A few days ago,Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church posted on twitter the following:
Pastor warren was referring to a 1 May article Dr. Mohler posted online 1 May asking the question “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?”
I read the article the day it was posted to Dr. Mohler’s blog and found it both insightful and thought provoking. A brief summary of the megachurch movement highlighted many positive contributions of conservative megachurches before it presented two issues that illustrate how liberalism in American society has affected some churches; the issues of divorce and homosexuality.
Concerning divorce, Dr. Mohler has this to say:
By and large, the story of evangelical Christianity in the United States since the advent of legal no-fault divorce has been near total capitulation. This is certainly true of the megachurches, but it is unfair to single them out in this failure. The reality is that the “Old First Church” and smaller congregational models were fully complicit — and for the same basic reason. Holding to strict biblical teachings on divorce is extremely costly. For the megachurches, the threat was being called judgmental, and the perceived danger of failing to reach the burgeoning numbers of divorced persons inhabiting metropolitan areas. For smaller churches the issue was the same, though usually more intimate. Divorced persons were more likely to have family members and friends within the congregation who were reluctant to confront the issue openly. Church discipline disappeared and personal autonomy reigned triumphant.
He then asked whether the same thing is happening concerning the issue of homosexuality, using as an example a recently delivered sermon at a church in Alpharetta, GA. In Dr. Mohler’s own words:
A shot now reverberating around the evangelical world was fired by Atlanta megachurch pastor Andy Stanley in recent days. Preaching at North Point Community Church, in a sermon series known as “Christian,” Stanley preached a message titled “When Gracie Met Truthy” on April 15, 2012. With reference to John 1:14, Stanley described the challenge of affirming grace and truth in full measure. He spoke of grace and truth as a tension, warning that “if you resolve it, you give up something important.”
. . .in the most intense part of his message, Stanley told the congregation an account meant to illustrate his message. He told of a couple with a young daughter who divorced when the wife discovered that the husband was in a sexual relationship with another man. The woman then insisted that her former husband and his gay partner move to another congregation. They did move, but to another North Point location, where they volunteered together as part of a “host team.”
The story took a strange turn when Stanley then explained that he had learned that the former husband’s gay partner was still married. Stanley then explained that the partner was actually committing adultery, and that the adultery was incompatible with his service on a host team. Stanley told the two men that they could not serve on the host team so long as the one man was still married. He later told of the former wife’s decision not to live in bitterness, and of her initiative to bring the whole new family structure to a Christmas service. This included the woman, her daughter, her former husband, his gay partner, and his daughter. Stanley celebrated this new “modern family” as an expression of forgiveness.
The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality. Stanley clearly and repeatedly stressed the sin of adultery, but then left the reality of the homosexual relationship between the two men unaddressed as sin. To the contrary, he seemed to normalize their relationship.
That’s the ‘shot heard round the world’ and the indication that the current liberal view of homosexuality invading American culture had penetrated this particular megachurch. Sadly, this is not the only church that no longer takes a Biblical stance concerning the issue of homosexuality, much as many no longer hold to a Biblical stance concerning marriage, it’s sanctity and the protection thereof.
You see, Dr. Mohler indeed asked an important question. He in no way questioned the orthodoxy of megachurches in general because of their size, as Rick Warren alleged in his Twitter tweet. I’d say that it’s Rick Warren who might owe an apology to Dr. Mohler! I also would have thought an allegation so spurious, and easily seen so by an intelligent reader, beneath such a renowned Pastor. I’m confident that there are quite a few megachurches who share Rick Warren’s sentiment, but it would be far better if they would perhaps undergo a bit of Biblical self-examination, and certainly much more profitable for the church.
I would highly recommend reading Dr. Mohler’s post, whether or not you give credence to Rick Warren’s demand for an unnecessary apology. In fact, as far as I’m concerned it’s an urgent must read. When extending grace means compromising truth, the church is in serious trouble.