|Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?”|
Ex 20: 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal.
The book “Christianity after religion: the End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening” by Diana Butler Bass seems hilarious with her pronouncement that religious affiliation is plummeting across Christianity. Her sweeping generalization hides the fact that the Episcopal Church whom she belongs to is sinking into oblivion with the kind of interesting progressive theology she is advocating. She may not be wrong but definitely not popular.
It is good delusion of grandeur when liberal Christianity – progressive as they may be – is slipping into insignificance in a Christianity dictated by the Catholics, the mega churches and lastly the Evangelicals.
The progressive Episcopal church is plummeting. It once had over 3.5 million members in the mid-1960s, but has lost over 40 per cent of membership to-date whilst the US population grew over 50 per cent at the same time. Using gays as a wedge issue obviously works for the likes of Albert Mohler and Christian Post, and Focus on the Family.
The rapid growth of the mega churches is most profound in Africa and Asia. For example, in Singapore, the largest mega church which only existed in the last 25 years has the same attendance as the entire Anglican churches in Singapore! Perhaps Diana Butler was sub-consciously reminiscing on the survival of the Episcopal church and the need for a new spiritual awakening to be relevant.
It is not surprising and even more hilarious that the regular columnist of Christian Post in the US, the R. Albert Mohler, Jr. wrote “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?” seemingly agitated by Atlanta megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church refusing to criticise homosexuality over the sin of divorce. Pastor Stanley wasn’t wrong for it is adultery and not same sex orientation that was in the Ten Commandments. But I reckon the specific OT laws were for women only, for the straight men certainty had a good time of having many wives and so need not engage in adultery per say. Solomon’s seven hundred wives would be more than a handful however virile he may have been.
But Jesus was much different from Rev Mohler who was also agitated by the religious people of faith seemingly outward morally but inwardly worst sinners and adulterers. No wonder they couldn’t find the man involved in adultery but brought the woman to be stoned by Jesus. Jesus set them a far higher standard than the written law – by the Spirit of the Law – where even harbouring sexual thoughts of lust against women is tantamount to committing adultery for those who were particularly religiously self-righteous.
Jesus then made a peculiar statement in Mat 19:12 when the disciples concerned about the strict judgment on adultery commented that it is natural to be attracted to women unless of course you are gay! Or what was popularly known as born Eunuchs as distinct from man-made Eunuchs ie those without sexual attraction for the opposite sex. It was something natural, not a choice or a sin just as having sex or being a heterosexual by itself is not a sin.
The disciples would all have laughed when Jesus mocked the people of faith mentioning also “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake”. The priests of popular Cybele faith in the Roman Empire were Eunuchs. The young men who wanted to avail themselves to the goddess would castrate themselves at the height of the celebration and dressed with women's clothing. The worshippers would have anal sex with the priests to join themselves spiritually to the goddess. Perhaps Jesus was hinting that if the Pharisees were so religious, they should have castrated themselves in the ultimate sacrifice for god!
Why was Rev Mohler so indignant of the mega church pastor to call him in the ultimate insult – a liberal Christian! Because the Christian Right have made the anti-gay stance a wedge issue to define who is Conservative and who is Liberal. It was an issue where the Christians could vent out their holy indignation against the immoral gays! And forget that Christianity is about Christ, His death and resurrection being the way back to God. The real target was to destroy Liberal Christianity and they can’t use abortion and adultery as the benchmark because it becomes too personal. The gay issue was always a red herring, not founded in the original scriptural context as pertaining to same sex orientation but rather an abomination to worship other gods by being possessed through anal sex with the priests.
With the likes of mega church Pastors such as Andy Stanley, the artificial dam of condemnation against gays using the bible is breaking and leaking badly. It is not a concrete dam but one built on half-truths and rhetoric. It is hollow on the inside and once the wedge factor is taken away as more and more gays come out from the closet, you break the divide between the Conservatives and the Liberals ushering in a movement where their religious construction and absolutes are challenged. Once the dam is breached, the weight of the waters of history, the waters of justice will crush this wall that has doomed many to a closeted existence without love.
It is the Liberal invasion that is feared and not gay men going after straight men in the catwalks of Orchard Road in Singapore. Gays are just a scapegoat for an end and a purpose to perpetuate their power, control and support. When the wall begin to collapse, we may have what Diana Butler wanted, a new kind of Christianity without the centrality of Christ as the way, the truth and the Life for Christians have not been defending a biblical truth rather have abused the bible by defending a lie that have caused grave harm.
It doesn’t matter anymore what Mohler is saying or the stance of Christian Post, for gays have come out of the closet and the rock has been moved away. Justice in coming down river gaining momentum and weight and it will soon reach the dam that has stopped gays from coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour because the church has effectively closed their doors to the rainbow fish.
Soon and very soon Jesus is coming back. Before that, the walls of
injustice will come thumbling down for Christ would not be known for
causing and perpetuating harm.
Soon and very soon Jesus is coming back. Before that, the walls of injustice will come thumbling down for Christ would not be known for causing and perpetuating harm.