SEE THIS BLOG’S PREVIOUS POST:
LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN STORES PULLS
JEN HATMAKER BOOKS OVER HER SUPPORT FOR SAME SEX “MARRIAGE”
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and
research purposes, originally from:
Fans of Jen Hatmaker like her because she is, in one word, relatable. The Texas author and speaker writes often about her “messy” family life, confessing in a viral 2013 post to being the “worst end-of-school year mom ever.” Her homespun approach has garnered her spots on the New York Times bestseller list and an HGTV series alongside husband Brandon and five children.
But last week, Hatmaker broke from her evangelical base, telling Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt that she supports same-sex marriage and believes LGBT relationships can be holy. Such statements followed a social media post this April in which Hatmaker called for LGBT inclusion in churches. Her recent comments prompted LifeWay Christian Stores, the large Southern Baptist bookseller that published her 2012 bestseller “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” to discontinue selling her Bible studies and books.
The backlash to both Hatmaker’s comments and to LifeWay’s decision reveals growing rancor in evangelical circles over same-sex relationships. White evangelical Protestants remain the U.S. religious group least likely to support same-sex marriage. Absent a pope or a unifying denomination, evangelicals turn to the Bible as the authority on all matters, and most believe Scripture forbids same-sex relations.
But in recent years, evangelical groups have divided over how to practice that teaching in church ministry and outreach. In 2013, humanitarian group World Vision incited swift backlash and quickly reversed course after announcing it would hire staff in same-sex marriages.
Individual leaders who break from the traditional teaching on same-sex relationships — among them ethicist David Gushee, pastor Tony Campolo and former Christianity Today editor David Neff — raise questions over whether one can affirm LGBT relationships and remain an evangelical.
Today Hatmaker published a follow-up post on her Facebook page, stating that she came to her conclusion “with prayer and careful study and deliberation.” “Our view of the Word is still very high, as is it for the hundreds of thousands of faithful believers who believe likewise,” she wrote, suggesting that one can be an evangelical, holding Scripture as the authority on all matters, and affirm same-sex relationships.
Hatmaker is the most prominent female evangelical leader to date to express support for same-sex relationships. The backlash she faces illuminates how tricky it can be for such leaders to take a stand on thorny cultural and political issues without losing followers.
“Christian female celebrities are usually known for their personal stories, not their theological belief statements,” notes Kate Bowler, a professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School, who is writing a new book about evangelical women and authority. “It is both unusual and remarkable that Hatmaker … took this stand in a culture that doesn’t typically reward it [taking stands] in women.”
Many evangelicals believe that women are unfit for spiritual leadership, Bowler notes. So many evangelical women today wield influence via storytelling and persona rather than positions of institutional leadership.
Most white evangelical women leaders “do not engage politics,” notes Sharon Hodde Miller, whose PhD research at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. focused on women in evangelical ministry. “The collective implication is that you cannot be ‘popular’ and ‘political.’ You have to choose.”
Miller notes that Hatmaker has been a “trailblazer” in this regard; she has spoken out on racial reconciliation and the global refugee crisis in recent years. This spring, she published a controversial Facebook post that expressed support and inclusion for LGBT people. Many of her followers applauded her stance, while others expressed concern that she was defying scriptural teaching.
Kate Shellnutt, an editor at Christianity Today magazine, said Hatmaker’s most recent comments on same-sex marriage are consistent with her overall “all are welcome” approach. “Jen is very sensitive to the outsider … she is so passionate about including others: cultural outsiders, the homeless, racial minorities, people who have been hurt by the church,” Shellnutt said. She said Hatmaker’s comments last week serve to “clarify her position, and update what she’s said previously.”
Shellnutt believes Hatmaker’s recent comments might be used to confirm that women can’t be trusted to lead on spiritual matters. “For the haters, it’s an ‘I told you so’ moment, and worse, ammunition to decry women’s events and women teachers more generally,” said Shellnutt.
The timing of Hatmaker’s comments are notable; she and other popular speakers are in the midst of Belong, a 12-city tour offering encouragement and community to Christian women. Belong is for this generation what Women of Faith was 20 years ago; both events are created by the same company, and Belong counts as its “partners” two prominent evangelical ministries, World Vision and MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).
Two of Hatmaker’s stage mates, writer Shauna Niequist and musician Nichole Nordeman, have since expressed support for Hatmaker after last week’s comments. But many other individual women have taken to social media to say they won’t attend Belong or read Hatmaker’s books.
