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In a powerful new book, evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers argues unequivocally for equal rights in the church and in society for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout history, he observes, Christianity has moved towards ever greater openness and inclusiveness. Today's church is led by man In a powerful new book, evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers argues unequivocally for equal rights in the church and in society for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout history, he observes, Christianity has moved towards ever greater openness and inclusiveness. Today's church is led by many of those who were once cast out: people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people. He argues that when we interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, we see that the church is called to grant equal rights to all people. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality describes Rogers' own change of mind and heart on the issue; charts the church's well-documented history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups; argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture; debunks oft-repeated stereotypes about gays and lesbians; and concludes with ideas for how the church can heal itself and move forward again. A fascinating combination of personal narrative, theology, and church history, this book is essential reading for all concerned with the future of the church and the health of the nation. "This is an extraordinary book, arguably the best to appear in the long, drawn-out debates within churches over homosexuality," says J. Philip Wogaman, former senior minister at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. "Rogers' book will be useful to people of ALL mainline denomination..." says the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. "For those who truly wish to know what the Bible does and does not say, this is a real find."


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In a powerful new book, evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers argues unequivocally for equal rights in the church and in society for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout history, he observes, Christianity has moved towards ever greater openness and inclusiveness. Today's church is led by man In a powerful new book, evangelical theologian and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Jack Rogers argues unequivocally for equal rights in the church and in society for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout history, he observes, Christianity has moved towards ever greater openness and inclusiveness. Today's church is led by many of those who were once cast out: people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people. He argues that when we interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, we see that the church is called to grant equal rights to all people. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality describes Rogers' own change of mind and heart on the issue; charts the church's well-documented history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups; argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture; debunks oft-repeated stereotypes about gays and lesbians; and concludes with ideas for how the church can heal itself and move forward again. A fascinating combination of personal narrative, theology, and church history, this book is essential reading for all concerned with the future of the church and the health of the nation. "This is an extraordinary book, arguably the best to appear in the long, drawn-out debates within churches over homosexuality," says J. Philip Wogaman, former senior minister at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. "Rogers' book will be useful to people of ALL mainline denomination..." says the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. "For those who truly wish to know what the Bible does and does not say, this is a real find."

30 review for Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Powerful book in which a straight evangelical preacher reflects honestly and humbly on his journey from rejection of homosexuality to his recognition that if Christianity is to genuinely be the proclaimer of Christ's message it has to change its way of responding to those who are not heterosexual. This came about by his being brave enough to sit down and, in the power of the Spirit, He looked long and hard at the arguments used from scripture and found those arguments dubious and even immoral. I Powerful book in which a straight evangelical preacher reflects honestly and humbly on his journey from rejection of homosexuality to his recognition that if Christianity is to genuinely be the proclaimer of Christ's message it has to change its way of responding to those who are not heterosexual. This came about by his being brave enough to sit down and, in the power of the Spirit, He looked long and hard at the arguments used from scripture and found those arguments dubious and even immoral. I love this quote ' there are around 3,000 verses in the Bible that express God's concern for the poor and oppressed. In contrast there is a tiny handful of verses that some people claim condemn homosexuality. None of them, properly interpreted, refers to contemporary Christian people who are homosexual '. This book is a great clarion call to gay Christians of all denominations and as a catholic I can't help but hope some of his spirit rushes across the corridors of the Vatican with equal effect. Arguments for the catholic Church always fall down when they come up against the hard wall of Tradition which is fine if that is based itself on the ever growing and changing God-given understanding and insight we have of human development and transformation as well as Spirit inspired instruction. The problem is when it is just ' we've always done it like this' and those insights and fuller understandings are disregarded and theologians or leaders simply place their hands over their eyes and thumbs in their ears so they will not see or hear any other point of view. The problem with that is it doesn't seem to stop them from talking and spouting the same undiluted arguments they have always spouted.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Hartman

    This is the best -- hands-down, no questions asked, irrefutable in my pea-brain, sure-fire -- book for anyone who is struggling with how to put "holy" and "homosexual" together. As a committed Christian, I believe the Bible provides the clearest view into our Creator's mind of all known communications. As a 65-year resident of The Closet, I struggled with a few Bible passages which appear on the surface to condemn my orientation. It took years of torment (of my own and in what I caused those I l This is the best -- hands-down, no questions asked, irrefutable in my pea-brain, sure-fire -- book for anyone who is struggling with how to put "holy" and "homosexual" together. As a committed Christian, I believe the Bible provides the clearest view into our Creator's mind of all known communications. As a 65-year resident of The Closet, I struggled with a few Bible passages which appear on the surface to condemn my orientation. It took years of torment (of my own and in what I caused those I love) to deal with the apparent disconnect. I fervently wish I had had this book years ago. It is a pathfinder. The author is not only similarly committed as a Christian, he is a scholar and a leader in our national (Presbyterian) denomination. His approach to the subject is masterful (Master-full) in that he describes his own "character arc" from judgmental to embracing. Those who believe the Bible is crystal clear in its condemnation will see he completely identified with that view. And through the magic (I do believe "simple" writing is magic) of clear narrative, he moves from that view to one of grace-filled open affirmation. Yes, he cites chapter and verse. Yes, he explains historical context. Yes, this is a book which will be helpful to those who wrestle with this issue, not accusatory in any way. Highest possible recommendation, for fundamentalist Christians as well as progressives. Thank you, Jack Rogers!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    ElaineY

