Uh-oh, it looks like it’s Jen Hatmaker’s turn.
The protectors of orthodoxy appear to have drawn a bead on her as they did on Rachel Held Evans, Rob Bell and Brian McLaren before her.
And it’s getting ugly.
Not only are they repudiating her views on various issues (especially on same-sex marriage), but they’re even attacking her for daring to express the pain that all this criticism is causing her.
Sadly, this is what happens when religious communities become obsessed with building walls to exclude others. Sooner or later they start excluding their own, throwing those members they perceive to be recalcitrant over the wall to the wolves below.
We see it most clearly in closed communities like Scientology, or in cults like Jonestown or the Branch Davidians, or among fundamentalist churches like Westboro Baptist.
And we deplore it.
We’re sickened by it.
But often we fail to see it when it’s practiced within our own communities.
Hey, I’m not saying conservative evangelicalism is as bad as Jonestown, but I do know this: once the pack starts circling an identified victim there’s very little stopping it. And if you think I’m exaggerating, recall John Piper’s incendiary tweet “Farewell, Rob Bell”, written in response to Bell’s book Love Wins. Over the wall you go, Rob Bell.
When Jen Hatmaker wrote a raw and heartfelt blog about the pain she’s been through over recent attacks and posted it on Good Friday, she was taken to task for daring to identify her pain with that of Christ’s. One conservative blogger referred to “wounded wolves” who prey on their followers to lead them astray.
It was brutal.
I’ve spoken personally to Brian McLaren about the searing pain of rejection he felt when ejected from the fold. And I’ve heard Rob Bell speak movingly about the cruel and unusual punishment meted out by his evangelical “brothers.”
I’m not suggesting religious communities shouldn’t have core beliefs and clear tenets of faith. And I’m not suggesting that religious leaders shouldn’t debate and discuss their concerns when members (or fellow leaders) appear to contradict or challenge these beliefs.
But the feeding frenzy around Jen Hatmaker isn’t that. It’s not a respectful desire to explore matters of the heart, to find common ground, or to discern a way to live respectfully with differences on non-core beliefs.
It’s “Farewell, Jen Hatmaker, Offender #11328”.
It’s the brutality of unhealthy religion. And wall building and ceremonial ejections are classic signs of unhealthy religion. Other indicators include:
- Being chiefly concerned with things to avoid
- Measuring quantities (of giving/serving/attending etc.)
- Locating our identity in our behavior
- Constricting life
- Simulating holiness
- Seeking argument
- Maintaining blind spots
- Promotes suspicion
- Suppressing thought
- Isolating dissenters
I think what conservative evangelicals do to their brothers and sisters who come to different views to theirs is a clear mark of unhealthy religion. And I think the fact that evangelicals seem to focus on one prominent dissenter at a time, making an example of that person by public mockery and critique is cruel and unbecoming.
So, what does healthy religion look like? Well, the opposite.
In her book, Bothered and Bewildered, Ann Morisy identifies healthy religion in the following way:
- Healthy religion does not indoctrinate, but teaches people to think for themselves;
- Healthy religion invites us to be humble about what we believe and know;
- Healthy religion does not invest in negativity; it does not major on what it is against but rather on what it is for;
- Healthy beliefs stay in tune with reality, never filling in the gaps for what we do not know.
A 2006 Church of England report into the role churches can play in human flourishing found that healthy, life-giving faith will have the following hallmarks:
It will enlarge our imagination: by setting the story of our lives in the framework of a much larger story than ourselves which gives our life coherence, meaning, purpose and direction.
It will teach and encourage the practice of wisdom and holiness: finding our happiness and fulfilment is about coming to a right understanding of who we are, and what it means to be mature human being in terms of vulnerability as well as potential.
It will open us up to the new: while religion continues to be a profoundly important vehicle for personal and community identity it also embraces a humility borne of the awareness that our knowledge is partial – we see through a glass only darkly. Healthy religion gives confidence to embrace the stranger and insights that are available from those with a different experience of life.
It will deepen our sympathies: it unlocks our compassion because it sees the whole of humankind sharing in a common unfolding story.
This surely is something many evangelicals would agree with.
Get the bloodlust out of your system, people. Call off the attack dogs. Start treating your sisters and brothers like sisters and brothers.
In the meantime, let’s pray for our sister currently in the crosshairs of unhealthy religion, knowing that at any time it could be you or me who draws the ire of her detractors.
160 thoughts on “Farewell Jen Hatmaker: the brutality of unhealthy religion”
How can you tell who is a false teacher and who is not (2 Peter 2:1-3)?
If people are pointing to the Son who died for our sins that we deserved, so that we might be right before God (2 Cor 5:21), then there is no issue. Otherwise there is need for concern.
It is a gospel issue. Because this teacher is teaching self-justification for sin rather than justification through repentance and the cross. Self justification can take many forms. One form is that we are righteous and can get to heaven through out good deeds. Another form of self-justification is that my sin is really “not sin” and therefore I do not need to confess and repent of my sin and take it to the cross. One is the leaven of the Pharisees, one is the leaven of the Herodians, both are an affront to the gospel. This teacher is teaching that homosexual sin can be justified through theological self-justification rather than through repentance and forgiveness through the cross. By saying homosexual practice is not sin, it is a form of self-justification rather than Jesus-justification.
Please, let me say that back to you and you tell me if that’s what you said.
“Saying that a certain act is not a sin, is the same as saying that I don’t need Jesus to wash away my sins.”
Is that what you said?
Yes, given that particular act is really a sin in God’s eyes, truth, not opinion.
Then yes, to say an act is not a sin (that really is) is saying we don’t need Jesus to wash away that sin.
Oh, THAT sin. Well, that’s logical enough. All your big words back there managed to give the vague impression that it was an actual denial of the Gospel,
I understand that you think it is. What’s funny to me is, Christians like to hold up Jews as the ultimate legalists, but I’ve been getting to know some Jews and they’re not, at all. The law is very important to them as a way to honor God, but their rabbis have debated points of the law for centuries, and they don’t live in a world where the debater who turns out to be wrong has thereby denied the whole of his faith, like you seem to think Christians do.
I’m glad we don’t really.
What did Jesus say about homosexuality?
What did he say about cannibalism?
You sound like someone born of self intellect masked in biblical references….you don’t sound like Jesus, you sound like a Pharisee, overeducated and pious. Get off of you’re throne bro, you’re clueless.
By the way my reply was to Sean….
Did Jesus condemn homosexualituy?
I know it is Leviticus but that is the o my thing from ?Leviticus we hear about. Hair style and food choice, andso many other “abominations’ are overlooked.
Paul wrote about some people who were going to temple orgies in Corinth.
But, please tell me, where did Jesus call it a sin ?
Romans 1 is very very clear. Jesus didn’t say a lot of things. It’s all about whether you believe the word as literally Gods words or not. Plain and simple.
Jesus says tons of things. Never about homosexuality.
To understand Paul you *must* read Romans 1 and 2 as a single argument; after all, Romans 2 begins with “Therefore”. Paul himself did not break up his letters into chapters and verses. Later compilers did that. When you read Romans 1 and 2 together intelligently as one argument, you see that his whole point is that the people who are judging others are the ones in sin.
“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.””
Mark 10:6-9 NKJV
Jesus condemns every expression of sex outside of marriage given what the word “porneia” means in both Biblical and non-Biblical sources. He also confines marriage to man and woman by reiterating the words of Genesis 1 and 2 in Matthew 19.
While people are free to express themselves many ways sexually, to do so outside of the marriage bed is against the message of Jesus.
It’s just so obvious that the creator God made man for man. I mean, come on. Such a natural fit. And Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5? What does he know?
Jesus didn’t talk about sexually abusing children…. so I guess that wouldn’t be considered a sin…. hhhmmm……that kind of thinking doesn’t stand up too good…. The idea that only the things that Jesus says is sin is considered a sin…
We have to look at all the Bible to draw our conclusions. Throughout the Bible sexual sin including homosexuality are condemned. All of scripture is God breathed. An to be a Christ followed we have to die to our sin and live for Christ. Whatever that sin is, we have to turn. Jesus does say if you love me you will keep my commands. So I guess the real question for people with opposit sex attraction is what do you love more. For the gossip it’s the same. We have to die to our sin, our own desires and live for Christ. And trust that if we surrender to his ways and obeys him he will show us the best life, full of the great things like peace and joy and fellowship with the creator of the universe. Trust me, being a friend to Jesus is worth any sacrifice. Praise His holy, beautiful name.
Where did Jesus say anything about polluting the environment, or armed robbery? It’s not as simple as that…
Too many Christians want to make the OT is inerrant and infallible, except for cheeseburgers, beards, and pork chops. If they don’t like it, they dump it. Others are not free to dump anything that they have not.
A better idea is to study Mt 5-7 with a wary eye for Judaizers’ early edits, then read the rest as history and commentary.
Find a way to live out the love of Christ. Law and love are often in conflict. Make sure love wins, even if it kills us.