Left to right, organizers Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker and Lindsey Nobles speak to women gathered in Austin for the IF:Gathering in Feb. 2014. For use with RNS-WOMENS-CONFERENCE, transmitted on February 12, 2014, Photo courtesy of Moxie Collective
Jennie Allen, founder of another popular Christian women’s conference, the IF:Gathering, responded to Hatmaker’s comments last week after her “phone and inboxes started to blow up.” She affirmed that IF:Gathering — which has featured Hatmaker as a speaker since it launched in 2014 — holds to the traditional teaching on same-sex relationships. She said that Hatmaker would not be speaking at next year’s IF, as Hatmaker “took herself out of IF many months ago for reasons that are her own.”
But Allen also said that she had trouble issuing a “statement” on Hatmaker, as she didn’t want to “drive a relational wedge between me and someone I love so dearly and hurt members of the LGBTQ community, many who are friends.” She urged readers to practice Christian unity in a divisive moment for many evangelicals. She said the issue of homosexuality is difficult not because the Bible isn’t clear but because “it is not an issue — it is people. And people we love.”
Miller believes this relational approach could bode well for Hatmaker’s stance within evangelicalism, especially among female followers. “Many of the women who disagree with her are still grateful for her teaching and her influence on their lives, and they are able to hold those things together,” Miller said. She believes Hatmaker represents a wave of evangelical women “who are not content to silo their faith,” or to publicly support only the things that every Christian agrees on. “I happen to think that’s a good thing.”
FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH:
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2016/newsletter20161109.htm; republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
LifeWay Resources (SBC) Stops Selling Same-Sex Marriage Promoter Jen Hatmaker;
But LifeWay Still Not Seeing the Big Picture
According to a Christianity Today article, LifeWay Resources (the Southern Baptist Convention resource arm) has stopped selling products by Jen Hatmaker because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The CT article stated:
Jen Hatmaker posted a 650-word response on her Facebook page Monday, saying she “wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it” before coming to a decision to affirm same-sex relationships, which recently led to LifeWay Christian Resources pulling her books from its stores.
Hatmaker has been the topic of Lighthouse Trails articles and Cedric Fisher’s booklet called IF it is of God: Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering as she is part of the group of women who head up the women’s movement called IF: Gathering. You can read that booklet by Fisher by clicking here. In Fisher’s booklet, he says this about Jen Hatmaker:
In Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wreck Your Comfortable Christianity, she makes it clear that she is influenced by a number of New Age/New Spirituality individuals. She quotes Catholic priest and contemplative activist Richard Rohr and emergent leader Shane Claiborne.
On her blog, she promotes the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, a book that encourages readers to draw circles around specific things in order to have more answered prayers. Batterson was inspired with this idea by an ancient sage.
In Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, she reveals that her family takes part in a Roman Catholic ritual with mystical origins, the “Seven Sacred Pauses.” Hatmaker got her inspiration from Seven Sacred Pauses, a book by Macrina Wiederkehr who is a spiritual director in the contemplative prayer movement.
In Wiederkehr’s retreats, seekers are guided through experiences of silence, contemplation and lectio divina (a contemplative practice where words and phrases from the Bible are repeated in mantra-like fashion). The “seven sacred pauses” are seven times a day to pause and pray, which Wiederkehr describes as “breathing spells for the soul.”
Consider Hatmaker’s statement concerning the preaching of God’s Word:
“I have spent half my life listening to someone else talk about God. Because of this history, I’ve developed something of an immunity to sermons.”
This is eerily similar to the sentiment of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees), who once, as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, expressed her dissatisfaction (and eventual rejection) of the preaching of God’s Word. That led Monk Kidd down a path away from the Christian faith and straight into the New Age. Today, she worships the goddess Sophia.
This disgruntlement of God’s Word is so prevalent among leaders of the emerging New Spirituality church. If not preaching, then what? Is it emotionally charged conventions and books with flowering, poetic phrases that open up to spit out a toxic drop of heresy? If Hatmaker is immune to preaching, she has rejected God’s method in favor of her own. (source and footnotes)
While LifeWay did the right thing in dropping Hatmaker’s products, they still do not see the big picture as they keep a tight grasp on numerous problematic authors such as Sarah Young (and her cash-cow Jesus Calling books and Bibles), Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Gary Thomas, Ruth Haley Barton, and many more contemplative, emergent authors.
The fact that LifeWay will remove books by someone promoting same-sex marriage but not remove books by authors who promote a mystical, panentheistic inter-spiritual prayer shows once again that Christian leaders and ministries just don’t get it. How is it that one is OK and the other is not? After all, they are both going in the same direction, and that is away from the Gospel and away from God’s Word. Where are the overseers of LifeWay and the Southern Baptist Convention? Surely, they are learned men who should be able to figure this out.