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Some issues in the church today are highly controversial.  What are 5 of the most controversial issues today in the church?

Same-Sex Marriage

Today in Canada, it is considered a hate-crime to preach against same-sex marriage or to speak out about homosexuality being a sin.  They call it “hate speech.”  The church just down the street from us, which is a mainline denomination, recently performed a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.  What was surprising is that they didn’t see anything wrong with it.  Apparently they didn’t consider it a sin even though the Bible is clear about this.  The Scriptures record in many places that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:3-12; Gal 5:19-22) saying that “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Eph 5:3).

Women Pastors

This is another issue where the church seems to have changed its stance in the past few years or so.  Does the Bible allow for women to be pastors?  I have not seen any scriptural evidence where women are allowed to be pastors or there is any authority given to women to teach men in the church.  Paul tells Timothy that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:12). From my reading of and understanding of the Scriptures, the qualifications for a pastorate are given only to men (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9).

Abortion

I heard a stat the other day that among professing evangelical Christians, 60% of the women admit to having had at least one abortion.  The Catholic Church and a few other denominations remain firm in their stance against abortion but still more than half of the women in the church have and continued to have abortions.  You don’t often hear about the evils of abortion being taught from behind the pulpit today even though God is the only One Who has the authority to take a life seeing that He is the Author of Life.  Clearly, God calls a baby a human being and calls them by name even before they were born (Jer 1:5).  Is the unborn fetus a baby or not? It seems that even the unborn are considered a living human being and is called a baby as we read “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41). Here is the Word of God calling the unborn John the Baptist a baby even before he is born!

Spiritual Gifts

There is more heat than light when it comes to non-essential issues like speaking in tongues or not. Some believe this gift is still active in the church today. One young man tried to convince me that if I didn’t speak in tongues I was not filled with the Spirit.  Even worse, he said that those who don’t speak in tongues may not actually be a Christian at all because speaking in tongues is  the evidence that a person has the Holy Spirit.  What he believed was that if a person didn’t speak in tongues then they were not ever saved in the first place even though Jesus said that you’ll know them by their fruits (John 15). Never did He say that gifts are evidence of conversion.  Instead He pointed to fruit as being evidence of a person’s salvation.  It is heartbreaking to see believers fight over an issue that is a non-essential one and one that isn’t the deciding fact as to whether a person is saved or not.  Even Paul asks the rhetorical question “Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret” (1 Cor 12:30)?

Baptism

This issue has long been problematic for the church. For hundreds of years some churches believe that infants should be baptized or sprinkled.  The Greek word for baptism is “baptizo” (in the verb form) or “baptisma” (neuter noun form) and means “to immerse, to submerge” so baptism by definition means by complete submersion, not sprinkling.  Even worse, some churches teach that unless a person is baptized they are not actually saved and have not yet had their sins removed even though the Bible says that we are saved by grace and not by any works (Eph 2:8-9).  Paul writes to the Roman church that “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).  When Paul was met by the Lord on the Damascus Road Ananias was directed to go to Paul because Jesus had set apart Paul to preach the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16).  Here’s the account:

“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened” (Acts 9:17-19).

Which came first?  Did Paul receive the Holy Spirit after baptism or before?  Clearly Paul received the Holy Spirit and then was baptized.  I would add that every person who is saved is commanded to be baptized.

Conclusion

It is hoped that the church stays faithful to teaching and preaching the Word of God and to not water down doctrines and make the church’s teachings fit the changes that have occurred in society in the last few years.  Society changes but God’s Word never does. It is the same today and forever.  There is nothing that gives us permission to pick and choose what we want to teach out of the Bible.  Society should not change what the Word says…the Word should change society!  Today there is such apostasy in the church.  We want to be politically correct in order to not offend anyone but Jesus said it is necessary that offense must come (Luke 17:1; Matt 18:7).  The Word of God must cut in order to heal. The Word has always comforted the afflicted but it’s always afflicted the comfortable.  Controversy is nothing new to the church but today some of the greatest controversies are those where we compromise the Word of God to fit an ever-changing world.  May it never be so in the church where you are at or where you pastor at.

30 Responses

  1. Yvon Prehn

    I have been part of the Christian Computing family for a very long time and I don’t remember reading an article like this in any publication from ccmag, let alone one that is supposed to be about media. The tone, the approach, many things about it bothered me and I consider myself a conservative Bible teacher. This is not what I expect from this publication. I almost never comment, but this was very upsetting and felt I must.