Original post: The Church is judgmentally and systematically abusing people within the Church for issues that are not central to the Gospel — this needs to stop!
Your response: It IS a Gospel issue! Denying that homosexuality is a sin is a form of self-justification! (implication: she deserves to be shunned and humiliated)
A Loving response: You’re right — this issue is important to me, but attacking somebody is never okay, and is not Christ-like. The Body of Christ should do better than this!
Dude you are completely crazy and maybe you need to take. Step back and have some one on one time with God because….let he who has no sin cast the first stone and when people do this and run her down you are TURNING PEOPLE AWAY FROM GOD!!! Be and example yourself
I think you should read the Bible: “Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.””
I Corinthians 5:10-13 NKJV
I love the teachings and have met all of the offenders you have mentioned. Maybe that’s an indication for me to say that they are the kind of disciples I want to be.
You’re all false teachers. Religion is bull$hit
Thanks for those two references for healthy faith/church/religion. They are encouraging. I appreciate your post on this.
I don’t know the specifics on Jen, so just a general comment/question:
When, in your mind, must a leader be called out for heresy or false doctrine? How “bad” does it have to get?
The Bible says that leaders are held to a stricter standard. Jesus was not harsh with sinners; His only harsh words were for wayward religious leaders. I can agree that some Christians do not handle differences well, and that problems are handled in some with gossip, slander and unbiblical methods of correction. But we can’t go to the other extreme and do nothing about wayward leaders.
Good question. Surely, if you think a person is guilty of teaching or promoting heresy your primary motivation would be to want to correct that person and restore them to orthodox faith. Anyone who writes a damning or imperious or condescending comment on their blog is only showing they have no such concern for the person. If your motivation really is loving correction, it’s my view that that can only happen fully and effectively in relationship. Approach them directly; raise your concerns respectfully; where appropriate and reasonable, invite a third party into the discussion. Even if the person you have concerns about isn’t known to you personally (a well-known identity like Jen, for example), a private message or email is a far more respectful (and therefore, more effective) means of exchanging views. If you write a blog to slam her, or design a demeaning meme, or post an essay-style comment on her blog you’re not only being hurtful, but also completely ineffective at the very thing you claim to be doing.
I think that response is spot on Mike. Way too much dialogue is done publicly and it’s not healthy.
i agree completely. both with the question’s validity and the proper response. thanks
Yes, and you should NEVER chase them with a whip. Wait…
I hope your “wait”…isn’t suggesting Jesus once chased people with a whip. If you believe that, you need to reread that passage and see for what the whip was used.
I just read Matthew 21:12 again, and I’m not seeing your point. He chased people out with a whip and turned over the tables of the money changers. Am I looking at the letters wrong?
There’s no mention of him using it to strike any animal, let alone human. Cracking a loud whip has always been the most effective means of controlling the movement of large groups of animals. Jesus wanted to create a stampede of animals out of the temple, and there’s no reason to conclude he used the whip for any other purpose than this.
A public figure often needs to be called publicly. This is not about a personal sin or a personal doubt, this is about her clear rejection of an eternal truth. If she is teaching this heresy publicly, calling her out publicly is not only appropriate but necessary.
What ‘eternal truth’ is she rejecting, exactly?
If she says that gay marriage is okay and that homosexuality is not a sin then she is wrong. Eternally wrong. Why because no where in the Bible does it say it is okay. They need to ask forgiveness and repent like all sinners need too do. To say other wise could cause them not to have Jesus as Lord.
In response to Ben, below, it ain’t necessarily so.
Please read Chapter 33 of the esteemed Hebraist Joel Hoffman’s “The Bible Doesn’t Say That”, on Homosexuality.
He poignantly ends the chapter with this true statement, p 263:
“the only truly biblical stance on homosexuality is limited to rejecting male homosexual sex with the same vehemence as, for example, clothing made from wool and linen mixtures, and to remaining open minded about everything else. Any more specific position is an interpretation.”
I’m going to respond to just your first sentence. There’s a point to this but it’s not happening the right way. When someone makes a public teaching, you are free to engage with that teaching and rebut it. Not to slam the person personally. If you think the person is sinning, that is something to engage privately.
And that’s your opinion, Frank.
Frank, I have great difficulty taking seriously anything said by someone who refers to an “eternal truth” from the Bible. People often say things are facts based only on their opinions and interpretations but saying they’re absolute eternal truths? There’s no way to prove everything that was actually said. I would like corresponding supportive evidence before I’ll consider something as fact. Not someone’s opinion who, based on the limited comments on this post, appear to be more than a little arrogant.
Does the pushing some people out of God’s Grace, shaming especially the most historically vulnerable, BRING people to faith, into a relationship with the Loving God? Does shaming those who speak up for the vulnerable bring people to the Loving and Forgiving God?
One more question to you all who point fingers to those whose ‘sin’ ( your word) is public, – I want to ask- where is your contrition for shaming others? Where is your compassion? Jesus did say ‘those who are WITHOUT sin, cast the first stone.’ I believe Jesus did not say you may shame people if your sin is not worse than others’sin.
You write a blog slamming evangelical Christians, and in that blog state if you disagree with someone you should approach them individually rather than publicly – as in a blog. That seems nonsensical.
BURN. Man, the irony. The only difference is that no specifics are given on who is doing this, except for Piper—which itself is doing exactly what we are being not to do. I don’t know the answer, but Jesus was public in his condemnation plenty of times too. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule on this.
Yes, thank you. People forget about Jesus chasing people with a whip. Maybe he chased them with a whip… in love, perhaps? Maybe in those days that was considered “finding common ground.”
I don’t know what people are saying about this woman and I don’t have a clue as to who she is, I couldn’t care any less than I do right now. But why does the pendulum have to swing to the other side on this, blatantly disregarding some of the approaches Jesus took and instead taking a hippie approach? I’m so sick of the whole Christian hippie thing. I’m convinced that Paul was the first hippie and Jesus was a hardliner who called people to even higher standards than the Law of Moses. I normally see this belief system among my fellow women and with weak men. I’m also a millenial who thinks the evangelical church has become a joke. The more I read the bible and the less I listen to others’ takes on it, the more I see how many people believe in manmade ideas. Now on top of trying to figure out what the bible is saying (apart from the voices of all the teachers) I have to identify and correct all the non-biblical stuff I was taught. Thanks evangelical Christianity. That’s why you lost another Millenial.
Rae, he’s not slamming anyone. And how could the writer possibly individually approach all Christians with a message he feels is important? This blog post is corrective, but it is not hateful. It’s kind and helpful. 🙂
When do people get to day sin is okay and not get reprimanded. Jesus reprimanded the woman at the well. He told the prostitute to sin no more. When any one says any sin is okay then they are wrong. Saying sin is wrong is not hate speech. We should love every one but never condone sin. Even our own.
Correction must proceed from connection.
Then someone should have told that little catchphrase to Jesus when he chased people with a whip and turned over tables.
I’m trying to get some clarity on your point Trish. Are you saying Jesus sinned by chasing the money changers out of the temple? Or are you making the point that it’s ok to be harsh because of Jesus’ example at the temple?
Is this the only story out of the Bible that you know? Or the only one you care about? It seems to be the only one you can quote here.
It is one of my favorite stories. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a little Righteous Anger. But this type of story appears just once in the Bible. Stories of Jesus sharing love, community, and personal connection (even when he rebuked) fill the rest of the Gospels.
And just for reference, you cited Matthew 21:12 – which you claimed to “read again”. But it’s only John’s account that mentions the whip in 2:15.
If you’re going to browbeat multiple people with one Bible passage in a public forum, seems like you should actually be quoting the right Scriptures.
Hi Mike, whilst there is much you write I disagree with, your comment here is excellent. And discribes a very good process.
I agree. This is the right thing according to Matthew 18, a teaching emphasized in the intentional-community churches I’ve been part of since reaching adulthood but not in the evangelical ones I grew up with. (In the latter, it’s called the Church Discipline passage & is about kicking people out.)
I did this once with Jared WIlson when he blog-quoted Doug Wilson on dominance and submission in the marriage bed. It was a very objectionable quote that seemed to edge “true Christian sex” toward BDSM and I felt I had to respond, so as per Matthew 18 I emailed him with my concerns. At the same time large swaths of the blogosphere blew up with the story, starting with Christian watchblogs and Christian feminist blogs and then spreading to atheist sites. In my email exchange with Jared I got to see the human side of how that feels. (At the same time I was reading all the blog posts about it. Put me off the internet for awhile, I’ll tell ya.)
People aren’t aware. There is nothing more frightening to a human being (and this time I say this from personal offline experience) than the sense that the community is turning on them. To our age-old instincts that means death. And they’re not always wrong. Jesus experienced that.
My plea to people is, just remember you’re talking about a human being.
The process in Matthew 18 is very clearly directed at sins that are not already known to the church. That’s why you go first alone, then take a witness or two and finally tell the church. None of which makes any sense if the church already knows. If one is dealing with public preaching it’s irrelevant. One isn’t exposing anything hidden. And in any case expressing a mistaken idea isn’t a sin. It’s just an error.
