Praise For …

Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Prof. of Judaic studies, the University of Virginia writes:

Evangelical scholar David Gushee reads scripture in a way that is deeply pleasing to those of us in the rabbinic tradition who believe that scripture is the spoken Word of God delivered to instruct us on how to live in His image every day. [With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:10-11] David Gushee honors the authority of the Word, as we do. [Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18] Like us, he would not dare act on his own first impressions or interpretations of the Word. Like us, he subjects his mind and heart first to the disciplines of careful text study: carefully reading through the long history of readings by the sages who preceded him, carefully examining the context in which his community of believers reads the Word today, and carefully attending to the immediate reason why he is reading now and with whom and for whom. [2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. … 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord….the Levites,[a] helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,[b] and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.]

By way of his obedient, humble and learned reading of scripture in the context of his Christian community’s daily life in this American context and this time, evangelical ethicist David Gushee brings the living and loving letter of the Word to his gay brothers and sisters as he for so many years has brought it to all his fellow believers in the Church and in the Synagogue as well.  That this is a man of God is evident to us who live outside his church as well as to those who live within it, to all of us who hope in God’s redemptive presence.

I confess that I care about Christian religious and theological work when I believe it glorifies the God of Israel and serves the Word of love and instruction, justice and mercy that I hear in the Torah. This is a Word that demands uncompromising service to the One who alone created all the world and the creatures in it. And this is a service that includes uncompromising care for God’s creatures….. For all these reasons I care deeply about the religious and theological and caring work of Rev. David Gushee. I honor him as a servant of the creator and of the Word that demands care for God’s creatures.  I have witnessed such service in the way he teaches and preaches, reads and interprets scripture; and in the way he listens to the heartbeats, praises, words and cries of people around him, within his church community and outside it, and in the way he listens to the God who listens to them, each and all.  All this is present, once again, in his most recent book, Changing Our Mind.  Here he narrates how his heart, mind, spirit and judgment changed about the place of LGBT Christians in the Church….. It is a remarkable book from many perspectives.  Spiritually: to witness this ingenuous narrative from a many-leveled religious, intellectual, and spiritual leader, confessing and apologizing for those years, during which he sincerely understood his evangelical Christianity and his obedient reading of scripture to preclude his accepting LGBT Christians in the Church. Following the heart-filled intellect: to follow the point by point clarity of this man’s reasoning, from how and why he failed to accept, to each of the slowly growing sincerely developing individual steps of experiencing, observing, studying, praying and thinking that led him to the conclusion announced by this book: that it is time now for him — and those who share his devotion to scripture and to all members of the church — to honor those LGBT Christians who come to sit with him and them in the pews.  Scripturally: to see such close and deep reading of the many verses of scripture pertinent to these themes, to see what it means for no word or verse to be ignored, no spirit- and mind-filled scholarship to be ignored, and no implication of reading to be ignored so that, in the fullness of this moment of reflection in the fullness of embodied life in the church, these profound questions of our age could be addressed without loss of faith and loss of compassion.


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