Friday Church News Notes
March 25, 2011 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 25, 2011 Volume 12, Issue 12
The Friday Church News Notes is designed for use in churches and is published by Way of Life Literature’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service. Unless otherwise stated, the Notes are written by David Cloud. Of necessity we quote from a wide variety of sources, but this does not imply an endorsement. For instructions on how to unsubscribe to this list or to change mailing addresses, please consult the information paragraph at the end.
ROB BELL’S NEW SWIPE AT HELL (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143) -
Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins has stirred up something of a hornet’s nest of controversy, which we find puzzling. The man has been denying an eternal fiery hell and teaching a universalistic faith for a long time. In a 2005 interview with Beliefnet, Bell said “the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever.” In his influential book Velvet Elvis, which is popular with a great number of Southern Baptists, he described a marriage that he conducted for two pagan unbelievers who told him that “they didn’t want any Jesus or God or Bible or religion to be talked about” but they did want him to “make it really spiritual (p. 76). Bell agreed with this ridiculous request and said that his pagan friends “are resonating with Jesus, whether they acknowledge it or not” (p. 92). Bell’s most recent book, Love Wins, is just more of the same. Not only does he preach near-universalism, he preaches a false god, a false christ, a false gospel, a false heaven, a false hell, you name it. He is a master of taking Scripture out of context and shoehorning his heresies into a text. Though Bell has denied that he believes in universalism, he certainly makes a case for it in this book, though he might have left room for some folk to wind up for awhile in some type of hell. Consider two of many quotes we could offer as evidence: “This insistence that God will be united and reconciled with all people is a theme the writers and prophets return to again and again. ... The God that Jesus teaches us about doesn’t give up until everything that was lost is found. This God simply doesn’t give up. Ever” (Love Wins, Kindle location 1259-1287). “The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most ‘depraved sinners’ will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God. And so, beginning with the early church, there is a long tradition of Christians who believe that God will ultimately restore everything and everybody” (Love Wins, location 1339-1365). Bell even claims that Sodom and Gomorrah will be restored (location 1057-1071, 1071-1082). Bell has nothing but ridicule for the gospel that Jesus died for man’s sins and that those who repent and believe (and only those who repent and believe) will be saved. In true heretic fashion, Bell redefines Biblical terms. He defines both heaven and hell as present realities on earth. He says the statements in Bible about hell being a place of fire and torment are mere poetry.
ROB BELL’S NEW GOD (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) -
In his new book Love Wins, Rob Bell isn’t just rejecting the Bible’s doctrine of hell; he is rejecting the Bible’s God and in so doing is rejecting the very God that his grandparents worshiped. Bell’s God is not the thrice holy Lawgiver who hates sin. In Love Wins there is a photo of a painting that hung on a wall in Bell’s grandmother’s house. It depicts heaven as a shining city on the far side of a dark, burning, fearsome chasm. Bridging the chasm is a cross upon which people are walking toward safety. Bell claims that the God depicted in this painting is not great or mighty (Love Wins, location 1189-1229). He calls the preaching of eternal hell “misguided and toxic,” a “cheap view of God,” and “lethal” (location 47-60, 2154-2180). He implies that this God is not a true friend and protector; he says there is something wrong with this God and calls Him “terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (location 1273-1287, 2098-2113). He even says that if an earthly father acted like the God who sends people to hell “we could contact child protection services immediately” (location 2085-2098). It is obvious that Bell wants nothing whatsoever to do with the God worshiped by his grandparents. Bell’s god is more akin to New Age panentheism than the God of the Bible. He describes God as “a force, an energy, a being calling out to us in many languages, using a variety of methods and events” (Love Wins, location 1710-1724). Bell also worships a false christ. His Jesus is “supracultural ... present within all cultures ... refuses to be co-opted or owned by any one culture ... He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him ... there is only one mountain, but many paths. ... People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways ... Sometimes people use his name; other times they don’t” (Love Wins, location 1827-1840, 1865-1878, 1918-1933).
