First LGBT Student Club Sanctioned by a Major Evangelical Seminary

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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
PASADENA, Calif. — Nick Palacios struggled to get his conservative Pentecostal parents to accept him as a gay evangelical Christian for nearly a decade before his family found a common ground through faith.

Now, as an openly gay seminarian, the 29-year-old hopes to carve out a similar acceptance for other gays in the broader evangelical community through his role as president of the nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. The group, called OneTable, formed last fall at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the world's largest multi-denominational seminaries, and has attracted about three dozen students.

"It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to be OK and that I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.

"I really hope that people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation."
"At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian"

Article by: SARAH PARVINI , Associated Press Updated: July 13, 2013 - 3:25 PM
At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian | StarTribune.com

For some time my alma mater has been a pioneer in all kinds of "firsts" (cf. fellow alum Rob Bell). Now Fuller, boasting 4,500 students, is the first "major evangelical seminary" with its very own "LGBT" club "sanctioned" by the seminary. The fine print in the lengthly article suggests that the school still requires celibacy for its LGBT students, officially at least. However, it is difficult to see this as anything else than a gigantic shift from the traditional evangelical position on homosexual practice.

Founded: 1947 as a bastion of "neo-evangelicalism" (i.e., non fundamentalist orthodoxy) with a commitment to inerrancy
Doctrinal Shift: December 27, 1967 address by D.P. Fuller at the Evangelical Theological Society, advocating a modification of inerrancy
Change in Doctrinal Statement: 1972 (?) - drop "inerrancy" in favor of "infallibility"
Change in traditional Christian practice: 1975 Paul K. Jewett publishes "Man as Male and Female," arguing that Paul was "wrong" in his teaching on women in 1 Timothy 2.
Official acceptance of LGBT student group: 2013.

Founded on the proposition that the Bible was fully inerrant, within 20 years there was a modification to separate the salvific from the non-salvific materials while professing that the Bible is still the "infallible rule of faith and practice." At least in the areas of egalitarianism and homosexuality Fuller has proven itself remarkably flexible in "changing with the times" to embrace the contemporary Zeitgeist with respect to Christian practice in areas of human sexuality.

As for the student reaction . . .

For years, Palacios armed himself with biblical verses and religious texts he could use to defend his identity as a gay Christian. Now, after years of their son refusing to repress his sexual orientation, Palacios' parents have become more accepting and were even amicable toward a former boyfriend.

"Just as it has taken me the better part of 20 something years to figure out the blend of faith and orientation I can't expect my friends or family to get it that quickly," he said.

Some straight students at Fuller have also embraced the chance to discuss faith and homosexuality openly. Samantha Curley, 25, the group's former president, said hearing about her friends' struggles made her a better Christian. Before starting at the seminary, she said, she didn't have any gay friends.

"I think that's ultimately what faith does," she said. "Jesus wanted us to experience the full expression of humanity. I'm fearful of what will happen if we don't learn to do that in the church."
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
If the celibacy requirement is enforced and encouraged, I think this is more than perfectly acceptably. People who struggle with the same sin are the best in helping another with that very same sin.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Quite honestly, from all you have written about Fuller and even from what I heard from others, I am surprised this came about only in the last year and not even a decade before.

It's also unfortunately how when these 'homosexuals' find a dichotomy between sexuality and their faith, they'd give up the faith rather than their sexuality.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
If the celibacy requirement is enforced and encouraged, I think this is more than perfectly acceptably. People who struggle with the same sin are the best in helping another with that very same sin.

I could certainly be wrong, but I didn't at all get the impression that the young man in the article was "struggling" with homosexuality. There is a world of difference between someone struggling and somone who is seeking acceptance for their homosexual lifestyle.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
If the celibacy requirement is enforced and encouraged, I think this is more than perfectly acceptably. People who struggle with the same sin are the best in helping another with that very same sin.

I could certainly be wrong, but I didn't at all get the impression that the young man in the article was "struggling" with homosexuality. There is a world of difference between someone struggling and somone who is seeking acceptance for their homosexual lifestyle.

