Evangelicalism was once known for its theological convictions, like the centrality of Scripture and the need for personal conversion. Now, it’s known for Trumpian politics, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, megachurch scandals, and grift.
Clearly, it’s a movement in crisis. And according to New Testament scholar Constantine Campbell, if the movement doesn’t correct course, it’s in danger of becoming shipwrecked.
In this latest podcast, Dr. Campbell, author of Jesus v. Evangelicals: A Biblical Critique of a Wayward Movement, critiques evangelicalism using Scripture as his standard. And he shows that it’s not Christianity that’s failed in this present age. Instead, it’s evangelicalism that’s failed in recent times to behave Christianly.
For example, Jesus taught his disciples to win the culture by making disciples. But today, evangelicals are trying to transform culture by gaining political power.
Similarly, evangelicals today rail against some sins, like sexual immorality or perversion. But we wink at equally, or even more pernicious sins, like pride and arrogance.
Those grieved by what we’re seeing in the church will surely be encouraged by this podcast. In discussing what’s wrong in the church, Dr. Campbell also describes what it would look like to do things right and to truly follow the example of Jesus.
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Dr. Constantine Campbell
JULIE ROYS, DR. CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL
JULIE ROYS 00:04
For many evangelicals, evangelicalism and Jesus are one in the same. But according to New Testament scholar, Dr. Constantine Campbell, that’s no longer the case. The movement is in disarray and unless evangelicals correct course, they’re in danger of shipwrecking their faith. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today Dr. Constantine Campbell, author of Jesus versus Evangelicalism, A Biblical Critique of a Wayward Movement, joins me, and if you’re a regular listener to this podcast, it’s not going to come as any surprise that evangelicalism is in trouble. But what Dr. Campbell does so well is explain why what’s being modeled in evangelicalism is antithetical to the gospel. To quote G.K. Chesterton, “It’s not that the Christian ideal has been tried and found wanting. It’s been found difficult and left untried”. For example, Jesus taught His disciples to win the culture by making disciples. But today, many evangelicals are trying to change the culture by gaining political power. Similarly, evangelicals today railed against some sins like sexual immorality, or perversion, but many wink at equally or even more pernicious sins, like pride and arrogance.
Friends, if you’re aggrieved by what you’re seeing in the church, I believe this podcast is going to encourage you. Yes, we’re going to be talking about what’s wrong in the church, but in doing so, Dr. Campbell describes what it would look like to do things right and to truly follow the example of Jesus. I’m so excited to share this podcast with you.
But first, I’d like to thank two of our sponsors, Accord Analytics and Marquardt of Barrington. In your ministry, your business, your reputation is your most valuable asset. But what do you do when you suspect misconduct? Hopefully, you do the opposite of many of the organizations I report on. Instead of covering up wrongdoing, you investigate it, and Accord Analytics can help. In just 72 hours, their team of experts can scour emails, call logs and other records to produce usable evidence. They also can analyze your organization to identify specific threats and to suggest best practices. For a free consultation go to ACCORDANALYTICS.COM. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Kurt Marquardt are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.COM. Well again, joining me is Dr. Constantine Campbell, a New Testament scholar, author, and documentary host. Dr. Campbell is a Professor and Associate Research Director at Sydney College of Divinity in Sydney, Australia. He’s also the author of several books, including his latest, Jesus versus Evangelicalism, A Biblical Critique of a Wayward Movement. So, Dr. Campbell, welcome, and thanks so much for writing this book and for taking the time to join me today.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 03:08
Oh, thanks so much for having me. Julie. It’s great to meet you and speak with you today.
JULIE ROYS 03:12
Well, I feel the same way. And I’m honored that you referred to The Roys Report several times in this book, it’s always just super, super encouraging when we see the impact of the work that we do, not just here in the US, but in Australia, too.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 03:28
It’s so important. I mean, I can’t think of another ministry really like it. Just so important to be keeping churches and church leaders accountable. And not in a sort of policing kind of way, but in a way that has genuine concern for the church. I just think it’s so important, and I’m really thankful for the work you’re doing.
JULIE ROYS 03:47
Well, thank you for saying that. It is a joy to speak with you. To get to our topic, I don’t think it probably comes as a surprise to anybody that’s followed my work that evangelicalism is, as you say, a wayward movement, a movement that’s lost its moorings. Yet, It’s sad to speak of it that way because I know historically and for me and my family, which goes back many generations of following the Lord, evangelicalism has been known as a movement that really is about vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. And so, I think that’s hard to come to grips with. But I think any evangelical who really loves Jesus has to admit that that’s what it at least is becoming, or in fact, has become, and you even call it perhaps a pseudo-Christianity. What led you to the conclusion that we are in this state?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 04:41
Well, you know, as you say, it’s difficult for anyone who has really identified with the movement that we call evangelicalism. It’s difficult to sort of stand back and critique it. For a long time, you know, I became a Christian as an adult in an evangelical church and I was trained in an evangelical seminary, and my entire academic career has been teaching in evangelical institutions. And that label that badge means so much to the people who wear it, who use it. And nevertheless, as you say, these are very troubling times for evangelicalism. And what tends to happen here in Australia is we say, oh we’re not that sort of evangelical. We say, well, they’re the Americans, or they’re this sort of evangelical, we’re another sort. But the reality is, that distinction really doesn’t mean very much to anyone who’s not inside the movement. And even within the movement. A lot of people don’t really understand what the label is supposed to mean, you know. A lot of people think it just means evangelistic, rather than a set of theological convictions or a way of being a Christian. But I sort of came to this point of critique, I touched on it briefly in the book, but kind of as a quiet critic over the years, since I’m a biblical scholar in New Testament in particular, there’s so many opportunities when we’re looking at the text of Scripture with students to be thinking about, well, there’s hear what the Bible says, and, you know, and I would say, I don’t often hear people speaking about this theme that so clearly here in in Paul’s writing, so I don’t hear preachers talking about this very much. Or sometimes, you know, I heard in a sermon the other day, someone said this, and this text is clearly you know, stands in direct contrast with what I heard or, and students would offer their perspectives and was more of a sort of internal critique initially, a kind of, I guess, as an evangelical myself, wanted to be guided by what I think is the most important evangelical commitment, which is the authority of the scriptures, and to allow my faith, my belief system to be shaped by that, even if I’d heard other things or if I’d been taught other things. So, I wanted to allow the Bible to critique that. And I wanted that for my students to create a sort of robust, biblical evangelicalism.
But the reality is, it’s sort of cut to a point where I guess I couldn’t be a quiet critic anymore. And things sort of reached a point for me personally, but also in the movement, especially in America, especially with certain political things going on, where I think for the sake of evangelicalism, something needed to be said, publicly, and sort of pretty strongly. And so that’s sort of how the book came about.
