Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 123

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE This point illustrates the overall nature of the book. The book has a number of strengths that it offers to the ongoing discussion on this issue, but it also has some shortcomings. Its main strength is that it presents an authentic, progay Evangelical view in a thoughtful, hopeful way. This is why it should not be ignored or dismissed. Vanderwal-Gritter enters into the dialogue as a long-term practitioner. She has sat with countless people who are sincerely dedicated to Christ but cannot dispossess themselves of a homosexual orientation, no matter how hard they may try. Her own journey of trying to understand these stories against the backdrop of traditional church teaching is one that will certainly intersect with many other people’s similar journeys. The reality is that many Christians struggle with the tension between their desire to honor the teaching of Scripture and their experience of knowing people who are deeply committed to Jesus but are also homosexual. Added to this is the tension that comes when they get to know people who may not be committed to Jesus but are clearly homosexual. How do they share and live their faith among their homosexual friends without appearing judgemental on the one hand and theologically compromised on the other? These are key points of discussion in the overall debate around the issue of same-sex orientation. One cannot divorce one’s lived experience from one’s understanding and interpretation of the Bible. In this sense, the book transcends the issue of homosexuality and leads to the topic of how we do theology. However, for those who need to see a lucid, convincing argument from Scripture that homosexual relationships can be legitimized, they will find this book wanting. While it does refer to and seek to engage Scripture honestly, providing a biblical rationale for the position that the book takes, this is not the primary approach of the book. Vanderwal-Gritter takes an approach to Scripture according to which it is an unfolding story, one that is filled with tensions and layers. Exegesis, or even direct interaction with specific biblical texts, is not at the forefront. As already noted, the methodology employed here is theological reflection on lived experience rather than explicit exegetical engagement with the salient passages of Scripture. This leaves a major piece of the overall discussion underdeveloped. The author’s conclusion is to invite the reader to consider the idea of “orthoparadoxy” (133). This means living in tension with the mysteries of God as they are revealed in Scripture and experienced in life. Orthoparadoxy requires a radical dependence on the Spirit’s leading and working in the life of the believer and the church. It is at this point that readers will be left with a choice as to whether this is a satisfying position. Few will dismiss an invitation to living with mystery out of hand, but some will say that there is not much mystery around this issue. Scripture is clear. Nonetheless, it 122