Francis Chan on Rob Bell’s Love Wins

Francis Chan has joined the ranks of Christians responding to Rob Bell’s recent New York Times Bestseller Love Wins.

Here is Chan’s video, with his book-length response coming this summer:

Chan has a genuine concern for the people involved; for him it’s not just a doctrinal issue, it’s a serious human issue, though his doctrine is much the same as several other Christian leaders who have disagreed with Bell’s book.

Unfortunately Chan commits a classic college freshman-level philosophical error. He points out (though not by name) that Bell is appealing to his own sense of right and wrong while he himself (Chan) is simply looking at the Bible. The glaringly obvious shouldn’t have to be pointed out, but since Chan bases much of his argument on this error, here it is:

Francis Chan is not unbiased. Rob Bell is not unbiased. Both Chan and Bell approach the Bible with conceptions of what God is like, and their reading of the Bible further shapes their understanding. Bell has searched the Scriptures and decided God is like this, while Chan has searched the Scriptures and decided God is like that. Neither are unbiased. Neither are relying only on what they think God is like or what they want God to be like.

Chan is saying that he’s just reading the Bible for what it says and taking God at his word, but this isn’t true at all, and here’s one of many reasons why: Jesus said that if your right eye causes you to sin you should gouge it out. Does Francis still have two eyeballs? Yes. So he is either disobeying Jesus or he doesn’t sin, right?

No, this passage must be interpreted. Chan has read the words of Jesus and interpreted that Jesus doesn’t actually mean what he says, not literally anyway. He gets to keep his eyeballs. Is Francis putting himself above God by saying, “Surely Jesus couldn’t have meant what he said?” No, he’s making interpretations.

This says nothing about Chan’s or Bell’s interpretations on Hell. It’s possible that Bell is completely wrong about Hell, but unfortunately the crux of Chan’s argument rests on a simple, blatant error: that he himself is simply reading the Bible and taking God at his word while Bell is only relying on his own mental faculties.

What Does Rob Bell’s Love Wins Reveal About Evangelicals?

Amidst all of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell and his book Love Wins, one thing has given me pause above everything else, and it involves the reactions from the Evangelical Christian world.

The release of this book is a good thing for Evangelicals, and here’s why:

Thousands of us are having our faith held under a light and exposed for what it is:

Fear.

It has become apparent that what has been masking as faith, as Christianity, for some of us for a very long time, is revealing itself in Twitter updates and Facebook links for what it really is:

We’re actually quite a frightened group.

Our theological systems, constructed over the years with bricks of books from authors we agree with, is being tampered with; holes are being poked in our houses of theology; a strange wind is blowing in and we don’t know what to do, and so we react in the only way we know how: attack. Make fun. Look to friends who are saying the same thing for affirmation.

“Defend” God and the Bible.

Who is this weak God needing defenders?

Amidst all the Scripture that comes to mind throughout this ordeal, one has continued to press upon me.

The setting: a few men were preaching about God in a new way, and this angered the religious gatekeepers of the day, the ones who defined Orthodox theology. So much, in fact, that they wanted them killed (they’re preaching heresy, afterall!)

And then something amazing happened.

One of the religious teachers, a man named Gamaliel, stood up to reason with his Orthodox clan. He did not point to the Scriptures in this instance; he did not cite Bible verses to back up his argument. He did not try to defend God. He simply said this: Brothers, before you continue in your tirade against these new teachers, carefully consider this:

“Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you might even find yourselves fighting against God.”

This is calming wisdom.

Not, “These are heretics!” (Though they may be)

Not, “These people are misinterpreting the Bible!” (Though they may be)

Simply this: Leave them alone. If this is not of God, it will pass away soon enough. But if by chance it is of God, your efforts are in vain. In fact, you may soon find that you could even be fighting against God.

Are there religious gatekeepers–that group that defines what Orthodoxy is–in our day?

Rob Bell’s Book “Love Wins” and NT Wright on Universalism

Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” was released on March 15, 2011.

Some people think he might be flirting with universalism. Some think he may deny hell. If the latter is true, he’d be going against a New Testament scholar he seems to admire more than any other: NT Wright. In this Youtube video Wright affirms and explains his view on hell. He ends with this:

“The choices you make here really do matter. There’s part of me that would love to be a Universalist and say, ‘It’ll be all right, everyone will get there [heaven] in the end.’ I actually think the choices you make in the present are more important than that.”

If Bell’s view in “Love Wins” is far from Wright’s he may lose a number of supporters who heretofore have largely considered him to be Evangelical.

Related:

Tim Keller: Salvation's Purpose = Make This World Great

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“I’m trying to overcome a typical, wrong, unbiblical attitude on the part of Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, toward this material world.

