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Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon – A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church

 

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
2 Peter 2:1-2 NIVUK

The reaction to Bishop Michael Curry’s exuberant sermon at the Royal Wedding has demonstrated a great deal about our own culture and even more about the state of the evangelical church in the West today.   Even more shockingly for me, it has shown up a  fault line in my own orthodox denomination.   I have written a more general piece for Christian Today that will hopefully be online today, but in this article I want to carefully consider the sermon and the reaction to it from my own tribe (evangelicals) and my own particular subset within it – the Free Church of Scotland. I am genuinely traumatised at what has emerged over the past couple of days and have been lying awake trying to process it. The verse at the head of this article  was in my McCheyne reading this morning and has prompted me to write.

Bishop Curry was a superb communicator.  He was connected, joyful, enthusiastic, jovial, learned and amusing.  An angel of light.

First let me being with the general evangelical reaction. I wrote the following for Christian Today: “In one sense the sermon was wonderful.   Bishop Curry was passionate, articulate, humorous and he even mentioned Jesus, the Bible and the love of God (55 times!). And people loved it. Piers Morgan tweeted: “Wow. Still reeling from Rev Curry. What a moment. What a guy!” Ed Miliband – “Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer”. As predicted on Christian Today it seems as though the British really did fall in love with the loveable bishop. And it wasn’t just the public, nor the liberal Christians and LGBT activists who loved him. Those of a more conservative bent were quick to join in. The conservative blogger Cranmer tweeted: “When the Church is liberated from staid sermons and formulaic motions to spontaneous expressions of joy and heart-bursting love, the world sits up and listens. God bless you, @BishopCurry, for proclaiming the love of Christ so passionately to two billion people.” Many other conservative evangelicals from Krish Kandiah to Amy Orr-Ewing, from Scottish Free Church Presbyterians to Sydney Anglicans were equally commendatory. It was, and is, as many pointed out, an opportunity to talk about Jesus and to share the Gospel.”
Archbishop Welby was ecstatic. “The use of language to communicate the Gospel of Christ just blew the place open. You could see people get caught up and excited about it” This was preaching the Gospel.

 

There were many other reactions but for the sake of space let me deal with just three. The Australian Anglicans, the Free Church Presbyterians and later on in the week we will respond to the English blogger Cranmer.

The Australians…..

It’s been fascinating watching the reaction over here. As well as being with Chinese Presbyterians at the weekend, today I have just completed a lecture and Q and A on the subject with Moore College Anglicans. So many of them do get and grasp what was wrong; like their colleague in England – The Queens former chaplain Gavin Ashendon who wrote this excellent review – https://ashenden.org/2018/05/19/michael-curry-the-royal-wedding-a-star-turn-offers-the-world-christianity-lite/ But others are a bit more confused.

One Sydney evangelical has written of his bemusement about ‘reformed’ people not getting the sermon.   Another has a piece in todays Sydney Morning Herald in which he IMG_8575lauds the’wonderful’ sermon (although admitting it did lack something). It was this latter piece that struck me most. “We heard from Curry a message that is simplicity itself: love, the love that comes from God in Christ, is the only way. If people were shocked by that, perhaps that’s not a bad thing”. I’m more shocked by that statement than I am by the sermon. It shows how out of touch we are with the surrounding culture.   Is there anyone in the world who is shocked that a bishop mentions love at a wedding?! What would have been shocking is if he had given any biblical meaning to the word!
Another wrote; “the context was pure biblical orthodoxy”.  It appears post-modernism is alive and well in the modern church!

The Free Church

I came across this interesting and informative post from our friend, Sam Logan:

“I had the great privilege of preaching twice today for the Free Church of Scotland congregation of Uig/Staffin on the Isle of Skye. After the service tonight, there was a “Fellowship Time” at which members of the congregation and Susan and I talked about “things.” One of those things, a subject raised by a leader of that congregation, was the sermon from yesterday’s royal wedding. I mentioned the divergent opinions I have seen regarding that sermon posted by Free Church ministers. Overall, I would say that the majority opinion expressed tonight was strongly positive. I find it VERY educational to listen to and to be educated by committed evangelical Reformed Christians from cultural contexts different from my own.”

I found it VERY educational as well. I was really disappointed that our own people did not show the same discernment of the Chinese Presbyterians in assessing the sermon.   But then when I consider that several Free Church leaders tweeted their support and appreciation for the sermon I am not that surprised.

“I’m grateful for Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon today. There was plenty in it to point people to Jesus, and I pray that many people who watched that sermon will discover Jesus for themselves as they read or listen to the Bible as a result of the sermon.”

