Monday, October 17, 2016

40 Religious Authors Sign Off on Open Letter Challenging InterVarsity's Anti-Gay Purge // Updated Below

(Originally written on 10/12/16)I wrote earlier this week about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA initiating a purge of staff members who affirm LGBT people. In response, 40 authors have issued an open letter pushing back against the IVCF purge and calling the campus ministry to replace this policy with one that allows for opposing views:
To Tom Lin, the InterVarity Christian Fellowship USA Cabinet and Board of Directors, 

As authors who have published with InterVarsity Press (IVP), we are deeply troubled and concerned about your organization’s recent “involuntary termination” policy. Since our IVP books indirectly tether us to your organization, we feel it is necessary to make our feelings known to you and those with whom we have relationships. We understand that conversations related to marriage, sexuality, and gender are critical for Christians, but we also recognize that Christians of mutual goodwill can have those conversations and arrive at various conclusions. While we do not all share the same theological or political views, we are united in our concern for the dignity and care of our fellow Christians whose jobs are threatened by your policy. 

Therefore, we urge you, for the sake our our collective integrity and the credibility of your organization to revoke the “involuntary termination” policy and replace it with one that allows your staff to conscientiously object. Allowing IVCF staff to remain in community despite not completely agreeing with a particular view of sexuality and marriage will demonstrate the inclusive and open-armed spirit of Christ. The Christian community is in desperate need of healing at this moment, and we believe you can help lead this effort.

For the sake of our friends,

Janell Anema, National Trainer with Sources of Strength, Director/Co-Director of IV’s Global Urban Trek to South Asia, and contributor to Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Pastor of Little Flowers Community, co-director of YWAM Urban Ministries Winnipeg and author of The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom.

Leroy Barber, Director of The Voices Project, author of Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom for a Divided World and Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World.

Ivy Beckwith, Faith Formation Minister and Team Leader United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio and co-author of Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus.

Brent Bill, Quaker minister and co-author of Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer­ and Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God.

Shane Claiborne, co-founder of Red Letter Christians and The Simple Way and co-author of Becoming the Answer to our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals.

Julie Clawson, author of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices.

Dr. Christena Cleveland, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Practice of Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School and author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart.
Rev. Ian Morgan Cron, Episcopal priest and co-author of The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery.

Dr. David Dark, Ph.D., educator at the Tennessee Prison for Women and Belmont University, and author of Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious.

Dr. Megan DeFranza, Ph.D., contributing author to Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis, and author of Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God (which is listed under recommended reading in InterVarsity’s position paper on Human Sexuality).

Rev. John Flett Ph.D., DTheol.Habil., Associate Professor of Missiology and Intercultural Theology at Pilgrim College/ University of Divinity, and author of Apostolicity: The Ecumenical Question in World Christian Perspective.

Dr. Dwight J. Friesen, D.Min, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, and co-author of The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community.

Sean Gladding, author of The Story of God, The Story of Us and Ten: Words of Life for an Addicted, Compulsive, Cynical, Divided and Worn-out Culture

Dale Hanson Bourke, author of Responding to HIV/AIDS, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Immigration: Tough Questions, Direct Answers.

Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary and co-author of Faith-rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World.

Christopher L. Heuertz, Founding Partner of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism and author of Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World, co-author of Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission, and contributor to Living Mission: The Vision and Voices of New Friars.

Phileena Heuertz, Founding Partner of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism and author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and contributor to Living Mission: The Vision and Voices of New Friars.

Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor, Denver Community Church, Author of Unlost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For and Changing Faith.

Dr. Daniel White Hodge Ph.D., Director of The Center for Youth Ministry Studies & Associate Professor of Youth Ministry at North Park University and author of The Soul of Hip Hop: Rimbs, Timbs, and a Cultural Theology.

Jon Huckins, Co-Founding Director of Global Immersion and co-author of unnamed, upcoming 2017 IVP book.

Erin Lane, Assistant Program Director for Clergy and People of Faith at the Center for Courage & Renewal and author of Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe.

Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation and author of the award winning Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.

Dr. Jennifer M. McBride Ph.D., Associate Dean of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary and contributor to Christian Political Witness.

Mark Oestreicher, Partner, The Youth Cartel and author of Hopecasting: Finding, Keeping and Sharing the Things Unseen.

Dr. Margaret Kim Peterson Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Psychology at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA), co-author of Are You Waiting for “The One?” Cultivating Realistic, Positive Expectations for Christian Marriage, and member of the editorial advisory board for the IVP’s Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology series.

Caryn Rivadeneira, author, Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed About God’s Abundance.
Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, founder of Faith-rooted Organizing UnNetwork and co-author of Faith-rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World.

Hailey Scandrette, contributor to Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture and contributor to Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.

Lisa Scandrette, Teacher with ReImagine, co author of Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture and contributor to Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.

Mark Scandrette, Founding Director, ReIMAGINE, author of Practicing The Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love, author of Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most, and coauthor of Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture.

Christopher Smith, Founding Editor of The Englewood Review of Books, co-author of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus and author of Reading For The Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish.

Mark Van Steenwyk, Director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination, Co-Founder of the Mennonite Worker and author of The UnKingdom of God: Embracing the Subversive Power of Repentance.

Jer Swigart, Co-Founding Director of Global Immersion, a peacemaking training organization and co-author of unnamed, upcoming 2017 IVP book.

Laura Sumner Truax, Senior Pastor at LaSalle Street Church and author of Undone: When Coming Apart Puts You Back Together

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter Executive Director, New Direction Ministries contributor to Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals.

Will Vaus, Pastor of Stowe Community Church in Stowe, Vermont and author of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis.

Dan White Jr., Co-Planter of Axiom Church Syracuse, New York. Co-author of The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, co-author of Becoming the Answer to our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals and Associate Editor for IVP’s Resources for Reconciliation Series.

Adrianna Wright, former online publicist for InterVarsity Press.

Keri Wyatt Kent, author of God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos: Bringing Peace Home and The Garden of the Soul: Cultivating Your Spiritual Life.

Mark Yaconelli, Executive Director of The Hearth, author of The Gift of Hard Things: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places.
Among the signers is my friend Andrew Marin, formerly of the Marin Foundation. He's been studying for his PhD over in Scotland for the past three or four years and not so much out front when it comes to public conversations about LGBT people and the Church. So it's good to see that he added his name to this list of signers.

Updated on 10/17/16: Jeff Crosby, the publisher at InterVarsity Press (IVP), issued a response to InterVarsity USA's anti-gay purge and the push-back from various writers and authors (listed above).

Here is their statement:
I have spoken with many though not all of the authors who have signed the petition you reference which was sent to Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (not IVP), and have explained there and in a letter to our full author pool that IVP authors are not subject to the theological summary of human sexuality. We recognize that we have authors in our trade and academic lines, writing about subjects other than human sexuality, whose views on that topic vary across a spectrum. I have also communicated to those who added their names to that petition that their inclusion would not impact our desire as a publishing house to work with them on future projects. On both counts, I heard gratitude for that clarity and response.
In other words, IVP will publish a book by someone who affirms LGBT people and relationships, but will fire the editor of that book who privately affirms LGBT people and relationships.

Needless to say, this statement has not placated opponents of the IVCF anti-gay purge.

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