Today is the fourth anniversary of Passion to Know More.
I didn't intend to write an anniversary blog this year. But I have something to say about a recent event which kind of goes with my previous blogs on passing on generational faith, the can-women-have-authority-in-the-church debate blogs I wrote this past year, and my recent blog about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated.
I have really tried to keep this website focused on encouraging people to read the Bible. And I have purposely tried to stay out of the fray - the ugly things going on in today's society. The hurtful unkind way people address each other. I'm talking specifically about politics, homosexuality, abortion, sexism, sexual abuse in the churches,... All of the hot topics everyone is talking about. I have opinions on each of those topics. But my viewpoints weren't relevant to what I want to do with Passion to Know More. I want to encourage others to read the Bible for themselves. To teach others about the Bible. I hope I represent Christ well in my words and actions. I am aware I've failed at times.
I have followed the state of religion in America surveys for the past decade. Every year I see less people going to church and less people reading their Bible and every year I get depressed about it. I believe the Bible is God's word to us. I believe that God's kingdom is spread through the church. It is where we should be trained, encouraged and convicted to be more Christ-like.
In 2014 20% of Americans identified as no particular religion, called "Nones."
In 2019 26% of Americans identified as "Nones."
An increase of 6% in 5 short years.
In the past ten years there are 30 million more people who identify as no religion. The vast majority of those people used to identify as Christians. It is coming from mostly millennials, but is across the board generational wise.
We are failing to pass our faith on to others.
In Falling from the Faith I wrote some reasons this might be happening. The way the media portrays Christians, social/ cultural issues, and lack of training in our churches were some of the reasons.
But here is what I didn't say in that blog, but that I believe. We American Christians aren't acting "Christian." It permeates our social media posts. It permeates our politics. It permeates our churches.
We don't have a clear view of what is essential to the Christian faith.
The final straw which is breaking my silence is what John MacArthur said about Beth Moore recently. News media had a field day with it. Many ministers and pastors responded in support of Beth Moore. But I heard no one call MacArthur out on what he said later in the audio. And I want you to know about what he said because I think this is what the problem is.
John MacArthur was being interviewed at his 50th year in ministry anniversary celebration. He bashes on Beth Moore in a very un-Christian-like way. That caused the outrage. The behind the scenes argument is between complementarianism (women have roles in the church which complement men) and egalitarianism (women have equal roles in the church.) Basically, 'Can women preach?'
This year I wrote three blogs on the debate (shared at the bottom of this) and what I didn't say in those blogs is that I do believe many people who hold to the extreme complementarian view aren't doing so because they think the Bible commands that, but because they truly are sexist. Why didn't I say that? Because I could be wrong - I am after all a female and that colors my perception. And because I did not want to hurt the church and the spread of the gospel. I want to be a part of building up God's kingdom as should every Christian. I do believe Christians should strive for unity in the church. I do believe the body of Christ should have a single mind for Christ. It seemed the best way to do that was to be quiet. To submit to authority even when I believed that authority had gotten way off track.
To hear what MacArthur said about women click on this link. Click on what appears to be a video half way through the article, but know that it is really only audio.
Get past the part on Beth Moore. By the way, I admired the way Beth Moore responded on Twitter to MacArthur. It was Christ-like.
Continue listening to the video until you get to the 3 minute mark. You will hear John MacArthur say:
3:20 The church is caving in to women preachers... The MeToo movement (...?) culture reclaiming ground in the church. ... The feminists have really won the battle. The primary effort in feminism is not equality. They don't want equality. That's why 99% of plumbers are men. They don't want equal power to be a plumber. It's not about women wanting to be a plumber. They want to be senators, preachers, congressmen, President, the power structure of a university. They want power, not equality. ... This is feminism gone to church.
5:04 ... and liberalism will take over...
5:13 ... translation committee without a Latino, African American and woman on it. ...
6:15 Women are not allowed to preach.
Note the people laughing and clapping throughout what he says.
You don't get more sexist than that. When I heard what he said I exploded in anger. There was nothing Christ-like in his words. I told three of my Christian girlfriends, had I been there in person I do think I would have stormed the stage. All 5 feet of me. They called me feisty.
My girlfriend mentioned he is 80 years old which implied to me that he is from a different generation and we should give him grace. I don't care. He is a Christian leader and should therefore conduct himself as one.
John MacArthur seems to have forgotten:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:26-29 NASB
We shouldn't treat others the way he did.
Is it no wonder that people are leaving the Christian faith? They want no part of this nonsense! And I don't blame them. If you read the link and go to the bottom where it shares what some said on Twitter, this particular comment breaks my heart:
“Well, @johnmacarthur, thanks for being the last straw for my husband. After watching you as a leader speak so arrogantly ungodly about a fellow believer, he said he will never listen to another pastor preach. He’s tired of being manipulated by hypocrites using scripture.”
It appears if you are a woman, a minority, a person who can't stand and does not support President Trump, etc. - that you are not welcome in our churches. It APPEARS that way. I know that isn't true. But what is true though is many of our spiritual leaders are guiding the church in the direction of divisiveness. They are relaying to us that you better get in-line with what we believe or you aren't welcome here.
We Christians who do believe in the mission of the church, who have surrendered our lives to the lordship of our Savior Jesus Christ, who do believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but don't agree with these leaders on many of their stances; are being silent. We are being silent because we don't want to harm the church. But it is these leaders who are harming the church. And we need to stop being complicit with them.
Just to be crystal clear. I understand John MacArthur's stance on complementarianism. Although I don't agree with him, I understand his belief. I support his right to hold that belief. What I don't support is his hateful, unkind, and un-Christ-like words which came out of his mouth. What I am opposed to is his derisive and divisive words. Franklin Graham is another one who says the most ugly things which harms how Christians are perceived in this country.
Look there are millions of kind loving Christians who are trying to submit their lives to the will of God. Christians who love God and love their neighbors. Christians who differ in their beliefs on some issues and yet can respect other peoples' beliefs. You can be pro-life and still be loving to others. You can be pro-choice and still be a Christian. (gasp) You can be a Christian and support Trump. You can be a Christian and be against Trump. You can be a Christian and want to help refugees. You can be a Christian and want to keep refugees out of this country. You can believe women can preach and still be a Christian. You can believe women have proper roles in the church and still be a Christian. At least I believe so. But perhaps I do not define a "Christian" like others do.
Do I think John MacArthur and Franklin Graham are Christian? I do! Am I a Christian? I am! And yet the image of Christ they are portraying is not the image of Christ I want to portray.
Jesus modeled to us how to be a humble submitting servant to God. How to glorify God in our lives. I don't see a lot of that going on in today's culture. I don't see hardly any fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) being exhibited these days. American Christians are being harsh with others.
Why do I think more and more Americans are becoming part of the Nones? It is because we American Christians (and I include myself) are doing a piss poor job at reflecting the image of Christ to them. There. I was completely genuine with you.
And to the 30 million people who in the past ten years have become not affiliated with any religion, well, I'm sorry Christians have treated you unkindly. Truly I am. I'd like to say we are going to do better in the near future; that we are going to turn this around; that we will start acting the way Jesus modeled for us; but I don't know if that is really going to happen. I am praying for it though.