A few days ago, I posted what I thought was an innocent status update on Facebook. The update has created more heat and debate than all my other Facebook posts together. I was even accused of racism.
I thought I should try to clarify my comments.
The post was:
I don’t know Michael Curry personally. From all reports he seems to be a very likeable person.
The reason for my low expectation of the sermon was because of what presiding Bishop Michael Curry and The Episcopal Church of the US have publicly stood for in the past.
Tom Habib puts it succinctly on The Gospel Coalition (Australia Edition) blog:
The Most Reverend Michael Curry is the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church of the United States (TEC). He also is an outspoken advocate of same-sex marriage. The US Episcopal church has long rejected Christ’s teaching on sexuality, appointing an openly gay bishop back in 2003. In 2016, TEC was suspended by the worldwide Anglican communion for their affirmation of same-sex marriage, relegating the church to a non-voting ‘observer’ status. Archbishops from around the world voted to condemn TEC’s actions as a, ‘fundamental departure from the faith and teaching’ of the Anglican church. In a statement, the Bishops wrote, “such actions further impair our communion and create deeper mistrust between us”.
What the TEC stands for is summed up further on their website:
Of course, our churches must welcome all and every kind of person. But, like Jesus, we call people to repent of sin and submit to Jesus as King.
Michael Curry – despite his admirable stand for human rights and social justice issues – has apparently abandoned the authority of Scripture and has forsaken the apostolic gospel that calls for repentance and faith.
He and the Episcopal Church are endangering the spiritual life of many thousands of people.
The Royal Wedding Sermon
Michael Curry is, as the sermon told us, a big proponent of love. Jesus is understood as displaying the great, sacrificial love of God. We are called to mimic the redemptive love of God by loving other people. If we could only love more, like God, the world would be a better place.
Now, I’m sure that’s true. The world needs more love. The world would be a much better place if we loved more.
But that’s not the gospel.
For Michael Curry, love also means accepting homosexual practice as one of God’s good gifts to be celebrated.
And yes, before you say it, Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery and would not let others condemn her either. But remember what Jesus said next, “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
The gospel according to the Bible is: Jesus came as God’s King. He died to save people who are by nature God’s enemies. He rose again to rule and will return to judge. The right response to this is not to love and accept people more, but to turn from sin and submit to Jesus.
Appropriate or not?
The most constant criticism was that Michael Curry did a good job because, in the context of a royal wedding, we cannot expect much more. Seemingly, his sermon on love was very appropriate for the occasion.
This is exactly why Michael Curry was invited to speak.
Who does not want to hear a non-offensive sermon about love? The world’s anti-Christian media absolutely loved the sermon. It was a safe bet that the real (offensive!) Gospel of Jesus would not be proclaimed.
Jesus’ words in Luke 6:26 come to mind, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
“Progressive” (liberal, sin-less, accept-me-as-I-am) Christianity, of which Michael Curry is a proponent, loves to use biblical words like “Jesus”, “God” and “the Cross”, but these words are divorced of their intended meaning.
Jesus is not the King who demands repentance.
God is not the Holy One who hates sin.
The Cross is not the place where the anger of God was poured out on Jesus.
Instead, we are told God loves everyone and we should love others. There is an element of truth in that, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
I’m not against love. I’m not against wedding sermons. I’m not against African-American preachers. I’m not against having wise sermons that are appropriate for the occasion.
I am against a watered-down gospel, that sounds impressive, but is no gospel at all – and thus cannot save. In a sermon given by an ordained gospel worker and leader of a denomination.
With millions and millions of spiritually lost people tuned in to the wedding, would it not have been breathtaking if the preacher told the world about real love?
Would it not have been spectacular if millions of people heard the real good news? That while we still rebels, God sent his Son to bear the penalty for our rebellion! That despite all the wrong and lack of love in the world, there is an eternal, world to come that all are invited to! That by turning from sin and self-rule and submitting to King Jesus we can live and love forever!
Magnificent. Glorious. Momentous.
But the world never heard that.
It was a #missedopportunity