    A clear and powerful account of the Presbyterian denomination's turnabout re. its view on homosexuality. Though Rogers discovery (clearly a surprise and shock to him!) that the Bible does not condemn same-sex love, it goes without saying the road's still a long one before we reach the same place as Evangelicalism has vis a vis slavery of the African blacks and the subordination of women. Though Rogers hasn't quite satisfied me re. Romans 1, he more than adequately covered the other scriptural pas A clear and powerful account of the Presbyterian denomination's turnabout re. its view on homosexuality. Though Rogers discovery (clearly a surprise and shock to him!) that the Bible does not condemn same-sex love, it goes without saying the road's still a long one before we reach the same place as Evangelicalism has vis a vis slavery of the African blacks and the subordination of women. Though Rogers hasn't quite satisfied me re. Romans 1, he more than adequately covered the other scriptural passages commonly-used to denounced gay sex. He gives a clear explanation of the biblical hermeneutics employed and reminds us of the importance of keeping in mind the context, the cultural norms and the zeitgeist of the times of the biblical writers - from the Exile of Israel, to the Hellenistic culture that Paul, the Apostle, lived in. I have at least another half dozen of these books to go through but Rogers' alone has given me no small measure of comfort for gays everywhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    Amazing! Much more than a "pro-gay" speech, this book really enlightens the issue of LGBTT people among religious communities. It talks a lot about the prevention of gays being ordained as ministers at the Presbyterian Church and sets the grounds to actually understand, from a very religious point of view, why they SHOULD be permitted in the church. But much more than that it is a profound message of tolerance and acceptance, not only of gays serving as ministers, pastors, or in any religious po Amazing! Much more than a "pro-gay" speech, this book really enlightens the issue of LGBTT people among religious communities. It talks a lot about the prevention of gays being ordained as ministers at the Presbyterian Church and sets the grounds to actually understand, from a very religious point of view, why they SHOULD be permitted in the church. But much more than that it is a profound message of tolerance and acceptance, not only of gays serving as ministers, pastors, or in any religious position, but among human kind. Just as "anti gay" activist use (should I say "misuse"?) the Scriptures and the Bible to condemn, Rogers gives facts to understand that the Holy Word does nothing but convey a message of acceptance and love for everybody, so we can use the very verses they use to condemn us, to prove God welcomes us in our religious communities. Highly recommended for human beings, regardless of being gay or straight.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Hiemstra