Seems to me if the person in question is public about their position then the response to that position may be public too.
It’s not what you say but when and how you communicate it.
When I asked Jen if she would private message me so I could respond privately about my concerns on same sex marriage, she never did. I never did post anything publicly about my concerns with her stance, but she never did message me privately so I could have a conversation with her. How do we go about that privately if the person does not respond to you?
I understand the point and process of biblical feedback. I think we should go one layer deeper, where is the accountability of the Jen’s and the Rob’s? There was ample time before their opinions were made public to meet with mentors and leaders to understand that what they say may not be well received. (Like you have pointed out, this isn’t the first time something like this has gone down.) She knew this was going to be controversial and she chose to go forward because she felt strongly about it. So, it’s now my responsibility as an outsider to these famous Christians to find a way to contact them to tell them that I don’t see Biblically where they have made their stand. And if we as a group stand together and say this – we are wrong? Clearly, the time they went public – it is public. To me this is just one more instance of tolerance being a one way street. They want to use their platform and we’re the bad guys if we don’t disagree in a quiet, loving manner.
Im late to this article but I totally agree with you Sheri-it’s time we as TRUE Bible believing Christians start telling it like it is-and if these heretics-and that is what they are-go public-and any preacher is public really, whether online or preaching in their church-why then shouldn’t we go public? Frankly, I can’t believe we even are having a conversation about this. Of course homosexuality us wrong-it’s everywhere in the Bible. Just like many other sins, of course. But since Hollywood and the media/culture in general are winning in making it look like anyone who thinks it isn’t are big bad bullies, well, I guess it makes if the du jour topic st the moment amongst those so called Christians who want to be cool and maybe just maybe more accepted by the world and then hey look I’m getting more famous and earning more money-just a thought..
Excellent thoughts regarding correction, Michael Frost. Of course, most us common folk don’t have Jen’s email [or Rob Bell’s, or others], but I appreciate the way you make yourself accessible via social media.
It does seem there is a growing, insatiable desire in Christian circles to hurriedly name the next heretic, rather than lovingly correct or engage in healthy dialogue.
I’m not saying we should ignore theology that seems to be pushing the boundaries of orthodoxy, but it seems there should be a more gentle attitude when engaging or pushing back on beliefs which concern us.
Thanks for your posting.
I am with Mike. That is the way it is handled in our church. The person is not called out publically, they are called in in love.
I agree with you, Mike. Jesus calls us to speak the Truth in LOVE (not in bloodthirsty fury). Truth is truth, however, and it is offensive. The Gospel is good news but it cuts us all of us to the core. We are all guilty of sin but in Christ we are forgiven of them all, yes – but we can’t minimize sin or negate it to suite the winds of cultural change, as some feel Jen has done. Jesus didn’t waver one millimeter from the Truths he spoke and nor should Christians who profess to follow Him. To promote some other Christ is, yes, blasphemy, and it is false. That’s harsh to say, though said in love, and that will never not be a heavy thing to hear.
Matthew 18:15 seems the answer to me. 15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.
My understanding has always been that public sins are rebuked publicly, and private sins can be handled in the way you describe. The Bible gives us ample examples of this.
you don’t get to decide what sin is, whether public or private. The commandments are these: love God and love people. It is neither your job nor your ability to call out someone else’s sin. stop doing it. you are not God. only God can judge.
“When, in your mind, must a leader be called out for heresy or false doctrine? How “bad” does it have to get?” In my experience, the right time would be just about when you have to be prepared to be ostracised for speaking up against nastiness in the ranks. “How bad does it have to get?” Well, one thing’s for certain, it will be far worse for you for raising the issue than it will for anyone in leadership that’s doing the sinning. If you want to stay ‘in the fold’, you’d best be subordinately silent.
She’s a blogger. In what universe is she to be held in the same standing as an ordained minister? You might as well say two people chatting over coffee should be held to a higher standard…
Also, you can say it all you want, but monogamous, consensual, same sex relationships are neither sinful, nor addressed in scripture… At. All.
Actually it is addressed in much of scripture. If you don’t know where get a commentary or a Bible thst has an index of where versus are. Yours just ignoring the facts otherwise.
It doesn’t mean that homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed in the church however.
We are all sinners, in need of Christ’s help every day, and the church should be helping people OUT of sin, whatever that sin is (including but not only just homosexuality) by prayer and loving guidance. It should NOT be saying sin is A-OK. But if a person is claiming to be a Christian but keeps insisting that any sins pointed out in the Bible are not sin, and after being shown time and again that they’re wrong, then there does come a time when it says in the Bible “Do not even eat with such a person”. Because they are against what God says is wrong.
Please let me clarify something I just wrote above: Yes, homosexuals as well as anyone else should be allowed-ENCOURAGED-to attend church for the reasons above-to repent and get help, whatever the sin is, not just homosexuality. However, becoming a pastor or any other spiritual leader in the church-that shouldn’t be allowed.
The greatest commandments : love God with your whole self, love your neighbour as yourself. Seems so simple but we fail so often. Thanks for a great post Michael – wisdom and love together.
This isn’t great, Mike, and soooo important. The same thing happened to Vicky Beeching, here in the U.K (although a lot of her ministry was in the states so she was battered from
That was supposed to say. This IS great, Mike!! As in, what you say is great. What has happened to jen is not great! Typos!
At some point the quantity and quality of ex-evangelicals will outweigh the insiders, and evangelicalism will struggle – surely supporting Trump is against its original principles and a sign of its death. If outsiders hold together and build something new, it could be a good thing. Let’s treat “evangelical” as a label controlled by individuals, not as a measure of fidelity.
This is not about Trump. I am never for calling names but when false teachings arise they must be dealt with. That includes naming the ones doing the teaching. It is never correct to say any sin is okay. Whether it be drunkiness,adultery or homosexuality. To love your neighbor as yourself is not condoning sin or teaching sin is okay.
That’s your opinion, Ben. It’s not biblical.
Actually S. Tannous what Ben E. Calvert said is VERY biblical. I’ve been reading it for many, many years. It never says anything different then what he just said it does. Please state facts, not falsehoods about what the Bible does or does not say. If you don’t agree with it, then say so-though your wrong to disagree with it- but don’t say something isn’t there when it is.
But how about Jesus’ teaching, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”? Jesus said he didn’t condemn Mary the prostitute, but she was to ‘go & sin no more ‘. The whole account shows Jesus’ mercy for sinners, certainly not a model for punishing the sinner. He encouraged the person to stop sinning…maybe because of His love for people, knowing that sin hurts the person…not because Jesus was focused on condemning sin.
Jesus came & died to forgive sin, not condemn people. This is the Jesus I follow… Have mercy, people. Love. Forgive. But, unless you are without sin, who are any of us to be casting stones at a fellow sojourner in Christ?
Can’t we allow all of us to wrestle with our positions on all sorts of matters without feeling a need to correct? What are we so afraid of by allowing others’ opinions to be shared, acting as a source of topics for us all to wrestle with or further solidify our faith positions. Sharing of various opinions leads to personal growth, if we allow it. But this, I humbly submit as just my opinion. I am ok if any of you disagree with me…
What comes to mind for me in countering your view is Matthew 18:6-9. Jesus speaks out harshly against causing others to stumble rather than personal sin like in your examples. My 2 cents.
Totally agree with you Ben E. Calvert!
“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.””
I Corinthians 5:11-13 NKJV
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 1:1-2
Isn’t it interesting, the things that indicate when we should keep away from a sinful brother – or sister. Notice that disagreeing with a person’s position on a theological issue isn’t one of them. But if a person is a “reviler” – someone who is rude, denigrates others, makes fun of them or tries to make them look small – then we should keep away. Probably because such behaviour tends to be infectious; which is the “feeding frenzy” Mike Frost is talking about.
Cool…..that is Paul
What did Jesus say ?
Pretty much the same thing in Matthew. He also said marriage was between a man and a woman only.
Sorry but Jesus said nothing about a man and a woman only, as a matter of “you require a man and a woman to make a marriage, no gays allowed” – they were ASKING him about DIVORCE, and how a man could give a woman a letter and divorce her. And of COURSE he would use the same language they were using. The parts he talks about as being lawful is that a marriage bond is sacred, and that no one should be able to break that bond unless there is infidelity. I’m sorry, but a gay couple can easily be married and so long as they don’t divorce (for any reason save infidelity), they’re obeying GOD.
And as a point of note, the closest he ever came to talking about homosexuality, he explained that in heaven, there is no such thing as marriage and that all marriage contracts are nullified since “we shall be as the angels” – which either means angels get it on with whoever they like or they have no sexual characteristics…which means that if there is sexual desire in heaven, it would be homosexual – as we’d all be the same sex.
He also doesn’t condemn those who have had sex outside of marriage as though they should be forbidden from heaven, though he does request that they “go and sin no more”, he leaves the execution of that command up to the person he says it to. So perhaps, you would be better off doing the same.
The few times PAUL talks about homosexuality, FYI, he either uses the terms that literally mean pedophilia OR they get lumped in with every other sexual act outside of marriage, including STRAIGHT SEX. The few times he ALSO talks about marriage, he often talks about the END of marriages and how marriage can be a distraction and how it would be better to end a marriage than continue one if the continuation of a marriage would cause someone to go against God’s plan.
And in my opinion, if you’re born gay, there’s no greater sin than lying to yourself, pretending to be straight and failing your partner in marriage because you cannot TRULY be bonded to them.
Maybe pull your head out of your ass and realize that God would rather see people happy than have a tenth of the population relegated to loneliness and eventual rebellion against God.
Loving your neighbor as yourself requires you to have love in your heart in the first place. Maybe try and figure out where your love went. Because it’s not showing right now.
You just made me so happy. I was beginning to thing that all Christians were self-appointed judges. What a obnoxious way to be. Yours is the only comment on this blog that makes any sense to me.
People in church are so prejudice!!
Hey Monica – Don;t throw us all under the bus… ouch!
Lots of talk of RELIGION-not FAITH
focusing on OUR being :
RELIGION ACTIONS of the individual
Focus on immaterial things
Removing our measures; esp comparable measures to others
Trusting His Thoughts
Unity in Him
These reflect ACTIONS of FAITH
In empathy with both the Pro & Anti rhetoric about Personalities in Leadership, this smacks a bit of ideological differences – of political alignment. And if we encourage people to treat each other as brothers and sisters- simply look at any of the latest sitcoms or a series on Amazon or Netflix – brothers and sisters divide, manipulate, lie, hurt and outwit each other. With only a framework of religion, either The Right or The Left will show that broken Identity. Only In Christ can brotherly love or sisterly trust take place.
According to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
I do agree with your comment to Link above, and I most certainly believe that the place for confrontation is not social media or blog posts. But you miss the third part of Jesus’ statement regarding how to deal with the one “who sins against you.” Yes, an email, phone call, face-to-face communication is the first step, and inviting third parties (“two or three witnesses”) is the second step. The third step, if neither of these causes restoration, is “tell it to the church, and if [s]he refuses to listen to even the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).
At what point, in your thinking, does the church get involved? And in a case where these well-known teachers, who are influencers of millions of “the church,” appear to err in their teaching, is it appropriate for those familiar with them to call them to repentance publicly?
I think it’s important, when considering Matt 18’s instruction, to keep in mind how Jesus treated gentiles and tax collectors. It certainly wasn’t with venom, as has been seen in Hatmaker’s case.
What so many do, is to attempt to label as a non-sin, something that is sin – to move the fence. Not a single Christian thinks that a repentant sinner should be excluded from the Grace of God – that is a strawman argument created by less-than-honest people with an agenda. Are you who create these arguments so entrenched in your ‘open’ orthodoxy unable to see the futility of a man-made salvation where there isn’t such a thing as sin, and therefore no need for a Savior from sin?
Next up: ad hominen attacks on anyone that considers LGBT lifestyles anathema to a faith-driven life.
You’re right, Spencer, in my opinion. These arguments always boil down to the same thing – moving the fence, trying to let some sins be “okay” and castigating any Christian who holds to orthodoxy.
NO sin is “okay” with God, from the way you lust in your mind about someone walking by you down the street or when you utter even the smallest curse against someone in your mind (Jesus said those crimes are adultery and murder, respectively). His standard is PERFECTION. But the actual Gospel is this: That even while were sinners, Christ died for us! In our sins – sexual and otherwise, God intervened! Hello! That’s a relief! And that’s the good news that saves lives and supersedes our sexual drives. Jesus didn’t die for the sins of the world so we could allow people to keep sinning.
I must be very removed from online evangelical chatter. I had never really heard of Hatmaker before and then I heard she inclusive of same sex relationships.
Mike – are you saying the nature and the tone of the criticisms are what you object to? I believe if someone publicly steps out of orthodoxy, it is fair to point out where you think they might be in error.
I do not support condescension, intentional divisiveness or mean spirited attacks.
I do support healthy dialogue – which I guess you are saying is lacking here.
Since when did social media become the first step to hold someone accountable. The bible says that if your brother (or sister) has wronged you, you should talk to them first. Why are other leaders so quick to forget this. So many people do want to be “christians” because so ofter ‘christians” are brutal to one another. There is a time and place for calling people out, but we have lost our heart when it comes to being good examples of how to resolve conflict.
Great question KB. I do think Christians have adopted some culturally normative communication patterns; engaging in reflexive critique via social media and being far too easily offended, among them. That being said, the rise of the celebrity Christian/social commentator/preacher seems to exacerbate many of the issues Mike draws attention to. Increasingly, 140 characters on twitter are used to express quite nuanced positions. The result is seldom effective, convincing, or pleasant and generally elicits a predictable backlash from the online masses. It seems to me there is room to fairly critique both speaker and listener here. I do agree with Mike, “Surely, if you think a person is guilty of teaching or promoting heresy your primary motivation would be to want to correct that person and restore them to orthodox faith. Anyone who writes a damning or imperious or condescending comment on their blog is only showing they have no such concern for the person… Approach them directly; raise your concerns respectfully; where appropriate and reasonable, invite a third party into the discussion.” I can’t imagine how this approach would lead a person down the wrong path.
I so agree with your point about how we handle disagreement in evangelicalism. It’s often very ugly. We must do better.
This is one of my problems with celebrityism in Christianity. High profile people in high profile ministries invite both high profile praise and high profile criticism, with no accountability on the part of those meting out the criticism. Sad.
[…] women of privilege are protecting the last remnants of institutional prestige, and it looks bad. Many are calling it out. I tend to stay out of the dialogue because it only matters to Christians, and the same people who […]
There have been some good points in regards to personal and local church interaction and correction, and how media personalities whose influence is borderless can be, and should be accountable to Christians everywhere. As a pastor I realize that people in churches are now being taught the meaning of the Bible mainly on-line, through sermons, blogs, tv shows, and books, probably more than personal dialogue on Sunday mornings or in small groups, or over coffee with me or other leaders, whose ministries are disciple-making. Or at least that is true for many. The best place to confront false teaching is on Sundays from the pulpit (like in Paul’s letters which were meant to be read to a local church) and in personal discussion, where real Q & A dialogue can happen. If you love someone enough to confront them, then personally (in person) is the way to go, or through private mail to media personalities. When criticism comes lazily through gossip and public media it makes all Christians look like tools (angry, thoughtless, disrespectful, impatient people). We must as Evangelicals now learn, in the 21st Century, to be at least as good and wise as Nicodemus, who was willing to go to Jesus in private. When church leaders don’t mind resembling the bad guys in the Gospels we have a problem. We need a new class in seminary and Bible schools: Communication 102 – Using public media wisely – examples from the Gospels and the Epistles. Thanks for the great submission Mike.
Well, I must share. In the Dallas, TX area 7 Months ago, the church I founded as a church planter was destroyed from this kind of mentality (I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and have pastored for over 20+ years). After six years of growth, mature budget, people growing in Christ, we had three to four couples in our church create their pack, circled the wagons, and made sure that at the cost of unity in the body of Christ that they were going to exude their spiritual superiority at any cost. There wasn’t any theological issues, no heresy. Their main issue was they wanted to change the by-laws about the processing of hiring staff members. I know it is hard to wrap your mind around it, but they took a procedural item and made it into a essential doctrine. After working with them through many meetings, lunches, and doing everything I could for over six months, they did exactly what you said in your article, they created their posse’s, spread rumors about me, my wife, and undermined the leadership of my entire staff. During these six months, I couldn’t sleep, I began to have periodic heart palpitations, and went into a dark place of depression. I begged these people to stop and shared with them how it was affecting me and my staff. But this only provided them with more ammunition and fueled their “rightness.” The loaded the big guns, and intensified their attack. I couldn’t take it any longer and chose to resign. These couples rejoiced, and told everyone how the church didn’t need a senior pastor, and how they were going to now lead the church for the future. Once the congregation saw what happened, the church shut down three weeks after my resignation. So, I was without a job, no income; my dream was shattered, the church shut down, and the sheep were scattered. These people who destroyed the church, still kept their homes, their jobs, while me and my entire staff were left picking up the pieces to start our lives over again.
My faith in God is deep. But my confidence in what we call the church, or American evangelicalism is shattered deeply. And maybe that is good. What we call Christianity is not what I have experienced in China, the Middle East, etc… Those fellow believers faith cost them something, while much of our experience here in America is a raw form of spiritual narcissism. I’m finding new eyes to see what it really means to follow the Messiah Jesus and it doesn’t look like what I just experienced.
I apologize for such a long post. But I don’t wish on my worst enemy the pain that I, my family, Rob Bell, McLaren, or Jen Hatmaker have gone through. May we always err on the side of communication, love, respect, etc… and not get caught up in the polarizing world of binary options of “your evil, I’m good.” When we do, we just contribute to the brokenness of the world, and Jesus continues to weep over our pettiness.
p.s. I give God thanks that I am now the VP of a non-profit organization, where each day is a place of healing, care, and love. Through my pain, I am in such a better place, but honestly my wounds still seep and I’m still licking them toward wholeness.
