I know I should get over it and move on. But the responses to Tony Campolo’s shift in his understanding of the church’s approach to people who are gay just keep getting under my skin.

Dr. Michael Brown has weighed in with a 1,000 word “Open Letter To Tony Campolo” at http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2015/06/09/an-open-letter-to-tony-campolo-n2010144

Dr. Brown has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He has served as adjunct professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL and adjunct professor of Jewish apologetics at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission. He has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion, and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. He is the author of 25 books. Dr. Brown is a well-educated man.

So, one should take seriously Dr. Brown’s obvious concern that, by softening his position on same-sex relationships, Dr. Campolo has

offended the Lord, rejecting the clear testimony of His Word and – as could be expected, given your stance – not citing a single scripture in support of your new position.

At least, unlike some commentators, Dr. Brown is clear why he is so concerned about Campolo’s new position. Campolo, it turns out, is

now complicit in the potential deception and destruction of both believers and unbelievers alike.

For Dr. Brown, Campolo’s dangerous position is self-evident because,

God’s Word emphatically states that God created men for women and women for men, that marriage, in its divinely intended form, was the lifelong union of a man and a woman, and that homosexual practice was strictly forbidden in all circumstances.

Thus the

Only hope for Campolo is to turn away from his “apostasy” and come to “repentance.”

Dr. Brown ends his “Open Letter” with an appeal to Tony Campolo

Should you wish to dialogue with me in private or in a public setting, my door remains wide open.

But here is the problem. Dr. Brown is not actually open to “dialogue” or conversation. In his letter to Campolo, Brown affirms,

With your typical candor, you stated that, “I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about” the position you are now espousing.

But then Dr. Brown states bluntly,

You are wrong, dear sir, and unless you were absolutely 100 percent sure of the scriptural truth of your position, you would have done far more good to keep silent than to speak. That would have been the least we could have asked for a leader of your stature.

How do you enter into “dialogue” with someone you have instructed “to keep silent”?

Here is the real dividing line in the great gay debate. Dr. Brown is apparently “100 percent sure” about his position. People who are “100 percent sure” of their position, do not have conversations.

Conversation implies the possibility of change. It suggests that both people in the “dialogue” are open to learning, to receiving new insights, and growing in their understanding. Having “100 percent” certainty, Dr. Brown is unable to have a conversation. His only reason for keeping his door “wide open” is to convince Dr. Campolo of the error of his ways.

The “dialogue” door is only really open when both sides are willing to listen deeply and respectfully.

Dr. Brown is not interested in listening to anyone whose “emotions” and “compassion” might cause them to fail to be “held back by the teaching of Scripture” from a practice that in the Bible is “strictly forbidden in all circumstances.”

His door is not open to the experience of people who are gay. He is only willing to sit on his side of the great divide and hurl invective against those whose “apostasy from God’s Word” might cause them to dare to disagree with what Dr. Brown sees as “the clear and unambiguous testimony of the Bible.”

Christians will never gain a sympathetic hearing for our spiritual vision as long as we continue to sit behind our elaborately constructed wall of certainty, throwing our “truth” at all those who sit in error on the wrong side. We need to venture out from our little ghetto of certainty and listen with deep compassion and humility to those whose life experience has brought them to a different place. Only then might our door be truly open to conversation.

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