Statistics show a growing increase in the percentage of U.S. population who declare no religious preference. Other statistics reflect radical disagreement on controversial issues of social and sexual significance. These realities challenge the Christian church to think and act proactively in presenting the claims of Christianity in a way that compels greater attention and response.
That’s why a recent Austin American Statesman article attributing quotes to Pope Francis drew significant attention. The Pope is quoted as saying: “The Roman Catholic church has grown obsessed with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception. I have chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.”
Pope Francis sought to “set a new tone for the church” by saying it should be “a home for all and not a small chapel focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings. It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent.”
He continued: “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance. Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” The very next day the very same man reiterated, in unmistakable terms, the church’s position against abortion. And I’m glad he did!
For unless and until convinced that God has not spoken clearly on controversial contemporary issues, we cannot and should not try to change what we believe God has said regarding such matters. We have a duty to state clearly what we believe God’s will mandates we must oppose. That should be done unequivocally and unapologetically, at appropriate times and places. Yet in the process of expressing opposition, we dare not obfuscate our primary purpose of proposition.
That propositional purpose is the powerful proclamation of God’s love in Christ, law and gospel, sin and grace, repentance and forgiveness, justification and sanctification. That’s the message that touches the hearts of people and brings them to the foot of the cross! That’s the message with which we must lead! For people need to hear what the church proposes much more loudly and clearly than only what the church opposes!