David – I am so truly, deeply sorry to read your story. I have seen the same kind of thing happen to people very dear to me too. I understand your pain. So happy to read that you have been able to move on to a far healthier, happier place and wish you the very best for the future.
Thank you for sharing your story and heartache. I’m so sorry you were harassed and abused. I’ve had to distance myself from several in the Christian community where I live following character assassination and some harassment. It has left me confused and weary.
Praise God David that He never left your side and He indeed had a better place for you. There are many of us in the Body that once were “insiders” that are no longer. And it has been confusing and a massive struggle to say the least. But I know that God is on His throne and showing us the true Kingdom at hand, and it doesn’t look like what we thought it would. Be assured that you were persecuted for all the right reasons and God had control of the outcome!
Bless you, David.
It is such a shame that a church that meant so much to so many can be destroyed so easily by arrogance. A church that brought me to Christ for the first time in my life, helped my family know and love God, led by a truly honest, good man, just vanished. I know I will forever be grateful to God for the two years I had at that church and the people I met that changed my life for the better. “Compassion before conviction” was the first lesson I learned from that wonderful pastor, and I will never forget it. Somewhat ironic, and perhaps some of the fellow congregants should have been listening more closely. Maybe then they could have seen how badly they were treating someone that was faithfully guiding a congregation that loved him dearly.
I read the ‘wounded wolves’ article and was disturbed by it as well. However I didn’t make the connection with Jen. Was the author referencing Jen as a ‘wounded wolf’? is that documented somewhere?
The only concern I have about this is there is a difference in my view of confronting personal sin, or solving a personal conflict (which has a biblical process as to prevent gossip and slander); and confronting a public teaching. Paul had no qualms about naming names and confronting false doctrines and false apostles by name in his letters. Maybe if someone doesn’t want to be attacked for their seemingly unorthodox views, especially when one is a public figure, they should keep their views privately. I think most people on the other side do not want to intentionally be mean or attacking. During this time when many in the church are embracing a worldly view on sexuality and being influenced more by the opinions of the culture than by the Word of God, those who have the Word of God as a priority are genuinely concerned about syncretism in the church with Hollywood values and agenda. When superstar Christians promote that agenda, in many people’s minds, it just increases the tendency towards this syncretism and there is genuine concern. I personally think we should confront any teaching done by a well known Christian voice publically, since it is out there publically. However, we should do so with respect and love to those who are in error.
I am sure she is a nice lady but you can not say something that is not biblical and then reiterate it and then think that people who are biblical in what what they believe will stand with you. This is the problem with Rob Bell and the other guy mentioned in the Article. These guys are preaching or teaching heresy under the guise of being loving. So if I am being loving, I am accepting and embracing all kinds of heresies and now truth is blasphemed. Jen Hatmaker, is NOT a victim, maybe she is a victim of poor theology and hermeneutics. We ought to love in truth and tell the truth in love.
I am so tired of the implication that someone who supports same-sex marriage (or any other cultural buzz issue) is not serious about the Word of God. But I understand it…I was one of those at one time, too. After three years of intensive study, reading the Bible in its original languages, going deep into study with people of Faith on all sides of the issue….I came to see that the Bible didn’t always say what I thought it did (or wanted it to). My mind was changed BECAUSE of my seriousness of the Word, not in spite of it.
I am so tried WITH Vicky of the implication that those that support same-sex marriage are not serious about the Word of God.
My friend Brett Trapp pointed out several things that we have no unity on …
Here are his words to think about while you play gatekeeper over Hatmaker and the others and this topic. If we are gonna be gatekeepers and decide who is in and who is out, why do we ignore so many other passages and only pay attention to the six verses that are considered the “clober verses”.
Question posed to Brett, a follower of Jesus that is gay:
“How do you Biblically justify living a homosexual lifestyle?”
“Because this question was submitted anonymously, I don’t know what Christian tradition you’re coming from. Since I don’t know, I’d ask a few questions in return…
Do you believe in predestination? That’s the theological belief that God predestines some for heaven and some for hell. It’s sometimes called the Doctrine of Election. Predestination is referenced over a dozen times in Scripture. The Scriptures are very clear that predestination exists, yet there are millions of believers who don’t believe in it. They believe that we have free will…that we choose God. Do you believe in predestination, and, if not, how do you justify that?
What about speaking in tongues? Do you practice that yourself? Many first century believers did, and we don’t have real solid evidence that it ever was meant to be retired. Many of my charismatic and Pentecostal friends speak in tongues (some call it a prayer language) and swear by it. The Scriptures are clear that believers of the Christian faith often speak in tongues. If you don’t, how do you justify that?
Do you believe that the earth was created in six days? I know a guy with a Phd from a very conservative seminary who loves Jesus with all his heart, but he doesn’t believe the earth was created in six days. Yet, the Bible is clear that it was. How do you think that friend of mine justifies his belief? Science maybe? Would you kick him out of your church because he doesn’t believe that part of the Bible?
In Sunday School, we don’t really teach our kids about all the crazy stuff that happened in the Old Testament. We skip over the times God commissions his people to kill in his name. Entire nations—men, women, and children—were slaughtered this way. But what if your kid asks if he can kill the neighbor’s punk kid because “God did it.” Will you tell your child he can’t do that? Will you explain that that was okay back then but not now? If so, how will you justify that to him?
Remember the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19? This wealthy guy asks Jesus how he can gain eternal life. Jesus gives the guy a list of commands to keep, and then he tells him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (NASB) Jesus was very clearly telling the guy how to inherit eternal life. In your pursuit of eternal life, have you sold all your possessions and given them to the poor and if not, how do you justify that?
Speaking of salvation, how does baptism fit into that? I was raised Baptist, so I was taught that baptism (immersion by dunking) was a sign of your new faith in Christ, but it didn’t actually save you. There are lots of examples in Scripture of people being baptized. However, most of my Presbyterian friends don’t believe or practice this. They practice infant baptism (sprinkling), though that’s not clearly a thing we see demonstrated in the Bible. I know lots of sincere believers who practice infant baptism. Do you? And if so, do you ask them how they justify it? And if they give you an unsatisfactory answer, do you disfellowship them or consider them apostate?
Do you know anyone who’s a part of the Churches of Christ? I do. Lots of folks. They believe that in order to be saved, you have to be baptized…it’s a requirement. If you come to faith in a Church of Christ service, they will often baptize you on the spot, lest you die in a car wreck on the way home and go to hell. They base their beliefs on Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 which clearly state that water baptism is part of the salvation equation. Do you believe this, and if not how do you justify that? Furthermore, if your kids didn’t believe that, would you be deeply disturbed or kick them out of the house?
Earlier I mentioned the Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Church of America is a conservative denomination that holds mostly to Reformed teaching, otherwise known as Calvinism. My PCA friends love John Calvin, Martin Luther, et al. Those old theologians were big on grace and were vehement defenders of the idea that we acquire salvation by God’s grace alone, not by works (I agree with this). Maybe you’re PCA, and if so, I would ask you how you justify the idea of salvation through grace alone when verses like Matthew 7:21, Romans 2:13, and James 2:24 show very clearly that works are a part of it. And with all due respect, wouldn’t your theology investigation be better invested on this very important matter of salvation (affecting 100% of humanity) instead of the issue of homosexuality (affecting 3-5% of humanity)? It all matters, but, just sayin…
Do you keep the Sabbath holy? If you work on the Sabbath, how do you justify that? After all, it’s one of the Ten Commandments. We have to assume that means it’s a really big deal. Furthermore, did you know that the Biblical Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday? Do you keep Saturdays holy? This is a really big deal to members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. To them, the Scriptures are clear on this issue, and they think the rest of us are in error by treating Sunday like a Sabbath. How would you justify this to a Seventh Day Adventist person?
In Mark 16, Jesus Himself says that His true followers will be able to hold deadly snakes and drink poison without harm. That’s clear. It’s Biblical. Heck…JESUS said it. Have you ever held a rattlesnake or chugged a bottle of Clorox? And if not, how can you claim to be a true believer? How do you justify that? Do you just ignore those verses altogether?
And then there are the oft-cited examples of Paul’s implicit endorsement of slavery and the reduced role/view of women.
You may think I’m saying all this to be divisive or undermine Scripture. I’m not. I’m simply asking you to justify the parts of the Bible you either reinterpret or ignore altogether. If you have the right to ask me hard questions, don’t I have the right to ask some of you?”
Beautiful, Mike. And you know I respect you, right? So I ask, is not ‘healthy religion’ a figment of the imagination? Can ‘core beliefs and clear tenets of faith’ survive for very long in the same room as life and health and love?
Don’t misunderstand me. I lay no claim whatever to being more healthy or loving than anyone else – quite the opposite.
But my questions remain.
