Inspired to Love the Church by a Gay Christian

chIn April 2012 I was baptized by full immersion at our local Christian church. It was a wonderful and godly experience. The pastor’s words “You are free from the teachings of one man” still give me much peace and joy. Since then however, I have not returned to church, except for a couple special events. For me, baptism was an end, not a beginning. Baptism was the death of all the undue religious influence on my life. Today I would like to share with our readers a glimpse into my journey back to the church.

Meeting gay Christians during sabbatical

It has been an amazing journey since that baptism. I have connected with numerous gender and sexual minority Christians and allies, both via social media and in person. The LGBTQAI community welcomed me, accepted me and loved me.

Still, for the past three years, I answered the question of “What denomination are you?” with one word: done.  I held my own “Brian’s beer church” (membership of one) every week. I took time to detox and be outside the gates of Christendom. I enjoyed the time immensely. It was my sabbatical. And I highly recommend taking one or two or more years if you need time to re-connect with life and with your self and with the world around you without the influence of the church. Such a thing was healthy for me.

Moved to return to church

This past weekend I had the great privilege to spend five days worshiping, learning and connecting with lesbian and gay and intersex Christians and their allies. If you ever get this chance, please pursue it! I saw the glory of God as their hearts poured out to God. I saw the kingdom of God where there is no “male and female” (Galatians 3:28). And I was accepted.

I found I have many roles to play in the kingdom of God. I have much to process right now, but I can say clearly now: I love the church. I am a Christian. I love God’s people. And I love my self. I am full of gratitude for Matthew Vines, the gay Christian who inspired me to love the gospel and to love the church.

What worship experiences have you had recently? What motivates you to love people? How do you love the church? What roles have you discovered for using your talents in the kingdom of God?

[picture credit: “Church” artwork by my mother, Linda Yenser]


  1. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Thanks for sharing this, Brian. It’s surprising to me that there is such an effort by the LGBT community to be part of the church–and by that I mean acceptance into the churches that are in place now which do not hide the obvious condemnation. The more I think about “Christians” and “church” the more unhappy and disappointed I am, especially the western evangelical, non-denominational churches (which are practically denominations to themselves).

    I’ve been following Matthew Vines on twitter and am very supportive of what he’s doing. It’s motivating to learn more of the gospel and of what God is doing. Besides their acceptance of you, I’m sure that there are many other particular things you could share about your time with the cohort. I’d be glad to hear about those and see differences between time with them and being at a church.

    I am also motivated these days to have a broader understanding of “church” in terms of other denominations and church history.

    I am glad to have given up how I used “talents” before, such as giving messages, fishing, 1:1 studies, and music. Now, church means spending time with my family, taking my wife and kids to a church with my parents, and engaging with the world outside of church as best I can. But not engaging in an organized, missional way, but simply in how I’m living and interacting with people in the world. No more strict agendas or expectations on how my interactions with people ought to be.

    • Thanks Charles!

      “Besides their acceptance of you, I’m sure that there are many other particular things you could share about your time with the cohort. I’d be glad to hear about those and see differences between time with them and being at a church. – See more at:

      Yes I am preparing a seminar to share what we learned. I plan on doing some sort of Q&A/speaking tour if I can find churches willing to have the conversation. I may do Skype/video seminars at some point too.

  2. Happypinky

    I was wondering, whether polyamory is also biblical? Bible does not denounce literaly?

    what about multiple wives? or husbands?

    I feel really sorry for Gay Christians. On one hand their same sex struggles are real and painful, and yet they want to feel part of Christian community.

    Unfortunately, you can not serve both God and sin. That is what gay Christians are trying to do.

    no matter how much you twist verses around homosexuality, you have to supress your common sense and intellect to be able to do so. I actually tried that, but gave up after 2 attempts.

    I wish the mainstream chruchs repent. Once they were bastions of the gospel, today they are promoters of Gods wrath.

    Goldman Sachs has suggested that by 2050, Europe will be the smallest economy and Japans population will be reduced by half.

    America, will follow that path if churches do not repent and stop conforming to ideals of this world.

    So please stop spreading bullcrap of Sodom.

    • Happypinky,

      The Old Covenant allowed polygamy, even for Israel. But the New Covenant uses a redemptive movement hermeneutic to point us to faithful, monogamous kinship contracts.

      In regard to Sodom bullcrap, perhaps you should do a language study about the word sodomy and also read the bible a bit more closely. What was the sin of Sodom? The bible tells us their primary sin was inhospitality. The gang rape attempt in Genesis 19 was about mistreating guests. Judges 19 shows another example of the same thing. Sex was used in those times to shame conquered people.

      Ezekiel says also that Sodom will have a better judgement than the people of God in Israel.

      “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. 51 Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. 52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.”

    • The reference I quoted is Ezekiel 16:49-52.

    • mrkimmathclass

      What do you think of this verse, Romans 1:26-32?

  3. mrkim,

    When someone quotes Romans 1 as condemnation of gays, I ask them to turn the page to Romans 2:1.

    Here is what I think, which is a quote from my soon to be released book “The New Wine”.

    “The sixth, and last, clobber verse is found at the beginning of the great masterpiece of the bible, the letter to the Romans. The reference is found in Romans 1:26-28. Such verses speak of condemnation, as does the entire first chapter. When we turn the page, however, we find the shield passage: Romans 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” ESV
    Romans 1 mentions three major exchanges and numerous harmful consequences for abandoning gratitude, love and justice. Do you see condemnation in Romans 1? I see condemnation for every human being because that is how the story called Romans begins. Turn the page to Romans 2. Immediately we see that “them” in this story is us—you and I.

    In his well-articulated response to John Boswell’s exegesis of Roman 1, the world-renowned bible scholar Richard B. Hays does not close the door on the gay debates. In fact, he writes this: “Certainly any discussion of the normative application of Romans 1 must not neglect the powerful impact of Paul’s rhetorical reversal in Romans 2:1: all of us stand “without excuse” (anapologêtos) before God, Jews and Gentiles alike, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Thus, Romans 1 should decisively undercut any self-righteous condemnation of homosexual behavior.” [Relations Natural and Unnatural: A Response to John Boswell’s Exegesis of Romans 1, pg. 210, Richard B. Hays]

    We know little of Christ if we do not keep turning the page in Romans until we reach Romans 8:1 and read the entire symphony of this masterpiece to its glorious end. When we read all the promises of God in Romans and through all the bible stories, we see no exception clauses. Not a single promise of God has any sort of gender or sexual minority exclusion section. The promises of God are open to all. I pray these words of God’s grand promise may reach your heart: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

    The New Wine: Why Gays are Welcome at the Wedding of the Lamb (c) by Brian John Karcher, April 2015

    • mrkimmathclass

      I don’t think you understand what I meant?
      We are not condemning them as Jesus is not condemning thieves or murderers.
      But we should help them to confess their sin and come back to God.

