The energetic sermon preached at the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan drew praise from many in the secular elite, but strong criticism from others.
Bishop Michael Curry spoke on the subject of ‘love’. The style of the American was very lively, more so than one would normally expect at a stiff British royal occasion.
Many evangelicals saw through the outward display of passion and noted the lack of any real gospel substance to the message. Alarmingly though, some evangelicals thought it was wonderful.
Rev. Curry hails from Chicago and has actively campaigned on a number of liberal issues. He has defended the Episcopalian church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.
The secular elite loved the sermon. Piers Morgan said, ‘Wow. Still reeling from Rev. Curry. What a moment. What a guy!’ Ed Miliband tweeted, ‘Rev. Michael Curry could almost make me a believer.’ Justin Welby called him a ‘brilliant pastor’ and a ‘stunning preacher’.
However, there were some secular commentators who criticised Bishop Curry’s address. Rod Liddle, writing in the Spectator, said, ‘what he actually said was banal to the point of imbecility.’
Liddle said the sermon was ‘mindless pap’, adding, ‘it is a very au courant thesis, if you can call it a thesis. All you need is love, dooby, dooby doo’.
The former chaplain to the Queen, Gavin Ashenden, said, ‘Curry’s Jesus is preoccupied with social justice and the celebration of romance and sexual love wherever it finds you. The real Jesus warned that social justice would never happen in this world, that heterosexual marriage was to be between a man and a woman’.
Yet some who would call themselves conservative Christians thought his sermon on ‘love’ was marvellous. The blogger known as Archbishop Cranmer was full of praise.
He said, ‘When the church is liberated from staid sermons and formulaic motions to spontaneous expressions of joy and heart-bursting love, the world sits up and listens. God bless you, Bishop Curry, for proclaiming the love of Christ so passionately to two billion people’.
Ravi Zacharias says it was an excellent sermon. ‘The message preached by Bishop Michael Curry was extraordinary’. He added, ‘The world heard the gospel that day. Thank you, Bishop Curry’.
After the wedding, Bishop Curry was asked by CNN what his motivation was for the sermon. He said, ‘If we could just harness the real power of love we could actually change and transform this world. That is was what was driving me. I’m convinced this is the case. That is really what Jesus of Nazareth was getting at and was willing to die for’.
He added: ‘At its root this love is a sacrificial way that seeks the good and wellbeing of others, sometimes even over and above one’s own self-interest’.
Not the gospel
According to Bishop Curry then, Jesus didn’t die to save his people from their sins, he died to leave us an example of sacrificial love. This is not the gospel.
Stephen Kneal, pastor of Oldham Bethel Church, wrote on his blog, ‘Just because somebody uses a few of the right words, going as far as to say “gospel”, does not mean the gospel has been preached. Quoting a few scriptures does not make a sermon scriptural and mentioning the name of Jesus does not make a sermon Christ-centred’.
Stephen Watkinson, an evangelical Anglican, wrote, ‘Although Michael Curry may appear somewhat evangelical in style, he is actually theologically extremely liberal if you listen quite carefully to what he actually says. For what it’s worth, Anglicans in particular are used to this. Our “leaders” have for some time been masters of saying things that will please all stripes of those within the church. You can almost play spot the theology Bingo!’
He added, ‘When the presiding bishop of a church speaks passionately about the need for love to change the world, and you feel you have experienced (or at least observed) the full force of that church against biblically orthodox faith, well let’s say it’s not a surprise to have seen the word “hypocrite” floating around on social media’.