The answer is not yet and if you are reading this blog, you aren’t either. No Christian is complete until they are fully in the presence of Christ. I think of Jen Hatmaker as an excellent author. Her books and blogs are fun, creative and she has amassed a huge following on the Internet. I had some of her work on our ChristianParenting.org website until last fall. I would describe Jen Hatmaker as a talented author, but I want to caution people about her teaching.
Jen Hatmaker is popular with millennial Christians because she is edgy and passionate about her faith. She has done ministry in Austin with people who needed love and needed to know about salvation in Christ. She challenged and criticized some of the institutional issues of religion and made some pretty good points. But last fall she went public with her belief that same sex-relationships could be considered “holy.” She was vocal about the election and disappointed with the choice our country made. At some point, Jen Hatmaker went from edgy to over an edge. She has the right to voice her opinions but every reader has the responsibility to question whether her opinions are right.
We live in a culture of talented authors, influential speakers, and entertaining personalities. But none of us will stand before God and be able to justify our beliefs based on the words of other people. God gave us his word and told us that “his word is truth.” Each of us will be held accountable for what we chose to believe and the witness we expressed to others. To all of us I would teach an important truth of theology. Be extremely cautious if you adopt a theological position that says every other generation of God’s people before us, were somehow mistaken. To say that our generation of believers is the first to figure out the truth about homosexuality assumes a position of arrogance and ignorance over thousands of years of historical, theological truth. A basic tenet of theology is that if a belief is true in Genesis, and remains true until the Revelation—then you can accept that belief as theological truth.
Hatmaker’s Good Friday blog was interesting. She wrote from a place of obvious pain and grief. She was hurt by the opinions she expressed and feels the pain of the slander and persecution she received for taking those public positions. She related her persecution to what Jesus experienced on Good Friday. Indeed, Hatmaker has suffered great loss since last fall. Christian stores have pulled her books from the shelves, she lost followers from her blog, and she feels like a victim of the religious right because she has suffered from their harsh and often derogatory criticism. But should her suffering be compared to what Jesus experienced at the cross?
John Stott was a wise and brilliant theologian, and the closest thing to a “complete Christian” this side of heaven that I know. He is a complete Christian now because he passed away in July 2011. An Anglican cleric and an evangelical leader, John Stott’s life is well described in an article that described him as a “uniter and divider.” He spoke plainly about the problems and weaknesses he saw in the religious practices of his own country and around the world. I think Jen Hatmaker would have enjoyed spending time with John Stott. I think Stott would have wanted to spend some time with her.
Stott fought some of the same battles Hatmaker has been fighting. Stott questioned his country’s religious traditions and passionless worship. But Stott fought his battles from a position of theology and truth while Jen Hatmaker has relied more often on her personality, popularity, and passion. I wish I could send this quote to Jen Hatmaker. Stott said, “Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.”
There is a civil war happening in American religion and, like most civil wars, the casualties will all be from the same country. As I often say, when Christians fight their battles they are most often based on the desire to be right rather than the desire to do right. Satan does not care what side of a battle we adopt, as long we sin during the fight. Satan wins either way.
Civil wars have the highest casualties and Christians are quick to bury their wounded. There are some wonderful, loving Christians like Jen Hatmaker who have been wounded. There are some wonderful, loving Christians who have inflicted the wounds. Who was right and who was wrong? The answer is everyone who sinned.
To Jen Hatmaker I would say, be still and examine your theology. People were right to say you were wrong. To those who slandered Hatmaker I would say, be still and examine your heart. She was right to say you were wrong.
All of us have the personal responsibility to judge a person’s words according to God’s word. We need to be careful whom we allow to influence our thinking. I would encourage all of us to follow the apostle Paul’s instruction and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Our words and our choices will never be perfect, but hopefully we will allow both to be perfected by God’s Holy Spirit of truth.
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: What are your child’s favorite books?