Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Rob Bell’ Category

from Charisma News:

For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as “letters from 2,000 years ago” when God’s Word contradicts his views on same-sex “marriage.”

Bell appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their “whole hearted affirmation” to same-sex “marriage.”

That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.

But on Oprah’s show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.

Explaining to Oprah why they included “gay marriage” in their book, Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Of course, he’s absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.

God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.

And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation.

In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God’s very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of “love.”

To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.

Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage,” to which he responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.”

Rob then explained, “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments … ,” at which point Oprah chimed in, “Moments away from the church accepting it?”

Rob’s answer said it all: “Absolutely … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”

So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be “relevant.” (For my thoughts on the idolatry of “relevance,” click here.)

And according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.

I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.

I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.

That’s similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex “marriage” after his son came out as gay but would “absolutely” have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.

Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)

But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay “relevant,” dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.

Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: “There are churches who are moving forward,” she said, “and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.”

How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!

How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.

How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.

How dare they hold fast to their position that God’s ways are best.

How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.

The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.

The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.

That’s why I pray for their repentance today.

Read Full Post »

from Reformed Nazarene:

In 2 Timothy 4, after Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word, and to reprove, rebuke and exhort”, he explains to Timothy the reason for that instruction.  It is because there would be coming a time when “they will not endure sound doctrine.”  “They” refers to professing Christians, and Paul is saying that soon they will succumb to their own desires and wishful thinking, and will “after their own lusts shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”  That time has long come and gone, and is continuing.  The teachers themselves are also now looking after their own desires and looking to soothe their restlessness with all sorts of bad teaching, therefore dragging some of their undiscerning flock down the road of apostasy.

Recently, Rob Bell revealed his approval of homosexuality when he answered a question at a seminar, as seen in this video at Apprising Ministries. Brian McLaren gave his thumbs up to Rob Bell’s pronouncement as well.  And now, Brian McLaren has officiated at a wedding ceremony for his homosexual son and his partner. (see Apprising Ministries)  Is it possible that a high number of pastors in today’s evangelical world have no problem with these two men and the way they are contributing to the eternal damnation of many souls?

Both of these false teachers have been heavyweight leaders in the emergent church movement for a long time now.  They are just simply adding on to their false credentials as post-modern “evangelical” leaders.  They are now bringing it up another level, and I wonder now: how will the leaders in the church respond now?  With silence again?  Where are the Al Mohlers within the Church of the Nazarene?  After all, those two men have been a major influence, both in the colleges, the seminaries, and in the churches.

What Brian McLaren Thinks

When asked about homosexuality a few years ago, Brian McLaren (who is no longer a pastor) said this:

“You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.”

Brian McLaren also said the following:

“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.”

And he said this in 2006 regarding homosexuality:

Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the “winds of doctrine” blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.”  (http://www.outofur.com/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html)

Both men have certainly had a big influence on many within the church.  In 2011, Rob Bell spoke at a pastor’s seminar at Point Loma Nazarene University, where you will find emergent ideology being promoted, mysticism, and a softening of the biblical view on homosexuality.  His books and videos are used in churches for weekly Sunday School studies instead of Bible study.

Brian McLaren conducted a three day seminar at NorthWest Nazarene University several years ago that was outrageous, as described here by Eric Barger, who attended the seminar.  His books are used widely as resources at many Nazarene universities, and can be found in the college bookstores.  His books are also popular with many Nazarene pastors, who have gone on to pass them down to undiscerning members.

NazNet Pastors Weigh In On McLaren’s Actions

We have often called NazNet a breeding ground for emergent heresy, and with good reason, and unlike those who accuse us of being unloving, we have documented what they said, compared with Scripture, and have clearly pointed out their error.  They continued that trend in a new thread on NazNet, although there were others who strongly disagreed with many of these pastors.

