I really like the National Pastors Convention. The old Town & Country Resort has grown on me over the years, and the weather was perfect. Many thanks to Erik and Sheryl of Jossey-Bass for coming down from San Francisco and throwing a wonderful party to launch my book. The great news is that it had already sold out of the NPC bookstore by the time of the reception on Thursday evening.
The session I co-led with Phyllis Tickle was a blast — that’s a show that we could take on the road. And the missional church panel was fun, too, especially the one-liners from Richard Twiss.
But back to the Critical Concerns Course. There was lots of talk during the panel about a book by William Webb called, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. I guess this is the “trajectory hermeneutic” that I’d heard about, and that I’d heard that Driscoll is so critical of Rob Bell for using. The gist is: There’s a trajectory in the biblical narrative toward more freedom and liberation for slaves and women, but not for gays. Scot and Andy seemed to accept Webb’s thesis, Phyllis did not.
I asked about divorce, one moral issue that Jesus dealt with directly, forbidding it except in the case of adultery. Scot implied that there might be a weak trajectory in this one since Paul broadens Jesus’ take on divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. Andy, on the other hand, said that he thinks the church made a mistake when we softened on divorce and that we should probably move to a more conservative approach regarding divorced persons being leaders in the church.
So my question is this: Why are AMIA and other churches in other denominations ready to leave their parent denominations over gays and lesbians in pastoral positions, but they did not do the same thing 30 years ago when divorced persons were ordained? Or, better yet, why won’t they leave their denoms today over divorced clergy?
My point is: If we accept the trajectory hermeneutic of Webb, isn’t divorce the glaring exception?