Recently, Baptist News Global reported on a sermon preached by Justin Joplin pastor of the Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario. The sermon of note was on Matthew 13:46, the parable of the Pearl of Great Cost. It would be hoped that the headline was a result of an outpouring of God’s word but unfortunately, perhaps even expected, the report was on a revelation but the kind of revelation the media finds most fitting for the month of June.
In an effort to better understand this headline I took it upon myself to listen to Justin’s sermon. I tend to avoid progressive preachers and so what I heard surprised me.
I was struck not with the lack of scripture Justin used but with the use and abundance of biblical scripture and language. In fact Justin sermon begins with the words, “May God bless us in the hearing, the reading and the living of God’s word.” An invocation that could have found its home in the most evangelical of pulpits. Once more Justin opens his sermon addressing the need to tell the truth always and even states that being in the pulpit tempts oneself to sidestep the truth. By his own admissions I expected the truth to be preached.
Had I not known the headlines I would not have suspected the direction the sermon was headed.
Justin’s examples are powerful. He uses the civil rights movement within the church as justification to always tell the truth even if it is not culturally accepted. He draws attention to the persecution of the prophets in relation to telling hard truths. He even lists reservations pastors may have in telling the truth that any pastor might sympathize with. If one were to listen to the beginning of Justin’s sermon alone a conclusion may be drawn that Justin was as so many other pastors have done, building up a case that the truth of scripture must be proclaimed.
Justin transitions from the necessity of speaking the truth into the center of his sermon and focuses on the Pearl of Great Price. It is here that a direction is revealed that is foreign, and strange in the interpretation of scripture. Referring to the parables of Jesus Justin states that more often than not, “They invite us along on our own journeys of interpretation.”
It is obvious to me that from that point on Justin has his own interpretation of scripture. Even though he faithfully describes aspects of the parable by emphasizing the apparent rashness and risk of selling all that one owns to purchase a field. Or by pointing to the reality that many would pursue other things and pass up on the pearl. And even going so far as to point to God’s relentless pursuit of the heart of man, that even if they passed up on the pearl of great price they may have the opportunity to purchase the field once again.
However, Justin begins to twist the scripture to fit his narrative. He states, “God calls us in the direction of something so beautiful and so precious, that enkindles such abundant and undeniable joy, well, you just have to point yourself in that direction and go.”
At that point every pastor worth his salt should point to the joy of Christ it is an opening and invitation to the Gospel. But Justin departs from the proclamation of the Gospel and turns his sermon into a personal testimony about his gospel.
He states that by being a pastor he received only part of this pearl and that he has discovered by God’s grace the rest of the pearl. Once again it becomes clear that Justin has been using scripture and even the gospel, as a means to his ends. Faithfulness to God’s word is abandoned even as it is passionately invoked. God’s love is proclaimed. His grace is declared, but in the end the declaration Justin makes is not only did God call him to be a transgender woman, God led him, and God even commanded him to take the precious Pearl of transgenderism. In his own words, “That’s the treasure folks.” Justin neither proclaims the gospel nor is led by it. The good news for Justin is that he is transgender, that he is a she named June. On top of all the strangeness Justin combines his call to ministry to his call to transgenderism.
Justin concludes his “coming out” sermon by stating in the name of the church that God delights in transgenderism, he made transgenderism and that theology that contradicts transgenderism is sinful and evil. Justin declares that we are all called to God but it is clear that by the end of Justin’s sermon Justin’s God is not the God of the bible but a god of twisted scriptures, a god who delights in evil and poisoned waters. After all Justin proclaims his truth, his interpretation and his gospel. It is not the Gospel that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. It is the gospel of self, self identification, self proclamation and self salvation.
After watching Justin’s sermon I have come to one conclusion. The Church must be so incredibly careful for the wicked lies of Satan are ever so deceitful.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1
Every word that Justin uses sounds churchy, even biblical, it sounds truthy (a term Justin himself uses in his sermon). And Justin is not the only pastor who uses scripture to justify a secular narrative. False Prophets have gone out into the world in every generation and throughout the history of the Church. Unfortunately, the reality is that even those armed with the word of God may be deceived and whats worse is that those false prophets come in the name of God and at times as Satan did in the wilderness wielding a rusty sword of truth (the word of God). Many of the elect are deceived. So in this particular cultural moment I must raise the question. What is the nature of a false prophet?
Satan takes God’s words and twists them. “Did God really say…” It is the crux of the argument any advocate for a biblical justification of transgenderism must rely upon. Did God really say that? That’s not what the scriptures really mean. It is only through biblical butchery can anyone justify sexual immorality and yet that is exactly what is happening. It is happening to not in the name of evil but in the name of love. God is love after all and the LGBTQ movement is rooted in a false narrative about love.
Justin compares himself to Jeremiah the Prophet. Ironically, Justin would more likely be compared to Hananiah son of Azzur. The false prophet who came to the people and contradicted Jeremiah’s prophecies. Jeremiah was insistent that God would not deliver the current generation from Babylonian captivity. The people of course could not tolerate the truth. Hananiah came to them with a prophecy declaring that God would break the yoke of Babylon. He gave the people a biblical narrative, but gave the narrative the people wanted to hear, not the narrative from God. In response Jeremiah says, “…if a prophet prophesied peace and prosperity, it was only known that the Lord truly sent him when what he prophesied came true.” Babylon’s yoke was not broken in that generation, and in the same way let it be asked of Justin. Tell the truth. His gospel is that he is a women and that that is from God. But the truth is that regardless of what Justin says Justin is still a male, was born a male and will die a male.
The truth as it is, is the same truth that the Church has known and has proclaimed since its commissioning. Jesus is the truth, the way and the life. We as the Church Universal must be ready and watching to proclaim this truth. Always. Because the enemy is ready and willing to proclaim the anti-truth.