JULIE ROYS 07:37
And you talk about a number of different symptoms of evangelicalism being, you know, sick. That we really are having trouble, but you say this is, really these are the symptoms that reflected a deeper illness. And so, I want to dig into some of that, as we kind of walk through this book, chapter by chapter. Sometimes I don’t do that when I do books, but this one was so good. It’s like every chapter I want to talk about. So, if we may split this up into a couple of parts, just because, again, it’s really rich.
And you start with, and you’ve alluded to this, God and country and this priority that American evangelicals, I don’t know if this is around the world, but American evangelicals seem to place on cultural and political transformation of our nation, and sometimes marrying America as the city on the hill when I don’t think it was mentioned in Scripture as the city on the hill. But evangelicalism has always had sort of a social action kind of component to it, but it seems like something’s really shifted. And I think it probably shifted a long time ago. But I know for me, I didn’t realize how profoundly it had shifted until the Trump administration. From your perspective, what causes you alarm, as you think about the politization of the gospel, and this God and country theme that really is very, very strong in America?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 09:09
Julie, there is so much to say about that? Right? I think the starting point would be this assumption, that there’s something special in God’s purposes about America. And I don’t want to deny that that could entirely be the case. But the sort of assumption that America is and ought to be a kind of Christian nation. And that’s sort of been there historically, really, from the beginning of America’s history since European colonization. And this, to my mind really does not reflect biblical teaching. There’s not one particular country that, you know, has a special place in God’s plans. Or if there is one, it’s Israel, and as you say, in the Old Covenant in the Old Testament. So, I think a lot of American Christians want to preserve that sense that America is a Christian country. So that’s one thing.
The second is how to go about that, but also how to go about any cultural influence or political influence. In the book, I sort of contrast the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, with the sort of religious right movement beginning in the 80s. And this is not my observation, but I repeat this observation that the civil rights movement was not partisan. It didn’t connect itself to one particular party. It was political in the sense that it appealed to politicians and appealed for legislative change in those sorts of movements. But it did it from a nonpartisan position so that it could actually function as a prophetic voice in society. And it did it the long way, which is to try to persuade American minds through nonviolent protest, through television, through interviews, through preaching, and then gradually, you know, if you can persuade the population, then politicians fall in line, you know, that’s how democracy works.
And so, the Civil Rights Movement achieved enduring change, because it actually changed the way America thought about race. Whereas the religious right movement went for the shortcut approach, which is try to achieve change by using political power. So just go straight to the top, win offices, get your people in position, and then the lawmakers can actually affect policy. But the problem is, if you don’t take the people with you, then it’s not going to create enduring cultural change.
And it actually and this leads to my third problem, which is that Christians should have a totally otherworldly view of power, and how power is used. And I think this is one of the things that go right deep into the heart of the illness of American evangelicalism in its present state, is that it wants to exert power in a worldly way, which is, simply I’m going to overpower my enemy. And I’m going to use political power, in this case, to get what I want for me and my tribe. And that just seems antithetical to the way the New Testament addresses issues of power.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians in chapter one says that the cross of Christ turns upside down human power structures, and its actually this foolishness to Greeks. Because how can you worship a crucified God, like, what sort of powerful God gets himself crucified? But Christ crucified is the power of God for salvation. And so, it turns the whole economy of power upside down, so that in God’s economy in the kingdom of God, if you like, the economy, the kingdom of God, the weak are exalted, those who are humble are exalted, and those who exalt themselves are humbled are lowered. And if Christians don’t operate that way, in seeking to change culture and influence the world around them, then they’re actually just being secular, and just being like the rest of the world, where the strongest winds, and that is not the way of Jesus, that’s not the way of Christianity and it fundamentally misses the heart of what Christianity is about.
JULIE ROYS 13:35
And I remember back in 2016, writing some commentaries, and I lost actually, supporters for doing this because I was like, if we’re gonna say that character matters, we can’t all of a sudden jettison that because this is the Republican candidate. And it was shocking to me to hear my brothers and sisters in Christ, I thought we were on the same wavelength, make arguments, rationalizing why we had to basically shelve all of our values and commitments to get us a Supreme Court, you know, that’s going to vote our way. And we’ve seen some benefits of that. Yeah, we have a court right now that overturned Roe v. Wade, wonderful. I’m glad that happened. However, at what cost? At what cost? And that’s what I love that you bring out and I said this, I said, we are going to see, we may have some political gains. But at the end of all of this, the harm to the church is going to be profound. And I don’t see evangelicalism as a whole right now willing to even acknowledge how much harm has been done yet alone, repent of it. I mean, as you look at it, what kind of what’s been the lasting damage of us adopting this approach?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 14:50
There’s so much, but I think the probably the thing that I find most sad is that the very reason for exercising power in this way is to try to transform a community or a culture to be more God-wood, you know, to reflect God’s values. But the irony is by pursuing political power in this way, I think it’s made a culture deaf to the message of the church. Because all they see are power mongering hypocrites, who are trying to get their own way at any expense. I mean, look, to be honest with you, Trump is a threat to the world, not just America, you know. He’s actually such a dangerous figure. And I think, you know, to put the world at risk, in this way, simply to get policies passed, and to get the Supreme Court justices that you want. Like, I’ll just speak frankly, it’s doing a deal with the devil. And that never works out well. So, the sacrifice of character and integrity, and the sacrifice of the message of Jesus, for political power is, you know, I don’t want to be too dramatic about it. But I think it’s put the cause of Christ in America backwards decades.
JULIE ROYS 16:11
It has, and we have a huge PR problem now. And you say, I heard you saying earlier that we forgot that culture is downstream of politics, right? You change a culture before you change politics. But you also change a culture by changing the heart. And we have to start there. And right now, the hearts are hard to our message. And they’re associating things with Christ that have nothing to do with Christ. And we’ve got some, some hard, hard work to do. And I think some repenting some public repenting to do before, people are going to listen to us, hopefully, in our private realm of the people we encounter who are non-Christians. I think they’re surprised often now when they get to know us that we’re not this thing, that we are in the media. And hopefully we’re not that way in private. But we’ve got some work to do.
