Jen vs. Tish

Jen vs. Tish May 7, 2017

It is now well known that Jen Hatmaker took a stand in favor of same-sex marriage as consistent with the Christian faith. Recently Tish Harrison Warren wrote a piece in CT that drew a firestorm of critical response, including pieces and comments by a good number I know. I think each missed an opportunity to talk about something more important. Rather, they chose to pile on the institutionalism issue.

What the institution gives the institution takes away. Don’t forget it. I want to say something about institutions but then move to my more important point.

Jen was launched into the heights of Christian influence through the evangelical institution, and each of the critics of Tish I read got to where they are because of the same “institution.” That institution of evangelicalism has some reasonably long-historied convictions on same-sex marriage and relations and it should come as no surprise to anyone that those who are floating on the top of the evangelical institution can be pulled under if they choose to disagree with that institution’s convictions. This can come as no surprise to anyone. This is not about the power of the institution; this is about how institutions work. If you want to trip others on the basketball floor you will get censored.

Tish expressed a view that is important and it was mostly ignored. She responded on her own blog with humility about some of the criticisms, and I applaud her for that. Here is her important point: How does one monitor what people believe, teach, write about, and talk about? Her contention is that that the blogosphere and social media world are largely unmonitored and some think it ought to be unmonitored. But this is where the cutting angle enters: if someone well known in the institution chooses to veer from the teachings of that institution — and Jen surely could not have been surprised that many would disagree and Tish cannot have been surprised that supporters of Jen would disagree — they can expect the institution’s disapproval.

Wisdom calls us to think with Tish about how things can be done better.

I assume that Christian orthodoxy is important, worth defending, and we need people who know their stuff to be those who have to discern. You may not like the views of the discerners but I know no other way. We don’t vote on what is the best idea. The best ideas are best because they are best. It is the institution’s responsibility to find the best and to preserve it. While there are some who just don’t think theology and orthodoxy are important, by and large it seems this conversation was animated not by that sort.

I propose thinking of Tish’s big idea about preserving our best ideas in two ways: a Wisdom tradition and a Prophetic tradition. I am tempted also to say to think of this with Grey Hair and Young Hair. That is, the tradition vs. the youth culture that Thomas Bergler, in his books calls juvenilization of the American church. The Prophetic tradition both preserves and challenges; the Wisdom tradition preserves. The Wisdom tradition grows organically and slowly; the Prophetic tradition wants change and wants it now. Many today are infected with the Prophetic tradition and have no time for the Wisdom tradition.

We need both. They can usually get along if we have wise people on both sides. Hotheads on either side make things worse.

I don’t know Jen Hatmaker nor do I know Tish Harrison Warren, but I learned something when I was a young professor and full of all kinds of passionate, prophetic ideas that could change the world. I learned it from an older professor. I decided when I first began to teach to go to an older professor — the same one — every time I was making a big decision about teaching or writing and to ask his advice, and I made the decision at that time to do what he thought was wisest.

Here’s what I learned: He was wise and he was right or had the best idea each time. Not that my ideas were bad but that had I pursued my direction it would not have been as good.

What I see in Tish’s proposal is not institutionalism but wisdom. People with creative ideas need to learn that they are not the first to think such things; others have gone before them. Those people who went before them may well have a bigger and better perspective on those ideas. They may not, but it is not wise not to ask their opinions.

Theology and church ideas have a long history friends. 2000 years or so. The Bible is older than that.

The most neglected books in the Bible are the Wisdom books. They are the books we need most today. Why? Because young leaders have lots of good ideas and there are not enough wise older folks to listen to them and to give them wisdom for next steps.

The vast majority of our wise and powerful theological tradition was not created by authoritarian insitutionalists but by wise interpreters of the Scripture, by those who have discerned in the Spirit together what God is saying to the church, and this wise tradition is worthy of consultation every time we venture into dangerous ground.

Again, I have no idea to whom Jen spoke. But what I do know is that what Tish said deserves a better hearing. Why? Because calling what she did institutionalism is a misreading of her. What she did was offer wisdom about the wisdom of the evangelical tradition.

