15: Does Vines Believe His Own Arguments?
The presenter is obviously a bright guy, and he’s fairly well read. Gene Robinson says Matthew has a “meticulous mind”. So would the presenter really believe the arguments that he presents?
Julie Rogers says he’s sincere (at the site below) but the following comment suggests Joe isnt so sure –
You might roll your eyes at this. Just as I roll my eyes when I hear liberals accuse Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann of not believing their own arguments. I know that sometimes, accusing someone of not believing their own arguments, sounds ridiculous. But if you have carefully studied what the Bible says on this topic – if you have studied it broadly, and considered how heterosexual relationships are presented as the only model for Christians – and if you have given thought to the words of critics of Vine’s theology, then you would wonder how Vines could sincerely believe his own words. Sure, some of his arguments can sound reasonable. But what about when he flat out says that gay relations are not sinful?
One respondent wrote in feedback;
“I did my post-grad dissertation on the pro-gay hermeneutic (method of interpretation) and found it interesting that Vine’s “claims” to hold to biblical inspiration and authority. I read his book and low and behold he quotes approvingly all those I found in my research to be disparaging of biblical inspiration. For someone who claims to believe the Bible is inspired he sure seemed to have hard time quoting anyone favorably who really does hold to inspiration. It is clear that Vine’s claim to believing the Bible is inspired by God is a complete rouse as he disingenuously promoted his experience above God’s word.”
One of the elements that ends up seeming rather suspicious is how liberals love what Vines has to say. One reviewer wrote “None of it bothered me or seemed dubious to me from my perspective as a liberal”. But this is odd. Liberals tend to be offended by Christian values. So why are they so often not offended by what Vines has to say? Is it because he only preaches a small selection of the Gospel? Does he only preach just enough of the Gospel, to appear Christian? Is the Christian message merely a vehicle for his actual purpose – that being him fighting opposition to homosexual practise?
He says that his Reformation Project “conference is essentially a Bible boot camp for Christians who support LGBT people and their full inclusion in the life of the church” IE it’s about what people want rather than about what God wants.
Others have said that gay Christian activists don’t always believe their own claims, and their intention isn’t to win the debate, but rather just to suppress the truth enough to gain a seat at the table of debate. IE to be regarded as a legitimate part of ongoing discussion. Is this true of Matthew Vines?
Around one year after the video was first made available on the internet, this web page was posted. The presenter is quoted here saying;
“What frustrates me so much about a lot of the literature on this subject is that it will say something diminishing toward the Bible at the very beginning. Like, “Well, the Bible says a lot of things that we think are strange.”
And the moment you say things like that, you are putting forward a very different view of the Bible than the people you’re trying to engage with. And so they stop listening instantly. And you’re not going to get anywhere.
And they feel disrespected. They feel like you are attacking their faith and that you’re attacking the text through which they allow their lives to be shaped and from which they gain their understanding of God.
So I just felt like there were not good resources on this issue. I felt I needed to create a new resource on my own. And having grown up in this conservative atmosphere, I felt that I understood the cultural and social politics of these communities. And I felt that I could maybe bring along other people with me.”
This seems a little manipulative to me. Like he’s separated himself and is talking of ‘them’ rather than ‘us’. And it feels like his primary goal is to advance the gay cause, rather than to advance the Gospel, and that he’s simply packaged his message in such a way to try to make it compliant with and palatable to the cultural language and ethos of conservative Christendom. I get the same sense that he is cynically seeking to advance the gay agenda, when watching this 5 minute video that he later made, summarising his arguments, and again in this one and this one and this article when interviewed by someone who is kinda on the fence about even being Christian. And in this interview, he is asked whether the Bible should be updated. Surely a good evangelical would respond that God’s Word endures for ever. But he chose to dismiss this opportunity to spread the Gospel. He knows how to talk the talk, but as we have seen, he doesnt consider St Paul’s Scriptures to be fully authoritative, so he’s not entirely walking the walk. In this interview, he says he wants to provide those who ideologically support gay relations, with theological arguments to support their case. Isn’t that an approach of using theology as an excuse, or as some have termed it, “using the Bible as a weapon”?
I notice also from this interview, that he refers to liberal theology, as “progressive”. He’s very articulate, so it’s a little incongruent for him to use a term that affirms liberal theology as a positive thing, if he’s a Christian conservative as he claims. All this adds to the sense that ‘Christians’ that are actively gay, tend not to be particularly committed to the faith. He’s coming from an educational institution that reportedly has a hook-up culture, even amongst heterosexuals, and where interestingly, he seems to have been enthusiastically supportive of Obama. Does he actually practise the largely conservative Biblical perspective that he implies in the video etc? Is it not strange that the Reformation Project receives much of its funding from secular sources, and that it features non-evangelical speakers? In a rather biased report, The Washington Post more recently stated –
For some evangelicals, Vines’ collaboration with mainline liberals and secular LGBT organizations makes it easy to dismiss him. Yet Vines reiterated his commitment to a big-tent strategy.
“The Reformation Project is not an exclusively evangelical organization,” he said. “Even though I align with evangelicalism theologically, I do not believe that progressive Christians are somehow not Christians. Some in the evangelical world do, but I find that presumptuous.”
Doesnt that imply that it’s okay to not be evangelical? That statement itself does not align with evangelical theology.
Biblical studies professor Denny Burk reportedly referred to Vines’ theology as “an agenda in search of an interpretation.” It’s a comment that resonates for me.