We have had in politics, obviously, an us/them mentality, right? And that’s caused a lot of problems. But you also talk about there being an us/them mentality within the church, and this tribalism, and it is so so true. I mean, you have the reformed community, you have the Charismatics, you have, and I read that, and I thought of actually a really a sad, but it will be forever. In my memory of one of the first meetings I had been at Moody Bible Institute, I was with Moody Radio for about 10 years. And we were having a meeting. And we were trying to figure out what the new president wanted and what he liked. And it wasn’t about like what Jesus wants. It was about what the new president wants. And I remember at one point, the VP of broadcasting drawing a circle, and putting writing in the middle of that circle, charismatics, and then drawing a line through the circle. And I remember at the time just being shocked, and I’m sure had I not been there for just I’ve been there two weeks. So, like, I’m just like, as green as can be, that I probably would have said something that might have gotten me ousted out of there quicker than I was. But at the time, just so shocked that these are our brothers and sisters, and we’re drawing a circle and putting a line through it? I mean, are we nuts? But that’s what’s been happening. And it really is an us/them ,if you’re not a part, not only or if you’re not an evangelical, but if you’re not in evangelical who’s part of my tribe, then you’re not with me, you’re against me. Explain how you see that, and, again, the damage this is doing to the cause of Christ.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 18:48
So, I think tribalism is a terrible danger to the church because we get stuck in these idiosyncratic sycophantic echo chambers. And we just kind of spiral down in them and become weirder and weirder and more off base, and more and more off base, because we don’t have anyone challenging and correcting us. Yeah, I do think it’s an insidious problem, because so many evangelicals really are blind to it. It sort of happens often without us noticing. And this is an area where my own context here in Australia, that issue is very relevant here, just as much as in the US. In some ways, you know, I got caught up in it myself, and I needed to kind of leave Australia. And when I was in America, particularly, I was able to look back on the scene there and see it a little more objectively and see some of the things that were going on, that really could only be described as tribalism. So that if you line up behind a certain leader, as opposed to a different leader, who may believe 99.9% of all the same things, who might both be faithful people who might both be, you know, great leaders, but if you line up behind one rather than the other, you’re the enemy, you know, or even if it’s not put that strongly, you’re just sort of left out, you know, you’re just not in the in group. You’re in that other group. And you know, and we have a certain opinion about that other group and It’s just not, it’s just not acceptable, even if any particular tribe could claim that they’re 100%, right in theology and 100% right in practice, they’re 100% wrong to exclude others on those grounds, because that again, betrays the spirit and character of Jesus, who said, If you love one another, then they will know you’re my disciples. That is how the disciples of Jesus are identified by their love for one another. And he didn’t say, if you love one another, and they’re Calvinist, or if you love one another, and they’re charismatic, or if you love one another, and they’re inerrantists. No. He says, If you love one another, and I think that actually gives us if we take all of it tremendous freedom, to embrace one another, and recognize, you know, we’re aliens and strangers in the world, we are fallen human beings. And yes, we have the Spirit of God, if you trust in Christ. But we’re all so flawed, and so wrong about so many things. And we’re on a journey, you know, where we’re going to learn, and God will teach us, and we will teach each other. But no one’s got 100% right, and even if you do, where’s the compassion for others who are not there yet, or who think differently, or who’ve come from a different culture, and so don’t read the Bible the same way that you do? Like, actually, by listening to them, you might see things about the scriptures that you hadn’t seen before. Because we’re all sort of blinded by our western individualistic, modern mindset that shapes the way we read the text. And so, any reading of the text and any practice of Christianity must be conducted with humility. And we should invite contrary views to sort of open our minds and our eyes to see things that we may be missing.
JULIE ROYS 22:18
That’s interesting, you say that. I mean, it’s almost what happens if you continue to inbreed within a group, right? I mean, it’s their weaknesses. Yeah, it is what happens. And we’ve lost that someone who might think differently than us, might be, God forbid, right, and we might be wrong, or might add some nuance, which there’s no nuance anymore. And there’s no humility. I mean, the amount of arrogance to think that you have the scriptures figured out, right? It’s mind boggling to me.
We have this us versus them within evangelicalism, we obviously have it in spades, I think between us and the world. And we see different groups within evangelicalism capitalizing on that right? To sort of, I call, well, actually, I didn’t get this for myself, Coleman Luck calls it the politics of panic. And he’s right, we do a lot of this. Because if you can fire up the base with a lot of fear, you can motivate them towards something. But I think it’s created a real problem with how we’re perceived by the world because we’re, you know, it says, they will know you’re Christians by your love. And yet they’re certain groups of people, and you talk about them, you know, LGBTQ community is not seeing us as loving them. And I don’t see you saying we need to throw out our core theological convictions. But what I do see you saying, and I’ve said this to some people recently is that I feel like my core convictions haven’t changed, but how I hold them, has changed. Where I find myself more willing to sit in discomfort, because it’s uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable, but to sit with that, and just keep my mouth shut, and just listen. And how can I love you, you know. But it’s pretty tough to do. And, you know, I see, as I’m reading your book, you are saying, if we don’t come up with a different way of engaging the world, we’re not going to engage the world. Right?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 24:28
Yeah, I think that’s a good way to put it. Yeah, we’re just going to be treated as well, actually increasingly in the West. And I think in Australia, we may be ahead of the states, but this is probably where the states is going. Christianity is seen as immoral. So, it used to be that Christians were good people. Then Christians were neutral. You can believe what you want as long as you don’t foist it on other people through to now being Christians are the most immoral people because the one thing that modern society won’t tolerate is intolerance. And Christians are perceived as intolerant. And I think you’re absolutely right. This in one way has nothing to do with what you actually believe about those issues. It has everything to do with how you hold those beliefs. As you said, I really like that phrase. And again, it has to do with how we love other people. We’re all products of a broken world. If I know God, and you know, God, that’s by the grace of God, it’s not by any merit of our own. That’s evangelical theology. Right? That’s we haven’t deserved this place in God’s family. We haven’t warranted the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is God’s free gift to us. And so, who are we to look down on someone who has not yet received that gift? You know. That’s just appalling, to be honest. And again, I think we need to think about what’s our ultimate goal here? Is our ultimate goal to win something? Is it to take power? Is it to dominate someone or judge someone or be over someone? Or is it to point them to the love of God? How do you point someone to the love of God by telling them that their whole way of living is evil and corrupted from the devil, and I want nothing to do with you? It’s just like it’s not going to work that way.
JULIE ROYS 26:33
Judson University is a top ranked Christian University, providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus, the school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to JUDSONU.EDU. Well, and I think we’re entering an era where Christian values, like you’re saying, are no longer the dominant cultural accepted, you know, value. So, we’re going to have to live a little differently. And I just think of my grandpa, when he was a missionary to Sierra Leone, West Africa. And, of course, in the communities they went to, the villages, there were chiefs with many wives. And if a chief got converted, I mean, one, you don’t lead with your living an immoral lifestyle by marrying many wives. I mean, I don’t think if you lead with that, you’re really gonna get very far in a culture. But there were things in the culture that were horrendous. I mean, they did female circumcision. I mean, just horrendous things. But they didn’t lead with that. You know, my mother used to always have this saying that you don’t try to clean a fish before you catch it. And we need to start allowing the gospel of Christ to change hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work, instead of us relying on us doing the work and changing things to look clean to make us feel, okay, or to say to the Mission Board, well it was as a Mission Board then you know, hey, this is what we’ve done. And this is what it looks like right now, instead of this is a mess, and we’re living in the mess, and by God’s grace, we think he’s going to redeem it. But I mean, I think right now, we are living in I mean, there’s, there’s a mess. There’s no doubt about it. But I think as believers, man, we just cannot be leading this way.
