Mars Hill Forums #19 and #46, First Church of Christ and Chautauqua Institution: Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers Jettison the Bible

John C. Rankin

[excerpted and adapted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

In the mid-1990s, I addressed a breakfast forum with a homosexual minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC). It was sponsored by First Church, Wethersfield, one of the oldest churches in the nation, that was then part of the UCC, but later left due to the UCC’s syncretism and pansexuality.

The UCC minister sought to argue for homosexuality as a “gift of God.” As I questioned him on the matter of biblical consistency, he became more and more testy. Then at the end of the forum, a woman asked him a question about the Bible’s nature, and he responded by saying that other world religions were just as true as that of the Bible, and that some of these religions said yes to homosexuality.

In other words, when all is said and done, when pressed to his core beliefs, his religion is any religion that justifies his homosexuality. His religion is homosexuality, and if need be, the Bible is to be jettisoned.

In my Mars Hill Forum at Chautauqua with Patricia Ireland (1998), I had a delightful conversation with a woman Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister afterward, as she probed me with various questions. She herself was heterosexual, married and a mother. But she thought homosexuality was valid, and she tried to sustain her view with various views of the biblical text.

As I answered them one by one, and she could not give further objection, I asked her why she would hold onto her position if it could not be evidenced biblically. She paused, then said that if that were the case, maybe she would have to reject the Bible on this point. This is the reversal of the Wesleyan quadrilateral, where personal experience or opinion trumps the Bible on its own terms.

At least in these two cases, the UCC and PCUSA (the mainline Presbyterian Church of the United States of America) ministers were honest about being willing to eject the Bible – but do they still say they maintain fidelity to it apart from my conversations with them? It is a question of first the Gospel, then politics… Which comes first? The Gospel? Or a political opinion?