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO DON’T PERSONALLY TRUST CHRIST? (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143) -
Whether or not all men without personal faith in Christ go to Hell, the nature of that Hell, and whether or not judgment is eternal in duration is extremely important for the preaching of the Gospel. Will God “save some who have not explicitly professed faith in Jesus Christ”? Well, the Bible says certainly not! Ephesians chapter two tells us the condition of every individual outside of regenerating faith in Jesus Christ. He is dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1), controlled by and living according to the working of the devil (v. 2), a child of disobedience (v. 2), dominated by the flesh (v. 3), by nature the child of wrath (v. 3), without Christ (v. 12), an alien and stranger from the covenant of God (v. 12), WITHOUT HOPE (v. 12), WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD (v. 12), far off from God (v. 13). The Bible gives absolutely no hope for those who die without personal faith in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ had already settled this matter before the penning of Ephesians. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ said categorically, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus was a very sincere and religious Jew, and if any category of person could have gone to heaven without being born again, it would have been people like him. Jesus Christ said that it will not happen. In that same conversation Jesus said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18), and, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Praise God for the full salvation that was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ for all that will call upon him in repentance and faith. God IS good; He paid the full price of salvation Himself. We sin, but God suffered in our place. There is no charge of unrighteousness that can legitimately be brought against God. Let us who know the Lord not be guilty of being lazy in getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
ZONDERVAN’S STRANGE CHANGE OF MIND (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) -
After publishing the first four of Rob Bell’s books and his Nooma video series, Zondervan decided not to publish Love Wins. The president of Zondervan said the book “doesn’t fit in with our mission” (“Firestorm Grows over ‘Christian heresy’ Book,” CNN Belief Blog, March 8, 2011). Perhaps that means, “This book is too hot to handle.” I don’t see what else it can mean, because Zondervan published Bell’s books Velvet Elvis and Sex God which contained the same heresies as Love Wins. It appears that Zondervan simply foresaw the “firestorm” of criticism and decided to distance itself. In Velvet Elvis (2005), Bell defined hell as “a way, a place, a realm absent of how God desires things to be” (p. 147), and in Sex God (2007), Bell says hell is where “people aren’t treated as fully human” (p. 21). As we have already cited in this Friday Church News Notes, in Velvet Elvis Bell said that atheists can be saved without personal faith in Christ. In a 2005 interview he said that Jesus did not claim one religion is better than another when he said he was “the way, the truth and the life.” Rather, “his way is the way to the depth of reality” (“‘Velvet Elvis’ Author Encourages Exploration of Doubts,” Beliefnet, 2005). This is exactly what Bell continues to teach in Love Wins. To his credit, the man is willing to state clearly what he believes or doesn’t believe (though he seems to fudge about being a universalist). Zondervan has probably done as much to muddy the waters of biblical truth in the minds of professing believers as any institution on earth today. Why back off now?
“CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL” HYPOCRISY (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143) -
Some of the “conservative” evangelicals are criticizing Rob Bell in a pretty strong way. John Piper tweeted, “Good bye, Rob Bell.” Albert Mohler, Jr. of Southern Baptist Seminary described Bell’s view as “Velvet Hell.” I’m glad to see a bit of backbone among some evangelicals and a level of doctrinal conviction that would drive them to actually name the name of a false teacher, but it appears very hypocritical at the same time. The view that atheists and pagan religionists might be saved without submitting to Jesus Christ is not new. Billy Graham has been saying it for decades, but I don’t recall any outcry from the evangelical world, including from Graham’s own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview with McCall’s magazine, January 1978, entitled “I Can’t Play God Any More,” Graham said: “I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost—were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. … I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ‘yes’ to God.” In 1985, Graham affirmed his belief that those outside of Christ might be saved. Los Angeles reporter David Colker asked Graham: “What about people of other faiths who live good lives but don’t profess a belief in Christ?” Graham replied, “I’m going to leave that to the Lord. He’ll decide that” (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, July 22, 1985). In 1993, Graham repeated this doctrine in an interview with David Frost. “And I think there is that hunger for God and people are living as best they know how according to the light that they have. Well, I think they’re in a separate category than people like Hitler and people who have just defied God, and shaken their fists at God. … I would say that God, being a God of mercy, we have to rest it right there, and say that God is a God of mercy and love, and how it happens, we don’t know” (The Charlotte Observer, Feb. 16, 1993). In an interview with Robert Schuller in May 1997, Graham again said that he believes people in other religions can be saved without consciously believing in Jesus Christ. “[God’s] calling people out of the world for His name, whether WHETHER THEY COME FROM THE MUSLIM WORLD, OR THE BUDDHIST WORLD, OR THE CHRISTIAN WORLD OR THE NON-BELIEVING WORLD, THEY ARE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN CALLED BY GOD. THEY MAY NOT EVEN KNOW THE NAME OF JESUS but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven” (television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller, broadcast in southern California, Saturday, May 31, 1997). What is Rob Bell saying today that Billy Graham hasn’t been saying for more than 30 years?
