Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Intolerance, LGBT rights and theological education

There is evidently a growing intolerance of any in the academic world who hold biblical views about marriage. And this is even true in some religious institutions particularly among mainline denominations. The information below is one example which has become newsworthy enough to worry orthodox Christians:

The first time I heard of Dr. Margaret Aymer was over three years ago when she walked up to the Voices of Orthodox Women’s booth at a Presbyterian Women’s gathering and verbally attacked a friend of mine, for no particular reason. That is, my friend had neither said nor written anything about her. The second time I heard about Aymer was when she attacked the Fellowship of Presbyterians and a letter they had written. I wrote about that here "Margaret Aymer's "About Your Invitation"

And then there is the Bible Study, Confessing the Beatitudes, she prepared for Presbyterian Women. While this study won an award from the Associated Church Press, it is nonetheless an unacceptable Bible study for orthodox women. As VOW wrote in their review:
Aymer does not take the context of the Scripture seriously. Nor does she use first century documentation. Instead, the context Aymer wants us to take seriously for the Beatitudes is a context constructed and imposed by Twentieth and Twenty-First Century socio-politico categories of “honor–shame” and “Empire.” She does this by looking at the context through the lens of liberation theology as well as an economic political document entitled the Accra Confession produced by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. [1] Because of this she does not set forth the clear and plain sense of the passage, nor does she give a fair assessment of why the text was written. (Link mine)
And now Aymer is deeply involved in a battle for free speech in the context of a religious university. World On Campus’s Leigh Jones has written an article entitled “New Testament prof. fired for orthodox beliefs,” with the subtitle, “Atlanta-based coalition of historically black seminaries punishes Dead Sea Scrolls expert over his adherence to biblical teachings.”[2] Reformed Pastor David Fischler with Stand Firm uses Jones article to highlight the growing lack of intolerance toward the orthodox among academic advocates for LGBT rights in his article, Punishing Heresy in the New Sexual Orthodoxy.

Both writers explain that Professor Jamal-Dominique Hopkins has been dismissed mainly because he invited an InterVarsity professor to speak to his group of conservative students on campus. The speaker, Dr. Alice Brown-Collins, director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Black Campus Ministries in the New England Region, gave a student a book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, by Robert Gagnon. Dr. Aymer, when she became aware of the event and the book appears to have been very offended. As Jones writes:
The next day, Hopkins' department chair grilled him about the meeting, the book and his association with InterVarsity, an evangelical Christian campus ministry. The whole situation violated ITC's [Interdenominational Theological Center] code of ethics, which pledges the school's commitment to a diversity that includes sexual orientation, Dr. Margaret Aymer told Hopkins. When he rose to leave, Aymer warned him he had put his job at risk.

Three months later, the school dismissed Hopkins, who has filed a discrimination complaint against ITC with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Jones also writes:
Hopkins hopes to resolve his dispute with ITC without going to court. But school officials refused to participate in a mediation session requested by the EEOC, which opened an investigation into Hopkins' discrimination claims. ITC also faces an unrelated investigation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools over a lack of compliance with accreditation requirements. (Link placed here mine.)
Fischler adds to the information “Aymer preached at the recently concluded Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, and has been a resource person for the denomination’s Advocacy Committee for Racial and Ethnic Concerns.” He also provides a newspaper link with additional information, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This growing intolerance of those whose views are biblically grounded is frightening to say the least. Americans and in particular Christians tend to think of the educational system as one of the more liberal and free institutions in a democracy. But it may be that the time has arrived when being politically correct will far outweigh the integrity of allowing freedom of speech. But Christians, educators and all, must still stand for biblical truth no matter the cost.

As Jones points out the university where Aymer is a professor has many conservative black students. Their world view is a biblical world view. We are all called to lift up and minister to the sheep of His pasture despite the difficulties.

1.“Unity or Unanimity at Reformed Council?” by Jordan Ballor at Acton Institute

2. You may have to register to read all of the article but it is free.


Anonymous said...

I think a good description of this situation is ... bullying. Something progressives campaign against in theory and endorse in practice.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Anonymous said...

What is a "growing lack of intolerance"?