“Having read the sermon I couldn’t find anything of deism in it or any other heterodoxy, and there were plenty of pointers to God’s redeeming love in the life and death of Jesus. There is no better way to bring people to faith than to woo their hearts by telling them, reminding them and re-reminding them of the amazing love of God in Christ.”

 Others have commented that it was such a powerful message and it should get people to reading the bible. Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18 attitude “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” – But that is the key question – was Christ preached? Was the love of Christ preached?

It wasn’t.

1) Firstly if it had been it would have been the first time that the preaching of Christ met with worldwide commendation! Everyone loved it – from the atheist Ed Miliband, to the LGBT activist Vicky Beeching. Liberal and Evangelical alike sang its praises. It was such a post-modern meaningless sermon that anyone could take any meaning they liked. Listen to what Jesus says: “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)

2) It was hypocritical.  Bishop Curry was at a wedding that upheld the traditional Cranmer prayer book (and biblical) view of marriage as being between a man and a woman – and which expressly said so. Yet he does not believe that – and has been active in getting the reference to procreation and to man and woman removed from the prayer book in his church. Incidentally his province is meant to be under the discipline of the whole Anglican Church, yet the Archbishop of Canterbury not only invited him but also enthusiastically endorsed him. Biblical Evangelicals within the Church of England have been well and truly shafted!   It is important to grasp that Liberals like Curry use words in different ways – we need to ask what does he mean by Jesus, love and the cross. We may be hearing one thing when he is saying another.

3) It was unbiblical – The sermon cited 1 John 4:8 out of context. I know that he did not have time to do all of this, but there is no way that the little he did say is reflective of the letter he took it from.   Just to mention a few things.

a) Sin – John sets the whole of the Cross-against the background of sin. Bishop Curry did not mention sin once. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1:8).

b) The Atonement – John tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That forgiveness for sins comes from that. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice (the propitiation, turning aside the just wrath of God against sin) for our sins, and not only ours but the sin of the whole world” (2:2). This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (3:16). This is love not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (4:10).  When Curry spoke of the cross, it spoke of it as sacrificial, as exemplary, not as THE atoning sacrifice.  We too can be sacrificial and it is that sacrificial love that is redemptive and changes the world.   Can you see what he is doing? He is turning the cross from being THE redemptive work, to it being an example of redemptive love that we can all show. He is teaching us that we can save ourselves and indeed save the world by just having the kind of love that Christ had and following his example. That is not the Gospel. It is the antithesis of the Gospel.

c) Obedience – Obedience was left out of the marriage vows. It was also left out of the sermon. Which given that it was a sermon about love and love is defined as obedience in his text is a big miss! We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands (2:3).   If anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in them. (2:5). But the Bishop said nothing about obeying the commands of God. Imagine if he had said this – “This is love for God, to keep his commands” (5:3). Do you think for a moment he would have had such a positive response?

d) Loving the World was commended, not condemned – Do not love the world, or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them (2:15). See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And this is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him (3:1). Bishop Curry made no distinction at all between Jesus and the world. So the world loved his message. If he had preached Christ, the world would have hated it. As it is the world loved his message, because it pushed all their buttons.

e) Beware False Teachers – Many antichrists have come (2:18). Do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work (3:7-8). Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. False teaching, false spirits, the devil being at work. Again none of that was mentioned.   The whole concept of evil and the devils work was not part of the picture at all. But our battle is not against flesh and blood. Nor against Donald Trump. It is against sin, self and Satan.

f) There is a great division between those who know God and those who don’t. Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love (4:8). Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (5:1).  If you don’t know Jesus you are not born of God. And if you are not born of the God who is love, you cannot love in the way that John is speaking about.

Imagine if Bishop Curry had said to the young couple – “it’s great to see your love, but there is a greater love, and you really need to know that love. You need to know the God who is love. You need to trust and accept his atoning work of sacrifice. You need to show your love by obeying his commands (including being faithful to each other). You need to watch out for the evil in your own heart, and that from the devil. Always look to Christ “ But he didn’t (even though the Cranmer’s Anglican liturgy recognizes all those things); and he couldn’t because he does not believe that. He disobeys Gods word, denies his atoning sacrifice and does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what does the fact that so many good Christians and pastors accepted this as a ‘gospel sermon’ tell us?

It teaches us that the world has had a far deeper impact on our general thinking than we realize. We just seem to accept its premises.

It teaches us that we should not use the world’s methodology. I know that there are some who think that just because Jesus is mentioned and the bible quoted, this is a great thing, and even if he was not especially orthodox, we can use this as a kind of marketing tool. Whilst I agree that we should use every opportunity we can get – we should not justify or accept false teaching, just because it can be turned for good.  It is very dangerous to say to our people that a sermon which gave a false view of the cross, a wrong view of salvation and was preached by a man who denies the Bible as the word of God, is somehow to be celebrated as something that points people to Jesus. Which Jesus?