What some of these pastors have said reflects the kind of compromise, lack of Scriptural understanding, and lack of strong conviction that has allowed a lot of the damage that has come into the Church.  Would these pastors say the same words to their congregations?  Would they say these words at a district assembly in front of other churches?  Since they said these words publicly, let’s put out what they have stated in their own words so that others may see and decide whether their words are based on sound doctrine:

“I am not able to be as black and white on this issue as some of my friends – on either side. And I hope we will have grace to understand that this is, for some, a more complex issue than others see it…. I don’t have a problem at all with Brian McLaren doing this, any more and perhaps even less than I have a problem with a member of the clergy praying a blessing over various activities of our secular culture. He is not a member of my theological tribe, and thus has absolutely no accountability to me, or to us.”
“Okay, now I will say this – and I know that many will disagree. I am still not sure how I personally believe about this issue.”
(Mike Schutz, Nazarene pastor)

 “McLaren still has a bit of capital with me, and I offer hopefully a diminishing amount of public criticism for those who clearly strive to sense the Lord’s direction. Selfishly perhaps, I’m focusing increasingly on what the Lord wants me to do, and less on telling others what they should do.” (Dennis Scott, Nazarene pastor)

“Brian McLaren drinks beer, too. I’m not sure what the big deal is. I don’t know why anyone would need to defend the man for anything. Some things he’s said have helped people think about God in new and refreshing ways (some have helped us think of God in old, powerful ways). Disagreeing with one thing (this is hardly the first thing he’s said that gives one pause to think) does not negate the positives.
There’s a ton of our brother and sisters who have spent lots of time, effort, and prayer seeking how to deal with this issue and have decided differently than us. We have to get along with each other.
I don’t consider one’s views on homosexual marriage as a litmus test for faith (I’m more inclined to do so on things like purity, chastity, faithfulness, and relationship).”
(Ryan Scott, ordained Nazarene elder)

I see McLaren the way I see a MLB slugger. I’m a fan because he hits a lot of homeruns. I am a fan in spite of the fact that he also strikes out.
While my own evaluation is that this was a swing and a miss, I’m still a fan.
(Wilson Deaton, Nazarene pastor)

“It sounds like Brian McLaren was in a tough spot, given that it’s his son we’re talking about here. … McLaren didn’t officiate at the actual wedding but “led a commitment ceremony” for family and friends later in the day…. which sounds like the pattern I’ve heard advocated here on NazNet in the past (couple gets married by the state, then blessed by the church).
Of course, as a Nazarene minister, such an action is out of bounds for me, but if I were in Brian’s shoes… who knows what choice I would’ve made?
 (Rich Schmidt, Nazarene pastor)

“I guess I’m confused as to what is being blessed here?
I would be happy to pray for or at just about any event. I’d love to pray for any couple, gay or otherwise, that they would experience all the love and grace and peace and joy that God has for all God’s children – that they would have the wisdom and grace to seek to love and serve others in all situations – that every person’s life would radiate the love and grace of the one who created them.
I’d be happy to pray at any wedding, even if I thought it was a bad idea – the thing ill-conceived marriages need most is prayer.” (Ryan Scott, Nazarene ordained elder)

These men would do Brian McLaren proud with their words.  These are indicative of many other pastors who show a weak sense of conviction regarding homosexual sin.  To be unwilling to clearly rebuke Mr. McLaren and avoid him as Scripture demands, is just as wrong as approving it.  This same kind of wavering or refusal to make a clear statement on homosexuality, was reflected at Bruce Barnard’s FaceBook discussion.  It does have a lot of eye opening insight in how these pastors are so devoid of discernment.  Maybe they have good intentions, but they are way off the mark biblically.  There is nothing ambiguous when it comes to homosexuality and what the Bible teaches.

