In a biting message aimed at Christian gossip lovers on Sunday, Robert Morris, founding senior pastor of the 36,000-member Gateway Church in Texas and chairman of the board of The King's University, cited gossip as a factor in how some Christians get lost, and chided those who won't listen to gossip but have no problem reading it on the Internet.
In the message pegged on the parable of the prodigal son, titled "The Believer's Battle," posted on his church's website, Morris said he was concerned about the amount of time people spend on the Internet — particularly on blogs that focus on Christian leaders.
"I have to say this, um, I'm really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I'm extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it."
"Here's one thing, just even the blogs that mention Christian leaders, and I'm one of 'em. Praise the Lord, I've made Satan's hit list now, you know. But here's what blows me away. You wouldn't listen to gossip, but you'll read it," said Morris in a clip from the video beginning at about the 24-minute mark in his nearly 40-minute presentation.
Without getting into specifics, Morris, who has authored more than 12 books, then went on to explain that a pastor friend of his was recently a victim of Internet spin that suggested he had changed his position on an apparently controversial issue.
"I mean, I have a friend of mine that made a comment a while back and it just blew up on the Internet. It blew up. Like he was 'changing' his theological position. And really he was saying, 'our methods are evolving.' But he had to clarify later, 'my theological position's not evolving on this issue, but our methods in dealing with people who are in bondage to sin, those are evolving. We're trying to learn to deal with people who suffer with this," said Morris.
"But on the Internet, everybody had already judged him. And he's a pastor and he's a friend of mine. And what upsets me is Christians read filth on the Internet. And they believe it.
"And, I, um, you can't imagine how many people have told me, that 'this is true.' How ya' know it's true? 'Read it on the Internet,'" he said.
The Christian Post reached out to Gateway Church to clarify with Morris whether Bishop T.D. Jakes was the unnamed friend in his sermon, but a comment was not ready at the time this story was published. He mentioned Jakes, however, later in his sermon.
Last month, Jakes was forced to clarify that he does not endorse same-sex marriage and that it was only his method of ministering to gay people who choose to attend The Potter's House church that was "evolving." An earlier HuffPost Live interview had led some viewers to believe he had "shifted" in his biblical convictions on human sexuality and marriage.
"Do not take everything you read online or hear repeated as truth," Jakes noted in a Facebook post in response to the controversy.
"When asked about the 'black church' and its role in ministering to gay people, I briefly mentioned (we were running out of time) the word 'evolved and evolving' regarding my approach over the 39 years of my ministry to gay people who choose to come to our services."
"I simply meant that my method is evolving — not my message. I was SHOCKED to read that this was manipulated in a subsequent article to say I endorsed same sex [sic] marriage! My position on the subject has been steadfast and rooted in scripture [sic]," added Jakes, 58.
"For the record, I do not endorse same sex [sic] marriage but I respect the rights that this country affords those that disagree with me."
In further comments, Morris claims digital journalists exploit popular preachers like himself, Jakes and Bill Hybels because they don't have their own platforms.
"Anybody can write on the Internet. And the people who write on the Internet are people who would not have a platform, unless they put my name, or Bill Hybels' name, or T.D. Jakes' name in it. They wouldn't have a platform if they didn't put someone's name who already had a platform. Boy, I'm just fired up, I'm telling ya'," he said.