It teaches us that we need to be on our guard. The false teachers that Peter mentions were not people who were open in their heresy. They “secretly introduce destructive heresies”. Paul warned the Ephesian elders “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. “ (Acts 5:29-31). The devil is subtle. Most churches gradually decline – they don’t usually make one big jump. We need to walk the straight line – never deviating one iota from the Word of God – whether to legalism on the one hand, or liberalism on the other.

We should not be surprised. Remember what Jesus said:  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16).

The lesson of the churches in Revelation is that even faithful churches with hard working people can be deceived.

 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

13     I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, and who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.

15   Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 A teacher who calls sexual immorality ‘love’ is following the teaching of Balaam, not Christ.

I would appeal to my fellow evangelicals, especially those who are in church leadership. Don’t be deceived. I know I can be deceived – I have been in the past and I pray that the Lord would deliver me from that in the future.  And don’t let the flock which God has entrusted you with be deceived. Stick to the word, discern the spirits, and be bold and courageous in standing up against those who come either as roaring lions or as angels of light – and preach to us another Gospel and a different Jesus.

Finally – I don’t believe that 2 billion people heard the Gospel in this sermon.  The only people who heard the Gospel in it were Christians who already know  Gospel.  Instead of rejoicing in the crumbs we get from heretics, we should be seeking to learn more of Christ ourselves and get out there and tell the world about the real Jesus – one person at a time!

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Right Royal Preaching

PS. there was one other error in the sermon that at first I thought was minor – but now realise was major…will get to that later as well.

The Wedding, the Sermon and the Reaction – Article on Christian Today

Glen Scrivener and the Middle Way re that Sermon

Ravi praises, Curry explains and Cranmer Spins…

 

 

 

74 comments

  1. Thank you very much for this article David. When we read the transcript of the sermon early on Sunday morning we felt the same as you do before we had read anyone else’s comments on it. We strongly disagreed with Cranmer when we read his blog. We just felt that everyone could have left that service (as well as the millions watching on television) with a warm feeling of being right with God as long as we have love. John Lennon has already given us this message years ago – All you need is love – and Burt Bacharach too – What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love. As one person commenting on Cranmer’s blog put it, “Modern sub-Christianity wants the love without the justice.”

    1. Repeat, rinse and wash:
      Yes, indeed.
      But it was pap. Empty vacuous pap. What are you thinking? Feeding 2 billion souls with emptiness and vacuity is nothing to be respected…………the news does this on a daily basis.
      You have fallen for a second-hand car salesman. And an American one at that.
      Basically if you are in ‘lurve’, be it with your male/female/transgender/challenged/confused/lesbian partner ……God is there. So that’s ok then.
      Yet that quiet question that asks this ‘lurve’ if it be Love receives the answer that it is in fact ‘desire’, ‘want’ and ‘need’ that is being paraded around as Love. The sermon was pap for an infantile society. And Curry notwithstanding holding a Master in Divinity is an impostor. So too the primate who suggested him to the royal couple who were far more interested in Eros than Agape.
      Bishops are most certainly primates.

  2. Mr Roberston …. you are a very brave man! Michael Curry now has a following the Pope would envy, and that from every possible demographic . At Church yesterday everyone was full of his sermon. His passion, his joviality and amiability were so contrary to what we all expected. But for all that you’re spot on. It was certainly distinctly religious but much that’s distinctively Christian was omitted. For all his passion and warmth, had the apostles been in the congregation they wouldn’t have known what he was talking about.

  3. AMEN and AMEN.
    Thank you, David. Praying for you under the avalanche of brickbats that is certain to bring on you.

  4. As an orthodox Anglican minister, I am really grateful to you for this excellent analysis. I hope the article will be widely read, including by those who see themselves as evangelicals yet have sadly fallen for this sermon.

  5. Goodness gracious how you’ve missed the point. And, also, how utterly arrogant of you to say what a preacher should have said. God inspired the bishop to say what he said, and God – through the bishop – has inspired the hearts of millions. Two new people came to my little church the day after the wedding because they wanted to see what the C of E was all about after hearing the sermon. Thank God they found a message of the love of Christ there and not some ranting about the anti-Christ and heresy. You keep on preaching your damnation to the “converted;” I’ll cast my lot with those who need to hear of God’s saving love in Jesus Christ, and not with those who don’t need it because they think they have all the answers.

    1. Thats very sweet and loving of you! Although you do sound like you think have all the answers! How do you know ‘God inspired the bishop’? Did he tell you? How do you know he inspired the hearts of millions? I am delighted that two new people came to see what the C of E was all about – although of course it would be better if they came to find out about Christ. When you say they heard a message about ‘the love of Christ’ what does that mean? And if you have experienced the love of Christ why the snide comments? Who thinks they don’t need the love of Christ because they have all the answers? Certainly not me. The more I go on – the more I need it. And the more I am happy that it is not some kind of amorphous feeling, but clearly expressed in his death for me on the cross. The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me!

      1. Test every spirit! I don’t believe the Rev was inspired by the Holy Spirit! His fruit is evil and therefore unless he repents of his sin nothing that comes from his mouth should be trusted let alone lauded by other ministers of religion.
        I am truly saddened and heart sick at the response this sermon has had. God have mercy and wake up your people. It is obvious even the elect have been deceived.

  6. My wife and I listened to it and immediately were concerned. I imagined I could hear John Lennon’s ghost whispering “All you need is love love….”

    Then this morning on the radio4 today program they had an ecstatic piece about it – “He has become the most famous preacher in the world”. I almost emailed the program to quote the scripture you mentioned – “Woe to you when all men speak well of you….” , but I felt I would be wasting my time.

    Jesus was crucified because they hated him! Especially the “religious” ones.

  7. Thank you so much for speaking up for the true gospel. This is an example of the Eccumenical movement and their false doctrines that tickle people feelings that only brings easy believeism. Godbless

  8. Just another thought – if these words had come from a show-biz friend of Meghan’s or Harry’s, they could have been taken as a nice little sentimental talk about love but the trouble is that Michael Curry represented the Christian faith.

  9. I think that many of us in the evangelical spectrum may well have a problem with his beliefs and theology, but not so much with this wedding message. Taken in isolation, in his sermon he used the very words Jesus chose to sum up the entire law – what on earth is wrong with that?

    1. A biblical sermon always has Law….AND Gospel. There was no good news–of Christ redeeming us from our lack-of-love (our sins), on the cross–in Curry’s talk. It was all Law, that what we should do–which means no Gospel.

  10. Really helpful analysis – thanks David. I think I agree with all you say.
    Just one small correction though to your point 3a, not that it helps much as he didn’t dwell or expand on what it meant.
    But there was one little mention of sin, when he quoted the Southern spiritual – ‘there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.’
    If only he then followed it up by saying he sacrificed his life to atone for our sin, rather than just for the ‘wellbeing of the world’.
    Grace to you as you stand for the truth.

  11. Mr Roberson, why are you so concerned to critique the Bishop’s sermon?

    Jesus himself did not sit every ‘i’ or cross every ‘t’ of a technical/doctrinal definition of ‘the gospel’ very time he spoke to those around him who needed his compassion and salvation. Jesus’ teaching was often criticised by the teachers of the law because to them it wasn’t comprehensive enough and didn’t match their technical definitions of truth. Yet Jesus reserved his harshest words for those same teachers of the law. Jesus did not come to save the ‘righteous’ but sinners.

    Oftentimes sinners are acutely aware that they are sinners and Jesus message of unconditional love brings hope to those who thought they were hopeless. Other times it is that very message of unconditional love in Jesus that brings conviction of sin (not necessarily dependent on the preacher flagging the hearers sin at every opportunity).

    My hope and prayer is that the compassionate and compelling message of Jesus’ love which which the Bishop proclaimed from Scripture at the wedding would cause people to reach out and find Jesus for themselves. You and I can perhaps play a part in helping those who have had their curiousity piqued by the Holy Spirit to discover in greater detail who Jesus is, why he came and what it means to follow him.

    Is it not better to expend our energy doing that than pulling apart the Bishop’s sermon by concentrating on what he didn’t fit in to his short message?

    Unbelievers have come to expect the spectacle of Christians criticising each other. So much so that it brings into question the gospel we preach (however technically correct and comprehensive our version of the gospel may be).

    By contrast, gracious love for one another (despite differences) speaks powerfully of the One we follow and serve:

    John 13:35 NIV: By this will everyone know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    1. Apologies for the typos. That was meant to read: “ Jesus did not DOT every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ of a technical/doctrinal definition of ‘the gospel’ EVERY time he spoke to those around him who needed his compassion and salvation.” Thanks!

      1. so are you suggesting that there were some flaws in what Jesus said to the people around him, or deficiencies in how he said what he said? I’m very confident that Jesus said exactly what needed to be said every time he spoke – when he offered comfort to those who needed comfort and rebuke to those who needed to be rebuked.

    2. For the same reason that you feel free to critique me – I am concerned for the Lord’s people and for the Gospel. Again – who is asking for a technical definition.? Jesus did indeed reserve his strongest criticism for the teachers of the law – like Bishop Curry. You do realise that what he was teaching was just law? I didn’t concentrate on what he didn’t fit in – although that is significant – I concentrated on what he did say. I don’t follow the same Jesus as Bishop Curry. I follow the Jesus of the Bible.

