Tony Jones: Into the future, Bible in hand


If you haven’t seen the video Tony Jones made for The NALT Christians Project, it’s below. In it he says this:

More and more evangelicals, particularly young ones, are opening up to the idea that gays and lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and intersexed persons can have full-fledged citizenship status in our country, and can be full participating leadership members in the church. This is a growing movement. Progressive Christianity is growing, and it is the future of Christianity in America, in North America, in the West, and hopefully all around the globe. … We’re not all like that. In fact, the future wave of Christianity is people who are open, who are accepting, who see the Bible as a theological document—not a historic document, not a scientific document, not a rulebook for living.

Tony was fighting for full LGBT rights back when doing so really cost him something in terms of his career. But he never stopped speaking the truth; he never diluted his message; he never let the pressure to conform outweigh his convictions. It’s because of people like Tony that we can look out at the world and see that while, yes, there’s still a great deal of work to be done, things have gotten better.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Heather

    I was at a concert in Atlanta last week & there was a gay couple seated two rows up from me. I felt so good about the fact that they were able to live out who they were in that moment (as I don’t know who or how they live(d) in any other moment except that one). They were just an ordinary couple, doing ordinary things. And while there’s still a long row to hoe, it did my heart good to know that at least we’ve come THIS far. No one stared, gawked, commented or cared. And regardless of WHO you are, or in what moment you’re living, the joy that resounds in the ability to just BE, can not be over stated.

    • Not Just A Blonde

      :) What a wonderful moment of hope for the church. Thank you for sharing!

  • Lorelei Kay

    In my Bible class, I teach that the Bible is a discernment workbook. The text doesn’t say what is right and what is wrong, but presents us with dilemmas which we must work out.

  • Perry Shields

    Also, the Bible is not “a document”- it is a library of at least 66 separate documents, each of which must be read in context, and with an understanding of the particular book’s purpose and audience.

    • Not Just A Blonde

      Read in context… what a concept! ;o) I agree with this 100%!

  • Tori Phillips

    Shared this with someone that needs it right now… Thanks for posting.

  • Tim Unruh

    Not sure that I agree with “not a rulebook for living.”

    • Sara Suzanne

      While I Believe there are definitely guides for life, I don’t believe the bible to be purely a rule book for living. If it were, everyone who cuts their hair, has tattoos, or wears makeup or blended fabrics would be sinning every day. I think that’s probably what he meant.

    • Lymis

      No snark at all, but have you actually read it?

      Yes, there are some absolutely wonderful bits to take away as precepts to live by, some great advice, and some incredible insights into a relationship with God.

      But there is also bashing children’s heads against stones, stoning non-virgins to death, executing witches, excluding women from religious leadership roles, relationship structures that don’t bear serious consideration (Solomon had how many wives?, Abraham married his sister? Really?), and some really narrow-minded views about bacon and shellfish.

      If you have to sift through the book to separate out the myth, the metaphor, the history, the bad politics, the outdated social and gender roles, and the hygiene rules that may apply to a preindustrial desert culture but don’t apply today, then no, it’s not a “rulebook for living.” It’s a document that may contain some rules the apply to living.

  • Caroline

    I’m sorry to subvert the topic, but Tony Jones has behaved like a major ass – to a friend of mine in particular and to women in general – and that’s just not cool.

    • Elizabeth

      I’m sorry. If it’s any consolation, I act like a major ass on the daily. It’s kind of my role here.

      • Nicole

        I like Elizabeth. We can keep her, right? :D ‘Cause she’s kind of awesome sauce.

        • Matt

          I am very fond of Elizabeth. It wouldn’t be a pool hall without her, daily assery and all.

          • Elizabeth

            You two should friend me on Facebook. This is me on my good behavior.

          • Jill

            Exactly. You all should see her in her unrepentant I’m-only-happy- when-it-rains fb glory. It’s a joy to behold.

    • Not Just A Blonde

      I guess behaving like an ass is cross-denominational. Although it saddens me to read this, I think it is best to share his ass-ness when more on-topic and constructive. As it is it isn’t either and mostly reflects poorly on you.

      I am sure I am also an ass at times but this hopefully can be overlooked as no one is perfect. I would encourage you to email him directly (constructive). This is what I would hope someone would do in response to my ass-ness instead of gossiping about me off-topic on a post I inspired.

    • John Shore

      I don’t suppose it was all a simple misunderstanding between your friend and Tony, he asked, hopefully.

  • Craig

    “But he never stopped speaking the truth; he never diluted his message; he never let the pressure to conform outweigh his convictions.”

    Some take Christianity and always find a way to make it square with typical, socially conservative values. Others take Christianity and always make it square with typical, socially progressive values. Tony, I think, belongs to the latter camp. Once recognized, all his convictions become predictable (allowing, of course, the Portlandia-esque sub-genre). Serious question: should this be troubling?