Chapter 3: A Breakthrough in Understanding the Word of God
In Chapter 3, Rogers examines the ways in which the church was able to move past these oppressive interpretations of scripture. However, there are still some who hold onto these beliefs, particularly the beliefs concerning women in the church; but Rogers is speaking specifically about the Presbyterian Church (USA). Rogers argues that one of the biggest influences was Barth and the rise of neo-orthodoxy and a more Christ-centered (christocentric) reading of scripture. The chapter also includes some very interesting historical information regarding how the PC(USA) specifically dealt with their change in stance concerning race and women’s issues. Rogers draws heavily from the Confessions as he tells the story of the way in which the church has continually been moving toward greater and greater inclusivity. He specifically references the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s “Confession of 1967” and “A Brief Statement of Faith.”
According to Rogers, in response to the issue of homosexuality, the church has taken steps backward, back toward the method of Common Sense philosophy:
“Now however, faced with the issue of homosexuality, many churches are repeating the mistakes of the past…To justify their inability to cope with cultural change, they turn to the Bible and proof-text, that is they take verses out of context of the whole and make universal laws of them. Instead of reading the Bible through the lens of Jesus’ life and ministry, many have again tried to make the Bible a law book, which they then apply selectively, only to those with whom they disagree” (50).
Rogers turns back to Presbyterian history as a way forward for us today. In the early 1980s, when the northern and southern Presbyterian churches joined together, they each put together guidelines for interpreting scripture. He believes if we look to these guidelines today, they will help us as we wrestle with the questions concerning homosexuality and our interpretation of a select few biblical texts. In chapter four, he will walk us through one set of guidelines for interpreting scripture, and talk about how it may impact the way in which we look at the few texts that are constantly used to support heterosexism.
I’m going to include, at the end of each of these posts, a link to an article written by Real Live Preacher, on the issue of homosexuality. I’ve always loved his writing, and I hope you will too. In his post, “I Have no Title for This,” he shares some reflections on how Christians have used the Bible.
This post is part of an ongoing review of Jack Rogers’s book “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality.” For more information about the series, you can read the first post here. Individual Chapter Reviews: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7. I also share some Final Thoughts about the book here.