  12. Thanks for the great article, David. You may want to correct your reference to Acts 5:29-31. It should be Acts 20:29-31.

  13. I was truly alarmed to read the comments of some believers on Bishop Curry’s sermon, So glad to read your excellent and much needed article.

  14. Thankyou for this informative article and clarity. I am speaking with my congregation this week and this is a superb template for what i am going to say. Yes, its good to be passionate but needs the truth of Gods precious, blood bought words to be presented day by day to keep us close to Jesus.
    Thanks once again.
    Gary

  15. Good points. Other things notably missing from Murray’s sermon (which are also missing from most evangelical wedding ceremonies) include the vow of the bride to obey her husband and the responsibility to procreate (‘be fruitful and multiply’) among other things. The biblical structure and purpose of marriage was entirely absent.

    It’s not difficult to find the errors with liberal Anglicans, but what about our own sheep pen? Here is the single best essay on biblical marriage ceremonies that I have come across, I’d be (happily) surprised if Rev. Robertson’s own marriage ceremonies lived up to this historical and biblical standard:

    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2005/01/marriage-ceremonies-defend-faith

    And here is a model example of a biblically faithful liturgy and sermon. Just imagine the reaction:

    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2017/01/why-i-doing-weddings-along-model-liturgy-and-sermon?

    Let reformation first begin with the evangelicals.

  16. Well said David. Interestingly my 8 year old daughter spent the whole sermon with her fingers in her ears and saying “he is telling lies about God”. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings…

  17. Mean-spirited tortuous drivel! Bishop Curry preached the sacrificial Love of Christ in a 15-minute time slot. He did so with passionate conviction and sincerity. He wasn’t taking part in a theological seminar; he was preaching at a wedding for goodness sake. I think you should repent and ask God to forgive you for being so mean-spirited and encouraging dissension. Fruits of the Holy Spirit, my friend (Galatians):love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self-control. Sorry brother. That was my reaction to your article.

    1. Why do you need to be so bitter and personal in your attacks? And why do you need to accuse me of something I did not say? I did not expect a theological seminar. But we did get theology – and as I explain in the article it is very bad theology. Do you think that the rest of 1 John which I quoted in my article is irrelevant?

      1. I am sorry if I offended you personally over your article which made some valid points about Christianity from the standpoint of bible-based faith. I did not intend to be bitter although I admit I used intemperate language in my reaction to your piece for which I hope the Lord and yourself will forgive me. I still maintain that the Love of Christ was preached, though not in all its fullness, I readily admit. But a 15-minute slot at a Royal Wedding would never suffice for this. I grant you that all too many Christian leaders fail to preach the awareness of sin in our churches today; nor do they always communicate adequately Christ’s once-for-all-time sacrifice of Love which has saved us from the consequences of sin provided we repent and seek His Grace to amend our lives.
        I suppose I disagree with you over HOW this is done. The Royal Wedding was an opportunity for the preacher to hint at these eternal verities. It is, in my opinion, a task for Christian leaders and pastors subsequently to undertake ongoing Christian formation in order to nurture disciples who can, with God’s Grace, make these things a reality in their lives. I feel that you were somewhat ungracious in your ad hominem criticism of the preacher. I still maintain that He intended to preach the Love of Christ. How people responded to this preaching was not entirely within his control; we must not discount the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We must indeed pray that God will have warmed many hearts of those who heard the sermon to delve more deeply into the joys and obligations of being a Christian disciple. Once again, brother, I am truly sorry I offended you and ask you to forgive me.

      2. Of course you are forgiven….we all use intemperate language at times!

        My criticism of the bishop was not ad hom (could you explain why you think it was?). And you have no idea of what his intention is – unless he tells you…and actually he did – see the later article. And of course the Holy Spirit can use heresy but we do not need to endorse heresy!

    2. Thank you …..
      As my parish’s resident heretic I share your frustration with the wadded panties of the critics.

  18. As a pastor myself, I’ve been marrying couples for more than 2 decades. After 10 or so years of doing weddings I shifted from doing a homily to prophesying and declaring God’s love over the couple. This wasn’t because I wanted to act charismatic. It was because I realized I wanted to give the couples something more than a good teaching on their wedding day. (It also made the ceremony 15 minutes shorter.) :o)

    I wanted the couples to know that they weren’t the only ones in the marriage; that Jesus was more than a figure-head or a teacher of good marriage principles. He was there, making His vows WITH the couple while they were making theirs.

