I thought book banning was supposed to be a thing of the past–particularly among the self-proclaimed liberal elites. We live in a more sophisticated time where all views are accepted. Tolerance should be our highest priority.
Or so we are told.
But, apparently book banning is back in vogue. Dr. John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, has just proposed that InterVarsity Press–one of the largest evangelical presses in the country– be suspended from having a book stall at the annual SBL meeting (starting in 2017).
The reason for this ban is the recent decision by InterVarsity to uphold the biblical view of marriage and to ask their employees to do the same (see IVP clarification on their policy here).
Since I have a current book with IVP Academic, The Question of Canon, and a forthcoming book with them on Christianity in the second century, SBL would effectively be banning my books from the annual meeting. And that would be true for hundreds and hundreds of other IVP authors.
Of course, the overt hypocrisy of this is stunning. An organization that professes to be for tolerance and for accepting all opinions, has now decided to be, in effect, a “confessional” institution where the ideologies of the ruling committee decide what people should and shouldn’t believe.
So, while SBL eschewed the practices of fundamentalists, they have basically become fundamentalists themselves. They have “judged” other people’s views as not worthy of inclusion.
But, the problems with this move go even further. For one, does censorship stop with IVP? What about confessional publishing houses like Crossway or P&R? Will they be banned too? Will SBL enact a thorough investigation of each publishing house’s policies, interviewing their staff and employees, and eliciting confessions out of them regarding their view of same sex marriage?
For that matter, will accepting same-sex marriage now be a condition for individual scholars being accepted as members of SBL? Why enforce such a policy for publishers and not for members? And what of the Jewish scholars at SBL? Would this apply to them too?
What is incredible about all of this, is that SBL’s ire is directed to the simple belief that the Bible teaches marriage is between a man and a woman. So, a view that has thousands of years of history, and happens to be the view of the founding fathers of America, and the view that our country has held for hundreds of years (until recently), and a view that is held by all major theistic religions, is now banned from SBL?
To say this sounds a bit Orwellian is a profound understatement.
Unfortunately, this move by SBL is just part of the larger move in this nation to ban all opposing opinion when it comes to issues of sexuality (just think of the NCAA decision to ban games from NC). Sadly, the IVP issue is not the end, but only the beginning.
But, let me offer a commendation to IVP for being willing to stand firm on this important biblical and ethical issue. It is not easy, and they have done so. I pray that they not capitulate to pressures from groups like SBL.