    • “we should help them to confess their sin and come back to God”

      Are you saying we should usurp the role of the Holy Spirit? What sin do gender and sexual minorities need to confess? What do you mean by “come back to God”?

    • mrkimmathclass

      I am sorry.
      I am busy now talk this way.
      Whatever I say, you are ready to attack.

    • mrkim:

      “Whatever I say, you are ready to attack.”

      It is called a conversation, mrkim. I understand that in your Korean mind and ubf ideology a question = attack.

      But you have to understand that this website is a public discussion forum. We will have questions or comments about anything said here.

      I am not trying to convince you of anything. I am trying to have a conversation to understand you. This whole thing recently started when I asked a simple question: “Why do you think this is the best article ever?”

      I still would like to know why you think that way. But all you did was say that I am a blind fool. Then you went off of all kinds of other topics.

      Our readers deserve to know, mrkim, that you are a Korean ubf missionary. They deserve to know that your shenanigans here are the standard operation procedure for Korean ubf missionaries.

      I put up with such foolishness for over 20 years. I enabled the Korean ubf ego. I translated the words of Korean ubf missionaries over and over again until they sounded palpable to my American ears and to other “sheep” so they could accept you.

      I am fully convinced the only reason ubf is still here 50 years later is because many of us were Balaam’s donkey, silently enabling your authority.

      But I was the fool. I let you Korean ubf missionaries ride my back like Balaam’s donkey.

      And then I spoke :)


  4. mrkimmathclass,

    Are you sure Brian is attacking?

    Honestly, we hear a lot of “stop sinning and come back to God” but in the context of Romans 2, of course, the good people in Romans two are the people who do come back to God.

    I am guessing you would think that based on Romans 1, people who are homosexual cannot come back to God.

    Brian is questioning that very point. Actually, neither one of you convinces me. But it is a very important question worth discussing.

    Have courage, it’s worth discussing.

  5. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    How convenient. Romans 1 can be used to help gays confess their sin and come back to God, but Matthew 23 cannot be used to help UBF leaders confess their sin and come back to God. To do so would be an attack and so hurt their feelings and disregard that they’re humans with weaknesses and shortcomings.

    • This idea woke me up this morning.

      Mr. Kim gave the classic example recently, “We should help them to repent of their sin and come back to God.”

      Yet when we, here, or in our ministries, attempt to help UBF leaders “to repent of their sin and come back to God,” we are labeled as attackers, complainers, bitter.

      Maybe we learned the wrong way, from UBF. How many students leave because they can’t deal with the methods of bringing sin out for repentance? Don’t you realize that this is exactly how people feel when you take the assumption of their sin?

    • Stepping back a minute… some random Sunday musings…

      I see a fundamental flaw in the idea of “We should help them to repent of their sin and come back to God.” John 16:8 says this is the job of God, of the Holy Spirit. We are not to convict people of their sin. I have tried this, and it does not work.

      Why do we think we can usurp the role of the Holy Spirit? I have no intention to “lead ubf leaders to repentance”. I will speak up but it is up to the Spirit to cause repentance. Why have ubf leaders not repented? Well the answer for me is that the Spirit has not poured out repentance yet.

      This is now gets into the amazing, all-surpassing effervescent gospel that I rarely gave a second thought to while under the yoke of ubf training. I tended to dismiss the question “What is the gospel?”

      Jesus said we must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees to get into the kingdom. How can we do that?

      But this is fascinating. Do we need to repent and clean ourselves up before receiving the grace of God? I say no, grace is grace. Grace moves us to repent but grace first makes us clean as we are.

      So to me, repentance is never “repent of your sins”. Can anyone find where the bible says “repent of your sins”? It is amazing to me that this is not the bible’s teaching. The bible teaches “repentance” and “forgiveness of sins”. Where did the “of sins” get added onto repentance?

      Repentance stands alone. To repent is to change your mindset to that of grace. To repent is to desire mercy not sacrifice. To repent is to change your mind from a spiritual director who governs the moral conformance of other people.

  6. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    In Romans 1, from verse 21, Paul speaks about the the sin and its consequences in the past tense. A consequence was given and is already done, and so Paul is pointing it out as an example for the readers to take notice. God is not “giving” people over to such sins and desires, but has “given” them over to it. Now is he speaking generally of Gentiles (not to say that, among the many sins listed, including homosexual lusts, that Jews were not doing these things)? Or is he speaking of a specific people and event? I don’t see a call for people of the future who are suffering for sins of the past to make individual repentance for consequences come to them from others. Would it be something like, “I repent for the sins of others before, for being part of humanity without the law but still not acknowledging God from what has been revealed in creation and such consequences have come to me without my choosing, such as homosexual desire)”? My point is that I believe that this passage requires a lot more thought and consideration in understanding and application than we see often regarding “helping” gays.

    • Precisely the kind of thinking I want to see happen regarding Romans 1. Paul is not giving a sexual ethics class in Romans. He is pointing out that the world is a mess. And then he goes on for 15 more chapters to explain the majesty of what God has done for the messy world.

  7. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Brian wrote that he was inspired to love the church and go back to church and people are on his case for it. Brian, it seems the wrong people inspired you to love the church go back to church. I guess you’ll just have to be by yourself until the authorized person inspires you. Sorry.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      And this is why I am not inspired to go to church. If these are the kinds of people there, then, no thanks for me. I’d rather be with unbelieving people.

    • “it seems the wrong people inspired you to love the church”

      lol, yea but that’s ok because I’m apparently a heretic going to hell in a handbasket. At least I’ll have all my gay and lesbian friends with me!

      But seriously, I hear you Charles. I haven’t actually returned to church yet. My heart was just so moved by worship. That’s really what I was hoping to discuss here.

      I spent 5 days worshiping and studying and listening and learning with gay, straight and lesbian Christians. It was so amazing. I learned that Galatians 3:28 is indeed the reformation vision of the kingdom of God.

  8. Hey everyone, just a note to our readership. Why do I sometimes bring up LGBTQIA topics here? (Well, besides the fact that I am Satan’s agent with an agenda to destroy the church and force all Christians to engage in orgies…)

    The reason is because there are gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender and queer and intersex people at ubf.

