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Why Does Focus Fear the Snakeywolves?

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2008

snakeywolf2.bmp
This spring, Soulforce will follow their successful campaign to bring awareness to conservative campuses with a campaign to bring Good News to evangelical mega-churches. They have identified six pastors and churches that they wish to approach and seek dialog:

• Rev. Joel Osteen and the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
• Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas
• Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland
• Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia
• Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois
• Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California

They have sent letters to each of these pastors

The letters inform each pastor that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual-parent and single-parent families, plans to visit each church. The letters invite their congregations to collaborate in creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Over the next several weeks, staff from Soulforce, UFMCC, NBJC, and COLAGE will negotiate peaceful forums with members from each of the congregations.

Some might think that such efforts are futile, but history shows us that it if we don’t speak to those who oppose us we cannot have any hope of influencing them. And we have also seen some who have been willing to allow God to shift their thinking on issues surrounding sexual orientation.

Polls have also shown that those who are familiar with gay people are far more likely to support gay civil equality. We also know that it is far easier to condemn the person whom you don’t know than it is to look someone in the face and offer them cruelty.

Perhaps it is the potential for true communication that has frightened Focus on the Family. FOTF’s Caleb Price has sent out a warning against the churches meeting with or listening to Soulforce. And Price expresses his concerns in the most fearful and demonizing of ways.

“As with any temptation to disregard God’s clear word on any given matter, this attempt by Soulforce and their allies is a classic example of what we see in Genesis Chapter 3, when the serpent tempts Eve by [asking] ‘Did God really say …?’” says Price. “And I think perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from that account is it’s best not to talk to snakes. Scripture clearly teaches that there will be a great falling away in the last days and there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing who will try to enter into the fold and deceive even the elect.”

Portraying Soulforce as snakes and wolves (or perhaps snakeywolves), Price seeks to keep churches from seeing Soulforce’s members as human, as children of God. Accusing them of being tempters to a false doctrine, Price aligns Soulforce with forces of evil.

“These churches that have been targeted by Soulforce need to be clear about the real agenda behind these staged actions,” he says. “It’s not for dialogue and greater understanding — it’s to tempt them to embrace a false doctrine, which will keep many from the gospel message of hope and transformation for those who are trapped in homosexuality.”

However, there is hope that with such obvious and blatant fear-mongering, Price’s efforts may not be effective. We have faith to believe that some within the mega-churches will be able see beyond snakeywolves and emissaries of Satan and will hear the message brought by sincere and devout Christians seeking to spread the Good News of a loving and inclusive God.

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Michael
January 23rd, 2008 | LINK

As a long-time attender of Willow Creek Community Church– and without having heard anything of how Bill Hybels and the rest of the leadership team will respond to this–I am quite confident that, at least in my church, you will see a gracious and loving response.

I say this based on my own personal experience there. I attend services at Willow, carpooling there with two dear friends, a Christian gay couple who have been together for 11 years. Over the past several years, I have brought along at least a couple dozen gay friends for various services and events, and never has one of them felt uncomfortable nor unwelcome. I have also corresponded with one of the teaching pastors on the topic of sexuality, and I have always found acceptance and love even in disagreement. And most of all, when I lost my boyfriend (who also attended Willow with me) to suicide two years ago, I experienced an outpouring of unconditional love from people in the church and help in the days since, that I could not begin to express my gratitude for the spirit of Christlike love that has been infused into that congregation by its leaders.

So, I don’t know anything specific of what the response will be, but hopefully I am an encouragement that we can indeed be hopeful at least some Christians will act as Christ would.

Shane
January 23rd, 2008 | LINK

I hope their message is heard.

(And hilarious snakeywolf by the way!)

Brady
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

Extending Michael’s note, Lakewood Church is in my town, and, while I don’t attend church there, I’ve seen Joel Osteen speak on television and in interviews several times.

I hope I’m right (and I think I am) when I say that I anticipate that he and his congregation would be open to dialog with Soulforce. Knowing what I know of Osteen and the Church, I also don’t think that the words/advice of FOTF go to far at Lakewood. Their teachings are much more liberal than Focus’

Ann
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

I was curious about the absence of the mega-churches of Memphis, TN. Any thoughts about how the list was developed?

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