Southern California pastor Greg Laurie took on some "hot button" issues from the pulpit on Sunday, covering everything from capital punishment and homosexuality to Tiger Woods' apology.
Commenting on the professed faith of pro golfer Woods, he stated, "Here's the problem with Buddhism: they don't believe in a personal God that is there to forgive a person."
He cited Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor on Buddhism, who said that in the Buddhist tradition "no matter what Woods says or does, he is going to have to pay for whatever wrongs he's done."
"There's no accountant in the sky wiping sins off your balance sheet, like there is in Christianity."
Woods on Friday confessed to serial infidelity and said he'll return to the Buddhist teachings that he drifted away from as he tries to regain his balance on life.
Buddhism, however, does not offer forgiveness, Laurie pointed out. But "Christianity says there is a personal God there to forgive you who sent His son to die on the cross and pay the price for your sins so you can indeed be forgiven."
The brief comment on the famous public apology served as Laurie's introduction to his sermon on Christian worldview.
The well-known evangelist believes Christians are often labeled as "bigoted" for expressing their faith or taking a stand on certain issues. One example he cited was when Fox anchor Brit Hume was blasted for suggesting that what Woods really needed was a relationship with Jesus Christ to be forgiven. Amid such persecution, Laurie sought to convey to his congregation the importance of thinking and living biblically and basing their beliefs on what the Bible teaches regardless of what "we feel is right."
Hitting some of the most controversial and widely debated issues, Laurie asked the congregation not to respond to the hot topics "emotionally" or "logically" but biblically.
Having a biblical worldview means believing that there is a living God and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture, the Harvest pastor explained.
"We accept that we have absolute truth from God," he said. "The objective is not to conform the Bible to the changing culture but to conform the changing culture to what the Bible teaches."
On the topic of capital punishment, Laurie pointed to one of the Ten Commandments – thou shalt not kill. The Bible, he said, doesn't condemn all killing. Self-defense, sometimes war, and capital punishment are justifiable, he said.
"I believe in capital punishment," Laurie stated, though he acknowledged there are "good people" on both sides of this debate. "And I believe the Bible teaches it."
Regarding abortion, he stressed that the Bible does not give an unclear word on when life begins.
"Life begins at conception, not at birth," he stated. "This is absolute. Each child is created by God and should be given a chance to live."
Indicating a "no exceptions" stand against abortion even if the life of the mother may be in danger, Laurie said just as a mother would instinctively lay her life down if she sees her child about to get hit by a car, she should do the same when it comes to having the baby.
Homosexuality is another clear-cut issue, the evangelist stressed. The Bible is very clear: homosexuality is not in God's order, he said.
"God is not anti-gay. God is anti-sin no matter how it is expressed," he stated, adding that people are not born gay.
"I will acknowledge that as a person who is born with a sinful nature you might be attracted to members of the same-sex," he noted. "I would also acknowledge as a person who is born a sinner you might be more prone to issues of addiction. But having said that, all of these can be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
"You were born a sinner in need of a savior who can change you and help you live the life He has called you to live. That's the answer."
"We're all sinners," Laurie reminded the congregation. "I'm not standing here today as some pompous preacher looking down on everyone. We've all broken God's commandments in some way shape or form. We all need forgiveness. He offers it graciously and lovingly if we come to Him."
The "Christian Worldview" sermon series at Harvest kicked off on Feb. 7.