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Ms. Prehn for your comment. I am sorry it upset you so much but what do you not agree with on this? Was it the Same-Sex Marriage? Do you think God winks at this issue? Do you know what the Bible teaches about sexual immorality and that marriage is God-ordained and to be between one man and one woman. This is not an op-ed (my personal opinion) but I quote God’s Word. The “tone” approach bothered you sir? What do you mean Ms. Prehn? What about abortion? Do you not think this is sin? I am not sure why you disagreed on this. Can you explain what you didn’t like about it? Was it the topics or that these are not sin to you?

      Reply
      • Annie

        You need to,read this ladies response Mrs Wellman. She is a Ms not a Mr.

      • Jack Wellman

        Thank you Annie. I did correct it. I apologize to her and you and all the readers. By the way, I am a Mr. and not a Mrs. as you wrote.

    • Falex

      don’t be upset dear, allow what the Bible say be, that is why it is not easy to substitute the scripture with people opinion however right may appear.

      Reply
  2. Robert

    Pastor Jack I read your comments on 5 areas of confusion in the church and I thank you for your service in Christ. We need to stand firm on proper doctrine and daily walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus. Women teaching I have no problem with in scripture as God will anoint whom he will especially those baptized in the Holy Ghost.
    We are all part of one body and need to let each have their proper place for the edification of the church. Now looking at a prayer language verses speaking in tongues they are 2 separate gifts and it is true that speaking in tongues has no bearing on entering into the kingdom of His Glory Heaven. I fellowship and mentor denominational as well as non denominational church people and it is sad the state of todays church is in with bickering and isolation and I ask myself where is love and death to self and the answer is that for the most part it is not being taught in todays church. Baptism is a step of obeying I encourage , but it will not keep us out of Heaven however a commited Christian would twist any ones arm to be sure they received the opportunity to walk with Christ and be baptized. I believe we are the generation that will go in the rapture and the time is now to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We are to walk in wisdom toward them that are without redeeming the time. Sad but true the Church spends way too much time fighting over doctrine and accusing one another rather than loving one another as Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. God Bless Pastor Bob

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thanks Robert. You are so kind “neighbor” because you are all so encouraging. If I were to stress the two most sinful I would say it is abortion and same-sex marriage. Perhaps I should have focused on those two only. I appreciate you brother. The other issues are not going to keep someone out of heaven but unrepentant and ongoing sexual immorality (homosexuality) and abortion that is accepted as not sinful could possibly unless they repent of these. You are loved brother. Thanks.

      Reply
  3. Bradley

    Amen Jack. Preach it. The Gospel is controversial and we should not bend to societies beliefs. The Bible is very clear on these issues. The sins we commit now are not any different from then. You have to love God’s grace shown toward us.

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you so much sir. I heard Chuck Swindoll once say that “the Bible comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable” and the late Adrian Rogers once say “The truth will set you free…or it’ll make you really mad.” I appreciate your encouragement sir. I have gotten a lot of personal emails on these subjects that have been nothing short of hateful, scornful and such and R.C. Sproul’s seminary professor (Howard Hendricks?) once told him at the anger he got on preaching about repentance, sin, God’s wrath, was great. If it offends, then you must be preaching the Bible. I believe the most loving thing we can do is to tell people the truth…and about the wrath of God on sinners which makes them, hopefully humble, in the hope that they repent and are saved. Your words come at a very good time for me sir and I thank God for your encouragement.

      Reply
  4. Lee

    Brother Jack, can you tell me where you heard this statistic: “that among professing evangelical Christians, 60% of the women admit to having had at least one abortion.” If you don’t have a documented source, that seems to be a troubling statistic to use to support your point. It is documented that among the general population from about 1/3 to 40% of women have had an abortion.

    I would agree with Yvon that this article seems out of place in the “Christian Media Magazine”. The idea that just because you are quoting God’s word does not make this article appropriate whether I agree with your interpretation of His word or not.

    I also would say that these issues are not necessarily controversial in each individual church but they are controversial among churches as they each apply their doctrines and beliefs to these issues and come to different conclusions than the church down the block. Personally, I think the issues of pride, materialism, lust, division in the body, division in the family, and selfishness are bigger and more contoversial issues in the church among believers (because they are often ignored) than all these issues because we all are sinners saved by grace yet these all rear their ugly head among us!