Brett Trap has it going on. Thanks for sharing Tara. I would also ask, why do we tolerate certain sins in ourselves and others? Is one sin worse than another? To us, clearly. But to God? I was a sinner when saved and I still sin. Yet, I am still saved. My salvation experience was not based on my status as a repentant sinner. It was based on knowing I had no hope and believing Jesus was empowered and pleased to offer me new life, hope and fellowship with God. I thank God I am not a reformed sinner. They are the most miserable of companions.
It’s tiring to read all these comments urging us to root out ‘heresy’ (as if Jen Hatmaker is a heretic). Christians normally reserve the word heresy for serious doctrinal error that strikes at core doctrines of the faith, doctrines considered foundational like Trinity etc. It uses the term ‘error’ for all other deviations. Whether you agree with Jen on her understanding of homosexuality or not, I can say she is an exceptional follower of Jesus who has given her life in service of the. church and others. At the very least she deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. She’s not a heretic.
100% with you, Mike Frost. I can ALSO say she is an exceptional follower of Jesus who has given her life in service of the. church and others. At the very least she deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. She’s not a heretic.
I was super bummed out by most of the comments. Jen follows hard after Jesus and she will be okay, no matter what lables are given and what articles are written.
It was a good article. But since when have Christian leaders proven to have a thoughtful handle on what is essential and what is secondary in theology, and what is truly peripheral? My skepticism about wide-spread spiritual discernment amongst Church leaders ended young for me. Back in the day, I was chatting with my Baptist pastor in my home church about what I was studying at Regent College with people like Packer, Peterson, and Walke – and I was told that they weren’t really Evangelicals. I’ve found that people who define things outside of the bigger community of the global Church, through the centuries, have too narrow opinions on Jesus and Paul’s teachings. It is sad. Knowing how to respect and honour others is quickly fading from the memories of Western Christians, who live in small, disconnected bubbles of thought, belief, and practice – and seem to feel ok with that. I listen, but I no longer debate their criticisms and small mindedness.
This is a gospel issue. In my view, heresy is anything that keeps someone from falling into the arms of Jesus and His grace. When a practicing homosexual hears that his sin is not actually a sin, it keeps that practicing homosexual from repentance, forgiveness, and freedom found in the grace of Yeshua. We can’t receive grace from something we don’t actually believe is a sin. Repentance is a core gospel issue. The grace of God is a core gospel issue. Someone who struggles with homosexual sin and constantly takes it to the cross of Christ, falls and gets back up seven more times is in a much better position gospel-wise than somebody who self-justifies their sin theologically. The gospel of Jesus is the core of our faith. Any affront to the gospel is heresy. Self-justification in all its forms is the greatest affront to the gospel. Theological self-justification and teaching theological self-justification for what God views in truth as sin is keeping people to falling into the grace of God, and rather falling into self-justification. This is a core gospel issue.
Sean Steckbeck: Your rhetoric is the stuff that drives my LGBT friends to suicide. I’d rather be wrong in affirming my friends who are LGBT than have to attend their funerals because they killed themselves due to the hateful type of rhetoric you’ve put out here. I had a woman tell me just today that she prayed and prayed and God did not take away her lesbianism. She also said she attempted suicide. She’s just one person.
This is what your “core gospel issue” does to people. And I’m frankly sick and tired of the broken bodies and lives as a result. This is not the Jesus I know, the Jesus who ate with notorious sinners and scandalized the religious as a result.
Re JH and accountability, it’s useful to look at the timeline of events that have led up to this.
ANC: Austin New Church, Hatmakers’ church in Austin
FMCUSA: the Free Methodist Church- USA, which ANC was affiliated with and financially sustained by since its inception
JH: Jen Hatmaker, member of Austin New Church (ANC), occasional preacher, no official leadership position stated
BH: Brandon Hatmaker, founding pastor and elder at ANC
TP: Tray Pruitt, founding pastor and elder at ANC
JM: Jason Morriss, primary teaching pastor and elder at ANC, employed by the Free Methodist Church to serve at ANC since 2013, previously of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston
Prior to October of 2016 traditional Christian marriage was the Hatmaker’s official position. It was also the official position of ANC.
Octocer 25: JH interviewed by Jonathan Merritt which affirms her belief that gay marriage can be holy. Some elders were not aware of this change in stance prior to the interview publication.
November 1: BH affirms his JH’s position on FB. States “Being informed invites the Spirit to lead, reduces our defensiveness, and gives us the confidence to love better.” However, most respectful Facebook comments arguing for traditional viewpoints are deleted.
Winter 2016-2017: Elders who hold to the traditional view of marriage resign their position at ANC. Free Methodist Church disengages from ANC. JM updates facebook “Left Job at Free Methodist Church – USA”
March 22: TP announces a discussion regarding “full LGBT inclusion”, a series of events where only pro-gay marriage experts and thought leaders like Dr. J. Brownson and Matthew Vines. No opposing historical views included.
March 26: Remaining elders, including BH, re-affirm the affirming position first announced to ANC via the internet interview. State desire to “remain in a tension” on the issue, however, no opposing historical views are presented, and most if not all elders holding to traditional views have left ANC since the interview.
JM reports that membership at ANC has decreased by approximately 40% in four months. JM states he was ‘silently’ pro gay marriage when he was hired but kept this position hidden and claims his ability to not be “cornered” regarding his doctrinal views: “I can do the presidential pivot”.
JM has stated from the pulpit that JH is his “boss”.
JM changes his Facebook information to relay that he is no longer employed by the Free Methodist Church.
April 14: JH publishes blog describing her personal emotional results of interview, maligning the “Christian Machine” for criticizing her. Most respectful comments disagreeing with her stance are deleted.
April 28: In response to a Christianity Today article questioning her accountability to a Church, JH tweets “Men have “ministries.” Women have “blogs.” I’ve pastored 20 years. Jesus is in charge of me.”
Is she officially on staff at ANC in any paid or unpaid position? Is a JH an elder? Is she a pastor?
BH’s Facebook profile describes himself as “Author. Biker. Humanitarian. Huge fan of the underdog.” Is BH on staff at ANC in any paid or unpaid position?
Was the FMCUSA informed of the Hatmakers’ doctrinal change before it was publically announced on the internet?
Did FMCUSA release ANC because of their stance on gay marriage?
Did ANC follow typical ecclesiastical procedures regarding their change in position regarding an important, divisive, and controversial doctrine?
Were elders allowed to fulfill their roles as decision makers for ANC as outlined in Acts 15:1-2, or were those who disagreed with the change in position asked or encouraged to leave?
Does JH submit to the elders of ANC, or do the elders of ANC submit to JH?
One might postulate that a concerted, tactical, and very well-planned effort has been made within ANC since late Oct ’16 to conform the church and its elders and teachers and official doctrinal positions to with JH’s public positions, not the other way around.
This timeline is compelling and will sadly, i fear, be ignored. This story is similar in human history – bully and stifle and corner disparate voices, rewrite the narrative to fit your position. It sounds familiar because it is. Sinful mankind, including Gospel-loving movements of the past, have done this time and again. It is a pattern of sin emanating from our wicked hearts. May God have mercy on these trespasses and may we all look to Gospel, with its truth and hope, and follow hard after it.
‘But thanks be to God that Jesus has died for you and me despite our whining, our blasphemy, and our foolish and sinful ways. Grow up, Hatmaker. This nonsensical complaining of yours is unbecoming. Stop posting if you wish to avoid correction or unfounded hatred. The C-List celebrity world you pursued comes with its pluses and minuses. Accept them or move toward something else, but do not post an article in which you compare nasty articles and comments written about you online to Good Friday. Wonder why the majority of the “Christian Machine” disdains you? Perhaps it is partly because you spend your Christian celebrity capital to gripe about online comments.
Some tens of thousands of believers were martyred in 2016 and Jen Hatmaker is complaining about internet trolls and theological criticism. What a terrible way to talk about Good Friday.”
So I enjoy beer, whisky, and alcohol; but have never been drunk a day in my life (don’t know what it even feels like to be drunk). My study of the scriptures has helped me come to the conclusion that drinking alcohol is not sin if in moderation. I teach others as well publically that drinking alcohol in moderation is not sin. If I am wrong on this issue, I am practicing a form of self-justification and teaching self-justification. However, I am 100% sure its not sin, so I feel like I am doing nothing wrong and am not presenting an affront to the gospel. I also smoke pipes and cigars occasionally, I feel the same way with this as well. However, the scriptures are clear that homosexual practice is sin. Mike Frost , the author of this article, has attested to the fact that he believes homosexual practice is sin as well. So there is no middle ground here. Either you believe it is sin, and you teach people that God’s grace can cover this and help people take it to the cross. Or you don’t believe its sin or are unsure, and you can practice theological justification that doesn’t need the cross for this particular issue. However, if you are saying that it is sin, but teaching theological self-justification is not false doctrine, its being double-minded. Because if it is sin, the only justification we are allowed as believers to practice is repentance and forgiveness through the cross and grace of Jesus. If it is sin, theological self-justification is an affront to the cross.
