I really didn’t intend to write again today, but something happened that compels me to follow up on a possible rabbit-trail resulting from yesterday’s post, “Do You Know that God is Real?“I included a song, called “Honey in the Rock,” that included an interview at the end. The interview explained the scriptural foundation of the song, along with some of the artists’ personal experiences that had led to the crafting of the lyrics. Somewhere in there was a reference to a podcast by a pastor named Tim Keller, who I have never heard of. After publishing the blog post, I went back to the interview so that I could find out who Tim Keller is. I typed his name into the search bar and hit the return key, and what happened next made my heart sink.
Article after article, calling him a false teacher. And that, after I told you to be careful about what you hear because the spirit of the anti-christ is in the world too, and he would like nothing more than to lead people astray. So, I removed the song/interview combo to avoid having listeners follow possible bunny trails, and I replaced the very scriptural song with a recording that doesn’t have an interview. But then I spent some time doing more research. I want to share with you and ask you to reason with me.Before you judge anything:
Test Teachers. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Don’t blindly believe everything that pastors and teachers preach. Go back to the Bible and check to make sure that what they are saying is true. That may not be a quick task. You will need to pray for discernment and you may need to take time to look up LOTS of scripture to get solid understanding on a topic, but the Bible says that the whole counsel of God stands. We can’t pull little bits out of context and make a case. We have to believe ALL of it. Need help? Ask a trusted teacher for help. I’m even here to help. I love to research scripture.
Test the Accusations. The flip side of this is that you can’t always believe the skeptics either. We live in the information age. Whatever you want to know is at the tip of the finger. There are writers who are disseminating misinformation about pastors and teachers just as quickly as a false teacher can spread bad theology. The criticism tends to be very snarky, making fun, acting disgusted, and sometimes pulling quotes out of context to support their opinions. That’s not the example set for us in the Bible. Paul was clear that “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a curse! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be under a curse!…” (Galations 1:8, 9) Paul addressed heresy in the church, but he addressed it with the truth and not hate speech. We have to watch our tone. We don’t hate the teacher. We hate the lie. We correct the teaching. We lovingly correct the teacher.The best way to know who is telling the truth is to actually look into the teaching yourself. That said, I have not listened to or read any of Tim Keller’s teaching. I just want to caution you to be careful. What I did do was investigate some of the accusations brought against a Rebecca McLaughlin, who is on staff with the preacher training school that Tim Keller has started. He is taking hard hits on account of her. The articles I read about her, again–were sickening. I haven’t read her books or listened to her speak. What I did do was read a transcript from an interview discussing points from one of her books. What I discovered was a very different picture than the one being portrayed by critics. She is criticized for sharing that she has experienced same-sex attraction and for speaking frankly about the statistics about that in the church. She does–it is an uneasy topic, and the statistics are not easy to hear. What she does NOT do is defend homosexuality as being okay. She explains how marriage between one man and one woman is an archetype for the love that Christ has for the church. She defends the importance of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, as God created our relationships to be, in order to preserve the message of the gospel. She said she has been happily married (to a man) for 10 years and has 3 children, and clearly states that the Bible “cuts against same-sex marriage.”
Why does she openly share that she has struggled with same-sex attraction? My guess is that it gives her an opportunity to speak the difficult truth to a group of people who feel shunned and would probably not pay attention otherwise. She is making herself vulnerable to judgement within the church, but asserts that the church needs to love people who struggle with this–not accept the behavior as being okay, but hold on to the opportunity to teach the truth while meeting needs. It’s not how we feel that dictates what is true. God’s Word is the truth.
McLaughlin also talks about “brotherly love” in the church, as Paul explains it. “Homophobic” attitudes have made some people touchy about appropriate affection in friendships between people of the same gender. My example would be how great the affection is between my daughters. They grew up holding hands, especially in situations where they were scared/uncomfortable in their surroundings. That was fine when they were little, yet, today, there are times they keep their distance because, “We don’t want anyone to think we’re lesbian.”
The same problem exists in heterosexual friendships. We are not a touchy-feel-y culture. Our “serve yourself” society that always looks to reduce overhead costs is also putting barriers between people. We don’t have to talk to each other to get things done, and Covid has moved so many workers to remote offices that we have less contact with one another than ever before. McLaughlin expressed that our lack of healthy affection outside of families and within the church could be a contributing factor to lonely people seeking inappropriately affectionate relationships–period. If I really think about it, she might be on to something. In a sue happy world where church and para-church workers can have their lives and ministries completely derailed by an indiscetionary accusation, Ministry Safe teaches us how to protect ourselves and others. In short, affection of any type is not easy to show. It makes one vulnerable to accusations, no matter how unfounded they may be. Relationships have to be guarded.
That is all I gathered in my research, and I plan to leave it at that for now. If there’s more to this, I don’t know, but I want to encourage us to be reasonable with one another. One of the things that I noticed in McLaughlin’s interview, and I have been seeing for some time, is a problem of vocabulary. Rebecca was somewhat difficult for me to follow because the way she describes things are so different than the way I would describe them. She used different words and phrases, and I think some of that is the generational differences that are becoming more pronounced because the younger generation is so into the media/online communication. New words are being invented all the time. Communication isn’t as simple as it used to be. I really notice it with my college kids. They left home talking “normal” and then visited home with new words that I had to say, “Huh?” to. It is also a problem across denominational lines. I have sat and listened to Charismatics and non-Charismatics talk and they were saying the same thing, but their discussion sounded like a disagreement because they couldn’t understand each other!!! That is a BIG PROBLEM! If the House of the Lord sounds like we disagree, because we can’t come together with understanding on the important teaching, outsiders will not want anything to do with us. We HAVE to learn how to communicate, and it starts with really listening.