So what now?  Irresponsible, undiscerning, or apostate pastors is one of the reasons why the Church of the Nazarene is sliding deeper and deeper into apostasy.  And yet, will the General Superintendents still remain silent and allow these two men to continue spreading poison in the church?  Or, will they ever say, enough is enough, and call for a return to true holiness teaching and doctrine based on God’s word, not McLaren or Bell’s doctrine?  Of course, even if they banned McLaren and Bell completely, that would not come close to helping cure the sickness spreading in our denomination.  And how many more pastors are our seminaries sending out, who cannot stand firm and lovingly on the teaching of Holy Scripture, without trying to send ambiguous messages to people that could be sending them straight to hell.
Additional Resource: From Truth To Fables (John Henderson)

Read Full Post »

from World Mag:

I’m glad to be of Jewish ancestry. I’m generally supportive of Israel and am still surprised to encounter left-wing Jews who ally with anti-Israeli Muslims. There’s a name for such folks: Self-hating Jews. Why did Jewish comedienne Roseanne Barr call Israel “a Nazi state”? Emory University professor Sander Gilman, author of Jewish Self-Hatred(1986), notes, “One of the most recent forms of Jewish self-hatred is the virulent opposition to the existence of the State of Israel.”

My friend Michael Horowitz has called evangelicals “the new Jews” in terms of facing discrimination and even loathing in some academic and other circles. If so, I’d like to suggest—after reading Rob Bell and others—that we should start referring to evangelical self-hatred. Among the self-haters are those who display virulent opposition to the existence of churches that are not emergent, or don’t meet in a house, or are not radically redistributionist, or are not something other than standard.

Bell’s best-seller, Love Wins, bashes the church straw men he creates. He repeatedly claims that many churches declare, “Only a select few go to heaven.” Maybe he’s thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I’ve been in more than 100 churches and have repeatedly heard the offer of the gospel to all and the hopeful expectation that heaven contains many mansions that will be filled.

(I don’t know how many people go to hell—it would be great if it’s only a select few—but I do know that Osama bin Laden belongs there, unless God changed his heart while he was hiding out. If bin Laden’s not there, God is showing no regard for the mass murderer’s thousands of victims.)

Bell quotes the most outlandish things as if they’re typical. He quotes one woman saying, “My father raped me while reciting the Lord’s Prayer.” Is that what evangelicals do? Why bring up, in the first chapter, such a profane rarity? I suppose evangelical self-hatred sells books, but more than money is involved: It seems to stem from how some evangelicals were brought up. Maybe I’m immune to it because I didn’t become a Christian until I was 26—so I’m even fond of Christmas carols.

Do cures for evangelical self-hatred exist? Strong church worship and preaching is key. Solid study of what compassionate Christians have contributed to the world, and increased reporting of what evangelicals are doing now, can help as well. We’re trying to do that in WORLD. For now, here’s Kevin DeYoung’s detailed critique of Rob Bell’s book. It says what I’d like to say but says it better.

Read Full Post »

God is reconciling to Himself Nero, Hitler, Stalin and the sick-o-father who, as he molested his daughter, recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Christian hymns.(7) Even the Canaanites were/are reconciled to Yahweh. That God’s love may be discriminatory, that heaven might be limited to God’s elect (Calvinism), or to a contemporary evangelical crowd that just wants a “personal-relationship” Jesus, Bell rejects.

from Herescope:

Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (New York, NY: Harper One, 2011) xi + 198 pages, Acknowledgments and Further Reading. The back cover blurb first states and then incredulously asks: “God loves us. God offers us everlasting life by grace, freely, through no merit on our part. Unless you do not respond the right way. Then God will torture you forever. In hell.” Huh?

Recommended by a who’s who of emergent leaders, Rob Bell’s book Love Wins has, as it is calculated to do, stirred-up controversy. Recently, Time ran a front cover story on it.[1] Eugene H. Peterson lauds the book as being born out of a “thoroughly biblical imagination,” and a book “without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”(Front Cover Flap). Open theist Greg Boyd calls the book, “bold, prophetic, and a poetic masterpiece.”(Back Cover Flap). Andy Crouch sees Bell as “a central figure for his generation.”(Back Cover). So much for endorsements . . .

