NT Tuesday: The False Gospel According to Rob Bell

“We need to affirm people wherever they are.” ~Rob Bell

“You must be born again.” ~Jesus Christ

If you have been following recent events concerning Christianity over the last few years you, no doubt, have heard of Rob Bell. In fact Rob Bell has been difficult to ignore- in 2011 Time Magazine listed Rob Bell as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has authored numerous books including two New York Times best sellers.

Presently Rob Bell is back in the limelight as he, probably for the first time, stated publicly that he is not opposed to legalizing same sex marriage. This, really, comes as no surprise– however, I am not interested in commenting on his stance regarding this particular issue. Rather, I would like to comment on something else that he said in support of his position on marriage.

Rob stated: “I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” Italics mine, see link to the entire audio recording below.

What exactly does it mean to “affirm people wherever they are”? Unfortunately, I’m not so sure I understand what Rob is trying to say. However, we should be able to gain some understanding of what he means by looking the definitions of the words he uses. :::On the outside chance that Rob might actually be reading this… I invite you to explain what this means in either a comment below or in a guest post.:::

According to dictionary.com the word affirm is a verb that means to state or assert positively; maintain as true, or to express agreement with; uphold; support. The word wherever is a conjunction that means in, at, or to whatever place; in any case or condition. And, finally, are is the ‘present indicative plural and 2nd person singular of be.’

So, putting it all together, when I hear Rob Bell say “we need to affirm people wherever they are” this is what I think he means: “We must express agreement with, and maintain as true whatever place or condition someone is in.”

Really? Is this what we are to do? Is this what our Lord Jesus Christ did? Did He “affirm people wherever they [were]”? Is this what our Lord Jesus Christ told us to do? To express agreement with everyone? Of course not!

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ taught EXACTLY the opposite of this. Jesus taught everyone is actually in the wrong place! That everyone must be radically changed by God Himself… Jesus said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” John 3:7.

Clearly Jesus Christ is not affirming people wherever they are. Jesus Christ not only taught that everyone IS in the wrong place, but that everyone is also heading in the wrong direction. “I tell you… unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5. The Greek word translated repent (Strong’s G3340) means to think differently.

In other words, Jesus Christ did not ‘affirm’ whatever people thought… rather He taught that they must change what they are thinking! That they must repent… meaning they must change from what they think to what God thinks. We must affirm God not each other!

The gospel according to Rob Bell is a false gospel. It is not what the Lord Jesus Christ taught. It is NOT possible to appease society with politically correct platitudes, nor is it possible to win over a culture by assimilating into that culture. Rather we who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must proclaim the exact same Gospel as He did.

2,000 years ago the Gospel was not a popular message… in fact they crucified the messenger! The Gospel is STILL wildly unpopular… those who stand up for and preach the true Gospel today should not expect to be treated any better then He was treated 2,000 years ago.

 

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Sources:
Rob Bell Entire audio of his recent comments.
Denny Burk Blog post critical of Rob Bell.
Greg Carey Blog post supportive of Rob Bell.
Wikipedia entry for Rob Bell.

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Postscript: If given the chance this is what I would say to Rob Bell: “When I compare your teachings with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ I find there is a great difference between the two and I must follow what He taught. I also believe that I have the responsibility to warn others about your false teachings. I do not hate you, I simply disagree with you. If somehow our paths cross one day, I would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and explore these things together.”

 

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WWW Wednesday: Wireless Prayer…

wireless prayer

My regular Wednesday post over at the Why We Web blog was just posted.

This week’s post explores a few inspirational thoughts regarding the original form of wireless communication.

Link: Wireless Prayer…

 

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NT Tuesday: The Lord’s Day Pt. 2

But we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:6-7 ESV

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. Revelation 1:10 ESV

Golden Gate BridgeLast week we looked at the nature and characteristics of the Lord’s day from scripture.

I would like to consider some additional thoughts on this subject, however, I suppose it is safe to say that these thoughts will be more musings than commentary on scripture.

Let me be clear, we need to be governed by the truth contained in Colossians 2:16-17 – “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” But I also think we would be wise to take before the Lord how He would want us to live on the Lord’s day– as well as, every other day.

If the Lord’s day is supposed to have a characteristic that reflects that Jesus Christ is Lord, then what does that day look like?

I think it is fair to say that we ought not to be indifferent towards the Lord’s day. If the Lord required obedience to the Sabbath based on Law, then out of love, in response to grace, we ought to look upon the Lord’s day in a serious way. Do we use the Lord’s day for spiritually profitable things or for a “day off”, recreation, amusement, errands, work, etc? If there was value for the people of the former dispensations to set aside one day, would there not be value in the people of God in this dispensation to also set aside a day – out of love, not law?

Of course, we won’t find real rest even by voluntarily, in response to love, setting aside a day for the Lord and unto the Lord. We will only find real rest in the person of the Lord of the Sabbath.

