GRAPEVINE, Texas — Influential pastor and radio broadcaster Erwin Lutzer is on a mission to reclaim the Church for Christ — a Church he fears is increasingly capitulating to ideas and worldviews that are antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“My heart is for the Church, and I see the Church submitting to the culture,” the pastor emeritus of The Moody Church in Chicago told The Christian Post.
“Instead of allowing Scripture to stand alone, we interpret it in a way that is consistent with the culture. I want to challenge Christians: Will we interpret the culture through the lens of Scripture? Or will we interpret the Scripture through the lens of culture?”
In addition to serving as a pastor for several decades, Lutzer is also a teacher on radio programs heard on more than 700 stations worldwide. He has authored numerous books.
In his latest book, We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity, the 79-year-old Christian leader draws on his wealth of biblical wisdom and knowledge of history to help Christians boldly live out their convictions against a growing tide of hostility.
“The Church is being shamed into silence because we don't know what to say," he said. "We fear that we will be misunderstood and vilified. But so many things have changed in America that we can no longer take for granted all of the freedoms and all of the acceptance that we've generally enjoyed. We're in a new day."
In his book, the pastor tackles hot-button topics, including propaganda, the sexualization of children, socialism, critical race theory and more.
His goal, he said, is to both inform Christians and help the Body of Christ address such issues in a meaningful way.
What prompted the book, Lutzer said, was a growing concern that the “radical left in America does not believe that America can be fixed" and "has to be destroyed and rebuilt on cultural Marxism.”
“They believe that the only way that the Marxist state can go forward is if, indeed, the past has to be vilified, our founding fathers, the whole bit. They believe they need to capture law, education and entertainment,” he said.
“For Karl Marx, oppression was the key to history. He wanted to see the nuclear family destroyed because, he said, men will oppress their wives, parents will oppress their children and take them to church. God is the ultimate oppressor, and thus, we have to deal with this oppression.”
According to Lutzer, one example of an unbiblical worldview slowly embraced by some churches is critical race theory, a worldview that utilizes race as the lens through which every area of life can be examined. He fears the worldview categorizes everyone into oppressor and oppressed groups and “tears apart what Jesus died to bring together.”
“What people must understand is that we're living at a time when the conflict and the racial accusations that are being made are intentional, with no hope or desire of any reconciliation or mutual understanding,” he said. “Jesus offers solutions. Christianity says we really don't have a skin problem; we have a sin problem. Churches need to lead the way in this.”
Lutzer acknowledged that when those in church embrace worldviews like critical race theory, they often do so with good intentions. He maintains that proponents of such ideologies often co-opt biblical words like “justice” and “equality,” misuse them and give them definitions inconsistent with their actual meanings. He believes they are misleading well-meaning Christians.
“They think, ‘Well, this is going to help us to understand and help us be sensitive to culture,’” Lutzer said. “But, they do not understand the full-fledged implications of what they're talking about. And my concern is the confusion that all of it brings. It’s very easy for people to be led astray."
The pastor said he never endorses a political candidate from the pulpit because doing so would be "giving your approval to a whole constellation of issues, some of which you may agree with, some of which you may not agree with." But he believes pastors can and should use their platforms to address political issues.
“I believe it is necessary to preach on what I call the controlling realities of our culture,” he said. “We should be expounding the word of God. But to ignore the culture and what people are talking about and issues that they're facing, I think, is wrong. We can, therefore, speak about issues that are political, but we always do it redemptively.”
Lutzer touched on the importance of “speaking in truth in love” and showing compassion, kindness and gentleness to those outside the Church without affirming their worldviews.
“Ultimately, people are going to be won over by our love in our relationship,” he said. “What we need to do is to be wise enough to try to deal with people's hearts rather than to solve all the issues that come up. Ultimately, it is the winning of the heart that oftentimes is the most necessary thing. And so, we need to listen to people. We have to find out where they are at and then we have to take in from there.”
“We can't just preach against same-sex marriage or the transgender phenomenon without inviting people to Jesus,” he added. “I always say that we have to be welcoming without being affirming.”
Through his book, Lutzer hopes to help people understand what is happening in culture and help Christians draw a line in the sand and say, “Here we stand; we cannot do otherwise.”
“I hope to help strengthen the Church to stay strong in a collapsing culture,” he proclaimed. “We will not be silenced because we have to speak. We have to be prepared to take the consequences."
Lutzer said it is "not necessary to have freedom of religion in order to be faithful," adding: “Just ask the martyrs. They were faithful without freedom of religion."
"I pray churches would be strengthened to say, ‘We're not going to submit just because we're under pressure,'" he concluded. "Jesus predicted that these days would come. And therefore, we are going to stand and take the consequences rather than retreat into our caves and say, ‘We cannot speak because of all the cultural pressures.'"
Lutzer became the senior pastor at Moody Church in 1980 and served in the role for 36 years. The church grew under his leadership. He announced his retirement in 2015. He has authored over 50 books, including his award-winning Hitler's Cross and bestselling One Minute After You Die: A Preview of Your Final Destination.