‘Alarm Bells’ – Rob and Kristen

When Pastor Gary Gilley was here as the guest of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries [March/April 2006] I asked him to speak on 2 specific issues. One was the ‘seeker-sensitive’ or ‘user-friendly’ approach to preaching the Gospel as promoted in Rick Warren’s ‘Purpose Driven Movement’. The other was what has come to be known as ‘The Emerging Church’. This is a very loose ‘coalition’ of post-modern pastors and conference speakers. Many view Brian McLaren as being the main Emerging ‘guru’ and Gary Gilley devoted time in his talk to exposing some of the heresies of this man. I too have also addressed Brian McLaren in the article found on this link – http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-december-2006/

However, during the ‘emerging’ section of his talk Gary Gilley also mentioned the husband and wife team of Rob and Kristen Bell. On the following link there are biographical details of Rob Bell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Bell and herewith are some helpful extracts from that link –

Robert “Rob” Bell (born August 23, 1970) is an author, Christian speaker, and the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church located in Grandville, Michigan. He is also the featured speaker in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA. Bell and his wife, Kristen, have two boys and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan… Bell, son of Judge Robert Holmes Bell, nominated by Ronald Reagan to the federal judiciary and publicly confirmed by the United States Senate, grew up in a traditional Christian environment…Rob later decided to attend Wheaton College without knowing what he wanted to study. While at Wheaton, Bell, along with friends Dave Houk, Brian Erickson, Steve Huber, and Chris Fall formed the indie rock band, _ton bundle, which was reminiscent of bands like R.E.M. and Talking Heads. Wheaton College was also where Bell met his wife, Kristen, whom he married a few years later…Bell received his bachelor’s degree in 1992 from Wheaton and worked a job teaching waterskiing in the summers at Wheaton College’s Honey Rock Camp…During this time, Bell offered to teach a message to the camp counselors after no preacher could be found. Rob says the Spirit impelled him to accept the responsibility and taught a message about “rest”…He believes that God led him to teaching at this moment. In preparation for his message, Rob nervously walked through the woods of the camp, he says he felt the presence of God and heard his words (not in an audible voice but inner words) saying, “teach this book, and I will take care of the rest”…Bell moved to Pasadena, California to pursue this calling and received an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. .. Bell and his wife moved from California to Grand Rapids to …In February 1999, Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church, with the church originally meeting in a school gym in Wyoming, Michigan. Within a year the church was given a shopping mall in Grandville, Michigan and purchased the surrounding land. In July 2000 the 3,500 “grey chair” facility opened its doors. As of 2005, over 10,000 people attend the three “gatherings” on Sundays…Rob Bell is the featured speaker in the first series of NOOMAs – a series of short films that explore questions that might arise as a person explores the Christian faith. The title of the videos, “NOOMA”, is an English variation of the Greek word “pneuma” which means wind or spirit…While Rob Bell has never claimed an association with the movement, Bell’s critics often associate him with the Emergent Church movement, pointing out that Bell teaches that the church should embrace mystery and doubt rather than certainty. In his writings, he prefers to view the Bible as one of many possible sources of truth and he points out that many different religious traditions can be useful in finding a path to God. “This is not just the same old message with new methods. We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.” [3] His teaching is often characterized as postmodern. He does not believe that all the answers can be found in “Scripture alone.” …Some conservative Christians have claimed that Bell’s teaching of the gospel as described in the book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith is flawed and compromises many essential Christian doctrines along with the basic message of the gospel…In a Chicago Sun Times article entitled The Next Billy Graham?, Bell says of his critics: “When people say that the authority of Scripture or the centrality of Jesus is in question, actually it’s their social, economic and political system that has been built in the name of Jesus that’s being threatened,” Bell says. “Generally lurking below some of the more venomous, vitriolic criticism is somebody who’s created a facade that’s not working.”

That was my first introduction to Rob Bell.  Then in the early part of March this year I was invited to speak at the house fellowship of a church in Co Antrim and whilst there the minister explained to me that his Youth Fellowship young people had recently attended a joint youth meeting where a DVD of Rob Bell had been shown to them and from the feedback he received from some of his young people he was quite rightly and justifiably concerned. He then rented a DVD of Rob Bell speaking and he showed it at the start of the house meeting. It was called ‘Bullhorn’ and lasted 12 minutes. From the following website I downloaded the undernoted ‘promotional’ details for this DVD –

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntk=keywords&Ntt=nooma&action=Search&N=0&Ne=0&event=PPCSRC&nav_search=1&cms=1&p=1018818

Nooma #9: Bullhorn, DVD
Rob Bell
Retail Price: $12.99
CBD Price: $9.99
( In Stock )

God loves everyone, so a Christian should, too. In fact, Jesus said the most important thing in life is to love God with everything we’ve got and love others in the same way. But it’s not always easy to love everyone around us, is it? Sometimes we strongly disagree with other people’s political views, religious beliefs, behaviours, or something else, and it makes it hard to love them when we feel like we’re right and they’re very wrong. But Jesus doesn’t separate loving God and loving others. So maybe the best way for us to show our love for God is actually by loving other people no matter how hard it sometimes is. Maybe it’s the only way. 12 minutes.