Let’s talk about one that’s a little more I’d say very, very common in the church, the acceptable sins, and the unacceptable sins. Because we’re kind of touching on that right now. Because we do have our acceptable sins, you can be a glutton, and speaking of DL Moody, very, very large man. That’s okay. You know, in the United States, that’s absolutely fine. Or, you know, greed seems to be just fine in our capitalist society. We’re fine with that. But sexual immorality, abortion, drug addiction, these things. Those are sins that are not going to be acceptable. Talk about that a little bit about why do we have sort of this dichotomy of sins? And I do like you don’t just sin-level the whole thing and say they’re all the same. But we’re kind of upside down a little bit, aren’t we on what sins get our attention and which ones don’t?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 29:35
Yeah, I think you’re right. We are upside down. And as I kind of cheekily refer to it, if you look at the broad teaching of the Bible, the most biblical sin is pride. And I sort of argue that that is really at the root of not being able to be right with God because if Jesus message is to repent and believe the good news, where repentance requires humility because you got to turn around from the direction you’re going and come back, you got to admit, okay, I was wrong and to go the other way. And to believe that means to trust and have to make allegiance with Jesus. And so, you’re saying, Okay, I’m not going to go my own way, I’m not going to be boss in my own life, I’m going to make Jesus Lord, and I’m going to trust him what he’s done for me. So, repentance and belief that repentance and faith are like, that’s his message. And it’s impossible to do either of those things if you’re full of pride. And Jesus teaches in several parables, especially in Luke’s gospel, about the difference between humility and pride. And perhaps the most shocking is in Luke 19, where he talks about the Pharisee, and the tax collector praying in the temple, and the tax collector, you know, this is a trope that every one of his listeners would understand. This is a simple person who, you know, supports the Romans, those occupiers those evil occupiers, and cheats our own people to line his own pockets. So, he’s despised, and it’s kind of the definition along with prostitutes of what a sinner is in that culture. And then the Pharisee, who is this elite religious leader who, you know, is so impressive by religious standards and more serious and committed than any other religious group in Israel in the day, and they’re both praying at the temple, and the Pharisee prays basically saying, I’m great look at me. And I’m glad I’m not like these other people, doesn’t ask for anything, doesn’t show any dependence on God doesn’t ask for God’s mercy just basically says, Thanks, God, I’m not like these other people. Whereas the tax collector beats his chest, can’t even look up to heaven. He’s full of shame and says, God, be merciful to me. And Jesus says, the tax collector, not the Pharisee, walked down from the temple justified, made right with God. And it’s incredibly powerful. I still get shivers down the spine, when I think about it, that parable, because it just turns again, turns everything upside down, which is what Jesus did again, and again and again. And religious performance if it’s mixed with pride is not celebrated by Jesus. But someone who’s committed terrible sins yet is humble and throws themselves upon God’s mercy is exalted by Jesus. It says, be like that person, be like that person.
And unfortunately, our churches, and you document them. And this is one of the reasons your ministry is so important is that you actually shine a light on leaders who are committing the kinds of sins that our evangelical culture tolerates, but that Jesus does not tolerate and that the Bible as a whole does not tolerate. I mean, in Proverbs, it even says that God hates the proud. I mean, that’s so strong. That’s so strong. He hates people who are proud. And so how do we have church cultures that permit leaders who are proud, or who are arrogant or who are bullies, or who dominate, or who exert power in these unchristian ways to last in their role until it eventually becomes too toxic, and they have to go? Whereas commit one of these other sins, sexual morality is the most sort of prominent one in our minds, I guess. They’re gone like that overnight. So, what’s gone wrong? Yeah. And that’s what that chapter about acceptable sins is all about that we’ve actually we’ve got it; we’ve got the balance incorrect. And that Jesus offers mercy and grace to repentant sinners. And especially they seem to keep coming up as the ones who failed sexually in various ways. And he doesn’t rub their noses in it, you know, but he forgives them. It says that their sins are forgiven, but the proud religious leaders who resist Jesus and who resist repenting, received no mercy from him. There’s no word of comfort for them. In fact, he condemns them in pretty much the strongest language possible.
JULIE ROYS 34:23
And I think you see, in the investigations that we’ve done, I mean, this has been one of the hardest things is getting the church to take bullying and intimidation and spiritual abuse seriously. And I remember like when I was first reporting on Harvest Bible Chapel and James McDonald I remember somebody saying, you know, sort of tongue in cheek but I wish this were just sexual immorality, it’d be so much easier. And I’m like, Yeah, you’re right. I report that there’s no argument about whether this is bad enough to disqualify you from ministering. But we have you know, right now I did so many stories on Andy Wood, who’s the successor for Rick Warren at Saddleback, and even had a colleague of mine do an interview recently with Rick Warren and I was just so grieved over it. And I reached out to him, and I said something because they were chalking it up to just workplace issues and administrative type issues. And that’s not really a serious issue. And I’m like, No, this was absolute bullying, and spiritual abuse. And yet it’s getting a wink within the church. And of course, Andy Wood went on to succeed Rick Warren. And very concerning when you have that kind of pattern because it doesn’t usually go away.
But we really have forgotten, and I used to have a pastor that said, there’s one choice in life, and it’s between pride and worship. And the more knowledge we have, right, the more theologically correct we are, the more susceptible we are right? Because knowledge puffs up to those sins. So, I appreciate you dealing with that. And you go into one of the unacceptable sins, which to you is personal, which is divorce and remarriage. And I have talked to so many women within the church, like Nagmeh Panahi, who was pressured to go back to her abusing husband, Pastor Saeed, because it ruined the image, right? And we’ve made this idol out of marriage. But I’ve talked to so many women who have encountered that in one way, shape or form within the church. You encountered it yourself because you experienced divorce. What was the church’s response to you? Did it feel like Jesus to you?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 36:36
First off, I’d say some people, and some responses really did. And that was kind of a saving grace for me, in a way, because I have to say that this is the time when I didn’t know if my faith would survive it, to be honest with you, because I think we had made such a strong connection between marriage and Christian faith, that it was almost like, no one would say this, but it was almost like, you know, if your marriage fails, are you even a Christian anymore? Like, that’s how strong.
JULIE ROYS 37:08
It’s like apostasy too, yeah.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 37:10
Yeah, exactly. And that’s just not a biblical concept at all. And it undermines the mercy and grace of God. It sort of says, there’s one unforgivable sin and it’s divorce. And, you know, no one can recover from that and be a Christian. And it’s just total rubbish, thankfully, and I had a few people in my life who knew that and reminded me of that, and who drew nearer to me, and I thank God for them. And actually, that experience, contrary to what I thought was gonna happen, really deepened, and renewed my faith, because I really saw the grace of God working through those people and working through my life circumstances as well.
