Rob Bell: A Modern Day Gnostic

The title** for today’s post (coincidentally we are studying 1st John in Sunday School class) could actually apply to any of a number of emergent “high priests” who preach their version of the “Word of God” by denying or questioning the very authority of… The Word of God.  (See a short description of gnosticism at the end, but I will not go into a long detailed account of it here). For many emergents, their argument is: “the Bible is just ink on paper, or just a book with letters in it.  The real Word is Jesus.  So stop idolizing that book, and worship the real Word.” I have mentioned this argument before, and it is yet a small example of the silly way in which emergents make their case today.  They go round and round with circular arguments to answer the simplest of questions, which leads them to make re-assuring statements such as:

nothing can be certain… everything now is open to debate… “Christianity must be Re-Imagined”…we are Christ-followers, not Christians…. “it is my goal to destroy Christianity as a world religion”…. “we need a fusion of the sacred and the secular” ….”Christian fundamentalists are the new enemy of this century”…  “We discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith”…”a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam”… “Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter”…. “thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted.”…
(*For the answers as to who said these quotes, see the end of my post)

“the Bible is a product of human work, not divine fiat”. That’s from Rob Bell.

Who is Rob Bell?  He is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Church (not to be confused with Mark Driscoll’s church).  He is author of such books as the very popular Velvet Elvis, and the creator of a popular series of videos geared especially for youth, called NOOMA.  I’m sorry to say that he is popular with youth, because they are some of the most impressionable people around, easily influenced and eager to go for whatever is hip and cool.  Right, dude?  Seriously, he actually speaks in a way that is very hip and attractive to youth, very casual in his approach.  That’s not bad in itself; kids like listening to someone who sounds hip and cool; rather, it is the content of many of his videos, books, and sermons that is very concerning to me, hence my little profile in the form of some of his more provocative quotes.  (For those who tend to go around to different blogs and attack everyone who criticizes his teachings, please don’t waste too much time with the same old arguments I have heard from you time and time again, unless of course you decide to finally use scripture to rebut what I say.  That would be refreshing!)

I have profiled Brian McLaren and Tony Jones recently.  Now it’s Rob Bell’s turn.   I have never met him personally, he seems like he would be a nice guy to sit around with and have a chat, and I have no hatred or even dislike for Rob Bell, neither do I dislike the others.  However, I have an obligation as a Christian to point out false teaching, as commanded in the scriptures, including this one:

Ephesians 5:6-11 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 1:9-13 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  . . . Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

It would be a stretch for anyone to imply that passages like this, and even more, do not command us to be on guard and expose false teachings and teachers.  That is another lesson, and if you want to review a thorough lesson on the subject of judging false teachers, go to the permanent page on my blog titled “Judge Not” by brother Yomi Adegboye, a faithful contender for the faith.

I am doing this to help anyone not familiar with these emergent leaders, so they can understand some of the basic teachings or theology that comes from them.  Yes, this is not a comprehensive piece- I know.  But believe me, if I said one or two two of these comments myself in front of my dad, that would be enough for him; I would be in hot water, because he knew the scriptures, and he would have told me directly that I was dead wrong.  I’ll leave it up to you to judge here from his very own words, whether Rob Bell should be welcome in your church, your youth group, or any Christian university.

ROB BELL IN HIS OWN WORDS:

ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL:

“When people use the word hell, what do they mean?  They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be.  Famine, debt, oppression, despair, loneliness, death, slaughter-they are all hell on earth.  Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth.  What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now.  I want to do what I can to resist hell coming ot earth.”  Velvet Elvis, p. 148  (So to Rob Bell, hell is not literal; it is here on earth)

Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. (emphasis mine).  Velvet Elvis, p. 146
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ON THE VIRGIN BIRTH:
“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?”  Velvet Elvis
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ON THE BIBLE:
“The Bible is a collection of stories that teach us about what it looks like when God is at work through actual people. The Bible has the authority it does only because it contains stories about people interacting with the God who has all authority”. Velvet Elvis, p. 65  (All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  2 Tim. 3:16)

“…it wasn’t until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the ‘Bible’. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God’s word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books. Velvet Elvis, p. 68
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
ON SIN:
“I can’t find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t sin; that’s obvious. In the book of James it’s written like this: ‘We all stumble in many ways.’ Once again, the greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve isn’t that it happened, but that it happens. We all make choices to live outside of how God created us to live. We have all come up short.” – Velvet Elvis, p. 139   (Here is at least one place: Paul said that amongst all sinners that Christ came to the world to die for, he is the chief sinner!  1 Timothy 1:15)
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ON THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST:
“So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making”- Velvet Elvis, p. 146  (Perhaps doing something like… repent!)
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
WHOSE FAITH SHOULD WE PUT OUR TRUST IN, ROB?
“Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….. Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem, it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of….God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me….God has faith in me.” Velvet Elvis, p. 133     (What?  God has faith in me???)

  • 2 Timothy 2:23-25 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

FINALLY, ON THE WORD OF GOD AGAIN:
The Christian faith is mysterious to the core.  It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words.  Language fails.  And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not.  Velvet Elvis p. 32  (Here we read one of Rob’s attempts to undermine the authority of the scriptures. Velvet Elvis, p. 32
My translation:
You can’t trust the Bible, it’s just words, you see?  We can’t put God in a box!  Every man’s translation to himself!
My question to Rob: if we can’t trust the words, do we instead trust smooth talking modern day enlightened gnostics like you?  I think not.  I’ll trust the Bible, thanks anyway!)

For one of the more thorough reviews of Rob Bell, go to Bob Dewaay’s blog, Truth Matters.

*Answers to the Mystery Quotes:

“Christianity must be Re-Imagined” Brian McLaren
“it is my goal to destroy Christianity as a world religion”  Erwin McManus (Christian Examiner, telephone interview
“we need a fusion of the sacred and the secular” Brian McLaren (Finding Our Way Again, p. 4-5)
“Christian fundamentalists are the new enemy of this century”  Rick Warren (Philadelphia Enquirer, 1/8/2006)
“We discover practices for our own faith in an encounter with someone of another faith” Brian McLaren (Finding Our Way Again)
“a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam”  Tony Campolo (Speaking My Mind, p. 149)
“Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter”  Tony Jones (from his own blog commentary, 11/21/2005)
“thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted.”… Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life, pp. 285, 286)


** Gnosticism: This was the most dangerous heresy that plagued the early church in the first 3 centuries.  Gnostics essentially asserted that matter was inherently bad, and that spirit was good.  They also denied the full humanity of Jesus, although attributing some form of deity to him.  And they especially claimed some type of higher or secret knowledge, known only to a select few, the enlightened ones, so to speak.

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84 responses to “Rob Bell: A Modern Day Gnostic

  1. whatever you’re objections to Rob Bell, it does not fall under gnosticism, which is the belief that humans are divine souls trapped in an evil material world, and can only be freed by having true spiritual knowledge. You actually state this in the end of you’re post, but you fail to show how Rob Bell falls into that category.

    Rob Bell is not a Gnostic- As far as the rest of you’re criticism, it is hard to take it seriously as you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

    THE BIBLE
    You’re objection to his view of the Bible seems to be your biggest concern, but his view, despite being different from yours and reformed theology, is still within Christian orthodoxy.

    HELL
    You seem to object to the idea that “Hell is full of forgiven people”. This is a Nazarene blog right? Because this view is consistent with Wesleyan theology.

    THE VIRGIN BIRTH
    I admit, that if i found out Jesus had a biological father named Larry it would shake my faith a bit more than it might shake Rob’s. But Rob was not denying the virgin birth, just saying that it would not cripple us from pursuing faith to have this one “spring” removed on our trampoline. Your quote is out of context from his analogy.

    Besides, Mathew did change the word to virgin in the passage he quoted from the OT. The child’s name in the OT that was to be born was “Emanuel” which mean’s “God with us”. This child’s birth was to mark the end of the reign of an evil king, and that specific prophesy was fulfilled not long after it was made, but long before Christ.

    Mathew used some word play to talk about how Jesus fits this messianic type. He wanted people to see that Jesus is more than just a symbolic statement of God being with us, like the birth of the OT child, but was really God with us, and the virgin birth tells how that came to be.

    SIN
    I fail to see how you can object to the view that sin is choosing to live outside of the way God created us. Again this is consistent with Wesleyan theology.

    ATONEMENT
    Again the fact that you disagree with this next statement shows you don’t understand theology at all, Wesleyan or your own reformed leaning.

    “So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making”

    The first thing you highlighted was “is true for everybody”. Perhaps you think Bell is a universalist, but his last sentence of the paragraph would clarify that he isn’t. Again this statement is very consistent with Armenian Wesleyan beliefs which embrace that Christ died for ALL.

    The next thing you highlight in your objection is, “This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something”. Not only is this statement consistent with Wesleyan theology it is really consistent with Reformed theology which says there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, it is ALL God.

    Finally, your comment at the end implies that Rob Bell’s statement is counter to the idea of repentance. This is an odd comment, especially following the last sentence you quote of Rob that says, “Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.” This is repentance, as we choose to live in the reality of the redemptive work of the cross or not.

    Your objection to all of this is absurd even as a very conservative evangelical. The only thing that is revealed in your comment is that you do not understand the very theology you are trying to defend.

    GOD HAVING FAITH IN US
    In saying this Bell does not contradict the obvious need for us to have faith in God. The idea that God “has faith in us” is not a crazy one, and again very consistent with Wesleyan thought. After all, he trusts the body of Christ to represent him in the world as we are filled with his Spirit.

    You don’t really explain at all what is wrong with Rob’s statement, but instead you quote 2 Timothy out of context as just a way to call it stupid. What a terrible abuse of scripture. You could throw that out for anything you disagree with, trying to give the allusion that scripture is calling what you disagree with stupid.

    What if I just applied that verse to your entire post.
    2 Timothy 2:23-25 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

    Perhaps I should apply it just that way, and have nothing to do with you, that is unless you repent of your foolishness.

  2. James,
    1. I mention that this is not a comprehensive piece, nevertheless, Bell’s comments speak for themselves.
    2. He is a gnostic because the gnostics also believed they had some kind of higher knowledge, so I group him in that category.
    And my highest concern is not whether I look at it from Nazarene or other perspective; I judge things based on the Bible!
    Again, his twisting of scripture and error filled theology, including that the Bible is a product of human work, speak for themselves.

    Otherwise, thank you for your comments, but I won’t continue to try to argue with you here or anywhere else. It’s pointless.

  3. Manny, you wrote, “Bell’s comments speak for themselves.”

    Yes they do, that is until you take what he said and claim he is saying something different.

    You wrote, “He is a gnostic because the gnostics also believed they had some kind of higher knowledge, so I group him in that category.”