Sometimes the tradition needs to change, but it is unwise not to consult with the gray hairs when such decisions need to be made.

A well known pastor once told a group of people that the one thing young pastors and leaders need most is at least one seminary professor they can go to for wisdom on Bible interpretation. John Ortberg was right in saying that.

What they also need is gray hairs like John to whom they can when they want to change the world in one fell swoop.

We need tables with Prophets and the Wise talking to one another.

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  • DerekMc

    “Why? Because young leaders have lots of good ideas and there are not enough wise older folks to listen to them and to give them wisdom for next steps.”

    Why aren’t there enough older folks? Where have they gone?

  • David Moore

    Hey Scot,

    Important reflections. Two questions and I am looking for your quick, gut answers, especially since there is no way to know for certain. So from your own experience in ministry:

    How much of an issue (from 1-10, with 10 being a semi truck sized issue) are:

    The lack of compelling, joyful, wise, thoughtful, loving, and faith-filled folks over 50?

    The lack of regard pastors and other ministry leaders under 40 have for the first group?

    My own experience is positive. I am 59 and find lots of young men who desire time and input. However, I certainly see the effects of ageism in the church that is sadly perpetuated by too many, younger leaders.

  • pam

    I think I’ll be processing these ideas in layers. But my first pass leaves me with the question why is the issue of gay marriage the catalyst for all this? why does this issue trump all others? Is there really no other issue out there that warrants this level of grave concern, enough to call for superintendence and supervision of people’s convictions?

  • scotmcknight

    On #1, a one or two: there are plenty.
    On #2, too much but it is less that than a culture that doesn’t think in terms of wisdom but in terms of creativity and newness.

  • scotmcknight

    As I told David Moore, the problem is more the culture that does not think in these terms. There are folks there — they don’t know and the younger folks don’t know it.

  • Lark62

    Human groups need common enemies to promote unity. We do it with nations and high school sports teams and everything in between.

    For the church, gays are currently perfect for this role as they politely self identify and tend to be outside the church or on its margins.

    The church cannot rise up against greed and risk upsetting major donors. They cannot rise up against adultery, divorce or domestic violence because too many of the powerful and influential among them might be called out. They cannot rise up against people who gossip, or hate, or lie because they look just like everyone else. The ten commandments say honor the Sabbath, but football games are played on Sunday. Honoring the Sabbath would be personally uncomfortable.

    Nope, the church, just like all human groups, needs convenient, marginalized outsiders to hate. That is the only reason why LGBT rights is the battle they chose. And what if gay kids are kicked out of their homes and must live in the streets and nearly half of trans kids commit suicide out of dread for hatred sown by Christians? Christians are unified in their self-satisfied holiness and all is well.

  • scotmcknight

    I consider this to be an inadequate response explanation. There is some social psychology to this explanation but there’s far more at work.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    I look at Jesus, Peter, Paul, … , Tyndale, Luther, … for examples. I think each of them was led by the Holy Spirit to challenge some of the existing traditions and they did not wait for permission. Yes, this is scary to an institution.

  • Patrick Barton

    I read Jen’s comments on the issue of gay marriage. I’ve been a traditionalist and remain so for now, but, her approach has merit and I’ve considered it myself. There are times when God is flexible and we need to be and this may be one of those issues.

    Or not. I can’t make up my mind. Is anyone else in this situation?

    I do share her view that since gay marriage is in effect nationwide, the church needs to deal in virtue love with those gay folks that have married.

  • Joseph Canner

    I think some of the pushback against what Rev. Warren had to say has to do with why this is only coming up now when a woman blogger decides to step out of line.

    Applied equally to men and women, Scot’s advice seems generally sound, although I daresay many theological revolutions over the years have arisen without (or despite) consultation with the elders.

  • I would take exception that the Wisdom tradition doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t try to change things in the same way that the Prophetic tradition does (upheaval and new trajectory), rather it tries to change in a sense of restraint and prevention (curtailing folly preemptively). I make this kind of distinction because it’s important to remember that preventing corruption through the wisdom of limits (which you came to in your story about seeking advice from an older
    professor, albeit framed more as the best good rather than the least corrupt) is just as important an act of change as the more obvious rooting out of corruption for which the Prophetic tradition is so valuable.

