Once Again, My Open (And Very Personal) Letter to the Mennonite Church

Columbus, Ohio

Originally Published June 21, 2015

Dear Friends:

There are two things I need to say to the Mennonite Church USA. The first is “Thank you.” The second is “I’m sorry.” Continue reading

Disillusioned Yet Optimistic

I am sick of American Christianity. Not all of it, perhaps, but a great deal of it. I know that is an intemperate remark, but when it comes to the character of American Christianity in this election year, the last thing I am is temperate. I am sick to death of a religious system that is not worthy of the name it bears.

The most important stone in the foundation of Christian faith is the bedrock belief that the infinite and omnipotent God has come to us in Jesus Christ in order to make it possible for us humans to be reconciled to God. That is either the most magnificent reality which it has ever been the privilege of the human mind to contemplate or the biggest pile of rubbish ever foisted on a gullible public. Continue reading

Today Is The Day

I have known for some time that “this day” would come, but even when I woke up this morning, I still didn’t know that this would be that day. Then I read a note by one of my Facebook friends, and I knew what I had to do. And so, today is the day that I officially come out.

In the same way that I recently publicized my change of heart regarding the role of women in church leadership, I am today making public a similar change of heart and mind with regard to those who identify as LGBTQ. I now believe that LGBTQs who follow Jesus Christ as Lord should be welcomed into the fellowship of the church with full acceptance and without restriction upon their ministry and leadership in the church if they are qualified for ministry in all other ways. Further, in the same way that I encourage celibacy before marriage and faithfulness in marriage for heterosexuals, I offer the same counsel and encouragement to those of same-sex orientation. Continue reading

The Bible Is Not A Weapon

The Bible is a wonderful book. It is the story of humanity’s search for God and of God’s loving response. It is the record of God’s mercy in the face of human sin, and it shows us how God’s Pic 1grace ultimately overcomes humanity’s greed and lust and hunger for power. Continue reading

Please Don’t Treat Me Like A Child

I hope I can say this gently and without malice or self-righteousness.

First of all, I am not a child. I have followed Jesus for nearly sixty years. I have devoted my life to the service of Christ and his kingdom. I have been both an ardent student and a teacher of theology and the biblical text. I have not been right about everything I have believed and taught—indeed, I’m sure I’m not right about everything I believe and teach now—and I have needed to make some changes in my thinking over the years. Continue reading

I Can’t Stop Crying

I’ve been crying a lot over the past several days. (And indeed, I am crying again as I try to type this.) I’ve cried every day since June 17 as I’ve watched the news reports coming out of Charleston, SC.Pic 2 I’ve cried over the senseless and brutal murder of nine good people in a house of worship. I’ve cried for the friends and families of those victims, for the pain they are going through, and for the love and forgiveness they have shown in the midst of their pain. Continue reading

An Open (And Very Personal) Letter to the Mennonite Church USA

Columbus, Ohio

June 21, 2015

Dear Friends:

There are two things I need to say to the Mennonite Church USA. The first is “Thank you.” The second is “I’m sorry.”

You (the Mennonite Church) came into my life in 1981 when, as a result of God’s providence, I enrolled as a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At the time I had not, as they say, “darkened the door” of a Mennonite church building. One year later, in the summer of 1982, I (along with my wife) was received as a member of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, was installed as an associate pastor of that congregation, and received ordination credentials with the Virginia Mennonite Conference, all on the same Sunday in July. Continue reading

The Devastating Effects of Correct Doctrine

The liturgy has been finalized and is being printed for this evening’s Gathering for Worship In the Liturgical Tradition​. The homily is prepared. All other elements necessary for the service have been cared for. It is a beautiful morning here in central Ohio, and I am looking forward to tonight’s gathering. Nonetheless, my heart is heavy.

I am thinking this morning of how devastating religious belief can be. I am recalling how many of my friendships have been weakened, how many relationships have suffered–some to the degree that they no longer exist–all because of religious beliefs and doctrinal “convictions.” Continue reading

Have We Given Up On Peace? (My Only Christmas Blog Post This Year)

To those of us for whom the church year calendar has meaning, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are known as Advent, and it is a time of spiritual preparation more than festivity. The real celebration begins on Christmas Eve and extends until January 6 (Epiphany). These “twelve days of Christmas” we call Christmastide. I came to this tradition only seven years ago, and the effect of this change in my thinking regarding how Christians approach and celebrate Christmas has been transformative. Continue reading

Second Saturdays And The Three “F”s

A few weeks ago, I used a post which I called “Announcing Next Steps” to let you know of some recent developments regarding the vision for planting a new church near The Ohio State University in Columbus. There is a little more to report on that front, so if you’re interested in that news, keep reading.

First of all, response to that post, and the information it contained, has been unusually encouraging. Granted, much of it has come from readers in other parts of the country (and even other parts of the world) who, for obvious reasons, will not be able to participate in the series of meetings which we are planning for the fall and winter. Still, I am grateful that so many readers made the effort to express their support for the vision which I have been trying to communicate for the past couple of years and which will finally take on physical form in September. Continue reading