    Please show me a quote where Rob Bell is claiming to have some kind of “higher knowledge”. What a slanderous thing to say, he never makes any such claim.

    You wrote, “my highest concern is not whether I look at it from Nazarene or other perspective; I judge things based on the Bible!”

    And the Church of the Nazarene doesn’t? Wesleyan/Armenian theology isn’t scriptural? Oh and by the way you are judging things by another perspective, it’s called “Reformed”. The fact that you either can’t admit or can’t see your own lens is very very scary.

    You wrote, “Again, his twisting of scripture and error filled theology, including that the Bible is a product of human work, speak for themselves.

    Your assertion that you are letting him speak for himself is a sham. You don’t provide the quotes where he talks about the inspiration of scripture. No, you just quote him talking about the human side of it. This isn’t an either/or thing here, scripture comes to us both through God and through human beings.

    You wrote, “Otherwise, thank you for your comments, but I won’t continue to try to argue with you here or anywhere else. It’s pointless.”

    Manny, it is only pointless because you have made up your mind regardless of the facts. You are not interested in what is true you are only interested in being right. There isn’t even an argument taking place because you have no case.

  4. James, Thanks for your comments. I’m sure you believe you are completely right. As I said, it is pointless to go on. I end with my usual statement that irritates most of the emergent-types:

    “The Bible is inerrant, and authoritative for all matters regarding salvation and Christian living, and it is the ONLY reliable, sufficient source for us, and NO other one is absolutely needed (although some books are helpful, but if they don’t measure up to scripture, we throw it out!”).
    P.S. Including our opinions, dreams, hallucinations, writings, journals, visions, prophesies, traditions, and church manuals, even the Nazarene Manual, if need be). Only the Bible is 100% reliable.

    Thanks and Peace,

    Manny

  5. I’m glad I turned moderation of comments on. Insults will not be tolerated and from now on, please make your arguments backed up with scripture.

  6. Thanks for your research and insight. I’m finding myself contending for the faith more and more because of these “brute beasts” (a la Peter and Jude) and their influence on a few of my relatives. God bless you and your ministry, Brother.

    Aaron

  7. Like most of Bell’s defenders, I don’t see much scripture to back up his position.

    Regarding the Bible: Jesus was CONTINUALLY

  8. Like many of Bell’s defenders, there isn’t much scripture quoted by James. Since Bell doesn’t consider the Bible to be God’s word, that would follow.

    Then where is the basis for his ministry? If you don’t need Jesus for salvation, why bother teaching about him at all. Joining the Peace Corps would pretty much fulfill and moral obligation we may feel….

    Jesus was CONTINUALLY quoting the Old Testament (the only scripture at the time). Regarding hell, he said, “Don’t fear the one who can kill the body, but the one who can send both body and soul to hell.”

    Regarding sin, Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
    Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” The list goes on….

    “He spoke and it came to be. He commanded and it stood firm.” I think a god who can speak the universe into being can handle making sure that His Word is delivered to us exactly as He wants it, whether He used a group of men in the 3rd century or not.

    So I ask again, what is the basis for Rob Bell’s beliefs?

  9. James…someone who says, “Hell is full of forgiven people” is confused. Because if they were forgiven, THEY WOULDN’T BE IN HELL!

    What people don’t realize is this: If any part of the claims made about Jesus are false, then it’s all false. He wouldn’t be who He said He was.

    Look at it this way. In a court of law, if I tell 99% of the truth, but only 1% of my testimony is false, the entire testimony is suspect, and would probably be thrown out as perjury. No one would be able to really look at my testimony as reliable. It’s the same with Jesus. If we start nitpicking one thing here, one thing there, it goes from being TRUE, to “True-ish” (a phrase I borrowed from Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv).

    If Jesus is not “The Way, The Truth and The Life”, if people can reach the Father apart from Him, we’re all wasting our time. These “emergents” don’t seem to get that. If there is no absolute truth, then what are we doing on Sundays?

  10. Aaron, keep defending!
    wayoff, thanks for your encouragement.
    Amy and Eric, thanks for the insight. It’s always appreciated in this battle against heresy today.

  11. Eric,

    To answer your question about how hell can be filled of “forgiven people” I can simply point out that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

    Unfortunately many reduce the gospel to simply getting us “off the hook” for our sins and fail to embrace the whole truth of Jesus’ gospel about actual reconciliation with God and our neighbors.

    This is the Way of according to Jesus, and it is the Way that many of these “emergents” (like many Christians) are striving to walk in.

    It is the ones who want to reduce the gospel to just sin management that are embracing partial truths.

  12. Again, I thank God for giving me the wisdom to turn on moderation on my blog. Those out there trying to post your insults and who don’t use scripture to back up your opinions, stop wasting your time. This is not going to turn into a blog that allows you to do that kind of an attack on people who love Jesus AND respect the inerrant and reliable Word of God. Although I strongly disagree with James, he has at least tried to keep some level of discourse without using bad language.

  13. Thanks for your posting, Manny. I became aware of the Emergent ideology about a year ago. It’s new age roots are amazing. I am very interested in the Mystery Quotes. I am aware of a few of them. Could you provide the sources for them, please?

    Thanks!

  14. What specifically would you like for me to back up with scripture? That words found in scripture of “forgiveness” and “reconciliation”, though there is a relation between these terms, have distinctly different meanings?

    Or are you asking for verses that describe the gospel as more than just sin management?

  15. YesNaSpanishTown,

    I’ll be glad to provide the sources. I’m on a little 4 day vacation now, but the information is scattered on my computer in various documents, but once I retrieve them, I will put them up here. In the meantime, there are several great research sites where I first stumbled upon a lot of this documented information, and if you go there, you will find these most likely, and more:

    http://apprising.org/

    http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/index.html

    Happy researching!

    Blessings,

    Manny

  16. James,

    Could you back up with scripture, Rob Bell’s obvious view that there is not a literal hell?

  17. Jesus began His ministry with, “Repent”. A holy god cannot be around sin. Jesus said, “Be holy as I am holy.” That is the whole point of the gospel! We are separated from God! How can we walk in His ways or even WANT to until we realize our sins are forgiven? And that doesn’t without repentence and regeneration.

    THEN, we don’t have to “manage” our life here on Earth. We can choose not to sin, because our old bodies were crucified with Christ. JAMES! It’s not a matter of trying to be a nice guy like Jesus was. It’s getting our sin out of the way so we CAN!

    James-please, please read your Bible! It says to test everything against the Truth. Even Paul said to do it. The Holy Spirit will guide you in “all truth”, not Rob Bell.

  18. Amy,

    No one is arguing against repentance and regeneration.

    Manny,

    Could you please show me why you think Rob Bell does not believe there is a literal hell? You say it’s “obvious” but I just don’t see it.

    Acknowledging “hell on earth” is not a denial that hell isn’t also an eternal state. I can show you verses that speak of hell in BOTH ways, there are three different words for “hell” in scripture; “Sheol”, “Hades” and “Gehenna”. Because you already are embrace the eternal I will show you where Jesus also references hell on earth.

    The word “Gehenna” is a name of a specific place outside Jerusalem, also known as the “Valley of Hinnom”. It was a place considered defiled by the Jews do to the child sacrifice that took place there long before by those who worshiped Molech. The area became the garbage dumb for the city and fires burned there constantly and “never went out”.

    Jesus uses the word “Gehenna” for hell 11 times in the four gospels to describe life outside the Kingdom of God. In doing so Jesus makes a reference to a “hell on earth”. This message certainly does not deny eternal hell, and it said in such a way that still hints at it, but his point in these passages speak about earthly realities in his present age. It is also note worthy that he often uses analogies like being salt and light in the world (Mark 9) along with talking about “Gehenna” to contrast the difference between the a Way we live of life in the kingdom HERE on earth with life that has become defiled, and useless and thrown in the dump to be burned up.

    Show some integrity in your criticism. Rob Bell did not say there is no such thing as eternal hell. And when Rob Bell talks about imagery of and the spiritual reality of “hell on earth,” it isn’t anything to freak out about and it certainly isn’t unbiblical. In fact it is a good exegesis of the passages where Jesus uses the same terminology and imagery. Like I said in my original comment, you quote Rob Bell and then turn around and say that he is saying something that isn’t in your quote. I am not sure why you think that is OK to do?

  19. James,
    Sorry you can’t see it, it’s right in his statement. At the very best, he is causing people to question whether there is a literal hell, which time and time again, he brings doubt into people’s minds, as he does in so many other statements. There is rarely any clarity. He’ll confuse you, then maybe later he’ll say something that seems to say the opposite, and ends up affirming two different things… like his comments on the virgin birth.

    He comes up with this hypothetical about the virgin birth which puts doubt in your mind, then later seems to affirm the virgin birth. Nothing makes much sense, nothing is absolute or clear, which is how he likes it, I guess.

    I’ll let someone else continue this with you if they want to.

  20. James said,

    THE VIRGIN BIRTH
    “I admit, that if i found out Jesus had a biological father named Larry it would shake my faith a bit more than it might shake Rob’s. But Rob was not denying the virgin birth, just saying that it would not cripple us…”

    James – So you would still place your faith in the son of Larry? If Jesus is not the Son of God we’re in big trouble. Any so-called christian who would deny His divinity is in big trouble also. What saved person would champion those kind of doubts? Do you really think the son of Larry the cable guy can atone for your sins?? Just to suggest that Jesus had two earthly parents is heresy- that in itself denies THE CHRIST.

    1 Corinthians
    17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; syou are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have 3fallen tasleep in Christ have perished. 19 uIf in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

    Obviously James, it would most certainly cripple us- and more…

  21. Iam the way the truth and the life NO man comes to the father but through me john 14:6

    Rob Bell all through out the Velvet Elvis peppers his words that throw this scripture in doubt….Let me give you an example…When his freinds are getting maried and they are atheists Rob seems to think because they love each other the have Jesus….This is heresey and contrary to the word of God….

    James can you shed some light on something for me??
    Why would Rob quote Sean Penn as the greates theologin of our time?? This man is a promoter of this world….
    I beleive (if this means anything) that you feel Rob is in the right but he cannot stand up to scripture!! Please read Romans and then re-read Romans and if you still do not get it read it again…You and Rob have the wrong view of the Docterines of grace….God chose me not the other way around and if that seems like it is not fair take it up with God but as for me and my house we will serve the LORD!!!
    All this is in much christian love James I am praying for you!!!! And Rob!!!

  22. Manny,

    Why do you say he is questioning a “literal “hell? His statements are actually embracing the literal spiritual reality of hell as they play out here on earth. Don’t you agree that the spiritual is “literal”? Is that just a “literal” truth when we die, or is it also literally true now? Heaven and hell both literally exist, and the implications of both literally touch our world today. That is what Rob Bell is saying. By doing so he is not denying that heaven and hell are also eternal realities.

