The Great Deception

I used to cringe whenever the topic of homosexuality came up in church. It wasn’t because I had anything to hide, but because of how poorly we Christians have dealt with this hot-button issue in the public arena. As with many things, we’ve become known more for what we stand against rather than the God we represent. 

The “God Hates Fags” and “God Abhors You” signs obviously don’t help reflect the heart of Jesus, nor do they accurately reflect the beliefs of most Christians in America. But it hit me recently that maybe the more embarrassing, cringe-worthy believers aren’t the extremists wielding such signs but those who, like me, have stood on the sidelines and done virtually nothing to change the public opinion of God or His people.

Homosexuality is anything but a simple topic—certainly not one that can be reduced to a protest sign. As we’ve tried to represent in this month’s Charisma, it involves multiple angles that, if expressed without the Holy Spirit’s filter of truth, grace and love, can be easily misunderstood amid all the lies and politicalspeak surrounding the issue. read more

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

How churches must respond to increasing attacks from radical opposition

When a national organization representing the gay community targeted pastor John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio two years ago, Hagee responded with Christian love, and whatever negative publicity the group intended to stir up failed. But as the cultural battle over homosexuality escalates, the incident exemplifies how the church can and should respond to any radical opposition. In the end, love always wins over hate, and light always extinguishes darkness.

In this case, a soft answer turned away wrath. It started when Soulforce launched a 2009 campaign targeting churches that oppose the gay lifestyle. The group wrote Hagee and informed him they’d be coming to his church on a certain Sunday. Hagee replied to the Soulforce’s leader and not only welcomed them to attend any of Cornerstone’s worship services, he also said he’d like to meet with them in a reception immediately following the morning service. What Hagee did after this was nothing short of brilliant—or maybe I should say Spirit-led.

The group of 40 from Soulforce sat quietly through what was otherwise a routine service. Afterward they met over lunch with about 40 of Cornerstone’s church leaders and elders. Hagee began by welcoming them and saying they might never agree about their differences, but that he sincerely wanted to listen to their concerns. He invited the group’s leader—a Baptist minister’s son who’d come with his live-in partner and the children they’d adopted—to meet with him in a side room. The rest of the group visited with the other leaders and Hagee’s vivacious wife, Diana. Hagee asked his leaders to greet each person in the delegation individually and let each speak his or her mind freely. Meanwhile Hagee told the Soulforce leader that he appreciated the respectful way they attended the worship service. He listened to his concerns and at the end prayed for the group. read more

A Squishy Gospel

I’ve withheld comment until now about author Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins because I don’t think Christians should judge books before reading them. But I can’t bite my lip any longer. Something needs to be said.

Bell’s core theme is that Christians have been too narrow in their view of God and His mercy. He argues that God loves people too much to banish them to hell. In the end, he says, after this life is over, everybody will find ultimate reconciliation in Christ. Bell claims this is what the Bible teaches, and he suggests that Christian theologians have promoted the idea for centuries.

He writes: “At the center of the Christian tradition ... have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.” read more

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