    The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA; PCUSA) approved ordination of homosexuals in 2012 and gay marriage in 2014. As moderator of the 213th General Assembly in 2001 and in other leadership roles, Jack Bartlett Rogers was an important advocate for these changes[1]. In his book, Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality, he lays out the argument for why he believes that: “We need to give people who are LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] full and equal rights within the church The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA; PCUSA) approved ordination of homosexuals in 2012 and gay marriage in 2014. As moderator of the 213th General Assembly in 2001 and in other leadership roles, Jack Bartlett Rogers was an important advocate for these changes[1]. In his book, Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality, he lays out the argument for why he believes that: “We need to give people who are LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] full and equal rights within the church and work for their rights within the broader society. That means that marriage, ordination, and every other right necessary to bring people who are homosexual into full equality with people who are heterosexual.” (107-108) Because this book was published in 2009, it anticipated changes in the policy of the PCUSA by several years and played an active role in advocating for these changes. As such, readers interested in the genesis of these changes will want to be familiar with the arguments in this book[2]. Rogers is currently Professor Emeritus of Theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary. While he is the author of numerous books, I am most familiar with his book, Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions (2001), a study both in church history and dogmatics. Dogmatics is: “the study of the arrangement and statement of religious doctrines, especially of the doctrines received in and taught by the Christian church.”[3] Rogers describes himself as “evangelical theologically” which makes sense for a former faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, but probably not for a faculty member at San Francisco Theological Seminary (6). As advocacy, Rogers' Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality can be described as a work in the field of dogmatics. Rogers writes in 8 chapters: 1. Studying Homosexuality for the First Time. 2. A Pattern of Misusing the Bible to Justify Oppression. 3. A Breakthrough in Understanding the Word of God. 4. Interpreting the Bible in Times of Controversy. 5. What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say about Homosexuality. 6. Real People and Real Marriage. 7. Recommendations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 8. All are One in Christ Jesus. (vi) Before the chapters are 2 prefaces and acknowledgments. After the chapters are an appendix, a lengthy study guide, notes, and a topical index. Missing is a scripture index. Rogers requires careful reading. For example, one of the problems with the term, evangelical, is that the meaning has changed dramatically over the years and is often criticized as being a meaningless term. In chapter 1, Rogers defines an evangelical as: “someone who accepts three propositions: (1) People can and should have a personal relationship with God through trust in Jesus Christ. (2) The Bible is the final authority for salvation and living the Christian life. (3) God’s grace in Jesus Christ is such good news that everyone should hear about it” (6). So far so good. Rogers then goes on to distance himself from “fundamentalists” whom he describes as “more politically monolithic and more theologically conservative than evangelicalism.” (7) Fundamentalists have attempted over the years to give theological substance and voice to the evangelical movement. Yet, Rogers uses them primarily in his book as a foil for criticism. Rogers is an artful politician. Chapter 2 is a case in point. Attorneys often cite this old saw: if the facts support your case, then argue the facts; if the facts don’ support your case, then argue the law; if the facts and the law don’t support your case, then stand and shout. Here the chain of reasoning is: homosexual conduct is medically risky (fact) and a sin (law) [4], but okay by Rogers (stand and shout). If biblical interpretation provided a strong case for mainstreaming LGBT persons in the church, then one would expect chapter 2 to lay out the case for homosexuality—it does not. Instead, chapter 2 focuses on how biblical interpretation was misused to oppress blacks and women in the past (17). The art of politics lies in using innuendo—an indirect rather than a direct assault—to make an emotional point (standing and shouting) supporting your case. In this case, he argues that the Bible was misused in the nineteenth century to support slavery and oppress women—now, it is being misused to oppress homosexuals. The problem is that evangelical Christians in the nineteenth century also successfully led efforts to abolish slavery and promote women's rights [5]. The fascinating part is that in making these arguments[6] he both lionizes 2 key constituencies (blacks and women) and, by inference, defames his opponents as being in the same league with racists and misogynists from the past who misused the Bible. While this is artful politics, one does not expect this line of reasoning within the church and it does not suggest a strong biblical case for homosexuality. Rogers' interest in Christology and his background in neo-orthodoxy are also fascinating. Troubling was the way that he split (much like the earlier split between evangelicals and fundamentalists) Jesus Christ from the scriptural witness—we understand Jesus Christ only from scripture and direct revelation (52-53). The tradition of the church primarily represents scriptural interpretations rendered over time. Consequently, because Rogers does not claim a new revelation of God [7], it is highly misleading to separate Jesus from the scripture witness. His proposed interpretative technique is laid out in 7 guidelines: Jesus Christ is the center of scripture. Focus on the plain text in grammatical and historical context. Depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Be guided by the consensus of the church. Let all interpretations be guided by the rule of love—love of God and neighbor [8]. Establish a best text. Seek the whole counsel of scripture (65). A key problem with this list is item 6—establish a best text—which is in direct tension with item 7—seek the whole counsel of scripture. Picking a favorite text and reading the rest of the Bible in view of it allows complete freedom to read the text anyway you like—or, if you are a church leader, to control the interpretations of the church with your particular theology in view [9]. In fact, item 5 is an example of a best text (item 6) and an attempt to control interpretation [10]. Missing from this list is a key interpretative technique that Rogers employs repeatedly throughout his book. He argues that the biblical homosexual prohibitions exist primarily to establish male dominance. For example, he writes: "The hosts [in Sodom and Gomorrah] do not seem to think of the attackers as primarily homosexual, or they would not offer women for them to abuse." (67) No doubt Moses employs this argument to show the depravity of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah; Rogers employs the argument to defame the hosts as misogynists and to divert attention away from homosexual sin. Rogers employs this sociological argument repeatedly (e.g. 74-75) which has the unfortunate consequence of undermining the authority of scripture in the eyes of those reading Rogers text—especially women. How can church unity follow from interpretation techniques that by their nature divide and conquer along gender lines? The Protestant reformation was launched along with a new interpretative method—John Calvin’s—which focused on the authority of scripture[11]. Without saying so, Rogers essentially discards the interpretative standards of the reformed tradition. The irony of Rogers' proposed changes in church polity and biblical interpretation follow American culture much the same way as he criticized the church doing in generations past. The difference is, however, that American culture today is overtly secular, atheistic, and post Christian. Jack Rogers’ Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality is likely to be debated for years to come. It is easy to read and hard to understand. The target audience is broadly the LGBT community, woman’s groups, and minorities within mainline denominations. Rogers may, however, be remembered more widely as re-energizing interest in the study and practice of dogmatics, but perhaps for reasons he may not want to own. In part 1 of this review, I have summarized of Rogers' methods of argumentation and interpretation. In part 2, I will take a closer look at the biblical texts which both focus on homosexuality and at the biblical texts which Rogers' highlights in his final chapter. Read part 2 on July 6 on T2Pneuma.net. [1] Comments supporting this assessment are found on a website: www.DrJackRogers.com. Anyone doubting Rogers' position on this issue will want to read the first blurb on the first page by Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. Early in chapter 1, Rogers also discusses a group called More Light Presbyterians who have a: “ mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society.” (www.MLP.org). [2] Readers interested in the debate over scripture with Robert Gagnon (author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice) can find this online at: http://bit.ly/1GrGVvz. Read part 1 of my review of Gagnon at: http://wp.me/p3Xeut-15F. [3] http://dictionary.reference.com/brows... [4] Read part 1 of my review of Gagnon at: http://wp.me/p3Xeut-15F. [5] See: Dayton (2005). [6] At the heart of his argument is a weak analogy. In fact, the Bible’s arguments about slavery and role of women evolve between the Old and New Testaments in a way that is not true for homosexuality. The weakness in this analogy was the focus of a recent book by Webb (2001). Read my review at: http://wp.me/p3Xeut-Bn. [7] Rogers' revelation is more political than spiritual. He writes: "I worked through how the church, guided by the Holy Spirit in understanding the scriptures, reversed our prohibitions against ordination to leadership of African Americans, women, and divorced and remarried people." (15) The argument goes 1 then 2 then 3 then 4, therefore 5. The Bible never promoted slavery, even if it acknowledged it; women are clearly in leadership in both the Old and New Testament, although not as frequently as today; and divorce is a sin in the Bible, except in the case of adultery, yet the modern church has mostly looked the other way. He is confusing what some people in the church have done with a mandate from the Holy Spirit and drawn an inference that cannot be made in scripture, but is now politically popular. [8] At the heart of this debate over homosexuality is the proper definition of love. In the Greek, Rogers is using a principle based on the Agape love (ἀγαπάω; love of neighbor) to excuse a sin based on type of Eros love (ἔρως; passionate love). At a minimum, this argument is mixing apples and oranges. It is certainly not an inference that could be drawn from Matthew 22:36-40 which is based on Old Testament law (Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18) which also prohibits homosexuality (Lev 20:13). [9] The usual way that Protestants seek to interpret scripture starts with a focus on the intent of the author which is clarified by the whole counsel of scripture. Then and only then is the reader’s interpretation brought in. See for example: (Vanhoozer 1998). See my review at: http://wp.me/p3Xeut-Yq. [10] The double love command (Matt. 22:36-40) is certainly important and much beloved among Christians. However, how can a general statement about love overrule specific guidance on the sinfulness of homosexuality? [11] Thompson (2004, 58-62, 67, 71) viewed Calvin having 4 interpretative principles, including: 1. understand the author’s intent, 2. communicate effectively, 3. consult the original texts, and 4. consider the text and its application in the context of the canon of scripture. REFERENCES Dayton, Donald W. 2005. Discovering an Evangelical Heritage. Peabody: Hendrickson. Gagnon, Robert A. J. 2001. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon Press. Rogers, Jack. 1991. Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Thompson, John L. “Calvin as Biblical Interpreter.” Pages 58-73 in The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin. Edited by Donald A. McKim. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Vanhoozer, Kevin J. 1998. Is There a Meaning in This Text: The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Webb, William J. 2001. Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermaneutics of Cultural Analysis. Colorado Springs: IVP Academic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Giedra

