Pastor Alistair Begg, the Scottish-born but US-based voice of the Truth for Life Bible-teaching ministry, has been announced as a key speaker at the CMS Summer School 2025 event in Katoomba, NSW. Recent comments by Begg have caused controversy among evangelical Christians.
Addressing the topic of self-righteousness, and Jesus’ sermon on the plain on the Truth For life podcast while discussing his book The Christian Manifesto, Begg gave this example: “The old song that we never sing – you know, ‘It’s not my brother nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer’ – I mean, that is foundationally the case. And so I hope that that would be multiplied. I hope that our church family, those who choose to read this book, that it might have an impact among us.
“Because learning to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ learning to say, ‘Please forgive me,’ learning to say, you know, ‘I’m not at my best at the moment; can you come alongside me?’ learning to say, ‘Yes, I know that these people believe a very different agenda, that their lifestyle is orientated in another direction,; and learning to say, ‘But I have no basis upon which I could argue that I myself would not be where they are were it not for the amazing grace of God, were it not for his compassion towards me.’
“And in very specific areas this comes across. I mean, you and I know that we field questions all the time that go along the lines of “My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don’t know what to do about this, and I’m calling to ask you to tell me what to do”—which is a huge responsibility.
“And in a conversation like that just a few days ago—and people may not like this answer—but I asked the grandmother, ‘Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?’
“’Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life?’”’
“I said, ‘Well then, okay. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.’”’
“’Oh,’”’ she said, ‘what?’ She was caught off guard.
“I said, ‘Well, here’s the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.”’
“And it is a fine line, isn’t it? It really is. And people need to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.But I think we’re going to take that risk. We’re going to have to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus and don’t understand that he is a King.”
It took a couple of months for the podcast, broadcast in September, to be noticed but perhaps not unexpectedly, Begg has attracted criticism. For example, California pastor, and a past Katoomba Christian Convention speaker, John Piper, said, “And here’s why I assume that’s what they really want to know, not just whether I’d go or not, but why wouldn’t you? Number one, it’s not a wedding because it’s not a marriage, and therefore attending it as a wedding is to be false. Like everyone there is being false. There is no such thing as a so-called same-sex marriage. God has defined marriage as a covenantal union for life between a man and a woman, his husband and wife. This isn’t that. Therefore, this is not a marriage, and this is not a wedding. I’m not going to lie about it by going to this union, if you can dare to call it that, is not being joined in heaven. Jesus said, ‘what God has joined together; let no man separate.’ This is what makes weddings awesome. They’re not human accomplishments. God joins a man and a woman; marriage is made in heaven.
“Jesus said not between two people merely or a pastor or a judge. And this pairing of two men or two women is not being joined in heaven and to give the impression that it is is an offence to heaven. Number three, this blessing of this event would be hateful. It would be hateful for me to do it because it would be confirming a life and a lifestyle that will lead to hell. The apostle Paul said, don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral or idolaters or adulterers or men who practise homosexuality or thieves or greedy or drunkards or revilers or swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. They won’t. So to celebrate this lifestyle is to celebrate the destruction of human beings, and that’s hateful. It would be like gathering to celebrate, theft, gathering to celebrate drunkenness gathering, to celebrate swindling. Let’s all have a meeting and celebrate greed.”
American Family Radio (AFR), the radio ministry of the American Family Association, decided to drop Truth For Life from its radio stations. But Begg has stuck by what he said: