Friday, December 03, 2004

Church: Open or Closed?

The United Church of Christ is marketing itself as accepting of all in a new ad campaign which clearly portrays the worship services of more conservative churches as closed gatherings. Interestingly, NBC, CBS, and ABC have rejected the ads for television citing that they are too controversial and one-sided. Dr. Albert Mohler comments on the current place of the United Church of Christ and the extremely liberal theology that now pervades the church.

According to this article the ad contains two bouncers at the entrance to a church who decide which people can enter and which ones cannot.

"No, step aside, please," he tells two men holding hands. "I don’t think so," he
says to a young black girl while blocking her entrance. A Hispanic man and a
person in a wheelchair also are denied entry.
The scene fades to black and a
message: "Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we."

While the piece is certainly intended to make a point about churches that take a stance on homosexuality, the overall picture is completely inaccurate. In addition, the inclusion of racial and physical attributes as reasons why people may or may not be admitted is ludicrous. While there have been failings historically in the church concerning the treatment of other races, to relate today's stance on homosexuality is unbiblical and unfounded.

Let's move toward setting the record straight:

1. Conservative churches should be categorized as those who hold to an objective standard of truth, adhering to the Bible as the word of God. Some churches believe nothing and hold to nothing. If you have no truth, why bother?

2. Churches should not turn people away from their worship services. Maybe there are some extreme examples hidden deep in the middle of nowhere that stand guard at the door turning away minorities and handicapped people, but these would be the extreme and would not be biblically-based churches.

3. Biblically, churches must be exclusive...exclusively Christian, that is.

4. Formerly sinners. The church is made up of people who are saved from their sins by grace. See Ephesians 2:1-22. No person deserves in himself/herself to be a part of the church which is the body of Christ. Every single person who becomes a part of the church does so by the life-changing grace of God through Jesus Christ.

5. The Bible identifies homosexuality as a sinful lifestyle (Romans 1:26-27.) A Christian cannot continue in a sinful lifestyle (1st John 1:5-2:6.)

Are Christians to accept homosexuals? Yes, just as much as we accept (or should accept) every person in our world today.

Is the church to admit homosexuals as members? No. Continuing in the lifestyle of homosexuality is wholly inconsistent with living the Christian life. However, there is absolutely no reason that a church should not admit a person who has come out of a homosexual lifestyle and is now professing Christ and abandoning their former ways. Churches such as the United Church of Christ are not helping anyone by claiming that their doors are open to all if there is no truth being proclaimed inside.

Should churches allow homosexuals to attend their worship services? Certainly. Hearing the gospel is an open experience for all people. Part of our worship is the proclamation of the gospel, and we want all people to hear the message of grace and life in Jesus Christ.

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