    You think he is only affirming two different things because for some reason you think everything is an “either/or” type of situation. Things can be “both/and”. Salvation can make a difference in life now AND eternity.

    All For One,

    Like I said, I would have a much harder time with such hypothetical scenario. This is because the incarnation of God in Christ is such a vital part of my faith. I disagree with Rob Bell on this , but I also see this statement in the context of the point he was trying to make.

    I think he picked an extremely bad example and I don’t think this “what if” statement he made reflects what he thinks about the virgin birth. The statement was meant to comment on what is necessary to begin to seek after and follow God. Do you have to have all your theological ducks in a row before you begin the journey? I think this was the point of his argument. I am not going to get bogged down in his poor analogy for it.

    Manny and others,

    I am not a Rob Bell Apologist, I do not agree with everything he teaches. But I also do not misrepresent his views to make it easier to win any argument I might have against him by characterizing him as a villain.

    I am not calling for the end of criticism and accountability of Rob Bell or anyone else. I am calling for integrity in how we go about that and for representing others in the light of what is actually true about them and not our straw men versions we create for ourselves so we can easily topple them over.

    Calling Rob Bell a Gnostic is irresponsible because it isn’t true. If there are legitimate concerns about what Rob Bell actually says he believes than fine, but you loose all credibility as some one who stands for “truth” when you twist the words of others, even if you consider these others to be dangerous enemies.

    The only issue that I believe you have addressed honestly is that Rob Bell does not have the same view of scripture that you hold. All these other doctrinal issues have been represented in a misleading and dishonest way.

    You may believe it is enough for him to not hold to the view of scripture you do and you can make the case if you want to that this would make him a “false teacher”. However, this does not give you the right to slander him concerning these other views in order to add to the laundry list of things that make him such a “dangerous heretic”.

    Show some integrity. You can’t fight for “truth” when you are willing to lie about your neighbor; even if you think they are just “little lies”, or only slightly exaggerated misscharacterizations. It only takes a little leaven to effect the whole lump of dough.

    I am curious if you will hear this, humble yourself and repent of this sin, or if you will justify your actions. Again, I am not asking you to “repent” of thinking Bell is heretic if you think his view on scripture makes him such. I disagree, but at least you would have integrity with how you handled your neighbor, regardless of whether you consider him a friend or foe to the faith. Repent, and show some integrity in the way you love and treat your perceived enemy.

  23. The mission statement for Bell’s church (last time I checked) was to reconcile the Earth; by helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc. This is all very nice and should be done by Christians, but it is all works oriented, and backward.

    Jesus is the one who will reconcile. WE were given the ministry of reconciliation, in other words, to tell people about Christ, so HE can reconcile the sinner (and the Earth) when He returns. The Kingdom of God is Jesus. Without Him, we are “outside of it”, and will be eternally.

    Hades is where unbelievers BEFORE Christ went to await judgement. It isn’t the same as hell.

    We are not to be preparing creation for Jesus return. (It is under judgement just like we are.) We are to prepare people for Jesus return, and He will do the rest. The good fruits of loving and helping people are just a by product of knowing Him.

  24. As one who is not as informed about some of these people being referenced here I can say this- God is not the author of confusion. There are many people out there today making their best attempt at teaching the Word of God. Many more seem to be content to just react and refute the differing teachings they don’t agree with. The Bible must always be the final authority in these matters. It must always be taken in context and with the full council of scripture (OT and NT together). From the limited comments I read regarding Rob Bell ( and many other emergent leaders), I see a general desire to at best water down what the Bible says. If that is the least of his sins, it is still dangerous and possibly deceptive. I can honestly say that there are parts of the Bible that I don’t like, It doesn’t matter, it is still the word of God, what I like is irrelevant. I have spent some time reading what the blogosphere apologists are writing. Much of it is filled with bitterness and mocking. I don’t see that here, just an attempt to point out probable error. None of us have all of the answeres, only God does, therefore I choose to let God do the talking and thus avoid confusion.
    I will continue looking in, thank you for your efforts.
    Glenn Smith Jr

  25. Thank you Glenn for your thoughts. Sometimes all I have to do, as you just did, is make the claim that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and final authority, and the only 100% reliable source for us on matters for salvation and all other areas of Christian life…. and as the expression goes, certain people out there start having a cow. I just don’t get it. But that is why instead of using scripture, they rely on their own humanistic reasoning, and often when scripture is used, they take it out of the context that it should be in.

    This is not a witch hunt that I and others do, as they charge me often with now. This is exposing those who water down the gospel, deny the full authority of scripture, and sometimes even speak clearly unbiblical statements.

    The Bible speaks plainly to us, and as you have said well, God is not the author of confusion. Many emergents, however, sadly confuse people with the way they dance around the scriptures.

  26. Manny, show me in the Bible where it says it is inerrant. Don’t use any human reasoning to come to a conclusion based on other things the Bible says, just show me where it PLAINLY says it is inerrant.

    If your answer is only “based on scripture” than it isn’t the bible saying it, it is your human reasoning.

    Go on , show me, quote the verse, show me that verse in context.

    Show me in the Bible where scripture says it is the only final authority, even over the church or the Apostles. Again, don’t string together a conclusion with human reasoning based on various facts, but show me where the Bible “PLAINLY” says this.

    If you can’t do this then your conclusions are no more “Biblical” and no less based on “human reason” than the things you condemn.

    So let me have it.

  27. James,
    This seems like a repeat, but I think it was someone else on another blog asking me that.
    I’ll answer it this way: Why do we believe in the Trinity? There is absolutely nowhere in the Bible that states the word trinity. Yet, it affirms that fact.

    All over the Bible, it affirms its inerrancy, without having to use that very word. And by the way, if it was in error in any way, why should we believe any of it? But since I know its not, by its own testimony, then I can put my trust in God’s Word.

    Do you trust God’s Word, James? If not, what do you place your trust and faith in?
    I trust in Jesus Christ, who was revealed to me through God’s Word.
    I praise Him for that assurance, that His “Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. And that “all scripture is God-breathed”. Amen.

    (I’m struggling to stay awake right, but tomorrow, I’ll be glad to give you examples).

  28. Manny,

    You are proving my point. The Bible only affirms the Trinity when combined with human reason. But you say that human reason is not 100% reliable. So is the doctrine of the Trinity (which I affirm) based 100% on scripture? No, it’s not- we depend on some human reasoning to come to that conclusion.

    You use similar human reason to make conclusions about scripture’s inerrancy and being our only authority. But at the same time, some people use human reason to say that scripture justifies slavery and genocide. These arguments are BASED on the bible too. They might even say the Bible “plainly says” these things. So how do we decide when that reasoning is good or bad, right or wrong? Does the Bible give us a way to measure when our human reason is 100% reliable?

    It’s not God’s Word in question here, it is YOUR human reasoning in question. You seem to think that because you BASE your opinion on scripture that this is the same as it BEING scripture.

    Is your ability to BASE your conclusions on scripture “100% reliable”?

    Listen to your human argument. You said, “if it was in error in any way, why should we believe any of it?” Is this argument in the Bible, or is it YOUR human reason? Why should I depend on this path of reason to be 100% reliable? This reasoning is not in the Bible, it belongs to you. So why should I trust it if the Bible is the only thing that is 100% reliable?

    You see, your opinion about “scripture alone” doesn’t even meet its own standard of “scripture alone”. You present nothing but a circular argument that is a sham. It is this kind of self deception that make people run from Christians.

    You use this argument about, “not trusting human reason and wisdom and only trusting the Bible” against those you disagree with, yet you yourself apply all kinds of human reason into your own arguments. Then you deny that you are using human reason and say “the Bible says plainly”. You are applying a standard to others you do not meet yourself.

  29. James,
    I’ll stop here now and let someone else argue with you if they wish.
    I’ve said what I can to help you. You apparently don’t trust the Bible, and you apparently believe that none of it can be read plainly and with common sense.

  30. Manny,

    We haven’t had a discussion or an even an argument. You would have to actually engage my points for us to be doing that. The only thing you have said is that your answers are from the Bible and the Bible is 100% reliable. When I point out that your argument is not just based on the Bible, but also on your “common sense”, you say to me that I don’t trust the Bible.

    You just deflect my questions rather than just answering them, and then say that I don’ trust God’s word when I disagree with your version of common sense.

    You also have not shown me how your “common sense” is somehow inerrant or superior to Rob Bell’s, or anyone else’s.

    You lack integrity when handling what is true about yourself, how then can I trust your integrity to rightly handle the Truth of God’s Word? Your “common sense” is polluted by the delusion that you read scripture without any personal filter or interpretation. This is a very scary thing.

  31. I am coming into this a little late, having arrived via a link from another site. This whole issue of the inerrancy of scripture is absolutely vital. Either the Bible is without error, in which case we can believe it and trust it, or it isn’t, in which case it is untrustworthy. This is a bit of human reasoning, but it is actually logical, and pretty obvious.

    Jesus was constantly referring to scripture as fact – the obvious occasions were His temptations by satan, when Jesus kept saying “It is written….”. If Jesus had such a high regard for scripture, who are we to treat it any differently? Now if He was quoting scripture knowing it to be faulty, and failed to point this out, then He is a liar, and was guilty of teaching error. Therefore although the Bible doesn’t actually say it is inerrant, it assumes the fact, in the same way that Genesis chapter 1 assumes the existence of God, without having a whole passage to prove His existence, before telling that He created everything.

    A good resource is “The Battle for the Bible” by Harold Lindsell. It is out of print, but is still obtainable (I got mine from Amazon!). His validated observation is that every denomination or institution which moved away from inerrancy of scripture ended up denying major, foundational doctrine. This is without fail. There were no exceptions. Have a look at what Fuller Theological Seminary now teaches. They were founded on Biblical inerrancy, but moved away from it, and now teach the same bland, “water” soup as everyone else who questions the authority of scripture.

    That is the danger – move away from the authority of scripture, and you end up preaching a gospel which cannot save. And when you preach such a non-gospel, you are condemning those who respond to it to an eternity in hell. And anyone who preaches “any other gospel than that preached by the apostles” is accountable to God both for their actions, and for the consequences of those actions. This is serious stuff.

    Finally, the danger of Rob Bell’s teaching is not necessarily his own beliefs, but the fact that he consistently casts doubt as to the authority of scripture, or the importance of doctrine, but having made his point, he never goes back and removes the doubt. If he is not intending to sow seeds of doubt, then he should be wiser with how he goes about making his points. The other possibility is that he is trying to get people to doubt scripture, which is very dangerous.

  32. If we believe part of God’s nature is that He is Truth, (as Jesus said He came to give us) then His word would HAVE to be truth.

