Whither the Church: Public Relations or Prophetic Proclamation?

In today’s toxic, anti-truth, anti-Christian, and hyper-immoral culture there simply is no longer a place for pastors and church leaders – or any Christian for that matter – to be mealy-mouthed and cowardly when it comes to speaking to the vital issues of the day.

Of course one can argue that there was never a place for craven and cloudy messaging. Christians should always speak truth boldly, unflinchingly, and without compromise. Sure, we also need to be wise, tactful and discerning as to when and how we speak.

But on so many major moral and social issues of the day, it is imperative for Christian leaders to speak forth biblical truth without ambiguity and without equivocation. We must be crystal clear in what biblical truth has to say on all the hot topics of the day.

I raise all this because earlier today I penned a piece in which I called into question a press release put out by a major international megachurch on the issue of homosexuality. It seemed to hem and haw at the very place where it should have been totally unambiguous and altogether clear. That piece is found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/02/16/chris-pratt-hillsong-and-help-for-homosexuals/

In it I said this:

Instead of offering us vague motherhood statements about welcoming everyone, many of us would appreciate some real clarity here. And if I and others have misunderstood or mischaracterised the position of Hillsong here, well sorry, but that is not our fault, but Hillsong’s.

In this vitally important area we are in need of precise and clear statements, not PC feel-good bumper sticker responses. We expect politicians to offer us wishy washy statements on homosexuality and other contentious issues. But we expect much better from churches, especially megachurches which are always in the public eye.

As can be imagined, this has already resulted in a small firestorm of controversy. And this is because megachurches like Hillsong tend to be rather polarising. It seems you either love them or hate them. Indeed, when it comes to Hillsong, there are at least three distinct and identifiable camps that Christians will usually find themselves in:

-Those who absolutely hate Hillsong, are fully convinced it is of the devil, and believe that nothing good can come out of it.
-Those who absolutely love Hillsong, are fully convinced it is of the Lord, and believe that nothing bad can come out of it.
-Those in the middle who have many valid concerns about it, but are not ready to consign it to the flames just yet.

I know of people in all three groups, and for what it is worth, I am in the third group. It may well be doing a lot of good, and for that we should be thankful. But as I have documented so often now, in some areas it has been a real worry, including offering us half-hearted and wobbly public statements on key issues like homosexuality.

I could address a lot of the comments that have already appeared both on my website and on social media concerning my last article. But let me simply refer to just one of the comments that has come through. One gal said she has been to Hillsong now and then, and it seems to adhere to the gospel message.

She also said that she was not sure why “Hillsong is kinda vague in their statements. Maybe they don’t want to scare people off so they come to church and hear the gospel?” I replied to her this way: “They could be just being careful – or they could be men-pleasers! But see the links in my article for other concerns one might have about them.”

And I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. All churches – but especially those with a high public profile – need to be careful and prudent in how they deal with the public, with the media, and the like. Fair enough. But at the same time, we always want to be careful not to water things down or become so unclear that no one knows where we actually stand.

As I said, on issues like abortion and homosexuality, I believe it is absolutely vital that Christian churches and Christian leaders speak with one, clear, and firm, biblical voice. There is no room for being wishy-washy or limp-wristed here (no pun intended).

On these utterly crucial issues the church of Jesus Christ must speak loudly and proudly. We must be just as loud and proud as the homosexual activists are and the pro-death camp is. No more Mr Nice Guy here. These matters are far too important for a softly-softly and men-pleasing approach here.

I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:8: “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” Absolutely. Our voices must offer a clarion call on these issues. Our yes must be yes and our no must be no.

There is no place for cowardly compromise here. There is no place for trying to please everyone here. The only one we must worry about pleasing – or displeasing – is the Lord Jesus Christ. Forget about everyone else. Let me close with the clarion call of one heaven-sent prophetic voice, A. W. Tozer:

“We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.”

“Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must have men again, the right kind of men. She must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of.”

“We already have enough promoters; we need prophets. We already have enough organisers; we need men who have met God in the crisis of the encounter.”

“The voice of the prophet today is seldom heard, not because there are no prophets speaking for God, but because the noise and clatter of our culture have so invaded the church that they have drowned out that voice.”

Oh, and one last thing: we need to keep Hillsong and these other big public churches in our prayers that they do indeed honour the Lord and do indeed speak with an uncloudy and undivided voice.

[1043 words]

8 Replies to “Whither the Church: Public Relations or Prophetic Proclamation?”

  1. Thank you Bill for exposing this heresy.

    This is part of a bigger issue. You have talked about the other parts recently. The decline of the family as the fundamental unit of society and other symptoms like what young Christian women and girls wear outside the home these days, sometimes even to Church!!

    Church teachings can only do so much, the problem starts with the tolerance for sinful things inside Christian families. It is parents who have to raise their children to believe homosexuality is an intolerable sin. It is parents who have to raise their girls to dress modestly. The Church isn’t going to do it for you.

  2. Yes I would put myself in the third category too. Hillsong presents themselves as a church but I think it is wrong to think of them that way. Unless the person is a celebrity (James 2:2-4) Hillsong would not know who is coming to their meetings. They are sort of an outreach organization that is designed for selling music and making money and which has responded to the world’s rebelliousness by removing any church authority.

  3. For the Church to start making an impact in society against PC movements in the areas of LGBTI etc, it must first purge itself of sexual sin.

    I am talking about the uncomfortable ones many churches are still full of; pornography and sexual relationship outside of marriage.

    Only once the Church moves towards its own sexual purity will it be an authority, let’s not forget there is no hierarchy of acceptable sexual sin! They all lead to a degradation of relationship with Christ.

  4. The Orwellian nightmare of ‘trans truth’
    Ann Farmer – Mercatornet

    An English court has been presented with a mind-bending transgender dilemma in family law.
    It emerged that “TT”, born a woman but identifying as a man, was allowed “to access fertility treatment legally reserved for women” only days after being legally accepted as a “trans man” and granted a Gender Recognition Certificate under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.
    TT subsequently gave birth to a child, and “he” is now seeking to be legally recognised on “YY’s” birth certificate as the “father”.

    https://www.mercatornet.com/mobile/view/the-orwellian-nightmare-of-trans-truth/22183

  5. The gender advantage
    Martina Navratilova – The Australian

    To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small ­fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.

    It’s insane and it’s cheating.

    I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.

    Simply reducing hormone levels — the prescription most sports have adopted — does not solve the problem. A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood. Training increases the discrepancy.

    Indeed, if a male were to change gender in such a way as to eliminate any accumulated advantage, he would have to begin hormone treatment before puberty. For me, that is unthinkable.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/rules-on-transgender-athletes-reward-cheats-and-punish-the-innocent/news-story/7b655217baaca0bebcf191e6ff2adc52

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