Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rob Bell, his Spiritual Poison... and the danger of "Christian Universalism"


I originally meant to get into a full-on diatribe regarding Rob Bell, his controversial book "Love Wins", and the discussion of Christian Universalism and the denial of hell/eternal judgment that the book has stirred up. However, it's such a multi-faceted issue that in the interest of time and brevity I think its best for me to approach this issue over several posts. Frankly, this issue is bigger than Rob Bell; the real issue is the emergence of an apostasy within the Christian world that threatens to engulf many, if not most, denominations in Christendom.By the Lord's help, in future posts I'll deal with the larger issue of why Christian Universalism (which has several nuances and variations) is a major threat to the Body of Christ, and how it is paving the way for the coming Antichrist and the future One World Religion.

So I'll take this piece by piece. But I'll start off with this.

Aaron Armstrong of Blogging Theologically has done a very good job of giving us a review/overview of Rob Bell's book, Love Wins. I encourage my readers to check out the full review. Meanwhile, this snippet from his review puts it into quick perspective:

If Love Wins accurately represents Bell’s views on heaven and hell (at least if our understanding of the book accurately represents his views on heaven and hell), it reveals him as a proponent of a kind of Christian Universalism. He would deny the label as he tends to deny any label. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well, you know how it goes.
What Jesus does is declare that he,
and he alone,
is saving everybody.

And then he leaves the door way, way open. Creating all sorts of possibilities. He is as narrow as himself and as wide as the universe.

People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways.
Sometimes people use his name;
other times they don’t.
Some people have so much baggage with regard to the name “Jesus” that when they encounter the mystery present in all of creation—grace, peace, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness—the last thing they are inclined to name it is “Jesus.”

What we see Jesus doing again and again—in the midst of constant reminders about the seriousness of following him living like him, and trusting him—is widening the scope and expanse of his saving work.
That is what we know as universalism. And it is cause for mourning.
Christians do not need more confusion. They need clarity. They need teachers who are willing to deal honestly with what the Bible says, no matter how hard that truth is. And let’s be honest—many truths are very, very hard to swallow.

Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).

That’s the kind of love that wins. That’s the kind of love that motivates us to love our neighbors enough to compel them to flee from the wrath to come. And our love for people means nothing if we do not first and foremost love God enough to be honest about Him.

Indeed this is one of my biggest problems with Rob Bell. It is that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, the very kind that Jesus warned us of in Matthew 7:15. Bell doesn't want to label himself a universalist, but his book advances universalist ideals more than any "Christian" book in recent memory --- which is exactly his intention. Like a coward who throws a rock from behind the bushes and runs away, Bell promotes an anti-biblical view of God and His plan to deal with unrepented-of sin. Yet he does it by stealth, all the while maintaining this"Who, me?" facade of  pseudo-innocence that allows him to spread his theological poison while he purports to just be "asking questions" or "stirring discussion of the issue". Fact is, Rob Bell is being used of the devil. It doesnt take a tremendous amount of discernment to recognize that.

If you dont know who Rob Bell is, or think he's a relatively insignificant figure, just give it time. Meanwhile, one has to simply Google-search the words Rob Bell heretic, to get a flavor of who this man is, and why his teachings are considered dangerous and subversive to the Body of Christ. Young, hip, and influential pastor of the fast-growing Mars Hill Church, this is a man whom USA today even spoke of as possibly becoming the next "Billy Graham" of his generation.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if within a decade or less his name becomes a household word nationwide, right up there with Graham, Jakes, Osteen, Swaggart (?) and a handful of church personalities who's names are instantly recognizable both in and outside the church world.

But what's different about Bell is that he could well become the standard-bearer for this form of emerging "New Christianity" being advocated by people like Brian McClaren, Carlton Pearson, and others of their ilk --- men the Bible warns us about in the New Testament book of Jude; men whom Paul warned us of when he said:
But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
(2 Tim 3:13)

Hell is an unpleasant reality. None of us takes pleasure in its existence. Indeed, God himself takes no pleasure in it's existence.  But for us to twist the word of God to erase something that we don't like is misguided at best. Bell, Pearson, and a growing list of preachers today don't like the idea of hell, so they adopt a theology that eliminates it. To them, this makes Christianity more palatable to the world at large, but in fact they're doing a disservice to all those who follow them. Rather that being warned to avoid the coming wrath, people are being lulled into a false sense of [eternal] security. Their message may be soothing to the ears, but woe unto those who follow the smooth words of these false prophets. 

The apostotle Paul warned of men like these who would come:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Tim 4:3)


This growth and spread of Christian Universalism in the church world is a phenomenon othat is not going away; in fact, this really is the tip of the iceberg, and this issue will  just continue to evolve and unfold before our eyes.
I think I'm going to have a lot more to say on this issue in the weeks and months ahead.
Meanwhile...blessings to all.
And thanks for stopping by.

Full article: Book Review: Love Wins, by Rob Bell. 


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2 comments:

Wayne said...

I'm in absolute awa of what can happen to a Christian who dosen't read and believe God's word. Paul said that in the last days, "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine' but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truch and shall be turned unto fables.
"Men return again and again to the few who have mastered the spiritual secret, whose life has been hid with Christ in God. These are of the old time religion, hung to the nails of the Cross" (Robert Murray McCheyne) Rob Bell is NOT of that kind. To bad because those that teach the word will receive the greater condemnation, because we are supposed to search out the truth of the scriptures given to us through the Word of God, The Bible.
Pastor Wayne S. Wolaver

Louis Lapides said...

Thanks for taking a stand on the Rob Bell denial of hell issue. As you may know Franklin Graham came out last night on Fox and called Bell a heretic. Check out the report on http://thinkingoutsidetheblog.blogspot.com/