For your information – the name NOOMA is an English phonetic spelling of the Greek word ‘pneuma’, which is commonly translated to “spirit” or “breath”.

I should also add that the word ‘Bullhorn’ refers to what we in the UK would know as a ‘Megaphone’ – defined as ‘a funnel-shaped instrument used to amplify the voice’.

I must confess that I felt a mixture of nausea and anger as I listened to what Rob Bell had to say in this DVD. The main themes were firstly a mocking attack upon street-preachers who, with the aid of a ‘Bullhorn’ are willing to publicly challenge people with the reality of sin and its consequences. He was quite scathing in his attack upon their methods. But secondly, as a theme, there was basically his rejection of the message of these street-preachers. Rather than their biblically honest message of sin and its consequences he was ‘over-the-top’ in his insistence that only the message of ‘God is love’ should be set before people. You can read my reaction to that in an email of mine that I include later in this article.

In the last few days I have visited the website of the church that Rob Bell pastors and it can be accessed on this link http://www.marshill.org/ and I have extracted some quotes from it and will add my comments to them.

We are joining God in the restoration of all things by completely giving ourselves to a revolution of love. Our desire is to bring hope and justice to our neighbours and our world. [Cecil’s comments – Here we see right away the major emphasis on ‘love’. In seeking to reach the lost we must of course “speak the truth in love” [Ephesians 4:15] – genuine Christian ‘love’ is never at the expense of ‘truth’ [see 1st Corinthians 13:6] – The goals stated here are to bring ‘hope and justice’ to people – what happened to ‘salvation’ through the faithful preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as stated in Romans 1:16 – are Rob Bell and his associates ‘ashamed of the gospel of Christ’? ].

http://www.marshill.org/about/sundayGatherings.php

Mars Hill Bible Church is located at 3501 Fairlanes Avenue, Grandville, Michigan. At Mars Hill we refer to our Sunday church services as “the gatherings.” There are three identical gatherings on Sunday at 9am, 11am & 6pm. [Cecil’s comments – The use in the name of the church of ‘Mars Hill’and its appellation of ‘Bible’ will unfold in all their hypocrisy as we progress through this article].

http://www.marshill.org/mission/index.php

When we start to make a big, noticeable difference among kids in West Michigan who need food and shelter and when we can actually start pulling loads of poor people out of poverty in Grand Rapids and beyond through micro finance… a whole new conversation will start about what the church is and who Jesus is.

As we prepare to engage the problems of our neighbourhoods and world, we want to do so as a community that is unified in spirit and mind. Because of this, we invite you into a season of discernment.

Missional areas of focus

  • [X] – Every kid in West Michigan should have food and shelter.
    more info
  • [Y] – The poorest of Grand Rapids who are willing and able should
    be given a chance to earn a living.
    more info
  • [Z] – The poorest people in the world should be given a chance
    to help themselves.
    more info

[Cecil’s comments – This sounds more like a party-political manifesto than the Bible-inspired mission of a church. The church is meant to be “the pillar and ground of truth” [1 Timothy 3:15] proclaiming the sinful estate of all mankind and the only remedy for that estate as being salvation through faith in the finished redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is not meant primarily to be a ‘feeding station’ for the poor – even disciples in Jesus’ day made that mistake and He corrected their thinking as we read in Matthew 26:7-11].

http://www.marshill.org/about/believe.php

Can you imagine what would happen if a group of people with untold resources, passion and energy started asking the question, “How do we hear the cry of the oppressed?”. What if they were actually willing to wade into the cultural, economic, racial, global and personal issues involved without fear, with the confidence that no matter how painful, messy and volatile it got, Jesus would guide them the whole way?

[Cecil’s comments – Again we have a ‘party-political’ type manifesto that is merely tinkering with ‘the fruits’ of sin rather than confronting ‘the roots’ of sin]

http://www.musicatmars.com/

Join in with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . don’t hold back. Sing from your toes. Pray from your guts. Worship the Eternal Creator from your soul. It’s not about perfect music; it’s about joining the holy roar of a community honestly wrestling with what it means to follow their Creator.

[Cecil’s comments: We are taken here on a trip round the human body from ‘the toes’ to the ‘guts’ and to the ‘soul’ – what is noticeable by its absence is any reference to the ‘heart’ – the Lord Himself spoke of “This people draweth near unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” and added “in vain they do worship me” – and why was that – because they were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” [Matthew 15:8-9] and as you will read shortly Rob Bell is ‘teaching for doctrines his commandments’ rather than the biblical doctrines and commandments of God].