But to be sure, there were many others and church culture in general, that was I felt not reflective of Jesus; judgmental, jumping to conclusions, cutting relationship, believing rumors, and rumor mongering, and gossip mongering, taking sides, all this sort of stuff that you it sort of, I mean, I think back on some of these people, and if you told me that was going to happen, before it happened, I would think that they would never react that way, you know. No, that’s not going to be you know, surely God’s love, you know, surely common sense, you know, but I was just shocked and surprised again, and again, how, I guess I put it down to how ill equipped some parts of the church are in dealing with what I would regard as a major personal catastrophe. Some people just couldn’t cope with it. And didn’t have a way to think around it except, well divorce is wrong. So, either fix it or I don’t see how you can be a Christian. And it’s just like, yeah, so writing a chapter about that was really personal obviously. If you’ve read it, as I know you have, but the listeners if they read it, you know, it’s personal, I probably didn’t succeed. I tried to keep my personal feelings and hurt out of it so that it’s useful for everybody, whether it’s those who are suffering, post-divorce, or suffering in a marriage where this even sounds wrong, but there needs to be a divorce, but also to help the rest of the church, to know how to care for people in those situations, and to show the love of Christ because as I read the Bible, there’s no failure that disqualifies you from the love of God. That’s what Paul says in Romans 8. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ, famine, hardship, nor divorce. So, I rest my head on that truth.
JULIE ROYS 39:51
And you say there’s a couple of questions that are helpful to ask and a couple of questions that are not helpful to ask just on a practical level. Walk us through those.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 40:01
Yeah, I think people should be able to work them out for themselves, if you operate from a posture of what is the loving thing for this person in front of me? Rather than thinking, I’ve got to satisfy the inner juror and decide, you know, is this person guilty of something, needs to be rebuked, or, you know, the sort of inner policeman or inner juror. Bhat if we’re operating out of a genuine concern for the other person, a good question to ask will be are you okay? How can I help you? Do you want to talk about it? Bad questions to ask, in my experience are what is the biblical grounds for your divorce? Is there someone else? These sorts of questions come with assumptions that are accusatory before you know anything about the situation. And they’re just not helpful. It’s a bit like your grandpa’s experience. You don’t lead with that stuff, you know. First, relate and connect and be loving. And I think if someone wants to talk about their situation, that’s fine. But it’s actually not other people’s job to judge whose fault it was that this separation or divorce happened, or, you know, what sins were committed. And that sort of thing.
JULIE ROYS 41:17
Yeah. I mean, what do you say, I’m guessing when you applied for your job at the seminary, you’re at, you had to answer some questions about it. And there are some legitimate places where, obviously, we need to explain ourselves if we’re going to be in positions of leadership. But for the average person, can we not love without knowing all the answers and just love imperfect people living imperfect lives, in an imperfect world, right?
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 41:46
That’s right. We’re aliens and strangers in a fallen world. And we’re all getting hit and bruised and hurting others. And it’s all part of the messy life that we live in. And yeah, I think in positions of responsibility, especially in a theological context, questions need to be asked. But again, the way they’re asked is very important. There’s more to finding out whether someone is capable or should be in a position of leadership, as The Roys Report keeps pointing out well, okay. I find it extraordinary that the elders of Mars Hill concluded that Mark Driscoll was not guilty of any immorality was their wording, right? So, what they mean by morality is, he didn’t commit adultery, and his marriage stayed together as pretty much what it means. But being domineering and arrogant, and being a bully, is not counted as immorality. So, that’s crazy, you know? So, I think when people are being interviewed for those sorts of positions, or whatever, the question should not be just around, how’s your marriage? Or can you tell me about your divorce? But also, like, you know, looking for how do you exert power? You know, what sort of leader are you? You know, how do you treat people who disagree with you? Those sorts of things, which are just as important in my view.
JULIE ROYS 43:09
Well, this concludes part one of my podcast with Dr. Constantine Campbell. In part two, we’ll explore the mega church and its impact on evangelicalism. And Dr. Campbell doesn’t mince words, but actually says this model of church is destroying evangelicalism, and it’s a far cry from the model described by the apostle Paul.
- CONSTANTINE CAMPBELL 43:28
Paul talks about this model of the church where it’s building itself up in love. It’s an idea of every member of the church working together, as the body of Christ grows in maturity. Not numerically, necessarily, but in maturity, and in faith. The consumerism of the mega church model is that you see a few people working very hard, the professionals, but the average person attends.
JULIE ROYS 43:54
Well, again, that’s just a taste of part two of my podcast with Dr. Constantine Campbell, author of Jesus Versus Evangelicals. And if you enjoy this podcast, you’re really going to enjoy the next one. I also believe you’re going to enjoy Dr. Campbell’s book, Jesus Versus Evangelicals. And in April, if you give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report, we’ll send you a copy of Jesus Versus Evangelicals. Plus, you’ll be helping support our ministry which is almost 100% grassroots funded. We don’t have big donors or grants or advertising. We have you the people who are passionate to see evil exposed, and the church renewed. So, to give your gift and get a copy of Jesus Versus Evangelicals, go to JULIEROYS.COM/CONATE.
Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to the Roys report on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please Share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you were blessed and encouraged.
33 thoughts on “JESUS v. Evangelicals”
I wonder if you have read Jesus v Evangelicals? i came to the book with high expectations but was concerned about his remarks on same sex marriage, interpreting the Bible and a host of other issues. Was not expecting that in a book put out by Zondervan. At any rate keep up the good work!
Yes, I have. I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Do you have a quote of what concerns you?
Interesting…Never have I thought this country had a special place in God’s plan. Only that because of our Christian foundation, our country would be blessed – and has been – as long as we put God first.
We are seeing daily what the consequences are when no longer putting God first and it has to stop or we have to take responsibility for sending our children and grandchildren to hell in a hand basket.
That being said, the evangelical politicization that you seem to be referring to HAS to be handled at the polls because in the US that is the only tool citizens have. Christians have to attempt to stop or counter the rampant moral decline we see daily because that very same moral decline is happening at the polls as well.
For you to say that evangelicals have politicized Christianity and then condemn certain politicians is in itself hypocrisy. The most unfortunate part to all of this is that we are handed our candidates based on a tiny percentage of people making those choices. This isn’t a power issue – because we have NONE!
What truly concerns me is for Christians to attack other Christians with insinuations of politicization while displaying their own political preferences…which just says “fine for me but not for thee” and then the discourse becomes irrelevant.
If we are to in fact win the hearts and minds of people by our actions, then evangelicals need to stop putting themselves on pedestals… do not attack, condemn and call out other Christians because… stones and such… and it makes us all look like hypocrites…not a good look for any of us.
Susan: Most evangelicals today are nothing like Jesus. They emulate Trump and not Jesus. They have little to no moral authority. I found the following that applys for many evangelicals–““Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is used to remind people not to criticize others for a flaw that you yourself possess.”