    Some of those who reached out to me for help are both gay and at ubf. Imagine the pressure this creates, to feel the oppression of gay people and the oppression of ubf. My heart aches for them because suicide seems like the way out at times.

    We already know there are numerous cases of ubf people who committed suicide before or after leaving/being kicked out. Add being gay on top of that.

    mrkim is correct about one thing. He said “We shouldn’t hate or judge them but embrace them as Christ did.” I agree. We should embrace and love our gender and sexual minority friends and relatives. They have much to teach us. Their sexual and gender expression is not sin and not something to repent. Our treatment of them is something straight people need to repent.

    Jesus spoke of male and female, yes, but right after that Jesus spoke about 3 different kinds of eunuchs. The first person the gospel was witnessed to in the first church was the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip said nothing about the Old Covenant regulations. Eunuchs do not exactly equate to our modern notion of homosexuality but my point remains: the bible and Jesus recognize that there are genders outside of “male and female”.

    I might write another book entitled “Hey white straight guys, you are not in charge anymore!” The wineskin of gender binary is bursting all around us. Women can be pastors and leaders of all kinds. Gays and lesbians and transgender can be pastors and leaders of all kinds.

    I heard the most amazing sermon from a transwoman last week. I heard about how gifted trans people are with empathy, and that they make supreme worship leaders.

    I have so much more to say. If anyone wants to know my thoughts on this topic, let me know. I have a 4 part seminar prepared.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Yes. Helping the sinners to repent is the work of the holy spirit. The holy spirit doesn’t want His children remain in sin. We cannot force the sinners to stop sinning but it is our job to help them to come to God and find who God is and what God wants from them. And Apostle Paul clearly says that homosexual is sin along with stealing, murdering, being greedy and etc. Again, we shouldn’t judge them because we are the same sinners but should be able to say that homo sex is sin. But nowadays we need courage to do so because America government legally protect them.

    • Don’t you understand that UBF has lost any legitimacy to speak about sin at all, no matter which, as long as there is no public admittance of and repentance for their own horrible sin reported since 1976, often committed under the name of God which makes things not better as you assume, but a thousand times worse?

    • mrkimmathclass

      I think you don’t see Bible objectively due to your hatred of ubf. Sin or not sin is not the matter of which church you belong. What you say doesn’t make sense at all. Actually, I see these kinds of one-sided gossiping or blaming very often among you guys. Get out of hatred and see Bible and seek Holy Spirit’s help. He might open your eyes.

    • The Bible is clear. The same Apostle Paul that you referred to wrote: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” It’s not your matter to judge homosexual people outside your church. But it’s your matter to judge the founder and general director of your church who has misappropriated offering money, spiritually abused people, and done many other evil things – up to the point that he ordered that church members have abortions. So far I have not seen a single official statement of UBF about these things, nor did I hear a personal statement of you about this, all I hear is you lamenting about homosexual people. That’s not what you should be worried about. Your matter is to judge the cult-like system established by Samuel Lee that allowed him to teach and do unbiblical and unethical things unpunished and encouraged other leaders to do similar things. You should care about this unless you want to live as an accomplice of this system. Personally, I didn’t want to be an accomplice of this system and its founder any more. That has nothing to do with hatred, but with conscience. Also, I want to warn other people so that they don’t fall into the same trap and entrust their lives and offer their precious time and energy and heart blood to an unaccountable cult-like system that goes counter to both the Bible and human ethics like I did. Again, this has nothing to do with hatred, but my wish that no new people suffer the same abuse that I and many others went through in UBF. It’s called the golden rule, maybe you have heard of it.

    • Mr. Kim:

      1. You insinuate that I hate UBF just because I say UBF has commited serious sin. With the same logic I could insinuate that you hate gay people because you say they are sinning. Am I right?

      So stop equating criticism or calls to repentance with hate unless you want that to be called driven by hate yourself, when you call young students and gay people to repent.

      2. You claim that we’re just “gossiping”. Did you ever hear the concept of “witnesses” who should be heard? We have a lot more than two or three witnesses. Let’s discuss concrete issues, some of which Joe has listed on this website. What about the forced abortions by Samuel Lee? Are they just gossip? In fact that have now been confirmed internally even by Sarah Barry and Mark Yoon. But unless UBF officially admitted these crimes, it’s very convenient to keep on claiming this is all “gossip”. That’s why I’m adamantly insisting that UBF needs to publicly admit that these things – and many others that have been pointed out by reformers – have in fact happened. If UBF keeps lying about its own past and covering it up, they’re not a church, but a cult, even if they change outwardly.

  9. mrkim,

    “And Apostle Paul clearly says that homosexual is sin along with stealing, murdering, being greedy and etc.”

    Why do you think Paul clearly says this is sin? What verse are you referring to?

    • Most likely you are referring to 1 Cor 6:9. Well, that is highly hypocritical of a ubf missionary to point that out. Maybe you should read 1 Cor 6:1-8 and urge your fellow ubf missionaries to eagerly demonstrate penance for starting a lawsuit against Chris and his website…

    • mrkimmathclass

      Again. I am not judging them.
      Romans 1:26 and 27 reads, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
      In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
      Isn’t this message clear to you yet?
      We don’t judge them. But my point is that stealing is sin, murder is sin and adultery is sin and that homo sex is lust and perversion. They changed God-given natural relations. Sometimes we are vulnerable to many sins. It seems that we are born with full of sins such as lust, envy, greed and selfishness. But we don’t say that those sins are acceptable. Instead, they are evil. Homo sex is also same evil sin which sinners seek. We don’t judge sinners but we say that sin is sin.

    • mrkimmathclass

      When you see 1 Cor 6:9, you should know that it goes with what I said.

    • mrkimmathclass

      1cor 6:9 above
      My bad.
      For 1-8, again you are misunderstanding me.
      I clearly said that we shouldn’t judge the sinners. What I am saying is that homosexual is SIN.

    • mrkimmathclass

      sigh ~~

    • James, I’ll concede for the sake of argument that homosexuality is a sin. Now we have a lot that must be discussed. What do we do with sin? What would repentance look like for a gay or lesbian or transgender or intersexual person?

  10. mrkim,

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume homosexuality is a sin. (Please stop using the term “homo sex”. That is a Konglish word that means nothing to me. You are in America so please use English.)

    How does a person stop being a homosexual? What would repentance look like for a gay or lesbian or transgender or intersexual person?

    Are you aware of the DNA research regarding chromosomes? Do you realize that at least 30 combinations of XX and XY chromosomes have been observed in human beings? Where do these people who are XXY or XXX or X fit into the “male and female” binary structure?

