CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Pagans in the Pulpits and Pews

Jul 26, 2013

Jesus made it quite clear who is a true shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:11-13).

A false shepherd does not care about his flock, but will instead allow the enemy to come in and wreak havoc. He will tolerate and even promote false teaching and immoral conduct. And Paul warned that in the last days this sort of thing would be on the increase:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).

We are seeing this all over the place today. We are seeing sham shepherds setting up sham churches, resulting in sham congregations. Examples abound, but let me highlight one recent example. A social media site had posted a poster which I assume is legit.

The reason it seems perfectly legit is because even a cursory glance at their website shows that they have left the planet of biblical Christianity and are in the rarefied air of deception and falsehood. The poster in question shows a church sign with these words:

Gosford Anglican
CHURCH

DEAR CHRISTIANS
SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY
GET OVER IT
LOVE GOD

OK, so for starters, we have a direct violation of the Ninth Commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” In this case they are bearing false witness against God. They are of course simply calling God a liar. Bearing false witness is a big time sin, and it does not get much bigger than this.

God has never, ever said we are to just “get over” sin – any sin. Whether it is the sin of homosexuality or pride or adultery or what have you, we are not to accept it, ignore it, cater to it, or excuse it. Instead we are to rebuke it, repent of it, flee from it and renounce it.

Indeed, to highlight what complete and utter foolishness this church is up to, simply swap terms here:

Dear Christians, some Christians are adulterers, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are fornicators, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are drunkards, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are thieves, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are arsonists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are liars, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are murderers, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are rapists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are gluttons, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are atheists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are Muslims, get over it, love God

The list is endless. They are presenting a god of their own fallen and depraved imagination – not the holy and righteous God of the Bible. They are confusing God’s love with God’s acceptance. He may love us all, but he never for a moment accepts our sin, our rebellion, our depravity, and our wickedness.

God is not in the business of accepting sin, but of doing everything he can to stamp it out. That of course is why he went to the cross: to suffer horribly by taking the just punishment of God for our sins, so that we might find reconciliation with God through faith and repentance.

We don’t find this reconciliation by disagreeing with God, hanging on to our sin, justifying our sin, and continuing to embrace what God calls an abomination. Yet we are not dealing with a biblical church here, but an apostate church. To show just how far out of sync they are with God and His Word, simply get a load of this, as taken from their site:

“Jesus came to show us the ‘Kingdom’ not to die for our sins! Progressive Christians believe that Jesus came to manifest the Kingdom. That is to reveal the Sacred in our every day life.”

When you blatantly, publicly and defiantly lie about the very heart and soul of the gospel message, then you know perfectly well we are not dealing with Christians here, but the very agents of Satan. Of course Jesus came to die for our sins – that is the fundamental reason why he came, as he and his disciples so very clearly and forthrightly said. Consider just a few such passages:

-Matthew 9:13: But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
-Mark 2:17: On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
-Luke 5:32: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
-Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-1 Timothy 1:15: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.

But we expect this from a “church” which has simply embraced and baptised the world’s values, while rejecting God’s. Consider also this from their site:

“Radical Inclusion
Jesus’s central message is about radical inclusion, thus we welcome anyone to participate in our fellowship without judgment or forcing them to conform to our ‘likeness’ or affirm our creeds in order to be accepted. We invite and offer all a place at the table – no exceptions.”

Um, no, his central message was not about “radical inclusion”. His central message was this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). And of course seeking to have a repentant and redeemed people conformed to his image and likeness is also at the heart of the gospel message:

-Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
-Romans 8:29: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
-Galatians 4:19: My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
-Ephesians 1:17: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
-Ephesians 4:13: until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

And of course creed matters. What you believe is vitally important, and the New Testament everywhere makes this perfectly clear. But this is a “progressive” church, one which believes nothing and accepts anything. They perfectly reflect the liberal theology which H. Richard Neibuhr warned about decades ago: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

Or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in The Cost of Discipleship: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

But I have written about the oxymoron of “Progressive Christianity” elsewhere: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/01/23/progressive-christianity/

So let me conclude with a possible divine word which would be much closer to the mark:
Dear Gosford Anglican Church
Some people are false shepherds and they will face my eternal wrath and judgment for deceiving my people.
That is not something you will be able to just ‘get over’.
Love God

www.anggos.com.au/

[1404 words]

27 Responses to Pagans in the Pulpits and Pews

  • Actually Bill, the first thing I thought when I read the sign was they think homosexuality is not a sin, that it’s a thing that some people just are (as in born that way) like some people are born with red hair, or blonde hair.