    Typically I’d have the couples write out their vows, share their vows, and then say: “And Jesus has promises He wants to make to you as well!” And I’d share one or two scriptural promises as well as very personal words of affirmation, strength and encouragement to the bride and then the groom; and then to the family.

    From my experience, the BEST wedding present I could give a couple (whether they were saved, Spirit-filled, backsliders or just curious knuckleheads) was the rock-solid bonafide assurance that whatever they experienced after they left the church that day, Jesus was with/available to them; ready to give them love, grace, forgiveness, celebration etc. 
To ONLY give them a plaque that said “Love one another” would have been unconscionable to me.

    They need to know there’s One Who will fill up their cup when their love runs out. They need to know there’s One Who will forgive them for the thousandth time when they fail to be the husband they want & need to be. They need to know there’s One there Who will listen if the marriage turned ugly.

    In short, it was unthinkable for me to give them an exhortation to love without assuring them that Jesus was WITH them, in their marriage, binding them together, cheering them, weeping w them, offering grace upon grace to them.

    For all the “feel good” of Curry’s message, for all the positive refs to Biblical love, to NOT declare Jesus’ personal desire to be Immanuel in the middle of their marriage seems one or two steps short of malpractice… in this pastor’s humble opinion.

  19. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Michael Curry sounded like a blithering idiot, yet the world is eating it up. This was the most ridiculous “sermon” I have ever heard. He said absolutely nothing of meaning.

  20. Hi David. I found your article very helpful. We need people like you who can unpack Curry’s sermon, measure the content against Scripture and articulate the findings intelligently, honestly and without anger or slander. You exposed the hidden dangers in words, thoughts and sentiments that seemed to be from an angel of light and brought these dangers into the light of God’s word. That takes courage. You went against the grain and walked the narrow path which is the loneliest and most painful path. I was personally disturbed by the fact that ‘everyone’ was raving about the sermon from liberals to unbelievers to conservatives. I had deliberately avoided the Royal wedding because it was my view that if the bride had been unglamorous, plain, overweight or unattractive there would have been little or no coverage. And of course, Harry would not have chosen a plain bride. Nothing wrong with beauty of course, and every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. But this whole royal wedding was worldly from the start and I made a conscious decision not to get caught up in the hype. Because of the rave reviews, I listened to some of the sermon yesterday and found myself unsettled by it. All I got from the bit I listened to was ‘love’. ‘We should all be loving everyone all the time` more or less. Like we don’t know that already but we don’t do it! We can’t do it because we are dead in our sins! Wasn’t it also his animated, humorous delivery in a traditional English stiff upper lip setting which endeared him to people? And of course entertaining! We could all feel part of royalty that day. Personality trumps character every time! I think his delivery was greatly refreshing and could have been an opportunity to present the true gospel in a different manner than a lot of people were used to and therefore refresh a familiar and largely rejected gospel to our minds. But instead we were offered a vague, ‘broad’ way, devoid of theology, and because it was offered with such jovial, smiling enthusiasm and who can argue with ‘love’ ?…. we should all eat it up, right?! I am reminded that many will take the broad path and that lonely though it is, the narrow path is where I want to be. Perhaps we can see a refining of the church? Are we going to nail our colours to the mast? Are we going to walk the way of the cross? Because that is where we are headed if we want to remain true to Christ. We need teachers who actually know what the Bible says and who can identify false teaching and wolves in sheep’s clothing. I, for one, am very thankful for your articulating my deepest reservations about applauding what the world applauded on Saturday last. Thank you David

  21. I appreciate your article. I formed the impression that a lot of what is said was social justice warrior material. Very commendable but not the central thrust of the gospel. He loved us and redeemed us so we can share His love ….not us redeeming ourselves through loving….that smells of good works.

  22. Hi. In looking to see if anyone else noticed the false gospel of Bishop Curry’s message I found this post & I thank you.

    One of the first things I thought after hearing it was that if anything it exemplified the New Age doctrine of a “New World” and a “New Dawn” where love (a globalized vague version that is ultimately about environmentalism -see A New Earth by David Gosling) was made into an idol. Love is a commandment in the Bible, not simply a way of doing things because it will make the world a better place. Many false preachers have preached love including Jim Jones whose Socialistic love killed many. If you read the works of Barbara Marx Hubbard, Neal Donald Walsch, Deepak Chopra, and other Oprah style prophets love is always mentioned…yet they also discuss how those who don’t comply with their version of love will be “holding back” universal human evolution and at-one-ment.

    I found it to be no coincidence that Curry invoked the audience to “imagine” over and over. Visualization is a priority in New Age teaching. So is self-love which Curry also mentioned. In an era where self-love is often a form of self-worship, this message certainly has appeal to those who may equate love with permission to ignore virtue in the name of feeling good.

