Stop Slandering Christ’s Bride

The silence has been nearly deafening. Some Christians recognize the problem and may mention it in private, yet no one in our churches has the courage to say anything about it publicly. No one—from the pulpits to the pews—seems willing to speak out about the incessant claims that the church is unwilling to speak out.

For years it was merely an overused rhetorical trope, a hyperbolic claim that followed a predictable pattern:

Step 1: Take an issue of concern for Christians (e.g., abortion, sex trafficking, global persecution, the gospel).

Step 2: Claim that no one in our churches is talking about the issue.

Step 3: Assume the dual role of educator and Old Testament prophet by explaining why the issue matters and why the church must stand up and speak out about it.

As a tool of persuasion this approach can be useful (I confess to having used it myself, and on a regular basis). But there are two primary reasons Christians need to stop making such claims.

The first reason is because such claims are almost always inaccurate. Indeed, the surest sign that thousands of Christian in church congregations across the country are talking about an issue is that someone will claim that believers in America are not talking about it. While there may be a need for more Christians to become informed and motivated to address the situation, the mere fact that someone is driven to make claims about our apathy shows that there is already a nucleus of concern within American churches. Has anyone ever really come up with a novel and legitimate concern that Christians have across the country have consistently ignored? I can’t think of a single instance in which such claims were universally applicable to American churches.

You’re Not a Prophet (or the Son of a Prophet)

The second reason to avoid such claims is because they assume omniscience. I’m always amazed by how people who attend the same church every Sunday know what is being preached in pulpits across the land. But even those of us with broad experience in American religion aren’t qualified.

During my 44 years on earth I’ve attended hundreds of churches. At one time or another, I’ve been a pre-post-a-millennialist, dispensational-covenantal, semi-charismatic, Reformed-Arminian, Wesleyan-Calvinist attending a Southern/Independent/Fundamentalist Baptist, Free Methodist/Evangelical Free, Presbyterian (USA/PCA), Pentecostal/Assembly of God, Bible/non-denominational church.

I’ve sipped grape juice from glass thimbles and red wine from gold-plated goblets while eating pieces of saltine crackers and chips of unleavened bread. I’ve had dinner on the ground with a pew’s worth of believers and shared feasts with a stadium full of megachurch patrons. I’ve listened to seminary-educated pastors parse Greek verbs and heard semi-illiterate Mexican preachers deliver sermons in Spanish.

More than three-dozen churches still have me on the roles as a “member.”

In other words, I’ve been around. I’ve probably attended more churches in a wider diversity of congregations than the average American. Yet I’ve only been in the pews of 0.00028 percent of all congregations in this nation. (The Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. About 314,000 are Protestant and 24,000 are Catholic and Orthodox.) Even if I attended a different church every Sunday for the rest of my life I would not even be able to visit all of the churches within a 250-mile radius of my home.

For me or any other writer to claim to know what is going on in all those churches is sheer foolishness. Only God attends every church service in America. Unless he gives us some inside scoop, let’s stop claiming to know what only he knows. Otherwise, we are not helping our pet cause, we are merely slandering Christ bride.

  • Steve Martin

    Good piece, Joe.

    The job of the church (job #1) is to proclaim the Word of God from their pulpits (the law…and the gospel).

    Pet projects ought never mix with the gospel or supersede the gospel.

    • Jeremy

      I know…the pet projects like standing for the unborn, standing against darkness that is encircling our country, and preparing the church for the very “hard” times…is so blase and boring…plus it is too controversial…We would run everyone off and then we couldn’y spend the 55K to rebrand, and the million for the building program…if we get controversial.

  • Scott Shaver

    Interesting article. Sounds like the confession of a professional church hopper.

    • Joe Carter

      A professional would imply that I got paid (which would have been sweet). At best I was an amateur.

      (My parents deserve most of the blame for that, though, since they drug me along to most of those churches when I was a kid.)

      • The Nadir

        I hope, sir, that you meant ‘drag.’

