A Potpourri of Problems for Pastors

Official Tolerance of Immorality
Let me begin with a simple statement: Homosexuality is the ultimate sin of a decadent society. Two things are true of that statement.First, it is biblically defensible. It is the truth which was demonstrated by the fire of God’s wrath at Sodom. It is the truth set forth in Romans 1:26, 27 when God said:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Second, it is politically incorrect in the twenty-first century. To make the statement is to be considered criminally intolerant.

One June 10, 2003 the highest court of the Province of Ontario ruled that the Province’s definition of marriage (the union between one man and one woman) violated the civil rights of homosexuals. It is surprising that this violation was just recently discovered. God established the definition of marriage in Genesis 2 when he made one woman as the help meet for the man. That definition stood the test of thousands of years and has been accepted by western civilization as long as western civilization has existed. Now, thanks to our neighbors across the lake, we learn that God’s definition violates the rights of homosexuals. To compound the mistake Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that the Canadian government would allow the decision to stand and would rewrite its definition of marriage to be between any two persons.

A few days later, in our own nation, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 decision, invalidated a Texas law against sodomy on the basis of the recently invented, “right to privacy.” One cannot help but wonder whether the “right to privacy” may not soon be extended to cockfighting, drug orgies, and al-Qaida planning sessions. Justice Scalia, in his dissent from the majority, correctly pointed out that the Court had “largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.” and “effectively decreed the end of all morals legislation.” Our government has officially joined the rebellion against the morality which has under-girded our society since its beginning. It is the official acceptance of the philosophy of post modernism. The Bible is rejected as the basis for right and wrong. Without that basis no one can call any act wrong. The very words “moral” and “immoral” have been stripped of their validity in our language.

What will this mean to a fundamental church which refuses to accept a practicing homosexual or disciplines a party for homosexual or lesbian conduct? Will we lose our tax exemption for standing against what the court has sanctified?

In an editorial in Foundation magazine for May-June, 2003 Dennis Costella writes some chillingly truthful words:

Today’s new definition of “tolerance’ mandates that the gay and lesbian sexual lifestyle be accepted as morally acceptable. This new definition of “tolerance” in our present culture actually elevates the practice of homosexuality as being, in and of itself, morally right! In the past, ‘tolerance’ meant that everyone had a right to be heard, and others could choose to listen or not to listen, to accept or reject what was proposed as ‘right’ by any group. But not today! In our politically-correct environment, “tolerance” requires the acceptance and approval of any contrary position on an issue concerning what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. As a result, morality becomes amoral — there are no absolutes!

As American Christians we have been tolerant of thousands with whom we disagree — modernists, Mormons, and Muslims. However, that tolerance has never meant acceptance of what they believe. Yet, that is exactly the aim of the new moral tolerance.

The new evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, has an unsigned editorial in its August 2003 issue titled “Coming Attractions.” It points out that the homosexual agenda is facing the Episcopal Church in the person of a newly elected gay bishop in New Hampshire. Then it comments on Mel White’s Soulforce, which is a new evangelical homosexual group. In concluding, the editorial makes this point:

But Soulforce’s message to evangelicals is clear: You are next. What may now seem like the plot of a farcical British novel, with stuffy Anglican clerics debating sex over tea and crumpets, is becoming an inescapable conflict for every church that dares to teach Scripture’s clear message on sex.

This moral mess will not bypass the fundamental church. The enemy of our souls will see to that. Accusations of intolerance, damaging publicity, and injunctions lie ahead. By a vote of 6-3 there will be no help from our highest court.

Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually (Psalm 74:22, 23).

Prayer in Jesus’ Name
Most every pastor, particularly those in small towns, has been called upon to pray at local government meetings or community events. There have been invitations to pray for the city council, the township trustees, the dedication of a monument, or the fourth of July festivities. I have accepted those civic responsibilities as long as it did not connect me with local modernists or the ministerial association.

In the August, 2003 edition of Christianity Today there is a news item by Marshall Allen titled, “Watch that invocation.” It has the subtitle, “Prayer in Jesus’ name forbidden in California legislative meetings.” The article reports the following:

Praying in Jesus’ name at California city council meetings is now illegal…A California Superior Court judge ruled in November 2000 in Rubin v. City of Burbank that sectarian prayer at a city council meeting violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment…The California judge said cities have to instruct clergy not to pray in a sectarian manner at meetings. Douglas Colladel, an attorney who filed an amicus brief in support of the prayer policy, told the Los Angeles Daily News the decision would affect the entire state. ‘It affects all legislative bodies in California,’ Colladel said. “To avoid being sued, many cities may decide to abolish prayer altogether.’”