    If we believe Jesus, and He quoted from almost every book of the Old Testament, we believe the Old Testament (it’s got the Son of God endorsing it).

    If we believe that Jesus chose Peter and John as disciples, we believe 1 & 2 Peter, John, 1,2,3 John and Revelation. If we believe Peter, then we believe Paul (who wrote most of the New Testament) because Peter 1. endorsed Paul as an apostle 2. Referred to Paul’s writings as “other scripture”.

    God’s Word on God’s word:

    “I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God to ALL who believe; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans something, something!

    The Book of Deuteronomy

    Psalm 119

    2 Timothy 3
    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    James, our truth comes from God’s word. There are a million pastors/evangelists out there who would love to interpret it for you, but you will not get the truth until you put your faith in GOD (not Bell or blogs or anyone else) and He will give you the Holy Spirit whom the Bible says, “will guide you into all truth.” (BTW that was Jesus who promised that.) We don’t get to pick and choose. If the Bible is where we get what we know God, then the Bible is where we get everything else.

    We can’t use a history book to learn about the discovery of America, then rewrite the rest of it’s story with no slavery or depression or Civil War, one builds on the other.

    In closing 2 Corinthians, Paul said, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” I try not to use the word “trinity”. I just refer to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit wherever they are in context.

    Blessings all! The concern for truth here is obvious!

  33. “Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age, but the age to the Bible.” C.H. Spurgeon

    FWIW-
    The lake of fire (second death) is the final place of eternal torment. The lake of fire is not full of the forgiven. Nobody in the “current” hell will escape their final destiny in the lake of fire.

    Our current planet will pass away. The new heaven and the new earth will be totally reconciled to Him.

    Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
    Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
    Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
    Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
    Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
    Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  34. James,
    Do you trust the Bible completely, or only parts of it?

    Possible answers could be:
    Yes?
    No?
    Only selected parts, depending on what you think?
    Not sure?
    Yes, but what’s true for me may not be true for you?
    No, I trust myself to decide what it means for me?

  35. Manny,

    Do I trust “the Bible completely”? That’s you’re question?

    Like I said already, my point is that I don’t trust YOU, because you think YOUR interpretation of the Bible is 100% without error. Scary, scary, scary.

    As for what I do trust. I put my faith in Christ. You see scripture is not the object of MY faith. It may be for you, because you keep asking me if I trust “the Bible”. But the bible is not the object of our faith, but a trustworthy and faithful pointer to God. And it is God I trust.

    If this belief makes me a heretic in your eyes than that is OK with me. The object of my faith and the object of your faith are obviously two different things. I trust Christ, and you trust that your “common sense” is “100% reliable”. Who’s faith is in God and who’s faith is in their own understanding of God, and their own “common sense” understanding of God’s word?

    So as you ask me if I “trust the Bible completely”, I gather that this is your confession. But, his is not a confession that scripture calls us to have faith in. Where is the verse in the Bible says I must confess with my mouth that that the Bible is inerrant and believe in it completely from my heart to be saved? That is NOT the gospel I follow, that is YOUR gospel. Your gospel is further twisted in as much that you trust your own “common sense” interpretation of the Bible as completely as you say you are just trusting the Bible. You apparently can’t tell where the scripture ends and your own interpretation of it begins. Very, Very scary.

    You are worried about the dangerous teaching of Rob Bell, but I am more worried about your scary teaching. I pray that God will open your eyes so you can see your way out of your delusions. I am not trying to be insulting over dramatic here, I am dead serious. You need help.

    Don’t reply back to this, at least not until you take a moment, humble yourself ,and consider for just a second what I have been trying to tell you. Consider the possibility that you may actually be deceiving yourself when you say that you “only trust the Bible”.

    Consider this:

    First should the BIBLE really be the object of your faith? Or does scripture faithfully and reliably call us to trust something bigger than the 66 books that were canonized by some of the first followers of Jesus?

    Second, acknowledge that if you have to apply any human reason, interpretation, or “common sense” to the scripture than it is not even possible to trust in it 100% because at least some of what you are trusting is of yourself and not the Bible. I am not saying that you can not trust God 100%, but you can not trust even the smallest percentage of your own interpretation in the same way are called to put our faith in Christ. Again this is OK, because the Bible should not be the object of our faith.

  36. James: This is pretty sad, because I get the feeling you don’t trust God’s Word. But let me try again, especially to correct your misinterpretation of what I asked.

    YOUR ANSWER: Like I said already, my point is that I don’t trust YOU, because you think YOUR interpretation of the Bible is 100% without error. Scary, scary, scary.

    James, I never said MY INTERPRETATION is correct; I said the Bible is 100% without error. Don’t put words in me that I never said. The Bible is 100% correct, whether I misinterpret it or not.

    YOUR ANSWER: As for what I do trust. I put my faith in Christ. You see scripture is not the object of MY faith.

    James: Through what means do you know and trust Christ? This is the same template answer I get from a lot of people lately- which I alluded to at the top of my post. The Bible is God’s Word. How can you know Christ unless you read God’s Word? Scripture is not the object of my faith either, but I trust scripture to reveal what God has to say to me about the nature of Christ. So again, how can you know Christ and what he is about? From reading Rob Bell, or reading the Bible? I trust the words written in the Bible, which reveal to me the nature of God, shows me the way of salvation, and gives all the instructions for me to live for Jesus Christ.

    YOU SAID TO ME: …and you trust that your “common sense” is “100% reliable”.

    James, The Bible is 100% reliable, not me or anyone else.

    YOUR ANSWER: : That is NOT the gospel I follow, that is YOUR gospel.

    james, What is the gospel that YOU follow? I follow the gospel as revealed in the scriptures. God is not a God of confusion, as a previous contributor mentioned. There is only one gospel revealed to us, and it is revealed in the Bible.

    YOUR ANSWER: You are worried about the dangerous teaching of Rob Bell, but I am more worried about your scary teaching.

    James, You are worried that I teach that the Bible is 100% reliable? That is what scares you? I am scared that your implication is that the Bible is not reliable. So if not, what’s the point? Let’s read everything. Let’s read the Koran, or something else.

    YOUR ANSWER: I pray that God will open your eyes so you can see your way out of your delusions.

    So James, I am deluded in believing that the Bible is 100% reliable. So in order to be in my right mind, I need to stop trusting the Bible and what it says, and start doubting it and trust in….. what?

    YOUR ANSWER: Consider the possibility that you may actually be deceiving yourself when you say that you “only trust the Bible”.

    James, I trust the Word of God, which reveals to me His truth.

    2 Tim. 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    YOUR ANSWER: Or does scripture faithfully and reliably call us to trust something bigger than the 66 books that were canonized by some of the first followers of Jesus?

    James, What is that something that is bigger than the Word of God? How can you put your faith in Christ without trusting and relying on His Word? The Bible is NOT the object of my faith, Jesus is. But without the Bible, there is no guidance as to how to worship God, here is no way of knowing the way of salvation, unless we each rely on our own understanding, or unless you claim that Jesus is speaking to you directly.

    Finally, I was a pretend Christian until I was 18. At a District Assembly one year, I answered God’s direct call to me through the preaching that was delivered that day, and He convicted me of my sin. I responded by asking God for forgiveness, and turned to Him in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. I have stumbled and made mistakes along the way, but now my faith in Jesus is stronger than ever, and gets even stronger as I do what I do now, defending the faith against all who attack the gospel and the reliability of God’s Word. I am not implying that you are attacking the gospel, but I do not know why you are speaking the way you do, undermining God’s Word by questioning it. I continue to study the scriptures to know His instructions for me on how to live as a faithful Christian, to know His Word in order to recognize false teaching, and I continue to pray for daily strength and for God to reveal His perfect will for my life. Perhaps you can share your testimony with others also.

    I leave you with scripture to ponder. I notice you did not use a single scripture reference in your reply.

    Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

    John 8:51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

    1 Peter 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,

    Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

  37. Manny,

    Pay attention to your circular argument. You just wrote, “James, The Bible is 100% reliable, not me or anyone else.”

    But yet earlier you wrote, “Why do we believe in the Trinity? There is absolutely nowhere in the Bible that states the word trinity. Yet, it affirms that fact. All over the Bible, it affirms its inerrancy, without having to use that very word. And by the way, if it was in error in any way, why should we believe any of it? ”

    Later you talk about reading the Bible with “common sense.” Can’t you see that in your argument for innerency you did not use the Bible ALONE, but you used reason BASED on the scriptures to come to your conclusion?

    In other words, the Bible did not say it is inerrant, but you used reason to connect the dots between other things the Bible says about being “inspired”, “God breathed”, ect, to come to your conclusion.

    It is this form of reasoning that I call in to question. Not that I am against using reason, but you seem to act as if you are not using any human reason, like Rob Bell does, and are just using the Bible. I want you to understand that this statement of yours simply isn’t true.

    Where the Bible actually says something and saying something is true “BASED” on scripture are two different things. But you think that the things YOU reason BASED on scripture are as 100% accurate too.

    How come you can use your own reason and hold it up as just as reliable as scripture and condemn others who use human reason, BASED on scripture, and leave room for themselves to be wrong about their conclusions?

    I want you to answer that last question. But you asked me “what is that something that is bigger than the Word of God?”

    How about God himself? Do really think God himself isn’t bigger than the words he would use to describe himself to us?

    Then you said, “But without the Bible, there is no guidance as to how to worship God, here is no way of knowing the way of salvation, unless we each rely on our own understanding, or unless you claim that Jesus is speaking to you directly.”

    I don’t believe that God speaks to me any more directly or exclusively than he speaks to everyone else. I claim no special and personal revelation beyond what God has revealed to the world.

    When you speak of the Bible as our only source to know our way to God and salvation. I don’t think that is true. Do not misinterpret my statement here, I am not saying that it isn’t a faithful source and an important one, but there are other factors, like the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Actually, when you think about it, these were the things God used to bring us the scripture, His people as directed by the Spirit of God. That is how we know.

    I do not just throw these things out as my source of faith and understanding in my Christian walk. I do not follow my own personal religion, but like you, I am part of faith community called Christians that have followed Christ for over 2000 years.

    Like you lean into one branch of that Christian family known as Reformed, I lean into a tradition that embraces Scripture, tradition, and reason to navigate my faith as part of this Christian body.

    I don’t lean on “my own understanding”, but scripture along with our shared historical faith community. But at some point I have to admit that my “own understanding” does come into play. I humbly accept that, and do my best to take it with a grain of salt knowing that faith in Christ makes up the difference where my understanding lacks.

    It comes into to play for you too, yet you think that your understanding is God’s understanding. That is the part which is scary. You do not admit that the idea of inerrancy is based on human reason where you come to a conclusion “based” on other things the scripture says about itself.

