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How is the “Reformation Project” Going?

The following blog post was cited at –

Regular readers of this blog will recall previous mention of the Reformation Project, and it’s goal of spreading the heresy that engaging in homosexual relations is not sinful.

Some of the 2013 inaugural conference was recorded on video and has gradually made its way online. You can watch various presentations from the conference, on youtube, such as this one, this one and this one.

Lets review how things are going for the organisation.

Well, a few months after the first Reformation Project training course, Charisma News published a critical analysis of the organisation. And on cue, several members of the Reformation Project responded in the comments section below the article. Their feedback was interesting, largely for the wrong reasons.

Kelly for example, responded;

“I am one of the 50 reformers. … in the months leading up to the conference we read over a thousand pages of scholarly theological articles written by both affirming and non affirming people. We also read 2 books… written by an affirming theologian and the other written by a celibate gay Christian. Instead of trying to manipulate uniformed people, we are educating them with truth.”

Yes, supposedly ‘educated’ people from the Reformation Project are coming to rescue conservative Christians from our ignorance. Phew! So what wisdom does Kelly have to share with us? She continues;

“One has only to do the work and learn for themselves to understand cultural context and original language to see the Bible was never speaking about loving, monogamous Christ honoring same sex relationships.”

Right. So when Leviticus says that a man should not lay with a man, and does so in the context of a whole list of unsuitable sexual partners, from siblings to animals, we can conclude that it was never referring to loving monogamous homosexuality? Surely the text of Leviticus would indicate that then? If Kelly is right, shouldnt the Leviticus 18:22 prohibition of a man sleeping with a man, finish with an exception clause, like “unless it’s a loving monogamous relationship”? And can Kelly’s interpretation be likewise applied to the surrounding verses? EG verse 7; “Do not have sexual relations with your mother, … unless it’s a loving monogamous relationship“? I don’t think so. So why is she inconsistent by claiming it can be applied to verse 22? And when it comes to the New Testament where Jesus portrays Christian romantic pairings as inherently heterosexual (Matthew 19) and where all references to homosexual sex are again repeatedly portrayed as negative, according to Kelly it was supposedly apparent to the reader of that era that those homosexual references do not refer to loving monogamous relationships? I dont think so Kelly. Somehow I think that when the Bible teaches that Christian relationships are inherently heterosexual and it repeatedly says that homosexual sex is sinful, it means homosexual sex is inherently sinful.

Kelly continues though;

“There are so many other verses in the Bible that Christians do not follow by reason of saying it is not culturally relevant to today’s world…. like woman remaining silent in church or stoning children to death for disobeying or making a women who is menstruating leave the home or letting the men of a town rape your wife or not eating shellfish….”

Well hang on, Kelly. Firstly you said that the Bible does not express opposition to loving monogamous homosexual relationships. But now you are kinda implying that it does, but that we should ignore those bits on the grounds that we supposedly ignore other bits. Right. So does the Bible express opposition to loving monogamous homosexual relationships, or not? Because you sound a little undecided. It sounds like you just want to support loving monogamous homosexual relationships, irrespective of what the Bible says, and that you are just looking for excuses to support your goal.

And what are you referring to as “letting the men of a town rape your wife”? I dont recall anything in the Bible about that? Sounds like a reference to Genesis 19 though, where it’s actually talking about daughters, not wives, Kelly. And you say we dont stone children, and that this is because it’s not culturally relevant? It wouldnt have anything to do with Jesus’ aversion to stoning (John 8:7) would it Kelly? Maybe Christians are just following Jesus on that one? And you say we have abandoned the rule about eating shellfish on the grounds that it’s not culturally relevant, Kelly? It wouldnt be because Jesus said there is no longer such a thing as a sinful type of food (Mark 7:15), would it Kelly? Maybe Christians are simply following Jesus on that one too, Kelly? Im not so confident that you are “educating with truth” Kelly.

Kelly continues further;

“…..and yet we are using these few passages that we think we know the meaning of to keep millions of people from being embraced into God’s family the way they were created.”

Well yes, regrettably there are many Christians who dont entirely grasp homosexuality and/or their own religion, and some are overly rejecting of homosexuals. But I think you overstate your case, Kelly. There are also many Christians who welcome same-sex attracted individuals “the way they were created”, so long as those individuals do not engage in the sin of gay sex.

Kelly finishes her post by writing;

“I’m always up for respectful dialogue if you are. Find my email on the TRP website.”

And it’s kind of her to offer. But if Biblically illiterate people email her directly, who is going to point out the flaws in what she writes?

Another member of the Reformation Project also commented on the article. Her name is Betsy. But Betsy didnt identify herself as a member. Instead she was ‘outed’. Her initial post included comments such as;

“I find this articles interesting, mostly because I know Matthew and the people involved in this project personally. I understand what their motivation is and why they’re doing it. It is NOT to build up walls, but to tear them down. …
When I read this kind of thing, I find myself thinking, “You do not KNOW these people who you are making out to sound like the antichrist; what motivates them, their life experiences that may have brought them to this position. … ” …
I’m not 100% sure how what TRP is doing is “fighting God”. I’m pretty sure they are working hard to draw people closer to God.”

She portrayed herself as in touch and informed about the Reformation Project, yet objective. But she isnt objective. She’s listed on the Reformation Projectwebsite as one of the participants. When challenged about her misleading portrayal of herself, she admitted it, replying publicly;

“I wasn’t trying to be dishonest. I just knew that my comments would be immediately dismissed if I identified as part of TRP. …”

DCBetsy also wrote;

“If the activity of The Reformation Project is of human origin, IT WILL FAIL. …”

It’s hard to know whether to buy that. I can think of many religious cults that are arguably of human origin, but hundreds of years after such cults began, many still havent died. But on the other hand, members of the Reformation Project have shown themselves to be under-educated about Biblical matters, and to be deliberately misleading. That behaviour sounds like a bit of a fail. So on Betsy’s grounds, perhaps the Project has been revealed as being of human origin?
By the time of the next TRP conference (in DC), the TRP website no longer listed current conference attendees.
But Vines & co remain steadfast in their decision to plough on. In May 2014, one of the directors posted on Facebook of the next conference to be held (in DC). This did not generate a flurry of excitement. 18 hours after posting, there was only one facebook ‘like’ showing, in contrast to 31 facebook ‘likes’ on the post that had been made one hour prior.
In 2015, a 2014 TRP conference attendee, made other revealing statements. ‘BrianK’, who is in the difficult position of having a gay son, perceptively referred to
Brownson’s end-game: reread Scripture without the heteronormative lens; ask “is this desire/activity redeemable in some way?”


BrianK is referring to James V. Brownson, a session speaker at the November, 2014 TRP conference in Washington D.C.. Brownson has been very influential on Vines ideology, perhaps largely through his book on sexuality and theology. BrianK’s perception of Brownson’s approach to Scripture, seems to be that we should mould it to make things redeemable, even if at first they seem not to be.
BrianK seems to reveal that the Reformation Project doesnt have all the answers, when he writes that –
the right/wrong arguments that will never be resolved, at least not in my lifetime
He refers to himself as being “outside of Christendom” –
David Gushee, the man who provided the opening, and closing keynote addresses at the second conference, later renounced his identification as an evangelical.

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