Persecution in America

To Be Cool or to Be a Church? That is the Question

February 19, 2019

The exchange took place between Hollywood’s Ellen Page and Chris Pratt.
In the tweet, Page specifically indicted Pratt for his membership in what was alleged to be an anti-LGBTQ church. The church in question is Zoe Church, a church in association with the Hillsong movement. Pratt responded to Page, stating, “It has recently been suggested that I belonged to a church which hates a certain group of people and is infamously anti LGBTQ. Nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone. My faith is important to me, but no church defines me or my life.

Something far more important underlines the controversy between Ellen Page, Christ Pratt, and Hillsong church. This issue isn’t about Page, Pratt, or Hillsong—it’s about you, me, and our churches. Every church will soon stand trial in the high courts of modernity. The secular storm will leave no place to hide. Hillsong gave its answer: it would rather be cool than convictional. The nod towards cultural relevance leads to theological confusion—a deliberately marketed confusion.

Over the last 5 years, the teaching of the church has grown even more opaque. It continues to minimize essential truths of the Gospel and surrenders to the growing tides of secularism. To what, then, could Ellen Page’s tweet refer when she charged the church with anti-LGBTQ teachings? In 2015, the founder of Hillsong, Brian Houston, said, “We do not affirm a gay lifestyle. And because of this, we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid.” He went on to affirm that Hillsong welcomed gay people in the church but that they could not serve in leadership roles.

Then, in 2017, with LGBTQ issues boiling over into the culture, Carl Lentz of the New York congregation missed several opportunities to clearly express his views on homosexuality. In an interview with CNN, he gave a non-answer, stating, “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That’s their journey.” That statement amounts to nothing less than an abdication of biblical Christianity. Lentz described the church as body with no authority, no responsibility to summon its members to Christian discipleship. Jesus commissioned his disciples to establish a church of obedient followers—sons and daughters of the living God who would devote their lives to the glory of Christ and his kingdom.

Discipleship to Christ makes objective demands on conduct, virtue, and morality. God revealed in Holy Scripture his commands to his people, and God calls his children to live in obedience to his commands and statues. Moreover, as the Apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” [1 John 5:3]

Where you find a church, you find a community of believers striving for holy obedience to God. Conversely, a church that doesn’t tell people how to live in obedience to Christ isn’t a church at all.

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