NASHVILLE – An American Baptist College is defending its invitation to an openly lesbian United Church of Christ minister, asserting that Christians are making an “idol” of the Bible.
“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people,” American Baptist College President Forrest Harris told The Tennessean on Wednesday.
The publication then asked that he clarify his use of the phrase “idolatry of the Bible.”
“When people say [the Bible] is synonymous with God and the truth,” Harris responded. “We can’t be guided and dictated by a first-century world view.”
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV).
The college had invited Yvette Flunder, a bishop at the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland, Calif., to speak at its Garnett-Nabrit lecture series next week, which focuses on Christian leadership. The theme is “Ministry in Motion: Living Faith, Doing Justice.”
Bishop Yvette Flunder (R) and her partner Shirley Miller.
Flunder its expected to appear at next Tuesday’s evening worship service, and then again at the Nannie Helen Burroughs luncheon, where she is expected to talk about her work to combat HIV and AIDS. The United Church of Christ leader is “married” to her partner Shirley Miller.
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols – Revelations 2:20 (KJV).
But after word of the invitation reached other pastors in Nashville, several denounced college administrators for their actions. Randy G. Vaughn of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church told local television station KMBT that he and other Baptist pastors from across the country will be present to protest Flunder’s appearance next week.
Lesbian Bishop Yvette Flunder (L) and Rev. Randy G. Vaughn of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We do not wear our sin as a badge and parade it,” Vaughn said. “When will the downward spiral end?”
“We don’t feel you have the right to live any way [you want] and be respected in the congregation of our faith,” he continued. “There is nothing holy about lesbianism as there is nothing holy about heterosexual adultery.”
According to a statement on the Refuge United Church of Christ website, Flunder believes that one’s self image can be harmed by believing that their lifestyle isn’t acceptable to God.
“Trying to establish a relationship with a God that barely tolerates you but cannot truly accept and certainly will never celebrate you can do incredible damage to ones self-esteem,” she wrote. “City of Refuge UCC welcomes people to be who they are by embracing a theology of acceptance—a radical inclusivity that leaves no one behind.”
Flunder and her partner spoke at an event in 2013 to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California’s Proposition 8, which enshrined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
As a result, the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors is petitioning American Baptist College to reconsider Flunder’s invitation.
“We believe that President Forrest Harris should rescind the invitation for Bishop Yvette Flunder to speak at ABC, solely on the basis that she is a proud, practicing, and public advocate of same-sex marriage,” the petition reads. “We are also requesting that in the future, no male or female involved in a same-sex marriage be invited to speak at ABC.”
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him – 2 Corinthians 11:4 (KJV).
“For a Baptist college president to invite a lesbian bishop legally married to a woman, to be a guest speaker and worship leader on a Baptist college campus is irresponsible, scandalous, non-biblical, and certainly displeasing to God,” the organization states.
But Harris does not seem interested in changing the college’s plans for the event.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ – Galatians 1:10 (KJV).
“It is particularly important for American Baptist College to truly live its educational mission of justice toward creating a community where all persons are able to love and be loved without social, political or ecclesiastical penalty so that all people may enjoy life and wholeness as God intends,” he said.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils – 1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV).
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect -Matthew 24:24 (KJV).
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry – 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (KJV).
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape – 1 Thessolonians 5:3 (KJV).