Friday, August 31, 2012

Andrews University Press Releases Book on Homosexuality and the Church

The first major book from an Adventist publishing house addressing the complex issues surrounding homosexuality and Adventistlife and faith has just been released by Andrews University Press.

Niels-Erik Andreasen, president of Andrews University and chair of the University Press board, said the topic of this book is timely and needed. “Recent developments in our faith community, religious organizations, American politics and secular society require careful thought on this sensitive subject. Andrews University is pleased to help sort out some of these issues by bringing together a range of perspectives on this subject within our church.”

Titled Homosexuality, Marriage, and the Church: Biblical, Counseling, and Religious Liberty Issues, the nearly 600-page book was released in early August. It is a collection of 14 major essays on a range of topics, and an additional six personal testimonies from individuals who have struggled with homosexuality in their personal lives. The content of the book, including the testimonies, is material largely based on presentations at a conference on the same subject held at Andrews University and sponsored by various entities of the Adventist Church in October 2009.

“Much as it might like to, the church can no longer evade questions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” says Nicholas P. Miller, lead editor of the work, along with Roy E. Gane and H. Peter Swanson, all of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews. “Society, with increasing stridency, is forcing Christians to confront these topics,” Miller says.

Miller points to the several states whose legislatures have enacted same sex marriage provisions, sometimes against the convictions of their own citizens. He notes that this fall, at least two states, Maryland and Washington, will have referendums on election ballots, initiated by citizens seeking to overturn the same-sex marriage laws recently enacted.

“Consider the strange controversy and apparent outrage that erupted when the owner of a national fast-food chain recently expressed his support for traditional marriage,” Miller said. “It was the same position held until very recently by the president of the United States. And the media-driven reaction is an indication of how efforts are being made to shift public sentiment on this issue. Meanwhile, a film documentary affirming the gay lifestyle among Adventists is being heavily promoted by some within the church. Through all of this, Adventists must have a clear understanding of all the issues at stake, and they are significant.”

Ronald Knott, director of Andrews University Press, notes that along with the biblical and religious liberty issues, the book makes a passionate case for the highest level of pastoral love and support for those Christians who, he said, “may have been lured down a dangerous spiritual path by charming but false arguments from scripture and political history, coming from outside and inside the church.”

Following a preface and general introduction, various essays and articles are divided into foursections. The first addresses the Old and New Testament biblical material on homosexuality, with articles by Gane, Richard Davidson, and Miroslav Kis, all of Andrews, and Robert A. J. Gagnon of Wheaton College. The second section addresses legal and religious liberty issues, with essays by Miller, Alan J. Reinach from the Pacific Union Conference, Gerald Chipeur, a partner with the Canadian law firm Miller Thompson LLP, Scot Zentner from Cal State, San Bernadino, and Gary Wood from Andrews University. The counseling section features articles by Stanton Jones of Wheaton College, Mark Yarhouse of Regent University, Carlos Fayard of Loma Linda University, and Inga Anderson, founder of a ministry to homosexuals. The fourth section includes the personal testimonies from several Christians who have lived and struggled with homosexuality. An appendix reproduces the various official statements relevant to homosexuality issued through the years by the Adventist Church.

In addition to his teaching responsibility as associate professor of church history at Andrews, Miller is also director of the university’s International Religious Liberty Institute. On October 6, the Institute will sponsor a day-long forum on the political, religious and social issues regarding same-sex marriage. The event will be held at the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spencerville, Md. The forum, planned in the context of Maryland’s ballot referendum to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law, will draw attention to the issues, to the new book, and will feature panel discussions and a sermon on Adventists and social action by Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of Adventist Review/Adventist World.

Homosexuality, Marriage, and the Church is available through Adventist Book Centers, and online at Amazon.com and Andrews University Press (universitypress.andrews.edu). Andrews University Press is the only regularly established academic publishing house to serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide.

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