I am not trying to be legalistic, just contemplative, even purposeful. I think we would do well if we seriously considered our use of the the Lord’s day and whether it reflects the Lord and His priorities or whether it reflects our own selfish desires and priorities.

Until next week, press on and enter into the rest that comes only from Jesus Christ.

 

[photo credit]

 

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2013 – The Year Of The Great Comets?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 ESV

Comet in the night skyAccording to astronomers there will be two major celestial events that could make 2013 known as “The Year Of The Comets.” Over the course of the year two different comets are predicted to become visible to the unaided eye from most areas on Earth.

The first of the two comets, 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS), should become visible sometime during the months of March and April. The site will be one that most living people have never seen.

However, the second of the two comets (named Comet Ison) could produce a sight so spectacular that no one in generations has seen! How spectacular? Well if the astronomers’ predictions are correct the comet could even outshine a full moon in the night sky!!

I find the prospect of this second comet to be extremely exciting. Unfortunately, we will need to exercise a bit of patience as this event is not predicted to take place until late November at the earliest.

Unfortunately, many will fail to ascribe glory to the Creator of the universe for these spectacular events. Nevertheless, the truth of God’s Word remains unchanged: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1.

Are you wondering if there really is a God? Maybe you’re looking for a sign from God? If so just look to the sky! Because the heavens declare His glory! and proclaims His handiwork!! In 2013 the sky will proclaim– even scream– His handiwork.

 

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Source: The Independent

Photo credit: NASA

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5 Tips – Library Maintenance

“When you come, bring… the books, and above all the parchments.” 2 Timothy 4:13 ESV

library bookshelfBrother John Bjorlie of Grand Rapids, MI has graciously given Digital Sojourner permission to publish the following article. The helpful and practical advice that he shares with us was originally given by him to his children on Christmas Day. Thank you brother John! ~~ Scott

As you build your libraries there are some predictable difficulties you can overcome. Dusty, inefficient, clogged libraries are common, but not necessary. Here are some rules to library enjoyment.

  1. Keep reading. John Wesley said, “When you stop reading you stop growing.” It is easy to get into a rut in your mental habits. Reading thoughtful, challenging books will get you out of that ditch.
  2. Write in your books. I put my notes on the blank pages at the back of the book. Inexplicably, some books have no index. This is strange, because it is really not that much work to create an index. Study books should always have an index. When you take good notes it may end up looking like an index. I now will copy my notes into my machine along with the book description. In this way, if I lose the book or give it away I still have the results of my read.
  3. Keep some books. There are books that you will always want. They are reference works. Books you have written in, classics that you do not have digitally, and Bible translations are keepers.
  4. Give away books. Most books are not keepers, but many are worth passing on. When you loan a book mentally treat it like a donation. Our Lord said, “lend, not asking again.” I take the sense of this passage that when people borrow from you they may not return the loan. If you therefore treated the loan all along as if it were a gift you will not be hurt and offended. In this way your generous impulses will not narrow. If you can not afford to lose that book, then don’t lend it. Personally I will sooner give a book away then lend it. There are many books in my library that are profitable, but they are not the sort of book that I will read a second time. Keep those give-away books in a separate place, and before a visitor leaves, send him along with a gift. I have friends who are expert book givers. When they are blessed by a particular book they buy it in quantities and give them out to house-guests, saying, “This book has been a special help to me spiritually. I would love for you to have a copy.”
  5. Throw away books. Most books are worthless, and worse than worthless. Usually the Christians have discernment. Their libraries do not contain trash. But occasionally I notice rubbish that has crawled in between the bookends. Books by heretics, silly novels, pointless books should be used for kindling. The book burning at Ephesus was a triumph. Paul gave us a guide to our reading habits in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if any praise, think on these things.”

—advice given to my children, 25/12/2012, John Bjorlie

 

[photo credit]

 

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WWW Wednesday: Digital Redux: Your Sin Will Find You Out

David Petraeus with his right hand on a Bible held by his wife being sworn in as the Director of the CIA by Vice-President Joe BidenMy regular Wednesday Post on the Why We Web Blog is now available.

Over the last week the United States has been rocked by the shocking revelation of Gen. David Petraeus affair and subsequent resignation from his position of Director of the CIA.

His misdeeds apparently came to light because of something as mundane as email. There are many lessons for the child of God from this sad tragedy… In the Digital Age God’s Word is as relevant as it has always been: “your sin will find you out” Numbers 32:23 NJKJ.

Link: Digital Redux: Your Sin Will Find You Out

 

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WWW Wednesday: God’s Fingerprints, Facebook, And The Unexpected

Connecting With Jesus Love

My regular Wednesday post on the Why We Web Blog is now available.

Yesterday brought the unexpected. No, not the election results. I’m referring to something much more personal: an unexpected medical emergency. Yet, as I look back at everything that transpired God’s fingerprints of love are stunningly obvious– and He used an unexpected tool: Facebook.

