Al Mohler, on “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?”

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My close friend Al Mohler has written a crucially important blog on the Megachurch and the challenges it faces today. In particular he addresses how we must faithfully, lovingly, graciously and truthfully address the issue of gender and homosexuality and how the Church must respond. I grieve that he had to write such an article but I am thankful that he did. It is a must read for those who love Christ, His Church, and the gospel. To access Dr. Mohler’s blog, click here.

  9Comments

  1. Adam Shields   •  

    Mohler significantly missed the point and misrepresented the content of Andy Stanley’s series of messages. We cannot decry liberalism and misrepresent other Christians words.

    I attend and have heard this whole series. The point of the series is that anyone can call themselves Christian, but Christ did not call us to be Christians, but his disciples. Being a disciple means speaking the truth completely full of grace.

    Being Mohler’s friend, I would encourage you to actually listen to the entire content of Andy’s sermons and then challenge Mohler to actually properly represent what was spoken. Mohler seems to believe this series of messages was about making homosexuality normative. That is quite far from the series purpose and the whole of Northpoint’s position.

    This honestly is so far off base that I just don’t even know how to respond.

  2. Daniel Akin   •     Author

    Adam,

    Thank you for writing. I actually listened to the message twice. My grief increased as I have greatly appreciated Andy’s ministry for many years. The fact is he was clear adultery was wrong but never said the same about homosexuality. Further, there was never a word about repentance or the gospel, Finally, Jesus absolutely loves us but John 3 is clear we are condemned if we abide in our sin and unbelief. I grieve over the lack of clarity in the message. Andy certainly can clarify what he believes on this. If that occurs i will gladly post that as well. God bless my brother.

    Danny Akin

  3. Daniel Akin   •     Author

    Adam,

    One more thing: Paul provides the proper response to this and all sin issues in 1 Cor 6:9-11. Here is truth and grace in beautiful harmony. Here is the truth about sin and grace found in the power of the gospel.

    Danny

  4. Howell Scott   •  

    Adam,

    While Andy Stanley may not have intended to convey the message that he was somehow condoing homosexual behavior, that is exactly how his well-developed (and technologically supported) illustration came across to many people, including Drs. Mohler and Akin and myself (I wrote about this last week at From Law to Grace). I have had multiple North Point members leave comments on my blog similar to yours and I have had multiple North Point members leave comments which state that they inferred the same thing that has been stated by Dr. Mohler and Dr. Akin, namely that it would appear that Andy Stanley’s illustration was ambiguous at best.

    If everyone that has misunderstood him is indeed wrong, it would not take much for Andy Stanley to issue a clarifying statement on this issue. That is what Dr. Mohler has called for. Even master communicators like Andy Stanley sometimes communicate in such a way that their intent is legitimately misunderstood by others. I will look forward to his issuing a clarification and will link to that on my blog when and if it is issued. Thanks and God bless,

    Howell

  5. Adam Shields   •  

    @Howell,

    On your blog you said you don’t believe that Andy meant that homosexuality was not a sin in one of the comments.

    And my reading of the comments is that one person that is a member defended Andy and one person agreed that he was unclear.

    So just out of basic respect for his position and history why is it that you, Dr Akin and Dr Moore think that you deserve clarification. You are not a part of the church, although still in the body. And when I have discussed this with people I know, not a single member that I am aware of took your perspective.

    So it seems to me that outsiders looking in are trying to control the message.

    I agree that there are times when that might be appropriate, but it just doesn’t seem to be appropriate here.

  6. Howell Scott   •  

    Adam,

    Thankds for the reply. Without getting into a running count of how many pro and con commenters have lefte comments on my blog, there have been at least three folks associated with NP who stated that they would at least like clarification on the matter. I would like clarification on the matter. I believe that there are many Evangelicals, including Drs. Mohler and Akin, who would like clarification. I’m not so sure that it is about “controlling the message” as much as it is what message was Andy Stanley trying to convey. I think that “outsiders,” including me, are concerned because of our appreciation for Andy Stanley’s ministry and our confusion about where he and his church now stand on this issue. If Stanley and NP were not so influential within the greater Evangelical world, then no one (rightly or wrongly) would be much concerned. That’s why this is appropriate, even if you don’t see it that way.

    I can’t speak for Dr. Mohler or Dr. Akin, but I don’t think I “deserve” anything from Andy Stanley. If he chooses not to clarify, that is his perogative. It would not be difficult to issue some type of clarifying statement, particularly given the nature of this story (which is not confined to NP). If he chooses not to respond, I suppose we will have to draw our own conclusions from his silence. But, personally speaking, I would much rather him clarify than to have to rely upon his very clear and well-articulated illustration to base my conclusions on. Thanks for the dialogue. God bless,

    Howell

  7. Adam Shields   •  

    I am swiping a portion of another comment at another site because it matches my thought.

    “It is very clear that Andy Stanley was trying to get this man’s attention by explaining it to him on a level he would perhaps understand.

    The sin of homosexuality is present (which this man obviously did not see as sin) and there is the sin of adultery that is present. Andy wanted the man to see that this was clearly sin. So he chose to explain it on a different level. He made it clear that the man was in sin.

    Also, Andy had the man removed as a member of the team he had joined. In his church people are allowed to serve in limited capacities prior to membership. However, once this information became “knowledge” they were removed.”

    (now my further thoughts) As a member this is exactly what I thought when I heard it originally. And based on listening to Andy’s sermons for years this is in complete agreement with his style of leadership and discipleship.