Susie, how does one do this, “If we are to in fact win the hearts and minds of people by our actions, then evangelicals need to stop putting themselves on pedestals…” – at the polls?
You said earlier, …”the evangelical politicization that you seem to be referring to HAS to be handled at the polls because in the US that is the only tool citizens have.”
Is that the only tool Christians have? Susie, what does the Bible say?
“Evangelicalism was once known for its theological convictions, like the centrality of Scripture and the need for personal conversion. Now, it’s known for Trumpian politics, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, megachurch scandals, and grift.”
This is WAY too broad of a brush and I’m disappointed that it is used to paint evangelicals in this summary. I have attended numerous evangelical churches for 50 years, and cannot relate to this description at all. I have not experienced what is described here, except for what I read on this website.
It’s like reading the crime section in a newspaper every day, and ascribing what you’ve read to the entire community. It’s simply not true or accurate. It’s also unhelpful.
Countless evangelical churches love people, share the gospel, help the poor, assist the weak, support orphans and widows, make disciples of all nations, speak the truth in love about ALL sin, handle sexual misconduct and unbiblical divorces in a humble, biblical, God-honoring and victim-supporting way.
Please, use a pen or pencil, not a paint brush.
I was speaking about what evangelicalism is “known for,” not what is necessarily practiced in most evangelical churches. Rightly or wrongly, this is the public’s perception of us. Here’s just one study that supports that, but there are others.
Thank you for the link. I read it in its entirety and still see no support for this statement:
“Now, it’s known for Trumpian politics, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, megachurch scandals, and grift.”
The survey results for all US adults that would use these words to describe evangelicals:
Politically Conservative = 27%
Narrow Minded = 22%
Homophobic = 18%
Misogynistic = 10%
Racist = 10%
Selfish = 6%
Even if you look at just the non-Christian data points, the negative types or stereotypes are all WELL below 50%.
Journalistically, more precise terms are needed rather than “Evangelicals are known for ______.”
I read the New York Times daily and this is the type of broad-brushed phrasing I see from them. They are part of the press that pushes the negative stereotypes of Christians in general and evangelicals in particular. I WOULD agree that your “Evangelicals are known for ______” would resonate with many NYT readers, but NYT readers don’t represent the majority of the US adult population, as evidenced by the Barna poll results.
Finally, even the book itself, “Jesus v. Evangelicals” takes care to distinguish between:
(i) theological evangelicals, who have evangelical theological convictions (Scripture as God’s authoritative word, understood to teach Jesus as God’s son who died to reconcile sinful people to God and give them eternal life);
(ii) cultural evangelicals, who adopt a lifestyle, practice of church and worship informed by theological evangelicalism, without necessarily holding evangelical theological views;
(iii) political evangelicals, who have (often party) political convictions, and may not fit either of the other two types.
Thank you for provoking thought, I have ordered the book and will read it!
I wonder what the public perception of Jesus is according to Barna. I am more concerned about my neighbors perception of me.
Real simple. At one time we had modest churches and small congregations and community oriented. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone helped each other. Since the seventies when a satanic force arrived called televangelists and mega churches and all their showmanship vs simple messaging we are going downhill. Rock star pastors Christian music award ceremonies. It’s all Hollywood under the guise of Christianity. All on display with the worshiping of people vs Jesus. It’s all look at me look at me look at me(but remember to look at Jesus too. Right after I fix my makeup and adjust my Versace dress). Hubris people it’s called hubris. I doubt these people getting their awards for (fill in the blank events). I saw some guy make a fool of himself crying and falling on his knees and people said, he is do filled with the spirit. No he’s not. Just an entertainer. I grew up with hymns and song. Today it’s just noise. Have fun folks and remember to check your makeup before going on stage.
I work with is a lesbian. 2 days ago I had a rough day at work. Yesterday she brought me a gift and did an act of kindness. I thought all day. “What would I say if she asked me if I thought homosexuality is a sin?” I know what the O.T. says and what Paul told the church of Corinth. I realized what is sin. I also realized that I am not God. So my conclusion is, “I can’t be your judge. But I will be your friend! I am not in a place to accept or reject your choices. But Jesus was was/is a friend of sinners. Which I am co-chief with Paul. If you want to read the texts I will with you.” Leave it at that. I’m a poor judge and I still believe in the Bible is inspired. The Holy Spirit is going to work via the text not me. Luke 7:38-50, is the kind of follower of Christ I want to be! The immoral woman at the feet of Jesus not Simon a smug Pharisee. We are all fallen and desperate need for His grace and mercy!
I think the key to your response should be “Jesus was/is a friend of sinners” rather than dodging her direct question, if it occurs.
I would tell her that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin. It also teaches that my lust, selfishness, gossip, gluttony and pride are sin. I am every bit as much of a sinner as you. In fact, the disciple that talks about homosexuality in the New Testament called himself the chief of sinners! Jesus was and is a friend of sinners. He came to save the sick and the lost, not the self-righteous judgemental religious people. He died for Paul’s sins, my sins and your sins, and even though we are all sinners, we can have full forgiveness through faith in Jesus as our Savior. Even though I still sin, I really hope you will want to be my friend, and I want to be your friend. I think we could have some great talks.
Re: “ to be honest with you, Trump is a threat to the world, not just America, you know. He’s actually such a dangerous figure. And I think, you know, to put the world at risk, in this way, simply to get policies passed, and to get the Supreme Court justices that you want. Like, I’ll just speak frankly, it’s doing a deal with the devil.”
This is an outrageous statement by Campbell, especially the “Trump is a threat to the world”. He made no support for this assertion. Given the wars and conflicts in the world now versus when he was president it is nonsense. He seems to have a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
You did not ask him for more information or evidence to support this opinion. I am very disappointed.
I certainly am not attracted to sending a gift and getting this man’s book as a thank you
I to would like some justification to that statement.
It shows a lack of academic rigor that I can only presume will follow the rest of the book.
I suppose nearly all politicians are ” threats to the world”.
A weak man like Biden is a threat as well as a strong man like Trump.
He is a danger in many ways, but one of the chief ones… so many american christians defend him and try to gaslight the world by saying he’s not… I remember in 2015 when the ‘christians’ around me started heading his way. THAT is when I knew he was unfit and a threat. I’m a christian, and pretty conservative in many areas as well btw, but I’ve learned over time to not trust american christian’s discernment skills in pretty much every area – other than a good signal of what NOT to do or emulate or herald. (they are good at that!).
There has always been so much hatred shown by evangelicals towards those that are not straight. Why would they ever believe evangelicals love them and care about them?
Thank you, Julie, for this podcast. It contains much to reflect upon.
I think the perception that Evangelicals believe Donald Trump is a savior for America is a caricature portrayed by progressives. The Christians that I know favor many of his policies but do not condone his character or see him in a messianic fashion.