    What is even scarier is not that you say scripture is inerrant, but that you think your own human reason which brought you to that conclusion is inerrant. You hold your own understanding on the same level of scripture and you condemn others who humbly admit where they doubt what they can understand about God and have to apply faith to make up the difference.

    You seem to think that this doubt is an attack on the gospel. No, it is not. The only thing it threatens is where you might hold your understanding of the gospel up as high as the gospel itself. If their were no doubt faith would not be necessary.

    Please do not forget to answer my question.

  38. James,
    No use of any scripture to back up all you have said? I’ll await your scriptural-based response before I say any more.

  39. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

    How can it be anything other than inerrant if it is judging the heart, of which Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. ”

    “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word WAS God.”

    “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth”

    What is truth to you James? I would say inerrancy.

    Manny you will not get a response from James with scripture (I suspect you know that.). He doesn’t believe it is God’s word, therefore he doesn’t know enough of it to know it IS.

    James, pray for discernment and read your Bible. You have nothing to loose.

  40. Manny,

    What? you want me to back up with scripture my assertion that you are using reason to come to your conclusion about inerrancy? I wasn’t talking about the Bible, I was talking about you.

    Your requirement does not make any sense in context of my comment. You are just hiding behind this bogus requirement because you do not want to answer the questions I posed to you.

    If you have a specific question about anything I said about God that you would like a scriptural reference for it, I would be happy to provide it. But, my comment was in response to things you said in your comments about how you reasoned something concerning the Bible. I am not in disagreement with the Bible, I am in disagreement with you.

    So here are the questions I would like for you answer to support your position:

    Where does the Bible say that you can use human reason to fill in the gaps where the bible isn’t specific about something? Chapter and verse please.

    After you find that one, tell me where the Bible says that one person’s reasoned conclusions should be considered the same as what the bible says, and other peoples conclusions based on scripture should not? Chapter and verse please.

    You see your inerrancy argument is your conclusion, and in the end isn’t even about the Bible, but how you use it to say that your conclusions based on what the bible says is the same thing as what the bible says; and that your conclusions are just as “inerrant”.

    We been down this road before, and you did not give me a chapter and verse, just your own argument, when you said, “if it was in error in any way, why should we believe any of it?”

    Please give me the chapter in verse that says, if scripture was in anyway in error about anything we should not trust any of it? Is that the Bible or your own human reasoning? Chapter and verse please.

    By the way, I have not disagreed with any of the verses you have already quoted. I just disagree with what you have added to them with your human reason. So please quote me these verses that suport what you are saying and leave your own human opinion out of it.

    If you are forbidding human reason on my end, the least you can do is abide by the same rules.

  41. James, Amy is right. i don’t think you believe the Bible is God’s Word. I await your use of scripture to back up what you are arguing.

  42. The first sin resulted from Eve doubting God’s word. Satan suggest, “God didn’t really mean you would die.” And here we are!

    If a pastor/evangelist/cultist can convince you to doubt God’s word, and rely on THEM for your insight, they have you.

    “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

    Our reasoning has to fit Scripture, not the other way around. If it doesn’t, here’s what happens:

    “If we think that we are escaping some of the pressures of the modern debate by playing down propositional Scripture and simply putting the word ‘Jesus’ or ‘experience’ upstairs, [where nothing can be verified] we must face this question: What difference is there between doing this and doing what the secular world has done in its semantic mysticism, or what the New Theology [neo-orthodoxy] has done? . . . If what is placed upstairs is separated from rationality, if the Scriptures are not discussed as open to verification where they touch the cosmos and history, why should one then accept the evangelical upstairs any more than the upstairs of modern radical theology? . . . Why should it not just be an encounter under the name Vishnu?” Bob Dewaay

    Praying you will be a seeker, and not just a defender some day soon James. As I said, you have nothing to loose by reading the Bible, and if you really believe Rob Bell, you have nothing to be afraid of by investigating YOURSELF.

    May God protect you during your journey!

  43. Manny,

    What a bunch of nonsense to say I don’t believe in God’s word.

    You are just avoiding my questions because they are either too difficult to answer, or because you don’t like the answer my questions lead you to.

    Stop deflect my questions with absurd accusations.

    Manny, what is it do you think I am arguing that I need to back it up with scripture? What have I said that you think is contrary to scripture?

  44. James,
    Perhaps we can start this “conversation” over again, and instead of arguments, go on to more inspiring things. I gave a short testimony as to how I came to become a Christian. Can you tell me your story on how and when you became a Christian?

  45. I had what many would call a conversion experience when I was 9 old at a Christian summer camp. I heard the message about how I was a sinner and how Jesus died for me on the cross to have a personal relationship with me and I tearfully walked down the isle of that service and asked Jesus into my heart.

    It was a genuine experience, I understood the implications of the message and responded. This day marks the time I decided to be a follower of Jesus, but as far as conversion go, I am still being converted as I follow and seek to be more and more like Jesus every day. My understanding of the gospel continues to mature as I mature in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

    At 19 years old I accepted a call to ministry and began to preach and serve in the church. I went to college and got a degree in pastoral ministry and theology. I have worked as a Pastor, worked in homeless shelters, worked with adults with developmental disabilities, and with at at-risk youth involved in gangs in Chicago; all along the way continually being converted.

    Over the years my understanding, categories, and definitions expanded. I begin to understand that the gospel is not just an individualistic endeavor; and while I have confessed my individual sins and repent (with grace given every time I stumble and get up and keep moving forward) I also needed to understand that sin was also embedded in our communities and systems. The gospel also addresses this and God’s redemption isn’t just for me as an individual but also for community. I guess you might describe my understanding of the gospel as both the gospel of Billy Graham and Martian Luther King Jr; I believe the Bible calls us to solidarity with God and our neighbor through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

    As a Nazarene Pastor today, my theology is thoroughly Christ centered as I am to walk in the footsteps of the body of Christ that have followed Jesus before us. I pay careful attention to the deepest and most reliable footprints left by the earliest disciples of Jesus as they lived the life and lived out the Word of God that he breathed into them; writing it down as a faithful testimony for us who would follow after. I pay attention to Scripture because God says it breaths life into the church just as God breathed life into the Body of Christ (the church) to bring us scripture in the first place.

    This is why I find your accusations that I care not for the Word of God so absurd. This is also why I believe your disagreement with me is more about your human interpretation than about the Bible itself. Faith in Christ is a humble pursuit, it is at best seeing through a dim mirror as Paul described it. Your blog criticizes those who admit their doubt but still have enough faith to follow Jesus. I find this very sad and odd.

    I will now say something that you have not yet shown the courage to say. Perhaps you are right and I am wrong. Perhaps it is my faith that is weak and perhaps Rob Bell’s faith that is weak. Now I think you should consider the possibility of the reverse, but even if you do not, I want to leave you with a scripture:

    Romans 14:1: “Accept those whose faith is weak. Don’t judge them where you have differences of opinion.” Now this verse is in the context of disagreement over what different people had faith to eat as some did not have faith to eat what the gentiles ate. I am sure for many of the Jews eating what the gentiles ate was considered unfaithful per their understanding of scripture, but Paul flips this around and sees it the other way around in light of the movement of the gospel into gentile territory. Either way, he calls them to unity. Chapter 14 may be about food, but everything from chapter 12 to the end of Romans is about Christian unity.

    You don’t have to stop disagreeing with me, Rob Bell or anyone if you feel that you are holding to what is true. But do not divide the body of Christ in the process for heresy was first understood as a division that separated itself from the Body and the teachings of the Apostles.

    Perhaps your worry over false teachers makes this advice for unity difficult for you. You are right to pay attention to false teachers as Paul in particular wars us to be careful. But, let me point you to the reaching of Jesus in Matthew 13 in his parable of the tares and the wheat as he told of them growing up together in the same field. In the parable the servants asked the sower of the field if they should pull out the tares when they found out from the sower that they the enemy planted them there. But the sower responded ‘No, because while you are pulling the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. He told them that they should let the tares and wheat grow up together and God would sort them out at the harvest.

    I worry that as you try to uproot those you perceive to be “false teachers” that you are also uprooting some wheat along with them. Your work and focus is destructive to be weeding the field when God just asks us to plant and water the field and let him take care of the rest.

    Please take heed of the words of Jesus and the teaching of his Apostles and walk in unity and be at peace with all men (as much as it is possible on your end) and trust that God has far better perspective to sort us all out in the end, than we think with our limited human perspective that we can sort others out now.

    Put this in practice. Do not just proclaim how inerrant you think the word is, be a doer of the word. For in the end the kind of faith that matters is the kind that leads us to repentance and reconciliation with God and his Kingdom. Do you think those that follow the word in faith, though the may still have doubts about it will not inherit the Kingdom of God? What about those who confess undoubting faith in the word but do not follow it? I think this is good discussion and we are called to talk about these very things and preach the truth about them. But as for who is in or out of the Kingdom of God, or who is a real Christian and who is an impostor, how about we just let God be God and let him sort it out in the end. That is what Scripture tells us to do. Remember, you are likely pulling up some wheat while you are busying yourself trying to pull up the tares.

    For those who have ears to hear, let them hear and repent.

  46. James, thanks for your comments. Here are just a few thoughts on some points you made:

    JAMES: “I heard the message about how I was a sinner and how Jesus died for me on the cross to have a personal relationship with me and I tearfully walked down the isle of that service and asked Jesus into my heart.”
    MANNY: So as I understand this, it is that you repented of your sins and turned your life around towards following Jesus and trusting Him, which is what I did also.

    JAMES: “… but as far as conversion goes, I am still being converted as I follow and seek to be more and more like Jesus every day. “
    MANNY: Not sure what you mean about “still being converted”, but perhaps it sounds like what the Bible teaches about sanctification, in that first we are saved by God’s grace, and are forgiven and turn to following Jesus, then as we grow in our relationship with Christ, we are sanctified as we grow as Christians.

    JAMES: “…all along the way continually being converted.”
    MANNY: Again, I’m not sure what you mean by that. Normally, that phrase “to be converted” means a one time thing to most Christians; having repented, received forgiveness, and turned around from living a life of sin and rebellion against God, and following Christ. After that, it is a matter of maturing as a Christian and continuing to walk in the way of the Lord. I do that through reading His inerrant Word, through prayer, and yes, through fellowship with other Christians and getting advice from them, and reading books and devotionals as well. Yet always remembering that God’s Word is the final authority in all matters.

    JAMES: “The gospel also addresses this and God’s redemption isn’t just for me as an individual but also for community.”
    MANNY: I guess I agree with that, no real argument from me, but that the ultimate responsibility to God is from each individual, not a community per se. Community is important, but ultimately, each one of us must answer to God in that judgment day.

    JAMES: “I pay attention to Scripture because God says it breaths life into the church just as God breathed life into the Body of Christ (the church) to bring us scripture in the first place.”
    MANNY: If God breathes life into the church through scripture, how can it not be inerrant? I assume then that you believe in the complete reliability of scripture to reveal God’s truth to you, and that everything else must measure up to scripture, and if not, must be thrown out. Do you agree on this point?

    JAMES: “This is why I find your accusations that I care not for the Word of God so absurd.”
    I don’t know if I can rehash all we have discussed in this post, but my conclusion was reached on this because of the way you answered or addressed things, specifically my acceptance of the Bible as the authoritative, reliable, inerrant Word of God, that is the only sufficient source of 100% reliable instruction for salvation and Christian living.
    Your strong objections to this language I use led me to that conclusion, and you refuse to accept the Word of God as: inerrant, absolutely reliable, and the only fully reliable source for us, because our opinions can fail at times; the Bible never fails!
    Otherwise, again I ask, how can we trust it?

    JAMES: “ Faith in Christ is a humble pursuit, it is at best seeing through a dim mirror as Paul described it.”
    MANNY: As Amy pointed out previously, God is not a God of confusion. The gospel is clearly spelled out to us. If we read and/or present it faithfully, God’s truth will be revealed, and He will convict people of sin through the power of His Holy Spirit, and souls will be saved. This has happened over several thousand years, because of the power of God’s Word to speak plainly to people. Faith in Christ is seeing clearly the sacrifice He did on the cross for us. It is man’s stubbornness, total depravity and desire to rebel against God, that stops him from seeing the clear truth of the gospel as written in scripture.

    JAMES: “ I want to leave you with a scripture:
    Romans 14:1: “Accept those whose faith is weak. Don’t judge them where you have differences of opinion.”
    I agree with this scripture. Paul calls them to unity, in matters that are in dispute. If they disputed on whether Christ was God, or just a human, he would have another thing to say, and he would most certainly say it harshly! So these matters of dispute are obviously things that are non-essential to salvation or or otherwise specified instructions on Chirtian living.
    For example, in speaking to Elymas, Paul certainly had a problem with him regarding his behavior. Unity was less on Paul’s mind, than was rebuking Elymas:
    “Now when they had gone through the island[a] to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” Acts 13:6-11

    JAMES: “But do not divide the body of Christ in the process for heresy was first understood as a division that separated itself from the Body and the teachings of the Apostles.”
    MANNY: Division is sometimes necessary. Reprimand them, rebuke them, note those who cause divisions, shun them… all these commands that refer to those who are not teaching the same gospel that Paul received.
    Assuming my criticisms of Bell or others are true, I am obligated to cause division in this sense: that we are to expose false or incorrect teaching. If we stay silent for the sake of not causing division, while ignoring false teaching, we are disobeying the Lord’s commands, and the apostles as well. For a thorough exposition on Judging Others including false teachers, see my permanent page with Yomi’s excellent post.

    JAMES: “I worry that as you try to uproot those you perceive to be “false teachers” that you are also uprooting some wheat along with them.”
    As long as I am not spreading false lies, and I am faithfully and correctly dividing the Word of truth, I am not worried, because if I follow Jesus’ and the apostle’s instructions to expose false teachings, I am okay. That is a responsibility of every Christian, so that others will not be deceived by those who talk with smooth sounding words which preach a different gospel.

    JAMES: “…and trust that God has far better perspective to sort us all out in the end, than we think with our limited human perspective that we can sort others out now.”
    MANNY: I trust God also to “sort it all out”, yet that does not limit me or anyone who knows the scriptures, to point our clearly false teachings.

    JAMES: “Put this in practice. Do not just proclaim how inerrant you think the word is, be a doer of the word.”
    MANNY: I try every day to be a doer while at the same time proclaiming the inerrant Word of God. Both can be done at the same time. For those who have doubts, I will do my best to exhort them to faithful and trust in God’s inerrant Word, through which Jesus speaks to us, and gives us instructions for our lives. And I trust in the Holy Spirit as I read the Word, and pray, to lead me into the truth.

    JAMES: “But as for who is in or out of the Kingdom of God, or who is a real Christian and who is an impostor, how about we just let God be God and let him sort it out in the end.”
    MANNY: I am neglecting the commands of scripture, if I don’t point out those who are clearly imposters, based on whether the uphold the Word of God in their teaching.

    So I leave you with this: I still and always will believe that the Bible is inerrant (even the Nazarene manual states that) and is the final authority on all matters for believers. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” So if He is, then the words he spoke, and the gospel passed on to the disciples, is God’s Word, and God’s Word cannot have error, or it would not be God’s Word. If it is with error, we cannot rely on any other parts of it, so we would have to throw it out.

    Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

  47. Thank you for this article with quotes! I haven’t been to a Christian Book store in some time. (I am a booka holic, so I stay away when I can’t afford to buy anything) But, my wife and I agreed to spend $39 each for our 39th anniversary. Went to Mardel’s in Plano, Texas. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw two complete shelves devoted to “Emergent Church voices”. In all fairness, they carried many opposing views (I bought “Why We’re Not Emergent”). We then headed for Family Bookstore and found many Emergent Church books but they didn’t have many books that countered that movement. (it’s possible they could have sold out – but they didn’t carry “Why We’re Not Emergent” — just told me they could special order it.) Plus the fact, they had a Catholic Section disturbed me a bit. Mardel’s has a great Theology section, but some other stores file the few theological works under “Reference”. It was an eye-opener. (…and you know how painful THAT can be.)

  48. Thanks Eddie. God bless you.

    Sadly, there will be another eye-opener posted on Thursday, which will replace some of the other ones I was working on- especially Rick Warren. But the truth must be revealed, regardless of the cost.

    (I love your blog, by the way! Was just visiting it for the first time this weekend.)

  49. Thanks Chuck. My goal is to help bring the Nazarene church back in line with the scriptures for sure!

    And if you were blown away with the words in 1st Cor., wait until the Thursday posting. I believe it will help get things moving a little faster in my neck of the woods and beyond.

  50. I am happy to find this website “reformednazarene”. As I myself was born and raised in the Nazarene church and have been away for many years. I have the strongest desire to defend the Word of God and will do everything to bring Light to anything that resembles the emergent church. I attended a non-denominational church for several years and have left due to the mega church style it is taking on and the influence given by the emergent movement. I am getting started in a new smaller Nazarene church and they are using a Rob Bell DVD, but I will be sure to expose this as an incorrect teaching tool.

    God Bless you for creating this website.

  51. Thanks Brad, and may God bless you in your efforts to defend the faith once given to all.

    I will probably be doing a post soon as a refresher for those who may not be very familiar with the emerging church movement.

    God bless you,

    Manny

  52. What practical things can I do to help a friend who is a young Christian occasionally attending Rob Bell’s church & enthusiastically watching his DVDs? All of your scriptural references are very refreshing to me. However, I doubt that my friend has the interest enough to study that sort of information enough to come to a decision as to whether or not your conclusions are correct. I don’t want to squelch her newfound enthusiasm for following Christ, but I don’t want her to walk off a cliff either.
    Thanks.

  53. Hi, J. What a question for me to wake up to this morning! Well, here is my best look at this. A new Christian needs to get into God’s Word as much as possible. Feeding on God’s Word as a “newby” is so vital, and the more she gets into it, the more truth she will know about the nature of God.

    Encourage her to do that. And in the best way possible, reinforce the fact that no one is above scrutiny. The Bible says to “test the spirits”. Remember Paul’s commendation of the Bereans in Acts, that they listened to his teaching and took notes, and compared what he said with the scriptures, to make sure Paul himself was teaching the true gospel! Rob Bell, or ANY other preacher today, deserves that same scrutiny!

    She really needs to understand that the scriptures are the only 100% reliable source of guidance for her life. That truth can be instilled without having to speak of Rob Bell or any other person.

    The problem of course, as I see it, is that much of Rob Bell’s teaching often involves speaking in ways that cast some scriptures as either unreliable, or perhaps having more than one meaning. One that comes to mind is his NOOMA video regarding Peter walking on the water to Jesus. In short, he makes the assertion that Peter lost faith in himself, in his ability. A proper reading of this scripture, and many other scriptures, shows that we can lose faith and trust in Jesus, and we need to turn to Him in faith. Jesus never taught that we need to have faith in ourselves, but in Him alone. Someone not grounded in the scriptures, may possibly be deceived by this because they were not grounded enough to discern what he was teaching, even though it sounded “okay/”

    So that is my best advice in general. Patiently work with her if you are in a position of trusted friendship, and try to instill that love of scripture which should naturally come from someone who has genuinely repented of their sins and turned from their old sinful life to following the Lord. You cannot continue to grow as a Christian without reading and learning from God’s Word. And of course, the more you know God’s Word, the easier it is to spot counterfeits and deceptive teaching.

    Eventually, if you know that Rob Bell is teaching something particularly outrageous, you may have to step in and point it out clearly, even at the risk of her being upset. However, we cannot let a new Christian become confused and deceived by any clearly unscriptural teaching. If you are looked on as a mentor, remember these words in 2 Timothy:

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    Part of that says “for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. We have a responsibility to correct as needed, especially new Christians who may be diverted from truth by smooth sounding words.

    May God bless you and your friend as you continue to walk with the lord.

  54. the problem with most of the arguments against Rob Bell is that they take a totally modernistic stance on the gospel. Modern as since the reformation, there has been changes in the Church and we all grow in Christ. The attack on scripture is the problem for most, but it isn’t an attack on scripture it is a questioning of human understanding of scripture in our modernistic context. My concern is that we are eating each other alive when we could be joined hand in hand. As long as Bell affirms the divinity of Christ I am willing to listen, and if he ever would deny it it doesn’t mean he can’t add to the dialog. For instance as pentecostal, coming from a relatively conservative background I can actually listen to Bishop Spong and take good things from him and I can also listen to Macarthur, if I ever try (lol) and good things as well. One doesn’t have a monopoly on truth because truth is Jesus, he is the only way to define truth. Moderns and postmoderns miss the importance of the dialog Jesus had with pilate. What is truth? Pilate was postmodern in many ways, but the pharisees were very modern in there thinking, very dense. Jesus is trying to open all our eyes to His truth.
    Blessings to all and keep dialoging its good.

  55. Thank you for some good point you make on this. To me, in the end it all goes back to scripture, because that is what we must always rely on. (Whether we read it correctly, that is another question).

    A few observations on your comments:

    I won’t get into Bishop Spong in detail here, but when one of his many outrageous quotes is: “I think that anything that begins to give people a sense of their own worth and dignity is God. “, he has no credibility with me. I believe that much of what he has said at least borders on heresy, if not at least irresponsible and ignorant teaching. I would much prefer John MacArthur. :-)

    And as far as Bell, it would take more than just affirming Christ’s divinity for me to recommend him to anyone for his books, or videos, or preaching in their church. Too much ambiguity in his teaching to raise a high level of confidence that he is “getting it right” according to scripture.