I agree with you 100%. This article conveyed that he has embraced and celebrates his homosexuality and does not think it incompatible with his "evangelical" religious beliefs. There is no struggle there.

An example of someone struggling is myself. See, as I type this I am sitting on my deck watching my kids run around. They've been antagonizing each other, shrieking at each other, and I am really struggling with the urge to shoot them in the behind with my Daisy BB gun. But I haven't given in to that urge... yet.

That's struggle.

Saying, "This is who I am, and let's start a club so I and others can celebrate our lifestyle," is NOT struggling.

See the difference?
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
If the celibacy requirement is enforced and encouraged, I think this is more than perfectly acceptably. People who struggle with the same sin are the best in helping another with that very same sin.

How do you spell "f-i-g l-e-a-f"?
Standing "behind" the official statement while sanctioning the development of an official LGBT club does not strike me as logically or practically compatible. For some time, the direction of the seminary has been moving towards offering a theological rationale for gay marriage and gay ordination.

By 1991, my seminary theology prof, Paul Jewett, was decesed, but his posthumous theology came out, "God, Creation, and Revelation." In treating God's attributes, he notes that "God determines the meaning of her power" and "God's power is her personal will." Then, in 1996, "Who We Our: Our Dignity as Human" was published as the second volume of his systematics. In the section of the book that he calls “A ‘Conclusion’ of Sorts,” Jewett asserts:
“Something has to be wrong with teaching that evokes absolute hatred, loathing, and disdain for homosexual people. …We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it; and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed; and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity (even as something was wrong with the theology of place that was used to justify the Crusades). This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.” He ends by asking: “when we defined marriage as a unique relationship between a man and a woman, should we have added, ‘or, on occasion, between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman’? Is there a real possibility here that we have somehow missed? Or must the celebration of love between people of the same sex perhaps wait for heaven … when, we trust, all that is precious in the myriad forms of frustrated love will at last be fulfilled?”

That the AP piece notes that the president of the club's parents have modified their former opposition to his being gay and that they have developed an amicable attitude toward his former boyfriend, does not suggest that the fig leaf will be large enough to cover the behavioral implicates of the official club. That Rob Bell, another alum of the same school and profs, would recently state his support for gay unions only strengthens my suspicions.

If the AP author got the story wrong, and if the club is a support group for Christians struggling with gay impulses, I will humbly reverse my opinion. However, having sat under professors in Pasadena makes this seem unlikely. When Jewett came out with his "Paul is wrong" view in 1975, I opined that it would make just as much sense to argue that Paul might also be wrong in his teaching against homosexuality. Gay unions and gay marriage would seem consistent conclusions drawn from the hermeneutic Jewett employed in 1975. So, if someone wants to suggest that the LGBT club is simply a support group and not an advocacy group, I stands needin' to be persuaded.

In any case, the polls continue to demonstrate that there has been a gigantic shift in public opinion since my youth. Particularly among the young, there is an openness to homosexuality today. I keep hearing people arguing that "Bible" believing folks were wrong about slavery 150 years ago, they were wrong about women 40 years ago, and they are wrong about homosexuals today. Perhaps no other publication has chronicled this changing tide as clearly as "Christianity Today." The CT of the Carl Henry era is much like the Pasadena seminary he helped form in the late 1940s. The CT of today also closely mirrors the kinds of things taught in that same Pasadena seminary nowadays. In both cases, the profession of "evangelical" identity is proudly paraded while the particulars of that profession continue to be molded in partial conformity to the latest trends in American society. Both institutions "affirm," "proclaim," and "enforce" enough broad evangelicalism to appear beyond reproach. However, it is not so much the answers as the questions left hanging with no answers that give pause.

When dealing with a place with a self-conscious desire to carve out a "third way," neither conservative nor liberal, like Fuller, there is always an "on the one hand" and an "on the other hand." "On the one hand" the institution affirms that the Bible is infallible with respect to matters of "faith and practice." "On the other hand," this does not preclude positing errors in the Bible, admitting that Paul was "wrong," suggesting that we can "move beyond" the specific dicta of the biblical teachings in light of current understanding or the dynamic leading of the Holy Spirit, or flirting with any number of radical critical theories and theological constructs. So, on the one hand, the community standards regarding same sex activity are clear. On the other hand, the school gives official sanction to a group including "openly gay" students who do not want to "forsake their sexuality." Makes sense to me . . . not.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.