    Bottom line: change is very popular, especially with younger people trying to find their role and place, but perhaps framing wisdom as it’s own force of change can help balance things out.

  • scotmcknight

    I think I say it has organic change.

  • scotmcknight

    The issue is not everything is a revolution, eh?

  • Michelle Van Loon

    Some of those older folks have quietly exited or greatly downshifted from involvement in church. Either they’ve joined the “Dones” or they’re sticking around, but in a greatly diminished role because there’s no place for them at the table.

  • pam

    Can you provide what you consider to be an adequate explanation? my question was a very honest one.

  • pam

    Perhaps the issue is that a revolution wants to happen, needs to happen.

    Perhaps that is the whole reason this has come up in the first place. A revolution that ‘wants to happen’, like dark clouds (seemingly ominous) heavy with moisture & the air heavy with the feeling of rain about to fall.

    it’s inconvenient if not threatening to some, but relief and good news to others, depending on what they are doing & have planned. but in the big picture rain renews things, causes dormant seeds to sprout all of a sudden, keeps things alive and growing, providing food and water to all.

  • pam

    I look at the lives of human beings who are attracted to their sex. Do we really feel good about consigning such individuals to a solitary life, denied companionship, denied the strength one derives from a partner, denied family? Do we really feel good about denying them the warmth, stability, happiness and joy of family?

    Or do we not feel good about it, but that is what we are going to insist on anyway?

  • pam

    to me, it’s a matter of principle over people. cruel principle.

  • pam

    and as I’ve seen, politely and hopefully coming each Sunday, painfully enduring the excessively loud volume. it is physically painful, as well as emotionally jarring. but they politely put up with it. no one notices how unpleasant it is for them. no one cares, it seems.

  • Joseph Canner

    Sure, but the LGBT issue to me feels as important as issues like the role of women and slavery/civil rights and I would classify those as revolutions.

  • Grey_D


    I agree with you and Tish regarding an authority by which these things should be reviewed and challenged prior to publication. In fact, I believe that one of the greatest (unintentional) down falls of the reformation is the notion that if you disagree you may schism, and therefore find people who agree with your personal views. However, I have concerns regarding the practice of what we view as authority today- primarily publishers- and here’s why.

    I heard a pithy statement from an Iraqi pastor that said, “Christianity Started in the Middle East as a relationship, in Greece it became a Philosophy, in Rome it became an organization, and in America it has become a business.”

    The reason this concerns me is because writing is how most of these individuals make a living. Through writing and on the conference circuit. Publishers care about selling books, websites care about views and advertisements. Many popular writers are popular because of the controversy they draw attention to. When a book becomes debated and controversial it sells. My fear is that the business aspect of this, has a great influence and ability to corrupt truth. (Please know I am not accusing all writers of this).

    The reason this concerns me about Jen Hatmaker was not in her change of stance regarding gay marriage, though I disagree with her and Brandon. It was in the timing of her acknowledgement that she and her husband had been fighting through these issues for a while. All while continuing at accept invites to conferences, knowing that the vast majority of people in attendance would disagree with their view. I personally saw their appearance at Catalyst conference, which is attended primarily by conservative pastors and ministry workers who would disagree with them. This conference took place less than 3 weeks prior to the article being published. I also had friends and family members who attended a conference with her the week before. Had the announcement of her change in views happened before these events, it would have impacted attendance and quite possibly their invitation to speak.

    How do we trust publishers, or writers, when finances can be such a motivating factor?

  • Thank you very much for this incisive wisdom. I can only offer 3 words: Amen. Amen. Amen!

  • Raymond

    Were their appearances at the conferences about same sex marriage?

  • Raymond

    What passages in the Wisdom literature would pertain to the controversy over same sex marriage?