    • mrkimmathclass

      Thank you for teaching me proper English.
      I know that I am not good at Science. But the verses you and I showed clearly say that homosexuality is a sin. That is not my idea but from the Bible which is from God.

    • Joe Schafer

      “People who appeal to belief against logic, who revel in irrationality, are unteachable. Nothing anyone says to them about their belief can cause them to ponder, to reflect, to think again—which is what being teachable means. People who appeal to belief against logic, who revel in irrationality, also give Christianity a bad name—making it appear unintelligible to inquiring minds.”

      Read more:

    • mrkimmathclass

      Because you talk about Science, you may see this one too.

      They are still arguing about the issue. Can some ideas of a few scientis decline the authority of the Bible?

    • James,

      Your cult manipulation techniques no longer work on me. You continually skip over my questions, dictate your own idea and then ask me wild questions of your own.

      If you want to have a discussion here, you are going to have to start by continuing our conversation we already had.

      You said “homo sex” is sin. If that is so, then my question remains: “How does a person stop being a homosexual? What would repentance look like for them?”

      The bigger question is how do we deal with sin? If you would like to share your thoughts on that, please do so. If not, then Joe’s article above is highly relevant.

      I am not joking around. There are many issues that need to be discussed here. For example, If you want to talk about sin then we should be talking about the sin of authoritarianism as Chris pointed out or perhaps more relevant, the sin of molestation.

  11. mrkimmathclass

    sigh ~~
    in the wrong place.
    If anyone doesn’t have the same opinion with you, you call a cult.
    Very easy.
    >>You said “homo sex” is sin. If that is so, then my question remains: “How does a person stop being a homosexual? What would repentance look like for them?”

    >> How do I know the answer? Do you know how to completely be free from all our sins? That is why we depend on Jesus and his blood. That is the way we deal with sins. How about you?

    I ask you again the same question because you avoided it. Do you agree that Apostle Paul mentioned in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 homosexuality as sin but we shouldn’t judge sinners?

    You just ignore it because you cannot answer it and say that I manipulate and I am a cult.

    Could you answer me?
    Should we obey God and His words or the opinions of a few scientists?

    • “Do you agree that Apostle Paul mentioned in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 homosexuality as sin but we shouldn’t judge sinners?”

      No I do not agree with this thought.

    • In those verses Paul made up a Greek word that does not equate to our modern term “homosexuality”.

      “How do I know the answer? Do you know how to completely be free from all our sins? That is why we depend on Jesus and his blood. That is the way we deal with sins. How about you?”

      This answer tells me you know nothing about how to be a Christian pastor. Your thinking is very non Christian.

    • “Do you know how to completely be free from all our sins? That is why we depend on Jesus and his blood. That is the way we deal with sins.”

      No I don’t know how to be completely free from all sins. Why? Because that is not possible. You and I and all people will die with sins in our blood.

      What are you depending on Jesus to do?

      Your way of dealing with sins is to ignore them and just hope for forgiveness in the future? That is not Christianity. That is more like an Eastern religion way of dealing with sin using Christian terms.

    • mrkimmathclass

      You should learn how to study Bible first. You don’t understand that simple Bible passage, how could you judge others and say that I am not a Christian or not?
      I believe that I wasted my precious time to the pigs. I shouldn’t throw a pearl to pigs.

    • James,

      I suppose you can chalk up my faulty bible study to 15,000 hours of world-class ubf training over 24 years :)

    • And yes I am judging your words (not you) by taking you at face value. Your words here are highly suspect and very un-Christlike.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Good Lord, mrkimmathclass! Get over yourself.

      In the other thread you wrote, “That is why I say this site is full of garbage.” Why then didn’t you expect pigs?

      This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a UBF Korean missionary unable to hold a conversation and try to get out of it by using Jesus’ words to call the other party a pig and elevate themselves in preciousness.

  12. In case anyone is wondering, and would like to actually discuss some of these issues, here is a related topic: bible translation.

    I do believe the original bible writers were inspired deeply by the Holy Spirit.

    I do not believe all the bible translators since 1900 have been equally inspired. Many of them were inspired yes, but some of them are not so inspired.

    • I am not a KJV-only person, but I really am beginning to understand the KJV-only people better. That translation has issues too. And my favorite tid-bit is that there is strong evidence that King James was gay…

  13. James,

    You asked about this: “They are still arguing about the issue. Can some ideas of a few scientis decline the authority of the Bible?”

    My answer is no. It does not matter what science or medicine finds out. Sin is sin. Abuse of sex, excess of sex and abuse of authority, all kinds of abuse are wrong.

    Science and medicine and all kinds of study does not change that. Such study however needs to help shape our interactions with each other. As our knowledge of humanity increases we ought to revisit Scripture and learn and grow.

  14. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Here is an interesting article on understanding the context of the acts mentioned and language used in Romans 1-3.

  15. James/mrkim:

    “If anyone doesn’t have the same opinion with you, you call a cult.”

    Many people have different opinions than me. There are in fact several ubfriends commenters who are non-affirming and probably would like to have a civil dialogue about LGBTQIA issues. But that is rather tough to do with your interjections.

    mrkim, it is not that I call everyone who disagrees with me a cult, it is just you and the ubf organization that I call a cult.

    • Nuance: The Westloop and Waterloo chapters of ubf are EXEMPT from my cult status :)

  16. Wow, Mr. Kim’s math class couldn’t be this exciting!

    Congratulations, Mr. Kim, you are embodying the very thing that I have been combatting in my service to the Lord for the last several years!

    Things like this are what concerns me about raising children in this organization.

    Your position is obvious, but your complete lack of respect for anyone who doesn’t worship Dr. Lee has blinded you to the fact that Christ’s blood has purchased all of us.

    We have a responsibility as Christians to call out un-Christianlike behavior–the same responsibility you claim to be taking up. Yet you refuse to acknowledge that anyone else can take it up against you if you are walking in the wrong way.

    God have mercy on your soul for the way you treat people who belong to him.

    • mrkimmathclass

      I am speechless by you guys’ stupity, but I have to say this.
      Though I don’t have seen Dr. Samuel personally, now I understand how deep his patience and love is even toward people like you guys.

      Here, you guys can curse at and judge anyone, nothing happen to you but someone say against you, you cannot bear it and say all kinds of dirty words.
      No wonder that ubf leaders don’t respond to you guys at all. Do whatever you guys want. But remember people are not stupid as you guys are.
      I admit that I was wrong to have hope that you might be reasonable to listen.

    • Mr. Kim, I suggest looking up the word “trolling” in a modern dictionary. In fact, an online one.