In his own hip way and as in his previous books (Velvet Elvis and Sex God), Rob Bell has written a book contending for universal reconciliation (UR); that based upon divine love eclipsing all other attributes of God (His justice, wrath, righteousness, etc.), everybody from everywhere and from all time and from all religions, without exception, are reconciled to God.[2] As the teacher at Mars Hill Bible Church in suburban Grand Rapids, Michigan, the reader is not surprised that Love Wins is inundated with scriptural references that cite book and chapter but omit the precise verse location. This means that readers will have to make an extra effort to locate the citation to determine if it and the context really support Bell’s interpretation. I guess the average reader will just have to trust the author has got it right.

A word about tone: For writing this book, Bell knows he’ll be criticized. Some will think he’s courageous for having stated in public what many contemporary pan-evangelicals believe in private. Survey says . . .[3] Purposely, I have not read any other Internet reviews of Bell’s book for the reason of trying to retain objectivity in this review. This pastoral evaluation results from my impressions of the book, period. The eternal destiny of human beings is a serious subject and should be treated as such. Bell writes of religious people, who “shaped by their God,” become violent, a violence manifesting itself in the “toxic, venomous nature of certain discussions and debates on the Internet.”(183) Recognizing that Bell does not articulate matters of faith as I do, and as I understand the Bible to state, I hope this review will not be taken as “violent, toxic, or venomous.” The only other option for a pastor is to say nothing, and that is not an option. With this stated, we proceed . . .

After a Preface, the book consists of eight chapters, the last of which recounts Bell’s youthful conversion to the evangelical faith in his home near Lansing, Michigan, during the mid 70s. In reviewing the book, I shall attempt to follow the argument by which Bell builds his case for UR, and then comment upon it.

Preface—Millions of Us

Bell’s thesis is that the “Jesus story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us . . . a stunning, beautiful, expansive love . . . for everybody, everywhere.”(Love Wins, vii)[4] This expansive love story includes all persons, from all times, from all places and from all religions . . . billions of people for whom Bell allows for no apparent exceptions. God is reconciling to Himself Nero, Hitler, Stalin and the sick-o-father who, as he molested his daughter, recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Christian hymns.(7) Even the Canaanites were/are reconciled to Yahweh. That God’s love may be discriminatory, that heaven might be limited to God’s elect (Calvinism), or to a contemporary evangelical crowd that just wants a “personal-relationship” Jesus, Bell rejects. That’s just their “version,” he writes, a story that turns people off and away from Christianity.(viii) The idea that only a few will make it to heaven, Bell views as “misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”(viii)

In this introduction to UR, Bell plays an overwhelming numbers game—millions upon billions of souls in hell forever simply because they did not hear about Jesus. The thought is stunning. But on this point, my heart is comforted by John’s vision that in heaven he saw “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues . . . clothed with white robes” [incidentally, attire Bell derides, Love Wins, 24] (Revelation 7:9). How many people will be in heaven? Less than universalism believes, and more than what Bell thinks some of these other versions allow. . . . .

read the full article here.

Read Full Post »

from The Armoury:

Contemporary Christianity’s Relentless Subversion of Biblical Love

Part I, Part II, Part III

We humans really do think too highly of ourselves, and this truth is always much greater than we suspect. [1] I am guilty of this; you are guilty of this; in fact, no man on this planet can claim innocence concerning this very central problem found within the human heart. While we as Christians understand such a truth to some extent, no man understands it as well as he ought. The recognition and admission of this is crucial for the good of our souls. Without it, we will tend to grant ourselves the dangerous license of setting aside the real authority of God’s Word in place of our own impulsive thoughts, feelings, and human “wisdom.” When the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill, he addressed this very problem while teaching them about the God whom they worshipped in ignorance. [2] Before coming to the conclusion of his sermon, Paul detailed this aforementioned issue of man’s tendency to fashion deities after the image of his own subjective thoughts and feelings. When stating this principle, Paul supplies a very interesting (primary) verb:

Acts 17:29: “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.”

