From the Pastor's Pen

From the Pastor’s Pen . . .

August 2019

Ordinarily, the August Pastor’s Pen would be devoted to encouraging you to participate in the Annual Church Conference and fellowship on the last Sunday in this month (August 25). I will be introducing some new emphases, and you will have opportunity to share your positive thoughts as well. Please save the date and consider this to be your personal invitation to take part in this important, annual event in the life of our church.

But note that I began with “ordinarily.” These are not ordinary times. Just a couple of days before this writing, within one 24-hour period in fact, two instances of prominent evangelicals abandoning the clear teaching of Scripture came to my attention. After some fact checking, the evidence shows that the accounts are true. These are not the result of ignorance about what the Bible teaches. Both of these individuals know what Scripture teaches but have chosen to reject it for the prevailing opinions of the present day. And, yes, you guessed it—both have to do with the LGBTQ agenda.

The first of these is Joshua Harris, formerly the pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the author of a best-selling book in the Christian community, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (1997) as well as Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship (2000). He was very influential in the purity movement (e.g., True Love Waits, et al.) that reached prominence as the millennial generation was coming of age. Recently, he announced his separation from his wife of twenty years, and shortly thereafter in an Instagram post apologized to the LGBTQ community for his “bigotry.” In the same post, he renounced his faith in Jesus Christ as well, saying that, “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. . . . By all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

The second individual is likely to be more familiar to the readers of this article: Beth Moore, the well-known author and speaker. To be clear, Moore, a Southern Baptist who has made untold millions of dollars, both for herself and for LifeWay (the publishing arm of the SBC) through the exclusive sale of her books, studies, and DVDs, has not renounced her faith in Jesus Christ. She has, however, strongly advocated views that are clearly antagonistic to the scriptural principles outlined in the SBCs statement of beliefs, the Baptist Faith & Message (2000). Given her vocal advocacy of theologically left-leaning positions, a group of solidly conservative women penned an open letter to Moore asking for clarification on her position on homosexuality. Moore has replied, but has not answered the question at all. Given her support and partnership with gay activists, and her removal of a passage calling homosexuality sin from her book Praying God’s Word (2009, p. 279), it seems clear that Moore is, at best, having trouble deciding whom to believe and whom to please. To come out openly against the notion that homosexuality is a lifestyle acceptable to God would mark her as being out of step with today’s culture and in gross violation of political correctness. To unambiguously support that notion would mean the end of her affiliations with LifeWay and the SBC. Either option would be costly—financially and otherwise.

Of course, evangelical ministers and ministries have fallen to homosexuality for decades. These latest examples of apostasy and heresy are but recent additions to a long, tragic chain of moral failure. Through the years, I have watched as highly regarded evangelical pastors, singers, and even seminary professors have abandoned, if not their belief in Christ, certainly their agreement with biblical teaching on homosexuality. Some I have known personally. Others, only by name. For some, the fall was very public. Others just went quietly away. All left heartache, destruction, and disillusionment in their wake. The damage done to the Kingdom of God is simply incalculable.

The circumstances surrounding each case are as different as the individuals themselves. However, one subtle, yet grave error underlies them all, namely, the interpretation of Scripture through the lens of human experience, rather than the interpretation of human experience through the lens of Scripture. This error takes many forms and can be seen in the various arenas of life. It results in statements like, “But I love her/him . . . .” and “Anything that seems so right cannot be wrong” or “That may be what the Bible says, but it is not how I feel.” It makes the human heart the judge of Scripture, rather than Scripture the judge of the human heart. It makes political correctness the arbiter of right and good instead of the laws of God. It makes man the judge of God, not God the judge of man. It reveals belief in a god made in the image of man, not man made in the image of God. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Frankly, I am amazed that human beings would discard the Word of God before entertaining the possibility that, just maybe, something is wrong with the way they think or feel or behave. I am amazed that some are willing to define themselves in terms of what they want to do, rather than by God’s declaration of who they are. I am amazed that any person would discard the clear counsel of Almighty God in order to embrace the counsel of the world. It is idolatry at its core, and the idol is none other than “self.”

This whole phenomena, especially as it relates to homosexuality, raises many more issues than can possibly be addressed here. For now, it must be enough to re-affirm our belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God, and to submit all our feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences, and behaviors to the piercing scrutiny of God’s perfect Word. But let those among us who think we stand take heed, lest we fall. If, on any point we succumb to the temptation to stretch or bend God’s word to conform to the evolving mores of the age or to garner support for our personal opinion or experience, we join the ranks of idolaters and moral relativists. Godly living is not easy in any age, and that is doubly true when ungodliness abounds. But as for me and my house, we will stand on the Word of God. “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Romans 3:2)

Pastor Mark