    Great book. The author, a straight conservative theologian from an evangelical seminary, recounts his journey from condemning gays and lesbians to believing they should be welcomed to full membership in the church. This was based on years of scholarship on behalf of his denomination (Presbyterian) and his concerns about how the issue was dividing his and other denominations. The book differs from most other "defense of gay Christian" books because the author is not gay and has no gay family membe Great book. The author, a straight conservative theologian from an evangelical seminary, recounts his journey from condemning gays and lesbians to believing they should be welcomed to full membership in the church. This was based on years of scholarship on behalf of his denomination (Presbyterian) and his concerns about how the issue was dividing his and other denominations. The book differs from most other "defense of gay Christian" books because the author is not gay and has no gay family members, and furthermore, it is not exclusively focused on interpretation of the handful of verses traditionally used to condemn homosexuality. Rogers provides quite a bit of American theological history to show how American churches (well, mainline Protestant denominations, anyway) have approached scriptural interpretation over the past 200 years, and how the views of relatively few theologians have had far-reaching influence because of the limited number of seminaries in early American history. He shows how some of those interpretive methods were used to justify slavery and keeping blacks and women out of leadership roles...and then shows how the very same methods are being used to condemn gays today. Because of all the history and detailed theological explication, the book is pretty dense--definitely not a casual read. But I found it definitely worthwhile, and hope it may spur others to open their hearts in such a way that denominational divides may heal someday...and more importantly, that members of the LGBT community will be welcomed into more church communities.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rick Lee Lee James

    Good thoughts to ponder but not the best scholarship This book gives lots of excellent food for thought but the contorting it has to do to make the church gay friendly historically are pretty far off. I love the author's heart on this matter and I am not unsympathetic to his desire for inclusion. However, I do feel like while many of his scriptural conclusions are correct, many are simply him sharing his opinions and desires and placing them on scripture. An example of this is his treatment of the Good thoughts to ponder but not the best scholarship This book gives lots of excellent food for thought but the contorting it has to do to make the church gay friendly historically are pretty far off. I love the author's heart on this matter and I am not unsympathetic to his desire for inclusion. However, I do feel like while many of his scriptural conclusions are correct, many are simply him sharing his opinions and desires and placing them on scripture. An example of this is his treatment of the word Eunuch in scripture. I don't believe that Eunuchs are the equivalent to homosexuals in scripture. This is an example of the acrobatics the author does. While I think you can make an argument for inclusion, and this book does very well on that front in many places, I don't know that all of the exegesis in this book is done from an objective perspective. Worth reading but it does have some problems. It is however one of the better book I have read on the subject.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    great read for anyone who thinks homosexuality cannot be reconciled with christianity. author is a very conservative theologian who isn't gay, doesn't have any gay family members and studied intensely the issue of homosexuality in the church because he felt like it was dividing denominations. Although unexpected and personally difficult for him at first, he comes to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin and that homosexuals should be treated no differently that anyone else, in the churc great read for anyone who thinks homosexuality cannot be reconciled with christianity. author is a very conservative theologian who isn't gay, doesn't have any gay family members and studied intensely the issue of homosexuality in the church because he felt like it was dividing denominations. Although unexpected and personally difficult for him at first, he comes to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin and that homosexuals should be treated no differently that anyone else, in the church or society. He favors leadership roles for gays in the church and marriage equality in society. If a conservative theologian can come to this conclusion, hopefully others will too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Jack Rogers is a former Presbyterian (PCUSA) moderator who was not GLBT affirming. He did some serious study on the issue and then did a 180. The book (like many gay Christian affirming books) goes through the clobber passages. But he then goes a step further and looks at how the Presbyterian church has changed its position on other issues (slavery, ordination of women, ordination of divorced and remarried people) as a model for change on the gay issue. It's a very timely book with the gay ordin Jack Rogers is a former Presbyterian (PCUSA) moderator who was not GLBT affirming. He did some serious study on the issue and then did a 180. The book (like many gay Christian affirming books) goes through the clobber passages. But he then goes a step further and looks at how the Presbyterian church has changed its position on other issues (slavery, ordination of women, ordination of divorced and remarried people) as a model for change on the gay issue. It's a very timely book with the gay ordination issue heating up in the PCUSA.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan Wilkinson

