This is a guest-post by a friend of mine. Andrew examines a recent article on Huffington Post in defence of Rob Bell in evangelical circles.
Doctrine Divides....and Sometimes It Should (Part 1)
Article by Andrew B
Welcome back. In part 1 of this article, I began dissecting Tim Suttle’s piece entitled, “Will Evangelicalism Last?” over at the religious section of the Huffington Post. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here. I’ll pick up exactly where I left off, as we get to the meat of Suttle’s article…
“Christians are not meant to believe in a rational account of the truth; we are meant to take up our cross and follow the one who is true; the truth as it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.”
We’re meant to take up our cross? Sounds like a truth statement to me…
“Most importantly, we must recognize that the fight for truth is nearly always a fight for control. Those who passionately defend the truth are often just grasping for power.”
Massive assumption based on no evidence at all. I could just as easily say that those who embrace and preach many truths are merely grasping for power by seeking to include and appease a larger group of people. But I wouldn’t, because that’s an assumption.
“Whatever you think of his writing, in all the attacks Rob Bell faced over his book Love Wins he never got ugly or defensive. Bell's Christ-likeness patiently proclaimed the good news of the resurrection in stark contrast to those who tried to burn him at the stake.”
Christ-likeness? Check Jesus storming the temple (John 2:13-17) and cursing out the Pharisees (Matt. 23). Also note that wolves come in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). The really good heretics are not the obvious ones. This is a teaching that a disturbing amount of Christians forget when responding to false teachers. At the end of the day just because a preacher appears nice/kind/loving is beside the point (even though every gospel preacher should be those things). John calls us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Furthermore, what is Suttle’s “good news of the resurrection” exactly? We will get into that later on.
“I know the objection. Isn't the Bible the truth? Again, this is a power play dressed up in a defense of orthodoxy. The Bible is the truthful witness to the one who is the way, the truth and the life.”
Check John 1.
Jesus (who is the Truth) is also the Word. What does that mean? Jesus embodied scripture in such a way that he was the perfect communication of God to the world. If Jesus is the Truth, and Jesus is also the Word of God, then the word is truth. I feel like a lot of this is so obvious it shouldn’t have to be said. The implication then is that if we are liberal in our handling of the word and refuse to take it seriously, then how will we receive Jesus who is described as the “Word become flesh” (John 1:14). What type of Jesus will we end up with?
“Mission should constitute the evangelical center.”
First of all, scripture please? Second of all, I partially agree with him. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (check Rom. 11:36, Ps. 16:5-11), and part of glorying God is calling others to join with us in this worship. But what does Suttle mean when he says “mission”? Well, he goes on to say “I'm talking about justice, mercy, faith and living in allegiance to the Gospel.” This is such a contradictory statement for him. Allegiance to the gospel? I don’t think he understands how that phrase goes against everything he’s arguing for. Not only does “allegiance to the gospel” mean preaching and adhering to a set, absolute TRUTH, it also implies REJECTING that which is NOT the gospel.
The rest of Suttle’s article honestly just gets increasingly worse. I agree, wholeheartedly, that missions is an important and essential part of Christianity, however we must never forget that the ultimate reason for missions is not just so that we can all get along or EVEN for the salvation of lost souls. Too often we forget that the ultimate reason for evangelism, preaching the word and people coming to a saving faith in Christ is NOT to keep people from an eternity in hell, but rather to gather souls to worship and enjoy our great God. To quote John Piper: “Missions exists because worship doesn’t”. And what does God say about the manner in which we are to worship Him? We are to worship him in spirit and…? Yeah, you guessed it – TRUTH (John 4:24).
I’ll end with this:
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 1:13
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” 2 Tim. 4:3