Equality Scotland Sex and sexuality

Why every Christian and church should support Destiny Church

This weeks Christian Today Column.  You can read the original here. 

Destiny Church
Edinburgh City Council cancelled Destiny Church’s booking for the Surge Conference at Usher Hall because of keynote speaker Larry Stockstill’s views on same-sex marriage

Life certainly throws up some curve balls! A few years ago I was being cited in secular media as someone who opposed the proposed visit of Creflo Dollar to Destiny Church. 

I was and still am opposed to the prosperity Gospel put forward by Creflo Dollar, which I regard as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Myself and a colleague had a meeting with Andrew Owen, leader of Destiny Glasgow and Peter Anderson, leader of Destiny Edinburgh. The meeting was friendly enough, as befits Christian brothers, but we ended up agreeing to disagree. Wind forward four years and now I find myself supporting and donating to Destiny Church.  Why the change?

Destined for Trouble

Destiny are again in the news for inviting a controversial American evangelist, Larry Stockstill, and a not so controversial UK Church leader, Gavin Calver. Apparently the objection to Mr Stocksill is that he called same-sex marriage ‘deeply grievous’ and abortion ‘demonic’. Mr Calver was worthy of being banned because he once refused to participate in a same-sex wedding. This was all tied in with Glasgow banning the Franklin Graham visit.

Destiny are now seeking to take legal action against Edinburgh City Council and need people in the wider church to support them.

So perhaps you might expect a certain degree of schadenfreude from yours truly. But not at all. I fully support Destiny and would encourage every Christian to do so. Why? Is this not a bit hypocritical and contradictory? Why support Destiny over Larry Stockstill but not Creflo Dollar?

Inconsistency?

This is where we need to think. I was not demanding that the law be used to ban Creflo Dollar. Destiny was free to invite him, just as I was free to ask them not to, and to warn Christians about his false teachings. But he still had the right to come.

Using the law to ban heresy has never gone well. The case with Larry Stocksill is very different. I don’t know the evangelist and, therefore, cannot comment on his theology or methodology (I always find it is better not to comment on issues or people you know nothing about!).  However, these are not the issues at stake here. Mr Stockstill is being banned for views that I and many other Christians would uphold. The Catholic Church, for example, regards abortion as evil and is opposed to same-sex marriage. Does Edinburgh City Council intend to ban them (and the Free Church, the Baptists and many others)? If not, then surely they are discriminating?

Unequal Equality

The council are in effect stating that unless you agree with their views on same-sex marriage, you cannot use council premises because your views are in their eyes ‘offensive and discriminatory’. But I regard the council’s views as ‘offensive and discriminatory’. So what should happen? The council are in effect saying that only their ideology should get protected status. They state that they will not allow their venues to be used by those who ‘discriminate against particular sections of society’ while at the very same time discriminating against a particular section of society – those of us who hold to the view of marriage which has been our country’s norm for the past 1,500 years!

When the council states that it wants diversity and equal rights for all, it is lying and should be sued for insulting people’s intelligence. By definition, if you exclude certain groups from proclaiming their views, you are not providing equal rights for all. Destiny is not being permitted the equal right to proclaim biblical Christianity.

Of course, in our dumbed down society where our rulers and lawyers seem to be in a competition to outdo each other in the race down the bottomless pit of illogicality and intolerance, it is possible that in the name of equality and diversity, some woke judges will go along with the mantra that some groups are more equal than others. But that should not stop us trying to bring back some sanity into our society, and preserve what remains of free speech, real tolerance and diversity.

Secular Support

In another providential twist, I noticed this tweet from Spencer Fildes, the former chair of the Scottish Secular Society.

Now Spencer and I have had our disagreements in the past – sometimes resulting in quite vitriolic abuse from others in that particular organization. But over the years, we have become friends and he has changed his mind on a lot of things – much to the chagrin of his former militant secularist colleagues.

It is brave of him to post this – committing blasphemy against secularism leads to a kind of atheist dis-fellowshipping which makes some religious groups look positively benign. His warning about what follows if this is allowed to stand is correct – which, again, is why we must stand together against this illiberal intolerance.

The Calvinist, the Charismatic and the Secularist

It’s a strange world. Today I stand with a church with which I have had disagreements in the past and a secularist with whom I have had strong arguments. The Calvinist, the Charismatic and the Secularist standing together!

I pray for Destiny Church and I wish the Lord’s blessings on all their endeavours. But I know I need to do more than pray, so I have just donated a small sum on their GoFundMe fundraiser.  Why not do likewise, whatever your views (unless you support inequality, discrimination and intolerance?).