    • MJR

      That’s what I thought too. The author is hopping from church to church and is still on the membership lists of hundreds of churches and differring denominationns, not even having the courtesy to inform those churches of his current status. There must be a reason why he has been unable to to be a lasting, contributing member of a church FAMILY. And no wonder why with bogus articles like this!!So many different denominations, sounds like the author is not sure what he believes. This author would have us believe that we are wrong to call attention to something amiss in the church. This smacks of easy-believism. Is he on Joel Olsteen’s payroll? All the aforementioned is the reason why I am dismissing what he said in the article. Perhaps the author hasn’t yet realized that he slandered Christ’s church in an article about not slandering christ’s church. Can you say self-refuting argument boys and girls?? LOL! This article is bogus.

      • Micah Manore

        MJR your graceless response exposes you for what you are.

  • Dean P

    Yeah good article. It made me think of two big issues. The first is the assumption out there now in evangelicalism that just as many Christians are getting divorced as non Christians and the second which is that all millennial/young people in their twenties are leaving the church in droves. But now we know that it’s not that cut and dry and that these issues are a lot more complicated and nuanced than we previously thought.

  • Jared

    And how is it that you know preachers are slandering the bride? Are you a prophet, sir? Or is your dad?

    • Joe Carter

      ***And how is it that you know preachers are slandering the bride?***

      I didn’t say that preachers were slandering the Bride. From what I’ve seen it’s mostly writers and pundits who do it.

      ***Are you a prophet, sir? Or is your dad?***

      No. I just have (a) the ability to read, and (b) an Internet connection. That’s about all it takes to discover this rhetorical problem. ; )

      • MJR

        Hmmm…then maybe that’s how we know what we are saying about the problems in the christian church too, Joe. So it’s ok for you, but if anyone else does the same thing you do you slander them? You are a hippocrite of the highest degree! The way you attempted to backpeddle out of this is humerous!!

    • MJR

      @Jared…he is someone who made a self-refuting argument, that’s who he is.

  • Adam

    Good point. Things can be pet issues that self-proclaimed prophets address that often have inadequate information. And yes often people are talking about them


    It seems that your whole article here falls under your own three part criticism.
    1. You’ve selected the topic of people selecting topics
    2.You seem to be intending to inform the readers of this website. I assume that you intend to influence people. The very existence of this article show that you think that people are not addressing or know about this.
    3. You have assumed the role of addressing the issue as prophet. After all, your title is, “Stop Slandering Christ’s Bride.”

    Now, I don’t intend to be cheeky with this…but it did really stick out to me. In fact I’ve noticed your concerns in the church and would agree, but for me I haven’t noticed it as a big issue. Maybe your criticism might fall on you?

    Yet again, not wanting to be cheeky, (too much) with an article that I mostly agree with.

    • Joe Carter

      ***The very existence of this article show that you think that people are not addressing or know about this.***

      Oh, I don’t know about that. I pretty much assume that I’m never going to say anything that hasn’t been said already by someone else (and probably better than I could say it). My main hope is that *people who read TGC* haven’t seen someone else addressing it yet.

      That is why I so often pass on articles and links to other sites. I figure people often use TGC (and the RN and YSK features in particular) to find things they otherwise wouldn’t see. Instead of having to do the work of finding interesting news/topics all by themselves, our readers rely on those of us at TGC to do some of the scouring for content for them.

      (My opening paragraph was meant to be mocking, of course.)

      • Adam

        Hey Joe,

        I did pick up on the point of the first paragraph. The whole thing was written quite well. Of course I have no problem anyone writing on correcting people or movements on wrong/misguided things. I wouldn’t be commenting if I did. But if one happens to be correcting people on how they correct using the same methods of which he is trying to ameliorate then I just smile a bit and try to point that out. At the end of it all you are correct but you are doing what you don’t like too. A bit circular at the end of it all.

        Yet again….good article and I appreciate your ministry with TGC. You guys are awesome.


  • Hannah

    I’m chuckling at the irony of how you begin this article – I hope that was intentional ;-) “Church bashing” is in vogue and it must, MUST stop. Thank you for this article!

  • EricP

    I agree with your overall point. I think people tend to extrapolate from their church to all churches way too easily.