FULLER SEMINARY PRESIDENT PRAISES ROB BELL’S BOOK (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) -
Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, told USA Today that “Rob Bell’s newly-released Love Wins is a fine book and that I basically agree with his theology” (“The Orthodoxy of Rob Bell,” Christian Post, Mar. 20, 2011). This tells us just how terribly far Fuller Seminary has fallen from its roots in Charles Fuller’s “only through the blood” evangelistic ministry. Mouw agrees with Bell that it is wrong to say, “Accept Jesus right now, because if ten minutes from now you die without accepting this offer God will punish you forever in the fires of hell.” Mouw comments, “What kind of God are we presenting to the person?” The answer is the God of the Bible and the God that was preached by the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary. It is Bell and Mouw who have the new god. Mouw says that after a rabbi friend of his died, he “held out the hope that when he saw Jesus he would acknowledge that it was Him all along, and that Jesus would welcome him into the heavenly realm.” I’ve never read anything like that in the Bible, but C.S. Lewis taught this very thing. Mouw says that those who question Mother Teresa’s salvation just because she believed a false gospel should be ashamed of themselves. Mouw implies that Bell’s critics just want to keep people out of heaven, which is patently ridiculous and slanderous. Mouw would have us believe that he is more compassionate than Jesus, who stated very bluntly, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). Both Bell and Mouw complain about their “critics,” but they don’t draw back from lashing out pretty fiercely at the “fundamentalists.” Bell calls hellfire preaching “lethal,” “toxic,” “unloving,” “creepy,” a “cheap view of God.” No judgmental criticism there! Nothing but compassionate, tolerant dialogue!
C.S. LEWIS’S INFLUENCE ON THE EVANGELICAL DOWNGRADE OF HELL (Friday Church News Notes, March 25, 2011, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143) -
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) has been called a “Superstar” by Christianity Today. A 1998 CT poll rated Lewis the most influential evangelical writer, and In light of the wretched spiritual-doctrinal-moral condition of “evangelicalism” today, that is a very telling statistic and certainly no praise for C.S. Lewis. One of the ways that Lewis has influenced evangelicalism is in the fundamental issues of hell and the exclusiveness of salvation through the name of Christ. Lewis said that it would not be very wrong to pray to Apollo, because to do so would be to “address Christ sub specie Apollonius” (C.S. Lewis to Chad Walsh, May 23, 1960, cited from George Sayer, Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis, 1994, p. 378). Lewis elsewhere claimed that followers of pagan religions can be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco edition, 2001, pp. 64, 208, 209). In the popular Narnia series, which has influenced countless children, Lewis taught that those who sincerely serve the devil (called Tash) are actually serving Christ (Aslan) and will eventually be accepted by God. “But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’ He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.’ ... Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him’” (The Last Battle, chapter 15, “Further Up and Further In”). It is not surprising, then, that Lewis has been cited as a major influence by evangelicals who are soft on hell. Clark Pinnock said, “When I was a young believer in the 1950s, C.S. Lewis helped me understand the relationship between Christianity and other religions in an inclusivist way” (More Than One Way? Zondervan, 1996, p. 107). Richard Mouw says, “If I were given the assignment of writing a careful theological essay on ‘The Eschatology of Rob Bell,’ I would begin by laying out the basics of C.S. Lewis’s perspective on heaven and hell” (“The Orthodoxy of Rob Bell,” Christian Post, March 20, 2011). In the acknowledgements section of Love Wins, Rob Bell writes, “... to my parents, Rob and Helen, for suggesting when I was in high school that I read C.S. Lewis.” Beware of C.S. Lewis. That he is loved with equal fervor by “conservative evangelicals,” hell-denying emergents, Christian rockers, Roman Catholics, Mormons, and even some atheists is a fact that speaks volumes to those who have ears to hear.
CONCLUSION: The Friday Church News Notes is designed for use in churches and is published by Way of Life Literature’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service. Unless otherwise stated, the Notes are written by David Cloud. Of necessity we quote from a wide variety of sources, but this obviously does not imply an endorsement. We trust that our readers will not be discouraged. It is God’s will that we know the times (1 Ch. 12:32; Mat. 16:3) and that we be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The News Notes remind us that the hour is very late, and we need to be ready for the Lord’s coming. Are you sure that you are born again? Are you living for Christ? “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14). This material is sent only to those who personally subscribe to the Fundamental Baptist Information Service mailing list. To SUBSCRIBE, go to http://www.wayoflife.org/wayoflife/subscribe.html. TO UNSUBSCRIBE OR CHANGE ADDRESSES, go to the very bottom of any email received from us and click "Manage My Subscription." Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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