Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng, lawyer, theologian, and seminary professor has a powerful intellectual acumen that brings a new revelation to faith. He is a passionate scholar of LGBTQ Christian theology.
There are many types and categories of theology, both Christian and non-Christian. Although Rev. Cheng writes from a Christian perspective, his approach to theology may be of interest to readers of other faiths.
Theology in the broadest sense means the study of religion. Of course, religion means different things to different people. Religion is based on culture, tradition, and sometimes ethnicity in a quest to be closer to God, whether Hindu or Christian. It is often linked to finding meaning in a cold, complicated world. Religion is a human tool that attempts to take sacred teachings and apply them in life or in ritual through a communal or individual manner. Religion can contain bigotry and prejudice. God and religion are not interchangeable.
Recently a priest-colleague-friend, Fr. Jim, underscored to me this man’s talents and his increasing contributions to LGBTQ religious and theological scholarship. Rev. Cheng’s important work parallels and contrasts to Catholic and Evangelical theology. Although he is not necessarily responding to anyone, his LGBTQ theology is pure, genuine, and developed out of the empowerment that he believes Christianity offers.
LGBTQ Christian theology is needed because it gives gravitas to why God loves unconditionally children created differently. It is one thing to say, “God loves you,” but it’s quite another to use scripture and theology to show it, especially when religious messages can be negative.
It is one thing to say that Christian conservatives are wrong about Sodom and Gomorrah, but quite another to critique their scriptural interpretation and offer an alternative. Rev. Cheng brings a Western Christian-oriented mysticism along with logic and common sense to faith.
Although law increasingly provides a guarantee of certain rights, LGBTQ religious scholarship is essential to change hearts and minds. This is why the work of Rev. Cheng is very important. He is not just a fighter for LGBTQ civil and human rights. He is not just a teacher of LGBTQ spirituality. He is a religious prophet showing that the LGBTQ community is a necessary part of the wider Christian experience. In general, no faith experience can be whole without LGBTQ persons of faith (Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, Buddhist, Christian, etc.). Good theology, no matter the faith tradition, must keep religion from sliding into superstition and persecution.
There are times that many people of faith in the LGBTQ community need to look deeper into scripture and scholarly literature to be further affirmed that God loves them. Rev. Cheng offers the scholarship to say “believe in God and know that all will be well and here’s why.”
Rev. Cheng’s linguistic abilities include Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. His knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew especially enables him to study original source material. He earned a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in NYC; a M.Phil from Union Theological; M.A. from Union Theological; J.D. from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude) and a B.A. from Yale College. Hence, his educational credentials are sterling.
If you yearn to look deeper, probe into the scholarship of LGBTQ theology and study, not just read scripture, then Rev. Cheng is an excellent resource. Several of his sermons and speeches are posted online. His books, if they aren’t already being used, will no doubt be required reading at seminaries offering classes in LGBTQ Christian theology.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY. Email questions to Dilovod@aol.com.