The April 22 publication by the Convergent Books imprint of God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines has raised some questions and concerns within our community. As the chief publishing executive for the WaterBrook Press, Multnomah Books, Convergent Books, and Image Books portfolio of publishing imprints, I would like you to have some additional facts and perspective about our publication:
Why are we publishing God and the Gay Christian?
We can agree that the cultural battle over same-sex relationships and the Christian church is one of the defining issues of this generation. Convergent Books is publishing God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines because we believe it offers a thoughtful examination of Scripture on the topic of same-sex relationships from a bold, young, evangelical writer whose first calling is to promote a civil, loving, and biblically based conversation on the subject.
Who is Convergent Books, and what is its relationship to WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books?
Convergent Books is a relatively new imprint that is one of the Crown Publishing Group’s religious publishing lines. WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books are sister imprints of Convergent Books, within the Crown Group, as is Image Books, a Catholic-interest imprint, all four of which I oversee.
It is important to know that WaterBrook, Multnomah, Convergent, and Image each have their own distinct editorial guidelines and missions. Convergent’s mission is to publish nonfiction for less traditional Christians and spiritual seekers who are drawn to an open, inclusive, and culturally engaged exploration of faith. As such, Matthew Vines’ new book is appropriately positioned as a Convergent publication. God and the Gay Christian is not published by WaterBrook or by Multnomah—nor would it be editorially appropriate for either.
Is God and the Gay Christian a “secret” publication?
It has been suggested that my colleagues and I are trying to engineer a “secret” publication of Matthew’s book, and sneak it into the marketplace. Completely untrue. At no time have we tried to keep the book’s content secret from any booksellers, media, or prospective readers. In fact, we sent out some 800 advance-reader copies of the complete text nationwide to build prepublication awareness of the title. We have extensive marketing and publicity campaigns in place, with which we hope to reach the widest possible readership.
Has our organization’s staff been silenced about Matthew’s book?
A published report raised the question of whether my colleagues have been pressured to not express privately or publicly any objections they might have to the Convergent publication of God and the Gay Christian. This allegation is as untrue as it is deeply offensive to me.
Upon making the final decision to publish Matthew’s book as a Convergent title, I met with our entire staff, in small groups, to discuss it—and to emphasize to everyone my longstanding policy: No colleague of ours is ever expected to work on any book we acquire that violates their personal beliefs. Indeed, I did have a few staff members who came to me for further private discussion, and asked to opt out of working on this title. We have honored their request with the greatest respect. We will continue to pursue this collaborative respectful approach with all future books we publish.
Join the Conversation.
In God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines makes an argument in support of same-sex relationships, following his careful study of the six passages of Scripture at the center of the debate. Whether a reader agrees or disagrees with Matthew’s conclusions, we believe his ideas contribute to a dialogue the Church faces today; and, as his publisher, we welcome the opportunity for him to further that conversation with a book we are pleased to publish.
Stephen W. Cobb
Chief Publishing Executive
WaterBrook Press, Multnomah Books, Convergent Books, Image Books