CHICAGO – Since the massive –but impotent– religious giant Willow Creek Church announced in late June that it was severing ties with Exodus International over issues with homosexuality, the smell of gradual decay continues to rise from its headquarters at 67 East Algonquin Road in South Barrington, IL. And if the church is spiritually decaying, its a sure sign that its leadership has already decayed.
According to 1 Tim 4 widespread apostasy will significantly mark the latter years of the church.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
The “latter days” are not coming, they are here.
Two recent developments in the story shed light on the new brand of apostasy Willow Creek is unfolding and why the world wants churches to sell out completely.
Today, Exodus President Alan Chamber released a statement revealing that Willow Creek no longer believed that people could change from homosexuality.
“Willow Creek was one of our first Exodus Church Association partners. They have had an incredible outreach for two decades to people dealing with same-sex attractions. In 2009 an inquest of sorts was embarked upon, led by one of their elders to find out what they were offering to people affected by unwanted homosexuality. The inquest culminated in a meeting between members of the Exodus staff, the elder in question and the staff person overseeing their recovery ministries. At that meeting they shockingly declared that they didn’t want to help people overcome because that wasn’t possible. They simply wanted to tell people that abstinence was the only option and then provide them with comfortable place to abstain. “
Chambers said Willow Creek’s decision “failed to convey the heart and truth of Christ.” Chambers is correct. When a church fails to tell the whole truth about homosexuality (like it should do for all sin) it intentionally subverts the message of the cross. Willow Creek is moving to the religious center. Its new message is that so-called sexual orientation cant change, therefore individuals who struggle with homosexual desires they do not want have no option other than to be single, celibate…and miserable for the rest of their lives. By defining the issue as one of “sexual orientation” and not as sin, its easy for the church to capitulate to gay ideology and eschew the bible.
And with progay theologians like Tony Compolo appearing at the church, its clear Willow Creek and Bill Hybels want to dumb down the brutal truth to satisfy the demands of external opposition.
Speaking of external opposition, the second situation involved a cancelled appearance at Willow Creek by Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Shultz.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Shultz cancelled but stopped short of saying it was because of the church past belief that altering a person’s “sexual orientation” is possible.
But the church’s membership in Exodus ended in 2009 when the church re-evaluated all of its healing ministries for people facing addiction, divorce, cancer or sexual identity issues, said church spokeswoman Susan DeLay. She said Willow’s views had evolved since signing up for Exodus decades ago.
“They were one of the few Christian organizations having conversations with people who struggle with being gay,” she said.
But after careful contemplation, Willow now espouses the belief that “coming to faith in Christ doesn’t promise a change in sexual orientation,” she said.
Scholars have noted that many contemporary evangelical leaders welcome people of all sexual orientations, but stop short of affirming committed same-sex relationships that they still believe violate Scripture.
Mary Lou Wallner, a former member of Willow whose lesbian daughter committed suicide 14 years ago, said a semi-private conversation with Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, three years ago gave her hope.
At the end of that conversation, Hybels said he didn’t believe homosexuality was a choice or that it could be fixed. But he did believe Scripture calls for gays and lesbians to be celibate, she said. “Someone like Bill Hybels could change the world,” she said.
Hybels is supposed to explain the church’s new position on homosexuality at a news conference today.
Hybel’s addresses the controversy by insisting that his church is not “antigay”. He offers a sounder explanation of WC’s beliefs than his press secretary, but does not repudiate the remarks.