(Frontlines Exclusive) A local controversy has sprung up in Springfield Missouri that could carry national significance. April 22, Pastor John Lindell, senior pastor of James River Assembly, was invited to address the City Council of Springfield concerning a proposal that would add protections for gay and transgender residents to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Pastor Lindell was asked to offer a theological perspective which he did by advocating love for all while still holding to strict adherence to scripture.
Lindell opened his address by saying, “let me make it clear that as followers of Christ we do not hate anyone. According to our faith and the teaching of the Bible, we would regard everyone in this room (myself included) as sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness…That being said, I think it is important to make the clear distinction when discussing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity that disagreement is NOT discrimination.” (1)
Pastor Lindell then provided the theological perspective he was asked to bring, clearly stating the Biblical teaching concerning homosexuality and also providing a case for the adverse ramifications that lie ahead if the council choose to go ahead with the ordinance.
Dr George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God described Lindell’s address as “Biblical but loving, recognizing homosexuality as a sin no greater than any other with which we all struggle” (2).
Several days later Lindell’s remarks came under harsh criticism from from the local paper, The Springfield News-Leader which ran an opinion piece from 23 “local pastors” who contended that Pastor Lindell’s words were “misguided”. Stating, “As pastors and Christian leaders, we are deeply sorry for the ways Christianity is frequently used to hurt rather than heal, and we want you to know there are many of us in support of you.” (3)
Many of these “pastors” are associated with Brentwood Christian Church led by Phil Snider who describes himself as a “community organizer and advocate for justice” (4) . Snider also addressed the council several months ago in a speech equating the civil rights movement of the 50-60s with Gay rights today. A video of that speech has gone viral (5). Snider’s group, though not large, is very vocal and enjoys creating this type of attention (6).
It appears that the local media is hyping this controversy to create the appearance that there is a deep divide within the religious community where very little exists.
Dr Wood wrote a letter to the News-Leader in defense of Pastor John Lindell but the paper has refused to run the piece citing the letter was too long for their opinion section. Strangely, Wood’s letter was 50 words less than the letter drafted by Phil Snider and his colleagues. (6) UPDATE: The News Leader has now posted Dr. George Wood’s Letter on their website
Frontlines believes that we will begin seeing more and more of this in the coming years as the secular progressives in our nation seek to mainline what they deem as Politically Correct Christianity while sidelining what is Biblically Correct Christianity.
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