I read a trending Christian article this week. With over 60,000 views and 10,000 shares in just 3 days, The Radical Faith of Lady Gaga. Her Priest. Her Instagram. Her Jesus., has made a splash on social media. Written by Carlos A. Rodriguez, a “born-again Spirit-filled Christian pastor,” the article aims to confirm the authenticity of Lady Gaga’s Christian faith and challenge anyone who might question it.
I don’t often respond to articles like this, but since it has impacted the hearts of people in the church I pastor, I’d like to offer some considerations.
An article like Rodriguez’s resonates well with anyone who has been hurt or offended by the church. The argument is that Christians have a tendency to treat others in a way that is hateful, judgmental, and condemning — which is odd because that kind of behavior clearly contradicts the message of love and acceptance that Jesus preached. That is certainly a fair criticism and I am disturbed by the lack of love displayed by many professing Christians. Most of us can think of at least one example of Christianity gone wrong, so it’s no wonder that an article calling for reform would be widely celebrated. Yet, in arguing for change many have brought confusion rather than clarity to the issue. Since this article presents a challenge to Christians it is important for Christians to understand how to respond — not only to this article, but articles like it. (The following is not an exhaustive review of Rodriguez’s article)
When approaching any trending Christian article, there are two important questions to ask:
- Does the author present an argument that agrees with Scripture?
Carlos Rodriguez states his argument this way: Lady Gaga is a Christian and I recommend you not question her faith because 1) Jesus said to focus on the log in our own eye and not the splinter in Gaga’s — and 2) Her response to spiritual criticism authenticates her faith.
In this case, the author refers directly to a couple passages of Scripture. Before you like or share an article it is important to read the passages of Scripture for yourself. It is irresponsible to spread a Biblical argument without actually interacting with the Biblical text.
Rodriguez bases his argument on Matthew chapter 7, in which Jesus commands Christians to “take the log out of your own eye” before focusing on the speck in another’s. Here is a quote taken directly from the article:
“Jesus said to focus on the log in our eye and not the splinter in Gaga’s.”
The problem with this statement is that Jesus never said to focus on the log in our own eye to the exclusion of the splinter in someone else’s. Here’s a quote taken from Matthew 7:
“3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
Since Rodriguez has misquoted Jesus, any argument that follows is faulty and should be rejected. It is true that Christians are called to be more introspective, but it is not true that Jesus said to ignore the speck in someone else’s eye. In order to make a convincing argument, Rodriguez twisted Scripture to say something it doesn’t actually say. In doing so he denies the reality that there is a place in Christianity for judgment, reproof, and correction. Matthew 7, read in context, demonstrates the importance of evaluating the evidence of one’s profession of faith. 2 Timothy 3, Galatians 6, and Matthew 18, and Titus 1 also point to the necessity of evaluation and confrontation.
Perhaps the biggest error in Rodriguez’s theology is that he expresses an improper view of sin. Jesus did not die just to free us from the penalty of sin, but from sin itself! He uses His Spirit, His Word, and His church to keep His people from living a destructive lifestyle of sin. Just as it is wrong to bring unloving judgment or condemnation, it is wrong to ignore sin in favor of unrestricted tolerance and acceptance. It is never loving to dismiss sin where there is no repentance. Read the article again and you’ll notice that he is quick to dismiss sin because we are all sinners. While this is true, it is no excuse to live in unrepentant sin. Sin is a ruthless enemy and, as John Owen said, if we are not killing sin it is killing us! We love one another well when we point out sin in each other’s lives.
The second argument Rodriguez made is that Lady Gaga’s response to spiritual criticism supports the authenticity of her faith. He does not provide a lot of detail, but cites an Instagram post in which Gaga referred to an encounter between Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Martha. Rodriguez contends that since Lady Gaga quoted Scripture about serving Christ she must be a Christian. But, what does the Bible have to say? In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that true Christians are known not by what they say, but how they live. Although nobody is sinless, the general trajectory of a Christian’s life will include an observable movement away from worldliness in favor of holiness.
There are more examples of unbiblical reasoning in this article. His attempts to minimize the church and the use of the label, “Christian,” are surprisingly uninformed, historically inaccurate, and illogical. Still, my goal is not to consider each of his arguments, but to help give you some tools to think Biblically about articles like this. If an article presents an anti-Biblical argument is should not be liked, shared, or repeated by anyone who believes in the authority of Scripture.
2. Is the Author a Credible Source?
Before liking, sharing, or repeating an article it is important to consider the source. Is the author an authority? Is he someone with an axe to grind? Is he just someone with an opinion? While the credibility of the author does not necessarily lend to or detract from the credibility of the argument, it often gives some important insight. This is especially true when dealing with spiritual authority. So, what about Mr. Rodriguez?
Carlos A. Rodriguez is a pastor, blogger, and consultant. He has a very active online presence and offers his services in the areas of writing influence, public speaking, social media, idea development, and developing teams. He presents himself as a spiritual authority, but something he said in his Lady Gaga article merits some concern.
In response to Lady Gaga’s statement that she is confused about religion, Pastor Rodriguez says this:
“I’m a born-again Spirit-filled Christian pastor, and I have been confused about religion myself. Especially Christianity itself.”
He goes on to prove his confusion by making a strange argument about a false distinction between the Gospel and Christianity.
It may seem endearing for a pastor to admit that he is imperfect, but it is not acceptable for pastor to be confused about the Gospel! In Titus 1, we learn that a pastor is to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. While there is room for confusion about some doctrine, there is no room for confusion about the Gospel. An author who claims to be a religious authority, but does not qualify as one should not be treated as one. His writings should not be applauded or perpetuated by the Christian community. Further study of Carlos Rodriguez’s writings confirm that he does not rightly handle the Word of God and is teaching false doctrine.
The Internet is full of competing voices and sometimes it is difficult to know who to listen to. My hope in writing this article is not to discredit a trending Christian article, but to help you think Biblically as you sort through all the noise. Most of all, I hope it drives you to God’s Word as the only reliable source of information.
If you'd like to read more about Jesus and religion, consider the following article: Does Jesus Hate Religion? by Kevin DeYoung.
Grace and Peace,