PLEASE let conservative evangelicals continue to build walls and isolate themselves from the rest of society. In seeking purity, all they do is destroy. Let them be consumed by it. Let them be the fire and one day, there will be nothing left to burn.
I recommend Frank Schaffer’s books to everyone. He described evangelical Christianity devolving to the point where true believers are sniffing each other’s butts for doctrinal purity. Mr. Frost presumed some sort of good will in the likes of Hatmakers condemners. They don’t view her as a “sister.” She’s toast in their eyes. Burnt toast actually. She’s a heretic! Not worth attempting to reason with. “Reasoning” is a heretical concept to them.
People read Frank Schaffer! He was in the middle of right-wing evangelical churchianity and he skewers it as it justly deserves to be skewered.
You are mischaracterizing the way “orthodox” believers view Jen. Not as “burnt toast”. Grace is just as available to her in Christ as it always was, and any believer whose heart HAS in fact been transformed by the love of Jesus and the work of Holy Spirit longs for her to be grounded in truth and to be reconciled.
Reasoning is not a heretical concept, but it’s reasoning from the Scriptures that she doesn’t want to hear. The Bible implores us to reason with one another, and Paul reasoned with the crowds from the Scriptures to prove Jesus as messiah. In like fashion, “conservatives” are trying to reason from Scripture why homosexual sex (as well as any sex outside of marriage, including LOOKING at another person with lust in your heart) is damnable sin but thanks be to God we are SAVED in CHRIST from it!
Jen already said how she came to her changed decision — she isn’t going to answer you one by one because 1. She already said 2. She doesn’t owe you a personal response.
If your deal is to call anyone with differing theological opinions a heretic— I’m not guessing it’s something I can change, but as a close friend of Jen’s I find a lot of this commentary nothing like the Jesus I love and serve alongside Jen.
In the end, people are going to follow their hearts/instincts. I find many here lining up in a “militaristic” way about their faith.
Ya know, it’s the love of God that leads all of us to repentance: and I have enuf of my own crap to judge someone else’s- if there is any. We see thru a glass darkly, we’ve all got mud in our eyes….that only Jesus can remove.
I’m both cheered by this article while remaining concerned that we Christians (I don’t call myself Evangelical anymore since Trump) aren’t very deep about our understanding of sexuality and many related topics. Just playin’ devil’s advocate here a bit, but when we say Jesus didn’t speak to homosexuality, are we seriously suggesting he didn’t comment on sexuality itself as it stood in the Scriptural tradition? That is, as one man and one woman? And did he lower the behavioral bar re sexual sin or raise it? (Take a gander at the Sermon on the Mount if you’re puzzled.) That said, there’s absolutely no need to try a person in the court of public opinion as they suss out their own responsibilities, sexual or otherwise, before God. If they say something a number of us disagree with, and do so publically, maybe we can disagree “from beneath” — that is, with a profound sense of our own brokenness and need of Christ’s Grace-full touch? I very much liked the quotations this article ends with. Great food for thought. But yes, darn it, we really do need a theology of sexuality. And making comments such as “Jesus doesn’t speak to homosexuality” is, well, a bit simplistic. And maybe even a little doctrinaire?
Correction to above: “That is, as one man and one woman?” Should have read “That is, as being expressed fully in marriage between one man and one woman?”
I believe the scriptures provide much more grace for a needy sinner including homosexuals. Jesus spent most of his time hanging out with sinners, as should we. He also loved sinners into the kingdom rather than condemn them. However, one thing Jesus never did was condone their sin. Even if he didn’t mention the sin in specific cases in order to call the person out of a bad image of themselves into an image of someone who is loved, he still didn’t condone sin and redefine what sin was. I’m being more outspoken on this forum, but where I live I am highly criticized for spending most my time with unbelievers and showing them grace and even going into dark places. So hopefully nobody interprets my misgivings to this article as being a religious bigot. I hang out in mosques, Buddhist temples, and bars and show broken people the love of Jesus with no condemnation. My misgiving with this article is whitewashing false teachers, since the subject is not about how to reach and love on homosexuals, but on how to deal with false teachers. Two different categories. If Jen Hatmaker was silent on the issue and started loving on homosexuals, nobody would say anything. However it’s the false teaching she is spreading that homosexuality is not a sin which deserves sharp rebuke. Same with the others mentioned in the article. This is my view. It’s in alignment with the word of God because Paul said teachers have harsher judgment, and Jesus said those who teach people to break moral law will be called least in the kingdom.
I think Christians should focus on being right about loving each other rather than who is correct about each others sins. Let’s focus on how the devil is using each and everyone of us in order to win good people over to his side. So many people never find Christ because they can’t follow the rigid teachings of so many well intentioned Christians. If Jen Hatmaker’s beliefs prevent one teen from committing suicide because they are gay then maybe all this public scrutiny is worth it. My belief is, Love Christ, Love each other and pray for wisdom. Slow down and show love to someone that may be hurting. http://www.sptsusa.org/not-my-kid/
This is a sobering appeal and I pray that yes, this discourse does save life and redeem souls from death. Yes and amen. May we proclaim the Gospel boldly and may we love with our lives those around us.
If a writer takes a position which is opposite or in sharp contrast to the majority, that writer will encounter resistance. This should surprise no one, least of all the writer. My guess is, she knows precisely what she’s doing.
If a sweet grandmother comes walking out of church and I kick her in the shins, she will probably react. Writers love to do this and then proclaim, “Look! And she calls herself a Christian!”
“Get the bloodlust out of your system, people. Call off the attack dogs. Start treating your sisters and brothers like sisters and brothers.” This is a quote from the article. I encourage the author and those who agree with the author to please consider this line with regard to love and grace for people with a conservative point-of-view. As strongly as your convictions are explained here, please remember that many conservatives feel equally as strong regarding their heartfelt desire for biblical holiness. Some express it in healthy ways, some do not. Let’s all do our best to avoid generalities. Please don’t send the “attack dogs” to those with whom you disagree, just as you request for the “attack dogs” not to be sent your way.
Ah, yes. The old “you have to be tolerant of my intolerance” argument. Your “firmly held religious beliefs” are personal. They are for you to follow. Keep them to yourself and you will have no problems from me… Try to use them as an excuse to destroy other people “in love and the Spirit”, and I’ll burn you to the ground.
Ahh yes. Jesus did say “Burn thine enemies to the ground when they disagree with you”.
What you aren’t wanting to hear is a calm, sincere appeal to Biblical truths. You hear disagreement and immediately assume it is a voice of bloodlust and anger and vengeance, and it’s easy to avoid the weight of the Bible when you can just write off any reasoned appeal from Scripture as a a bigoted response from a close-minded fiend. It isn’t love to just not disagree with someone.
I can’t speak for all of Jen’s critics, but yes, a person with a platform that reaches millions of souls is important and it matters that they are presenting the right Gospel without wavering, and naturally people, myself, included, believe and want this Gospel to be clearly proclaimed no matter the cost.
It’s crazy to speculate what Jesus would or would not approve of if he didn’t specifically speak about it. He gave one hard and fast litmus test: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” No, Jesus didn’t specifically say armed robbery is wrong, but it harms your neighbor. No, Jesus didn’t specifically say that polluting the earth is wrong, but it shows disdain to God who created it. No, Jesus didn’t specifically say it’s wrong to deliberately injure yourself, but you can’t love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself. So where does same-sex marriage fall on this? It does not hurt me or my neighbor, and I don’t believe that love is a sin against God.
Extraordinarily well said, Vicki.
It’s hyperbole, Ryan.
I know that – I was matching hyperbole with hyperbole.
But don’t you see that disagreement doesn’t immediately mean hate? And it wasn’t me but Jesus who said to lust in the heart is adultery, to hate in the heart is murder. It was also Jesus who affirmed what exactly a marriage covenant is when he said, from Genesis, that a man leaves his father and mother to cling to his wife and become one flesh. His standard is unflinching.
Do I wish God would lighten up on his sexual ethic? Maybe. But He didn’t. You just don’t arrive at any conclusion that a Biblical marriage covenant is anything other than what Jesus said it was – a man and a woman. ANY sex outside of that is morally wrong in God’s eyes. Is that a strict standard? Yes! The strictest.
People with a homosexual struggle who have homosexual relations are not ANY more sinful than me when I lust after a woman who isn’t my wife or you when you harbor hate in your heart toward a neighbor. Sin is sin is sin.
But we have GRACE. We can’t offer the grace of Christ with a lie attached. Sin must be known as it is. But with grace and love and patience and forbearance and all the fruit of the spirit – all is the arsenal of the believer. But Truth of sin doesn’t waver. It never has.
Only confirmation bias and not cultural context could bring you to a 1st century Jewish Rabbi quoting poetry from the Hebrew scripture meaning anything about monogamous, consensual, same-sex relationships. He just wasn’t talking about that. He was talking about divorce, and the only reason he was talking about it in the first place was because the religious leaders were trying to fuck with him… JUST LIKE THEY ARE DOING TO JEN HATMAKER.