    This book should be required reading for every Christian. Rogers presents a clear and compelling case for full inclusion of homosexuals within the church. Obviously not all Christians agree with his exegesis, but Rogers discuss the subject with respect and compassion; he has changed his mind on the subject and takes the reader along his path of understanding. My only complaint was that at times he gets a bit caught up in the minutiae of Presbyterian politics, but regardless, his message remains This book should be required reading for every Christian. Rogers presents a clear and compelling case for full inclusion of homosexuals within the church. Obviously not all Christians agree with his exegesis, but Rogers discuss the subject with respect and compassion; he has changed his mind on the subject and takes the reader along his path of understanding. My only complaint was that at times he gets a bit caught up in the minutiae of Presbyterian politics, but regardless, his message remains universally relevant to all Christians.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristie

    "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality" is an incredibly eye opening read. Written by a conservative Presbyterian pastor who, after exhaustive research, now embraces people of faith who happen to be gays/lesbians. This book, when read with a heart opened to His Truth, will move you to throw away any preconceived beliefs you may have of LGBTs and embrace them with arms wide open as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Read this book, talk about this book and let God's truth and love be shared by all "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality" is an incredibly eye opening read. Written by a conservative Presbyterian pastor who, after exhaustive research, now embraces people of faith who happen to be gays/lesbians. This book, when read with a heart opened to His Truth, will move you to throw away any preconceived beliefs you may have of LGBTs and embrace them with arms wide open as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Read this book, talk about this book and let God's truth and love be shared by all people for His Glory.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    A wonderful book by a reknowned theologian. He calls himself an Evangelical who through study and prayer changed from believing that homosexuality is a terrible sin to believing that God creats people differently. It addresses the question of ordination and seeks to help the Church heal from the schism that is developing on this issue.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    The book makes interesting points but Rogers is too dogmatic. He sweeps away opposing opinions rather than addressing them analytically. I wanted to be challenged more in my own thinking and came away a little disappointed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Froehlich

    The crux of this book can be summarized in three sentences: “The trajectory of Christian history is in the direction of ever-greater openness and inclusiveness. We rejoice now in the leadership in our churches of people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people. The time will come when having gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Christian leadership will be just as routine.” A professor of theology emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary who also taught at Fuller, Jack The crux of this book can be summarized in three sentences: “The trajectory of Christian history is in the direction of ever-greater openness and inclusiveness. We rejoice now in the leadership in our churches of people of color, women, and divorced and remarried people. The time will come when having gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Christian leadership will be just as routine.” A professor of theology emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary who also taught at Fuller, Jack Rogers is a Presbyterian minister. Like many of us, he changed his mind about homosexuality. This book describes his journey. As a young minister, he had conventional, conservative views, accepting the position of most churches that homosexuality was sinful and those who engaged in same-sex behavior were disqualified from church leadership. A historian of church doctrine, however, Rogers knew that various doctrines justifying discrimination had been discarded over time. It used to be accepted church doctrine, for example, that slavery and segregation were justified because blacks were purportedly the cursed descendants of Ham, Noah’s son, and deserved slavery due to their sinful nature. Church leaders once depicted abolitionists as atheists and communists. For centuries, the church saw women as the cursed descendants of Eve who were too emotional to be leaders. Consequently, well into the Twentieth Century, Presbyterians denied women not only ministry, but the right to speak, lead in prayer, or participate in public discussions in mixed assemblies. Similar prohibitions applied to divorced and remarried Christians. Though Jesus never specifically addressed homosexuality, he did denounce divorce and said that remarriage after divorce constitutes adultery (Matthew 19 and Mark 10). By the late Twentieth Century, however, conservatives willing to disregard Jesus’ clear statement about remarriage nevertheless insisted that less clear verses about homosexuality be taken literally. Those who oppose gay ministers follow the same pattern as the earlier mistaken theologians by focusing on a handful of verses rather than upon the broader scriptural message. In addition, they misinterpret those few verses that mention same-sex behavior, taking them out of their linguistic, historical and cultural contest in order to condemn a whole group of people. Rogers examines each verse and raises doubts about any broad applicability to same-sex couples today. He also refutes various negative stereotypes and fears, such as the claim that marriage equality would doom heterosexual marriage. The earlier generations of theologians sincerely believed they were right in their beliefs about blacks, woman, and the divorced. The error these earlier theologians made, Rogers, contends, was interpreting the Bible by making particular verses more important than general biblical principles. By contrast, the Christian abolitionists got it right by looking at the Bible as a whole and giving priority to its central themes as enunciated by Jesus. The modern method of interpretation is to recognize Jesus as the center of scripture, and to interpret particular passages in light of all the Bible. “When we interpret Scripture in a way that is hurtful to people, we can be sure that we are not glorifying God. Whether our interpretations result in love for God and neighbor is a practical test of whether our interpretation is correct.” As happened with the issues of race, gender and remarriage, conservatives resist reform when it comes to homosexuality, defending the traditional interpretation. But anti-gay Christian ministers have become much less prominent and assertive than they were 15-20 years ago when Jerry Fawell Sr. and James Dobson were frequently on TV news declaiming about the culture wars. Christians who want to better understand homosexuality will find this book illuminating. Rogers’ prediction about the inevitable change in the church seems to be coming true. ###

