Let me start this post by saying how much I like Craig Groeschel and the good folks who bring you LifeChurch.tv every week. I’m reading Craig’s new book, “The Christian Athiest”, right now. It’s a great read, practical and confrontational, two things I value most in Christian books. The Life Church group is a brilliant model of “freely you’ve received, freely give” and I’ve used their free resources time and again.
I like Craig & co. so much I subscribe to their Youtube channel.
Recently he/they posted a series of videos where Craig answers a series of questions submitted by viewers/church folks. I was intrigued when he took on “Is it o.k. for Christians to drink?” and “What about tithing?” I was paying attention because the answer to both questions, if answered biblically, will provide a different answer than the traditional evangelical church answer on these topics.
In case you aren’t familiar with the traditional, non-biblical answer of the evangelical church the answer is “No.” on one and “Yes.” on two.
I’m going somewhere with this, stick with me. This is NOT anti-Craig or anti-Life Church.
Here’s the video, give it a watch and then we can talk.
So Craig says that biblically there isn’t anything wrong with drinking but then, realizing this will go down like a rat sandwich with his audience, he goes on to give them the answer they want, ie. don’t drink or you’ll turn into a reprobate.
This IS NOT my pro-drinking rant. (Though someone criticized me once for speaking about drinking beer from the front and making it sound like it was a positive experience) This is my PRO TRUTH rant. How can we expect people to walk in mature truth when we neglect uncomfortable truth for tradition?
Craig tells the truth – the Bible doesn’t say don’t drink. In fact, the Bible even tells us that Jesus and the disciples did drink wine and Jesus even produced wine, good wine, for the wedding banquet. But the video then goes on to show the evangelical stereotype. A yard full of Christian pastors reduced to thugs and hooligans by a couple bottles of beer. (Played for laughs but the message is still the same.) When a young girl asks for a beer and is told, “No.” Craig suggests we send a mixed message – if Dad can do it, why can’t I? Well, let’s just give her the keys to the car, make sure she has a vote or can choose elective plastic surgery for herself like any adult. Somethings are for “grown ups” – that’s NOT a mixed message. Ultimately his earlier biblical answer is over-written by the clear traditional message of the drama/comedy that follows – one beer will lead to drunkeness and an arrest (or the list of things he concludes the video with).
So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s very sad that a truth teller like Craig Groeschel has to couch the truth in a lie in order to stay out of trouble and keep the numbers up for both the offering and attendance. Fans of Craig, like me, can list over a dozen times he’s literally invited people to leave their church if they don’t like where the church is going, what the church is doing and make room for new people who do. He’s demonstrated a willingness to offend. And that truth makes this video that much sadder. The pressure to conform to a traditional view, even while acknowledging the biblical view is so great that even Craig and the Life Church team fears how people will react to the truth. But Jesus wants us to grow up, to be motivated by our love for him and others and not our traditions. He wants us to live by the truth and be set free.
Can our relationships stand the weight of truth? Personally I know that they sometimes can’t.
Recently I’ve once again made the mistake of taking someone seriously when they asked me to speak into their lives, tell them the truth if I saw anything unhealthy. “I need someone to tell me the truth.” They said. Had they used the words, “keep me accountable” I would’ve begged off – been down that dead end road before. But they asked me to be at truth teller in their lives and I tried and they haven’t spoken to me in weeks. So, maybe Craig’s on to something. Maybe telling the truth and then affirming the myth is the better way to go?