Monday, March 16, 2015
SF's Largest Evangelical Church Twisting The Gospel
In a letter to the membership of San Francisco's "City Church," the city's largest evangelical church, the pastor and the Elder Board announced, as of this weekend, the church will now accept the LGBT as full participating members---dropping the prior requirement of "life long celibacy" for those homosexuals who wanted to become members.
The "evangelical" pastor and the board claim they arrived at this conclusion after careful consideration of the Scriptures and of the current needs represented in the church. The "celibacy" requirement was causing obvious harm, they say, and had not led "to human flourishing."
They say the prohibition on homosexual behavior caused people to feel "deeply damaged, distorted, unlovable, unacceptable, and perverted."
Is it the "prohibition on sin" or the sin itself that is so destructive?
Earlier last week before this announcement was made, Chelsen Vicari, formerly with Concerned Women for America now a director with the Institute on Religion and Democracy, published a stark warning to the evangelical community titled, "Here's How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel," drawing from her own experience of being misled and that of others. She offers a biblical response every Christian parent and grandparent should read.
She writes, "Peek behind the curtain and you'll find more than just a contemporary worship service. You'll find faith leaders encouraging young evangelicals to trade in their Christian convictions for a gospel filled with compromise."
Here's a peek behind the curtain.
City Church pastor explains in the letter that he and the church board arrived at their conclusion after considerable consideration. The letter affirms that both pastor and board have decided to err on the side of "grace and inclusion," citing Romans 14 as a reference to the differing views within the church regarding the 1st and 4th Commandments, relating that New Testament conversation to current conversations within the church on homosexual behavior, concluding, "Let us no longer pass judgement on one another."
The letter asks, "If Jesus was pastor of City Church, what would He say to the people who are asking if they can belong?"
They conclude Jesus would practice "inclusion"---whosoever will.
However, this is the point of deception---of twisting Scripture.
The Christian Post has written an article on this matter.
The call of Jesus has always been "all are welcome---come as you are," but the call is to salvation, forgiveness of sin, deliverance, and restoration. Not affirmation of sin, so all will feel good about themselves---and feel included.
Chelsen Vicari, in her article about "Twisting the Gospel," which is an excerpt from her book "Distortion" she writes, "Peek behind the curtains of some 'progressive' or 'hip' evangelical churches, past the savvy technology and secular music, and you'll find more than just a contemporary worship service. You'll find faith leaders encouraging young evangelicals to trade in their Christian convictions for a gospel filled with compromise. They're slowly attempting to give evangelicalism an 'update'---and the change is not good."
She says there are 3 kinds of Christians today:
1. Couch-potato Christians who adapt to the culture by staying silent on the tough cultural-and-faith discussions, typically downplaying God's absolute truths by promoting the illusion that neutrality was Jesus' preferred method of evangelism.
2. Cafeteria-style Christians "who pick and choose which Scripture passages to live by, opting for the ones that best seem to jive with the culture. Typically they focus solely on the 'nice' parts of the gospel while simultaneously and intentionally minimizing sin, hell, repentance and transformation."
3. Convictional Christians. "In the face of the culture's harsh admonitions, these evangelicals refuse to be silent. Mimicking Jesus, they compassionately talk about love and grace while also sharing with their neighbors the need to recognize and turn from sin."
Vicari says she knows about these 3 types of Christians because she has been all three.
"My parents," she says, "will tell you that even though I was raised in church, I morphed into a full fledged feminist, told my parents they were ignorant for not endorsing homosexuality and bought into the distorted social justice rhetoric that confuses caring for the poor with advancing socialist or big government systems and demonizing the United States for its free market system."
She says, "I'm not ashamed to share my story because my experiences and those of my fellow bold evangelicals are a testimony of God's awesome, transforming power."
She says it isn't easy to be "counter cultural" for Christ, but asks, "What does the Great Commission say?"
Jesus said, "Teaching them everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20).
Vicari says her observations of her own confusion and that of others is not a parenting how-to guide. It is a glimpse into the world of twenty-something kids who are leaving the church and changing their beliefs.
And that world of the twenty-something kids, Vicari says, "is a place where thousands of young evangelicals are being spiritually and emotionally targeted on Christian university campuses, in college ministries and churches nationwide by a growing liberal movement cloaked in Christianity."
She says, "Faith and Culture will collide." And something has gone wrong with the young evangelical's theology.
Vicari believes this generation's susceptibility to "feel good" doctrine is playing a big part in America's moral decline. She says we only attend churches that leave us feeling good about our lifestyle choices, even if those choices conflict with God's clear commandments.
She says, "We dismiss old hymns that focus on God's transforming salvation, love and mercy and opt for 'Jesus is my boyfriend' songs."
"We give our money to organizations that exploit and misuse terms such as 'justice, oppressed and inequality' because tweaking the language makes us feel more neutral, less confrontational," she says.
She says, "Popular liberal evangelical writers and preachers tell young evangelicals that if they accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia and Hollywood will finally accept Christians."
Out of fear of being dubbed a bigot, intolerant or uncompassionate, our kids and too many adults buy in.
Vicari quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian whose Christian convictions caused him to stand against Hitler's NAZISM and ultimately cost him his life wrote in his book "The Cost of Discipleship," "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
Vicari feels the attack on biblical Christian doctrine is worse on Christian campuses than secular public ones because the Christian left is hi-jacking biblical doctrine---sometimes intentionally.
The incident in the San Francisco church I mentioned above is an example of how churches are attempting to make everybody feel good, while "relating" to the culture.
She says that "dropping off kids for an hour at Sunday School" like we do for soccer practice, isn't enough.
Vicari says she and her colleagues are finding that kids and young adults "crave honest discussions about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, feminism and radical Islam."
I could not agree more.
She says, "We are trading old fashioned conservative evangelicalism for a bright shiny, mediocre Christianity."
But she expresses hope. While the trend has been against us, she, as I and others, see a reason for hope.
Biblical Christianity will prevail. His Word will not pass away.
The question is how will we interact with the truth? There are signs among this generation that they are beginning to taste the deception of secular progressivism at school and at church.
There is the beginning of an awakening.
Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of Gallup, after hundreds if not thousands of polls and surveys, says "Christianity will prevail in the US. America will remain very much a Christian nation in the decades ahead..."
The question is, will it be authentic Christianity based on biblical doctrine or some false shadow of Christianity built on the shifting sands of secular progressivism and some kind of human ideology, with a little Scripture thrown in to make it appear religious.
Vicari says it's up to us to teach this generation the whole gospel.
We must rise to the occasion---but we must be informed so we can understand "the occasion."
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful.