Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy Tennent came under a bit of fire from the gay Twitterati last week after one of their students publicly announced on social media that they had walked out of the chapel service after he preached a perfectly orthodox and biblical sermon on the topic of ‘personhood’, according to the Juicy Ecumenism.
Tennent preached the message during the seminary’s new year convocation. Asbury is not a conservative seminary by any stretch; they are in the United Methodist tradition and are the largest seminary of the Wesleyan-Holiness movement, and this seminary in particular is known for promoting egalitarianism. Still- they have so far resisted the push of the pro-LGBTQ movement and take a biblical perspective on the issue of homosexuality.
For this reason, Tennennt gave a high level and mildly esoteric discussion on the relationship between oner’s expressive self and what it means to be human, saying things like:
“New individualism….is a new vision of human personhood has created a seismic dualistic separation or fracturing of the human will from the physical body. In this twist of Neo-gnostic dualism our bodies become moldable, like plastic contingent instruments which must be conformed to the intuitions, feelings and what other social constructions we may dream of in order to conform to our understanding of ourselves.”
Heady stuff. Tennent made similar comments like this, explaining how some people within the LGBTQ community do likewise, and that the whole idea of a man trapped in a woman’s body is based on an ungodly individualism and a skewed sense of self. The whole message can be heard here, and there was nothing remotely controversial about it.
This didn’t stop a vocal left from condemning Tennent and the school after one of their students announced that he walked out as a result of the message, feeling disrespected and like the seminary was making the campus a “dangerous place” for him.
Elijah Drake identifies as a “side B” “celibate Gay Christian” and a “Celibate SSA/gay student” who wrote this thesis arguing that it is perfectly acceptable to identify himself by his sin and sexual proclivities. Though professing to hold what is the “orthodox position” (It’s not. The sexual attraction itself is a sin, not just the action) It’s clear that there is something seriously wonky with his theology if that is the reaction he had after listening to such a benign sermon.
His actions afterward sealed the deal that he was being petulant, showing up in the front row for the next message with his ‘gay pride’ shirt on, demanding that the speaker look at him and geared up to walk about again in full view of his peers if they cross his line again, all the while receiving clout on the internet for being “brave” and “savage” and “a badass”
Even Revoice founder Nate Collins got in on the action, telling him he was “so, so sorry” that he was experiencing this, and gave little praying hands after he snapped the above picture with his pride shirt.
Despite hundreds of tweets directed his way, many from openly “side A” “gay Christians” inviting Drake to come to they/their seminary while bashing Asbury (“I know a really gay-affirming place isn’t for everyone, but I love working at @VUDivinity because we are queer & trans-inclusive & in admin, anything mostly run by lesbians is just gonna be better organized.”) Tennent has not responded publicly to the brouhaha. We have reached out for comment and will update this post accordingly.
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