If "sexuality" is defined as a preference for a particular gender without "acting" on it, why would that cause one to fear that he might "forsake" his faith? Would it not only involve such a fear of "forsaking" your faith if you expect to express your "sexuality" in sexual activity that appears to run contrary to the Bible? Cognitive dissoanace would most likely arise if you are acting in ways that are contradictory to your believing.
 
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kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
I am greatly offended. But mostly because they are calling Fuller a 'major evangelical seminary'. Disgusting.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Yep, Bill's nailed it. When you are unleashing Rob Bell upon society and calling it good (see Pres Mouw's support of 'Love Wins'), you are no longer 'evangelical'. The evangelion is good news; this is not good news, nor any application thereof from a Biblical perspective. I suppose it is indeed a seminary of a sort, but not an evangelical one.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
A little tongue in cheek on my part. But, look at the elasticity of the term "evangelical" today: Open Theism, partial inspiration, denial of hell, philosophical physicalism, theistic evolution, pro choice, pro gay, Word of Faith, syncretistic views of other religions, vaticinium ex eventu, acceptance of radical critical views, embrace of neo-Protestant theologies, reductionistic redaction criticism, denial of sola scriptura, revisionist views of justification, etc. As Inigo Montoya might say: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
By 1991, my seminary theology prof, Paul Jewett, was decesed, but his posthumous theology came out, "God, Creation, and Revelation." In treating God's attributes, he notes that "God determines the meaning of her power" and "God's power is her personal will." Then, in 1996, "Who We Our: Our Dignity as Human" was published as the second volume of his systematics. In the section of the book that he calls “A ‘Conclusion’ of Sorts,” Jewett asserts:
“Something has to be wrong with teaching that evokes absolute hatred, loathing, and disdain for homosexual people. …We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it; and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed; and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity (even as something was wrong with the theology of place that was used to justify the Crusades). This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.” He ends by asking: “when we defined marriage as a unique relationship between a man and a woman, should we have added, ‘or, on occasion, between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman’? Is there a real possibility here that we have somehow missed? Or must the celebration of love between people of the same sex perhaps wait for heaven … when, we trust, all that is precious in the myriad forms of frustrated love will at last be fulfilled?”

Is that the same guy that wrote the book against infant baptism?
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
However, it is difficult to see this as anything else than a gigantic shift from the traditional evangelical position on homosexual practice.

Yes, but not so seismic considering the writings of Jewett from the 90's that you quote later. That however was not official institutional policy. I'm not sure if he was still an official faculty member at the time, although the trajectory was obvious.

Other than being a tragedy all around, this will give the liberals one more club to beat orthodox evangelicals with. "But see, not all evangelicals are so bigoted as you."
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
By 1991, my seminary theology prof, Paul Jewett, was decesed, but his posthumous theology came out, "God, Creation, and Revelation." In treating God's attributes, he notes that "God determines the meaning of her power" and "God's power is her personal will." Then, in 1996, "Who We Our: Our Dignity as Human" was published as the second volume of his systematics. In the section of the book that he calls “A ‘Conclusion’ of Sorts,” Jewett asserts:
“Something has to be wrong with teaching that evokes absolute hatred, loathing, and disdain for homosexual people. …We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it; and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed; and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity (even as something was wrong with the theology of place that was used to justify the Crusades). This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.” He ends by asking: “when we defined marriage as a unique relationship between a man and a woman, should we have added, ‘or, on occasion, between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman’? Is there a real possibility here that we have somehow missed? Or must the celebration of love between people of the same sex perhaps wait for heaven … when, we trust, all that is precious in the myriad forms of frustrated love will at last be fulfilled?”

Is that the same guy that wrote the book against infant baptism?

Yes. And I think the baptism book came a few years after the one in which he wrote that Paul was wrong on women elders and that his teaching in 1 Cor and the pastorals contradicted his teaching in Galatians.