  • Scot, have you considered how this issue intersects with the crisis of evangelical authority that Molly Worthen wrote about in her book, Apostles of Reason? Built into Protestantism is this tension, because it is based on a rejection of church authority – all Tish can really do is “call to account” those who accept the “Wisdom” in her own Protestant sect’s tradition. There is no traditional authoritative body that other evangelicals are bound to respect.

    Another person “preserving tradition” in their own sect could easily say that Tish herself has no business speaking as a priest when Paul clearly (from their own “Wisdom” perspective) lays out that women cannot be priests.

    The solution to this crisis is not forthcoming. Conservatives just seem adamant about condemning Jen Hatmaker because it is on the “hot” topic of LGBT rights. But all you need to do is scratch the surface and all the problems with loss of authority come pouring out on every other issue as well. All conservatives can do is desperately appeal to a nebulous authority for the sake of authority, such as the way Rod Dreher recently argued in response to a comment on his blog: “I don’t agree with, say, the Roman Catholics on the nature of authority, much less with my friend Tish, who is a Protestant. But we all agree that authority is enormously important, and that it cannot reside soley within the individual person.” (emphasis mine) Now with an Orthodox person like Dreher, perhaps that makes sense. But it doesn’t leave alot of room for the “Prophet” role you mention.

    Evangelicalism in particular, with its emphasis on the supremacy of the relationship of the individual with God and God’s Word, is especially vulnerable with regard to this idea of church authority. You cannot say sola scriptura, sola fide one minute. . . and in the next minute demand people also must accept your sect’s interpretation of Scripture, or what you claim is church tradition. If it is sola scriptura, your church tradition may be wrong.

    What I see now is conservative evangelicals desperately trying to tack on their own church traditions as necessary for inclusion in the True Christian community, to keep out riffraff reformers. But I’m afraid that is like putting duct tape on cracks in the church authority boat. That ship sailed with the 95 Theses.

  • What we want is an intergenerational dynamic where authority in the organization is appropriately handed down from older to younger. This can’t happen if either A) older people are disrespected and their wisdom disregarded, or B) younger people are not equippied & released into leadership themselves.

  • David Moore

    Hey Justin,

    Allow me to sneak in with this…

    Many Roman Catholics and Protestants tend to misunderstand what sola Scriptura was (and still should be) about. Fortunately, there are even Roman Catholic scholars like Robert Royal who know the history. Royal corrects fellow Roman Catholics who think the Protestant Reformation
    was promoting “private interpretation of the Bible.”[1]

    As Keith Mathison memorably puts it, sola Scriptura was never meant by the Protestant Reformers to be solo Scriptura. Yes, Scripture is the only absolute and binding authority, but to use another “Protestant” perspective with the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, tradition/church history, reason, and experience are all checks on how well we know Scripture.

    [1] See Robert Royal, The God that Did not Fail (New York, NY: Encounter Books, 2006), 158.

  • JK

    Yes, and they were opposed by others led by a spirit. Knowing which is holy requires…wisdom.

  • Joseph Canner

    I, too, found it particularly ironic that it was a female Anglican priest who critiqued Jen Hatmaker, backed up by Scot, who strongly supports women in church leadership. This, when, the two denominations with the strongest claim to “authority” (Catholic and Orthodox) won’t touch that issue with a 10-foot pole.

    All that said, seeking the counsel of older believers is a reasonable idea, so that one doesn’t go off the deep end without a life preserver. Jen Hatmaker, however, is by no means the only evangelical to support LGBT rights, nor is there any evidence to suggest that she didn’t seek counsel.

  • patriciamc

    No place for them at the table. Bingo.