    Bible believing Christians are called to “be sober and watch” and practice discernment continually not because we criticize for entertainment, but because there are powers and principalities that emanate wickedness in high places. When we don’t, we buy into Jesus Calling and Purpose Driven Life and Christian yoga. It may sound soothing to hear Curry wax philosophical, and all of us are susceptible to it, but that doesn’t mean errors can’t be disseminated and mixing in other gospels (pop culture, Eastern religion, mysticism) is truth. Usually those best at fooling others are those that mix in just enough truth, while those easily fooled simply lack the understanding of just how insidious evil is.

    I recommend the books of Warren B. Smith, Ray Yungen, and Russell Chandler to understand more about how false gospels and prophets use the church to distort not only the Bible, but love as well. Again thank for calling attention to Curry’s words.

  23. Dear David,

    Bishop Curry achieved the first part of what you were hoping for:

    David Robertson: “Imagine if Bishop Curry had said to the young couple – “it’s great to see your love, but there is a greater love, and you really need to know that love. You need to know the God who is love.”

    Bishop Curry “Oh there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms…We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant – and are meant – to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself: the source of all of our lives. ”

    For me this wasn’t a wrong sermon, it was a brilliant ‘first-half’ sermon, aimed at the audience in the cathedral that Bishop Michael was addressing – i.e. largely secular. It was along the lines of the first half of Paul’s speech in the Areopagus. It was explaining to people – this God that you think you don’t know, that you don’t believe in, well you actually do know Him; if you know anything about Love, then you know something about God.

    I know that half a message can be a dangerous thing, but instead of condemning it, why not raise it up as an opportunity for us to share the other half with people? I’ve now heard of more than one example of someone coming to church following Bishop Michael’s sermon. It’s true that, especially in our generation, the ‘second half’ can be the hard part to share. But I’ll try to take on that challenge when these conversations come up.

    I also took the sermon as a personal message to Harry and Meghan – but again, a first half: If you depend upon the love of God, then you have the opportunity to redeem the mess and difficulty of your family histories. (He talked about a new family and redeeming the past). He was saying to them (in a simple way) you cannot achieve this marriage in your own strength – it is God who will help you achieve it – when He is viewed as the source. (He was also saying, it’s God’s love, not ‘me’ that is required to tackle the world’s social ills – inviting them to downgrade their sense of self-importance.) Given that they both will have fears about how they are going to achieve a long-lasting and happy marriage in their own strength, I would hope that one or both of them would ponder in their heart this simple concept that Michael Curry shared – that the foundation of this marriage needs to be God and God’s love. If that sticks with them, then I would hope that it may lead to a deep desire to know more of Jesus and his saving power – so that he can become their daily strength. We need to pray for them for this.

    I don’t think that this sermon can be condemned simply because of it’s universal popularity. Jesus was praised and followed by huge crowds when they saw his miraculous acts of love. It was only when he got to the nitty-gritty teaching that many of them left. And isn’t that why some of the priests were upset with him? Because at first he was gaining nation-wide popularity by his miracles, without getting people to obey the laws that they believed to be righteous? They could ‘rightly’ argue that Jesus shouldn’t be doing certain stuff on a Sabbath – they believed he was false. The healings demonstrated God’s love, but they had to be taken in conjunction with Jesus tough words of truth that would follow on. Bishop Michael’s sermon was a simple expression, defining God’s love for an unbelieving audience – sacrificial, healing, redemptive, fire. All of which is true. But there’s more to it…

    Respectfully yours,

    Kamala

    1. Thanks – as I have explained in several posts how the sermon is heretical….and have answered your other points so I will leave you to read them..

  24. Given it was a Royal wedding the surprise was how good it was!!
    It was a secular wedding.
    I have been at. many Evangelical weddings and have not heard much that was super wonderful .
    I would also like to see a read out from some of our “famous” evangelicals as they spoke at a wedding!!

  25. David,
    “… in 1923 the American Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen released an enormously important book entitled Christianity and Liberalism. In it he brilliantly demonstrated how the liberal gospel is no gospel at all, and that it has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. Let me offer just two short quotes from it:

    “In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’.”

    And again: “[L]iberalism in the modern Church represents a return to an un-Christian and sub-Christian form of the religious life.” This is all part of a movement which denies the basics of the gospel. But I have written on this more fully elsewhere, eg: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/07/15/theological-liberalism-progressive-christianity/

    Machen was exactly right to show how the liberals will take biblical terms and strip them of their biblical content, and thus promote a false, anti-Christian religion. His warnings back them were so very important, but it seems they have fallen on deaf years today.”

