In 1923 J. Gresham Machen published his famous work, Christianity and Liberalism, in which he contrasts biblical Christianity with the beliefs of liberal theology showing them to be two utterly different religions. Despite both religions claiming to be Christian they actually held different beliefs about God, Jesus Christ, Scripture, and Salvation. Machen rightly asserted these different foundational beliefs meant they were actually two different religions.
In Machen’s time liberalism was spreading as a halfway house between traditional Christian beliefs and the beliefs of a modernistic culture. Machen rightly pointed out that two belief systems were incompatible. If one chooses to mold Christianity in the likeness of the culture’s demands then the culture is the highest authority and God is thus subservient to culture.
The ramifications of this rift have been on full display over the last century as liberal protestant churches have withered and died and evangelicalism has grown. This shouldn’t be surprising that an attempt to make Christianity relevant and plateable to culture by making it more like culture actually makes the church unnecessary and thus utterly irrelevant. If the church and the culture are the same, then there is no need for the church at all.
Unfortunately, the same thing is happening today with as a new liberalism is spreading within evangelicalism. This new liberalism is revealed most clearly when it comes to the issue of sexual ethics. It hardly seems a day goes by without us hearing of someone claiming the name of Christ but also affirming the rightness of homosexual behavior. The latest example is Jen Hatmaker. I must admit, I knew nothing of Hatmaker before reading her interview with Jonathan Merritt, but her interview demands a sharp response. In it she affirms many troubling things including that homosexual relationships can he holy. Her reasoning is exactly what you would expect from a piece written by Jonathan—anti-Christian nonsense garnished by hip sounding language to make it go down easier all-the-while claiming to be Christian. In other words, this is exactly the type of pieces Merritt is known for.
In her interview, Hatmaker not only affirms that homosexual relationships are holy but she also believes that those practicing homosexual marriages are Christians in need of the church’s support and encouragement in their “holy” marriages. To demonstrate her open-mindedness she explains she would attend a gay wedding to celebrate it and enjoy the “champagne.”
Hatmaker’s statements fly in the face of Scripture’s clear teaching, this is probably why there is little to no reference of Scripture in them. But hey if it sounds good and feels good why not?
We must come to terms with the reality that what Hatmaker said is not uncommon, she was not the first and she will not be the last to reveal her true self. Yet this incident illustrates something for us—her beliefs are an entirely different religion then biblical Christianity. Now by saying that I am not saying Hatmaker is not a Christian, I hope she is, but what she said in that interview is not Christian. What she said is anti-gospel and even anti-Christ. I pray she repents of it. If we take her words with due respect that she actually meant them, then the evidence suggests she is not a Christian. She has been unmasked as a wolf.
The new sexual ethic in our culture is driving much of this new liberalism. Yet this sword has two-edges, and it cuts both ways. Christ warned us that there would be “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who are false prophets (Matt. 7.15-20). It these people who are so self-deceived that they think they know God and are serving him, but on the last day Christ will cast them out (Matt. 7.21-23). Here we see a biological identity crisis that rivals our own day! If a wolf says he is sheep, and really feels deep down that he is a sheep, who is Jesus to say he isn’t?
Christ wanted us to know there are people who believe themselves to be serving God, who believe themselves to be sheep, even great sheep who do mighty things in Jesus’ name. These people they look like sheep, they act like sheep by talking a good game about peace and quiet, but eventually as their fruit comes to the surface we start to hear their howling. This is the two-edged nature of the current sexual revolution, in its attempt to cut the church down for its morality it reveals for us sheep who is actually a sheep and who is a ravenous wolf bringing about destruction.
Jen Hatmaker, Jonathan Merritt, and others like them are showing us their fruit. They do not believe the same things we believe about God, about scripture, about Christ, about salvation, about sin, etc. They follow a wholly different religion then we do despite the fact they read the same book and use the same terms. In the end, we are not united. In the end, we are opposed to each other like wolves and sheep.
As more and more wolves are unmasked it becomes clear to us sheep that not only are they wolves who do not know God, but they are in reality serving this world and this world’s master.
We cannot have friendship with God and this world. To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God and vice versa (James 4.4). You must make the choice yourself. You can follow the path of this new liberalism away from God and toward the world, or you can follow God and turn away from the world. There is no middle road. No third option. There is no halfway house. It did not work for liberal protestants and it will not work for this new liberalism either.
I pray you choose God. I pray that Hatmaker and Merritt choose God over this world. I pray that all the wolves may repent and become real sheep. I also pray that those wolves who don't repent would be unmasked and driven far from the herd so that no more sheep may be maimed or killed.
If what I have written sounds harsh, I assure you it is. So are Christ’s words in Matthew 7 directed at false prophets. He had no love for the destruction brought by wolves to his sheep. And we must not either.
These wolves do not believe the same things we do, and it is time for us to recognize that. Once we see the differences it is clear there is nothing Christian about this new onset of liberalism. I wish it would just abandon the name of “Christian” altogether.
Like the times of Machen, it is time for us evangelicals to go our separate way from this false religion. May we have nothing to do with this idolatry. And just like the old liberalism, the new liberalism will wither and die in search for relevancy as the halfway house between Christianity and the world. When the church becomes the world, the church becomes an unnecessary redundancy.
If Scripture is right, that no unrepentant homosexual will receive salvation, then this is a major issue which will bring division. If Scripture is right then Hatmaker and all who agree with her are wrong. If Scripture is right then Hatmaker’s actions are not loving, understanding, or helpful. If Scripture is right, then Hatmaker’s beliefs and actions are hateful, deceitful, and destructive toward homosexuals. But hey at least she got to enjoy the champagne at the wedding.