  • scotmcknight

    The vast majority of this discussion begins with what the Bible says not in the search for an enemy around whom we can rally. The issue was provoked in the progressive camp over time, the issue was responded to by Bible folks. In your words, those who want to provoke a revolution will have to expect resistance by the tradition. If the “enemy” explanation is going to be used it has to be used both ways, namely, the progressives wanted to find an enemy to rally around. I don’t find such explanations adequate. We can do better by trusting one another to be thinking on our best terms and for better reasons.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    I do not think that this discussion is properly framed as wisdom versus prophetic traditions. There is a great deal of prophetic perspective in the wisdom literature, and there is a great deal of wisdom perspective in the prophetic literature. Indeed, over the last century scholars have been attempting to show how the prophetic literature has been shaped by wisdom traditions and vice versa. Furthermore, it is very hard to maintain this dichotomy when a prophet like Jeremiah proclaims, “This is what the LORD says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, “We will not walk in it.”‘” Both the wisdom traditions and the prophetic traditions have equal stakes in both preserving and challenging. And in terms of staying on the ancient paths, they are completely agreed.

  • Larry28

    Regarding older folks not being at the table, that’s especially true for those who aren’t seen as “successful” in the institutional church’s eyes: never married, not particularly successful at a career, not considered leadership material, etc. In fact, not only are we not at the table, we aren’t even welcome there. That’s particularly troubling when a church is in a season of transition, as mine currently is.

  • scotmcknight

    Jerry, that’s fair enough but one must admit at least an emphasis of one vs. the other. I spent quite a time working on “wisdom” in OT scholarship, and I stand by it being a preservative, conservative, and organic change movement. The prophets are less revolutionaries, as they are depicted today, and more calling back to the tradition. They critique corruption and summon people to the ways of God.

  • scotmcknight

    The other thing I observed, Jerry, is that the prophetic tradition preserves and challenges. My reading of the wisdom stuff finds less of the prophetic tone.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    Yes, Scot, that idea about the prophets being “less revolutionaries, as they are depicted today” is where my concern was. Indeed, I really don’t see them as revolutionaries at all, inasmuch as their primary role, as I see it, was as covenant lawsuit prosecutors. So, the current use of the term “prophetic” is quite skewed. Thanks.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    I would agree with that, Scot, except that I would argue that the reason for it is that the wisdom teachers, unlike the prophets, are not laying claim to having received special revelations, or to having sat in the council of the Lord. But on the ethical and religious plane, I would still find them quite in sync. So, for example, if Proverbs 9 is, as many commentators argue, ultimately about idolatry, wisdom does take on the role of prophetic condemnation.

  • pam

    a few questions:

    ok, ‘enemy’ may be the wrong explanation. If so, could we dispense with the word “provoke”? Are Jen Hatmaker & progressives enemies of Bible folks? If not, I think “challenge” is a fine word instead.

    A revolution can be one of peaceful protest, which doesn’t preclude a direct, unvarnished approach to communicating. Isn’t it possible to see Jen Hatmaker and progressives in this light? I doubt anyone was surprised by the resistance. They simply saw no reason to back down on their convictions.

    I like your description of how we can all do better. That is a nice way to put it. I guess it’s another way of saying giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Do Bible folks consider that Jen Hatmaker is thinking on her best terms and for better reasons? Do Bible folks consider that progressives are also Bible folks, just coming to different conclusions?

  • When the grey hairs (wisdom) bow to the interpretation of the institution to create a perfect storm of elders who agree that women shouldn’t be teaching, and by extension blogging because the Bible prohibits it, the vacuum of women’s voices gets exacerbated. Warren had the support of her institution,something not every renegade blogger has. And elders – the ones who aren’t up on technology could careless about it. Tradition for the sake of tradition seems to always rule the day.

  • “For he gave me sound knowledge of what exists,
    that I might know the structure of the universe and the force of its elements,
    The beginning and the end and the midpoint of times,
    the changes in the sun’s course and the variations of the seasons,
    Cycles of years, positions of stars,
    natures of living things, tempers of beasts,
    Powers of the winds and thoughts of human beings,
    uses of plants and virtues of roots—
    Whatever is hidden or plain I learned, for Wisdom, the artisan of all, taught me.”
    The Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-22

  • David, you are correct that sola scriptura and other Reformer rallying points were never meant for diluting church authority by reformers like Luther and Calvin, but that was its actual long term effects. What could Luther do about the Anabaptists when they made their own interpretations? All he could do was rail against them, which in the end was about as effective at “holding them accountable” as the pope railing against Luther.

