Bible, Church, Culture, Theology

Bishop Michael Curry: Miracle Donkey or Whore Mule?


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The dislocated union of promiscuous wife and distraught husband is the most powerful picture in the entire Bible. No other poetic device or theme comes as close to conveying the smitten and lovingly-steadfast heart of God. In short, the juxtaposition of adultery and fidelity – God-amnesia and Jesus-fascination – is the premier theme of all Holy Writ. (I look at this more in my brief series on the book of Hosea).

However, before proceeding any further, I need to say three things:

  • This blog isn’t a personal vendetta against one rather charming Episcopal Bishop from America. It is an unashamed commentary on the increasingly obvious fault lines and the general tipping point we have now reached in the evangelical Church of Jesus Christ.
  • Several people have contacted me in the last few days asking me to ‘tone it down’ or to encourage me ‘to consider another perspective’. I have highly valued some of these notes but want to assure everyone reading – those who know me personally and those who don’t – that an apparent ‘negative focus’ isn’t necessarily negative at all. I have spent 11 years on this blog writing/producing hundreds of articles, films and recordings to encourage at a devotional level. (If you would like to see the best of these, please see here). But other prophetic emphases have to be in the mix as well, otherwise this wouldn’t be a genuinely Christian blog. The point I’m making is that 99% of all Firebrand Notes content is “positive”. Please keep that in mind.
  • I’d like to apologise to everyone reading this who isn’t a believer/follower/lover of Christ. I am acutely aware that schisms in the Church – especially around issues relating to human sexuality – are very painful and damaging to Christian testimony and must be very confusing and difficult to respect. I can only say how deeply and truly sorry I am that these irreconcilable differences currently exist but also to assure you that clarity is coming in the days, months, and years ahead. This is one of the primary reasons I’m writing this blog.

Curry’s Sermon

If you put aside a few hours to read the book of Jeremiah – a major prophet of the Old Testament – you will soon stumble over one of the verses that Mr Curry indirectly quoted in his sermon at the royal wedding nearly a week ago. His reference to the Balm of Gilead is taken from one (or all) of three places – Genesis 37:25, Jeremiah 8:22 or 46:11. It is figurative of the miraculous healing of the human heart when we come to personal faith in Christ and His atoning work for us via the horrific cross of Calvary (see Hebrews 10:22). This is indeed the good news of the gospel.

Some of you will also likely be feeling a measure of tiredness and sadness – perhaps even anger – due to the dichotomy of the last week that has ensued within the Church. I also share these feelings – and have considered respectful silence as a response – but am convinced I must continue to speak.

Spiritual Adultery

Whether through the stunning book of Hosea, the prophetic, knee-buckling explosion of Ezekiel 16 or countless other places interspersed throughout the Old and New Testaments, our premier theme of spiritual adultery is preeminent. And it is no less the case in the book of Jeremiah (that Curry quoted to the world last Saturday) that the language of God is piercingly graphic: 

Israel, if you forget your God, you become a whore (paraphrase of Jeremiah 2:20-22).

God uses this type of jolting language to communicate His betrayed heart and the gross offence of forsaking Yahweh. Why? Because He is ultimately a God of covenant – marriage covenant – a reality meaning infinitely more than the sacrilegiously low view of marriage that we have today. For example, Meghan Markle’s marriage with Prince Harry is mark II and if this fairy tale doesn’t work out there could be a mark III or even mark IV down the road.

God uses human language to address these iterations of adultery, both physically and spiritually.

I’ll return to Jeremiah shortly.

Balaam’s Miracle Donkey

Such has the divide in the Church regarding Curry’s sermon been, I am now convinced that the globally-televised event of the royal wedding last weekend was actually not mainly to do with the wedding at all. Rather, with the precise gesture of His baton, I believe God was conducting the cosmos by using the event to showcase the Church to herself, to the world…and to the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:10):

This is where we’re at, He says. This is what you look like, He says. This is how you think I am, He says.

What has surprised me is that, unlike the UK’s redefinition of ‘marriage’ on March 29th 2014, the nature and content of Curry’s sermon has provoked a widespread and deeply-felt disagreement within the U.K. Church, one that is much more public (certainly via social media) than, for example, the very issues of homosexuality and marriage themselves.

In light of Curry’s liberal, politically-correct, neutered, sterile wedding talk, it has been Balaam’s talking donkey (Numbers 22:21-39) that some have appealed to as evidence that even the laughably unlikely – and woefully inadequate – things of the world can be used by God to glorify himself. I have no doubt that this is true because Balaam’s talking beast was literal not metaphorical.

But there is another ass in Scripture that is metaphorical and, as such, we must return to Jeremiah.

donkey 3

Jeremiah’s Whore Mule

One of the primary reasons that God spoke through Jeremiah was to confound and expose the lying prophets of Israel – in other words, heresy from within God’s house. Again, the language of the Bible to describe those who are counterfeit in this way is uncompromising and shocking. (I encourage you to read Ezekiel 16 before you carry on).

Early on in the Jeremiah discourse (2:24), God gives another horrendous picture of a mule to depict the unfaithfulness of His people,

Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done – a restless young camel running here and there, a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust?

Contrasted with Balaam’s donkey, this isn’t a comical, talking animal that God is able to use to redeem His purposes even when man has ‘done his best’.  It’s a picture of the flagrant sin of rebellious people who think/pretend that they’ve heard God, deceiving untold hundreds of thousands in the process. It’s not a picture of the weakness of man, the curtailing of a priest’s notes by a time-sensitive Queen or the fleshy weakness we’re all subject to.

No.

This is the spiritual deceit of adultery from the pit of hell hoodwinking us when we (even unknowingly) celebrate half-truth and heresy. If you applauded Michael Curry on Saturday, you may have been unaware of the wider context of what he believes to be biblical and of God. But if you continued applauding when you knew, you are deceived.

An excerpt, if I may, from the link above:

…our view on marriage has important corollaries including how we understand the cross, sin, the Bible, ethics, and many other matters. This is unsurprising given the connection the Apostle Paul made between sex, sound doctrine, and the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:9-11). Relevant to the running theme of love, it is worth grappling with Paul’s logic in 1 Timothy ch.1 and how love is integrally tied to what is taught.  Love is not without definition and intent, but promotes truth.

At What Point Do We Draw The Line?

All of us agree that the Bible talks very clearly and very strongly about false teachers. I particularly adore Paul’s letter to Jude who confounds the easily-made accusations of the weak-in-spirit against the strong-talking, Spirit-led faithful.

But at what point could and should we call-out those who are false? The Steve Chalkes and the Vicky Beechings?

Bishop Michael Curry – according to the Bible – is an adulterous whore mule, not an innocent miracle donkey. Why? Because he proclaims a counterfeit message that is anti-Christ while wrapped up in seductive packaging that lures people in, even, it would seem, many high quality people within the Church itself. (Matthew 24 :24). For some of you reading, this has been a hook-line-and-sinker deception resulting in your attack on others – like me – who see things very differently.

Others of you have have seen the wood for the trees but hoped and prayed for something to be redeemed – hence, references to Balaam’s miracle donkey.

I love you all. But this has to stop. Jesus is worthy of infinitely more than a talking donkey. Oh, for the love of God.

If any christian leader, in any country of the world, proclaims a biblical justification for homosexuality, transgenderism or anything else contrary to the teaching of Scripture – according to the Bible – they should be rejected and rebuked. Don’t we forget that, in respect of the sexually immoral, Paul said to the Corinthiansnot to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty. (Therefore, please note, I’m not talking about people who don’t yet profess the name of Christ).

With one eye (and hoof) on their next spiritual promiscuity, these ‘brothers’ bleat directions to a universalist, liberal mirage of love that seems to satiate and make comfortable those thirsty ones who don’t know the real Jesus. Then they’re saluted as being loving and wise while the people they ‘lead’ don’t come to know the true Living Water at all! Let me be very clear, Curry’s understanding and communication of a very popular message of love is rooted inextricably in the unbelieving, unrepentant soil of a heart that also teaches chronic error and leads millions astray. (Pause, think and pray on this before you write a complaint to me accusing me of being hateful, unloving or judgmental).