    I know that’s contradicted by science and by the Scriptures as well (and therefore they are implying that God is liar) so some of your comments apply anyhow… 🙂

    John Symons

  • Unbelievable…I see those sorts of memes on social media…

    Jo Deller

  • Thanks John

    That is of course exactly what they believe: it is not a sin, you are born that way, and it’s all cool.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Jo

    The problem is, this does not seem to be a meme, but the real deal.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Of course everyone is included in their services as long as they put money in the plate!
    This “church” has nothing to do with Jesus and only hurts the Anglicans who do

    Dameon McManus

  • Bill, you’re right on with what’s happening in so many Christian churches and in everything else you say. False shepherds abound, and within my own Catholic Church also. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words are so apt! I really believe we are in the End Times now and need to be on guard, to have the courage to speak out, to fight and pray hard. Soon it will indeed be time to “flee to the hills”!

    Paula Pike

  • Dear Bill, I will give a Catholic perspective. The Anglicans started this rot when they rejected the authority of the bishop of Rome 5 centuries ago. Pope Francis said the push for same sex marriage is the work of the devil.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  • You would hope some of those church folk with an actual knowledge and relationship with God would show some back bone and stand up for Christ. That’s what the church is there for, to defend and reveal the character of God not to pander to the adversary’s wickedness. Its bad enough you hear this doctrine of devils in our depraved culture but to hear it from professing Christians is scandalous. I’m sure there are still some Anglican brothers and sisters that still study the Bible, Surely? I can’t help thinking every time I hear something like this of Matt 7:21-23. God help us.

    Greg Sadler

  • To make the flippant comment “Love God” as of vicariously speaking as God, is to take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. The discerning Christian wouldn’t touch Gosford Church with a barge pole.

    Rachel Smith, UK

  • Bill after reading Michael Horton’s “Christless Christianity” which pertains to the American church – proddy and catholic, evangelical and emergent – this rubbish by the Gosford Anglicans only confirms what Horton was saying.

    Wayne Pelling

  • Hello Bill

    I had a look on the website in question and couldn’t find the picture you talked about.

    I did however find this article titled “Jesus came to shows us the kingdom not to die for our sins”. He goes on to say “The Kingdom is bigger than the church, bigger than Christianity, it must be. There are Kingdom people who are Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists.”

    The kingdom parables are sometime extremely harsh if read in context. The treasure hidden in the field for example says that God buys the church for the few treasured ones. Or the Dragnet were people are separated the good fish from the bad fish being cast into the furnace of fire at the end of the world.

    Thanks for informing us about this
    John McAllister

  • Thanks John. Even the ABC, which has been following the story, has come out and said this indeed is an actual sign from the church.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I like to read 1 Cor 1:1-11 where Paul says clearly what we believe so as to make sure there is no misunderstanding. ie, it is the problem of sin:
    1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
    Anthony Van Cooten

  • I can assure Greg Sadler that there are plenty of Anglicans who still study and believe the Bible. You don’t have to go far south from Gosford to see that.

    One thing that strikes me about churches like Gosford Anglican is that they make a very big thing of the Eucharist or Holy communion – too much in my opinion – and yet don’t believe the very doctrine which underlies that wonderful service. They obviously believe in hollow ritual rather than the truth.

    David Morrison

  • As you said in your article www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/27/itching-ears-and-hardened-hearts/ the Gosford church (& others) would take this to heart as much as the Jewish community did at the time of Isaiah. How much less would they take any notice of John Baptist calling people to repent, and rail against him for saying that it was not right that Herod to marry his brothers wife. Well, I mean ‘get over it’ Love God. They are not salt, so they will be trampled upon, & because they keep the lamp under wraps they will burn up.

