While more and more people are changing their minds, homosexuality remains a lightning rod issue for Christians. A few years ago I decided I needed to get clear myself about what I believe as a person, informed by the Bible and Christian history. My newest book, A Table for All: How I Came to Understand the Gospel Means Full Inclusion of Gays and Lesbians, is just out. It’s the story of my journey. It also tells the story of the congregation I’ve served for many years and how that congregation influenced that journey.
[ Order it here, or if you live in Fresno, I'll have copies for sale at my farewell party at University Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 8th following a combined unity service at 10am (a lunch, celebration, and book signing will follow the service) ]
This short book offers a deeply personal testimony to the way people across the spectrum might listen together to both the human drama and the divine desire for wholeness and holiness with respect to homosexuality. The book covers: the nature of the gospel, the authority of the Bible and its interpretation throughout history, the pastoral needs of LGBT persons and their families, and the missional issues facing the church today. In addition, I explore the theological core of Christianity found in the teachings of Jesus and Saint Paul. It is this core, this rule of faith, that makes it possible for Christians today to keep faith with historic Christianity and find in it a vision for the full inclusion of those the church has too long marginalized and excluded.
The book includes an extended study guide for personal reflection and group exploration. At a time when major denominations are struggling to find ways to engage in constructive dialog, this book may well help struggling congregations and concerned readers find a way forward.
Here are some endorsements and reviews:
"We need lots of help in thinking through the subject of full inclusion of all people in Christ's body, the church. Chris Neufeld-Erdman gives us a pastoral perspective on this contentious subject. His journey is one many church leaders must take if we are to be faithful leaders of a church with a truly open and welcoming table."
—William Willimon, United Methodist Bishop, retired, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC
"I'm grateful for the serious way Chris and his congregation engage Scripture as a living tradition. Chris builds bridges between the ancient world in which Scripture first emerged and our postmodern world. This book makes you both think and feel--which can only strengthen the witness of the church to God's liberating good news of the gospel."
—Shannon J. Kershner, Senior Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL
"Prophetic, insightful, and thoroughly gracious. Following the noblest tradition of Christianity, A Table for All opens a door too long barred. If your church has tiptoed around the issues of homosexuality and marriage equality, this book is as fine a conversation starter as any I've read."
—Philip Gulley, Quaker pastor, Danville, IN
"Instead of keeping difficult conversations off the table or pushing thosemost impacted by them under the table, Chris Neufeld-Erdman draws upon religious history, biblical exegesis, and personal experience to put them on the table. Then he invites us all to sit, share, and sort out how to make space for each other so we can relate and flourish as a full family of faith."
—Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Washington, DC
"A Table for All delivers an objective and scriptural focus on how gays and lesbians fit into the plan of God. Neufeld-Erdman's work ties together history and Scripture for a comprehensive view of Christ's mission. The result is a read--or really a debate--that engages us to think and re-think a topic we might have thought we'd mastered."
—Timothy Pestotnik, Partner, Pestotnik + Gold LLP, Attorneys at Law, San Diego, CA
"The more books we have that testify to the full inclusion of GLBT persons in the church, the better. And the better books we have, the better. If they're written by thoughtful, reflective pastors, all the better. Chris Neufeld-Erdman has joined the rising chorus of church leaders calling for marriage equality and full inclusion. This is a highly readable, small group friendly book, and I heartily recommend it."
—Tony Jones, theologian and the author of Did God Kill Jesus?
"Neufeld-Erdman invites those who embrace biblical authority to journey with him as he comes to a new understanding of God's hospitality. Along the way, he extends a special welcome to those who disagree with his conclusions about God's inclusion of same-gender couples within the marriage covenant. This makes the book a helpful conversation starter for all those wrestling with this very important matter."
—Lynn Jost, Mennonite Brethren pastor and parent of a gay son
"A helpful and easy read for congregational members and church leaders struggling to find a way forward. The book is highly accessible, while providing a biblical, historical, pastoral, and theological path for engaging this issue. Even better, it comes from the extraordinary depth of the author's own wisdom and experience of discerning the nature of the gospel from within a vibrant congregation. It's a testimony that's overdue. Would that many congregations had had it a few years ago! But it will likely help save many from the fracturing that's plaguing the church today and marring its witness."
—Justine Spurlock, Executive Pastor, Columbine United Church, Littleton, CO
"Neufeld-Erdman writes, 'If God can get along as three Persons, yet one Being, fully differentiated yet united, then we can too!' This hope for the community of faith, expressed through his enthusiasm for the doctrine of the Trinity clearly lies at the heart of A Table for All. Indeed, it lies at the heart of Neufeld-Erdman himself. God's unity has become a reality for him as he and members of his congregation have studied and discussed how the gospel relates to LGBT individuals and as he has been challenged to contemplate the Word and words with new eyes. This book is particularly helpful for groups--and many a pastor or group leader will be grateful for the probing discussion questions offered for each chapter."
—Mary Lynn Tobin, Presbyterian Minister, Leadership Consultant and Coach
"The debate on homosexuality divides the church--a division Jesus prayed against in his high priestly prayer (John 17.20-24). Could it be that the real problem is the division rather than the issue at hand? It's for this reason that the church needs a book like this to help us engage in peaceful dialogue. Neufeld-Erdman has given us a thoughtful and personal reflection that I pray will aid us in becoming the church that Jesus had hoped and prayed for."
—Danny Cortez, Pastor, New Heart Community Church (Baptist), La Mirada, CA
"A Table for All spills over with the very essence of Jesus's teaching, as Chris Neufeld-Erdman reminds us that to love God and neighbor is the commandment above all others! This heartfelt and slim book calls us back to the basics of our faith; to embrace the essence of the gospel."
—From the Preface by Colleen Townsend Evans, actress (retired) and author