Too long have we made excuses.

Where is Our Backbone?

One church leader here in Edinburgh last week accused me of being extremely rude, unwise and unbiblical for calling Vicky Beeching to repent. But she’d be really upset, he whimpered.

Church, this weak-spirited, atrophied, limp-wristed, counterfeit form of Christian leadership has to stop – or else be called something else – if the biblical clarity and truth that the unsaved people of the world deserve is to trumpet. (Ultimately, this is what these tweets will achieve, my friend!).

From the beginning of the discourse, God asked Jeremiah what he saw (1:10,11). What does the thundering Jeremiah come to say in response (23:13-15)?

In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavoury thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. But in the people of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evil doers so that no one turns from his evil…for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land. (Cue the TV cameras)

Of course we want the love of God to sweep through the U.K. with something like the excitement we saw in Great Britain last weekend. Of course we want to be unified in His love. But, as I said in my post on Monday, perish the day we lose sight of the real Jesus of Nazareth for whom no balm of Gilead was available. Broken and crushed for us beyond the likeness of a human being (think on this) in order that we might be reconciled to God.  As the people of God, how dare we get excited about a ‘love’ of mass hysteria and Pimms but that’s not also through the same brokenness of His tears?

Again I say, this garden party in Windsor wasn’t really love. Calvary is love, Jesus alone – on His terms alone – is Love. This offends every single one of us.

Any Christian leader, intellectual, author, priest, teacher, prophet or pope that says anything contrary to my Jesus is a counterfeit heretic and must be rejected. In fact, in Jesus’ name, I rebuke you!

Some may say that rebuking and correcting the Chalke, Curry and Beechings of this hour won’t work, that we need a supernatural miracle of God. Absolutely!

But how does Jeremiah’s conversation with God go to that end (23:26-27)?

How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams(emphasis mine)

And in 23 verse 16,

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” (emphasis mine)

There is a promise of restoration (chapter 33)  but to get there, if we are to be the genuine, unified, LOVING Church of Jesus Christ…

…let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock (of our hearts) in pieces? (emphasis mine)

Related reading:

The Gospel

Worship and Prayer for the UK Church – Desperate: Balm of Gilead

The Royal Wedding Sermon: 5 Lightweight Comebacks for the Counterfeit Gospel

Michael Curry and the Royal Wedding. A star-turn offers the world ‘Christianity-lite’ 

Right Royal Preaching

Bishop Michael Curry: A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church 

2 Comments

  • The Gospel of Nice has overtaken so many of us. It leads us into spiritual deficit or even spiritual poverty. We can’t hear or bear the prophetic voice which challenges us to stand firm. We long for acceptance and popularity and grab hold of anything which signals the possibility of even a little of those.

    Here’s the thing – it really is possible to be loving and “nice” while holding to what the Bible teaches. God’s Grace working in us and on us transforms our minds, hearts and actions. We need courage above all in these times, and that is what so many of us now lack.

    I for one am sorry that you are taking flak for speaking as you do. Church leaders with a pastoral gift hate conflict and confrontation. Many are scared of upsetting the lobbying groups by openly saying, “No!”. This ultimately means they will either find it harder to say so later or they will declare that such matters of identity are adiaphora.

    We must expect many to exhibit cultural evangelicalism (drummer in a box, good sound and lights), but with little by way of doctrine (other than issues of justice), calling to repentance (other than corporately for our lack of concern for creation), or teaching from the whole of Scripture.

    Keep speaking out, Nick. I am challenged by your words.

    • Thanks, David…appreciate you taking time out for this and for your stand. The hysteria from last weekend will come full-term into the authentic revival we long and pray for. It will only happen when God’s Generals (en masse) put their hand to the plow (pulpit) and never, ever look back. I just hope I’m here to see it! Love/respect and thanks for your encouragement. N

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