In case you have not figured it out, “sectarian prayer” is prayer prayed in Jesus’ name. Your first reaction is probably to say, “I’m glad I do not live in California.” However, it is not that simple. This has become an issue in state legislatures, city councils, and local governing bodies. Government entities fear the consequences at any public function.

The next time you are asked to pray at a civic function you may be asked not to pray in Jesus’ name. It so happens that Jesus’ name, representing that which he did for us on the cross, is the foundation of prayer for the Christian. It is that on which we depend each time we bow our heads. Can we omit that, just because it is offensive to a pluralistic world? It is the question of whether we will offend God or man in our prayers. Like Daniel and his three friends the answer becomes rather clear when we think it through.

When faced with that decision I would have to say, “No, I am a Christian. When I pray it is in Jesus’ name. I am sorry if that offends you, but it is better for me to offend you than God. If you must have a non-sectarian prayer you will have to ask someone else.”

Global Pastor’s Network
Orlando, Florida will be the site of the “Beyond All Limits 2 Conference.” The dates are January 21-23, 2004. It is the second meeting sponsored by the Global Pastor’s Network. I am not advising you to attend, but you should know something about it. Its official web site states:

The Beyond All Limits 2 Pastor’s Conference will be one of the greatest leadership events in church history, signifying the passing of the leadership baton to the next generation.

That is not exactly a humble claim. Church history covers almost twenty centuries and this (which has not even happened yet) claims to be “one of the greatest leadership events” in that period.

To learn more about the Global Pastor’s Network we need to move back to the first “Beyond All Limits Conference,” in January of 2002. Dennis Costella, in the March-April 2002 issue of Foundation magazine gave a full report of that meeting. The quotes used in the next few paragraphs are from that report. The Global Pastor’s Network is a new evangelical ecumenical effort designed to unite the full spectrum of evangelical belief from Pentecostal to reformed. As in an ecumenical endeavor, doctrine is minimized. Dr. Bill Bright, one of the organizers (now deceased) stated in a promotional brochure:

I envision not only thousands of ministers coming together to connect and communicate to every pastor and local church in the world, but also the development of a synergistic approach to evangelism. In this synergistic approach, we will maintain our individual uniqueness as leaders of our various organizations/denominations in the world, but at the same time losing our identity in Christ in the Kingdom of God, I believe that it is possible to have “unified diversity.”

Bright also stated: “We work with the full extremes of theological positions.” Anyone who loves Jesus’ is invited to be a part.”

Christianity Today for August 2003 carries a full page ad for the coming conference which pictures 32 “Top Flight Speakers,” lists nine more, and ends with “many others.” Those familiar with the names will recognize men and women from every shade of new evangelicalism. The magic buzzword which supposedly unites all is “synergistic.” Costella discerningly remarks that, “Synergistic is just another new, deceptive term for ecumenical.”

One of the scary things about the Global Pastor’s Network is the arrogant way it refers to those who do not join. James O. Davis, president of the group, speaking of pastors who chose not to be a part said: “In the future, those who are not networking will not be working.” That threat is directed at us fundamentalists. Co-hosts Bill Bright and James O. Davis explained their concepts in a 254-page book titled, Beyond All Limits — the Synergistic Church for a Planet in Crisis. They state:

The days of ministry in isolation are over. The church must form strong, viable partnerships if it is to make an impact in the twenty-first century. We must work together with those around us if we are to make a difference for the gospel. While it has been sufficient in the past to create individual churches or ministries, the new age of ministry requires collaboration. Those called to lead the church must unite with other leaders to accomplish the task. It will take all of God’s people working together (pp. 154,155).

Three things are obvious to me as I read this: (1) The arrogance of mere man declaring what he will do is obvious. (2) It is obvious that every fundamental pastor should beware of the Global Pastor’s Network. (3) It is obvious that this program for success depends on mastering methods. God’s work in the twenty-first century will still be done, not by man’s might, power, or methods. It will only be accomplished by our God using His word in the power of His spirit.

August 2003

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