    On this part “Step 2: Claim that no one in our churches is talking about the issue.” maybe part of the problem is in our organizational structure. Multiple national/international protestant denominations, denomination-like groups like Calvary Chapel, and independent churches make it hard to deliver a consistent message.

    In addition, even within a denomination, the conversation at the national level is not always visible at the congregational level. I attend a Southern Baptist church. When a policy change is debated, I hear about it through the news not my pastor.

    • Joe Carter

      ***When a policy change is debated, I hear about it through the news not my pastor.***

      I notice the same thing. And I mostly think its a good thing. The task of the pastor is to preach the gospel. If he has time, he should address other issues too. But we tend to have a long list of concerns in the church, and it would take a pastor all Sunday just to mention them, much less address them. That is why it’s necessary to have other outlets in the Body who can talk about the issues outside of the Sunday morning service.

  • Arthur Sido

    A couple of major problems here. One is the assertion that speaking out is somehow assuming a “Old Testament prophet” mantle. It certainly is true that those of us who pay attention to the religious scene in America can speak broadly without claiming to speak for every situation. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that every single “local church” does absolutely nothing for *insert issue here* but even a casual observer can see the problems inherent in our religious system without being a pseudo-prophet.

    Second and more egregious is wrapping religious organizations under the umbrella of “Christ’s Bride”, a common tactic to hush up critics of our religious system by suggesting that any sort of critique of our religious traditions is tantamount to criticizing the Bride of Christ, a redeemed people that at the same time is much broader than the population of local church “members” and at the same time makes up only a fraction of those who attend or are “members” of those same groups. One can, and should, critique our religious institution, traditions and cultures without slandering the Bride of Christ.

    The growing backlash against anyone that dares call the church to account for our tendency to be inward looking and self-interested is obvious and transparent. What we call “church” in the West and clumsily label “Christ’s Bride” bears almost no resemblance to the new people under the New Covenant that Christ instituted. If anything those who critique the church, men like David Platt, should be encouraged to be more vocal, not less. In the days to come the religious institutions that have served to keep God’s people comfortable and drowsy while providing the unregenerate false hope in the religious rituals will fade away and those who have a vested interest in propping those systems up will find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

    • Abigail

      I absolutely agree with this comment.

      While there are good things to be gleaned from this article, and I took it as a personal reminder not to be too critical too quickly, I observed the same issues that Arthur raises.

    • Joe Carter

      ***One is the assertion that speaking out is somehow assuming a “Old Testament prophet” mantle.***

      Speaking out is not the problem. That is a necessary function of a concerned Christian. What I mean by the assuming the OT prophet mantle is when we act as if God ordained us to speak about an issue because no on else is doing it. I’m not against being prophetic, only against assuming that we know that no one else is doing the task we’ve taken upon ourselves.

      ***One can, and should, critique our religious institution, traditions and cultures without slandering the Bride of Christ.***

      I completely agree.

      ***The growing backlash against anyone that dares call the church to account for our tendency to be inward looking and self-interested is obvious and transparent. ***

      I think the backlash is tied to universal denunciations. When we hear “The church isn’t doing X” and yet we know several churches in our area that are doing X, it leads to a dismissal of what may have been a valid point.

      The point of my article is not that we shouldn’t critiques religious institutions, but merely that when we do so we need to stop being so broad-brushed. If the problem is in a particular church or denomination, we should say so. Too often we slander all groups of Christians because we fear offending a specific and particular group of Christians.

      • Abigail

        “The point of my article is not that we shouldn’t critiques religious institutions, but merely that when we do so we need to stop being so broad-brushed.”

        I completely agree with that point, and appreciate the clarification.

    • sandy cruise

      Agree with Arthur

    • Mickey Lax

      “The growing backlash against anyone that dares call the church to account for our tendency to be inward looking and self-interested is obvious and transparent. What we call “church” in the West and clumsily label “Christ’s Bride” bears almost no resemblance to the new people under the New Covenant that Christ instituted.”

      Be careful. You don’t know those people you are saying are not actually Christians. My approach to saying who is Christian and who is not is innocent until proven guilty. That’s what the apostles did, so that is also what we should do. To do otherwise runs the risk of judging someone a false believer simply because they don’t measure up to your standard of what constitutes as a true believer. That’s the problem with fruit-inspecting; it’s so subjective. Best to admonish people for their sins, rather than actually say they are not Christian, unless they are clearly shown not to be, like denying the faith or something.

