I can’t emphasize enough that pastors and church culture folks are being inundated right now with a lovey-dovey theology that is unrealistic, morally compromising, and un-Biblical. If you read the Bible all the way through, you will never see the theme of “love” ever emphasized as often as today’s pastor chooses to do (under the direction of Rick Warren and church growth gurus). Whether it’s God’s love for man, man’s love for God, or man’s love for his neighbor. Love, love, love is all you seemingly hear about from the pulpit these days. I understand completely that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And although I could combat this overemphasis by mentioning God’s other attributes such as holiness, perfection, justice, and goodness:–I don’t think that will accomplish what I’m getting at here. Pastors in the United States and internationally know all these things, but they are being told by numerical church-growth gurus that if they would just keep the “main thing, the main thing,” then more people will come to church. Nowadays, the “main thing” is love. Church people are really going for it (especially women). Maybe its because a lot of them grew up with abusive families that didn’t show enough affection; maybe its all the crime in the world that grips them with fear; maybe its all the pollution and hate they see at school, in the workplace, or Hollywood. Whatever the reasons, there is an undeniable trend right now where the church crowd is seeking sermons on love, and if pastors don’t “get on board” then they won’t be numerically successful and popular (so they are told).
There are several problems with this way of thinking.
1. By overemphasizing “love” as a sermon subject, it can carry water for a time, but love needs to be in deed, and not only in word (1 John 3:18). It needs to be spelled out by the way we Christians live our lives, transparently and honestly…not just in preaching about love.
2. The Bible has tons of other themes in it that are not about love at all. If you feel called to preach, then let me tell you, GOD WANTS YOU TO PREACH THE WHOLE BIBLE–not just about “love.”
3. The main thing is the main thing:–THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. The saving message of repentance from sin, justification by faith alone in the cross, and being born again to a new life in Christ. Just preaching about “love” will not usher lost sinners into these vital aspects of Christian experience. The Apostle Paul said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). He kept the main thing, the main thing…and guess what? It wasn’t the vague and indescript subject of “love”: it was the CROSS.
4. Being a “love” preacher sets you at odds with other preachers who don’t share your simplistic and sentimental approach; and this is actually schismatic, divisive, even heretical. You are called to be a minister of the GOSPEL and of the CROSS, not just a philosopher of love, charismatic or non-charismatic.
5. Historically, with heretics such as John Saltmarsh (d. 1647), antinomianism (the theology of cheap grace, which handles the Scriptures in such as way, as to nullify the need for obedience to God’s laws and commandments):–has a historical connection with overemphasizing the theme of “love” (and non-judgmentalism) in your preaching, theology, and ministry. Remember, we are called to preach THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD (Acts 20:27), not just the counsel to love.
6. The modern pastor says, “I just feel you need to be more grounded in God’s love.”
I say, “NO! Everyone needs to be more grounded in GOD’S WRATH! Our society has been anesthetized by the ‘Jesus loves you’ gospel since the 1960s. And you wonder why our country is going down the tubes morally? Its high time that people receive rebukes for their sins by Hellfire preachers, because there is no fear of Hell before their eyes!”
A Kind Spirit Turns Away Wrath
In all of my rantings against pastors overemphasizing the theme of love; I still support the Spirit of Love being demonstrated in the Christian life. It becomes especially useful to exercise when confronted by mean and hateful people, racists, killers, intimidators, bullies, etc. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” from such people (Prov. 15:1). What I am against is pastors overemphasizing the theme of “love” in such a way that it OVERSHADOWS other important Christian moral, spiritual, and theological themes: such as holiness, justice, the fear of Hell, the Day of Judgment, the Ten Commandments, obedience to the moral law (the third use of the Law), justification by faith alone, regeneration, sanctification, perseverance, Heaven, miraculous gifts, apologetics, etc, etc, etc. I fear that all the “love” preaching I hear today is nothing else than politically correct rhetoric (pretentious, empty talk) and ear-itching.