22 August 2006
The religious landscape is changing. Thirty years ago, many Baptists saw Pentecostals as demon possessed and Pentecostals believed Baptists lacked the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though there is a more ecumenical spirit these days, when we hear that a gay Pentecostal has been asked to speak at a Baptist conference one wonders just how far things will go.
“As much as I’ve believed things will eventually change, I certainly didn’t expect an invitation like this so soon. It’s very encouraging.” said Anthony Venn-Brown.
While some denominations are at breaking point, arguing what to do with their gay and lesbian believers, a group of Baptists are prepared to consider their response to a community traditionally shunned by many Christians. Baptists Today is a movement of Australian Baptists committed to lifestyles marked by the pursuit of peace and justice. They invite anyone who shares our concern for a holistic faith, a prophetic spirituality and a willingness to walk with those who are on the margins to join us them. Anthony Venn-Brown has titled his workshop. “Gay and Lesbian Christians – The Gentiles of the 21st Century”.
Anthony Venn-Brown, is very familiar with the conflict of being gay in a bible believing denomination. He was once a popular leader within the Assemblies of God and a regular preacher in the Hillsong churches. Believing that being homosexual was evil, he spent 22 years attempting to change his attraction to the same sex. His autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ details that traumatic journey.
“The church’s’ stand against gays and lesbians will be proven to be the greatest heresy of the late 20th century. The word homosexual didn’t even appear in the bible till 1946”, Venn-Brown said. “Rejecting diversity in sexual orientation is tantamount to the church rejecting scientific fact and labelling Galileo a heretic when he said that the world revolved around the sun. One only has to look at church history to the see errors of the past being repeated today. Sincere bible believing Christians were amongst the opponents of the abolition of slavery, interracial marriages and the equality of women. The enemy we are fighting today is ignorance. The debate will continue until the opponents learn and understand the simple difference between behaviour and orientation.” Venn Brown added.
Anthony is also co-founder of Freedom 2 b(e), a network which provides support, information and advocacy for same sex attracted people from Pentecostal and Charismatic backgrounds.
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