This past Tuesday I took most of my staff to a conference center south of Salem and we spent the day listening to Dan Kimball, author of "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church." We had read the book as a staff and they were excited to hear him in person.
I recognize that it must be very difficult to be an author/speaker. Some of the people to whom you are speaking have read your work and some of the people have not. To find a balance between sharing the content of tour book without wasting the time of those who have already read it must be a very difficult balance.
I suspect that you have already picked up that I was disappointed in Kimball’s presentation. He came across as a personable man, but he is definitely a writer and not a speaker. He simply shared the content of his book, but without the hard-hitting power that his book demonstrated. It was kind of "They Like Jesus…" Lite.
But as my mother always taught me…look for the golden nuggets in any bad situation.
I did find it interesting that in their church’s statement of faith they include a statement of Covenant Marriage: something along the lines that marriage is a life-long covenant between a man and a woman. It is so core to their beliefs that it stands up there with salvation by Grace and the Trinitarian personality of God. If a person does not believe that, they cannot be a member of that church and the church will not link arms or participate in events with church communities that do not affirm that.
While is times past, that might have seemed a self-evident statement, obviously such is no longer the case.
He also spent a good deal of time laying out a theology of homosexuality. This was one of the key tenets of his book, "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church." Non-Christians see believers as anti-gay homophobes. How does one protect a genuine love for gay people without gutting what the Bible, particularly the New Testament teaches on homosexuality? Kimball affirmed that some people may be “born” as homosexuals, but that fact (if it is indeed a fact) does not give a license to promiscuity or to practice gay sex. Christian gays are called to abstinence. One can declare that they are gay in terms of attraction and also a believer, but be an abstinent believer.
Again, I wish this was new. This was basically the direction my seminary prof Joe Sutherlin at ESR taught up twenty years ago. It was helpful then, but seems fairly old hat today. Perhaps it is only old hat to me and is not to the church at large. Anyway, I left wishing for more.