    • MJR

      @Arthur Sido… I agree with you. Well said.

  • David

    Good points. I think the big idea to be gleaned is “don’t be an egotistical curmudgeon about Christianity.” The big application is “speak the truth in love.” Don’t speak the truth because you think you’re something special and therefore have a reason to be heard, but because Jesus is precious and deserves to be famous. Christians have problems. It doesn’t matter how many of them are getting divorced compared to unbelievers. What matters is that it is an epidemic regardless of comparisons and things like that need to be addressed emphatically. There are many diseases in the church that need to be addressed. On the flip side people also need to hear about how God is blessing the people. Nobody likes to work for a company that only notices them when they mess up. Nobody wants to be part of a church that only brings up their failures. Amidst our profundities, we must not neglect to reveal the profound blessing of God upon the Body.

  • Perpetua

    Why would be follow Joe Carter on Twitter? Is he some kind of prophet? And on what basis is he telling everyone what not to do or say? Does he have some kind of magisterial authority? He needs to resign from being an editor from the Gospel Coalition, as the generalizations he objects to are the stock in trade of this site.

    • Joe Carter

      Why would be follow Joe Carter on Twitter?

      Because he’s awesome?

      And on what basis is he telling everyone what not to do or say? Does he have some kind of magisterial authority?

      Magisterial authority? No, certainly not. That is why I’m not writing, “Thus saith the Lord.” My point is more of a “If you want people to take your claims seriously, then don’t over-generalize.”

      the generalizations he objects to are the stock in trade of this site.

      Can you give me an example (or three) of what you’re referring to?

      • Kamilla

        Not merely awesome, Awesomesauce!

    • Micah Manore

      Perpetua, Its ironic that in response to an article about the broad brush of criticism; you pick up said brush and use it on Mr. Carter. As long as this site promotes Gospel by faith, I’ll be here.

  • Kevin D. Johnson

    I do have a few problems with the article:

    1) The church needs more transparency and not less–even criticism rife with error provides an opportunity to vet and understand issues better

    2) The church and her leaders need to be able to receive rebuke and criticism in public especially when they have no issue proclaiming their contribution from the virtual rooftop of the Internet to millions of readers

    3) Christians do have a legitimate role to play as prophets–not the same as OT prophets, but certainly as folks who proclaim and apply God’s word to every sphere

    4) Not all criticism is offered as starkly as Mr. Carter implies and I really do think he’s in danger here of being quite hypocritical–I would submit that most critics of the church are not interested in slander but offer their perspective in love and care for the church. I would also submit that most everyone knows they are not an OT prophet and don’t pretend to speak as one.

    5) I am not sure why we immediately rush to impute negative motives to people simply because they’ve noticed something work talking about, but it seems this is part and parcel of a critique like the one Mr. Carter offers. And, Joe Carter is selective here. If we are going to offer a question about motives, perhaps we should talk about the insecurity of leaders in the church–many that at least seem to be incapable of handling any criticism of their views or person.

    6) Last, there are potential systemic concerns that we can identify across large sectors of the church. To avoid talking about them simply because someone brings an issue up in what we conceive to be the wrong way is certainly not proceeding in a way that fully values the truth of what’s being considered. Undoubtedly, there are exaggerated accounts of what’s going on inside and outside the churches but usually each of these accounts contain enough truth to let us know there really is a problem here worth discussing.

    • Micah Manore

      I think Mr Carter is responding to the way we critique, not the actual need to critique. Clearly, from Scripture, critique is neccesary.

  • Mike Glodo

    I, too, was hoping this was intentional irony. But if it isn’t, I hope you can see in hindsight how ironic it is.

  • Ryan Fishel

    Thanks for your posts, Joe! I’m always intrigued by what issues you address.