    Michael Thompson

  • Thank you David Morrison. You no doubt refer to the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, which maintains a strong Bible-based tradition. Interestingly, the Sydney Diocese is planting new churches and growing in numbers, while others are declining.

    Brian Pratt

  • How easy it is for many to choose to be live in a happy state, than to live Holy according to the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, which is God’s Holy Word.
    Is it self,? is it pride? is it lack of Bible knowledge? or lack of living Bible based and disciplined.

    Judith Bond

  • Matthew 19 v 13 KJV for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    Mark 2 v 17 KJV I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    We must be careful NOT to leave out REPENTANCE which the KJV clearly spells.
    Judith Bond

  • It is so easy to quote Mat 7 about not judging, but that needs to be counterbalanced by John 12:46-48 where Jesus said that he himself does not judge, but the truth of the words he has spoken would judge those who reject him in the last days. The truth is not the property of any human being, but God’s alone, therefore only God, Jesus himself can be the embodiment of the truth. The truth will be inescapable for all of us and for those who receive Him as he is and not as we have invented him, judgement will have passed because it has fallen on the son of God who by his choice paid the penalty of it. It must be purely the devils plan to destroy all God has made because he hates God so much that the c”church” is able to come up with such lies to deceive. I would have as a none Christian never thought of doing my own will in the church. The church was God’s and the world was where I could do as I pleased and that then I chose until the revelation came. For a long time I couldn’t understand why people wanted to be in the church and still do as they pleased, but I see now it is the scheme of that great deceiver. But doesn’t Paul tell us in the continuation of 1 Cor 15 that had Christ not risen – and why should he have risen if he not first had died – we would be of all the most miserable, for we would still be in our sin? So, sin, apart from being an affront against God’s glory it is contrary to our own very life. That surely must be the revelation of those who know Him as He desires to be known by us.
    Many blessings
    Ursula bennett

  • Amazing, I only stumbled upon this last week, your article is very timely Bill, I logged onto the facebook page and was nearly going to leave a comment but then I figured that it was pointless, so I started praying for the parishioners there instead.

    Steve Davis

  • Bill of course you will decide whether to publish this … I’m even in 2 minds as to whether I want to see it published!

    Franklin Wood said “… The Anglicans started this rot when they rejected the authority of the bishop of Rome 5 centuries ago …”

    Some Catholics today (Father Kennedy?, Brisbane), Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, or name your (least-) favourite denomination will agree with this rot.

    Some Catholics today (Pope Francis), Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians, or name your (least-) favourite denomination will DISagree with this rot.

    Whereas Bill has said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t want this website to degenerate into a Catholic-Protestant war, the rejection of the authority of the “Bishop of Rome,” a rejection I share, has nothing to with “this rot.”

    Through my involvement with a former boss who was Catholic, the Mater Hospitals and Catholics within the prolife movement, I have learnt to respect, but disagree with, Catholics.

    Graeme Cumming

  • Thanks guys. Yes, while I try to let people have a go here, within reason, and according to my commenting rules, I do try to avoid these sectarian debates. There are of course heaps of sites elsewhere that engage in these debates, so I try to avoid it here whenever possible.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I’d love to see a church respond with a sign saying:

    “BORN THAT WAY? GET BORN AGAIN!”

    Mario Del Giudice

  • Mario, LOL+++. And yet an excellent, serious response.
    Graeme Cumming

  • Faithful Anglicans in the past such as J.C.Ryle and D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones would be turning in their graves upon hearing of this.
    Interestingly, C.H.Spurgeon actually upbraided Ryle for reamaining in the Anglican Church in their day. Imagine what Spurgeon would think now!

    Mick Koster.

  • Hi I am from one of the churches in the Anglican parish of Gosford and I assure you I am a bible believing Christian who does not agree with the signs. Not all of us are heretics and liberals here and Sydney Anglicans are not the only ones with strong biblical conviction. We might not be Elijahs but we are certainly one of the 7000 who have not bowed our knees to Baal. Our time will come.
    Richard

  • Thanks Richard. I normally require a full name, but will allow you through. I hope there are many more like you and that you do indeed prevail.Time for those who are truly His to stand and to resist the apostates. Keep being faithful.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

Leave a Reply