The redefining of the word “church” continues. The Emergent movement earlier this century popularized the idea that has probably been an undercurrent in the church since the Higher Criticism became vogue around the turn of the twentieth century. The way these liberal thinking “Christians” want to redefine “church” is to make it centered around man and to move God to the spot closest to the exit (in some “churches” God has already been shown the exit, shoved unceremoniously out the door). This article, I Found God in a Gay Bar, by Steve Austin on the Huffington Post is another attempt to redefine the word “church” and it appears his definition is any place that any group of people feels free to be themselves with others of like minds who celebrate their chosen lifestyle–his happens to be the homosexual lifestyle.
Inclusivity continues to be attempted to be shoved into an exclusive religion, Christianity. Paul says in Corinthians:
8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[ will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:8-10
And in a letter to Timothy:
9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
1 Timothy 1:9-11
According to Steve Austin’s definition of the word church, all that matters is that a person feels “free to be me,” so to speak, without fear of judgment or discrimination. The example he gives in the blog post is a party he attended at a gay bar that he was invited to by a gay friend. He talks about how free all the people were to be silly and dance and drink and laugh and just have a grand old time. He equated this feeling of euphoria as what church is all about: a place of acceptance no matter who you are or what sin you engage in.
Austin uses the terminology that Rick Warren popularized in his Purpose Driven Church dogma. Warren’s main idea behind his dogma is that church is about community, about a sense of togetherness bordering on a sense of family. This dogma necessarily makes the center of a church gathering people and not God. People gather together “to do life together” is the mantra I have heard spoken many times. God is given lip-service and maybe even a cameo appearance if He is lucky. Everything else centers around life coaching messages with small group questions focused on people’s individual experiences.
Austin did not find God in that gay bar. He found a god but not the God of the bible. All he found was a bunch of people who choose a homosexual lifestyle who were having a great time drinking, dancing, laughing and eventually fornicating. He could’ve found the same experience in the heterosexual nightclub down the street. He found people who are a god unto themselves.
Austin bemoans the Christians out there who are judgmental. They are judgmental because they dare to “share the truth in love” by telling these people that are in sin and need to repent. In other words, they share the truth and light of the gospel but they love the darkness and are offended.
Austin’s big line in the articles is “Love is just love”. The only way that is true in the setting that he describes is that these people love their sin and rejoice with those who likewise sin with them (Romans 1 anyone?). This is not the love of God and the presence of God was not there in any sense, as John writes:
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
–1 John 1:5-10
The church is the bride of Christ, called out of this fallen world to worship the Living God who created us and redeemed us through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. The buildings that are called churches are called such because that is where a local body of believers, who are privileged to be called children of God, choose to congregate to sings hymns, to hear sermons exposited from the scriptures and to worship the Father who loves them and sent His Son to rescue them from His wrath . That is the where God is found, not is a place where sin is celebrated.
[Guest Post by Michael Hall]