I was preaching at a Chinese Presbyterian Church conference in Sydney this morning, and was immediately asked what I thought about the Royal Wedding (which some of them had stayed up to watch the night before). We had an interesting discussion. I will keep my thoughts for later, but in particular they wanted to know what I thought of THAT sermon. Again I will have a more thoughtful analysis later, but I have to say that the reaction to the sermon of Bishop Curry has profoundly disturbed me. Not the sermon itself, which knowing Curry, I knew would be entertaining, well-delivered, inspiring and a bit rambling (as I have listened to it again – it also struck me how ‘anti-Gospel’ it fundamentally is). Nor the reaction of the press – which from the Guardian to the Daily Mail, loved it. What has really disturbed me is that the reaction to this sermon has indicated just how weak evangelicalism is in the UK and to some extent even in my own denomination. Good Christian people were excited that ‘the Gospel was proclaimed’ and that, even if it was a bit wishy washy in parts, at least it got the message of Jesus across. But did it?
Again I will reflect on this some more – but for the moment let me simply say that this was at best a pick ‘n’ mix Christianity – a Gospel sermon without the Gospel – a Christian sermon without Christ. The fact that there were great statements of truth within it (although so vague that anyone could make them to mean what they want of it), which the Lord can indeed use (as he could use a pagan King and a donkey!) should not take away from the fact that the most dangerous error is that which is mixed with truth. The poison is even more deadly when it is adulterated with milk, meat and honey.
As I went to bed last night I read the following in my reading which seemed apposite:
“The officials of Zoan have become fools, the leaders of Memphis are deceived; the cornerstones of her peoples have led Egypt astray. The LORD has poured into them a spirit of dizziness; they make Egypt stagger in all that she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.” Isaiah 19:13-14
It seems to me that there is ‘a spirit of dizziness’, not only in the hysteria of the mob culture we live in, not only amongst the liberal anti-Gospel leaders in the Church (such as Bishop Curry); but now sadly even amongst good and faithful evangelical leaders, who seemed to swallow the Bishop’s hook, line and sinker. I will explain more in an article I am writing for Christian Today but meanwhile let me leave you with this suggestion.
Go to the St Peters website and listen to the sermons (and indeed the whole services) from last Sunday – the 13th. Sinclair Ferguson’s in the morning on the Ascension, and Andrew Robertson’s on a difficult passage in Ezekiel – are both stunning. They are real preaching. They are the Word of the Lord. There is no possibility that the Guardian, the Mail, Ed Miliband, Pink News, or the BBC would praise them. But that’s what faithful preachers do – they teach what the Bible says and not what the culture wants to hear. It is not ‘curmudgeonly’ nor ‘unloving’ to ask that preachers should preach the Christ of the Bible. Indeed it is unloving to feed the people anything other than the bread and meat of the Word. Be thankful this Sunday if your preacher has the courage, faithfulness and love to do so.