    Ya, I think it was Paul Washer I heard some years ago caution against making blanket statements about the church. Perhaps in our zeal to motivate others to our cause—which is important!—we need to be wise in understanding that there are many ways we can say what needs to be said. And a number of those ways may make your right point wrong. Over-generalization is a quick method that startle others—which looks like progress for our cause—but could we neatly file it under pitfalls-on-our-left? And, as you pointed out in this case, over-generalization would slander Jesus’ love, His church. Uh, He might find that offensive.

    So what, we might ask now, might be some better ways to motivate others to our cause? It’s worth rethinking.

  • Jesse

    When people make claims about “the church,” it is generally in a corporate context not as an omniscient statement about every individual church. I dispute your claim though. These days we can follow individual preachers as well as Gospel centered organizations like TGC and get a fairly accurate reading of what is being discussed in the Christian community.

  • Melody

    I get it. I said it already in fact. For some reason I usually get moderated though.

    American churches care about the homeless. We have food pantries, shelters, food drives, ect. Some churches have a waiting list for people wanting to serve.

    American churches care about the unborn and the mothers carrying them. Prochoice clinics and vans with ultrasounds are being funded all over the place. They are giving mothers resources for keeping their babies and hearing the gospel. Though we are accused of going after women when they are most vunerable and robbing them of choices

    American churches care about the fatherless households as they volunteer in big brother programs and Boy Scouts.

    American churches reach out to families outside the church by providing sports programs that integrate the gospel and servant leadership through programs like Upward.

    American churches are going through foster care classes to try and ease that burden. Though in many places Christian couples are turned down as unsuitable because of their faith.

    American churches are reaching out to those trapped in poverty and hopelessness on Indian Reservations.

    American churches are helping childless families and families called to adopt with emotional, spiritual and financial support. Though we are accused of brainwashing children with our religion.

    American churches send missionaries to places with the gospel, pastor training, modernized farming techniques, and well digging. Often in places that are less than safe. Though we are accused of interfering in other cultures.

    And American Churches are absolutely aware that there are brothers and sisters in Christ being slaughtered all over the globe despite what Kristen Powers believes. In some situations we are powerless to do anything but pray. According to Paul that is not nothing. Perhaps we could take to the streets in protest but would it save a life? And would the media cover it in an objective way? Or would the church simply be accused of stirring up hate?

    These are all out reaches I know of in my rural area. I can’t fathom how many more there may be in more urban areas like the work Louie Giglio is doing in human trafficking.

    These things we know , talk about and network in the Body of Christ. So unless someone is all seeing and all knowing about what is going on in the body they are slandering. Maybe it says more about how little they are involved.

  • Jack Holbrook

    Great article! Couldn’t agree more!

  • Ernie

    Wow. I was just thinking this very same thing earlier today as I read an article on the Christian’s struggle with pornography. The author claims the church is silent on the issue. My thought was, first, no it’s not. As a pastor I’m talking with guys a lot about this issue and how to honor Christ in this area. I try to be careful when mentioning it in sermons. I know parents are out there cringing about where I’m headed as their eight and twelve year olds are listening closely. Second, I thought, how does this author know that. Mr. Carter, I totally agree with your thesis here.

  • Dana

    Very thought-provoking. The comments above have teased out the ways I agree and disagree. My looming question remains…in a spirit of accountability, how do we as believers encourage other believers (the ‘church’ on an individual level) not to remain silent on cultural issues on which the ‘church’ (corporately) has much to say and may or may be doing so from the pulpit, without being guilty of what you describe here (obviously excluding prophetic claims). Christians follow trends too, so if silence on an individual level is the norm out of caution to not ‘slander the bride’, might they not be persuaded that speaking out on anything is wrong?

  • Marla Swoffer

    I loved the two paragraphs that made what I thought was a (perhaps unintended) case for ecumenicalism. The diversity in the body of Christ should be humbling and that’s how I read it…but maybe that’s because although now I’m a member of a PCA gospel-centered church, I see the beauty in other traditions, not so much from having worshipped with them (although I have a varied church background as well – I think that’s common amongst those of us who grew up in the faith), but from their literature, theology, spiritual practices, and fine arts. Perhaps it’s time for me to take up blogging again… ;)

  • Samuel

    Hey Joe, how about you take your own advice first. Not that your advice is valid but if you are going to preach it you should practice it.

