A last minute reminder that we’ll be meeting in the fellowship hall tonight (Thursday, July 6, 2023) at 7:00 p.m. to discuss God and the Gay Christian.
As part of our efforts to become a more LGBTQ+ welcoming church, we’ll meet to discuss God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, 2023. We’ll start in the parlor, but if there are too many of us, we’ll move to the fellowship hall. Let me know if you would like to attend by Zoom.
A note about the book: Matthew Vines presents a relatively conservative argument (both biblically and theologically) for LGBTQ+ inclusion. I’m aware that some of you are already well beyond where Matthew Vines was when he wrote the book, but I still think it’s a good book with which to start. Let me know if you have any comments or concerns.
A few days ago, I finished Revelation for the Rest of Us by Scot McKnight and Cody Matchett. Here’s what I think is perhaps their most important point:
Our point is that good readers of Revelation will read it more like The Lord of the Rings than Paul’s letter to the Romans. We should let the bowls empty out and the trumpets blast; we should visualize the fall of Babylon and the woman of Revelation zooming and leaping and spinning and twirling—if you want to read this book well. The writer John used his imagination to see what he saw, and it takes an imagination to engage his. Too many readings of Revelation are flat-footed and literal. . . . ‘Turning poetry into prose, however, destroys its power.’ And sadly, that is what has happened time and time again in interpreting the book. 
If you’ve been puzzled or troubled by the final book of the Bible, I would highly recommend this book. One note: if you want to avoid politics, skip chapter 21.
 Scot McKnight and Cody Matchett, Revelation for the Rest of Us: A Prophetic Call to Follow Jesus as a Dissident Disciple (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Reflective, 2023), Kindle, 29.
On Thursday, July 6, 2023 (time to be announced), I plan to lead a book club-style session on God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines. The book sets out a biblical case for affirming gay and lesbian men and women—and, by extension, the entire LGBTQ+ community.
As I’ve said before, the argument that the United Methodist Church is having over the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks is not a matter of biblical authority; it’s a question of biblical interpretation. This book presents the case for an LGBTQ+ affirming reading of the Bible. I think it’s vital that those who want to be an affirming church for queer people know the biblical reasons for doing so.
There will be copies of the book available in the back of the sanctuary. You can also order copies online from all the usual places, including my favorite locally owned bookstore in Council Grove at flinthillsbooks.com. (I couldn’t find any copies at the Dusty Bookshelf website.)
Lent is a time preparation. A time to intentionally turn back to God that we might better celebrate Easter. This morning I started A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann. He in turn started with this proclamation from the prophet Isaiah:
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the LORD,
that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7, NRSV)
That’s good news. Mercy, pardon, life abundant, life everlasting are freely available from the God who longs to be in relationship with us.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Study. It was a great Bible study and I enjoyed our time together. I hope all of you can say the same.
Our next Wednesday Night Adult Bible Study on the book Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again will be on January 4, 2023, at 7 p.m. We’ll be discussing pages 113-140, “The Beast” and “Resistance Stories.”
This Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. we’ll be covering pages 61 through 79. This is not a pleasant chapter, but I look forward to our discussion.
At the suggestion of a well-respected local educator, I’ve drafted the following schedule for our Bible study on Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.
Session 1 (Wednesday, November 9, 2022): “Introduction”
Session 2: “The Temple” and “1. Origin Stories”
Session 3: “The Well” and “2. Deliverance Stories”
Session 4: “The Walls” and “3. War Stories”
Session 5: “The Debate” and “4. Wisdom Stories”
Session 6: “The Beast” and “5. Resistance Stories”
Session 7: “The Water” and “6. Gospel Stories”
Session 8: “The Sea” and “7. Fish Stories”
Session 9: “The Letter” and “8. Church Stories”
Railing against the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, John Wesley made an important point for the interpretation of scripture.
“[The doctrine of predestination] destroys all [God’s] attributes at once. It overturns both his justice, mercy and truth. Yea, it represents the most Holy God as worse than the devil. . . . But you say you will ‘prove it by Scripture’. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this. . . . There are many Scriptures the true sense whereof neither you or I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense at all than to say it had such a sense as this. . . . No Scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works.”
— John Wesley 
 John Wesley, “Free Grace,” in The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey, ed. Kenneth J. Collins and Jason E. Vickers (Nashville, Tenessee: Abingdon Press, 2013), 28-29.
In response to the current splintering of The United Methodist Church and the misinformation proliferating during this time, the Great Plains Annual Conference has produced a two page handout highlighting core United Methodist beliefs. You can find it at the link below.
This evening, Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at 7 p.m., we’ll have a Bible study on God’s faithfulness. You can attend in person in the parlor or you can join us via Zoom at bit.ly/3AOWXnf. You don’t need to read anything ahead of time to participate. (Most people don’t.) We’ll begin with a short video introduction and then continue the discussion from there. If you want to watch the video or study the materials ahead of time you can go here.