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you sir for your comment. Do you really believe that materialism or selfishness are bigger and more controversial than abortion? Wow. My sources are “The Dark Underside of Abortion” by Sue Bohlin and “All Creatures Great and Small: Abortion and the Meaning of Persons” by Kenneth Boa. If you think pride or materialism is more controversial than abortion that I believe your priorities are incorrect. God is the defender of the defenseless (Duet 10:18; Duet 27:19; Ex 22:32, etc.). What is out of place is that churches see the issues you mention and put them above the value of human life and push back the life of the unborn issues back because the issues you mention focus on “self” in many cases but the focus of the evils of abortion focus on the life of others and those who cannot defend themselves. What is more ugly that murdering innocent victims?

      Reply
  5. chuck

    Jack, I stumbled across your post and gave it some thought. It seems to me that the issues you name, except for same-sex unions and abortion, are controversial only in some circles. Women pastors, spiritual gifts and baptism (water and Holy Spirit) might not make it into the top ten list in the part of the church I serve. I would have preferred a list that separated theological issues: non-moral from moral issues (ethical orthopraxy vs. theological orthodoxy). We need to have one voice on biblical ethics and morality (issues of sin and righteousness). Issues related to life or death, cursing or blessing, salvation or damnation, are the business of the church and require a biblical response. If that generates controversy among the religious and/or non-religious, so be it. That was Jesus’ experience and we should expect nothing different. However, the other issues you listed can be understood differently and concerning them, there can be diversity among us without discord. It is my hope and prayer that God’s people may learn to march around some hills in order to battle for those in which we should not and cannot.

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you sir. I like your advice in trying to categorize these lists into non-moral and moral issues. I am grateful that you took the time to check this out and am glad that you stand firm on the obviously sinful issues of abortion and same-sex unions. Amen on having one voice and the other issues, you are right sir…not a moral issue for sure.

      Reply
  6. Curt

    This message is the publisher of Christian Media, not Jack. I hope in reading the comments above you see that this particular article was indeed significantly different than you usually post and that it was likely a mistake. As a conservative scholar I can agree with most of what he says, but do not have to agree with how he says it nor defends it. Have always gleaned good stuff from what you publish, if, however, you started doing more of this, I personally would be out.

    Reply
    • Pamela Rose Williams, CMM Editor

      Thank you Curt for taking the time to provide this feedback. We hope that you continue to visit and enjoy our content on a regular basis. It is certainly your prerogative to agree or disagree with anything we publish.

      Pamela Rose Williams
      Editor, Christian Media Magazine

      Reply
  7. Pastor Tim

    Well done, Mr. Wellman. As I read the headline, I stopped to think about what I would include as five controversial issues in the church today. I came up with the same five you did, plus a sixth one that is gaining prominence today: unmarried couples living together. Overall, I think you did a great job of both listing them and responding to them. Thank you for making us all think!

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you very much Pastor for the encouragement. As you might be able to see by the comments, this was not well received by many so your comment means a lot to me. That is an excellent observation about couples living together. I am presently in counsel with a couple who do not attend a church right now that do not see any issues with this at all despite sufficient scriptural evidence to the contrary. They contacted me because they are experiencing some demons doing things in their house and strange sightings and movements of things and they wanted to know how to make these things stopped. I suggested that unless they repent of their living in sin these things are likely to continue. You cannot have a clean house without the occupants being cleaned by repentance and trust in the Savior. Again pastor, thank you.

      Reply
  8. Peter Mwangi

    Its an year plus since this article was written…and i just read it now…and i am so convicted by its Godly bluntness. And i wondered why anyone would profess to be a Christian…and yet fight against such black and white truths from the word of God. I am not learned in matters of doctrine…and such other terminologies…but in my own simplicity…the word of God is so simple to understand…as long as you allow the Holy Spirit to show you the way.