    Ignore Joe and obey God’s word:

    2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

    • Joe Carter

      Hey Joe, how about you take your own advice first.

      Did you miss the part where I say, “I confess to having used it myself, and on a regular basis.”

      Ignore Joe and obey God’s word:

      Good advice. How about we start with James 4:11: “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.”

      • MJR

        Then you would have to start with yourself and delete this article that slanders your brothers and sisters in christ Joe. Take your own advice.

  • Joe Carter

    I have to say that I’m really surprised by some the reactions. I didn’t think we’d find people defending a position that essentially comes down to saying, “It doesn’t matter if the claim is accurate or not, we need to be making broad-based claims about the entire church.”

    Isn’t that what they are defending or am I missing something?

    • Melody

      They seem to be more focused on being able to chew you out on something than actually thinking about a vital point.
      “they assume omniscience”

      Whenever one makes a sweeping accusation one is taking the position that their reality is the center of the universe and all absolutes apply. It will get argued to the death much like a bad marriage where love is not the objective.

      Maybe you weren’t specific enough. Everyone seemed to read into it what they had been thinking about recently, including me.

    • paul Cummings

      thank you my brother.
      I agree. I think because we’ve come ‘brand loyal’ to our brand of Christianity its much easier to assure ourselves that “We’re doing it right…” but “we’re not sure about the rest of those so called Christians”.

      Thanks again,

    • Micah Manore

      I’m with you. I think to often we arrogantly assume our church is sort of the center of the universe. Great article; I appreciate your critical thinking.

  • Papa John

    Hello, Christians, there actually is an abortion Holocaust ongoing in the USA. 40 years have wrought 56 million murdered children. DO I know how many churches are preaching this? No, but evidently not enough. Later day antinomians abound. Are we destined only to mimic the German churches and worship louder as the death trains roll by? Donning an OT mantle is unneeded to preach the Great Commandment.

  • Gemma

    I think a test of how easily talked about a given issue is, quite simply, if you try talking about it.

    No one can claim what is happening in all churches. However, in my experience of trying to talk about a difficult sexual assault I experience by a man in the church when I was a 9 year old girl, was not met with willingness to talk about the issue. I was careful to try to discuss it with trusted friends. It’s left me bewildered and feeling like some topics are no-go areas of discussion in the church.

  • Bereket Kelile

    “Only God attends every church service in America.” I think this is my favorite line from the article. Beautiful.

  • David Westfall

    I think this post offers some very wise counsel, and I agree with Carter about the arrogance usually latent in such claims. However, I do think there is a valid way of criticizing the church at large without trespassing into such arrogance. At least as I think about it, it seems valid for one to look at the church’s tradition and, while embracing it, also noticing points at which its emphases have been skewed. If “hindsight is 20/20,” it seems valid—without bitterly accusing our ancestors in the faith—to analyze thoughtfully the tradition’s “blind spots.” For example, the past few decades alone have witnessed increasing attention to the significance of the bodily resurrection and the new heavens and new earth, precisely out of the recognition that much of the western tradition has either downplayed, ignored, or misconstrued the apostolic understanding of this. To make such observations doesn’t need to be arrogant—it is simply to acknowledge the limitations of human beings as historical creatures, and to learn from the problems of the past. I’ll admit, it certainly gets trickier when you bring it into the problems of the present (which is really what this post is about).

  • Scott Wallace

    This seemed like double talk. I am a pastor and I also am a contractor. I am in a different persons house about every three days.
    I can tell after about 20 minutes of conversation what a persons emphasis is and what there church, if they attend one emphasizes. You don’t need to be a prophet to see how jacked up the majority of the bride of Christ has become in America you just need to talk to people. I think the ‘Gospel’ coalition is on the edge of post modernism these days in order to appeal to post moderns. ‘Rebuke anyone who has a strong stance on anything’ is what I have been seeing more and more. Yes the Gospel, but all the ramifications and implications too.

    • MJR

      Agree. Well said Scott Wallace! The Gospel Coalition is on a slippery slope with stuff like this nonsense.

    • Micah Manore

      As one who is part of our new post modern generation, I can assure you this sight isn’t terribly popular with post moderns. The claims of the Gospel are far to exclusive. The fact that they discuss the concept of “sin” puts them on the radical fringe.

      • Mike Stephan

        “The claims of the Gospel are far to exclusive. The fact that they discuss the concept of “sin” puts them on the radical fringe.”

        Please tell me you’re kidding. So we shouldn’t believe in “sin” anymore? Even though Jesus himself taught on it, the Bible clearly presents standards that should be met, that God provided a way to be freed from sin (i.e. the gospel), yet we are fringe for believing the concept of sin?

        Or are you being hyperbolic and I am missing it?

        • Micah Manore

          I obviously believe in the existence of sin. I was responding to Scott’s comment about TGC being too “post-modern”. I was just saying that this site can’t be very post-modern because post-modernity doesn’t really buy into the idea of propositional truth. ie. sin. TGC believes in the exclusivity of the Gospel (and sin) so it doesn’t really fall into that “post-modern” category as our brother said.

  • Ruth Anne Shorte.

    Hello again.. Reading Ephesians 4 and 5 today brings to mind is the church a bride now or in the future? I would love for you as a relatively young man to read Dr. J Vernon McGee’s commentary on Ephesians. We love to read new things and new commentaries and new anything. But somethings never change- the Truth. God bless you in your ministry and may His Spirit teach.

  • Pingback: Stop Slandering Christ’s Bride | iconobaptist()

    • MJR

      The author hasn’t yet recognized that he made a self-refuting argument. This article reminds me of the ridiculous argument the Penecostals used to make to throw attention off of their unbiblical practices during the “Pensacola Outpouring” and “Brownsville Revival” movements that were duping thousands of christians and churches all over the country. They were teaching “don’t pray, just laugh” and rolling all over the floor laughing like idiots.In order to divert criticism of their antics, they deliberately misinterpreted Psalm 105:15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm” to mean that they don’t have to be accountable to anyone and nobody should ever criticize them. They brainwashed their followers to repeat that verse whenever anyone attempted to tell them the errors of that unbiblical movement.
      It should also be noted that Jesus and the Apostles held nothing back and were very direct with the church and individuals they felt needed correcting for their own good. And our goal as christians is to emulate Jesus.
      The premise of this article flies in the face of what we as christians are taught in:
      Luke 17:3-4 So watch yourselvees! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.”

      Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

      Psalm 141:5 “Let a righteous man strike me–that is a kindness; let him rebuke me–that is oil on my head.”

      Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.?

      James 5:19
      “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

      ‘NUFF SAID!!

      • Micah Manore

        He didn’t say rebuke is bad. He said overly broad contextualized rebuke should be guarded against. My rebuke to you is: please read the article more carefully.

      • Melody

        You do realize those people were inspired by God or were God saying those things right? Last time I checked neither you or Kristen Powers have been elevated to a level to be able to ADD to scripture. YOU cannot possibly address the invisible church with any knowledge of anything. YOU are nobody with no authority to be accusing millions of people of doing anything.

        Your first example was of one particular church. Well if someone generalized and said that ALL the churches in the world were laying on the floor laughing then it would be consistent with what Joe Carter was talking about.

        The article isn’t about “a” church. The article is about “The Church”. Get the difference?

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  • Sarah Green

    Some blogs have pointed out the fact that some evangelical churches will protect their own reputation instead of protecting underage sexual abuse victims in their own congregation, even if that means not reporting pedophiles to the police. This is an issue that must be discussed, since some authoritarian church structures make members afraid to question their pastor or their elders.

    • Melody

      Once again you are talking about individual church buildings and not the invisible church.

      Joe Carter is not talking about being silent on any issue. He is saying that you cannot generalize to every church and say that all are guilty, none of them care, that you too are guilty of a cover up just because you are a Christian.

      Are you?

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  • Stuart

    Perhaps Joe should have just written, “I sure wish that some Christians would stop making their own favorite pet issue ‘the most important’ issue and claiming that ‘no one’ in the church is ‘talking about it’ or ‘speaking up’ on the subject. It’s insulting to the people who are talking about it and speaking up and, quite frankly, it’s annoying.”