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The author's argument was clear and well-reasoned, and I learned a lot from this book. It's not easy to read, because it's written like an academic thesis. But I like that there are citations everywhere, it shows that the author did a lot of research and work on the book. I do wish that more time was spent "debunking" the supposed anti-gay verses of the Bible. He dispatches them pretty quickly, and his arguments make sense, but for people who haven't put in the research work that he has, it's ki The author's argument was clear and well-reasoned, and I learned a lot from this book. It's not easy to read, because it's written like an academic thesis. But I like that there are citations everywhere, it shows that the author did a lot of research and work on the book. I do wish that more time was spent "debunking" the supposed anti-gay verses of the Bible. He dispatches them pretty quickly, and his arguments make sense, but for people who haven't put in the research work that he has, it's kind of hard to absorb a whole new interpretation of these verses in a few short sentences and move on. Honestly, I can't remember most of his arguments about them, although I remember agreeing with them. The way it's written is great for an academic paper; you want to be brief, persuasive, and not belabor your point, but for non-academics it would be helpful to get more elaboration.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is not light reading, but Jack Rogers message is clear: "All are one in Christ Jesus. When we read the Bible through the lens of Jesus's redemptive life and ministry, we are better able to discern God's revelation. Jesus welcomed every kind of person into God's community." He clarifies the many misinterpretations of scripture that condemn homosexuality, and shows what the Bible really says. So many LGBT people have left the church because of the condemnation.The Presbyterian Church and some This is not light reading, but Jack Rogers message is clear: "All are one in Christ Jesus. When we read the Bible through the lens of Jesus's redemptive life and ministry, we are better able to discern God's revelation. Jesus welcomed every kind of person into God's community." He clarifies the many misinterpretations of scripture that condemn homosexuality, and shows what the Bible really says. So many LGBT people have left the church because of the condemnation.The Presbyterian Church and some other denominations have taken a welcoming, loving stand that others should consider following.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carson Dean

    Enlightening! I appreciate the straight-forward and biblical, yet sensitive, approach Jack Rogers takes on such an incredibly important subject. Rogers offers up a lot to digest and I'm certainly going to read it again to make sure I didn't miss anything. The book is very readable and the notes are extremely useful. Make sure to read the revised and expanded edition. There is a great study guide at the end authored by David Maxwell that I plan to work through soon. I'd put it on my must-read sho Enlightening! I appreciate the straight-forward and biblical, yet sensitive, approach Jack Rogers takes on such an incredibly important subject. Rogers offers up a lot to digest and I'm certainly going to read it again to make sure I didn't miss anything. The book is very readable and the notes are extremely useful. Make sure to read the revised and expanded edition. There is a great study guide at the end authored by David Maxwell that I plan to work through soon. I'd put it on my must-read short list.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Botts

    It was refreshing to walk along side the journey of Rev Rogers. At first it was hard to hear all the groundwork he was setting but it was key to the journey. So thankful for his wisdom and explanations. Grateful how he shared how individual’s changed the wording of the Book of Order because they thought it was a good idea and how it took many years for it was able to be restored to the original wording. A great explanation of the TRUE intent of the Bible.

  19. 4 out of 5

    john wright

    Out standing book! Rogers speaks with such wisdom & eloquence. Very informative & easy to read. I would highly recommend this book to any open minded person whose interested in their traditional sacred cows of traditional beliefs.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Coleman

    Rogers puts forth a convincing text-based argument for inclusion. The argument is highly influenced by the history and structure of the Presbyterian Church, USA. I found this book to be the most persuasive statement of equality I have read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gerald H

    An excellent book. Some Presbyterian specific material many will not need. It is well researched, interpreted in a balanced and respectful way and demonstrated excellent scholarship.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Out of date, but still very relevant! An efficient read for Presbyterians of all kinds, and Christians in general.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hansen Wendlandt