Regarding love, John 3:16 is most certainly true, “For God so LOVED the world …” Jesus expresses that love in different ways to different people. He exuded merciful, gracious, compassionate, forgiving love to humble sinners willing to bow their knee, confess their sin and repent.
The LGBTQ community comes much closer to resembling the proud, arrogant, self-righteous, demanding, judgmental Pharisees of the first century. You could call them secular Pharisees that do not see themselves as sinners and have no need for repentance.
The suggestion in the podcast that we need to love those in the LGBTQ community is vague and amorphous.
What does love look like to LGBTQ folks. If we look at this community historically, I think it has evolved. At first they simply wanted tolerance. Then they wanted acceptance and approval of their lifestyle. And today, they demand that we cheerlead them and their choices. If we don’t cheerlead their lifestyles, it means that we don’t love them. In fact they typically call those people “haters.”
I believe most Christians and preachers have been bullied into silence because they are afraid. They do not want to be labeled as haters. So they keep their mouths shut.
To not see an agenda in western culture to normalize the lifestyles and choices of the LGBTQ community is to have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. I love my grandchildren too much to be blind and mute.
Rob Speight, What does love look like to LGBTQ folks? A better question is: What does love look like to Christians? To me it looks like sacrifice, going the second mile, turning the other cheek, and always always always letting the love of Christ shine through us.
My daughter had a gay friend at church. The youth pastors treated him with contempt, and told him he was going to hell. I did not like him at all. He was angry, sullen, mouthy, and enjoyed insulting Christians. One day my daughter came home with two new friends and announced that a group of teens were coming over for a swim and cookout and that “D” would be joining them. The look on my face at that news caused all three girls to burst out laughing. Suddenly, the scales fell from my eyes. “D” knew how I felt about him. It was how every adult felt about him. It was the reason for his surly behavior. My job was to reflect the love of God, and I had failed miserably. Later that evening I approached him and told him it was good to see him and I was glad he came. I MEANT it. I hugged him and we chatted briefly. His demeanor softened and as I left the room, I heard him tell my daughter “Your mom hugged me!!”
You believe most Christians and preachers have been bullied into silence because they are afraid. Yet for two + centuries the LGBTQ community was bullied into silence because they were afraid. We should use our time of silence to learn how to truly love others as Christ loved us.
Anita Bierstadt, I think it’s great that your daughter’s gay friend experienced expressions of care from you. And I thoroughly agree that Christians need to show love in the form of kindness and compassion to the LGBTQ community just as He has shown love to you and to me. There should be no room for insulting and bullying on the part of Christians towards … anyone.
We are encouraged to love LGBTQ folks like Jesus loves. I agree! Be kind. Be caring. Be compassionate. Seek to understand. AND … tell the truth.
The truth is: we all need a Savior because we are all sinners. The thief, the liar, the idolater, the cheat, the self-righteous, the sexually immoral of any stripe … everyone needs a Savior.
Throughout the New Testament, especially in the epistles, there is a consistent effort to correct false teaching. One such error in vogue in the church today involves the subject of “loving like Jesus loves.” To love the LGBTQ community like Jesus does not mean that you accept and approve of their way of life.
By the way, that is not judging LGBTQ folks. That is simply agreeing with God regarding what He says throughout Scripture. Sexual immorality is wrong … no matter what kind of sexual immorality, heterosexual or homosexual. You would never say about thievery, “Who am I to say that stealing is wrong?” Yet somehow we think that question is legitimate regarding people’s sinful sexual choices.
Jesus loves us so much that He died for our sins. He calls us to humble ourselves, repent of our sin, whether we are liars, thieves, idolaters, self-righteous, proud, arrogant, or sexually immoral.
Showing kindness and compassion without telling the truth about our sinful condition is not love at all.
Rob Speight, regarding sexual immorality, I’ve observed that Christians tend to pick and choose which sexual sins offend them. Not to judge, but if, as you said, we are to agree with God regarding what He says throughout scripture, the first that comes to mind is the seventh Commandment: Thou Shalt not commit adultery. Jesus further instructs in Luke 16 that anyone who divorces and remarries is guilty of committing adultery. If we disfellowshipped every remarried divorced Christian, church membership would plummet. And some pulpits would be vacant as well. And what would repentance look like in that situation? Regarding my daughter’s gay friend, the pastors were convinced that they were speaking truth in love, but they couldn’t hide their contempt for him.
As a Christian that grew up in Zion, IL within the Christian Catholic Church (now the “Christ Community Church”), I was steeped in evangelical Christianity. The Zion church established the town & screened church members/community residents. Dr John Alexander Dowie, Scotsman by birth & transplant to England then Australia was the founder of the church & the town. My matriculation through my childhood saw many very fine, Christian people that influenced me. I also saw some that were prideful & “holier than thou.” It was those people that judged others or were intolerant of others that diminished the church/community. Having said that, history has shown & the Bible teaches that beyond loving, we must also confront & battle evil. We must defend the weak. But who is weak. I don’t think that in todays day & age, the public views LGBTQIA+ as “the weak.” The loudest & most aggressive in society are not viewed as weak. I will state that for me, I’d just like to live my life, try to help my family live a full & rich in character manner. To be confronted with an expectation to celebrate any or every fringe group is ridiculous & counter to my Christian values or the Constitution of my country. If something is evil, I shouldn’t be expected to love it.
Don’t waste your money on this book (like I did). When you start off quoting a convicted liar you can only imagine things going downhill from there.
Abortion- he appears to bemoan the overturning of Roe v. Wade lamenting the increase in “mother-and-child” deaths through unsafe illegal abortions…
Same-Sex Marriage- he says opposing same-sex unions has spoiled the Evangelical image.
Gender- the author wonders what good is it to point out God’s design to a person struggling with the “perplexing reality of intersex biology”!
Divorce- after pointing out the sin of Trump’s divorces, we discover the author’s divorce and remarriage. In his experience, he found Christians to be “very judgmental” toward the divorced…
It should not come a surprise that little or no mention is made of the consequences of elections. Trump is bad therefore every policy he promoted was bad.
The author of this book, each of the individuals he cited, and the Roy’s Report have said little (or nothing) about the wave of gender- affirming mutilations of children across the U.S. (to name but one result). Would this spoil the Evangelical image?
Restoring the Church?
I don’t say much about hot-button political issues because it can often be a distraction to the core of our mission, which is to expose abuse and corruption in the church. I also don’t have much energy for the culture wars. It’s not that I don’t care about those issues. I do. But I find the public debate to be so vitriolic and rancorous that often all it does is further polarize people, meaning those far away from the gospel move even farther. So, I would prefer to build relationships and bridges, and within that context, engage in thoughtful conversation.