    Fewer people would have completely missed his point.

    • Mike Stephan

      I agree with you, Stuart.

  • Ruthie

    I almost never read through the comments on this site…are they usually full of grouchy people who seem like they’re being deliberately obtuse? This article makes an excellent point and is a great reminder. And it’s a narrow point, at that–don’t claim to know that the Church isn’t talking about something, because you can’t possibly know that. And be careful with your words about Jesus’s bride. How is this controversial?

    Good grief…there are enough fights out there worth your time. This is not one of them.

  • Mark Lamprecht

    Interesting article Joe.

    Given your three steps, what do you say to those speaking at conferences who offer generalized criticisms about the church?

  • Jeremy

    How about just guiding and making your flock aware of the darkness approaching…How about this…woe to you AMERICAN PASTORS (not all…just the majority)…for not shepherding your flock. You are not Shepherds…you are businessmen…running a seeker-connecting-marketing firm driven pop culture theology…you do not stand for the 55million aborted babies, you do not even try to alert your sheep about the darkness that has fallen on this country, nor stand up for the blessing of freedom that God gave us…because if we did that it would be controversial…and then you wonder why still 95 percent of 18 year olds never come back to church…and families are leaving. You have never left the milk stage…you will be held responsible for all of the Chrisitans that find themselves in fetal positions in their kitchens in the next two years due to what is coming….because their Pastor was just as sedated in the pop culture as your flock…God please wake us up.

  • Mike Stephan

    Jeremy, please be careful here as the “majority” of pastors in the United States serve churches of 90 people or less. They are probably concerned with how best to take care of their flock and family and making ends meet in the church and at home. Many are working in a second job to be able to pay the bills.

    Your comment is well taken, we need to shepherd our flocks with great care, truth, and see God’s people that we serve as He sees His people. It is easy to think, with the popularity of the mega pastors that we know of/ read from or about, to think that they are all like that. But the “majority” of pastors in the US do not have and will never know the stage that you are referring to here.

    • Jeremy

      Mike that is why I put in paranthesis not all pastors. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I live in N. Texas and the majority of churches, even the ones meeting in schools have hired christian marketing firms to give them a “cool” name, rebrand the asthetics of the church building, and printing our cool bulletins, and selling pop-culutre sermons…with great graphics…we have a disease eating at the church…and there is no truth, no watchmen, just “easy on the ears” make the seekers feel good sermons. I’m sure the NFL is mentioned in most sermons…as cool examples and learning points. The majority of Christians have no idea what is going on in the world, in this country, and they defintitely have no idea of the judgement coming to these shores…What pastors are preparing their flocks for this. Some say they are not worrying about it, becasue we are going to get raptured…I would say that the majority of Pastors probably don’t even think about that, nor do they teach on Revelation since that may be controversial also. We are asleep, sedated, and distracted…and the Pastors will be held accountable for not guiding the sheep, being the watchmen, and revealing evil.

  • Brian Scarborough

    I couldn’t agree more. I have been in a number of churches (not as many as you have) and I find wonderful, yet imperfect, people who love God and who follow the Lord the best they know how.

    And I too am tired of everyone claiming to be some kind of prophetic voice when they are no such thing. Didn’t Jeremiah say something about those who prophesy out of their own hearts.

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  • MrsWebfoot

    Great article. Needs to be said. I am a little suspicious of those who make money and build their reputations off slandering Christ’s bride.

    Yes, it is okay to point out error, but for what reason? Is it to help the Bride of Christ, or is it meant to target certain pastors and ministries for total annihilation?

  • Jacob

    Step 1: Take an issue of concern for Christians (e.g., slander).

    Step 2: Claim that no one in our churches is talking about the issue. “The silence has been nearly deafening. ” – Joe Carter

    Step 3: Assume the dual role of educator and Old Testament prophet by explaining why the issue matters and why the church must stand up and speak out about it. “No one—from the pulpits to the pews—seems willing to speak out about the incessant claims that the church is unwilling to speak out” – Joe Carter.

    *sigh* Judging by the very standard YOU set, your entire article is then invalid…