    Who has the monopoly on truth is only Jesus; and I believe the best way to learn about what He wants us to know is through the scriptures.
    Blessings to you.

  56. Ahh how Bell casts doubt on Scripture, at least the New Testament, the virgin birth…he says he affirms it, but then in Velvet Elvis, he says it doesn’t matter.

    Christ is God. “I and the Father are one.” “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” And that is the truth He came to give us.

    There is no discussion needed if you have the Holy Spirit and God’s word. Our “understanding” for discussion purposes doesn’t matter. It’s faith in God, the salvation He sent us through Jesus revealed in His word, with the help of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus us sent to “guide us into all truth.”

    “Intellectual discussions” are based on the sin of pride (us puffing ourselves up). Oooops! Who brought up sin? Not Bell.

    I believe that Rob Bell would like to be a descended from one of the twelve tribes and a practicing Jew. He so loves the Old Testament, and seems to try and include Jesus as an afterthought. The only time he quotes from the New Testament is to cast doubt on it.

  57. Amy said: “Intellectual discussions” are based on the sin of pride (us puffing ourselves up). ”

    Could not have said it better. That seems to me to be a theme that runs through the “teaching” of most of the Emergents nowadays.

    “There is no discussion needed if you have the Holy Spirit and God’s word. Our “understanding” for discussion purposes doesn’t matter.”

    Amen

  58. If there is no need for discussions why rant about Rob Bell, just say he is wrong and shut up!!!!

    The whole attitude of the Bible says it, no further discussion is ludicrous. What version you gonna use?

    Are you just gonna use an English Bible? Are you gonna try to understand context? Rob Bell a Jew? The whole Bible is one unified book.

    The reason I have a hard time listening to emergent haters is because they are hateful and spiteful. There is no room for discussion because they have a direct line with the almighty, their modernistic understanding of the Bible is all sufficient for faith and conduct.

    The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus, Jesus is what it is about not side issues, but the side issues do attribute to our understanding of Jesus.

    Do you love God with your mind? Does that mean being a robot who spouts off the teachings of calivinsim, arminism, catholicism, or whatever for of doctrine you hold too.

    If we can not talk then stop ranting!!!!!

    God bless in Love, just some questions for the “anti-lovers of God with the mind” people

  59. Are you getting a little angry here? I’ll let Amy speak for herself, but as for me, I only “hate” the emergent theology that attempts to subvert the authority of God’s Word. I do not hate emergents! (They do drive me crazy sometimes :-) And who is ranting?
    I do pray for them. There are apparently some in my own local church, and I pray for them now.

    “The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus..” yes, by way of speaking to us through the reading of God’s Word. I assume you would agree with that.

    Again, the challenging of scripture as God’s inerrant Word by emergents is really problematic and unacceptable, as well as their affinity towards contemplative spirituality, mystical practices, prayer labyrinths, lectio divina, breath prayers, “Christian” yoga, the silence, stations of the cross, and all sorts of other unbiblical, man-created techniques to get closer to God.

    Stick to the Bible, and you won’t go wrong! Lean unto your own understanding, and that’s where you get in trouble!

    Blessings and peace, and no hate here for anyone.

    Manny

  60. Wisdom from the Spirit

    6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9But, as it is written,

    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—

    10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. [fn3]

    14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

  61. Looks like I have already lost some old friends over my stance against Rick Warren/Rob Bell and their type. People are throwing common sense out the window when it comes to their teachings. My experience has been that the emergent supporters are the defensive ones when trying to discuss the errors they promote versus the scripture.

    This scripture tells it all in our time that we live.

    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. [Emphasis added] (Romans 1:28-32)

  62. Dead on with that scriptural description. Thanks for sharing Brad. It is a difficult time for those who stand for the truth… as it is revealed in the Bible.

    This scripture comes to mind for those of us who are dealing with loss of friendships, and who are looked on as the “hateful and judgmental” ones:

    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
    2 Corinthians 4:8-9

    Our Lord Jesus Christ is the rock in our lives to which we cling to and is our defense.

    God bless

  63. keep telling yourself that you are persecuted by those who are on the emergent side. Sorry your not, there are problems with them but there are some major problems with the calvinistic view as well. There seems to be no coming together and you know what maybe those who refuse to love Brothers and Sisters in Christ are the ones who should be worried. Whether they are modern or postmodern

  64. This is in response to thesoulcreator:

    You seem to bring up calvinism in a few of your replies. I’m not Baptist and don’t embrace calvinism. I was raised Nazarene which teaches a Wesleyan base theology.

    Questioning or rejecting what God has said in the Scriptures is at the heart of instigating religious rebellion. The reasons should be obvious: 1) If the Bible cannot be trusted as God’s specific communication to mankind, then we are left with nothing more than man’s opinions and guesses about God and what He desires; 2) Finite humanity’s speculations about its infinite Creator are not only terribly erroneous—they are evil, because they are generated by man’s sinful, self-serving nature; 3) Even a true believer could be led into darkness without the light and lamp of God’s Word (Psalm 119:105).

    Ironically, our day is seeing more Christian media and entertainment, and more Bibles of every sort. Yet, the result is a corruption of God’s truth because there is no heart for sound biblical doctrine, especially since marketing departments are now leading the way! At best, the evangelical church in the U.S. reflects the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-17): rich and increased with experiential goods that can only yield shallow Christians; at worst, it has become a willing contributor to the end-times delusion.

    Yet even in the face of so troubling a situation, we have reason to be both encouraged and fruitful, that is, if we will obey Paul’s inspired exhortation: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee [from the growing apostasy]” (1 Timothy 4:16). Let us pray for one another to that end.

  65. Great site this reformednazarene.wordpress.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  66. I hold to Scripture. I do not embrace Calvinism, Arminianism, Catholicism or even Protestantism for THAT matter!

    Take any translation (no paraphrases) and Strong’s concordance. Check the Hebrew. Check the Greek. If you really believe what you say, there should be no fear. If you love God “with your mind” then it seems you would want Him to reveal all His “secrets” to you. He’ll do that IN HIS WORD. Where else would you go?

    Rob Bell goes to the Old Testament and Jewish law. Good history and to get to know the nature of God. But the law has been fulfilled, and as Paul says, “the mystery has been revealed.” That mystery was Jesus Christ, God in the flesh; but since Bell continually casts doubt on the writer’s of the New Testament, by claiming it was the third century church who just put it altogether, then you are left with only the Old Testament. Put your faith in just that, and you are lost.

    Soulofthecreator-I love God with my LIFE. But first I put my faith in Jesus Christ. “God with us.” I can tell you Bell is wrong. He is. But what good is that for YOU, if I don’t tell you why? Why does the thought of Jesus being God scare you so? Or why do you want to be like Him (as Bell says to do) but not accept His deity. The Bible says, ” ..Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The glory comes from Him. We WILL be glorified one day, but not from our own actions; feeding the poor, meditating or anything else.

    “I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

    “All Scripture is God breathed and is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    I am rebuking Rob Bell, and correcting anyone who believes his false teaching. I can do that just by quoting God’s word. It’s folks who deny the power of God’s word (see above) who want to discuss and interpret.

    “My word will not return to me void.” Open your Bible and ask God to open your eyes. You have nothing to lose but your sins.

  67. Amy, great testimony. And Rob Bell and anyone else preaching another gospel needs to be rebuked again and again! It is commanded by Jesus and the apostles. We must alert those who are being deceived by his teaching, as well as all his other emergent and contemplative brethren.

    Some of those being fooled are in my own church, which I once thought was full of sound, Bible-grounded Christians. Now I’m not so sure.
    I pray that they will focus on the Bible and put away those great sounding small group books that sometimes are not doctrinally sound.
    All glory to God.
    Blessings.

  68. Bell believes Jesus is the Son of God, as do I. Jesus is my everything, all that I live for. He should be the center not manmade thoughts about how God operates.

  69. Scripture is not man made thoughts. “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

    Jesus quoted from just about every Old Testament scripture. Those are “God made” thoughts. That’s why Jesus is called “the Word”. His own disciples testify to his deity in their writings, AND they fully endorse Paul’s writings as well, referring to them as “scripture”. They did that long before any church councils. Your semantics reveal that you DO NOT believe that the New Testament is God’s inspired word. For that, (sadly) Rob Bell will be judged most harshly.

  70. reformednazarene-

    I am sorry about those in your church who are misled. Our youth ministry fell under the Nooma spell briefly. The Holy Spirit spoke to me the first time I heard of them, the one I saw was the “Breathe” video.

    Nice packaging. Terrible product! :)

  71. Take heart. There is a growing group that I am working with that is fervently working to wake up the denomination. God’s Word will prevail in this battle. And I will not give up in my efforts here.

  72. When one takes a too strict literal interpertation of scripture you are closing the door on the faces of those who don’t be warned, those who shut the door in others faces will have it shut in theirs. I wasn’t refering to scripture i was refering to calvisnism, amernianism and the different isms in the church.

  73. actually Jesus is the Word, the Bible which is Scripture is the revelation of the Word made flesh. A little less Bible idolatry would be good. Let us worship the Creator and designer of the scriptures not the scriptures themselves.

  74. Oh and also who’s scripture do you take the Catholic, Protestant, the ones with or without the song of songs, do you consider a book about sex inspired. I know I do. I take God’s scripture as penned by men who were fallen but it is preserved by the Spirit, all pointing to the God-Man Jesus Christ, who in Him all Scripture has been fulfilled. He is the end product and we will one day be with HIm.

  75. soulofthecreator,
    What is too strict? Is there a biblical verse or verses that suggests what is “too strict?’ I simply read the Bible plainly, and get its meaning from it without a whole lot of mental gymnastics. Of course, Revelation can be quite difficult, I admit.

    You said: “A little less Bible idolatry would be good. Let us worship the Creator and designer of the scriptures not the scriptures themselves.”

    No disrespect here, but I have heard this tired, old argument from emergents all over the place! This is a strawman argument! The Bible testifies to us that it IS the Word of God… and Jesus is also the Word! Please, take that argument somewhere else, with all due respect. It does not work, and it is not logical.

    Here again is scripture for you to “contemplate”:

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 1:13

    And…

    “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
    Psalm 119:105

    If you need more, let me know.

  76. I consider Song of Songs, a book about MARRIAGE to be inspired, yes. Marriage is compared to Jesus and the church.

    I’m assuming you would reject Bell’s “Sex God” then, because comparing all our relationships in that context is sad.

    soulofthecreator-Where do you arrive your truth from? Do you pick and choose scripture? In all sincerity, I would like to know what in the Bible you actually believe. Do you believe the verses that tell of a Messiah? If not, how do you know Jesus is God’s son?

