“We Wesleyans with warmed hearts made with about three sizes too big, have enjoyed a long history of running to help when almost any group has not been getting a fair shake.” (Dr. J. Kenneth Grider)
Does the name Dr. J. K. Grider sound familiar? If not, please take a moment to read THIS Wiki article about him. He was a prominent theologian and ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene.
Check out his accomplishments:
- Taught at six Nazarene institutions and served as editor of the Nazarene Theological Seminary Tower for 36 years.
- Authored ten books and more than 2,000 poems and articles.
- Olivet Nazarene University bestowed on him the title Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology.
- His 1994 book, A Wesleyan Holiness Theology, positioned itself to replace H. Orton Wiley’s Christian Theology, as the go to theological textbook for Nazarenes.
- In 1999 the Wesleyan Theological Seminary awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award.
- He was one of the translators of the New International Version.
Do you get the picture? This man was a heavyweight when it came to Nazarene holiness theology. He had profound influence in the Nazarene world. But not many people know that in 1999 he wrote an article called, “Wesleyans and Homosexuality.” This obscure article revealed he was affirming. You can find a copy of it HERE.
Now, 22 years later, I can only imagine the reaction the article caused. The article was to be presented at the Wesleyan Theological Meeting on March 5-6, 1999. But he never presented his well-researched article. Why? At the end of the article, obviously at a later date, Grider added a paragraph explaining why he pulled his article from the WTS meeting: “…so as not to be an embarrassment to my university, Olivet Nazarene, where I am retained as distinguished visiting professor of religion and where they were to inaugurate, less than a month later, an annual Holiness lectureship in my name. Yet because of certain developments, I have initiated its publication in 2000.”
Grider doesn’t tell us what developments he has in mind. What could possibly prompt him to change his mind to publish the article? This question prompted me to research the answer. I never uncovered the exact answer. But I was unprepared for what I did uncover.
Internet research revealed Dr. Grider viewed his article as the genesis for a book on homosexual theology. Did he write more on the subject of homosexuality? If so, how much more? Could an unpublished manuscript on homosexuality by this distinguished Nazarene holiness theologian exist? I thought it unlikely.
But through research, including several interviews, I discovered an unpublished manuscript did exist. And, thanks to Dr. Grider’s widow Marilyn, I now have in my possession the entire manuscript.
I asked Marilyn why the book, written in 2004, never became published. According to her, Dr. Grider was called into a meeting with the Board of General Superintendents. At the meeting he was informed that if he published the manuscript, he would lose his ministerial credentials. And so, out of love and respect for his denomination, the unpublished manuscript sat on a shelf for seventeen years.
In the last chapter he writes about the 1997, Million Man Promise Keeper march to Washington DC. At that event, there was an extended time of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. A white man asked a black man for forgiveness. A Latino asked a white man to forgive him for his hatred. A Native American prayed to God and confessed he had forgiven the white man. Other groups were included in the process.
Grider observed that one huge minority was missing:
“Nobody repented that homosexual Christians have been standing at the gate as strangers, as foreigners, in general not being permitted into this great and generous amalgam of Christians. No one repented that gays and lesbians, in general, are not given a place at the table, that they are not even allowed to crawl under the table and devour the crumbs which fall from it.”
At this point in his life, Grider is retired. He laments the loss of his lectern. But he points out that he can still write, “…surely one must write what one must write.” And then he adds, “I must say that a small voice seems to be whispering in both of my ears that I might be embarked on one of the most significant journeys of my six-decades career. The gay liberation views which I am forming, which I have expressed in these pages, birth in me this dream that a day will be beautiful for gays, is on the way.”
Surely, one must write what one must write.
What a wonderful and inspiring find you have made. It must be wonderful to feel as if you are all on your own just to find there has already been one “crying in the wilderness.” Prophecy seldom escapes criticism or worse. Be inspired by your find. You are not alone.
He’s going against God’s word! Period
He must repent now and be removed from church position… we’re are to be set apart from worldly ways..
Randy-It was Grider’s ‘99 paper that made me think, wonder and dig! What a brilliant, dear man! O God help us write, live, dig, be what we MUST!
Wow Randy, I am super conflicted as I read this. I absolutely love reading this, and yet I am simultaneously deeply saddened by it. I love it because hearing about a highly respected lifelong COTN theologian actually did the real deep theological research and then wrote about his findings which were contrary to the traditional exclusionary viewpoint is so rare and so potentially powerful. The release of that information could literally save countless lives. But my sadness is because of the countless LGBTQIA+ Christ followers who were left on the outside for all these years. I am broken hearted for what most certainly were countless precious LGBTQIA+ people who ultimately harmed themselves or worse, took their own lives, because of the truly unChristlike and deeply hateful treatment by the BGS and all the COTN leadership who acted in direct opposition to the example of the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. I am saddened that the church leadership bullies who continue to this day to wage all out war against the LGBTQIA+ christian and only see those who they do engage with as projects to be fixed rather than precious beloved children of God to be honored and included. This is and will continue to be a deep and ugly stain on the church I grew up in and which I loved and served wholeheartedly for over 30 years, but who I now am profoundly embarrassed by. Thank you for posting this my friend.
While I do not adhere to Grider’s Governmental View of the Atonement, I have always admired his theological consistency. Ironically, his FAITH in Xq28 research is greater than his research and FAITH in Scripture.
First, Xq28 research was never peer reviewed, yet “possible” conclusions based upon it being true concludes that it “may” have an impact on sexual proclivities, only in men. The so-called “research is riddled with suppositions and weak language of “may” effect, or “possibly” do this or that. Clearly, it cannot pass peer review. It is far from conclusive and is clearly sought to conclude a confirmation bias.
Theologically, he abandons his normal Biblical consistency, for if God made them homosexual, God is the Author of sin. God is RESPONSIBLE! Damnation for being homosexual would be a moral injustice. If the Homosexual is made that way by God, then they are not responsible, therefore God cannot hold them accountable for they were never capable of being anything else. This is what happens when one does not believe Scripture, abandons theological consistency, and bows at the altar of Satan’s false science. Grider used to be very good at theological consistency. Once he elevated scientific speculation above Scripture in rank of what consists of a source of truth, there is no way to hold to the Bible and still be consistent.
All that feminism that Nazarenes appeal to justify female preachers will come home to roost, for all of the same arguments applied to homosexuality would demand that they too should be ordained and in the pulpit. This is how one error or false doctrine leads inevitably to greater deviation from Scripture.