The following is an eyewitness account of what transpired on Sunday, March 20, 2011, at the San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, located on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University. It is longer than the usual post, but extremely important, and I ask you to please read it all. Especially to those parents, friends, and alumni of Point Loma, please forward this to as many as possible who may need to know.
I will follow with some comments next week, but let me just repeat what I have been saying (many others also) for over two years: the Nazarene denomination is in crisis with the invasion of the emerging church movement and other apostate movements.
Homosexuality at Point Loma Nazarene University
“THANKS BE TO GOD THAT HE MADE ME GAY… THIS IS MY PROCLAMATION: I AM GAY. I AM CHRISTIAN. AND I WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE IN THAT MANNER.”
These words, spoken by Todd Clayton, the current 2010-2011 ASB Director of Spiritual Life (also called the “student chaplain”) at Point Loma Nazarene University, ended a talk given at a meeting of All God’s Children held at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University on March 20, 2011. Over two hundred PLNU students sat in rapt silence as this well-spoken, respectful, wounded young man shared the pain of coming to terms with his same-sex attraction and his decision to “come out” four months ago. He then openly stated his intention to date same-sex partners, attend Princeton Divinity School and become a pastor after graduation. NO ONE in attendance, including some PLNU faculty members and Reverend Dee Kelley, who serves as the current lead pastor of the Nazarene church where the meeting was held, sought to clarify the issue of homosexual activity from a biblical perspective or to promote and defend the position of the Church of the Nazarene as stated in the manual:
“Homosexuality is one means by which human sexuality is perverted. We recognize the depth of the perversion that leads to homosexual acts but affirm the biblical position that such acts are sinful and subject to the wrath of god. We believe the grace of god sufficient to overcome the practice of homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We deplore any action or statement that would seem to imply compatibility between Christian morality and the practice of homosexuality. We urge clear preaching and teaching concerning Bible standards of sexual morality. (1 Timothy 1:8-10) — 2005-2009 manual of the Church of the Nazarene
According to Dr. Phil Bowles, PLNU Professor of Literature, he and his wife, Sharon, began All God’s Children meetings in 2007 as a way to foster an “open dialogue about discussion of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) issues and faith.” However, it is widely known that the only views represented by All God’s Children leaders at these meetings are those which promote a “gay is good” stance.
THE DVD, “FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO”
The group has repeatedly viewed a DVD during meetings called “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which seeks to reconcile the biblical passages regarding homosexuality with living a gay lifestyle. Here is one Christian writer’s review of this DVD, from ChristianAnswers.net:
For the Bible Tells Me So
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Reviewed by: Jennifer Constantine
When I submitted a request to review this movie, I did so primarily because I have a dear friend that no longer speaks to me because he identifies himself as a homosexual and knows that I identify myself as a Bible-believing Christian who views homosexual activity as sinful. I wanted to see this movie because I know that, as a whole, there is an entire community that we as the Church have failed to love as Jesus does. There are exceptions, of course, but we have largely treated this group with, at best, painful uncomfortability, and at worst, well, hate.
I don’t think that I am alone in my reasons for wanting to watch this movie, but, having seen it, I want to warn well-meaning Christians to use extreme discernment and pray about whether God wants you to watch. It is a subversive movie that attempts to distort Scripture to say something it doesn’t. I had to go back into Scripture and reaffirm what I believed, after seeing this movie, because it is VERY effective at manipulating emotions and quoting Scripture out of context.
This movie is marketed as a “must see for everyone,” so it targets our youth as well as adults. I don’t recommend it for anyone.
This documentary follows a few families that have a homosexual member and shows how the families have shown various degrees of acceptance, most notably the Robinsons, who’s son was recently ordained by the Episcopal church as the first openly gay bishop, and politician Richard Gephardt, whose daughter Chrissy identifies herself as a lesbian.
But, this movie doesn’t just present a defense of homosexuality; it goes on the offensive to attack Dr. James Dobson as a dangerous hate-monger, as well as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as capitalists. It also states that most people who break free from the chains of homosexuality are only changed outwardly and experience only a temporary victory. (To know the REAL truth, go to exodus-international.org and Cross Ministry).
The makers of the documentary then go on to interview doctors and psychologists who give us their “scientific” view on homosexuality. But they can’t have it both ways—first they misquote Scripture as the justification for homosexuality, then they want science to be the basis for justification. Which one is it?