  17. mrkim,

    Did you ever consider why Jesus said not to throw pearls at pigs? Pearls hurt pigs. Throwing pearls may cause the pigs to return the favor. We know Jesus does not want stone-throwing in His kingdom. Perhaps He also does not want pearl-throwing?

    I’m willing to start all over and reset this conversation. You are welcome here. I very much appreciate the fact that you shared your pain here.

    Maybe we could go back to my first question on the other article. I was not asking rhetorically. I really want to know what you liked about the anonymous response to Joe. Many of our readers had issues with the letter, including me. What did we miss?

  18. Joe Schafer

    Yesterday I ran across this article and was reminded of a certain organization.,38496/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview%3A1%3ADefault&recirc=college

    This exchange with Mr. Kim reflects poorly on the quality of UBF missionary training. Within UBF environments, social interactions are so carefully controlled and dissenting opinions are so effectively suppressed that, no matter how long you are there, you never learn how to engage and communicate charitably with people who disagree with you. This is why some missionaries behave so badly when they are challenged. If they dare to venture outside of the UBF bubble, they are shocked to discover that people are no longer deferring to them. There is no longer a critical mass of missionaries around them to maintain (what they call a “spiritual environment” but is really just) an atmosphere of strict control. Very soon, they feel that they are being treated with gross disrespect, because no one is bowing down to them or humoring them or recognizing their honorary titles and positions. An environment where everyone is equal, where no position or viewpoint has an a priori privilege, feels to them like a hostile place. So they respond with hostility, and then blame everyone else for being so hardened and unreasonable and stupid and angry and so on, and then leave the discussion with an air of self-righteousness, vowing to never engage the critics again.

    • HappyPinnky

      Joe Joe Joe

      Seriously, if lord helps me I’m no gonna engage here anymore. You guys commit the same mistakes that you accuse of us doing.

      In fact, I suggest in order to help our angry brothers here to get back to functioning life. We those in ubf take moratorium for few years.

      This way we can help angry members here to get back and start living lives. Otherwise discussion here goes nowhere. So now, because we are from ubf we don’t have the write to talk about our views on homosexuality. In that what some you are affirming.

      I think the more people like me and mr kim engage here the worse it is for memebers.

      More anger, fury, time spent in front of screen, like today I was pretty much nailed to screen.

    • “We those in ubf take moratorium for few years.”

      Well put. So just let us to ourselves so that we can get all of our garbages out and when we’re finished you can come back and engage us with more of your illuminating dialogue.

  19. mrkimmathclass

    I think you should learn how to discuss and talk. You enjoy blaming and hurting ubf this way out of your anger. But this will never help you.

    Brain, don’t show your immaturity and stupidity. Your bible interpretation sucks. Don’t do it. Pearl hurts pig!!!

    • Joe Schafer

      This exchange also reflects positively on the other Mr. Kim (James H Kim, the former president of UBF) who came to UBFriends and engaged us in conversation a couple of years ago. It was tough going at first, but he persisted. Although we disagreed on many things, there was a small breakthrough and he found it was possible to have a civil and charitable dialogue with us.

      Later, in personal conversation, he told me that he was unable to continue the active dialogue on UBFriends, not because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t have the necessary stamina. He said that the conversations with us were very taxing, consuming every ounce of his mental and emotional energy, because he was so unaccustomed to the environment, and he also needed to constantly look up terms in the dictionary and other sources just to understand what we were talking about. And he said that the vast majority of UBF missionaries wouldn’t and couldn’t ever engage us in dialogue, because (these are almost his exact words) they have been in UBF for so long that UBF is all they know, and they are incapable of discussion outside of the UBF environment.

    • Joe Schafer

      And this discussion also reflects favorably on another Mr Kim — Abraham T Kim, the General Director. We disagree on many things, but he has always done his best to listen and understand what I was saying, even though it was emotionally very difficult for him. We have had long discussions about sensitive topics, and although his viewpoint is different from mine, he has gone above and beyond his natural ability to listen. I have been told by a reliable source that the people who have given ATK the most difficulty and grief are not the people who criticize UBF on this website, but the hardliner UBF leaders and immature missionaries who are unable to deal with people whose views differ from theirs.

    • Joe Schafer

      mrkimmathclass, you said, “You enjoy blaming and hurting ubf this way out of your anger. But this will never help you.” It isn’t helpful for you to give me advice, because you really don’t have a clue what I think or feel.

  20. Okay, I am going to jump in and then back out again.
    I have certainly not gathered my thoughts on this topic well enough, nor have I gone out of my way to meet with people and talk with people etc…

    I see a permanent impasse for dialogue with Mr. Kim and anyone else. I think it’s very important to understand the background from which everyone is approaching this topic: ie. intolerance because it goes against God’s creation and plan… or openness to struggle with the best or most suitable way to include LGBTQAI in a Christian context…

    That being said, I almost feel that this needs a part two or at least a more clear definition because it has strayed way of course from Brian’s intended article.

    Here are two of Brian’s previous articles, maybe they can help clarify to readers his position-changing position on the subject.

    Here is a unique article by Yohan Hwang:

    Here is one of the many articles from Ben about sin:

    Anyway, when I read the juvenile insults I felt like there is greater problem at understanding the point for all of this. I just get the feeling that no one is fully catching the position from each person. I suppose, it is supposed to be an all or nothing argument.

    • gc,

      Thanks for pointing out those prior ubfriends articles. Ben’s post about sin is very relevant to what I was hoping to discuss here. Ben wrote “But Paul’s point is not how horrible Gentile sinners are, but that the Jews–who were religious, moral and law abiding–were just as bad, if not worse!”

      I was hoping to hear different worship experiences. What happens when we sinners come before a holy God with the cross of Jesus among us?

      My gospel is becoming more and more powerful to me now that I am adding in the concept of holiness to grace and peace.

  21. Joe, nice point.

    And, Paper beats rock.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Two thumbs up!
      At least, you guys work great as one team!
      I admire you guys in that.

      I wonder your opinion of homosexuality. Is it sin or not? Is it God’s choice or human being’s choice to be LGTBs?

    • mrkim, my answer is yes and no and both. You are asking a question similar to “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

      Jesus is calling us to shed our binary thinking and sin-centric gospels. The triune thought fabric and grace-centric gospels are what change the world.

      To repeatedly ask “What is sin?” is an Old Covenant mindset that still needs to be transformed. Might we move on to asking a New Covenant mindset question, like “What is God up to? What good or bad fruit is being born?”

      John 9 is my favorite example of what I am trying to say.