    Again, I’m not denying that different Protestant sects have worked out various methods like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (there’s also the Three Legged Stool of Anglicanism) where church authority is reasserted *within that sect.* But obviously pervasive interpretive pluralism combined with freedom of religion makes it difficult if not impossible to impose the sort of “Wisdom” discernment that Tish pines for on all those who identify themselves under the umbrella of evangelicalism. I’m saying all this is not a Protestant bug, it’s a feature.

  • Patrick Barton


    This view is why I am open to the idea.

  • Raymond

    “Sound knowledge of…natures of living things…and thoughts of human beings…” Seems somewhat ambiguous. I think either of us could use that passage to defend either of our positions. And the part about “changes in the sun’s course” is a little unsettling.

  • And the part about “changes in the sun’s course” is a little unsettling.

    How do you think the dates for Easter and Passover are calculated year to year?

  • Raymond

    They are calculated by the phases of the moon, which occur as the Earth revolves around the Sun. It’s the Earth and the Moon that have courses.

  • Lark62

    Then why this issue?

    Why is homosexually one of the few issues that define christianity, especially evangelical Christianity, today?

    Why this issue? What is it about allowing gays to get secular government recognition for their families that churches feel the need to preach sermon after sermon? Why do Christians judge “true christians” ™ based on their position on gays? Why are Christians so adamant on this one issue that they are willing to chase away young people and dissolve denominations?

    Why this issue?

    Why not any other command in the old or new testament?
    Why not keeping the Sabbath? It’s one of the big ten.
    Why not divorce?
    Why not adultery? Another of the big ten. There are preachers caught in adultery who “confess” and keep preaching. There are child molesters who confess and keep preaching – tho fortunately public disgust is reducing the ability of churches to sweep this one under the rug.
    Why not gossip or gluttony or greed?
    Why not the dishonesty of using the gospel to con the poor and vulnerable out of rent money and using that money to buy mansions and jets? When is the last time Christians united against the Copelands and the Creflo Dollar types?

    When is the last time a denomination split over how to keep the sabbath or ordaining divorced men or failing to be honest about church finances?

    Why do churches not expel members over violation of Jesus’ clear command not to pray in public? Why don’t churches preach sermon after sermon on public prayer? Why aren’t parents encouraged to disown and kick out children who “rally ’round the pole” and flaunt their public prayers?

    All human groups, religious and non religious, have been known to use “us v them” to build unity.

    Acceptance of gays is a defining issue in Christianity today. This issue is in fact being used by Christians to differentiate “us” versus “not us.”

    Acceptance of gays is being used by evangelical Christians as the marker of true Christians.

    You tell me why this issue, which is totally irrelevant to Jesus’ life, teaching or resurrection, is the one defining issue of Christianity today. What benefit is there to the vilification of people who are doing you no harm but tribal branding and tribal unity?

    This is the defining issue because evangelicals are getting a benefit from this issue. A benefit not found in standing up to the adulterers or the greedy or any other class of “sinner.”

  • It’s the Earth and the Moon that have courses.

    If–as seems likely–the author of The Wisdom of Solomon believed that the Earth was stationary, while the Moon and the Sun were the objects that moved, then knowledge of the course of the Sun (which determines when Spring starts) and the course of the Moon (and the Moon phases) would have been necessary in order to calculate the date for Passover.

  • Raymond

    Sort of. But if the author of The Wisdom of Solomon is wrong about the Earth and the Sun, what does that say about the other pieces of knowledge that he attributes to God?

  • I think it says that all wisdom comes from God: because God is infinite, then wisdom is infinite. That is, wisdom can come in many forms, from wisdom gained by the simple use of the five senses, to wisdom gained by logic and mathematics, to wisdom gained by telescopes and microscopes.

  • Interesting comment.

    My thoughts while reading the post: how would this work when applied to, for example, the Complementarian vs. Egalitarian discourse?

    Not that I would side with the liberal view in the above post. I was just ruminating on how the argument of Grey & New was framed. Initial reaction: it’s weak (however, that is thinking fast, now to think slow for awhile, as per Tversky and Kahneman).