The music used in the documentary should also give us a clue as to what influences are being subtly inserted in the background: in the opening we hear Enya, a New Age musician, and later lyrics from a song that says that just because something is in the Bible it “ain’t necessarily so.”
On a final note, besides showing how the Church has fallen short of loving homosexuals, the documentary makes another great point: many Christians don’t know why they believe homosexuality is wrong. They can quote a few Scriptures but can’t go beyond that. Here is a direct quote from the film: “Most Christians haven’t read the Bible, so do they really know what it says and what the true intent is? Probably not. So how do they know? What do they base their Bible beliefs on? Someone else tells them.”
While I think that quote is an exaggeration, it is not too far off the mark. We as Christians need to know why we believe what we believe. It is imperative, for Paul says we will be swept away with “every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).
Another review of “For the Bible Tells Me So” found at http://ex-gaytruth.com/for-the-bible-tells-me-so-critical-movie-review/ states, “Besides the deception and lies presented as truths, the gay theology espoused in the film claiming that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior is considered by many a self-serving concoction…”
INVOLVEMENT OF SOME PLNU PROFESSORS
In 2009, Dr. Michael Lodahl, PLNU Professor of Theology and World Religions, spoke to All God’s Children attendees. Here is one father’s story regarding that particular meeting:
“I gained familiarity with SSA (same-sex attraction) in January 2009 when our daughter informed my wife and I that she was in a same-sex relationship. She told us that while attending Point Loma she nurtured her SSA ideas, which culminated after she graduated. She wanted us to meet the theology professors who helped her scripturally understand why her SSA was acceptable. She invited us to a group (All God’s Children) she had been attending at the Point Loma campus Nazarene church, to give us a chance to be enlightened.
In February 2009 we drove to San Diego for this Sunday afternoon meeting at the campus church. During the presentation I heard no balance and only predetermined pro-gay conclusions presented. The session was 2 hours, including a variety of discussion, with my comments being the only non-pro gay advocacy. At the conclusion of the presentation I talked to Lodahl and told him it was amazing how the course of a vehicle can be guided if you loosen the lug nuts sufficiently. His dismissive arrogance was oozing and my anger was seething. I could not believe this was happening! The knowledge of our daughter is a month old, and now crumbling before my eyes is the highly trusted educational institution of our family. It felt like I got hit in the face with a baseball bat, a second time! This can’t be happening. The religious institution I thought would be there, to whom we entrusted the spiritual development of our children, was a co-conspirator for confusion and deception.
Two years have gone by and my understanding is now deep, but the pain can still be on the surface. What I want now is for there to be a balancing voice at Point Loma and the Nazarene church. Let Lodahl and company spew their confusion, but also announce with a strong voice the loving truth of scripture that is core to the Nazarene beliefs. And if the Nazarene church has abandoned the issue, that is understandable. But say so. Announce Point Loma has a non-position on Gay Theology. Then it can be taken into account by parents when they are deciding where to send their children. Know what you are going to get for your $40,000 yearly educational investment.”
Five weeks ago, on Feb. 7, Dr. Bettina Tate Pedersen, PLNU Professor of Literature, attended a meeting of All God’s Children where she spoke to the group, which, on that day, included another PLNU student who had decided to embrace a gay identity. Dr. Pedersen, like other PLNU faculty members before her, trotted out the litany of reasons as to why and how the scriptures condemning homosexual practice actually meant something different and that engaging in gay sexual activity could be completely compatible with being a Christian.
Although it meets on the campus of PLNU, All God’s Children is not sanctioned or sponsored by the university. It falls solely under the ministry umbrella of San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Dee Kelley and Pastor Marc Otto, who frequently attend the meetings. PLNU administrators turned down Bowles’ request for permission to meet on campus. However, the group found safe haven at First Church, even though Bowles and his wife attend a United Methodist church elsewhere. The campus location enables the group to more easily indoctrinate students with their pro-gay message.
REACTIONS FROM GROUP MEMBERS AT THE MEETING
After yesterday’s meeting, jubilant group members celebrated Todd’s talk. One of them wrote this email to everyone listed as an All God’s Children Facebook “friend”:
Todd Clayton was great!
It is impossible to overstate the importance of today’s event. For PLNU to have had such a popular elected officer, student chaplain, for two years, and to come out of the closet, is stunning.
This will be felt throughout the Church of the Nazarene, and on all of their campuses.