I hope and pray that not only will their legal case be successful – they are, after all, fighting on our behalf – but that their mission will know the prosperity and blessing of the Lord. He who is for us is greater than any who are against us.

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19 comments

  1. I fully support your comments but ask your thoughts when a gay organisation wants to use our church hall for their meetings or an Islamic faith group ask to use the same premised for their prayer meeting. What should the Christian response be? The council may argue that faith groups exclude those not of their faith from their premises too. Thank you.

    1. A church hall is a private organisation. A government building is not. I would not expect a Mosque to permit me to preach Christ in their midst. Are you arguing that the council is a faith group? I thought they were supposed to be for all?

  2. As a general rule of thumb I support your stance on fee speech.
    I voiced as such on your blog over the Graham visit.
    And I also think Creflo Dollar should be allowed to speak as well.
    Graham Norton should have him on his TV show!

    But how do we differentiate between Free Speech and Hate Speech?
    Democracy and human rights abuse?
    (This is a genuine concern and not merely being flippant?)

    Should your local council be chastised if they refused to allow a convention on Sharia Law on their premises? ( maybe there has already been such a convention?)

    How about a conference touting polygamy or why all women should stay at home and be measured for an ironing board?

    Should we allow Creationism to be taught in state schools? Or even Intelligent Design?

    What is the yardstick we should use?

    Difficult call, methinks?

      1. So why were you against Creflo Dollar?
        I know little about him but I don’t recall reading anything about him advocating violence?

        What about convention by a Christian fundamentalist group all for teaching children about how they will burn in hell for eternity if they continue to be sinners and do not fully accept the character Jesus as their saviour?

    1. “But how do we differentiate between Free Speech and Hate Speech?”
      Good question. The problem is that the left seems to think that if you disagree with something, it must be because you hate it. They don’t seem to be able to see that there might be other motives. So any and all disagreement tends to be labelled as ‘hate speech’. Of course that’s applied inconsistently, as it’s very clear that the left hates creationism, Trump, Christianity, biblical marriage, the right for the unborn to be born, and so much more.

      “What is the yardstick we should use?”
      David’s mention of advocating violence would seem to be a good yardstick. Most of the rest of your suggestions simply suggest that free speech only means things that the left agree with. I don’t agree with some of things you mention (e.g. polygamy), but I nevertheless think people should be free to advocate it (and others free to disagree). That’s one thing that distinguishes the left from conservatives—we actually do believe in the right of people to advocate for things that we don’t agree with. I would not agree with stopping someone advocating for evolution, even though it’s nonsense. (For reference, here in Oz at least, Christian schools that teach their students about creation also teach them about evolution. It’s the government schools that only allow one side to be taught.)

      1. Philip,

        Most Christian schools in Oz receive public funding. Until otherwise, they are obliged to meet national standards for curricula, which means teaching evolution, whether you or they agree with it or not.

        When private schools are compelled to fund themselves — not likely any time soon — then they can teach whatever creationist garbage they like, and not have to pay lip service to established science.

      2. Of course that’s applied inconsistently, as it’s very clear that the left hates creationism, Trump, Christianity, biblical marriage, the right for the unborn to be born, and so much more.

        People who disagree with creationism, and especially the ridiculous notion of Young Earth Creationism, do so on the basis that it provides no evidence for its claims.
        I pay little attention to politics, however, from what I have gleaned around the internet, those people who disagree with the policies and attitudes of Donald Trump do so on the basis of his apparent irresponsibility, and recklessness.
        We are fortunate that, in an imperfect world much of the West operates on the basis that such loathsome characters as Trump can be voted out of office, and this seems to be the current aim of many US voters.
        There are many so called ”leftys” that do not agree with certain aspects of abortion.
        The bible, for example, says nothing against it as far as I can recall.

        I would not agree with stopping someone advocating for evolution, even though it’s nonsense

        If you – or anyone for that matter – were able to demonstrate that evolution was false I’m pretty sure that there would be a change in the education policy across the board.
        To date, every attempt has failed, even when proponents of ID have tried to smuggle their own particular brand of creationism into schools.

        On saying this, however, I am all for teaching kids religion in school.
        ALL religion (or as much as can be squeezed into the average curriculum.

        And along with this – critical thinking.

        It seems you have this somewhat odd predilection that only ”the left” – a silly political term – are against all the topics on your rather skewed list.
        In fact, if you look back in US history for example, is was the Democrats – ”the left” who were all for defending slavery.