    Appreciate the post, Dr. McKnight. This discourse is key – new or grey.

  • scotmcknight

    It should occur in the context of mutual discussion, respectful dialogue, and consultation of the white hairs.

  • scotmcknight

    That’s the point I wondered if you were making: the claim today that prophets are revolutionaries may be the problem. Criticism of idolatry and disobedience becomes Brueggemann’s political agenda?

  • scotmcknight

    Very well said.

  • pam

    encouraging, ….. but ‘massively infuriating’ wins the day.

    I understand that at times one has to toe their employer’s party line while having a different perspective. but this is different.

    consider this: the last day my son went to church was the day the youth pastor fielded the question, “Will gay people go to hell?”

    his answer: “Yes, they will.”

    there was no qualification, no nuance. this youth pastor is very highly esteemed for not compromising. My son, who has a girlfriend, was so disillusioned & angered by this. by the cruel insensitivity. by the myopia (although he wouldn’t have used that word) and consequences of it.

    imagine what this was like for a young person / people in that group who are attracted to their same sex. devastating. people take their lives over things like this.

    and professional Christians, who have enormous influence, will sacrifice them on the altar of their career, paycheck, wealth, & their own personal significance.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    And, to a certain extent, the reverse happens as well: Brueggemann’s political agenda is read into the text to identify an idolatrous, “royal ideology,” such that any composition that seems to be pro-king is, of necessity, idolatrous; and the, circularly, this reading is used to critique any politic with which he disagrees.

  • pam

    I think common sense and sobriety go a long way. much is as plain as day.

  • pam

    I think a case can be made for ‘equipping pastors to think theologically too exclusively’.

    seems to me theology inherently seeks to systematize God, by systematizing data in the bible.

    human beings, life, matter and forces supercede theology in their complexity and subject matter.

    the reason this blog post exists and the 58 comments and counting is because (1) there is comfort in systems, (2) but life & existence chafe at rigid systems.

    I believe God chafes at rigid systems. God’s too big for it.

  • pam

    I can understand that response. It comes down to how one understands ‘authority of scripture’.

    theologians of all religions entertain a variety of perspectives as they argue their point. is there not room at the Christian table for different perspectives on that?

  • JK

    Common sense compels us to side with Pilate and Caiaphas so that we, too, don’t end up on the cross, no?

  • bryteline

    Just a little heads-up that’s not incredibly salient: the Sun is not stationary. It orbits the center of the Milky Way (, and (on a local scale) the Sun orbits the Barycenter of the Solar System (

  • I agree that the wisdom tradition is important and seeking advice and oversight is valuable. This is why I am in seminary and why I have a mentor and why I have a leadership coach (a female Anglican priest, like Tish) and why I am in a mastermind group. I am seeking development and discipleship by those who are more educated and more experienced than I am.

    So that wasn’t the issue I had with her article at CT. My frustration with it involved three things:
    1. Who provides oversight for the entire Christian publishing business? There is a lot of theologically unsound drivel being published.
    2. Who provides oversight for the horrible things some male Christian bloggers are writing? They are supposedly under authority (I can think of a whole list of male pastor/bloggers) but yet they say a lot of offensive and hurtful and wrongheaded things.
    3. When many denominations won’t ordain women or allow them to teach, how are they supposed to exercise their teaching gifts other than “going rogue”? Some want to stay in their theological traditions, but the gatekeepers for their traditions cut them off from teaching. Must they switch to different traditions they might disagree with in other ways?

    I get that CT commissioned Tish to write a piece about female bloggers, but women are targets of so many limits already, and there are bigger problems in the world of words-written-by-Christians if we are going to talk about wisdom and prophets.

  • Aaron37

    Should Jen and Brandon Hatmaker have first submitted their changing (and now changed) opinions to those with whom they disagree? Certainly! For their changed view, in its totality, is clearly heretical.

    One journalist claims that “[Jen] Hatmaker did not deny a line in the Apostles Creed”. This creed begins, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord…I believe in the Holy Spirit…” But is the Hatmaker god the God of this creed and the God of the Bible?

