Part of the cover of Hospitality to Strangers. Hospitality to Strangers: Theology and Homosexuality (The Progressive Christian Alliance, 2011)
By Kevin Higgs

There is within the life of the church a global conflict regarding the status, place, and general understanding of who homosexual people are and how the church should relate to homosexual people. This book is a defense of the full inclusion of homosexual people at every level of the church, using the theological method attributed to John Wesley known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

The cover of "Hospitality to Strangers," featuring a pair of red church doors. According to the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, John Wesley encouraged the use of four "authorities" in the life of the faith: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. Of these four authorities, Scripture is understood as the "primary" authority; with the interpretations received from all four authorities in dialogue each other within the discernment of the church.

Scripture is understood as the written Apostolic witness of the revelation of God in the life of the Hebrew people (Old Testament) and in the person of Jesus Christ (New Testament). In this book, scriptural texts from the Bible that have traditionally been associated with homoerotic behavior are analyzed within the context of their textual, historical, cultural, and theological settings in light of how they are interpreted within the current debate. Of central concern in this book are the Biblical texts which focus upon hospitality, justice, and the inclusive ministry of Jesus.

Tradition is understood as the essential and vital contributions of theology, teaching, and practice within the history of the church. Of central concern in this book is a critical review of the history of the theology of atonement. The implications for homosexual people of the classical theologies of atonement are explored. A nonviolent theory of atonement is affirmed which faithfully expresses the redeeming work of God in Jesus Christ for all people and does not lead to the punishment or marginalization of homosexual people.

As an authority, "Reason" is defined as the analysis of scientific evidence. In this book, of specific concern is scientific study related to homosexuality in the fields of biology, psychology, and sociology; and the implications these disciplines bring to the church's understanding of homosexual people. The overwhelming consensus from all relevant disciplines is that homosexual people are generally no more or less functional or healthy than heterosexual people. Scientific study demonstrates that homosexuality should be understood as a normal, neutral expression of human sexuality.

For Wesley, Experience as an authority in the church is essentially the authority of the experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. The openness of the individual and the "community of faith" to the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 and 13) and the "fruits" of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5) in the lives of homosexual people within the life of the church has long been denied and rejected. Within American culture, the Deep Symbols of meaning which define our common social experience must be transformed by the prophetic witness of the church to be more inclusive of homosexual people so that justice and equality may achieved.

Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience are used to affirm that homosexual people should be fully welcome in the life of the church. The church should repent of its violence toward homosexual people and begin a ministry of radical hospitality and prophetic nonviolence with homosexual people. In this book is a description of the history, theology, and practice of the ministry of radical hospitality and prophetic nonviolence of Church of the Reconciler in Birmingham, Alabama, welcoming all people in the life of the church.