12 Jun 6/12/15 “Mr. Campolo – Times Change, Truth Does Not” – Pastor Shane Idleman
Evangelical leader and author, Tony Campolo, recently said this about gay-marriage, “Like so many other Christians, I was deeply uncertain about what was right.” Then added, “I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”
But the Bible is crystal clear on sexual sin, including homosexuality. Unfortunately, those who are sounding the alarm are often categorized as irrational, judgmental, bigoted and intolerant. But how can we warn if we won’t confront, correct if we won’t challenge and contend if we won’t question? We must speak the truth in love. Opinions change, but truth does not.
I have nothing but compassion for those trapped in sexual sin. Those who strongly believe in the Bible and God’s will regarding sexual behavior also strongly believe in unconditional love and forgiveness. To say that authentic Christians hate or fear those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the Christian faith. The ability to relate to people on their level, show genuine concern, and love them regardless of their lifestyle is the mark of true Christianity.
It’s no surprise that the church, and our nation, desperately need to hear “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” to awaken, convict and restore. It was not so long ago that we were concerned about “the fall of America.” America cannot fall because she has already fallen. We are now picking up the pieces of a broken nation reflected in our laws, our personal lives, our families and our children. America’s moral heartbeat has ceased because we cut off the source of life. We need resuscitation, renewal and revival of the truth.
When people, groups, denominations or movements depart from absolute truth and thus quench and grieve the Spirit of God, they become mechanical in their approach to Christianity and lose the ability to guide. The Word of God is not in their hearts “like a burning fire” (Jer. 20:9), but relative, powerless and debatable. This is what we see today.
I agree with many of the complaints Tony has leveled against the church in recent years such as hypocrisy, no authenticity, very little humility, lack of compassion, and so on. But the problem isn’t truth: the problem is a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. When people misunderstand and become dissatisfied and discouraged with Christianity, it’s often because they confuse “religion” and “rules” with a relationship. They base their opinion of Christianity on how they see other Christians act. This is dangerous. One of the greatest threats to Christianity is not in our failure to proclaim it, but rather our inability to live it out. For this reason, opinions about Christianity should not be based solely on the actions of others. Jesus recognized hypocrisy and said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8). A.W. Tozer states it well: “Millions of professed believers talk as if [Christ] were real and act as if He were not. And always our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk.”
More often than not, postmodern and emergent leaders such as Campolo, simply isolate the collective failures of people claiming to be Christians. This fuels their movement. From this premise, they presume that Christianity needs an overhaul, beginning with doctrine and the fundamentals of the faith. After all, if Christianity isn’t working, then the platform needs re-adjusting. Not surprisingly then, many postmoderns use Martin Luther’s example of reformation to validate their cause. But Luther moved back to absolute truth and God’s Word, not away from it.
The truth is that we don’t spend enough time teaching truth (biblical doctrine). With very few “born-again” Christians believing in moral absolutes, the need to address this topic has never been greater. How will we know the difference between right and wrong if it’s not defined according to God’s Word? King Solomon prayed that God would give him an understanding heart so that he could discern between good and evil (cf. I Kings 3:9). The ability to “discern” between right and wrong is absolutely critical. God’s absolutes are guardrails through the canyons of life. They don’t prevent us from enjoying life—they protect us from falling. Unfortunately, many are trying to remove these guardrails.
Relativism opens the door to speculation and closes the door to truly understanding God. It’s a very popular and pervasive deception: “Every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8). The term “situational ethics” comes from the relative viewpoint. As a matter of fact, the educational system, as a whole, relies largely on “values free” and “situational ethics” textbooks. The natural question is, “What impact has this had on our youth and on the nation?” An undeniable impact.
Imagine building a house with no regard to the master plans—allowing contractors to build as they choose. It would be an architectural nightmare. But that’s exactly what we do when we embrace relativism and attempt to build our lives according to our own design. God is the Creator with a clearly defined master plan.
Granted, if we encourage truth, yet fail to relate to our culture, the church can seem formal and dead. This fact also fuels the postmodern movement. But when truth is sacrificed for the sake of relating to the culture, as we see today, the very foundation is destroyed. Truth, the foundational beliefs clearly outlined in Scripture, must remain unmoved and unchanged. Times change, but truth does not!
Jesus would often speak out against sin, but His love and mercy also reached out to those who regretted and hated their condition. Forgiveness is a mark of genuine faith. We should have compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction because we all struggle with sin, but at the same time, we should not condone or excuse this type of sin any more than we condone or excuse any other sin.
I’m convinced that the majority of the churches in America are seeking to please the masses rather than convict. Judgment is never mentioned; repentance is rarely sought; and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. This leaves people confused and deceived because we teach and live a form of Christianity void of repentance … void of truth.
As a final word of encouragement, if you’re hopeless, depressed and confused, look to the One who created you. He has the answers. No matter what you have done, you have the ability to turn to Christ and start anew. It’s all about who you know: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).