    Reply
  9. james harrell

    Greetings br. Jack
    I have received a Word from the Lord , and I would like to share it with you , vie my personal email listed below. Personal opioions has no place in bible interpretation, a person’s right to agree or disagree is nothing but their opinion. The Word of God is forever settled, yet many constantly debate it holding one view over another. The Holy Spirit is the ONLY TRUE Interpreter of the Word of God, and His interpretations are truth. The 5 listed Controversies in the church will continue, because of unsaved leadership operating in the church undetected, (as the head goes, so does the body) .
    Without conviction, there will be no one accord, we must come to understand and accept, our opinion matters not, in the things of God
    our controversies must be delt with at the root cause, and that being the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit og God: for they are foolishness unto him.

    please contact me, and together God will use us to open blinded eyes

    apostle james harrell

    Reply
  10. Russel

    Now that this article is nearly two years old, it is interesting to note that new controversies are now at the forefront: immigration- the refugee crisis- breaking up families as some members are here legally and others illegally; racial relations- Black Lives Matter and tension between law enforcement and the black community; politics- ideological divisiveness and who are we to vote for this November. These are the new controversial issues that are getting traction in 2016.

    Reply
  11. Jason Cravy

    Mr. Wellman,

    You bring forth some very insightful issues facing Christianity today; however, your issue with baptism is incomplete. You use Acts 9 as your proof text, which is good yet does not reveal the total conversation. Paul witnesses in Acts 22 the account before the mob and recounts his conversion. According to Paul, in Acts 22:16, Annias told him, “Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

    So when was Paul cleansed of his sins? According to Paul’s own testimony, this occurred after his baptism. Paul’s own account demonstrates the necessity of baptism.

    We must die as Christ and be buried and be raised to take part in the fullness of Christ. Baptism is the method chosen by God for this purpose.

    I hope this reply finds and open heart.

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you sir. I see the point you are making but it isn’t “Arise, be baptized in order to be saved.” Was Paul not saved at that point? Did not Christ commission him/ I see your point but this verse doesn’t say be baptized in order to be saved. We have had occasions where people were saved during our nursing home ministry who were too frail or feeble to be baptized, so from your standpoint, these seniors who cannot even leave their beds are not saved because they were not baptized? I also pray you receive this with an open heart too sir. Thank you.

      Reply
  12. Timm Anderson

    Good morning Pastor Wellman,
    Thank you for the good things you are doing on God’s behalf and for asserting Jesus in the face of increasing secularization in the church. I am actually writing you about an article posted yesterday (3-29-2017) to patheos.com under your name entitled ‘Why was Jesus Baptized Since He was Sinless?’ I must say that the article distressed me. Would you be interested in exploring this topic in more detail with me? If so, then I would like to start by sending you a Word document I wrote on the subject. Is there an email address I could send it to? If security is an issue, then I can convert it to a pdf format first. Respectfully,
    Timm Anderson

    Reply
  13. Rhonda

    Dear Pastor Jack 4/1/17
    I’ve just read your article and agree with everything you have written, but I believe that the reason people are so offended by the truth today is because we have been “secularized” into believing that society’s truths are God’s truths. We are brainwashed daily by our world into believing that whatever seems fair to the majority must rule. We have forgotten that God told us that He is Holy and “His ways are Higher than our ways.” Few Christians actually read the Bible and even if they do they decide for one reason or another that it’s not for them to believe. I know that your article is completely true because I also teach and have studied the scriptures for over 25 years. So I concur with your conclusions. God also commands us to”…Be Holy as I am Holy”. The New Testament is filled with warnings from Jesus in all the Gospels along with the Epistles of Peter, Paul and Jude about the apostasy in the last days (before Christ returns.) Those of us who stand with God’s Word and believe the truth are getting fewer and fewer. The question Jesus asks of us all is will He find “… Any faith on earth when He returns?” I believe that the best thing a Christian can do today if they really want to be faithful to Jesus Christ, is to turn off the secular media and read the Bible to let the Holy Spirit speak truth to the soul. Only God can change our hearts and redeem us from our fallen natures. Let the Christian present these “controversial” questions to God Almighty Himself, and see how fast they will get a truthful answer! Blessings

    Reply
  14. Emily Dempster

    These definitely are the hot topics in today’s church. Personally, I have to disagree with your take on women pastors. There are several examples in the Bible where women were places of spiritual authority (Deborah, Huldah, Pricilla, Lydia just to name a few). God doesn’t have double standards and Galatians says that in Him, there is no Greek or Jew, male or female. I know Paul bids women to be silent in Corinthians, but in one of the Timothys, he gives outlines for the behaviour for female deacons as well. Perhaps, the women in Corinth were actually just being a nuisance and needed to be still and learn before they spoke…

    Reply

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