Washington, D.C. — A Methodist megachurch minister known as being the author of the book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics has been chosen to speak at next week’s inaugural National Prayer Service in Washington.
Adam Hamilton is the founder of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, a location which began in a funeral home in 1990 and grew into a congregation of approximately 16,000 members. It is believed to be the largest United Methodist congregation in the United States.
According to reports, Hamilton was raised Catholic, but at age 14, turned to the Pentecostal church for a season and attended Oral Roberts University upon graduation. However, he states that he became unhappy with what he calls “the black and white, very conservative theology.”
“That’s when I began searching,” Hamilton told the United Methodist Reporter. “It was my freshman year in college, half way through, that I began reading the United Methodist Book of Discipline. I checked out the most authoritative book I could find.”
He states that he then began attending a United Methodist church and soon enrolled at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
After founding his own church, over time, Hamilton soon became an in-demand conference speaker, and wrote numerous books, such as When Christians Get It Wrong, Selling Swimsuits In The Artic: Seven Simple Keys To Growing Churches and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics. The summary of the latter book outlines that Hamilton, known as a centrist, believes that there is truth to both sides of an issue.
“Everyone agrees that America is polarized, with ever-hardening positions held by people less and less willing to listen to one another. No one agrees on what to do about it,” the outline explains. “One solution that hasn’t yet been tried, says Adam Hamilton, is for thinking persons of faith to model for the rest of the country a richer, more thoughtful conversation on the political, moral, and religious issues that divide us. Hamilton rejects the easy assumptions and sloppy analysis of black and white thinking, seeking instead the truth that resides on all sides of the issues, and offering a faithful and compassionate way forward.”
Last year, Hamilton introduced a measure at an official United Methodist meeting that attempted to alter the denomination’s doctrine that calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” While many United Methodist ministers are affirming of homosexual behavior, the denomination is divided over the issue.
Religion News Service also notes that Hamilton delivered a message on the topic to his congregation last September, again explaining that he has a gray viewpoint on the subject, rather than a black and white absolute.
“I was raised in a church that says: The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it. And that really works well as long as you don’t read very much of the Bible,” Hamilton said during the sermon entitled The Bible and Sexuality. “But I would probably still find myself on the conservative side of this issue were it not for all the people that I have met.”
“You can be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and somebody who loves all people and is serious about your faith and a mature Christian, and you can make an argument on either side of that line,” he stated.“I have made a case on both sides of that line before.”
While Hamilton believes that some issues in the Bible do not have to be taken as absolutes, others disagree that morality is relative.
“If there is no standard of truth in the universe, then one can never be sure of anything. It is all an accident. We would be free to do as we please — rape, murder, steal, lie, cheat, etc,” writes Daniel Jarvis of the website AbsoluteTruth.net. “What if one person decides that killing is a noble thing to do, and so attempts to kill everyone in sight? If things are relative, then killing is just as right as not killing. Cruelty is equal to non-cruelty. Would you have a problem with that? Of course, most of us would.”
“In order for there to be absolute truth, there must be an authority that establishes that truth. You cannot have a law without a lawgiver. You cannot have a design without a designer,” he continued. “Our conscience tells us that the world ‘should be’ a certain way. It informs us that something is wrong with suffering, starvation, rape, pain, and evil. It informs us that love, generosity, compassion, and peace are positives for which we should strive.”
“The only rational explanation for the existence of such a ‘inner knowledge’ is God. The Bible makes it clear that it was God who established the universe,” Jarvis said. “It testifies that God created the world and made mankind. It records God’s moral absolutes that He expects His creation to live by.”
While the content of Hamilton’s upcoming message at the National Prayer Service is yet unknown, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are expected to attend the event, held at the Washington National Cathedral.
A separate event organized by evangelicals, the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, which will be held on the morning of the inauguration, will feature The Harbinger author Jonathan Cahn, Pat Robertson, Pat Boone, Senator Roy Blunt, Representative Michelle Bachmann and others. According to reports, Benny Hinn was also invited to the breakfast, but it is yet unconfirmed whether he plans to be present.