This is what it said:

The role of gays and lesbians in church life is just the latest in a long line of issues that churches have fought over and, sometimes, even divided over, said David Steinmetz, a church historian at Duke University’s Divinity School in Durham, N.C.

In many ways, schism has been one of the most powerful forces shaping Christianity throughout history.

Churches have split over all manner of issues, from seemingly trivial squabbles to profound doctrinal disagreements, Steinmetz said.

In one case, a reformed church in the Netherlands divided over the question of whether the snake in the Garden of Eden actually talked to Eve as reported in Genesis.

Twenty years from now the debate over homosexuality may still be raging. “I don’t think it will have gone away,” Steinmetz said.

“It may result in a reconfiguration in mainline Protestantism…. The gravitational pull not to go that far is strong. People have split for all manner of reasons.”

Just what the journalist ordered, and professors like to see—more than just a phrase or a sentence excised from any meaningful context.

For some reason, in our short conversation, David and I hit it off beyond the typical businesslike, source-reporter exchange. I knew that my Episcopal coverage was getting picked up around the country, and I told David that others might see it and call him for similar comment. I also raised the possibility that he might be asked to write an op-ed column on the subject. He was intrigued, and asked what that might entail. I am asked this question frequently by academics and authors. Rarely, however, do people actually pay attention to what I tell them.

With the Amos Ragan Kearns chair, numerous academic titles, and a field of expertise (church history) broad enough to allow him to comment on a spectrum of religious and denominational subjects, David was perfectly positioned to become a “utility infielder” of opinion. It also helped that he seemed to be ideologically and doctrinally centrist.

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