lives in Southern California. So I can imagine what it must be like for you up there. So many gay couples everywhere you go, probably many gay co-workers, gay friends, gay neighbors, gay people in the church; and presumably many of the homosexuals you know/interact-with are very pleasant people. I could see how living in such a place, especially if it has been for a prolonged period of time, could put you in a position to want to reject homosexuality as a sin ESPECIALLY given the harsh attitude of many Christian pastors. But nonetheless I think that if you are completely honest with yourself you will admit that you know what the Bible's stance on homosexuality is, even though you may not fully understand why God feels the way He does, and even though you wish His attitude was different.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

I appreciate and accept your kind apology. I don't take things personally and nothing you wrote upset me.

However, as Ronald Reagan said to Jimmy Carter in the 1980 debates, "There you go again." Your last paragraph is, once more, filled with elaborate (and mostly wrong) assumptions about me and why I hold the convictions I do regarding God's view toward people who are LGBTQ.

So, without going into too much detail, allow me to offer a brief explanation:

I became a born-again Christian in 1984, as a young man, and for several decades was part of churches not unlike Calvary Chapel. So I know the doctrines and culture well. Over the course of the 34 years that I've been a Christian I have served as a worship leader, small group leader, Bible study leader, youth minister, pastor, teacher and elder. For most of those years I believed as you and Hibbs do about homosexuality, because that's what I had been taught. I did not have any close friends or relatives who were gay and I myself am about as heterosexual as they come. Because of my involvement in ministries I did, from time to time, have a church-goer or a teen or person I was ministering to confess to me that they were "struggling" with homosexuality and were desperate for God to heal them of it. And I would pray for them to be delivered from it.

As I became a more mature Christian I also became a serious student (and eventually teacher) of the Bible. As I really dug in to scripture--like the Bereans of Paul's day--I began to realize that certain things I had been taught (typically by pastors who, like Hibbs, had little formal education) were overly simplistic and even in some cases flat wrong. Sometimes pastors had simply been repeating what they had been taught by their pastors (or by teachers on the radio). In studying church history I discovered that over the course of two millenia the church has had multiple competing views about various theological topics, such as the atonement or eschatology or free-will vs. predestination or slavery or the role of women in the church. I also realized that these topics were usually much more nuanced than the simplistic black and white views that I had been taught.

One of the topics (among many) that I eventually studied in-depth was what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. In looking at the original Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT), as well as the original historical/cultural contexts--and reading lots and lots of diverse viewpoints from Biblical scholars--I ultimately concluded that almost all of the passages in scripture used to condemn homosexuality did not, in their original context, apply to homosexuality as we know it today (the most blatant example of this is the story of Lot which Jack Hibbs used in his prediction that I found so offensive).

I must add that I very much believe in the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide and, throughout my decades of study I have always felt that the Spirit has been leading me. I also believe that education and scholarship are not things to be despised.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

(Continued...)
As it gradually dawned on me that I had imbibed and followed bad teaching about homosexuality it also dawned on me that I had said and done (like Hibbs) very hurtful things to people who were LGBTQ. To be frank, I too had been an asshole--in the name of Jesus. I began to hear about Christians who were showing up at Gay Pride parades to apologize to LGBTQ folks for the hurt they had caused, and that struck me as a very humble and healing Christian thing to do.

Then came my "Cornelius moment." I was attending a class at a seminary in the mid-west and somehow found out that the Gay Christian Network was having their annual convention in Chicago during a weekend I had free. I decided to drive to Chicago and see for myself. I went with the attitude that I was going to observe and listen and learn and be guided by the Holy Spirit (and, of course, scripture). I didn't know what to expect and had some trepidation going in. What I encountered were hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Christians (and some straight folks too) worshipping Jesus with all of their hearts. The Holy Spirit was manifestly present. It was powerful and profound and grace-filled and Christ-centered and deeply holy. I felt like Peter in Acts 10 when he has his long-held presuppositions about gentiles blown away by God.

Of course, my shift in views put me at odds with many of my brothers and sisters in Christ--including in my own church. So it would have been far easier for me to not question, not explore, not dig deeper, but simply stick with the status quo. But I had become convinced by scripture and the Holy Spirit, and then by direct experience, that being homosexual is not a sin and that God loves and accepts LGBTQ people just as they are and that the church should do likewise. As Martin Luther said when on trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521, "I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen."

It was only after all this that I began to seek out and get to know some LGBTQ people in my vicinity. Some have become close friends. I can honestly tell you that, having been a Christian for 34 years, some of the most godly, devout, wise, gracious, humble and Christ-like disciples I have ever met also happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Perhaps it is because they have suffered so much at the hands of their brothers and sisters in Christ and have had to forgive so much and for so long had little to cling to except Christ Himself. They are beautiful and beloved people, not the violent perverted monsters that Jack Hibbs portrays them as.

Well, I guess that explanation wasn't so brief after all... ;^)

9:34 AM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

Well I apologize for my assumptions but nonetheless I cannot agree that homosexuality is not a sin, nor do I agree that passages in scripture dealing with homosexuality are mistranslated, taken out of context, etc. And to be clear this isn't what Calvary Chapel taught me, I attend Calvary Chapel because they don't compromise the Word...I got Saved in a park in Hawaii Kai with nothing more than a Bible and an open heart...and I relied on the Bible and the Holy Spirit for months before actually stepping foot in a church.

With regard to the "harm" done to the homosexual community at the hands of Christians, I mean, Christians have caused a lot of problems for occultists too lol. I agree that homosexuals should be treated with love/care/respect but Christianity "causing homosexuals problems" is precisely what one would expect for people so steeped in a particular sin that they cannot even phathom repenting of it. I mean, I have known NON-HOMOSEXUALS guilty of this...people who were stewing in a particular sin and even dying in a particular sin that they simply could not see as "wrong"...so I see no reason to think homosexuals are any different; they are simply people who are so locked-in to a particular sin that it escapes them that anything sinful is ocurring.



2:58 PM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Thank you for the dialog and for sharing your views.

4:38 PM  
Blogger The Philosophical Christian said...

You as well.

4:41 PM  

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