    A better title would have been something like ‘Homosexuality and Other Debates in Presbyterian History’. Jack Rogers does an absolutely fabulous job of chronicling and comparing the arguments, and explaining the polity decisions, for issues of racial equality, women’s rights, homosexuality, and even a few more obscure moral questions that some Presbyterians have held up as barriers to ordination, namely divorce (pp 41-44) and tobacco (p 17). Just as fascinating is his personal story: a leading e A better title would have been something like ‘Homosexuality and Other Debates in Presbyterian History’. Jack Rogers does an absolutely fabulous job of chronicling and comparing the arguments, and explaining the polity decisions, for issues of racial equality, women’s rights, homosexuality, and even a few more obscure moral questions that some Presbyterians have held up as barriers to ordination, namely divorce (pp 41-44) and tobacco (p 17). Just as fascinating is his personal story: a leading evangelical, who in 1993 signed a letter against ordaining people who are homosexuals (p 12), then studied his way into a changed mind (p 1). What this book does not do well, unfortunately, is address very deeply the relevance of Jesus and the position of the Bible, despite Rogers’ insistence (and he’s right) that Jesus and the Bible really are the key to the discussion. One of the beautiful things about JB&H is the revelation of just how similar are the religious arguments against the full rights of blacks, women and homosexuals. In each case, the Church “accepted a pervasive societal prejudice and read it back into Scripture.” (p 18) The process, in each case, included those in power (straight, white males) applying rather silly assumptions to Biblical text, ignoring larger Biblical themes, projecting an inherent lower character onto the Other, and accusing the Other of willful sexual deviance. Reading those original arguments makes us cringe with embarrassment at how any ‘leader’ could be so… well, stupid. All the while we know that the very same stupid things are being preached by leaders in the ongoing debate about gay rights in the church. Of historical interest, Rogers shows how those patterns of racist and sexist attitudes were promoted in the church and eventually overcome through polity decisions. But much deeper, he also explains the theological systems that have supported the arguments for oppression and inclusion, and how the denomination has systematically shifted toward the more inclusive understanding for justifying the inclusion of blacks, women, and—-two years after publication-—eventually for people who are homosexual. In that analysis, Kierkegaard and Barth are more important for the guidance of the Spirit than any social change. (Unfortunately, whereas church government and leadership may have shifted theologically well enough, I fear that many in our congregations are still struggling through the age old “fundamentalist-modernist” or literal-liberal or cultural divides.) Rogers’ chapter on “Interpreting the Bible in Times of Controversy” (p 52f) is particularly clear and helpful. In 1982-83 Presbyterians determined a few guidelines on how to interpret the Bible, namely by reading Scripture through Jesus, in proper context, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and church doctrines, in accord with the rule of love, with clear distinctions as to what the original text meant, through the lens of the whole Bible. By using each of these guidelines, it would be nearly impossible to interpret the eight or so classical ‘gay texts’ as providing a core and complete judgment against homosexuality, its practice, orientation, or relationships thereof. But some do ignore the personal example of Jesus, or the context of the passages in question, or the arc and story of the whole Bible, or whatever it takes in order to pin a modern prejudice onto Scripture, self-assured that the simplest, least justifiable interpretation is the only one possible. The chapter on “What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say about Homosexuality” is straightforward enough, but not nearly as complete as one wants. There are not many fresh insights for people who have worked with this issue at all, and not very convincing descriptions of the passages for people who are still wrestling. The discussion of Romans 1 is a little more full, but not nearly sufficient for anyone who might pick up this book to guide them through the Biblical message. The exegesis is just as slim for the inclusivity passages, in the last passage.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Clifford Luebben

    This book is well written and easy to read, so it may be a good place to start when trying to get an overview of the liberal understanding of the issue in the Christian world. Since the primary target audience is the Presbyterian, there is some information that I found personally irrelevant. If you are not a Presbyterian, you can just skip his chapter that is directly concentrated on the Presbyterian church and not miss out on the flow of his arguments. If you are looking for a convincing, biblic This book is well written and easy to read, so it may be a good place to start when trying to get an overview of the liberal understanding of the issue in the Christian world. Since the primary target audience is the Presbyterian, there is some information that I found personally irrelevant. If you are not a Presbyterian, you can just skip his chapter that is directly concentrated on the Presbyterian church and not miss out on the flow of his arguments. If you are looking for a convincing, biblical argument in favor of committed homosexual relationships - as I was - look elsewhere. The strength of his arguments lay outside of Scripture not within. The biblical arguments he presents are summaries of scholars such as Nissinen and Byrd that are all soundly defeated by Gagnon's "The Bible and Homosexual Practice". This book does directly critique Gagnon's work, but, again, all the arguments lay outside of biblical interpretation. He does have solid biblical critique against the discrimination of homosexuals. Showing, by the example of Christ, that we - Christians and active homosexuals - can be friends, treat each other with respect, and just shower some neighborly love on each other. This, however, was not an argument I personally needed to hear having been raised with this understanding while still being taught homosexual practice is sin. In short, easy to read argument in favor of the gay agenda, but like all other works taking this slant, falls short when actually drawing from Scripture.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve Lee Sr

    The Bible is cut and dry on this issue, right? There is no wiggle room. Jesus condemned homosexuals and said they were going to dwell in the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his angels. It's all there in the Book, isn't it? The first half of Rogers' book, "Jesus, the Bible, And Homosexuality" actually recounts the historical stand of the Presbyterian Church - USA, and it's forebears, in regard to three issues: slavery, women's rights, and divorce and remarriage. I found the account to be both The Bible is cut and dry on this issue, right? There is no wiggle room. Jesus condemned homosexuals and said they were going to dwell in the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his angels. It's all there in the Book, isn't it? The first half of Rogers' book, "Jesus, the Bible, And Homosexuality" actually recounts the historical stand of the Presbyterian Church - USA, and it's forebears, in regard to three issues: slavery, women's rights, and divorce and remarriage. I found the account to be both fascinating and lamentable. It has only been recently that I have even allowed myself to consider that all that I thought I knew about gays and their sins and their place in the Church might not have been correct. Sometimes it's hard to let go of long-held beliefs, even when they're wrong. But, praise God! He is able to do what people by themselves cannot. I have no hope in this world apart from Christ and his grace. How, then, could I even consider withholding that grace from others? Should you read this book? I can't answer that for you. Are you willing to let God show you something that you had not considered before? If you are, this book is wonderful. If you think you already know what God thinks, you probably won't like it much. I'm hoping you'll read it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wes

