A Road Map
Claiming the Promise
follows a particular pattern to focus our thinking onthe church’s dilemma about welcoming or not welcoming those who arelesbian and gay. Four small icons guide our way.
A visible stationary image of a false God that the Hebrews
worshipped at Mt. Sinai
Each chapter begins with a biblical reference that is oftenused as a “biblical condemnation” of same-sex conduct.Potential
dangers of such interpretations are briefly discussed. Like the Hebrews who worshipped a calf, we sometimes idolizestatic interpretations about same-sex conduct rather than hearing theBible’s story of God’s promise to include all people in full kinship withGod (Exodus 32). This potential danger exists for moderate or liberalpeople in the church as well as for conservative people.
Pillar of Fire—
That which God used to lead the Israelites through the
wilderness by night during the Exodus
The next section in each chapter is a reflection on broaderintents, contexts, and messages related to the “golden calf”biblical interpretations. These reflections are offered as
“pillars of fire”
(Exodus 13:17-22). In the Exodus story, God was manifested in a pillarof fire at night to lead the people toward the Promised Land. Though wemay see them dimly, the biblical reflections in this section offer evidence of God’s leading us toward the promise of new life.
—Those contemporary leaders arising from many places
to offer God’s Word to us in fresh—and sometimes disconcerting—ways
The third section is an exploration of the analyses and reflections of contemporary
” These reflections, especially as they come from lesbian women and gay men, arepowerful symbols that new life is rising from an oppressed group. Theyoffer possibilities of new life in the Spirit for all of us.
God’s covenant with humanity that we are all heirs
The fourth section focuses on the biblical promise that weare God’s heirs through God’s promise to Abraham. Godreaffirmed that promise through the Christ-event. God’sclaim on Christians requires a response: be “new creations” (2 Corinthians5:17-20). The butterfly, a symbol for new life, reminds us to explorewhat it means to
claim the promise
and be new creations.It is possible to read these four sections of a chapter as a continuum. However, they were first imagined as expanding concentric circles. The calf discussion with its potential dangers is the core of the dilemma that engages all of us. The pillar, prophetic voices, and promise sections of eachchapter offer expanding ways for us to reflect on our joint dilemma andmove toward new life in Christian community.Finally, this study presents several points of view. It acknowledges clearlythat Christians are not all of one mind about homosexuality and the church.However, not all views are equal in this study.
Claiming the Promise
has a“point of view”—one that we think offers us glimpses of God’s Word in themidst of our troubling dilemma. We hope only that you will prayerfullyread and consider its point of view.
Each chapter contains four boxes ofquestions. They are offered as possiblework for you to
before class.Together these four sets of questionslead us through several steps of a Biblestudy
This process includes:
What does the Englishtext say?
What are some problemsof translation or interpretationof the original Hebrew or Greektexts?
What does a biblicalwriter, Jesus, or church traditionsay about the text?
Having done some criticalbiblical study—and havingengaged in a prayerful discern-ment
—what do wethink?
Are You Studying thisMaterial Alone?
You may wish to buy the leader’sguide to
Claiming the Promise.
Ithas additional background materialon various biblical passages. Also,some of the activities in theleader’s session plans might behelpful in your study.
Claiming the Promise3