        I’ll stick my neck out and say that David, for example, is all for fair play and justice and even-handed treatment and such things as universal health care (NHS), caring for the elderly, missions for the poor, free distribution of medicine and vaccines for the poorest around the globe, reduction in arms manufacture,(possible eradication of nuclear arms production) increased spending for schools and hospitals etc.
        All examples of what some would consider to be socialist – or to use your pejorative term ”the left”

        In fact, the character Jesus of Nazareth was the archetypal model of socialism or the perfect example in so many ways of ”The left”.

        Something to consider before you next climb onto your soapbox, hmm?

        Regards.

  3. Hello , Destiny rushing in for CHRIST ?
    Putting a stop to us ‘ Christians ‘ being stopped to use the brick and mortar .
    It’s a difficult one …JESUS died to stop sin for us sinners to accept him as ‘ Our
    Saviour ‘ saved….and changed !
    Can ‘Our Saviour’ be stopped to Save humans ?
    Can ‘ Our Saviour’ be prosponed in his Plans ?
    Can’ Our Saviour ‘ stop loving us ?
    God Loves US all the same …
    Gods in charge and he calls us to PRAY for change .
    When we hear the name of a church fighting is it for ‘ Christ ‘ or self ?
    Is it only a collaboration of unity for self interest in the name of ‘ Destiny ‘ ?
    God cannot be Stopped in anything he wants accomplished .
    Destiny Church have created a fight now for all good reasons Robert has mentioned but is it Gods plan to fight the council ?
    Does God want attention on Destiny or his Son ?
    I don’t believe JESUS will be mentioned and the Money raised in unity I’m not sure about ,however, I know poverty is everywhere ….
    Putting a stop to an event for the Gospel is indeed very challenging to us Christians’ but we have to Remember !GOD has never been stopped and never will be .He is the same yesterday ,today and forever …..He is Not Silent !

    Yes politically we have not been given the same right but that’s ‘ The Gospel ‘
    Its exciting to rush on it ,meeting the American Pastors ,the Lawyers ,the Council ….
    Not as exciting standing in a queue and giving ‘ the Gospel ‘ to a wee old lady who can’t travel to the ‘ Usher Hall ‘ anyway ……
    Gillian

  4. I was wondering if Destiny could have teamed up with Franklin Graham’s lawsuit as they are essentially the same thing?

  5. Thanks for drawing attention to this David. And although I cannot challenge Edinburgh city council’s invidious decision, I am happy to support those who can. Strange how Paisley Council were happy to allow a Drag Queen to promote his ideology with young children in a public space, a primary school; and yet a man with the life giving gospel is blocked from sharing it with an adult audience who would like to listen to him.

  6. I’m not arguing at all. I don’t think the council is a faith group. I’m asking I’d there is a line in the sand that we as Christians can point our non Christian friends to in response to their natural retort when we take a stand against the secular councils decisions about who is allowed freedom of speech at their venues. My instinct based on biblical truths would be to respond that the line in the sand is this. When freedom of speech means we welcome those who suggest that the all other points of view should be silenced by threat of force or even violence, then the council acts properly in denying a platform. Is that a reasonable response to those who so not use the Bible as their moral compass or see it as holy scripture? I want to be able to give a proper answer that remains faithful to God
    Thank you.

    1. The line is that the Council is not supposed to make value judgements about faith – it is supposed to be neutral. Violence, or advocating violence is already illegal – a council cannot condone or encourage that.

  7. Hi David, I have some questions … Destiny church trust accounts show that it carried forward £2million from its 2018 accounts. Why won’t it self-fund this legal action which it estimates to cost up to £100k? The same accounts redact the names of its trustees (who received £88,000 in benefits separate from £750,000 in salary costs). Why conceal these names? Is it safe to promote fundraising for a body which chooses (as is possible under Scottish law) to conceal the identity of those legally responsible for its control? Regarding the speaker it is bringing over from the States for the event in question, I find that he is opposed to law that protects gays from discrimination in the provision of public services. Is that still his position? Is that Destiny church’s position?

  8. Franklin Graham ‘s law suit is not the same /as Destiny !Sorry Roland !
    Destiny ‘s leader Andrew Owen has already rushed to speak with Franklin
    Graham …..but they didn’t come out together!

    Rush Rush Rush did Andrew go ! But was it his fight ?
    God knows the motives of our hearts …
    Franklin Graham following in his Dad’s footsteps is commendable .
    Edinburgh Destiny invited a guest speaker from America as they have been doing for over a decade now ….a different motive ….
    Both have been stopped but they were not together !!!

    Andrew Owen rushed to Franklin to have a meeting but not as a team .Franklin Graham did not rush to Andrew Owen .
    Andrew Owen has made a video to ask for money .Franklin Graham hasn’t .
    Standing up for ‘ JESUS ‘ can take us into the Court room but is it JESUS who is taking us in or SELF ….
    Gillian

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