Viola Larson said...


A greater amount of schools and faculty, than existed a few years, who do not allow differing opinions from conservative Christian students and teachers.

Please leave your name, city and state.

Greg Scandlen said...

This is astonishing because if those people being "corrected" had been Muslim they would have been patted on the head in the interests of "diversity."

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Jodie said...

I think what Anonymous was getting at is that a 'growing lack of intolerance' is a double negative that means a growing tolerance. There is a growing lack of intolerance towards gays and lesbians in our society today.

Don't think that is what Viola meant.

However, tolerance per se is not a Christian value. And certainly not a virtue usually associated with Orthodox Evangelicals.

So it is odd to me, even amusing, to hear traditionally intolerant Evangelicals complain about the perceived intolerance of anybody else, really. Call them bullies? Is that supposed to sound like some kind of "gotcha"? It's funny.

But treat people with grace and respect and very often they will return the kindness. Plus it happens to be what Jesus taught:

"do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you"

Or is that just a suggestion?

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Viola Larson said...

I don't usually thank you-but I did not see that.

On the other hand I don't believe that Evangelicals are "traditionaly intolerant." However I believe we should all be intolerant of what God is intolerant of which is of course sin. He provides a way out of that through the death and resurrection of his Son.

Jodie said...


That does raise a question for me.

Would you say then that hating you, cursing you and mistreating you is not a sin? I think you would say it is.

But then is doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, and praying for those who mistreat you a form of intolerance towards sin?

How does God's intolerance for sin, and therefore your own intolerance for sin, manifest itself in harmony with those words of Jesus?


Anonymous said...

Let's slow down a bit.

A bully is a person who harasses another person. The one who stops a bully isn't another bully, but a hero. In this case Hopkins is the bully, and Aymer is the hero.

Likewise, intolerance/discrimation is against people, not ideas. Here again Hopkins is the intolerant one, opposed to homosexuals simply by virtue of their sexuality. Rejecting the actions of Hopkins isn't intolerance. It is not an affront to his person. It is a rejection of his ideas and the violence those ideas propagate against other people.

And as far as a biblical view of marriage goes, condemning homosexuals should be the least of your concerns. Why aren't you and your friends bothering to advocate for biblically sanctioned rape, polygamy and incest? I can't wait to see that campaign.

Kelly Canada
Tampa, FL

Viola Larson said...

"But then is doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, and praying for those who mistreat you a form of intolerance towards sin?"

Of course it is. The opposite would be to do wrong to those who hate, and to not pray for those who mistreat you. Intolerance of sin doesn't mean hatefulness, instead it means love while correcting and standing your ground. When a parent corrects a child they hopefully are not mistreating them. That is the difference.

Viola Larson said...

Professor Hopkins isn't the bully. Believing that same gender sex is sin isn't being a bully, it is being faithful to Christ and his word. The bully is the one who is not allowing him his freedom of speech.

And yes the Bible does tell about rape, polygamy and incest. But it doesn't hold those up as good or right. But from the very beginning as Jesus points out God created them man and woman. That is the biblical pattern for marriage from the very beginning. It still is.

pastor thalos said...

In this topsy-tervy, right is wrong, wrong is right universe, intolerance becomes tolerance, and tolerance becomes intolerance. Here is the problem as I see it, Viola. We have reached a stage in our secular sociey (and liberal "so-called Christian" [only an empty shell of Christianity remains] universities) where "sexual expression" is an absolute good. Therefore, anyone who expresses the slightest doubt about this highest by definition now being intolerant. We no longer even speak the same language, because of this. Just try to tell someone that it is more loving to tell them the truth of the sinfulness of homosex practice... The response is intolerance, hate, rejection and anger...because immoral sexual expression has been turned into the highest good.
Sadly, this now turns into silencing and eventually oppressing evangelical Christians. These kinds of situations will continue. There is very little room even now for Evangelical Christians in mainline "historically Christian" Seminaries...mere tokens. Universities are tolerant only of uber-progressive ideas and sinfulness, and utterly intolerant of orthodox/conservative morals and theology.

Adel Thalos
Lakesite, TN

Jodie said...
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Jodie said...
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