The gown of the Bride of Christ is being shredded by sibling rivalry within the Christian community. The Church's life is weakened and its witness compromised. This is nowhere more evident than the issue of homosexuality. Dr. Steve Harper laments this sad state of affairs and offers a way of love through the dilemma. His pastoral spirit and practical counsel offer guidance and hope for the future.
“A dark picture is emerging—a contentiousness between professing Christians and a persecution of the homosexual community by professing Christians. In the season of Lent, the Holy Spirit broke my heart one morning by speaking into it these words, “My Bride, the Church, is being abused. Her gown is being torn to shreds by siblings who are trying to end up with the biggest piece of the cloth, and who would rather expose her nakedness than give up the fight. Enough is enough!" “I was stunned— so much so that I kept the experience to myself. I’m old enough to know the difference between a passing feeling and a sacred impression.” Excerpted from the introduction.
“Steve Harper writes as an evangelical who loves the United Methodist Church. He has written a thoughtful, helpful, and surprising book on the church he loves and the ways it might wrestle with the issues that divide it.” —Rev. Adam Hamilton, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas
“For The Sake of the Bride is a helpful reflection on the unity of the church concerning human sexuality. He risks moving deeply into the conversation, and he does so in a way that is evangelical (Christocentric) and mystical. His rediscovery of E. Stanley Jones's round-table discussion points a way beyond our tribalism. I hope you will read this book, for the sake of the bridethe church of Jesus Christ.” —Bishop Kenneth Carter, The Florida Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church
"Steve Harper has written a book for “just such a time as this.” He provides a balanced theological reflection on the crisis facing The United Methodist Church today. Reflecting upon Scripture, tradition, and the work of E. Stanley Jones, Harper lovingly proposes a way forward.” —Rev. Steve Manskar, Director of Wesleyan Leadership, Leadership Ministries, GBOD, The United Methodist Church
“For the Sake of the Bride sets aside the all-too-easy rhetoric of division and antagonism and invites the divided church to fully engage the greater way of love that Jesus models and bids us follow. Harper writes with pastoral courage, sensitivity and genuine humility, inviting us not to a particular position, but to generous dialogue on behalf of the church we cherish.” —Dr. Kandace Brooks, Senior Pastor, Tamoka United Methodist Church, Ormond Beach, Florida
“Steve Harper succeeds in his desire to move the Church beyond the impasse of name calling and shouting and calls for schism, and brings us to the table, the Round Table, in a spirit of grace filled love, integrity, honesty and mutual respect for all parties. That’s a difficult place for many to maintain, but it’s where we all must meet.” —Dr. Dan Johnson, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville, Florida
“Steve Harper reflects the evangelical and holiness traditions of American Methodists. From this framework of traditional Christian piety, he shows how we can reflect faithfully on these contemporary issues in ways that honor each other as the presence of Christ, the “Bride of Christ.” This is a breath of fresh air amid the rancor that has too often polluted church conversations in recent years. His concern is that Christians damage the church—not just the institution of the church but the church as the body and “bride of Christ”—by the uncharitable and unprofitable conversation we too often carry on, especially over the issue of same-sex relationships.” —Ted Campbell, Associate Professor of Church History, Perkins School of Theology
“Steve Harper courageously shares his thoughts after weeks of prayerful reflection on a topic that has challenged the Church for millennia. Pay particular attention to his mention of E. Stanley Jones’ use of the roundtable. Steve has renewed my own desire to be more loving and far less judgmental.” —Robert G. Tuttle Jr., Emeritus Professor of World Christianity, Asbury Seminary
“Invaluable . . . Steve Harper is 'spot-on' for what he describes as a need for a third way. In our social media-driven culture, selecting the enter button often creates environments fueled by vitriol, instead of love for the sake of the Bride.” —Toni King, retired registered nurse, Department of Veterans Affairs
“Steve Harper entrusts us with a deeply personal account about his unexpected, prayer-born call to reexamine the church's embattled position regarding same-gender relationships. Intimate, prayerful, and tenderly biblical—this book reminds us that we already share a way forward—and the way is Love.” —Pam Hawkins, discipleship pastor and former associate editor ofWeavings, Belmont United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“Steve Harper does not provide easy answers to our problems, but challenges a polarized church to focus on Christ through our Wesleyan tradition.” —Kyle Cuperwich, pastor, Bernardsville and Gladstone United Methodist Churches, New Jersey
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About the Author
Steve Harper is a retired United Methodist Elder in the Florida Annual Conference, and a retired seminary Professor who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. He is the author of 16 books, the co-author of 13 others, numerous articles, and a frequent speaker in churches, conferences, and retreats. Harper’s ministries have included youth minister, evangelist, pastor, professor and seminary administrator. He and his wife Jeannie oversaw A Foundation for Theological Education, and they co-founded Shepherd’s Care, a ministry to ministers. Steve also served as Dean of the Chapel and Director of the Pathways Initiative at The Upper Room in Nashville. He lives in Winter Springs, Florida.