English evangelicals give the appearance of being a community at war, with each other and with the world around them. The issue of homosexuality is one of the key battlegrounds. How has this issue become so significant to evangelicals? Why is it provoking such violent responses? How is it changing evangelicals, and what might this mean for the future? This book examines the history of evangelical responses to the issue of homosexuality, setting them in a wider historical and cultural context and drawing on the work of Rene Girard to argue that the issue of homosexuality has come to symbolise deeply-held convictions within evangelicalism. The conflict over the issue that is now becoming apparent within evangelicalism reveals deep divisions within the evangelical community that will have great significance for the future. The Scandal of Evangelicals and Homosexuality offers an alternative perspective, seeking not to present an answer to the ethical question, but rather to examine the way the debate has become scandalised and consider the cost. It offers a window into contemporary English evangelicalism and provides an important contribution to international and ecumenical debate.
Table of Contents
Introduction; René Girard’s mimetic theory - A tool for exploration; The crisis of undifferentiation - English Evangelicalism in late modernity; The history of the evangelical consensus position on homosexuality - A study of popular English evangelical texts 1960-2010; Holiness in late modernity - An examination of English evangelical traditions of spirituality; Homophobia and fundamentalism as insufficient explanations; Unafraid Evangelicalism; Conclusion
Mark Vasey-Saunders is a priest in the Church of England, working as a vicar and pioneer minister in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. He is an evangelical with a long experience of the evangelical community in the UK, and this book is the product of ten years of research for his doctorate. He has previously taught an undergraduate Ethics course for clergy in training at Cranmer Hall, Durham University. He currently teaches on the Lay Reader training programme through All Saints Centre for Mission and Ministry (part of the Common Awards).
’Mark Vasey-Saunders provides a compelling analysis of evangelicals’ tendency to a cycle of contagious violence and scapegoating, exemplified in traditional attitudes to gays and lesbians. And yet he argues for the possibility of a profound reconstruction of the tradition, freed from sacred violence. In the Academy, the Church and among those alienated from the Church, this is a book that deserves careful reading.’ Rob Warner, University of Chester, UK