    Before this string of blogs that I have read about outside reaction, I know of no one that thought that Andy’s point was to accept homosexuality. He has been pretty clear that they are open to gay people participating in our church, that they cannot serve in areas of leadership, with children or in a teaching role. But they may serve as greeters or in parking team. It is clear from the church over time that they are trying to reach out to the gay community but continuing to declare homosexuality as sin.

    Just to be clear, Andy has had some very strong sermons lately on sex, divorce and he included homosexuality as a clear sin.

    But to make a statement now at behest of people like Mohler would do a lot to close the door to the gay community in Atlanta.

    As someone not in church leadership, I would hope he just lets the matter pass and continues to reach out. That is essentially how he responded to when people were calling on him to resign because he accepted Michelle Obama’s request to launch her fitness initiative at the church two years ago.

  8. Adam Shields   •  

    I want to take a different tack at this. I was rewatching sermons yesterday. I watched The Seperation of Church and Hate (http://www.northpoint.org/messages/the-separation-of-church-and-hate). Usually at least once a summer Andy does a sermon or a short series as an internal reminder of what the church’s outreach strategy is all about. This is a long sermon, just over 50 minutes with a pretty detailed reasoning about why he believes public statements rarely solve the problem. I would encourage you to watch it. It is likely that you will disagree with his understanding of the role of the church, but I think that it is the best illustration of why you are unlikely to hear a statement from Andy outside of a sermon.

    But one last take at this particular sermon. If you have paid attention to any for any length of time you will notice that he almost always says something like “if you only get one thing out of this sermon…”. He has written lots about how to communicate and preach and one of his most consistant messages is that every sermon should have one point. Just one. If you have more than one, it should be a series.

    The point of this sermon is that we should strive to love in difficult situations just as Christ did. Can you think of a situation that is more difficult to love in than an ex-husband that is in a gay relationship. Not a single friend of this woman’s would tell her that she needs to reach out to them and invite them over for meals and maintain a relationship with them and invite them to church. That is the point of the illustration. The details of the illustration are there to show the extent of her love. Andy is just a side character, to make him the center of the illustration is to void the illustration.

    Do a thought experiment with me. Can you imagine what theological bloggers would have thought about Jesus’ parables? Look at the prodigal son, bloggers writing, “And the father forgives him? After he had rejected God and worshiped other god with temple prostitutes? The law says that the should should be put to death but the father in Jesus’ story has a party for him. Jesus is getting liberal, it must be because he is a traveling teachers, all traveling teachers must be bad.” What about the Samaritain? “Jesus yesterday gave an illustration of a Samaritain and said that the Samaritan loved God. But Jesus never said that the Samaritan rejected his countryman and left Samaria and worshipped the temple as prescribed. He didn’t say anything about that. He just said go and be like the Samaritan.”

    If you want to see what church policy is about homosexuality, read this covenant. This is language is used in all teaching, children and leadership roles. And it is also included as part of the membership agreement. It is just easies to link to in this application. Scroll down to the Covenant: Regarding Sexual Behavior

    http://www.northpoint.org/site/page/studentvolunteer/

    It is pretty explicit. Not just about homosexuality, but any sexual relationship outside of marriage, any addiction

  9. Eric Lockhart   •  

    “Adam,

    I appreciate your willingness to stand up for your pastor and church, as I have read your replies on several sites. Thanks for the thoughts. It’s interesting to think about. A few reasons why I think this particular example doesn’t work though, or at least some possible faults:

    1. Taken to the extreme, it eliminates the need or place for discernment and accountability.

    2. In relation to what we are discussing, it assumes that all those who are worried about the lack of stance on homosexuality, and so far lack of clarification by Pastor Andy, are being Pharisees. And Pastor Andy is correct like Jesus. This may be the case for some, but, surely not all who disagree are just being Pharisees.

    3. It twists the meaning of the parables: it emphasizes that the Father forgives, but ignores that the son had returned -prepared to be a slave not a son. I cannot seem to find that part in the sermon. No repentance is mentioned at all. In fact, a point that I am shocked more have not been outraged over is that Pastor Andy seemingly encouraged the partner of the man to leave his wife – since adultery was holding them up from serving. I hope that is not the case, but the way it is presented in the message leaves one wondering. Either way, there is zero mention of repentance. Which is odd, since the point of the sermon was grace and truth – grace occurs when repentance is evident. Again, none of that is the point of that parable – nor does Jesus say to go act like a Samaritan in any way other than the man loved his neighbor – which obviously the man being told the parable did not. Jesus never addressed any of those issues in that parable, but Pastor Andy did. There were, at least, three sins in his story: adultery, divorce, and homosexuality. He chose to address one, but ignore the others. Few are upset over the divorce issue, though I would say that issue maybe proves Dr. Mohler’s point on a grander scale than just mega churches. By making a point to address one, he leaves the listener having to ask – why?

    To your overall point, I agree, that at times bloggers can be rough. However, sometimes the call for discernment is needed. You, and Pastor Andy, elsewhere ask that those critiquing watch all the other sermons. First, I find this odd: I shouldn’t have to follow all 8 weeks of a message in order to understand and apply what is being said in the last one. Second, you ask for one thing but seem to do the opposite – in the fact, that in addressing this as a reply to a a blog from Al Mohler, you don’t seem to be considering the grand scheme of how he writes and stances he takes – and basically accuse him of not acting Biblically.

    Obviously, we disagree on this subject. I wish your pastor would come forward and just clarify the situation. Instead, after watching one of the other sermon in the series, where he said his approach to criticism was basically: I don’t care and some things are not worth addressing; I doubt he will. Though, I cannot understand how this can be viewed as not worth addressing.”

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