|Convergent Books plans pro-gay book|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Tuesday, 15 April 2014 07:49 AM EDT|
Convergent Books, an imprint of Random House's Crown Publishing Group, plans to release a pro-gay book the company describes as an “affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity.” Releasing April 22, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships was written by homosexual activist Matthew Vines after years of intensive research on what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Stephen W. Cobb, president and publisher of Convergent, also oversees WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, home to Christian imprints WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books, and Image Books. But Convergent was launched as a new kind of faith-based imprint whose titles were expected to lead to “an open, inclusive and culturally engaged exploration of faith.”
Aiming to reach “a growing movement of consumers,” Cobb said: “These readers typically don’t see themselves as either liberal or conservative, evangelical or mainline. Yet they frame their spiritual journey in Christian terms, and they’re absolutely passionate about what theologian Brian McLaren has called, ‘the sacred endeavor of loving God and neighbor, stranger, alien, outsider, outcast and enemy.’ ”
Vines’ book has been endorsed by such authors as Rachel Held Evans, who calls it “a game-changer,” and Tony Campolo, who recommends it to “Christians who oppose gay marriage.”
Convergent has caught fire online from Matt Barber, cultural analyst and attorney who is founder and editor-in-chief of BarbWire.com.
Barber cites an email to BarbWire from a unspecified source with ties to Multnomah: “I know for a fact that there are certain individuals (whistleblowers, if you will) who believe this information should become public, but there is immense pressure from within Multnomah Publishers to keep this under wraps, and not allow entities in the NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] Association/Evangelical orbit to learn about it. … It is reasonable to speculate that Multnomah is trying to cover up its fast-growing connection to sexual sin activism, and furtively avoid the kind of widespread scandal and Christian backlash that took place after World Vision abandoned clear Biblical teaching on sexual immorality. World Vision had recently embraced the sodomy-centered and counter-Biblical notion of so-called ‘same-sex marriage,’ only to quickly reverse course and publicly ask the global Christian community for forgiveness.”
Vines, who is also founder of The Reformation Project, an organization working with the church on gay rights issues, spoke to MSNBC after World Vision’s reversal.
“I think what the entire debacle really demonstrates more than anything is that Christians who disagree with each other about same-sex marriage are still barely talking to one another,” he said.
Jeff Nesbit, blogger at US News & World Report’s At the Edge, said there are two pillars to Vines’ book, that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that it’s wrong for churches to tell people who are gay that they must remain celibate their entire lives.
He believes that God and the Gay Christian “is likely to become the biggest, most talked about, Christian book of the year—and could help shatter misperceptions about the Bible’s characterizations of same-sex relationships as a sin against God.”
However, some Christian retailers told Christian Retailing they will not stock the book in their stores.
“I would not carry the book and definitely would not promote it,” said Donna Baker at Dightman’s Bible Book Center in Tacoma, Wash. “I cannot agree with the premise. Since WaterBrook was acquired by Random House, they have had some books that cross the line. They have classified some books as ‘Christian’ when they don't have Christian values.”
“I would put that under a ‘Special Order Only’ because it would offend many more of my customers than the few that would ever ask for it,” said Lorraine Valk, owner of Parable Christian Store of St. Joseph in St. Joseph, Mich.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original publication to correct the relationship of Convergent to WaterBrook Multnomah.