Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Waves Obliterate Lines in the Sand: On Megachurches and "New Liberalism"

This morning I read Al Mohler's article, "Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?" and I have to confess, I didn't see it going where it did. Fundamentalist that I am, I was strongly inclined from the outset to answer Mohler's title question, "Yes." (Or maybe, "Duh.") But I was still caught off guard by what was at best a colossal brain cramp by a megachurch pastor, and at worst a landmark compromise.

As Mohler notes, Guinness and Wells—not to mention MacArthur—have been sounding this alarm bell for decades. But his piece made me reflect on the curious role homosexuality has played in American Protestantism. We've seen denomination after denomination slouch towards Gomorrah (to borrow Judge Bork's phrase), long before these recent skirmishes over sodomy. And now the lines of that battle have infiltrated the megachurch movement.

Attentive readers will know that the odor of the "new liberalism" has long wafted within the megachurch movement. Like the mainline denominations, many megachurches have accommodated the culture, distorted the mission, and marginalized the offense of the gospel—all while selling truckloads of books explaining how they did it. Acceptance of homosexuality is an effect, not a cause. 

What's most curious to me is how homosexuality is a sort of Maginot Line among congregations and leaders that still do have some residual conservative instinct. Do they now take a stand because homosexual behavior is more easily explained to the Joe Public in the pew than complex matters of biblical interpretation and authority? Because of the remaining cultural "yuck factor"? Or perhaps because it's simply the last line of defense before, well, there's nothing left to defend?

Perhaps we need to remember that the Maginot Line didn't work out so well for the French, and the fortifications of contemporary evangelicalism are nowhere near as stout. We cannot afford to be the sort of people who pick and choose when to contend for the faith based on which turf we think might be easiest to defend. Our Enemy will deftly circumvent such cowardly strategies. Waves obliterate lines in the sand.

What's more, the ground on which we take a stand reflects a great deal about what's most precious to us.


Greg said...

I read that article by Mohler earlier today, and even though I've been anti-Stanley from the first time I ever heard him, I was still shocked at what I read. I have friends that couldn't be bigger Stanley fans, and I can only imagine how they will explain this. I don't think there's anything he could say in explanation that would make me feel like this was any less of an outrage.

Greg said...

Also meant to say that I'm going to listen to the whole message, just to be safe, before sharing it with my friends. Again, I can't imagine anything could have been said that could justify what I know he said.

d4v34x said...

Bork was borrowing from Yeats. #SecondComing

Ben said...

Well, I borrowed it from Bork, because if I've ever read it in Yeats, it's been about 20 years ago.

Ben said...

By the way, Greg, your blogger profile pic doesn't look anything like you.