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The Christian publishing company behind Matthew Vines' God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships has responded to news that it resigned from the National Religious Broadcasters by saying that the conversation it held with NRB was "professional and Christ-honoring."
"Our organization has discussed our publishing programs in private with leadership of the National Religious Broadcasters. These conversations with NRB have been characterized by one senior official at NRB as 'professional and Christ-honoring.' I couldn't agree more," Stephen W. Cobb, president and publisher for WaterBrook Press, Multnomah Books, Convergent Books and Image Books, told The Christian Post in a statement on Monday.
"In light of that, I believe that any further sharing of specifics would be a breach of the mutual respect between our two organizations, and I have no further comment on this topic," Cobb added.
The statement follows news that WaterBrook Multnomah has resigned over the controversy regarding its publishing of God and the Gay Christian, with a number of conservative commentators criticizing the publisher for supporting Vines' work.
Vines is a former Harvard University student and founder of The Reformation Project, which seeks to reform church teachings on sexual orientation. In God and the Gay Christian and his other projects, he argues that the Bible does not condemn loving, same-sex relationships and attempts to use Scripture to justify his argument.
In April, conservatives such as author Michael Brown, who holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has published his own book on the subject, Can You Be Gay and Christian, wrote in an opinion piece about the controversy:
"It is a sad and shameful day when a major Christian publisher releases such a book and claims that it is a solid evangelical publication. This is abhorrent, disgraceful, and terribly misleading. And it needs to be addressed and exposed."
Matt Barber, founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com, added that Vines is "a homosexual activist and Bible revisionist known for manipulating Christian terminology to advance the counter-Christian homosexualist agenda."
Additionally, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and his colleagues released an e-book titled, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, while Andrew Walker, director of Policy Studies for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in a separate review that the book "is the first step in a larger effort to fundamentally recast long-held, universally acknowledged norms pertaining to sexual ethics."
In a previous statement to CP, Cobb said that the conservative responses to the decision to publish the book have been a "distraction," and that Vines has been successful in his goal to start a cultural conversation on the issue.
"The conversation on who published God and the Gay Christian serves as a distraction to the real issue the book addresses. Now that the book has hit the marketplace, it looks as if the discourse has turned towards the conclusions set forth by its author Matthew Vines. The author's goal was to start a cultural conversation, and it seems that he has," Cobb said.