By Jen Oshman
“Glennon is my church. She’s my spiritual space. I just love her.” These words were spoken by another Belong Tour attendee, as we were exiting the arena when it was here in Colorado two months ago. Her friends gushed their approval and based on the enthusiastic welcome of the other 5,000 or so women at the event, it appeared that most of them felt the same way.
Glennon Doyle Melton was a supposed surprise guest speaker at Belong. She’s not featured in any of their advertisements but was their headliner on Saturday. My concern with Glennon’s message that day is the same as my concern with the entire Belong Tour and it’s the same as my concern with the message of “Love Warrior” and it’s the same as my concern with the message Glennon proclaimed on Facebook when she told the world that Abby Wambach is her girlfriend: the message presents a false gospel. The message is one of SELF. It says that we women are enough in and of ourselves, we define our purpose, we conjure up our own energy to realize our own goals. We don’t need anything or anyone — we command our destiny.
In stark contrast, the message of the Scriptures is that because of our sin we are desperately in need of God’s mercy, grace, and resurrection power. Apart from Jesus we are dead (Ephesians 2:1).
Not only am I very concerned about this false gospel and frustrated with the lack of commitment to Scripture by women who claim to be Christian authors, but I’m now fearful of the real intentions of the Belong Tour. Why do I feel like this was a prettily marketed campaign to roll out a new era of “did God really say that?” (Genesis 3:1)? Why does it feel sneaky that Jen Hatmaker’s and Glennon’s tours, books, and announcements seem too well orchestrated and eerily scheduled?
It feels like Belong and its speakers and products are a Trojan Horse — carrying a gospel of self and a celebration of sexual sin — that is being strategically pushed into women’s ministry in America. And it is being pushed in with little effort. In fact, it’s being welcomed in.
The message of these women is a siren song. Who doesn’t want to believe that they are all they need? Who doesn’t want to live for and worship themselves? Their authentic and winsome style is leading women into idolatry and the women don’t even know that it’s a twisting of the truth.
And, Church, that is on us. These authors are merely exhaling the cultural air that we are all breathing — the supremacy of self, the idol of autonomy. But the fact that women in churches across the nation are inhaling it deeply and without reservation is an indictment of the lack of discipleship within our very own walls.
Somewhere along the way, the church started outsourcing discipleship. Personal relationships were replaced with big programs. Celebrity bible teachers were picked over ordinary gospel-formed women that sit to our left and to our right. And what’s more, these famous Christian teachers are influencing our flocks, but they are not accountable to us. They’re simply taking advantage of a moment made available to them by you and me.
But this moment can be redeemed. Our God is the author of Redemption, after all. Let’s submit ourselves to God’s means for God’s ends, for God’s glory and our good. Let’s be disciples who make disciples within the context of our local churches and local communities. Let’s fill the current vacuum with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ so that women in our communities may be drawn to His church and to Him, above all.
**This article originally appeared on The Oshman Odyssey.