Link: God’s Fingerprints, Facebook, And The Unexpected

 

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My Creator: Right and Wrong

Speaking in a TED Talk David Christian, who is the creator (notice the word I used there) of a university course called Big History, says

“Let’s wind the clock back 13.7 billion years ago to the beginning of time. Around us there is nothing. There’s not even time or space. Imagine the darkest emptiest thing you can and that’s where we are. Then suddenly, BAM a universe appears.  An entire universe.”


Really David? We are supposed to believe that absolutely nothing “existed” then all of a sudden an entire universe existed? This is not science, this is faith. It’s funny how Big Bang promoters love to push the science vs religion discussion saying that religion is not scientific. It seems clear that the big bang theory is far more faith based than the creation account.
As a believer in God the creator and a literal 6 day creation I find it remarkable that evolutionists use terms like “we know…” and “this is how it happened…” There is no possible way they could ever know since no one was there to record it.  There were no scientific experiments or tests done at the beginning of time that we can look back to and say, “Ah so that’s how it all started”.  In the end we all come to the same conclusion – my belief is based on faith after examining the evidence around me.

I respect the atheist who says that after examining the evidence as he sees it he has come to the conclusion there is no God but that he cannot prove his faith.  I don’t respect the atheist who says there is absolute proof that God does not exist. That belief is foolish and juvenile.

Let’s be honest Christian, we do not believe in God because there is 100% scientific proof that He exists. There isn’t.  We believe God exists because of evidence that includes science but goes far beyond it.  In fact we believe in God because of faith.  We can argue with people about our evidences (and they are necessary as we are challenged in scripture to be ready to defend our faith) but at the very heart of the discussion we must come the subject of faith.  Over the next several Mondays I’d like to share my personal evidence for My Creator. Some of these are non-scientific and non-biblical and some are.

 


Morality


 

This is a very troubling problem for the atheist. If you agree that there is no God and we are just a collection of cells with no moral base then you cannot accept any right or wrong in the world. Richard Dawkins says, “We live in a universe which has ‘no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” [1] William Provine of Cornell University agrees and writes, “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” [2]

Now leaving aside the Bible for a moment even the most basic preview of human life would be aghast at this belief.  Tell the young woman who was raped violently that there is no evil and no meaning to life. Tell the Jewish daughter whose parents were tortured and exterminated in the Holocaust that their life had no value and her pain is imaginary. Tell the families of the victims in 9/11 that it was just a big chemical reaction that caused those men to fly planes into the World Trade Centre and that animal instincts took over.

The problem the atheist has in getting 90% or so of the world to buy into this concept. You can’t remove a moral standard (such as God), preach that there is no morality and expect the world religions to crumble. That’s because at the heart of all of us there is a basic belief in morality. I find it interesting that the Bible says in Psalm 2, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” It’s not the mind that is the problem but the heart. Thomas Nagy, atheist professor at New York University is surprisingly honest when he says, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” [3] He has a heart problem not a head problem.

Now let’s come back to the Bible since this is my evidence for a creator.  The Bible’s view of morality is consistent in that it presents a God who establishes moral conduct. If there is a God who created us (and I believe there is) then it is entirely consistent to believe that right and wrong exists and that there is meaning to life. I don’t have to contradict what I already know in my heart is true. When I see evil in the world I have a solid basis for why that evil exists.

Finally the Bible gives an explanation to the meaning of life. God has told us that He created us to have an intimate and personal relationship with Him. He has created us in His own likeness (don’t mistake that to mean we are all gods) so that we might experience a life that is far beyond our physical existence.

So in conclusion the atheist cannot explain morality in their theories so they dismiss it and say it doesn’t exist. Well that is not something I (and most of the world) are ready to accept as a plausible explanation.  Faith has brought me to agree with God about His existence and morality.

 

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Jump to the next post in this series…

Sources:
1. Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995.
2. Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1):9, 1994. 
3. Nagel, T., The Last Word, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997, p. 130.

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Why We Web Wednesday: “911 Was Busy”

Hurricane Sandy Belmar NJ BoardwalkThe recent superstorm that brought death and destruction to the Caribbean and eastern seaboard of the United States highlights the undeniable truth that modern technology is anything but reliable. In fact, technology often fails when we “need” it the most. Check out this week’s WWW Blog post regarding my contemplations on the storm and what (or Who) is truly reliable.

Link: “911 Was Busy”

 

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The Heavens Declare…

eso1242

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1 ESV

The European Southern Observatory recently released an absolutely ginormous 9 gigapixel image showing over 84 million stars from the ‘central bulge’ of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Link: eso1242 Photo Release

I find this to be incredibly staggering… according to Wired Magazine the image is 108,200 by 81,500 pixels in size. If the full resolution 24.6 gigabyte image were to be printed it would measure 30 feet tall and 23 feet wide… and yet the image only captures a relatively small portion of only one galaxy.

How anyone could contemplate this with an open mind** and then walk away unconvinced that there is an all powerful creator God is beyond me.

 

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**Because atheists have eliminated even the possibility of the existence of a supreme being– atheists, by definition, do not have an open mind.

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