One of the nation’s most well-known churches received heavy criticism last week for inviting one of the nation’s most popular evangelical pastors.
The Washington National Cathedral, a prominent Episcopal church in the nation’s capital, announced Feb. 3 that author and pastor Max Lucado would be preaching the following Sunday during a virtual service. Lucado is the teaching minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas and the author of books that have sold more than 120 million copies and been translated into 54 languages. It was his traditional, biblical views on sexuality that caused some to oppose his appearance.
The Episcopal News Service ran a story about the controversy, reporting that his “past statements against homosexuality and same-sex marriage” had led to a “growing backlash from some Episcopalians.” Opponents pointed to a 2004 article authored by Lucado.
Episcopal News labeled Lucado’s beliefs “anti-LGBTQ views.”
More than 1,500 signed an online petition calling on the National Cathedral to rescind the invitation, saying he “has inflicted serious harm” on the LGBT community.
Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith defended the invitation. Despite the controversy, Lucado preached on Sunday.
“When we only engage with those with whom we agree on every issue, we find ourselves in a dangerous (and lonely) place,” Hollerith said. “My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own.”
Jim Naughton, a former canon for communications with the Diocese of Washington, said the cathedral was wrong to invite Lucado.
“Max Lucado does not have any problem making himself heard. He does not need the cathedral, the pulpit of Washington National Cathedral, to reach his audience,” Naughton told Episcopal News Service. “The issue is whether Washington National Cathedral wants to give its imprimatur to him and wants to extend the prestige of its pulpit. … I find it incredibly disrespectful.”
Lucado’s sermon focused on the Holy Spirit’s role in granting the Christian peace during anxiety.
“The Holy Spirit is the calming presence of God in the world today,” Lucado said Sunday. “And He will help you defy these voices of fear and draw nigh to the presence of peace. … If you have said yes to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has said yes to you. And when you receive Christ, you receive the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. … He died on the cross for your sins. He secures you in His hand for eternal salvation. … And He promises to indwell you and to change you from the inside out.”
Photo courtesy: Max Lucado Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.