Both of Todd’s parents are ordained Nazarene pastors. His mother is on the board of trustees of the university.
Keep Todd in your prayers. Pray also for Phil and Sharon Bowles, and for Pastor Dee Kelley of S.D. First Church of the Nazarene.
Oh, check out the school’s online paper, The Point Weekly, tomorrow morning. Tomorrow!http://www.pointweekly.com/
Here are some other quotes from the meeting:
Todd Clayton: “This question is ‘Why do you not choose celibacy?’ and this would go back to the way in which I read scripture…”
Audience Member: “What would you say to gay young people who have developed a deep fear of God’s wrath as a result of their sexuality, as a result of the church’s teachings and intolerance?”
Todd’s answer: “I would say that God is abundantly loving and that you are abundantly clean and that there is space for you in God’s gracious and large church.”
Phil Bowles (in response to a question about why All God’s Children doesn’t meet on campus): “I was in conversation with leaders on the campus five, six years ago asking for permission and did not receive permission to host the “conversation” on campus, so we started at another denomination, a church in Mission Valley, and after a semester moved here (1st Church) because the pastoral staff was amenable, and so far, even though there has been an unpleasant person now and then, so far we have been allowed to continue meeting here next to the university campus. This is not the university campus. So, you would have to ask maybe administrators why not. I keep asking them why not… I don’t really get an answer…”
Audience Member (regarding a man she knew who had struggled with same sex attraction but who had married and had children and grandchildren): “He never got to experience true love and true happiness. God is love, and everybody should be able to experience that!” (thunderous applause)
Todd Clayton: “I feel indebted to the student body because you elected me, and you deserve to know at least part of the story because you entrusted me with your voice, and my hope is that I continue to hold that trust and that I can witness to the fact that I still represent you…”
Phil Bowles: “I would like to thank Todd for his wonderful gift to us…
Pastor Dee Kelley: “Thank you, Todd, for sharing your story… and though you’ve heard it before, I simply want to say that one of the reasons this is happening is because we believe beside you that the church needs to be a safe place where we can engage in difficult conversations on difficult topics and engage our faith in that process… I so appreciate Todd’s comments that his journey in scripture and understanding of the voice of scripture in our lives is central to the discussion…There needs to be places where the scripture is engaged in conversation and where we dig into the passages to understand what has both been church history and biblical criticism and faith traditions and to do it in ways that move us closer to the reality of Christ in our lives… My prayer is for all of us that we have many more of these, and not just on this topic but the other difficult questions of sexuality and church polity and biblical questions of what it means to be a holiness witness in whatever place Christ sends us…”
Dee Kelley’s closing prayer: “Father, this has been set aside from those who have invested deeply in this local church body as sacred space. This particular room has been set aside as a sanctuary of worship. My prayer, Lord, is that somehow we leave this place challenged to worship through our conversations, through our search of The Word, through telling our story and being there as a listening ear when someone else desperately, desperately needs to tell their story…”
Audience Member to Todd Clayton: “You’ve really opened up a lot of doors, and I just want to, like, thank you and applaud you for your courage.” (applause)
WHAT NOW FOR BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS?
If you have ever had any affiliation with PLNU and/or are a member of a Nazarene church we hope you will make your voice heard about All God’s Children. Why has this group, with their obvious agenda, been allowed to meet at a Nazarene church for over three years? Why have Phil Bowles, Dee Kelley, Michael Lodahl, Bettina Tate Pedersen and others been allowed to influence PLNU students in this manner and to this extent? What will be done by administrators and church leaders to rid Point Loma Nazarene University of these toxic influences and to inform students of the truth of God’s Word on this matter? Where is the outrage? Keep in mind, PLNU students being thus indoctrinated are our pastors and Nazarene leaders of the not-too-distant future. Just a couple of sentences from several concerned people can have a big impact. NOW is the time to speak out!
People to Contact:
District Superintendent, Rev. John Denney: JLDenneySoCal@aol.com
General Superintendent, Dr. J.K. Warrick: firstname.lastname@example.org
PLNU President, Dr. Bob Brower: BobBrower@pointloma.edu
PLNU Vice President of Student Development, Dr. Caye Smith: CayeSmith@pointloma.edu
PLNU Provost, Dr. Kerry Fulcher: email@example.com
Dean of the School of Theology, Dr. Bob Smith: RobertSmith@pointloma.edu
Vice President for Spiritual Development, Dr. Mary Paul: firstname.lastname@example.org