    Do you believe only the books where we know who the author is? That would leave out most of the Old Testament, but include most of the New.

    Do you believe that the Bible says “the word of the Lord endures forever”? Because Christ (the Word and Truth) does endures forever.

    Do you believe we are supposed to meditate ” This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Not contemplative meditation (as Bell preaches), but meditate on the Word.

    What parts are you going to keep? What parts are you going to throw away? Rob Bell is not the Holy Spirit. God is. If you want truth, you have to let HIM reveal it to you, not any MAN.

    If you were familiar with Bell’s teachings AND scripture, you would see that his mission statement (unless changed recently) for Mars Hill Church, is to reconcile the world (prepare it) for Jesus. JESUS is the one who will do the reconciling, not us. (That would be works.) We were given the “ministry of reconciliation” , preparing PEOPLE for Jesus. He said it himself in Matthew 28. But if you aren’t buying the New Testament, inspired and written down in the FIRST century, when the events actually occurred, then you have missed the truth. And Bell will be happy for you to stay there, so he can continue on his Magical Mystery Tour, and exhalt himself by interpreting the truth FOR YOU instead of making you a Berean who tests him against the scriptures.

    You are looking for a label for me so as to discredit. Try a “child of God”. You’ll find it in 1 John. You know, one of Jesus’ disciples who wrote part of the New Testament.

    I say again, you have nothing to lose by reading the Bible yourself, and asking GOD to reveal himself to you. Start with any translation you like. A god that can speak the universe into being, “He spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm.” can certainly show you which Bible He wants you to read (and which ones to throw out!!)

    God keep you safe until you “grope for Him”.

  77. I find it funny that people assume to know me. I have been saved since I was 17, currently in Bible College and associated with the Assemblies of God, not really an emergent church. I just see it is sad the way some attack the more liberal wing of the church even when they still exalt Jesus to the utmost. I prefer the NIV, although I would have to say I can read other versions just fine, but the only truly inerrant words were that of the original texts. I believe in the cannon I have in my Bible, but I also believe flexibility of thought should be allowed on this issue.

    I arrive at truth from Jesus, the Old Testament serves as the forerunner of Christ and introduces us to the moral law of God.

    Song of songs is about sex within the context of marriage, but clearly about an erotic relationship. I actually really like the book but understand why the ancients struggled with including it in the cannon.

    Sex God is my favorite book by bell, his best one in my opinion.

    Jesus is the WORD, the scriptures are the word of God, but are they all the word of God. I struggle with this, read pslam 137 and the references to it, do you think God approves of the dashing of Childrens head against the stone, if you do then you can have that God because that is not the God that was crucified who said let the little children come to me. I do grope for him and I believe he can speak to us today, through his word and to us because the Spirit of God dwells in all believers.

    reformednazerene, by too strict I mean too strict in the sense of those who want women to still have long hair, tattoos are still wrong, women can’t be in ministry, the earth has to be 6,000 years old, revelation has to be interpreted literally, very much opposed to a dispensationlist view point, one who denies that Jesus fulfills the prophecies in the old and that we are still waiting for at least half of them to be fulfilled.

    It’s not to say that I don’t respect your faith, you are a believer in Christ but so is Rob Bell, and until Rob Bell denounces the divinity of Jesus and reject following him I will not label him a heretic, nor would i label you either.

  78. I only label Bell as emergent. I have not categorized you, but only encouraged you to read your Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Bible (rather, Why Believe Your Bible) college will not bring you any closer to understanding the nature of God; it will only indoctrinate you with the opinions of your professors. The many doubts you cast on different Bible books is evident of that.

    Rejecting the “establishment” is nothing new, and the list you gave reformednazarene, (tattoos, women actually are allowed to minister, just not have spiritual authority over men, long hair, etc.) selfish in motive and a reflection of the current culture. We want what we want even if God says no. “But mom, everybody’s getting tattoos. What do you mean God doesn’t like them? Wah!!! That’s Old Testament!”

    Why are you in Bible college if you do not love God? He is the one who gave you ALL the Psalms. The same Psalms that repeat, “His love endures forever.” The same ones that tell how holy He is. Better that the children be welcomed into heaven then come to the age where they willfully rebel and reject God and spend ETERNITY without Him. Hell is a real place, and it is a place “out of the presence of God”. Would you like that for innocent children who would be raised to rebel against God because that’s what their parents did? THAT is the big picture. The merciful and eternal picture.

    “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Until you understand His Sovereignty, you are wasting YOUR money, and God’s time.

    “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.” Just ask God what’s best. I like bacon, but I don’t eat much of it!

    “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” I don’t want the praise of men by how I wear my hair or run a church, I want Jesus’ approval! “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    Why don’t you try not reading ANY outside books or commentaries for six months and only read Scripture? See what the Lord shows you during that time. If you don’t get a clear picture of God by then, you can go back to reading whatever comes down the pike. I don’t mean this as insulting, but it seems you are afraid to read your Bible, and the few things you have read, you reject, but I don’t know on what grounds. Opinions don’t mean anything to God. If it’s on justice, who do you think put the idea of justice into your being? The God of Justice.

    Try the six month thing and let us know how God delivers!!

  79. Thanks for the concern Amy, but just because i happen to disagree with you doesn’t mean anything about my view of scripture, as I have said before the scriptures are inspired revelation of the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

    I go to Central Bible College in Springfield , Missouri far from being a liberal theological school but a very conservative, pentecostal, fundamentalist, evangelical Bible College. If you think that God is happy with babies heads being dashed against the rocks then I’ll have to disagree. I believe that the Bible reveals God, Jesus to us but also shows how depraved and wicked man is.

    Opinions do mean something to God because if they didn’t then we wouldn’t be free willed creatures now would we?

    Do you think the Old Testament law is all for us, or that Jesus has fulfilled the law, and the commandments we are to follow are the ones he summed up, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, (I think you do), all your mind (not as much), soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

    Jesus rejected the establishment when they were wrong, and taught us a better way. He wasn’t violent with the establishment but he was commanding of them, calling them out of their wickedness and coldness.

    Most at the college I attend are more conservative then me politically and theologically. I am actually more conservative theologically then you think, I just happen to believe in an Old earth, but I believe that Jesus is Lord and God, not the bible, or Rob bell, or John Macarthur, or any of those people.

    I love Jesus with everything, do you you think I would be going to Bible college if I didn’t? Just because I question modernistic perspectives I am not loving God???

  80. I never said I thought God was happy with children’s heads being dashed against rocks. But He would prefer that over them spending eternity separated from Him, so as unpleasant as the means of death, the result is eternity with God.

    I can see why you say you have a “liberal” theology, because your theology is of your own making. Go back and read your posts. You say nothing positive about scripture at all, let alone quote it, which only shows you haven’t read it; yet you reject it. (In other words, you haven’t shown enough REASONS to reject it, from the text itself.) You want a God who is loving but not just, so you pull out the loving Jesus from scripture and reject the just one (who will come as judge instead of savior next time).

    So like, where did you get your idea of who God is if not from the Bible? And if you DID get it from the Bible, how did you decide which parts were okay to believe and which weren’t?

    A loving, spiritual Jesus was who the Gnostics in the second century wanted to make Him, that’s why Bell is so often referred to as being one. But Jesus will come in a glorified body, and we will get new bodies as well, so there’s something to be said for something other than the mind.

    As for an old earth, you may want to look into the gap theory, there is some evidence to your claim. I would say that God started over with a newly made Earth and new creation, namely man, about 6,000 years ago. He didn’t use evolution to get here however, because you need death for evolution to occur, and the Bible clearly says that death came AFTER sin.

    I’m not a MacArthur follower. You are reading too much of other’s opinions. Read your Bible, if anything, it has been tested.

  81. I’ve read scripture, I should quote it more, granted, so I will quote my favorite Scripture in my favorite version it is

    Matthew 5:38-42
    38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

    I also believe in all scripture, when it is read in the correct context. I think the correct context of Psalm 137 in my view, is an oppressed nation wanting to see vengeance on their enemies, not that God condones it. I love the Bible, I used to dress up as Moses as a kids and pretend to part the red sea. I love the prophets, Isaiah is my favorite. And in no way am I gnostic, because Jesus is flesh and divine, not just a divine spirit that inhabited flesh. I am more into the Day age theory, although I appreciate the gap theory as well. There is microevolution at least, macroevolution possibly, because I don’t doubt the general revelation of creation either. As far as death before sin, no there was no human death but animal death could be possible, some will disagree, but I agree with David Snoke more in the Biblical Case for an Old earth.

    My only problem with Bell is that he is too hard to pin down, and that is a problem, but it also part of our culture nowadays, I am sure not every culture is like that.

    I don’t want you to think I hate the Bible, nor do I want you to think that I hate those who take the Bible more literally then me, because many of those are close friends of mine. I just happen to disagree on interpretation of the texts, I think the day (age) in which the book was written should be taken into consideration in interpreting. Then the application to our day (age) should be tried.

    The view of an apocalyptic vengeful, bloodthirsty Jesus does bother me. I can take it if there is legitimate reason, my biggest worry is that in the Christian community is that we don’t take Jesus’ nonviolent resistance seriously. And we are lead astray by leaders who use the church or God, morals as reasons to go to war, where innocent children are murdered, creating more people who want our children’s death. There is a cycle of violence that won’t stop until we submit ourselves to the King of Kings. I leave you with this to ponder:

    Isaiah 52
    1 Awake, awake, O Zion,
    clothe yourself with strength.
    Put on your garments of splendor,
    O Jerusalem, the holy city.
    The uncircumcised and defiled
    will not enter you again.

    2 Shake off your dust;
    rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem.
    Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
    O captive Daughter of Zion.

    3 For this is what the LORD says:
    “You were sold for nothing,
    and without money you will be redeemed.”

    4 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
    “At first my people went down to Egypt to live;
    lately, Assyria has oppressed them.

    5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD.
    “For my people have been taken away for nothing,
    and those who rule them mock, ”
    declares the LORD.
    “And all day long
    my name is constantly blasphemed.

    6 Therefore my people will know my name;
    therefore in that day they will know
    that it is I who foretold it.
    Yes, it is I.”

    7 How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
    who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
    who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”

    8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
    When the LORD returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.

    9 Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
    for the LORD has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.

    10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
    and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

    11 Depart, depart, go out from there!
    Touch no unclean thing!
    Come out from it and be pure,
    you who carry the vessels of the LORD.

    12 But you will not leave in haste
    or go in flight;
    for the LORD will go before you,
    the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

    The Suffering and Glory of the Servant
    13 See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
    14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him —
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—

    15 so will he sprinkle many nations,
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
    For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

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