A prominent evangelical's recent blog headline – "Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?" – has irked Pastor Rick Warren, who is calling for an apology for the "sensational" title.
Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, sent a tweet to Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Tuesday, saying: "A TITLE questioning1000s of churches' orthodoxy due to size is unChristlike.U need to apologize to pastors Al."
In a blog post Tuesday, Mohler described the emergence and growth of the megachurch (which draw at least 2,000 in attendance) and acknowledged that they have "helped to anchor conservative Christianity" in the United States.
At the same time, he noted that some megachurches have adapted to the ever-changing American culture, abandoning certain biblical truths.
Mohler went on to express concerns over a recent message preached by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga. As he described the account of a gay couple, Stanley mentioned the sin of adultery (one partner was still married to his wife) but did not affirm the sinfulness of homosexuality.
"The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality," Mohler wrote, adding that he hopes Stanley will clarify his view on the issue.
"We must embrace the truth with the humility of a sinner saved only by grace, but we must embrace it fully," he added. "Once again, the megachurches are on the leading edge. We must pray that they will lead into faithfulness, and not into a new liberalism."
Taking issue with the title of the blog, Warren commented: "@albertmohler Would a sensational blog title 'Are THE Seminaries the New Liberals?' be fair if 1 seminary pres. messed up?"
In response, Mohler tweeted back: "@RickWarren Glad to hear from you, Rick. I would certainly not be offended by that title ... In fact, I might use it. Megathanks."
Notably, both Warren and Mohler are megachurch pastors and belong to the Southern Baptist Convention. They both affirm that homosexuality is a sin.
While some have responded to Warren's tweets saying there was no blanket accusation against megachurches in Mohler's blog, one researcher did agree that the headline was unfair.
"As Rick Warren tweeted, it is unfair to paint all mega pastors with the Stanley brush or for that matter, the Schuller, the Long or the Osteen brush," Scott Thumma, who specializes in research on megachurches, stated to The Christian Post.
"As a group, megachurches are a big target, but it doesn't help the Christian cause either to accuse indirectly 1,500 faithful pastors and 6-7 million attendees with the 'L' word on the basis of one pastor's issue."
In the midst of debate over blog headlines, however, one Shawnee, Okla., pastor said the issue of churches neglecting biblical truth should not be forgotten.
"Yes, there are many pastors of megachurches who are faithful to the Bible (as Mohler noted), but the reality is that there are many, not just one, who are not. The pressures of the culture are making doctrinal faithfulness too challenging for many. That was Mohler's point- and one that should be well received," Dr. Todd Fisher, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, wrote in a blog Wednesday.
Stanley delivered the account of the gay couple last month during his 8-part message series titled "Christian." He told CP that he may issue a statement on the matter but requested that people listen to the entire series, which concludes this weekend.