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Robert Gagnon and the Grand Box Turtle Whirl of Immorality

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2008

gagnon.jpgSomehow it appears that I’ve gotten into a blog battle with anti-gay theologian Dr. Robert Gagnon. The amusement with which I’ve approached his often-wacky proclamations has not sat well with the good doctor and he’s seen fit to fling back adjectives and hyperbole in response.

And, like so very many of the anti-gays, he doesn’t read carefully, makes wild assumptions, and lashes out indiscriminately. It almost makes you wonder if Gagnon had the same Junior High writing class as Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, and James Hartline.

In Box Turtle Kincaid Peddles Distorted Orthodoxy Test While Promoting Immorality, Gagnon takes great offense over my commentary questioning his propensity to finding words on a page that appear not have been written there. In fact, he felt compelled to answer in two volumes.

Part 1: The Problem with the Call for Retranslating the Heidelberg Catechism (“PDF version with proper pagination and format”, 5 pages) deals with the issue of a Catechism which some in the church wish to have revised back to its original wording. Because the additions (in 1962, I believe) condemn “homosexual perversion”, Gagnon isn’t about to let it go without a whine.

His reasons, while way too lengthy and numerous to discuss, are worth reading if you appreciate pomposity and self importance. Some are quite comical. For example: “Changing any text in the PCUSA Book of Confessions is a time-consuming (and costly) process” and the only reason for revisiting the translation is “a less-than-fully-honest homosexualist agenda”. And, my favorite, the reasons the German Catechism didn’t have “homosexual perversion” in it originally was because “it would scandalize children.”

But for pure comedy sake, Part 1 doesn’t even hold a candle to Part 2: Jesus’ Distance Healing of an Official’s “Boy” and Kincaid’s Bogus Charge of My “Unorthodox Approach to Doctrine”.

In this 19 page rant, Gagnon repeats all the reasons why it is simply impossible that the “homosexualists” could possibly have a correct understanding of the story about Jesus healing the servant (or slave) of the Roman Centurion. And to do so Gagnon lays out again his supposition that the Roman Centurion was neither Roman nor Centurion and the story is about a Jewish civic official and his son.

As in my original post, i do not make any assumptions about the historicity of the Biblical tale (a fact which avoided Gagnon’s notice). I have no notion as to whether the individual under discussion was Jewish or Roman, civic or military, or whether the suffering one was a slave, a lover, or a son. I even allow for the possibility that the tale is allegorical in nature and does not seek to accurately record a historical occurance.

But I do know at least a bit about the two warring schools of thought in Christianity. And I know that Gagnon pitches his tent with those who see Scripture in terms of sin, condemnation, judgment and wrath.

And I also know that the others in that camp are not much impressed by claims that the words of the Bible are in error. I’ve sat through too many sermons which included statements like, “Jesus told the woman at the well to go and sin no more. He didn’t tell her sin sometimes, or only when she wanted, but the word of God says SIN NO MORE. Can I get an amen?”

If the Bible says that Jesus healed the servant of a Roman Centurion, then by golly He did. The Bible said it, they believe it, and that settles it.

So I repeat what I said back in June:

I think that Gagnon is taking steps that ultimately will not prove to be beneficial to those who seek to use him as an anti-gay source. His desire to read what isn’t there and to ignore what is present will not sit well with those who insist on a literalist interpretation of Scripture.

I don’t much care whether Gagnon lists 12 reasons why he thinks Jesus wouldn’t be running with the homosexualists (or homosexualistarians or any other sneer word he wants to create). And while I find his assumptions to be laughable, I’m not going to spend time trying to refute him.

Instead I’ll just provide you with just one of Gagnon’s many wacky statements, one which I think tells us what he’s all about. Although Gagnon seems to conflate Jim and me into one, he does find on the site those whom he seems to consider to be his intellectual equals, those with whom he finds common cause, allies and buddies one might say:

Actually his treatment of me, disrespectful and distorted as it is, is one of Kincaid’s “kinder and gentler” moments. Elsewhere (here I peruse only a few of his articles) we encounter such descriptions as “paranoid,” “incoherent,” “nutbaggery,” “frothing lunacy,” “lunatic ranting,” and “despicable coward.” He calls Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth “Porno Pete” and Matt Barber, Director for Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel, as “Bam Bam.”

Sally Kern. Orson Scott Card. Matt “Bam Bam” Barber (his boxing name). Peter La Barbera.

And Robert Gagnon.

(and just where did they all go to grammar school?)

See also:
Gagnon Rants On And On
My Very Favorite Gagnonism
Robert Gagnon and the Grand Box Turtle Whirl of Immorality
Gagnon Revisited
Clarifying Robert Gagnon’s Tortured Logic
Gagnon Employs Tortured Logic
Robert Gagnon’s Unorthodox Approach to Doctrine

Comments

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Stefano A
August 10th, 2008 | LINK

… impossible that the “heterosexualists” could possibly have a correct understanding of the story about…

?

Emily K
August 10th, 2008 | LINK

I’m a Homosexuentologist because I’m level OT-9 in the Church of Homosexuentology.

ted
August 10th, 2008 | LINK

What I find wonderful about reading these mental midgets — whether they work for Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, or anyone involved in the Alliance Defense Fund — is that no one involved in the professional bash-the-fag industry is bright. They’d all fail first-year English Comp classes because they aren’t able to make an argument, they cite sources without credibility, and they base their supposedly intellectual arguments on pure emotion — and that emotion is hate. Basically, the more nonsense they bleat, the easier it is for us to win. Ha.

John M
August 10th, 2008 | LINK

Several years ago, I asked Gagnon on the Presbyweb website whether his attitude about homosexuality came before or after is “exhaustive” study of scripture. He just mocked my question. You will find Gagnon is never satisfied unless he has the last word.

Lynn David
August 10th, 2008 | LINK

John M….

If you look at Gagnon’s Curriculum Vitae it was sometime around 1998/1999 that Gagnon when gah-gah for being anti-gay. Probably something came up in the Presbyterian Church… at least that is my guess. For the first 7 or 8 years of his professional life he did not write on homosexuality

grantdale
August 11th, 2008 | LINK

You know Timothy, you’re going to get yourself in a lot of trouble for doubting Gagnon’s knowledge about what certain individuals were thinking some 400 years ago. He was actually there, as witness, don’t you know?

There is, of course, a far more plausible explanation than Gagnon’s wild guess that children would be shocked. (And I have no idea why English-speaking children ceased to be shockable in 1962.)

Gagnon argues that regardless of the fact it was not (and therefore no ACCURATE translation should either), the term “homosexual offender” should be in Q87 of the Heidelberg Catechism because it is — to him — in 1 Cor 6:9.

Perhaps, but the original authors chose not to. Gagnon obviously thinks he knows better than them.

Gagnon states “The original German is clearly alluding to 1 Cor 6:9-10″. But in doing this he relies upon an all too typical and dishonest ploy.

If Ursinus and Olevianus had included a full list of the absent, would they have said what Gagnon thinks they should have?

Unlikely, in the extreme.

The original authors were GERMAN afterall, and GERMAN Bibles do not read 1 Cor 6:9 in the way that Gagnon’s English version does. Overwhelmingly dominant in use, particulalrly in The Palatinate, it is Luther’s Bible which Ursinus and Olevianus would have echoed when writing to a German audience, not Gagnon’s.

Luther selected “noch die Weichlinge noch die Knabenschänder” in his translation. You could argue Luther got his translation wrong, if you must, but it is ‘weichlinge’ and ‘knabenschänder’ that Ursinus and Olevianus would have included if they had so chosen.

Weichlinge means ‘weaklings’. I don’t know why God hates weaklings, but there you have it. You could come up with any number of reasons how and why some think this must be referring to homosexuality, most of them ignorant. KJV translates this as ‘effeminate’, as another example. Gagnon wants this as ‘soft men’: which he thinks “refers to men who feminize themselves to serve as the passive or receptive sexual partners of other men.”

But that’s simply one of Gagnon’s wild claims ABOUT gay men, not an accurate description of gay men (let alone anything near our self-perception). Receptive or otherwise, gay men per se aren’t ‘feminized’ — all ignorance and slander to the contrary.

The other word is even more problematic for Gagnon. ‘Knabenschänder’ is a compound word meaning, directly, ‘boy-rapist’.

(For Gagnon’s word-twisting benefit: no, this is not referring to a boy who rapes — but instead refers to someone who rapes boys.)

I don’t know any ‘homosexualists’ who would disagree that raping boys, or grown men for that matter, is a very bad thing. A referrence to “men who rape boys” could be directed at very few gay men.

Basically: even if Ursinus and Olevianus had chosen to write in the full list from 1 Cor 6:9, Gagnon would still not have seen his anti-gay bigotry included. This is because they were 16th Century Germans and not 20th Century Americans. Instead, even included, an accurate translation of a 1563 Heidelberg Catechism Q87 would have read as:

“Certainly not! Scripture says, “Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery, no weaklings nor men who rape boys, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers will possess the kingdom of God.”

I cannot see myself in that list: but I can see the Paul-Cameron-quoting Robert Gagnon.

Timothy Kincaid
August 11th, 2008 | LINK

Stefano,

Ah, my error. I meant “homosexualists” of course. It certainly can be confusing when using made up words.

banshiii
August 11th, 2008 | LINK

OMG.
How much do I love you?!
Thanks for the laugh. I need it.

Ephilei
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

I suggest ending the blog battle and getting to more interesting topics and more intelligent people.

Jim Burroway
October 25th, 2008 | LINK

Hey!! I just noticed this.

Timothy didn’t call anyone “paranoid,” “incoherent,” or “despicable coward.”

That was all me.

Please Mr. Gagnon. Credit where credit is due!

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