Former megachurch pastor Perry Noble is speaking out about his struggle with alcohol. The former pastor of NewSpring Church was removed from his position this summer, and took to Facebook to explained that he had been abusing alcohol, and would be seeking treatment. This week, he gave his followers an update, explaining that he had identified some of the roots of his struggle with a counselor, “These are the areas where I have clearly identified making extremely unwise decisions.”
I chose isolation over community. I was a hypocrite—I preached, ‘you can't do life alone’ and then went out and lived the opposite …
Isolation is where self pity dominated my thinking, thus justifying my abuse of alcohol.
Isolation is where self-doubt dominated my emotions, causing me to believe I just could not carry the weight anymore, and alcohol was necessary for me to make it through another day.
Isolation is where self-hatred dominated my mentality - I hated myself, literally HATED myself for doing what I was doing, but believed the lie that this was just the way things were and there was no way it could ever get better.
I chose isolation—all the while knowing that a strong community of people who really loved me would rally around me and walk with me through the valley I was in.
Noble also said that he chose to control relationships, isolate himself from his family and remain silent during his struggles. He said he and his wife “love each other and are really trying to make our marriage work.” He also encouraged other couples facing challenges to get the help they need:
Let me beg married couples...please don't cease fighting for your marriage by investing your time and attention into other things. Maybe it's not alcohol, maybe it's a hobby, or porn, or friendships...or even your kids. Take it from me - the temporary feeling of relief is not worth the long term pain of the consequences.
Last week, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship rolled out a new policy that banned employees from holding theological beliefs that support same-sex marriage. Employees who disagree with the organization’s “Theological Summary of Human Sexuality” must inform their supervisors, effectively ending their employment with InterVarsity after a two-week period. The organization plans to pay for “outplacement service costs” for a month following.
The announcement met significant backlash. And today, that backlash reached a new level: 40 InterVarsity published authors and notable alumni are protesting the decision.
In a letter to InterVarsity leadership, published later by Religion News Service, authors such as Shane Claiborne, David Dark and Christena Cleveland call on the organization’s president and CEO Tom Lin to amend the policy to allow for divergent views.
Chris Heuertz, a pastor in Nebraska and author of multiple books with InterVarsity, sent the letter to Tom Lin via email on Tuesday afternoon.
The letter, in part, reads:
October 11, 2016
To Tom Lin, the InterVarity Christian Fellowship USA Cabinet and Board of Directors,
As authors who have published with InterVarsity Press (IVP), we are deeply troubled and concerned about your organization’s recent “involuntary termination” policy. Since our IVP books indirectly tether us to your organization, we feel it is necessary to make our feelings known to you and those with whom we have relationships. We understand that conversations related to marriage, sexuality, and gender are critical for Christians, but we also recognize that Christians of mutual goodwill can have those conversations and arrive at various conclusions. While we do not all share the same theological or political views, we are united in our concern for the dignity and care of our fellow Christians whose jobs are threatened by your policy.
A list of all the authors who signed the letter are included in the RNS report here.
Along with this letter and signatures, a petition on Change.org now has more than 1,000 signatures from InterVarsity alumni, who’ve worked there over the years.
We know that LGBTQI people have experienced great pain, including much caused by Christians. We also know that we ourselves each need Jesus’ grace daily. So we attempt to walk humbly in this conversation.
We do continue to hold to an orthodox view of human sexuality and Christian marriage, as you can read in our Theology of Human Sexuality Document at the bottom of the article.
That said, we believe Christlikeness, for our part, includes both embracing Scripture’s teachings on human sexuality—uncomfortable and difficult as they may be—as well as upholding the dignity of all people, because we are all made in God’s image.
Some will argue this cannot be done. We believe that we must if we want to be faithful followers of Jesus.
So far, the organization hasn't responded to the letter written by their authors. Discuss
This weekend, Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston explained why new visitors to his global, multi-site church originally based in Australia won’t hear two of the most popular songs their worship bands have ever recorded. As The Christian Post notes, while speaking at Atlanta’s Catalyst, Houston explained that,
When it comes to influence, predictability is our enemy. Because you never get influence from doing things the way they've always been done. You get influence from creating new ways … Thank God for innovation. Thank God for creativity ... Spontaneity is our friend in the church.
For them, that means not singing two of the most popular modern worship songs ever recorded.
You may be shocked to hear we don't sing 'Shout to the Lord' anymore at Hillsong Church. It's not 1993. If you come all the way to Australia and you hope to hear 'Shout to the Lord,' your chances are slight. We don't even sing 'Oceans' much anymore.
Along with their global church plants and multi-site locations, Hillsong has been home to some of the most influential worship artists in the last 30 years, including Hillsong’s worship band (originally led by Darlene Zschech and Reuben Morgan), Hillsong United and Hillsong Young & Free. Discuss
The drama started back on Aug. 7, when Stanley preached a sermon called “The Bible Told Me So” as part of a sermon series called “Who Needs God.” The name of the sermon—which was about the role the Bible should play in the life Christians—comes from the old children’s song, "Jesus Loves Me." Stanley explained,
Many of you were brought up to believe this: Jesus loves me this I know … for the Bible tells me so. This is where our trouble began … Because, the implication is—and this is important, the implication is, the Bible is the reason we believe …
In other words, ‘I can believe Jesus loves me because it’s in the Bible.’ I grew up in a church where basically, the by-line, the subtitle for everything was, ‘If the Bible says it, that settles it.’ And so we send kids off college with a ‘If the Bible says it, that settles it’ and all the sudden they realize, ‘Oh my goodness, that didn’t settle it.’
The problem with that is, ‘If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, as the Bible goes, so goes our faith’ … Christianity can not survive if somehow, every single part of the Bible isn’t absolutely true if the Bible is the foundation of our faith.
Essentially, Stanley’s sermon makes the case that too many Christians put the Bible on the same level as God. He also discouraged a “version of a Christianity” that is “a house of cards” that falls apart if we find out that certain possible historic or scientific details of the Bible are inaccurate or that there are apparent contradictions. (You can see the entire thing here.) He went on to say that “Christianity does not exist because of the Bible.”
This weekend, Stanley posted a response to criticism and clarified his sermon. Not only did he explain why he preached the sermon (to set the context for why many millennials are leaving the church), but also confirmed that he still believes inerrancy.
In a piece of Outreach Magazine, he explained, “The confusion related to my most recent series stems more from methodology than theology.” He said that he doesn’t preach from notes and that his delivery can be confusing: “[A] technique that is sometimes confusing for the occasional viewer is my habit of saying what I suspect skeptics are thinking about something I’m saying. In my effort to state their assumptions, I sometimes sound as if I share their assumptions.”
During “The Bible Told Me So,” I wanted educated, dechurched millennials to know that I knew that those who supposedly know everything are convinced there was no worldwide flood or Hebrew migration from Egypt. While addressing them directly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt to make the following point: Even if those events never occurred, it does nothing to undermine the evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus and thus the claims he made about himself. And yes, as noted above, I know Jesus made claims about the Jewish Scriptures. But this was one sermon in a series of six … I hadn’t gotten to that yet.
Stanley went on to repeatedly say that he believes “the Bible is without error in everything it affirms” and that he “believe[s] what the Bible says is true, is true,” and pointed to the work that his father, Dr. Charles Stanley, to preserve the belief in the infallibility of the Bible among modern Christians.