The publisher of numerous evangelical bestsellers has resigned from the National Religious Broadcasters following a confrontation with NRB over a controversial new book that argues monogamous homosexual relationships are compatible with biblical Christianity.
The split between WaterBrook Multnomah and NRB, reported by Christianity Today, took place after NRB President and CEO Jerry Johnson confronted the publishing group about the content of "God and the Gay Christian" by Matthew Vines — a book published by the same company under a different trade name.
Convergent Books, Vines' publisher, is under the same corporate umbrella and leadership as WaterBrook Multnomah. Historically, WaterBrook Multnomah has published books by evangelical authors such as John Piper, David Jeremiah, Kay Arthur and Randy Alcorn.
Convergent and WaterBrook Multnomah are imprints, or trade names, of the same publishing division owned by Penguin Random House, run by President Steven W. Cobb. In April, Cobb explained to WORLD the difference between the two imprints. WaterBrook Multnomah caters to a conservative evangelical audience, but Convergent targets readers who are "open in their approach to issues that face the church today," Cobb said.
NRB is an industry association of mostly radio and television broadcasters, but it also includes some major Christian publishing houses. Its code of ethics states, "I will refrain from any sexual conduct or life-style, such as homosexuality or adultery, which is inconsistent with Scripture, or any promotion of the same."
The organization advocates on behalf of its members in Washington and the courts, hosts an annual convention and promotes networking. Beyond those benefits, NRB membership signifies to customers that a broadcaster or publisher espouses the conservative evangelical beliefs in the association's statement of faith. The first article of that statement asserts the Bible is "inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God."
In a letter to the NRB board of directors, Johnson, former president of Criswell College in Dallas, said the organization would "revisit the issue" with WaterBrook Multnomah if it could ensure that its staff would not work on Convergent books, according to Christianity Today.
Cobb sent a brief statement to WORLD saying NRB and his publishing group share mutual respect: "Our organization has discussed our publishing programs in private with leadership of the National Religious Broadcasters. These conversations with NRB have been characterized by one senior official at NRB as 'professional and Christ-honoring.' I couldn't agree more." Cobb declined to comment further.