I know about the slander of those who profess they are believers and are not, but are a congregation of Satan. – Revelation 2:9 (NIV, adapted)
I err on the side of politeness. I have equivocated from stating that another Christian has strayed so far from the gospel as to leave the faith entirely. Even when those who profess Christ are causing the deaths of LGBTQ people, I have equivocated. Even when congregations professing Christ are mere smokescreens for white supremacy, I have equivocated. Even when pride flags were stolen, Black Lives Matter signs defaced, rainbow painted church doors set on fire, I have deflected by saying, “Those people are not Christians at all.”
Make no mistake, it is those who profess Christ who are behind all that and more. It is those who profess Christ who stalked into a prayer meeting in Charleston … a synagogue in Pittsburgh … a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand.
I might call my response “taking the high road” or “an allergy to absolute truth claims.” Regardless, the result is the same: Politeness instead of witness. Quiet instead of justice. A false unity instead of fealty to the gospel which divides like a two-edged sword.
I will equivocate no more. Those who profess Christ with their lips but advance white-supremacy by their actions are not believers. Those who profess Christ with their lips but cause the deaths of LGBTQ people by their actions are not believers. I pray to God that She will turn their hearts and set them on paths to life instead of death. I will pray for them, but I will no longer call them Christians.
Making it for the long haul, staying true to the hope of the gospel of the realm of God where the last are first, this requires knowing who is our sibling in Christ. And it requires knowing who is not.
God, help me to serve the two-edged gospel.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.