Hot button political issues? We’re talking about children here and mutilation and scarring. Who cares if it leaks over into politics! Let’s fight for the most vulnerable among us and not how the world perceives us. Let’s just do what’s right and let the chips fall where they may. Remember Salt and Light? Sometimes we need to be a little salty. God is a big God, He’ll be OK.
I think you missed my point. I wasn’t saying these issues aren’t important. I was arguing that the way we’re “fight”ing may be counterproductive. In the past decade of publicly duking it out on these culture war issues, what actual gains have we made? It seems to me we’ve only lost ground and alienated people. Maybe it’s time we consider changing our approach?
Julie, there has been much spirited commenting regarding Jesus vs. Evangelicals, Part I podcast. I think it is mostly due to two contrasting views of the LGBTQ issue.
I suggest that there is the current cultural view, and then there is the Biblical view.
What was once considered gender dysphoria the culture now calls normal, acceptable, and healthy. The cultural conclusion: love is love, and it is hateful not to accept and approve and cheer on transgenders and any other gender / sexual identities one has. This cultural view is being propagated by the political party that is currently in power, our military, our education system, corporate business, professional sports, collegiate sports, our media, our advertising … And this cultural view is being supported from one degree to another even in Christian churches.
On the other hand, there are those Christians that view this issue as a battle between good vs. evil. It takes an exorbitant amount of exegetical gymnastics to conclude that anything other than a heterosexual relationship within marriage is good and healthy and approved by God.
Is it good and loving to allow (even encourage) a prepubescent child to make the life-altering decision to change genders via chemical castration and physical mutilation? Or is it evil?
Is it good and loving to allow biological men who identify as women to compete against biological women in whatever sports venue the transgender woman desires? Or is it evil? Where are the protests from both secular and Christian feminists? Their silence implies approval.
Is it good and loving to encourage propagandizing elementary and middle school children with LGBTQ indoctrination? Or is it evil?
Do we have any doubt how Jesus would answer these questions? He certainly wasn’t concerned about offending the Pharisees. He relentlessly spoke against evil, and so should we.
I think the debate is more complex than that. The question is not just about whether Jesus would denounce same-sex relationships; it’s whether He would lead with that condemnation. The point I heard Dr. Campbell making is that Jesus would not lead with angry denunciations. I think we see this in how Jesus interacted with the woman caught in adultery. Yes, there is a time to call out sin. But Jesus does it gently at the end of His one-on-one conversation with the woman–not publicly and at the beginning, which is what the religious leaders demanded. I see that same demanding among religious folks today. They want immediate, public, and full-throated condemnation from Christian leaders. And if they don’t get it, they label the leader “woke,” ‘liberal,” etc… But there’s little thoughtful conversation about how we might influence in this culture with loving and winsome engagement.
Hello Julie, I don’t think you read the content on your own site. Since when are Universities ” the church ” ? And how is it abusive for a school to not renew a teaching contract? These are hot button issues and part of the culture wars.
Julie, Thank you for you personal and professional courage and for your integrity in your reporting. I feel especially grateful for your discourse on the issues in Jesus v. Evangelicals with Dr. Campbell. It is necessary to give this light and air for all to see and in the hope that true repentance and renewal take place.
It’s sad that much of evangelicalism has become performative Christianity. Look what they are doing up front on stage! So called worship has become a show to watch rather than a solemn gathering with gratitude, praise and thanksgiving. It leaves not much room for sober reflection that leads to repentance, or a sense of true wonder at God’s creation. The “heavy hitter” pastors are the attraction. And why?
Watching and reading material put out by the James MacDonalds and the Mark Driscolls, they seem to believe their career has taken a hit because the studio (church) had it out for them. They just need a new studio (church) and a rebranding (not repentance) to re-start their companies and re-book their show and the merchandise.
In fairness, there are many, many unsung evangelical Christian pastors who are doing the work Christ has commissioned them to do, day-in and day-out. Often they have a second career out of economic necessity, and that’s not right, either. Yet for them I am grateful. At the same time, if the movement doesn’t take these criticisms to heart, and repent and submit to Christ’s teaching, Evangelicalism will cease to exist in any form that aligns or conforms to the Bible’s mandates.
I have chosen to not identify as an evangelical, just a Christ follower.
Julie, I think we are talking about two different issues. 1) our approach with individuals struggling with their sexuality and 2) our approach to a culture demanding acceptance and approval of teachings that are clearly anti-Christian.
I agree 100% that we care for, be gracious to, be compassionate towards and seek to understand the strugglers, just like Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery. She was humble, contrite and sorry about her lifestyle, and Jesus responded with loving forgiveness. If the woman self-righteously responded to Jesus, “Who are you and all these men to judge me?!?! You don’t know me! I am who I am!,” I suspect His response would have been different, probably more akin to how He communicated with the Pharisees.
Our secular culture preaches to us relentlessly telling us what is good and right and true, demanding our conformity to their tenets. Christians are judged mercilessly as haters if we disagree with their LGBTQ doctrine. What is the person in the pew supposed to think if the preacher says nothing to address the evils that the culture is shouting at us to accept day in and day out? It is reasonable for them to conclude that our culture is correct. After all, Pastor So and So doesn’t say it is wrong.
We are in a spiritual battle. Pastors are called shepherds for a reason. Their charge is to protect the sheep in their flock from wolves that seek to attack and devour them.
Rob, interesting point here: “Our secular culture preaches to us relentlessly telling us what is good and right and true, demanding our conformity to their tenets. Christians are judged mercilessly as haters if we disagree with their LGBTQ doctrine. What is the person in the pew supposed to think if the preacher says nothing to address the evils that the culture is shouting at us to accept day in and day out? It is reasonable for them to conclude that our culture is correct. After all, Pastor So and So doesn’t say it is wrong.”
I wonder what media we’re consuming if that’s how you feel… I read a wide variety of media, but don’t watch much, if any TV/cable. But I listen to some secular outlets; I read secular news sites and I don’t feel what you’re describing there… I know they live differently than me; they believe differently in many areas, but I don’t feel them “relentlessly” preaching at me or banging on my door, hounding me, etc etc (My kids go to public school and even they don’t get a “relentless” preaching at… ). Most of the people living around me don’t go to church, certainly not my very proper conervative evangelical church and I’ve never experienced this relentless “preaching” that you’re describing here.
I think maybe Julie R and Dr Campbell might have a point… maybe it would help if we looked at ourselves a bit more; examined our approach, our emotions, fears and angst, instead of our laser focus on the “other” out there so much….
I haven’t read the book yet, but just from your interview I can see that Dr Cambell is way offbase. He claims that the religious right wanted get peple in positions of power and create cultural change.
The problem is, that is completely backwards. Take homosexual marriage. 50 years ago 99% of Americans would have opposed it. Evangelicals weren’t trying to create cultural change, they were trying to push back against cultural change, and liberal “evangelicals” are a key part of where our society has gone and the damage to children it has caused.
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