I’m not fucking with anyone, man. I’m not trying to bait you or flame you or troll you or whatever. Look at this in context:
““Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? 5 It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ 6 So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.”
7 The proud religious law-keepers said to Jesus, “Then why did the Law of Moses allow a man to divorce his wife if he put it down in writing and gave it to her?” 8 Jesus said to them, “Because of your hard hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives. It was not like that from the beginning. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sex sins, and marries another, is guilty of sex sins in marriage. Whoever marries her that is divorced is guilty of sex sins in marriage.””
Yes the 2nd chapter of Genesis is poetry. A song, actually. About how a man and his wife, who is a man and woman, join together and become one flesh in a marriage covenant. And God HATES divorce. He ONLY allows it because, to quote Jesus, because of mankind’s hardness of heart.
Jesus seems unwavering on what marriage is – for life, one man, one woman, one flesh. Ancient covenants were achieved when both parties passed through the blood of severed animals on either side. Coitus is the passage of both parties through blood, the very biology of sex attesting to the covenant of what a marriage is.
Where do you get that any sex outside your strict standard is disapproved of by God? God allowed polygamy, rape victims being forced to marry their rapists, soldiers being allowed to keep women as spoils or war, brothers marrying sisters…. I know you will say, “Well, that’s Old Testament stuff….” but the fact remains, God allowed it and at times commanded it. So perhaps God’s standards for sexuality are a little more flexible than you might maintain? Polygamy was still occurring in the New Testament wealthy Jews. It was dying out in the early church, but still happened. And it was allowed.
I mean, it’s like you’re willfully ignoring what Jesus is saying about marriage and what Genesis is saying about marriage. THE definition of Christian marriage is in the Bible, beginning in Genesis. The reason Jesus doesn’t talk about a same-sex marital covenant is because such a thing doesn’t exist in the Bible. It may exist elsewhere but not in the realm of Christian orthodoxy.
Same-sex couples can be married by American or any other county’s law, and that’s fine. But according to Bible’s self-described marriage covenant, they are not marriage. Marriage is defined by the song of creation in Genesis, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, man and woman. Sin has marred things, yes, but this is God’s original and only design of the marriage covenant.
Some people just have a vile hatred of all things Old Testament. They think the Old Testament God is not the same God of the New Testament or that God changed his mind and has mood swings.
My only comment is that this pack attack syndrome is alive and well in the Baptist Association of NSW…
Yes, Ryan, that is God’s plan. As someone mentioned earlier, child sexual abuse is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a sin when you take the entire Bible into consideration. I wonder if anyone on here is going to change anyone’s mind. I don’t think so.
Yeah I wonder that too – about the changing of the mind. These are conversations for Christians about Christian doctrine, also. We won’t argue anyone into Kingdom of God. Important conversations, yes, but the Holy Spirit is the one that convicts and leads us into truth, not emotion, not anger, not verbal tirades.
And I’m not sure what you’re getting at in regard to child abuse. What comes to mind is what God said when his people were sacrificing their children to Baal and Moloch: “It never even entered my mind” – though He never gave the explicit command in the Law, “Thou shall not sacrifice your children”, we know it’s wrong. The demon gods demanded it, though. the spirit of the world is dark, indeed.
Anyway. We all have to look at the Word and let it weigh on us honestly and listen to what the Spirit may be saying through it. Are we quenching the Spirit with a desire to be “right” or with a desire to be “liked” by culture? Only He can tell us in our heart of hearts.
Yes, I agree!
Could it be…common ground?!
[…] (The link to the original blog is here.) […]
I think this whole article is buffoonery. I am sorry read your bible! The gospel is the gospel. We should know by now what God’s word is. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. But if I did people like Joel Olsteen would have much shorter careers, and paster’s wouldn’t be worried about filling pews. People like this peddle a watered down (at best) version of God’s word. What good is it?! Seriously. Now we all sin, it’s truee, and we should be inclusive. But we should not bend God’s word with our own to meet the secular world. We all should know what that really is. Stop making excuses. You either believe or you don’t and you either repent and work away from sin or you don’t. The bible is our guide, our toolbox for seeking a closer walk with him. But that also shouldn’t stop us from loving one another. God so loved the world, that means everything in it including sinners, god loves you. He just hates sin. I hope I’ve brought some clarity. Judging by the comments I see here some of you really, really need it. I don’t know what it is that some of you have eaten but before commenting about a biblical issue perhaps it would serve you well to actually read the bible, brush up a little. Thank you, and god bless each and Evey one of you. Even if you hate me for it. Haters will be haters. Especially when they’re called out.
Wow, thanks for that. I will simply READ MY BIBLE. I had never thought of that. Thank you for being my intellectual superior and calling me out on that. It’s good to know there are pious, uptight–etc, upright–Christians who can boil everything down to a few self-informed talking points. Thanks, man.
How did a blog post calling into question the way that conservative Christians attack each other descend into comments by Christians (I’m assuming) attacking each other about SSM? I’m out of the loop, but it seems to me that the comments are illustrating the point of the blog. I have been in the conservative church for over half a century, and I’m getting to the point where I feel that if the conservative church wants to exclude me, then so be it. I know that my Jesus has chosen and includes me. But those who claim his name…I’m not even sure I want to be identified with them anymore. It’s a difficult place to be…I feel like I’m losing my home. But it feels more like an abusive home than a healthy one, a point also made in this blog. Thanks, Mike. I just ran across your blog recently.
This is the bottom line: Jen Hatmaker and her husband said that they had a revelation from God after much prayer that basically the story of Adam and Eve and the pattern of marriage also pertains to homosexual marriage! It was put out publicly by the husband I think on their Facebook page that they felt they were led to believe that as long as a homosexual couple are faithful to one another the it’s fine just like a normal marriage.
This is blasphemy pure and simple, to say they felt told this. These people should NOT be leaders in teaching other Christians.
Does this however mean that people who are homosexual are not welcome to attend church? Of course not! What is being said here is that for someone to say that God says that homosexuality is not a sin is in absolute and total error! And to say that marriage between two homosexuals is not wrong-well, I can’t even believe we have to have this conversation.
Homosexuality isn’t the only sin there are other sins but since this is the topic here being discussed-Well church is for everyone-it’s for the sick not the well. You’re at church to get help for any kind of sin not just this one, not to have it smiled upon so that no one will be offended.
I think everybody should be treated with love and respect at church no matter what their sexual orientation. But the start of this topic was about error in teaching. And it is wrong of this couple to teach this. Yes, they need a public call out on it-otherwise it looks like the rest of the Christian world condones it and unfortunately there are a serious amount of people who are condoning it now and it’s just wrong just like condoning any other sin.
Holly, let me guess: You’re heterosexual and married or in a relationship with a man…maybe you have kids.
If so, aren’t you being terribly arrogant to say that you can have that but others can’t? Who are you to decide that gay people need to live lonely lives….who can’t even have a friend of the same sex because, heaven forbid, they might fall in love with them?
Now I know you’ll pull the old , ” Well, I’m not saying it–God is!”
The God who said it is not good for the man to be alone is the same God who says, through Jesus, “Some were made this way and some were born this way”…. (Matt. 19:12)
Why don’t we quit pretending that we speak for God–or even that the Bible is clear on everything it teaches? Let’s be more careful that our theology is producing good fruit. I can’t see where any belief that urges parents to throw out their kids or that causes people to commit suicide can possibly be bearing anything other than rotten fruit.
““Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV
Adam-that says it all.
I’m not arrogant-I’m just trying to be obedient. I don’t know what you mean about the not having friends part-no one says that. That’s down to the individual I guess if they can handle it without wanting to be with that person romantically.
Look, it’s not easy I’m sure for those trying to deal with this.
But the issue at hand is Christian teachers saying they heard from God through prayer that God looks at homosexual marriage the same as heterosexual-it just is blasphemy to say you heard such a thing. You’re right-I have to say that it is God saying it-it’s all over the Bible-
just like other sins being addressed-not just that one. And it IS very clear for sure, just like it is for others.
As I said before, EVERYONE deserves respect and for people to be treated bad by parents or anyone else is just wrong-that is not Christian either. I don’t think anyone should be throwing their children out of their home-or berating them to the point of suicide. I think most Christians would agree with that. But we can’t condone sin. We can’t say it’s ok because people’s feelings might be hurt.
God comes first.
By the way, Mathew 19:12 isn’t referring to sexual orientation other than w/regards to the one reference about one having been deformed (for lack of a better word) at birth and therefore not able to complete his duties (so to say) in marriage but of course there were those in that time who were castrated and then the other reference meaning those who can lead a chaste life not because you sin if you decide to marry but those who are born with an inclination to be able to lead a chaste life and can be more centered in devoting ones life to Christ without the responsibilities of marriage. To say that this was some kind of clue to the fact that people are born certain ways regarding homosexuality is twisting this verse. But I could on and on and on with everyone here who says different and all I can do is just respond that you have to answer to God someday just like we all have to over whatever in our life. We all know deep down what’s right and what’s wrong. All of us know in our soul when something’s wrong.