‘Embrace Your Heresy!’ – An Open Letter to My Friend and Colleague, the Rev Lim Bora

Hello, Bora.

My congregation, Open Doors Metropolitan Community Church, has asked me to write you to convey our official support for you while you are undergoing an investigation for heresy from the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK).[1]

We are shocked and horrified by the prospect of this denomination investigating you, the pastor of another Christian denomination (the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PROK)), for doctrinal violations, especially since the investigating denomination has no supervisory authority over you! To add to the sense of horror and outrage, the GAPCK is now enlisting the resources of seven other denominations in carrying out this investigation.[2] Your supposed ‘heresy’? Advocating for sexual minorities for the past two years, and publishing the Queer Bible Commentary into Korean![3]

Well, on one level, their investigation on the basis of your ‘advocacy’ activities over the last two years is actually laughable. Anyone who knows you is quite aware that you have been advocating for sexual minorities for a lot longer than two years! This in itself shows just how amateur their investigation is.

More importantly, though, we find it outrageous that these denominations are now engaging in what is little more that ‘ecclesiastical harassment’, a rank abuse of power for the sake of troubling who holds theological views they disagree with. Why stop there? Why not investigate any Christian with whom they disagree? In going after you, they have opened Pandora’s Box. It would be interesting to see how they would react if they themselves were to be investigated for ‘overstepping the limits of ecclesiastical authority’ (I actually think a good case could be made for this!).

I’m sure you are aware that we see the charge of heresy as being completely without merit. For one thing, the GAPCK is elevating an ethical issue, one which is not addressed in any of the Reformed confessions of faith, to the level of a doctrinal ‘litmus test’. There are a growing number of Biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors, including those within evangelical circles, who are concluding that there is no conflict between being a Christian and being gay, lesbian, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, or any other sexual minority. If they go after you, they’re going to have go after a lot of Christians. Are they going to go after Brian McLaren? Matthew Vines? Tony Campolo? Bishop T D Jakes? Where will it stop? Heck, maybe I should ask them to investigate me!

 

However – what would you do if the ‘worst’ were to happen? What if this ‘kangaroo court’, as it is likely to do, declares that you are guilty of heresy? Now, in asking this question, I freely admit that I don’t know whether there will be any ramifications for things like your status within the PROK, your home denomination, or for things like pension or health insurance benefits.

 

I’d like to suggest that you embrace your ‘heretic’ status! Now you might be wondering, ‘Why in the world would I want to take on the title of “heretic”? I want to have the respect of this society, so that I can have influence within it?’ Well, that might be a worthy goal, but remember who we follow. We follow someone who was executed by the state for sedition, a scandalous end for a scandalous crime. The one we follow consistently advocated for those who were on the outside, and when the time came, he willingly became one of those outside what is acceptable in society. Remember, as well, the advice of the Apostle Paul: ‘God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.’ (I Corinthians 1:27-29).

 

Therefore, I’d like to ask, ‘Why stop at the QBC?’ Why not start a project for translating the Our Whole Lives, the sexuality education resource from the Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ? As you know, I always say this country doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality – it has a problem with human sexuality! This would be a great opportunity to introduce a truly progressive theology of sexuality to this country, a chance to get people here, both inside the church and outside, to openly talk about sexuality in an honest way, to discuss what sexuality is and what it’s meant to be.

 

I know you’d like to be respected by your peers in church and society – all of us would like that. However, if it is your calling to poke and prod the church into a more honest exploration around that, maybe it’s time to embrace your ‘heresy’, and your role as a ‘heretic’. Yes, you may lose some things, but you may gain things which are even more valuable.

 

In the meantime, please be assured that we at ODMCC stand shoulder to shoulder with you, and you have our constant support in our thoughts and our prayers.

 

Peace and blessings from your colleague and friend,

 

Craig

[1] Lee, Y P (2017, 16 June). GAPCK investigating Pastor for Heresy due to Promoting Sexual Minority Rights (예장합동, 성소수자 인권 증진 목사 이단성 조사). Newsnjoy [online]. Accessed 18 June 2017 from http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=211598.

[2] Beom, Y S (2017, 27 June). ‘Pastor’s Homosexual Advocacy, Heresy Problem’ (“목사의 동성애 옹호, 이단문제 해당”). News Power [online]. Acessed 29 June 2017 from http://m.newspower.co.kr/a.html?uid=34481&section=sc4&section2.

[3] Kim, R E (2017, 18 June). ‘The theological basis that a minority should not be condemned’ (‘성소수자가 정죄되지 않을 신학적 근거’, 이야기하고 알려야). The Ecumenian [online]. Accessed 19 June 2017 from http://www.ecumenian.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=15189.

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