“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 Could an unpublished manuscript on homosexuality by this distinguished Nazarene holiness theologian exist?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.