After hearing about and then subsequently reading the reactionary letter written by Bishop Charles Blake of Los Angeles regarding the homosexual controversy at West Angeles, I’ll have to admit I felt personally betrayed. You may wonder why, and I will tell you later. What I decided to do was to calm myself and take a closer look at what he was saying in the letter he wrote to silence his critics.
Bishop Blake is no stranger to the world of religious ecumenism. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress. His religious associations with individuals outside of the normal scope of friendships observed by most holiness-pentecostal peoples of his generation have earned him a reputation among his peers as being a man of far ranging connections. This pursuit of unity among various religious entities have been condemned by some, but Blake seems to see a place for himself among their ranks. It was inevitable then, that he would bump into the openly homosexual religionist, Dr. Peter Gomes, the pastor of Harvard University’s official ecumenical church and member of the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus.
As his letter stated, Bishop Blake has broken traditional pentecostal boundaries by establishing the Pan African Children’s Fund, a notable work of charity among the AIDS orphans of ravaged Africa. He argues that the fruition of this work came about during an invited briefing at Harvard at the bequest of a group of “young pentecostals” who consider him their “spiritual father.” As would anyone who beholds the magnitude of suffering currently engulfing the peoples of Africa —particularly the children—it is easy to see why Blake’s “heart was in a special way turned towards the orphans of Africa.”
All fine and well. Bravo!, the Bishop is doing a good job. But then he turned a corner and blindly drove down a wrong street while getting defensive when a group of concerned saints brought attention to it. At this point, Blake contends he was simply playing the role of a dutiful benefactor who was being honored
“As a result of these and other accomplishments, the Harvard Divinity School, the Harvard Foundation and the Memorial Church (pastored by Gomes) joined together to confer upon me the Harvard “Humanitarian of the Year” award.”
Perhaps, Bishop wasn’t aware that he was being set up. The educational elitists at Harvard have long despised the principles of holiness and morality which are the hallmarks of the church Blake represents. Their lofty and enlightened ideas of tolerance and diversity do not include those who refuse to cowtow to the left cloned mix of homosexual and abortion rights. For instance, Gomes’ Memorial Church has been performing homosexual weddings since 1997. Perhaps Blake was venturing into this ecumenical arena completely unaware that homosexuals are looking for validity through association and he was a perfect target. Clearly, Bishop Blake had stars in his eyes. Of his prospects at being honored by Harvard and dining with the good Rev Gomes:
“His church is the official campus church at Harvard. Harvard is one of the leading universities, if not the leading university in the nation and possibly the world.”
Ignorance, if it is true ignorance is indeed blissful.It reminds of a story my friend Damon Eskridge told me. Damon was Blake’s HIV/AIDS minister until he passed in early 2000. Damon said that during one annual black gay gathering in LA called “At the Beach” many of the homosexual men showed up at West Angeles that Sunday morning. Bishop Blake, he said, cheerfully remarked how good it was to see so many men in church on Sunday. Damon said he whispered under his breath, “I have got to educate Bishop.”
The signs begin to show up but Blake ignored them because such lavish praise was being heaped on him or he is not as ecumenical as he thinks he is. Gomes, of all people, invited him to two consecutive “elaborate dinners” at his home. Blake asserts that while he was at the homosexual man’s home, Gomes did not “behave inappropriately or say anything inappropriate.” Of course not, Rev. Gomes played the perfect host.
While at Harvard, Blake states that he preached to the crowds of elitists who had gathered in the church. The letter seems to try too hard to get us to see that this historically significant. Bishop Blake, from the outcast-backwaters-holy rolling, black church is being graciously allowed to speak to the cream of educated America. Maybe this was his Mars Hill moment. I don’t mean to begrudge Bishop Blake any of his accolades, but in return for ecumenical love, there is a high price of repayment. When you are invited to dance before the royal court, be prepared to serve them when they come calling.
And come calling they did. None of the elitists who heard him preach came. Just the openly homosexual preacher who had written a book called The Good Book. The same book which suggests a homosexual relationship between King David and Jonathan, King Saul’s son. Of course this has been a oft-repeated lie of the gay christian movement. But Gomes is one of them so how could his book say anything different? Hadn’t the ecumenically saturated Blake ever heard of Gomes’ openly apostate teachings on sexuality? Had no one ever whispered one peep to the world traveling Bishop that Gomes himself “came out” at Harvard, angry because a conservative group had made claims that homosexuals could change?
According to Bishop Blake, Gomes informed him that he would be in Los Angeles. It was time to pay the royal court back. Bishop Blake could have easily organized a secular event and propped Gomes up as the speaker. But instead he opened his pulpit and bade him enter. To me, in the letter Blake can barely contain his joy at having Gomes speak from the pulpit at West Angeles. As a matter of fact he says it was an obligation to “invite him to do what he had on more than one occasion allowed me to do at his church.” Let me get this straight. The ONLY criteria to get into the pulpit at West Angeles is to invite Bishop Blake to speak at your church first? Since when did holiness-pentecostals begin such a program of unchallenged reciprocity? Is this what the winds of ecumenicalism will blow into the house of God? Its apparent, Blake was still high on the accolades the good Rev had helped to engineer and so he didn’t exercise even the most minimal of checking to see if Gomes was qualified to speak to the “saints.” He could have directed any one of his highly qualified staff members to get Dr. Gomes’ bio. He had been informed ahead of time that the man was coming. A simple google search would have pulled up all of Peter Gomes’ heresy.
What’s truly amazing about Bishop Blake’s claim that he didn’t know about Gomes’ homosexuality is that in his defense of the visit, even after he was told of the man’s unrepentant homosexuality. He quickly begins to paint a picture of inhospitality, a heinous sin he would never want to be laid to his charge. At the risk of being seen as inhospitable, he would rather let the donkey preach. After all, he reasoned, 75 peoplegave their lives to the Lord! This, to me is a major point of embarrassment for Bishop Blake or any holiness preacher to admit.
Consider if you will, a holy ghost filled, prominent bishop of the Church of God in Christ with 40 years of ministry going into a cold, dead ecumenical church filled with educational elitists and many others who had never seen a holiness-pentecostal preacher before. There, he preaches a sermon entitled “The Joseph Paradigm: Toward a New Pan African Vision” and not one individual gets saved, changes or acknowledges Jesus as Lord. I’m sure they vigorously applauded his speech. However, an openly homosexual man who claims the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality and that it is a book of relativity subject to modern science and an indiviudal’s feelings, can come to a holy ghost filled, tongue talking, hand clapping, sanctified Church of God in Christ, “preach” and 75 folks get saved!!? What’s wrong with that picture?
Bishop Blake continues to insult our spiritual intelligence by quoting the exact scripture text of Gomes’ sermon as proof that Gomes is somehow an okay guy. Gomes’ was “true to the text.” he says. Well, that’s called blatant deception, because Gomes’ perverts the text in his book. Oh, I’m sorry… Bishop doesn’t know that. Yet, he did not quote the text for his Pan African message at Gomes’ church. If I were Bishop Blake, I would have left that out.
His letter is completely devoid of any outrage at Gomes for deceiving him, unless of course he wasn’t deceived. (For the record his only recorded outrage is that someone said Gomes came to his house). Instead, he directs his finger wagging condemnation at the faithful individuals who questioned his actions. Somehow he feels obligated to defend the “honor” of Dr. Gomes.
“Following his visit to West Angeles, several individuals began to fax, email and distribute information regarding Dr Gomes’, which indicated that he had in the past uttered words and committed actions which conflicted with Bible teachings and Christian morals. I had not seen any of this data they distributed.”
Note that Gomes came to West Angeles homosexual and left West Angeles homosexual. To date, he has not renounced any of his beliefs. Thus, there is no “past” in this context.
Unfortunately, Bishop Blake heaps all of the blame for the controversy on the people who had the courage to let us know what had happened. He himself never calls Gomes a homosexual. No, he couldn’t, not if he wanted another “humanitarian award” or wanted the opportunity to preach at Gomes’ church again. Even though what the individuals said was completely true, Blake capitulates to uniformed ignorance. His problem it seems is that his credibility is in question and so he lashes out to protect himself rather than thinking about what damage could have been done to the sheep.
This is problematic for several reasons. The first being that Blake himself has harbored questionable personal beliefs about homosexuality. In a 1999 LA Times article, Blake, speaking as a member of an advisory board on AIDS responds to what is believed to be the reason homosexuals keep dying of AIDS. He said that AIDS is not a plague from God to punish homosexuals.
“We certainly do not believe that is true,” Blake said, “It is a problem that can be explained scientifically.” In a 1974 article he wrote for the COGIC’s Whole Truth Newspaper when he was just an elder, Blake suggests that homosexuality is environmental.
What is even stranger twist in this story is that Blake’s theological fiasco comes on the heels of one of the most anti-homosexual convocations of COGIC. Bishop GE Patterson, presiding bishop, publicly chastised the Episcopal Church for promoting an open homosexual to the office of Bishop. Then, a scant few weeks later, the most prolific bishop in his church commits what is arguably the same offense by “promoting” Gomes at West Angeles.
Bishop Blake seems to have adopted some of the relativity of the Harvard social elites who have no place in their lives for the authority of the scriptures. Gomes is a poster child for such people. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Bishop Blake should heed the scriptures: from such turn away. What is greatest error and perhaps why I feel so betrayed is that he attributed 1 Corinthians 6:11 to Gomes.
Bishop, that scripture is the one scripture religious gay activists like Gomes hate. They haven’t been washed, justified or sanctified by the precious blood of Jesus, but you put him in that sacred place anyway. They resent our testimonies of change and vilify us in the media. But you are silent in our defense. Those of us who have come out of homosexuality and are living in a place of recovery and restoration, you ignore. In a word, that is betrayal.
This letter could have been a turning point in the church’s near criminal attitude in dealing with homosexuality, but Bishop Blake missed this opportunity opting instead to sell out for another chance at an award. Someone has got to educate Bishop.
This article originally posted 01.09.04