When the New Christian Left Twists the Gospel and Perverts Morality
by Dave Sterrett
Almost a decade ago, I remember attending Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, packed with thousands of young evangelical leaders. It was there, that I first heard a young creative pastor named Rob Bell, pastor of the fast growing Mars Hill in Michigan. At the age of 25, I was finishing up seminary, but felt rejuvenated when I heard the line up of Catalyst speakers like Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and Andy Stanley. These teachers were creative but avoiding a lot of the controversial doctrinal issues that I heard from my alma mater Liberty University’s founder Jerry Falwell.
Rob Bell and these Catalyst communicators did not have pulpits, but were either walking, or sitting in comfortable chairs and bar stools. They weren’t talking about politics, or hell, or inerrancy of Scripture, or homosexuality and certainly not abortion. By no means were these guys like James Dobson or Falwell’s Moral Majority.
To me, their teaching seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the dry doctrine. I felt burnt out on from seminary. There was excitement like the energy of a concert. I was not alone, thousands of those who grew up in non-denominational, Southern Baptist or Church of God congregations were drawn to this new kind of Church. Out of this generation, some sons and daughters of conservative Bible expositors, including Andy Stanley, Jonathan Merritt and Rachel Held Evans would drift away from their father’s evangelical fundamentalism and rise up to become today’s defenders of tolerance, social justice and gay “rights” at bakeries.
Ten years ago, at my first Catalyst conference, I did not agree with everything these younger communicators were saying, but I thought perhaps they could bring more balance. Weren’t these guys like Rob Bell and Donald Miller authentic by asking questions? We were the generation that was more about what we were “for” and not “against.” After all, there was no need for me to also always be discussing controversial things like abortion, gay marriage, doctrine and apologetics. In my young ignorance and piety, I told myself that I appreciated their “tone.”
So as a 25-year-old senior pastor of the SBC Immanuel Baptist Church, I got rid of the pulpit, bought some skinnier jeans began showing Rob Bell’s Nooma videos to the church on Wednesday nights. As I sipped on my Starbuck’s latte and saw an excitement from younger people, I felt relevant. I thought Bell’s teaching was authentic and fresh. But as time passed, I noticed things that concerned me…
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