The Gospel is not that God “accepts people as they are.” The Gospel involves radical repentance and change. The “progressive” Gospel involves no change, no curing of our sinful hearts, and no suppression of evil within us. Instead, we become as God.
One of the most influential books in the 20th Century Church was J Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. Machen was prophetic in his analysis of the crisis facing the Church in the US in the first half of the century—some would argue that it was because of his (and others’) stance that the US Church did not go down the path of decline that Churches in most other Western countries did.
In his prophetic book he warned: “A terrible crisis unquestionably has arisen in the Church. In the ministry of evangelical churches are to be found hosts of those who reject the gospel of Christ. By the equivocal use of traditional phrases, by the representation of differences of opinion as though they were only differences about the interpretation of the Bible, entrance into the Church was secured for those who are hostile to the very foundations of the faith.”
These words came to mind as I listened to the latest debate on conversion therapy on Premier’s Unbelievable, between Jayne Ozanne, the chair of Ban Conversion Therapy, and Peter Lynas of the Evangelical Alliance. Ozanne is, like Steve Chalke, a former evangelical who has a significant voice in the Anglican church and beyond.
As I listened to the somewhat (one-sided) heated discussion, I realised that this was not just a disagreement between two different versions of Christianity, but a disagreement between two different Christianities—which is why there was no possibility of agreement.
Francis Schaeffer, another prophetic writer who saw what was coming down the road, argued in The God Who Is There, that a new theology conditioned by modernistic and post modernistic would infiltrate the Church and create chaos.
He said that this new theology would have certain advantages because “the undefined connotation words that the new theology uses are deeply rooted in our Western culture. This is much easier and more powerful than using new and untraditional words.”
Ozanne used Christian words, but within progressive ideology they have radically different meanings:
Ozanne told us, “God is love, anything that harms a child or adult goes against that.” But she never defines what love is. It’s so easy to say ‘love is love’, but without definition, that statement is completely vacuous.
The Bible on the other hand makes it explicitly clear. 1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Furthermore, our love is also clearly defined: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).
When people reject the commands of God, they are being the opposite of loving.
Ozanne kept accusing Peter and the EA of causing harm. Helen Joyce in her book Trans lays out how accusations of harm are used by trans activists to emotionally bully people into accepting their agenda. It always ends up with accusing those who disagree with them of causing suicide. Yet there is no evidence that the teaching of Jesus is the cause of suicide.
But Ozanne went further: “There is no evidence of Jesus teaching something that is going to cause people harm.”
I would have thought that most modern people would regard telling people to pluck out their eye if it is going to cause them to sin; to let the dead bury their dead; to hate their own father and mother; and to cast people into Hell as somewhat harmful! Perhaps Ozanne should heed his warning in Matthew 18:6 about those who cause people to stumble?