Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gay Pride Meets Christian Humility

I have never heard of Millington Baptist Church before. I don't know anything about them or their theology, but one thing about their ministry caught my attention.

The New Jersey church has "Liquid" services on Sunday nights. According to their website, "Liquid is a progressive Christian community that gathers to grow deep and lasting relationships with God and one another." On June 5, however, they didn't meet at church--they attended a gay pride celebration. Why? To demonstrate Christ's love:
    We'll be serving over 5,000 bottles of ice cold water to thirsty festival-goers at the Jersey Pride Celebration in Asbury Park. We're gonna spend the day demonstrating the kindness of God to the gay community in NJ--a group of people that have often been kept at arm's length by the Christian church (and, tragically, even singled-out for special condemnation at times).
Again, I don't know anything about this church or the group known as Liquid. But I think every church can learn from this example. Wouldn't you rather see Christians reaching out in kindness and love than a group of idiots shouting down gay activists with signs that say, "Fags burn in hell"? Whether Calvinist or not, isn't Millington Baptist Church doing more for the gospel than apostate churches like Westboro Baptist, which uses the website GodHatesFags.com to promote its so-called "ministry"?

Yes, the lost need to hear the Law. Yes, they need to be convicted of their sin. But we should be motivated out of love for God and our fellow man, not out of hate. Or am I completely missing the point of Christ's command to love our enemies?


Lee Shelton said...

Nope. No joke. I'm not saying I agree with everything they're doing and how they're doing it, but I do think more churches can learn something from this.

Lee Shelton said...

"Comfort them and give them support"? That's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? And you want to equate what these people did with inviting child molesters over for dinner?

Tell me: If you ran across someone dying of thirst in the desert, would you stop to ask about their sexual lifestyle before deciding whether or not to offer them a drink of water? Is that the principle being taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

Christ demonstrated kindness to his enemies without supporting their sin, did he not? Or should I assume that everyone among the 5,000 he fed were believers? Why shouldn't we follow his example?

Lee Shelton said...

Well, apparently I don't get it, because I don't even know what issue it was he raised--other than that he wishes to completely disregard Christ's entire life and ministry. Perhaps Mr. Orthodox would have joined with the Pharisees in criticizing Jesus for associating with prostitutes, tax collectors and other enemies of God.

But if you wish to try to bolster his position with scripture, then by all means go ahead. If you think you can debunk the biblical teachings that Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), that we should follow his example (Phil. 2:1-2) and that ALL of us were once enemies of God (Rom. 11:28-32), I'm all ears.

Before doing that, why don't you read Matt. 9:10-13: And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Now re-read Mr. Orthodox's comments again. Since what he says is clearly at odds with scripture, do you still want to defend him?

Fr. John said...

Mr. Shelton:

two words...

Lee Shelton said...

I think I have been quite clear on what scripture says. Is it just the manner of outreach practiced by the church group in question, or is it outreach in general that makes you uncomfortable? Do you have non-Christian friends, or do you refuse to associate with any of God's enemies? Because if you have a problem with evangelism, then you have much bigger issues to deal with. Maybe you should read Darrell's post on The Great Commission.

Lee Shelton said...

I'll pray for you, Mark. It always pains me to see otherwise intelligent people taken in by those preaching a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

Lee Shelton said...

From what I have seen so far, yours is a gospel based on hate. You try to justify that hatred by claiming it is in accordance with God's command for us to hate His enemies. He makes no such command, and to insist that He does causes all sorts of conflicts within scripture. In short, your gospel requires a complete disregard for Christ's life and ministry.

As any Christian should know, Christ set for us the ultimate example for how we should live our lives (Rom. 15:1-4, Phil. 2:1-11, 1 Tim. 1:16, 1 Pet. 2:21). You never see him carrying a sign proclaiming "Fags burn in hell!" (Keep in mind that homosexuality was just as much of an abomination back then as it is now.) No, you see him reaching our in love to all sorts of sinners. Matt. 9:10-13 comes to mind, as does John 4, where Jesus uses water to convey the gospel--much like the Christians in the above article were doing. You also see him healing and feeding those who would later be either calling for his crucifixion or remaining silent during the entire ordeal.

Christ's harshest words were reserved for the religious elite, those who used their adherence to the law to set themselves above everyone else. Consider the words of Jesus in the Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32). He said to the chief priests and elders, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him." This emphasized the fact that he "came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15).

Your gospel denies the Great Commission, where Jesus told his disciples to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). How do you make disciples by lashing out in hate? How do you demonstrate Christ's love by rejoicing in the death and suffering of sinners? Do you not know that all sinners are enemies of God? Don't you realize that we believers were only spared because of the grace of God? As Paul writes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).

While reading your words, I could not help but be reminded of Jonah. He was rescued by God from the belly of the fish--he was shown mercy--but he got angry when God extended that same mercy to the people of Nineveh. In one of your comments on LittleGeneva.com, you said that you wished you "could go to hell just to watch them burn." I'm sorry, but I have a difficult time believing that such hate-filled words could be uttered by a professing Christian. Why can't you instead take delight in the reward you have as a believer (Ps. 58:11)? Is your hatred of others rooted in the fear that they might actually repent and believe, thereby denying you the opportunity to rejoice in their destruction?

My advice to you is to learn to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) because all of us are sinners (Rom. 3:23) deserving God's wrath. As we proclaim the gospel message, we know that only the elect of God will respond positively. The catch is that we have no way of knowing which people are included among the elect until they come to faith in Christ. As far as we know, that may include some of those people taking part in the gay pride parade in New Jersey.

That's all part of evangelism. Unless, of course, we assume that when Jesus said, "Go into all the world," he was actually saying, "Go into only those areas where you feel comfortable and where my Father's enemies do not reside." Kind of puts a damper on the greatness of the Great Commission, don't you think?

Lee Shelton said...

Christ used water as a point of contact when he confronted the woman at the well. He didn't hold up a sign that read, "Adulterers burn in hell!" What's wrong with using a similar approach to reach the lost?

The Apostle Paul used an altar dedicated "to the unknown god" as a point of contact with the men gathered at the Areopagus. He didn't shout, "Idolaters burn in hell!" Because his approach was different than the one you advocate, does that make him a "dispensational Baptist"? Should he have instead shown hatred for God's enemies?

I am in no way suggesting watering down the truth. If you were at all familiar with my writings on religious and political issues you would know that. You would also know that I am about as anti-dispensationalist as they come, and I think men like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are doing more harm than good.

I'm sorry if you dislike my approach, but I believe in preaching grace as well as the law.

Anonymous said...

Comforting sodomites while they are in the very act of flagrantly defying God is not Christian love. Give them water, sure, if it's met with the full gospel, not just sin-placating platitudes.

Jimmy Skiddoo said...

The Liquid service at Millington Baptist is the Emergent Church worship and movement that you have questions about (as noted in some of your other posts where you question the value of the Emergent Church and pep rally worship). Long-term members of Millington Baptist who objected to this and to the newly introduced Rick Warren Purpose Driven teaching were "kindly" asked to leave the church, as Rick Warren says should be done to such people who refuse to change and accept this new way.

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