    While there is some valuable information in this book, I cannot give it high marks. mostly because of chapter 5 where he presents his Biblical arguments. Rogers first outlines how his opponents often fail to read the Bible in context then outlines how one should read the Bible and immediately goes the same path he accuses others of taking. His argument particularly on Romans 1 goes: 1. Romans 1 is addressing idolatry. 2. There are homosexual Christians who love Jesus. 3. Paul did not know anyone While there is some valuable information in this book, I cannot give it high marks. mostly because of chapter 5 where he presents his Biblical arguments. Rogers first outlines how his opponents often fail to read the Bible in context then outlines how one should read the Bible and immediately goes the same path he accuses others of taking. His argument particularly on Romans 1 goes: 1. Romans 1 is addressing idolatry. 2. There are homosexual Christians who love Jesus. 3. Paul did not know anyone who fell under point 2. 4. therefore homosexuality is not condemned by Paul so long as it is in a loving relationship. However, murder, envy, etc. appear in the same list. Thus if we apply Rogers own stated logic and rules for Biblical interpretation either he is wrong or else envy is not sinful so long as we can find people who are envious and love Jesus. This is simply one example there are several places where he simply does not seem to recognize that he is falling into the same patterns he berates his opponents for using. Again my argument is not against his stance of accepting homosexuals into the church, but his methodology.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This issue has been discussed among Christians in the main line churches for as long as Christian churches have existed. Passages from the Bible have been used, for the most part to call people with a homosexual orientation everything from "evil", to "depraved", to humans to be pitied with attempts to "cure them" of their "affliction". Jack Rogers, a Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church(USA), ha This issue has been discussed among Christians in the main line churches for as long as Christian churches have existed. Passages from the Bible have been used, for the most part to call people with a homosexual orientation everything from "evil", to "depraved", to humans to be pitied with attempts to "cure them" of their "affliction". Jack Rogers, a Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church(USA), has discussed the history of this issue and tied it into other issues of race and gender. He takes on the traditional scriptures found in the Bible that have been used to villify homosexuality and shows how since 1930 there has been a dramatic change in biblical interpretation. A must read for those who are struggeling with this issue.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I thought this was a fantastic book, discussing the history of a sensitive issue in the church today. Focused primarily on the Presbyterian Church (because of the author's background and hermeneutics), the book ranges from a discussion on the civil rights movement (how the questions of racial equality, gender equality and sexual orientation have historical similarities), to discussing different methods of biblical interpretation, to discussing the typical biblical passages cited in discussing LG I thought this was a fantastic book, discussing the history of a sensitive issue in the church today. Focused primarily on the Presbyterian Church (because of the author's background and hermeneutics), the book ranges from a discussion on the civil rights movement (how the questions of racial equality, gender equality and sexual orientation have historical similarities), to discussing different methods of biblical interpretation, to discussing the typical biblical passages cited in discussing LGBT equality. One of the most interesting passages is the discussion of how the phrase about "homosexual perversion" ended up in the answer to question 87 of the Heidelberg Catechism (spoiler: it was not present in the original). I would heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the movement for LGBT equality in the church.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Ellis

    Jack Rogers calls for a revival of the biblical approach to homosexuality and marriage. He provides a patient, balanced, biblical, and even evangelical argument for the legitimacy of homosexual relationships and for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians into the life and ministry of the church. I've read other, perhaps fuller exegetical arguments as well as personal and theological arguments in this stream, but never have I found the personal, the theological, and the exegetical woven Jack Rogers calls for a revival of the biblical approach to homosexuality and marriage. He provides a patient, balanced, biblical, and even evangelical argument for the legitimacy of homosexual relationships and for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians into the life and ministry of the church. I've read other, perhaps fuller exegetical arguments as well as personal and theological arguments in this stream, but never have I found the personal, the theological, and the exegetical woven together in one place so masterfully as in this book. Rogers' perspective is specifically located in the Presbyterian tradition, but from that location his perspective is representative of and relevant to the whole evangelical Christian tradition. Anyone who is interested in what the Bible says about homosexuality should have this book high on their reading list.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I have not yet finished this book, but I absolutely love it so far. Jack Rogers tells his story as he went from being an anti-homosexual Christian to a pro-homosexual Christian, just by looking at the history of the church and the Truth that is the Bible. If you ever find yourself questioning why Christians seem homophobic and why they shouldn't act that way, read what Jack Rogers, world-renowned Bible interpreter and theologian, has to say about the subject. I have not yet finished this book, but I absolutely love it so far. Jack Rogers tells his story as he went from being an anti-homosexual Christian to a pro-homosexual Christian, just by looking at the history of the church and the Truth that is the Bible. If you ever find yourself questioning why Christians seem homophobic and why they shouldn't act that way, read what Jack Rogers, world-renowned Bible interpreter and theologian, has to say about the subject.

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