    According to Brandon,

    “Every verse in the Bible that is used to condemn a ‘homosexual’ act is written in the context of rape, prostitution, idolatry, pederasty, military dominance, an affair, or adultery. It was always a destructive act. It was always a sin committed against a person. And each type of sexual interaction listed was an abuse of God’s gift of sex and completely against his dream for marriage to be a lifelong commitment of two individuals increasingly and completely giving themselves to one another as Christ did for the church…”

    And what does Hatmaker theology tell us about their god? Through his omniscience, he knew everything about homosexuality–about its normality and goodness and its committed, holy, loving relationships. However, he, through his almighty power, chose to inspire in his bible everything bad and nothing good about homosexuality, or about gay relationships. This negative Biblical record left the erroneous impression in the minds of Jews and Christians, for some 2000 years, that their God saw only negativity in homosexuality. The preaching of the Hatmaker god’s “bible truth” has been disastrous.

    Jen says: “So great has our condemnation and exclusion been, that gay Christian teens are SEVEN TIMES more likely to commit suicide…” And their god is directly responsible for these suicides because he has never spoken in an unequivocally positive way about homosexuality.

    The Hatmakers claim, in 2016, that they spent two years studying various books, in the context of the counsel of others. This would put the commencement of these studies in 2014. But Jen’s blog tells a different story; she had made her decision on this subject at least two years before.

    On July 27, 2012, Jen reveals, “I hate the culture wars on both sides of the party line…Sick of majoring on gay marriage…you are telling my gay friends they are indeed unwelcome, unloved…How are these culture wars working out for us? Well, the church is losing around 50K folks a week, and the next generation downright refuses to come. The gay community is ostracized entirely… and Christianity has turned into white noise.”

    But in Jen’s basement, “Gay friends and family, you are welcome down here.” Jen then chooses to quote from the comments on her first “basement” post. One claims, “There are a number of things in the Biblical moral code that people no longer consider ‘sin.’ Christians get tattoos. Women not only speak in church, but they are even ordained as pastors in many churches. Christians universally stand up against human slavery. Women can have short hair and men can have long hair, etc. But all of these were prohibited in the New Testament! If you take the very few passages about homosexuality in their historical contexts and original languages, they’re far less ‘black and white’ than we think. Pro-gay Christians have many valid arguments. A nuanced approach to the Bible will reveal that the issue isn’t so cut and dry.” Jen and Brandon feel the same way as the above commenter.

    Their god also failed to mention in his bible that he made people with same-sex desires. He also left them in a state of physical and mental contradiction. For when two men have sex together, their bodies respond in a way that is fine-tuned to get a woman pregnant. When two women have sex, their bodies respond in a way that is fine-tuned to help a man get them pregnant. All this is determined by their god-given DNA. And their god gave many of these men a desire to use sexually the intestine–which is fine-tuned to absorb what is put in it, even diseased semen. This desire has largely given the U.S. the plague of AIDS and the great number of STDs in the gay male community. Furthermore, the Hatmaker god gave gay men the desire to donate their AIDS-contaminated blood–which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of hemophiliacs and people receiving transfusions. This god also gave lesbians less desire to get pregnant, resulting in more than double the breast cancer rate of other women.

    The Hatmaker god is a bumbling, bungling buffoon who has visited untold misery upon the world through his mishandling of the “gay” situation. Surely, he is not “God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”.

    After Jen’s books were withdrawn from sale in some Christian bookstores, she claims, “The Christian Machine malfunctioned, and we are all still staring at each other, trying our damnedest to figure out how we understand the gospel so differently…” It is because the Hatmakers and their ilk worship a different god from the God of the Bible.

  • Christina Tinglof

    Can you say more what you mean by “the issue was provoked in the progressive camp?”

  • So…there is a select group of discerners? I thought that body was the Church Universal. I’m assuming that you view yourself as part of that ingroup and anyone who affirms the sanctity of gay covenants as in the outgroup. If I’m carrect about that, then you’re endorsing the institutionalized maltreatment of Christians who are gsy.