There’s a tendency for many Christians to think of this material world – the world we’re in now – as a temporary theater for getting saved so that some day you can escape this material world and live happily in heaven forever.  An awful lot of Christians say, ‘this world is going to die, it’s going to burn up, and while we’re here basically the only thing that’s important is to get people saved, and if they get saved eventually they’ll be able to leave this world.’  So it’s a temporary theater for salvation.

Instead, let’s start at the end.  At the end of time when we actually see what the triune God has been doing in creation and redemption through Jesus Christ, when we get to the very end of the Bible we see not human beings individually rising out of the material world and going to heaven forever.  Instead we see heaven, the power of God, coming down and renewing this material world.  That the whole purpose of everything God is doing in redemption is to create a material world that’s clean, that’s right, that’s pure.  A material world in which there’s no disease and there’s no death and no injustice, there’s no unraveling, there’s no decay.  The whole purpose of salvation is to cleanse and purify this material world.

Jews and Christians believe that this material world is permanent – it’s a good thing in itself.  That an eagle’s flying and great music and the ocean pounding on the shore and a great cup of wine are good things in themselves, because God is not temporarily ‘God is here so someday we’re going to live in heaven’ but the whole purpose of salvation is to make this world a great place.

God sees this world as not a temporary means to an end of salvation, but actually salvation is a temporary means to an end – to the renewal of creation.

Saving souls is a means to an end of cultural renewal.  Does the Christian church understand that?  I’m not sure.”

Rob Bell is a Heretic

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Just wanted to take a minute to point everybody to a great satire site.  The author specializes in Rob Bell (pastor of Mars Hill) heresy posts, I imagine because more traffic comes to the site by mentioning his name, which is a great idea.  It’s called “Apprising Ministries.”  They’ve been going for a couple years and they’ve written some really funny posts.  If you like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, you’ll love this site!  (Slice of Laodicea and Christian Research Network often have the same posts.)

Some other good Christian satire sites:

Article on Mark Driscoll’s Sex Sermons

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Mark Driscoll is controversial.

In other news, water is wet.

Examiner.com did an article on Mark Driscoll’s sermons on sex titled “Pastor Preaches Oral Sex is Biblical”.  The author of the article, Karen McCracken, warns readers that the article contains “adult content.”

So in McCracken’s article on Driscoll’s poor choice of topics and language in the pulpit, she uses language risque enough to preface her article with a warning.  (Don’t miss the irony there)

The piece ends with this paragraph, citing Driscoll’s inclusion in a Top 50 most influential Christians list:

Despite the controversy surrounding Driscoll he was named one of the top 50 most influential Christians in America by Zondervan this past year. For those unaware, the word influential means ‘to influence’ and according to Miriam Webster is defined as: an emanation of spiritual or moral force; corrupt interference with authority for personal gain.

So according to the general tone of the article, Driscoll should not be using adult language to discuss adult topics in an adult setting, while the author of the article does the very same thing.

Plus he’s influential, which means, naturally, he’s a corrupt spiritual force interfering with authority for personal gain.


American Patriot's Bible, Greg Boyd, Perspective

Patriot's Bible

Greg Boyd reviewed The Patriot’s Bible at Christianity Today’s blog Out of Ur.

These days what’s been on my mind is how people’s perspective shapes their thoughts, which shapes what they produce, like blog posts or sermons.  Greg Boyd is going to say certain things about The Patriot’s Bible (if you haven’t guessed, he detests it) based on his own perspective — unfortunately this isn’t as obvious to some — and therefore his sermons/blogs/conversations are going to have a certain bent to them.

It seems to me that we’re all looking for the one right answer to an issue, as if every issue in life were either this or that, black or white, and so when we read a review on one of many Bibles available, we’re looking to give it our stamp of approval or our stamp of heretical.greg boyd

These days what I think of when I read blogs or hear sermons is not, “Is this true or not true,” but “Why has this person come to this conclusion on this text when others have come to completely different conclusions?  What’s at the bottom of this person’s view of the world?”

And most of the time it clears things right up.  Of course Mark Driscoll is going to say that about women in ministry – look at who he reads and the people he associates most closely with.  Of course Hugh Heffner is going to have that opinion about nudity – look at how he’s spent the past 50 years of his life.  Of course Greg Boyd is going to have that perspective on The Patriot’s Bible – listen to his sermons or read his books.

It all goes down to your fundamental views on how life works.

I know this doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m not advocating not debating or blogging about issues, I’m simply saying if we take a few steps back we might save ourselves a lot of energy by first taking a look at everybody’s starting point.

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