The "Battle for the Bible" in the 70's that culminated in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was in large part a result of internecine warfare among then current and former faculty members of Fuller Seminary. The man who wrote the book by that name, Harold Lindsell, was on the Fuller faculty.
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Jesus wanted us to experience the full expression of humanity.
Um, where did Jesus EVER say such post-modern non-speak?? BIBLE VERSE PLEASE!!!!

I thought we were supposed to repent of "experiencing the full expression of humanity." Sinful humanity is at enmity with God, why would we want to "experience" that??!

My word, I am seriously sick of this nonsense.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
By 1991, my seminary theology prof, Paul Jewett, was decesed, but his posthumous theology came out, "God, Creation, and Revelation." In treating God's attributes, he notes that "God determines the meaning of her power" and "God's power is her personal will." Then, in 1996, "Who We Our: Our Dignity as Human" was published as the second volume of his systematics. In the section of the book that he calls “A ‘Conclusion’ of Sorts,” Jewett asserts:
“Something has to be wrong with teaching that evokes absolute hatred, loathing, and disdain for homosexual people. …We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it; and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed; and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity (even as something was wrong with the theology of place that was used to justify the Crusades). This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.” He ends by asking: “when we defined marriage as a unique relationship between a man and a woman, should we have added, ‘or, on occasion, between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman’? Is there a real possibility here that we have somehow missed? Or must the celebration of love between people of the same sex perhaps wait for heaven … when, we trust, all that is precious in the myriad forms of frustrated love will at last be fulfilled?”

Is that the same guy that wrote the book against infant baptism?

Yes. And I think the baptism book came a few years after the one in which he wrote that Paul was wrong on women elders and that his teaching in 1 Cor and the pastorals contradicted his teaching in Galatians.

The "Battle for the Bible" in the 70's that culminated in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was in large part a result of internecine warfare among then current and former faculty members of Fuller Seminary. The man who wrote the book by that name, Harold Lindsell, was on the Fuller faculty.

This fact also points out the subtlety and incremental nature of liberalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees with infant baptism, if one only read Jewett's baptism book, I think he'd find little hint (if any) of his aberrant views on gender/sex issues and inerrancy and would thus suspect that he must have been a solid conservative evangelical.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Today I received an e-mail from the Fuller Alumni Network, addressing the AP story. Here is some of what the new president says:

Fuller has received comments about the Associated Press news article that ran over the weekend about OneTable and the seminary. We here at Fuller have long welcomed the opportunity to engage over vigorous issues of debate within the church and within culture. We understand that this leaves us vulnerable to critique from a broad spectrum.

We want to provide some clarity about the following points and questions that have been raised in response to the article: What is Fuller's position regarding same-sex marriage? What is the OneTable student group and its purpose? What are Fuller's hopes in discussing issues of sexuality?

Fuller's position on same-sex marriage and behavior, reflective of our evangelical tradition's reliance on the scriptures, affirms that every student, faculty member, administrator, and staff person at Fuller is expected to abide by the Community Standards that “premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct (are) inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.” This position is clear.

OneTable at Fuller is one among 24 student-led groups, which can be formed when a number of students express interest in developing a discussion group on campus, such as the current Student Stewardship Group, G3 (Environmental) Initiative, and Students Serving Veterans.

OneTable provides a safe place to discuss issues related to sexuality and gender—issues that are vitally important, personal, and fraught with debate that is frequently divisive and contentious, not least in an evangelical context. OneTable at Fuller is not an advocacy group to alter seminary policy nor to direct any efforts in that direction. No student-led group "defines" Fuller's position, nor does it represent or encompass the many resources that Fuller has to offer. In terms of the topics of sexuality, marriage, and family, Fuller has been and will continue to teach about these issues in many ways both in the classroom and in campuswide workshops.
 

SolaSaint

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have to ask why don't we see an Adultry Club start up? Sorry I just get so tired of the LBGT crowd trying to push their agenda into all facets of life.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Now, as an openly gay seminarian, the 29-year-old hopes to carve out a similar acceptance for other gays in the broader evangelical community through his role as president of the nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. The group, called OneTable, formed last fall at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the world's largest multi-denominational seminaries, and has attracted about three dozen students.

"It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to be OK and that I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.

"Openly gay seminarian"? "The nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary"? No advocacy here. Hoping to "carve out acceptance of gays in the broader evangelical community" doesn't imply a shift in institutional policy.

"These aren’t the droids you’re looking for … He can go about his business … Move along.”

I actually feel sorry for President Mark Labberton. One of the residents at our retirement community, Eddie Gibbs (former FTS prof), thinks that Labberton is a solid fellow who wants to keep Fuller true to its evangelical heritage. However, in my opinion with some of the faculty and some of the student body, that will be a "challenging" project.
 

mercyminister

Puritan Board Freshman
"No" still means "No," "Never," and "Absolutely not!" What is it that liberals find confusing about this? Paul was very clear in his teachings.
 

Jeffriesw

Puritan Board Freshman
PASADENA, Calif. — Nick Palacios struggled to get his conservative Pentecostal parents to accept him as a gay evangelical Christian for nearly a decade before his family found a common ground through faith.

Now, as an openly gay seminarian, the 29-year-old hopes to carve out a similar acceptance for other gays in the broader evangelical community through his role as president of the nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. The group, called OneTable, formed last fall at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the world's largest multi-denominational seminaries, and has attracted about three dozen students.

"It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to be OK and that I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.
"I really hope that people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation."
"At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian"

Article by: SARAH PARVINI , Associated Press Updated: July 13, 2013 - 3:25 PM
At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian | StarTribune.com

For some time my alma mater has been a pioneer in all kinds of "firsts" (cf. fellow alum Rob Bell). Now Fuller, boasting 4,500 students, is the first "major evangelical seminary" with its very own "LGBT" club "sanctioned" by the seminary. The fine print in the lengthly article suggests that the school still requires celibacy for its LGBT students, officially at least. However, it is difficult to see this as anything else than a gigantic shift from the traditional evangelical position on homosexual practice.

Founded: 1947 as a bastion of "neo-evangelicalism" (i.e., non fundamentalist orthodoxy) with a commitment to inerrancy
Doctrinal Shift: December 27, 1967 address by D.P. Fuller at the Evangelical Theological Society, advocating a modification of inerrancy
Change in Doctrinal Statement: 1972 (?) - drop "inerrancy" in favor of "infallibility"
Change in traditional Christian practice: 1975 Paul K. Jewett publishes "Man as Male and Female," arguing that Paul was "wrong" in his teaching on women in 1 Timothy 2.
Official acceptance of LGBT student group: 2013.

Founded on the proposition that the Bible was fully inerrant, within 20 years there was a modification to separate the salvific from the non-salvific materials while professing that the Bible is still the "infallible rule of faith and practice." At least in the areas of egalitarianism and homosexuality Fuller has proven itself remarkably flexible in "changing with the times" to embrace the contemporary Zeitgeist with respect to Christian practice in areas of human sexuality.

As for the student reaction . . .

For years, Palacios armed himself with biblical verses and religious texts he could use to defend his identity as a gay Christian. Now, after years of their son refusing to repress his sexual orientation, Palacios' parents have become more accepting and were even amicable toward a former boyfriend.

"Just as it has taken me the better part of 20 something years to figure out the blend of faith and orientation I can't expect my friends or family to get it that quickly," he said.

Some straight students at Fuller have also embraced the chance to discuss faith and homosexuality openly. Samantha Curley, 25, the group's former president, said hearing about her friends' struggles made her a better Christian. Before starting at the seminary, she said, she didn't have any gay friends.

"I think that's ultimately what faith does," she said. "Jesus wanted us to experience the full expression of humanity. I'm fearful of what will happen if we don't learn to do that in the church."

I believe his statement above may speak volumes about his "faith". Christ called us to give up all to follow him, not be willing to trade Him in, when it strikes our fancy to do so. That is not faith, but some feel good psuedo spirituality.
 

kappazei

Puritan Board Freshman
Is there a caveat anywhere that says any student at Fuller needs to verbally and in writing affirm the biblical position that homosexual practice is sin? And that the belief that homsexual practice is sin is the only biblical position?
 
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