Paul’s argument would have been quite stunning to his audience. His premise is that all men have an obligation to serve and worship God because He alone is the creator of everything. [3] Creation was not the collective effort of the spirits and deities of the Graeco-Roman world, rather, the One true God created all things by His singular power and authority. This, of course, is a repeated truth found throughout Scripture, [4] and Paul is offering this matter as a primer to his overall Gospel call. But in stating this truth, Paul is establishing two important principles for all men whether saved or unsaved:

1. Our Debt to God: “We ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like…”: The primary verb in this statement is boxed in red in the graphic above – ophilomen [we ought]. This is a word that speaks of one’s debt to another, and in the case of man’s relationship with God, it refers to our divine obligation towards the Lord who is the Creator and Despot [5] of everything. What Paul states here is both crucial and powerful. He is letting us know that men are not at all free to entertain thoughts about God which He Himself has not revealed. Implicitly, Paul is indicating to us that it is Scripture, and Scripture alone (sola Scriptura), [6] that must be embraced in order to have an explicit revelation of the One who is, Himself, the exegesis [7] of the Father: Jesus Christ. When men wax eloquent regarding their own philosophies and subjective feelings about God’s nature, they are violating their divine obligation towards the One who created them – which, of course, is called idolatry. Man’s lack of freedom to think of God as he wishes mirrors the principal commandments found within the decalogue. [8]

2. Our Natural Corruption: “…that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.” This text reveals the other side of the drachma in Paul’s argument. On the one side (as previously noted), men are not free to think of God as they wish; on the other side of things, Paul reveals that men have this sinfully innate tendency to liken the infinite God to the finitudes of this fallen world. As Paul was surrounded with a full bevy of statues, images, and altars to the many deities, daemons, and spirits of the Graeco-Roman world, his references to gold, silver, and stone would have been extremely self-evident. Athens was filled with such statues, images, and altars made of gold, silver, and stone, and thus, his rebuke is quite clear. But what was more piercing was his refutation of men’s tendency to craft deities after the art and thought of man. What a deep and penetrating blow this must have been to his proud audience, teaming with an abundance of artisans and academics. Their highest achievements of mind and hand were quickly thrown into the trash heap of human depravity by this one statement. And the words that Paul used in this statement are quite telling: technes (art) and enthumeseos (thought). We get our word technology from this Greek word technes. With the worship and adoration of technology in our modern day, we see that mankind’s problems never really change. The other term, enthumeseos, is rarely used in the N.T. The root of this term comes from the word thumos (passion) and is used to speak of the hidden musings of men [Matthew 9:4: And Jesus knowing their thoughts [enthumeseis] said, “Why are you thinking [enthumeisthe] evil in your hearts?, Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God …able to judge the thoughts [enthumeseon] and intentions of the heart.]. What a pride-stripping moment this must have been to the Athenians! And for Paul to make this declaration on Mars Hill, where the philosophers gathered to pontificate their knowledge about the gods, reveals an abundance of boldness that is too easily missed through a casual reading of this narrative.

In all of this, the Apostle’s teaching is quite clear: truth comes not from the art and thought of man, instead, it singularly comes from the revelation of God’s Word. What Paul teaches us is very important, and it is applicable to all men – saved or unsaved. . . . .

read the full article here.

Read Full Post »

Definition of Oxymoron: a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.

Born Again vs. Universalism. Two terms that are diametrically opposed to each other and which can never be reconciled.

The article should have said: “of those WHO THINK THEY ARE BORN AGAIN”

But it does not therefore it makes an invalid and false declarative statement!

And it was most likely intentional!

from The “Christian” Post:

One in four born-again Christians hold universalist thoughts when it comes to salvation, according to a new Barna analysis of trend data.

Twenty-five percent of born-again Christians said all people are eventually saved or accepted by God. A similar proportion, 26 percent, said a person’s religion does not matter because all faiths teach the same lessons.