  26. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Not sure you displayed any of these in your assessment of Bishop Curry. To go to the lengths you did to pull apart his message and then end with, “P.S I found another error that at first I thought was minor but since realised is major, I’ll get to this later” Why? What would be your purpose in finding further fault?

    1. I wonder – do you think Paul was contradicting himself when he warned the Galatians about the heretics who would lead them astray – or when he told Timothy that the circumcisers should go the whole way and emasculate themselves? Do you think Elijah was wrong for mocking the prophets of Baal. Indeed by your supercillious standards Jesus should be condemned for calling the Pharisees white washed tombs – twice dead! My purpose in case you are interested (and if you had read it you would see this stated) is to warn the Lord’s people about a false prophet who distorts the glorious and beautiful message of Jesus.

      1. If I’d bothered to read it? I did read your article. Are you the authority on who is and who isn’t a heretic? Are you suggesting that your article pointing out flaws in a 15 minute message by a Bishop is like the warnings given by Paul and Timothy to the early church? Is your scathing assessment of a short wedding message similar to Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, a group of religious people that wanted nothing to do with the notion of Jesus being God’s son? Really? Can you really make this comparison? Tread carefully my friend. Bishop Curry in his talk recognised the importance of Christ’s love as demonstrated on the Cross. Does this make him like a pharisee? I think not! ‘There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, and say, “He died for all’. These words Bishop Curry spoke to 2 billion people. Don’t tell me that my criticism of your method and purpose in attacking the Bishop and his message is akin to my questioning the motives and manner by which Paul, Timothy and Jesus called into question the Pharisees and heathens who worshipped Baal! That is ludicrous. Bishop Curry might have flaws in his theology, this could be true, I don’t know him, but to suggest he is a heretic is a strong claim.

      2. Yes – absolutely – my warning is tied in with Scripture and it goes with the writings of Paul (I wasn’t aware of any by Timothy)… and yes the Pharisees were wrong about the person and work of Christ (as Bishop Curry is)…. And yes the Pharisees were as good at quoting the Bible as Curry was in quoting an old spiritual. And yes I do suggest he is a heretic – at many different levels…

  27. I agree with your general perception of deception of those who preach “another Gospel another Jesus and another Spirit as in 2 Cor. 11:4 or is it 4:11, but your quote of 1 John 1:10 in this context was a little bit naughty, unless you believe in the confessing culture of daily confession, like the Catholics. What about the sins we don’t confess, of commission and remission. we would be on our knees forever if we confessed the times we do not give glory to God .Every breath is a gift.
    In the culture of daily confession, then chapter 3:9 contradicts ch 1v 10, if you are suggesting that the sons of God sin. Our flesh always comes short, but that is dead as far as God is concerned- cut off- circumcised. those who say they have no sin in ch 1 v 10 are those in darkness, but the invitation in v 3 is to come into the light where the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse from all sin. He made an end of sin, He brought the law to its fulness , now where there is no law there is no transgression I am dead- penalty paid.
    Jesus put my sin away. we have be made righteous.. we are IN CHRIST, and Christ IN US in us does not sin. His joint heirs, who Jesus calls his brethren, do not sin. Daily confession is to deny propitiation. Those of us who walk in the light are more conscious of our flesh than those who justify themselves and still are in darkness. THEY are the only ones who sin.
    How do we know our sins are forgiven? When I ask most believers they quote the verse ch 1 v 10 but it doesn’t apply to believers. They walk in the light and are continually cleansed by the continual presence of the intercessory blood , on the mercy seat , once and for all. By one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. It is Done. 100%, we are called to believe , and not stagger at it even if we don’t understand ch 3:9. “By faith we understand” We should not keep coming to God moping about how the devil has won again. He is a liar. Accuser. he tells people they are good enough before they are saved and tells the saved how bad they are. Most christtians fall for his lies. The are not free from sin. If you want my bookle ton “The Truth shall set you free, I will gladly send to your address.

  28. This thread brilliantly confirms the Four Evangelical Tribes piece. Ironically, least present is the ‘Puritan’ voice. The gospel is a tough message wrapped in the love of God. It carries shame and joy and hope. We are not God, we are not entitled to merely pronounce judgement, we are to show His love as well as his wrath. Let’s face it, Heaven won’t be anything like any of us imagine because we all view it through our participation rather than remembering the focus will be Him on the throne. This side of Heaven, no one tribe is perfect.

  29. Bishop Curry’s sermon struck a chord with people and helped to dispel their stereotyped views of the church. Sadly, David Robertson’s judgemental critique clearly demonstrates why such stereotypes existed in the first place.

    1. I don’t think that Bishop Curry’s message at all struck a chord or gave people the gospel. Why is it that everyone who complains about judgementalism is so judgemental? What a nasty, snide and smug comment!

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