    • Joe Schafer

      mrkimubf, since you asked me whether homosexuality is sin, I will tell you what I think. I posted this comment a few months ago, and I will re-post it here.

      Rather than focusing solely on homosexuality and LGBT issues, I will talk about the bigger picture of what the Bible teaches me about human sexuality and marriage. I will not deal with questions of a more scientific nature (e.g. Are certain people born gay?) because I don’t think the Bible addresses those in any specific way.


      I believe that Genesis chapter 2 has something important to teach us about God’s designs for sexual relationship. Jesus certainly thought so. A good case can be made that a lifelong, committed monogamous relationship between a man and a woman is a biblical norm. But it is also evident that many important people in God’s history did not follow that norm, and God seems curiously unconcerned about it. For example, the patriarch Jacob is the namesake of the nation of Israel. In Hebrews 11 he is listed twice among the righteous heroes of faith. Is he in heaven? I guess so. But as far as I can tell, Jacob never repented of his polygamous lifestyle, and God never challenged him on that issue. (In his context, I’m not even sure what that repentance would mean.) Many Christians will say that it is absolutely essential to marry someone who shares your faith. Marrying an unbeliever is considered to be seriously wrong. Maybe it is wrong. But many heroes in the Bible had interfaith marriages. Moses married the daughter of the priest of Midian, and Joseph also married the daughter of a pagan priest. There is no indication that either of these women first converted to their husbands’ faith, and God never seems to challenge them on that issue. Hannah (the mother of Samuel) was in a polygamous marriage, and God never told her to repent of that, and her husband is also portrayed as a good man. The biblical pictures of marriage are not easy to navigate. Until I have a better grasp of what is going on here, I’m going to refrain from taking strong positions on some of these things.

      One thing I do see in the Bible: God seems willing to meet people as they are, wherever they are, and he wants to intervene in their own life-contexts. Sometimes God’s designs for people involve a radical change in their sexual expression and relationships. But sometimes God’s priorities for them seem to lie elsewhere.

    • Joe Schafer

      In conclusion: American Christianity is experiencing a major crisis and division over same-sex marriage and related issues. It is very difficult to discuss these topics in a calm, rational way because they evoke strong emotions and reactions.

      In this current environment, it is helpful for me to step back from homosexuality and ask the less obvious but more fundamental questions that are lurking in the background, namely:

      * What is the gospel?
      * What is love, and how are Christians called to express it?
      * What is a sensible way to approach the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and what is an appropriate way to understand Scriptural authority?

    • Excellent thoughts Joe, and it is precisely those questions that form the starting point of my 4 part seminar.

      I would suggest considering the “Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic” that William Webb suggests. Here is one link introducing the approach:

      the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutical approach to biblical ethics

      In any case, I reject most static approaches to the bible. Perhaps I will share an article or two on this. Note: Webb is highly non-affirming, but I love his hermeneutical principles and have tried to incorporate them into my processing of the gospel and Christian ethics:

      “The primary aspect of Webb’s approach is unmistakably movement. Webb presents the RMH in opposition to what he calls a ‘static’ hermeneutic, which only considers the isolated words of the text.
      For Webb, “Movement is (crucial) meaning.” He is particularly looking for change and improvement in the ethical systems of the covenant community, both in opposition to the ANE/GRworlds and the previous ethical systems within the covenant community itself. By combining these elements the interpreter discovers the underlying ‘redemptive spirit’ of the biblical text.”

    • We must be careful in developing a stance about LGBTQIA people because we can’t come up with something that is inconsistent with slavery or women. Does our theology re-open the path to slavery? Does our theology accept gays but reject women? My goal is to develop a theology that is robust enough to stand the test of any issue and any scientific/medical advancement. It is rather shockingly simple to do just that, but it is endlessly complex to share and articulate such theology in the midst of a plethora of issues.

    • Joe Schafer

      Thanks, Brian.

      mrkim, since I made a good faith effort to answer your questions, I will now ask you something in return.

      Is slavery (holding people as slaves against their will) a sin, or is it okay? How do you know, based on the Bible?

      This is not a trick question. I really want to know how you would approach this.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, thanks for the link about William Webb and the redemptive hermeneutic. I ran across it once before in this series of articles about a “Christian view” of corporal punishment.

  22. Mr. Kim,

    I’m simply wondering if you realize what you are doing based on your own words.

    You have called/accused/insulted various commenters on this website as “stupid,” “immature,” “pig,” “hateful,” “angry,” while each of the people you accuse and insult as such respond to you kindly, graciously and charitably without using any of the offensive insulting demeaning language as you.

    Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29). I wonder if you ever think or consider whether or not what you have expressed in recent comments reveals Jesus’ gentleness and humility.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Is my language bothering you?
      Then, why don’t you mention about Brian’s comments?

    • mrkimmathclass

      Don’t you see that Chris and Brian started bad language out of the topic?
      Yes I became emotional when they talk that way. Why should I be the only one blamed here?

    • Mr Kim,

      Again, I’m wondering if you realize how you are responding. I’m simply commenting about your own choice of words that accuse and insult others as stupid, immature, pig, hateful, etc. I’m simply pointing it out.

      Now in your comment and response, you are accusing me of blaming you or being bothered by you. I’m not blaming you. Honestly, I’m not bothered by you either.

      I’m simply pointing out what you are doing based on the insulting words you use to describe others.

      I’m NOT saying this. But to illustrate my point, what you are saying is like someone saying to you, “UBF missionaries are stupid, childish, immature, hypocrites, self-righteous wife-beaters who act so holy in church while they are too proud to humbly learn proper English after leaving Korea for several decades.” (Sorry! I will never ever say this to anyone, but I’m simply trying to illustrate my point to help you understand what you are doing and saying based on your offensive comments.)

      What you are saying (with your insulting, accusing, demeaning comments) about Brian, Chris, Joe, Matt and others is exactly this.

    • Since my earlier comment is still pending (it has links to other articles on ubfriends) I will quickly add in here.

      Mr. Kim, I know that Brian and Chris and even others have been quick and ready to confront you, but none of their language is insulting. I would agree that they make you uncomfortable or even at times feel a little condescended to or patronized. You must keep in mind that for many people who are exiting or have exited UBF the communication felt exactly the same when remaining UBF members would speak up.

      But on this topic what are your very basic positions?
      What is sin? – Being homosexually inclined? or The act itself?
      You say you must not judge, but how then would you handle a Bible student who confessed they were LGBTQAI? What kind of counselling would you give them? How would you pray for them?

      If you read one of Brian’s articles in 2012, he did not even know how he would approach the issue. But, he did know how he would not approach the issue if confronted with anyone who still came to Jesus knowing the normative feeling about these sexual and identity issues.

      I appreciate that you keep coming back to dialogue, but it is important not to get too emotional before you even know where Brian or Chris stand on this issue. As for me, I am where Brian appeared to be in 2012. I want to keep dialogue and an open door for such people in that situation. They are not condemned to hell. I cannot articulate any better than that at this time.

  23. mrkim, please point out my bad language. I did repeat what Happypinky said, but I was using Happypinky’s language when he wrote: “So please stop spreading bullcrap of Sodom”.

    I won’t deny that I really felt like ripping off a litany of swear words, but the Spirit restrained me. This time.

  24. gc, I just approved your prior comment. Thanks for thinking through these things. You have a great point about the impasse.

    I learned a lot by pondering the impasse the first century church had to face. Can you imagine facing the circumcision party?? Thank God we only have Democrats and Republicans in America to contend with!

    The first church had this issue: Peter, John and James were siding with the circumcision camp (not strongly but they didn’t eat with uncircumcised Christians). They seemed to believe that we don’t judge the uncircumcised but we cannot condone their choice and should not have fellowship with them.

    How in the world could you resolve the “be circumcised” group with the “no need to be circumcised group?” There is no more clear command in the Old Covenant than “be circumcised” to show yourself a true believer.

    But the first church is our model. They saw that the cross killed the wall of hostility. They found common ground in the gospel of grace and the need to help the poor and needy. This is the way forward in any divisive issue facing Christians.

    My agenda has nothing to do with allowing orgies or changing all non-affirmers into affirmers, but with finding Christian unity in the gospel of grace, the gospel of peace, the gospel of glory, the gospel of salvation and most of all the gospel of the kingdom.

  25. My question of the day is this: Is it a sin to be uncircumcised? Why or why not? If it is a sin, what do we do about the uncircumcised? If it is not a sin, how do we know who is a true believer if we cannot know who is circumcised?

    I’m not making any hidden point. I want to process these questions to explore the gospel beyond the “deathbed repentance” ideas that are so often mixed in with the gospel.

    • More thoughts to ponder…How did the pillars who were pro-circumcision (Peter, James, John) find unity with the rogues (Paul, Barnabas, Titus) who were anti-circumcision? How did the get to the point where the circumcised extended the right-hand of fellowship to the uncircumcised?

      [Galatians 2]

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Acts 15 is also very telling of the steps they took to find unity, which I believe is accurate to say because we can see an earnest effort to understand the situation the people, the situation, and what God was doing. Notably, they were honest and open to listen to both sides and to consider what God had and was doing among them. Also, notably, they go to the Scripture last to understand what was going on. They didn’t use Scripture first to define the relationship. After discussing, considering, listening, they understand what had been written according to what they heard the Spirit was doing and how they ought to relate to each other. What they did contrasts those who belonged to the party of the Pharisees.

  26. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Here was my worship experience last Sunday. My family was invited to a place of worship at a non-denominational evangelical church. After the music at the start of the service, a video about minutes long played calling for support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Those who had invited my family to worship there were embarrassed and as off put as I was by the video. It was filled with business owners testimony, politicians, statistics, scare tactics, buzz words like “faith” “freedom” and “God.” But what was glaringly obvious to be missing was Jesus Christ. Nothing in the call for support of this Act had anything to do with the person, teachings, or life of Jesus Christ. His name wasn’t used once, I think. But the audience cheered afterwards with loud applause and Amen’s.

    I’m very disappointed and put off by the worship experiences at the evangelical churches I’ve visited. Worship is missing. There are lectures, self-help / good Christian advice, political posting, performances, and celebrity preachers. There is often a lot of focus on how wretched people are or how troubled they might be (with references to floods, storms, and trials), and calls to “come back.” But celebrating, adoring, and being engaged in Jesus and his body, a not one-sided fellowship with other, is missing to me, both in face to face fellowship and in listening and considering Scripture and the world we live in today.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles, I couldn’t agree more. For the last 9 months, Sharon and I have thoroughly enjoyed attending a local Episcopal church. We haven’t joined the church, but our experience there has been very positive. The liturgy is extremely gospel-centered and Christ-centered and rich in Scripture, far more than what I experienced in evangelical churches that are supposedly Bible-centered.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Thanks for sharing, Joe. I’m going to talk with my wife and see about visiting our local Episcopal church. She’s also becoming more and more dissatisfied with the worship at evangelical churches.

    • The two denominations that keep showing up in the Progressive Christian Alliance forums are 1) Episcopalian and 2) Disciples of Christ. I think Rachael Held Evans helped make #1 a good choice for a lot of recovering evangelicaloholics. Her new book is on my ever-growing list.

      I hear you Charles. Those are the reasons I refuse to “shop around” for a church. I couldn’t bear to sit through such things while I am recovering from ubf.

      Our family happened upon a very Christ-centric, grace-based local North American Baptist Church. They are non-affirming but think along the lines of what you shared here Joe.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Oh, wow, the rector of the Episcopal church in Downey is a woman.

    • Yep :) It’s not a white straight man’s patriarchal world anymore! Thank God!

    • Or in theological terms: “The ecclesiological vision of the kingdom of God is a reformationally redemptive movement of the Living Word in Scripture by the Holy Spirit toward missional ecumenism made possible by the cross of Jesus Christ.”

  27. This is such a delightful exchange of comments.

    In my initial years as a Christian, I was for the most part (mostly inwardly) irritated, upset, intolerant, aggravated, frustrated, incensed at anyone who did not believe like me, live like me, think like me, prepare Bible study like me, teach the Bible like me, disciple others like me, and this list can just go on and on. In short, I was “Mr. UBF on steroids!” I think I was kind of a poster boy of sorts.

    After 25 years, I realize that it was such an unhappy way to live. By God’s grace alone, God has helped me to be common (not elitist) and inclusive (not exclusive) and for the most part rather ignorant (rather than a know it all!).

    As a result, I have been accused of being liberal, loose, licentious, relativistic, not absolute, overboard on grace (without truth), freedom (without limit), rest (and thus lazy), unconditional love (without “training”), etc, and I heard that I have become a man with no honor and “no face.”

    But the amazing thing is that I’m as happy as on the day of my conversion and my honeymoon, as I often palpably experience the presence of God’s unfathomable grace that has nothing to do with how much I work, or how much I binge watch Netflix shows to overcome my current state of jetlag.

    Though I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment on this LGBT issue, I love reading your comments! Keep it up.

    • “After 25 years, I realize that it was such an unhappy way to live.”

      I wonder whether, if you did not realize this all these years, and thought (or pretended to yourself and others) you were happy, then have you been actually happy or unhappy all the time? ;-)

  28. Here is a quote from Richard Lovelace (Dynamics of the Spiritual Life) that perhaps explains why there are angry and contentious and ungracious people in the church:

    “Many areas of the church … are full of desperately anxious and bitterly contentious people. Law without grace provokes sin …and aggravates it into some of its ugliest expressions… Psychoanalysts speak of the “resistance” patients have toward the discovery of traumatic material hidden in the unconscious. The same automatic fear of having repressed problems uncovered will grip and bind Christians unless they are deeply assured that they are “accepted in the Beloved,” received by God as if they were perfectly righteous because their guilt is canceled by the righteousness of Christ laid to their account…. God simply wants honesty, openness and a trusting reliance on Christ our Savior.”

    It brief, repressed anger is a suboptimal understanding of the marvelous gospel of the grace of God.

    • Great quote, Ben.

      I like this: “The same automatic fear of having repressed problems uncovered will grip and bind Christians unless they are deeply assured that they are “accepted in the Beloved,”

      This speaks precisely to the gifts our gender and sexual minority friends will bring to the church: safe places to process our genuine realities and narratives with deep assurance of love and acceptance as children of God and as the Bride of our Lord.

      My primary claim is that our gay and lesbian and transgender and queer and intersex and asexual brothers and sisters are deepening the meanings of the Bride narratives in the bible.

    • “This speaks precisely to the gifts our gender and sexual minority friends will bring to the church: safe places to process our genuine realities and narratives with deep assurance of love and acceptance as children of God and as the Bride of our Lord.”

      I think that I am beginning to see where you’re coming from Brian. Accepting people where they are and rather than labeling them pejoratively for what traditionally has been seen as sinful behavior, walk with them through that particular journey in a loving and compassionate manner.

    • You got it, David. I am addressing the wall of hostility Scripture speaks about. I am not saying I have all the answers to the mixture of social, economic, religious, psychological and moral issues; I am saying that the questions are more complex and robust that the gay/straight or male/female divide that currently plagues the church. Such binary thinking never satisfies me anymore.

      What I am finding is that coming “out” of ubf is very very similar to those who come “out” of the closet.

      I further am delving into how the first churches walked through the wall of hostility of their time: the circumcision vs uncircumcision debates. They are our model. They did resolve the hostility. That is my claim.

  29. If anyone would like to discuss my full-affirming, celebration stance on LGBTQIA people, I have a 4 part seminar series and new book about to be published.

    My premise is a love-first theology of lambheartedness that begins with the following affirmations:

    1. Authority of Scripture
    I am not apostate. I have gone “outside the gates” at times.

    2. Desire to please and obey God
    I am not an anarchist. I do not have all the answers.

    3. Value of moral fortitude
    I am not an antinomian

    4. Gratitude toward the church
    I am not a sectarian

    5. Love for all people
    I am not a humanist. I value the Divine

  30. In light of the recent discussions on ubfriends, I’d like to encourage the community to listen to this podcast:

    It’s the story of two people who were on polar opposite sides of the gay marriage issue and how through messy and painful dialogue they began to embrace one another. They talk about dialogue being “redemptive”, meaning that though two people may never fully agree on a particular issue, their interaction will ultimately make both more human, more empathetic and more alive. My prayer and deepest desire is for all of us, whether we are in or out of UBF, to be able to dialogue like this.

    • And this isn’t to say that we aren’t, by and large, engaging one another in this way. I’ve found ubfriends to be one of the few places where redemptive dialogue is made possible.

    • Thanks David. This is a good reminder. I didn’t listen to the full dialogue, just the first few minutes. I like what they say about reaching a disagreement. Civil dialogue is more about the debate than winning an argument.

      The ancient Jews understood this. They had no issue with debating heatedly for hours and then leaving 2 or more opposing ideas on the table. Christians don’t seem to get this.

      What makes this kind of dialogue impossible is the idealistic and self-centered thinking that insists on an extremist position.

      In all my debates, I am quite open to being wrong. I have been wrong on so many things. But I make strong statements because that is how I learn.

      If someone can persuade me to believe ubf is the glorious church they often claim, I will believe it and admit I’m wrong. If someone can convince me I am wrong about gay marriage, I will admit I’m wrong. But in either case, I demand to know why I’m wrong. For what reasons? That is my main concern. No longer will I just crawl into my hermit cave and sulk in self-pity. I will stand on what I say.

    • Good points, Brian. Pete Enns really piqued my interest in looking at some of the intertestamental or second temple era literature. There was intense debate about Israel’s history and the meaning of judgment, the afterlife, how to deal with the pressure to become Hellenized, etc. They never came to a concrete consensus and so you have many different schools of thought in terms of Jewish theology. As Westerners influenced by the Enlightenment period, we want everything to fit into a neat box. Anyway, I used to enjoy watching Christian vs. (insert religion or philosophy here) debates. But now, I’m much more interested in charitable dialogue where both parties resist the urge to give into polarizing the given issues on the table and instead simply learn from one another and appreciate each other as human beings. That On Being podcast captures that so well and is a wonderful testament to our capacity to embrace one other as God’s image bearers.

  31. Speaking of opposing sides… one of my topics in my new book (The New Wine) is about how the first church overcame the circumcision vs. uncircumsion divide. Thank God we don’t have to deal with the circumcision party :)

  32. In fact the bible is a book of opposing views and contradictions. It was never intended to a master spellbook of truth. It was meant to provide sparks of reform and to open eyes to see the Divine.

    • Brian, I can’t see the image in the link, but I agree that the Bible is not crystal clear on several things. The first four hundred years of Christianity was extremely messy, from a theological standpoint, because of this. We take this for granted today, but it was until deep into the second century or so A.D. that the church came to a consensus on what the Holy Spirit was. They debated whether or not He was a person (and the definition of personhood was a huge debate as well) or a force.

      To me, the Bible seems to bear the unmistakable impressions of (1) human beings whose culture and world views change from epoch to epoch as well as (2) God’s multifaceted wisdom and image. We often miss this perhaps because we feel that it’s safer to have a set definition of what Scripture is and how it came about and who God is. One of the greatest dangers that Christians (or anyone for that matter) can fall into is to fail to foster a mind guided by critical and informed thinking. That is where divisive fundamentalism, tribalism, sectarianism and antiquated and deficient views of God stems from.