And an even higher proportion, 40 percent, of born-again Christians said they believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Barna defined universalism as the belief that all human beings will eventually be saved after death. The California-based research and polling firm defines born-again Christians as people who have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today, and who believe they will go to heaven after death because they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

According to the Barna analysis, 43 percent of Americans in general agreed with the statement “It doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons,” while 54 percent disagreed.

The report on what Americans believe about universalism and pluralism comes at a time when not only evangelicals, but even prominent secular media, are debating the Christian teachings on salvation and the idea of universalism due to Pastor Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Last week, Time magazine released its Easter Week feature with a cover story on Bell’s controversial views contained in his new book.

For many evangelicals, the idea of Christians holding universalist ideas is particularly disturbing because it nullifies the need for Christ to die on the cross and the message of Jesus that he is the only way, truth and life.

Various research firms have reported different data on the prevalence of universalist beliefs among born-again believers and more specifically, evangelicals.

A 2008 Pew Forum survey revealed that 57 percent of evangelicals agreed with the idea that other religions than their own can lead to eternal life. After tweaking the definition of “evangelical,” however, LifeWay Research, found that only two out of 10 evangelicals agreed with the statement that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity.

While universalism is nothing new, some believe cultural trends are placing pressure on Christians and their beliefs.

Don Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, said at The Gospel Coalition’s national conference last week that many are feeling pressure from the culture “to find universalism attractive.”

“There are pressures in our culture to reduce the truth content of Scripture and then simply dismiss people by saying that they’re intolerant or narrow-minded … or bigoted without actually engaging the truth question at all. And that is really sad and in the long haul, horribly dangerous.”

Barna’s analysis on beliefs regarding universalism and pluralism is based on data from telephone interviews conducted in the OmniPollSM and from Barna Group’s theolographic TM database from 2005 through 2011.

Read Full Post »

from CultureWatch:

You can always tell when someone is losing the plot biblically speaking. Whenever the mainstream media starts lapping up what you have to say, then you need to worry about whether you can still maintain your Christian credentials. Rob Bell is a perfect case in point.

He seems to now be the darling of the secular media, and is getting plenty of attention from it. So much so, that he is now on the cover of Time magazine. His new book questioning the biblical doctrine of hell is now splashed all over Time and other MSM outlets.

When secular media outfits are happy to run with your stuff, then one has to start asking hard questions. Would Time have featured a cover story about his book if it were a defence of the orthodox Christian teaching on this topic? Somehow I just don’t think so.

Would any of the MSM be talking so much about this book if it argued for what Jesus and the disciples taught? That there is eternal punishment reserved for those who reject the gift of God’s grace in Christ? I sort of doubt it. But throw out a bit of heresy, and disguise it in evangelical packaging, and you become an instant sensation with unbelievers.

What was that warning that Jesus gave? Didn’t he say to watch out when all manner of men start to speak well of you? That is usually a good indication that your friendship with God has been replaced with a friendship with the world. That seems to pretty well fit the description of Bell and his book.

For several reasons there is no pressing need for me to review this book. Plenty of other good critiques of this book have already appeared. Also, I have reviewed his earlier works and found them to be far from satisfactory. And one of the key concerns about this book has already been nicely addressed elsewhere.

I refer to the implicit universalism that runs throughout this volume, and the trenchant critique which C.S. Lewis offered some 60 years ago. This is how he put it in The Problem of Pain:

“There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture, and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it. If the happiness of the creature lies in self-surrender, no one can make that surrender but himself (though many can help him to make it) and he may refuse. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully ‘All will be saved.’ But my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say ‘Without their will’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say ‘With their will,’ my reason replies “How if they will not give in?’”

That is as good a reply as any to the theological heterodoxy which Bell is pushing in this volume. But Bell seems to think he is more compassionate than God, and has a better idea than God on how to deal with these sorts of issues. As such, his work is not really a work of theology, but anthropology.

More specifically, his book is not so much biblical Christianity as humanism. It is all man-centred and man-orientated. Now given that we are all humans, all theology of course must deal with us. But theology, as the terms suggest, is first and foremost about God. It is not primarily about us. . . .

read the full article here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: