Christian theology lecturer sacked by Bible college over tweet on human sexuality
A Christian theology lecturer is considering legal action following his dismissal by a Methodist Bible college after tweeting an evangelical perspective of human sexuality.
Dr Aaron Edwards was sacked for misconduct by Cliff College, in Derbyshire, over a series of tweets shared on 19 February, in which he stated: "Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they're busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it's true.
"This *is* a 'Gospel issue', by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour."
In another post, he said, "That *is* the conservative view. The acceptance of homosexuality as 'not sinful' *is* an invasion upon the Church, doctrinally. This is not controversial. The acceptance is controversial. Most of the global Church would agree. It is not homophobic to declare homosexuality sinful."
After some backlash over his comments, he wrote in another post that his tweets were "addressed to evangelicals" and not intended as an attack on individuals.
"I expressed the conservative view as a doctrinal issue, re. the implications for sin/the Gospel ... It seems that holding the view that homosexuality is sinful is only welcome if it remains 'unexpressed'," he said.
Dr Edwards' tweets were a response to the Church of England's vote in General Synod last month to move forward with introducing same-sex blessings.
At the time, the college asked him to remove the posts over concerns they breached its social media policy, and issued a statement saying that the language used by Dr Edwards "is inappropriate and unacceptable and does not represent either the views or the ethos of Cliff College".
Dr Edwards refused the college's request to remove the posts on grounds of conscience and was suspended while an investigation was carried out.
Following a disciplinary hearing, he was sacked last week for allegedly "bringing the college into disrepute".
According to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is assisting Dr Edwards, the college threatened to report him to Prevent, the government's anti-terrorism scheme.
He is appealing against his dismissal and weighing up his legal options.
Dr Edwards called his dismissal "unjust".
"What has happened to me demonstrates that conservative biblical views on human sexuality are no longer 'tolerated' in the Methodist Church in the UK. Rather it is clear that those beliefs are to be silenced and stamped out," he said.
"My expressed view has not been received respectfully, tolerantly, or charitably. It has rather been met with harassment and personal defamation by many.
"It seems the college is a safe place for those who are pro LGBTQ+, but not for conservative evangelicals. What has happened exposes that living with contradictory convictions is not possible for an evangelical Christian."
He added, "Anyone concerned about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech should be deeply concerned by what has happened to me."
Andrea Williams, CLC chief executive, said: "A Christian theologian working for a Christian Bible college tweeting about the biblical Christian teaching on human sexuality, has been sacked and labelled as a potential 'terrorist'.
"It is saddening and very concerning to see the Methodist Church, and a once renowned bible college, lose its way by no longer upholding marriage as God defines it, or supporting those who express it."
She added, "This story sets a dark precedent for the Methodist Church going forward and also serves as a warning to the Church of England."
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: "Expressing orthodox Christian beliefs should not be grounds for dismissal from a purportedly Christian organisation. I look forward to Alastair Campbell defending Aaron Edwards' right to free speech, just as he did Gary Lineker's.
"Defending free speech means defending the right of people to express views you do not agree with, not just those you agree with."
Cliff College has been contacted for comment.