To illustrate how the teachings of Rob Bell represent ‘the commandments of men’ rather than true biblical ‘doctrines’ I want to quote some extracts from one of a number of articles that Pastor Ken Silva of ‘Apprising Ministries’ has written on Rob Bell. [There is a link to Ken Silva’s website on our own ministry website COOL LINKS section that can be accessed on http://apprising.org/ ]

The particular article that I am quoting from is found on this link

http://www.apprising.org/archives/2006/08/rob_bell_gospel.html

and herewith are the extracts…

In his article STAR POWER|A HIGHER CALLING: His message packs the house covering the final night of Rob Bell’s recently wrapped up tour of “bars, music clubs and theatres in a huge circle of the United States he made by tour bus,” David Crumm of the Free Press writes:…

In his [Rob Bell’s] road show, he dismisses creationism, the idea that the world literally was created in six days. And he argues that the Bible’s message is more about helping the world’s poor than about personal success.

Bell said that, even though his own nondenominational church is often described as evangelical, he doesn’t like to use that word anymore. “The word evangelical has been hijacked by people with a loaded political agenda.

What got Jesus angry was poverty, institutional racism and religious people who were indifferent to suffering people,” Bell said. “And what got Jesus very angry were religious people going around proclaiming who was in and who was out of God’s kingdom.”

The actual mission of Jesus Christ is a real area of confusion with leaders within the Emergent Church. In fact Tara Dooley, who interviewed Rob Bell for the Houston Chronicle, gives us Bell’s own vacuous version of the Christian mission:

We are passionate about people being healed on the inside, and we are passionate about society being healed on the outside,” Bell said. “We would call that the whole Gospel.” (emphasis mine)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ without Jesus? Um, I don’t think so Rob. And I’m hardly the only one who can see that his presentation is off…Let’s consider this bit of testimony from pastor Jason Woolever, who along with Emergent theologian Leonard Sweet, happens to be with the very liberal United Methodist Church. In his post Rob Bell and hell Woolever tells us:

I just watched Rob Bell’s Nooma video, “Bullhorn.” In the video Rob is speaking out against Christians who stand on the street corner and use a bullhorn to tell people that they need to repent or they are going to burn in hell. Rob seems very concerned because people like this are misrepresenting God. He says Jesus never talked that way and that he would never do that. Rob talks about the centrality of love in Christianity. Loving those who are different than us and who don’t believe the same thing as us. He says that when we do so, we are actually loving God. Agreed.

It seems to me that Rob is largely reacting to bad Christianity by presenting a half gospel’.

Well Jason, as we’re about to see it’s more like no gospel at all…The question that needs to asked is just what kind of Christianity are you “communicating” there Rob when you leave out the central element–the Cross of Jesus Christ? …there’s good reason why Rob Bell’s not more cross-centred…, because in his own warped and toxic view of the atonement Christ redeemed the universe on the Cross and allegedly everything in it. As such there would be no need for repentance and even being born again because Bell believes that everyone is alreadyredeemed. And then, right in line with Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt, we have the reimagined social gospel because the Emergent mission is to simply awaken people to what they already have and then teach them how to be “followers of Jesus” in the “kingdom” regardless of what their own particular “faith traditions” might happen to be. 

…what follows now is a brief look at Rob Bell’s spiritualised universal view of the atonement from Velvet Elvis:

So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth, to God.” All things everywhere. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves bydoing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making. (146, emphasis mine)

This poses an interesting question: Rob, does “all things everywhere” include Satan himself?… In his short review of Bell’s Velvet Elvis pastor-teacher Gary Gilley…reminds us that Bell’s “message apparently has incredible appeal.” Then he asks the critical question for the Christian:

But what is his message? Bell echoes many of the themes found in the writings of other emergent leaders, such as Brian McLaren. For example:

1) Redefining the gospel message. Bell seems to have a better grasp of the gospel than McLaren but, like a fly buzzing around, he never quite lights long enough for us to be sure. He admits to Christ coming to bring forgiveness, righteousness and restoration. But he is critical of people having to believe the right things (the gospel) to get “in” (pp. 34-35).

2) Who is “in” or “out” does not seem to be an issue to Bell. He never discusses his position on universalism/inclusivism, but the implication is that God must have others who would not call themselves Christians (pp. 166; 146, 161).

3) Of course, if that is true, the need to bring others to Christ is not necessary. In fact, Bell is highly critical of those who would evangelise, preferring that we would just “be a blessing.” He writes, “God chooses people to be used to bless other people….God blesses everybody” (p. 165).

For those of us who have studied this neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church we recognize immediately that this is indoctrination into the new pseudo-Christian message of the alleged “spiritual journey.”

…Dale Van Dyke of Reformation 21 correctly states in his very thorough review of Bell’s book Velvet Elvis:

According to Bell, Jesus’ death actually and really accomplished the forgiving of everyone’s sins and the reconciliation of everybody to the Father. In other words, God’s wrath has been propitiated for everyone. He now loves everybody in the same way and seeing everyone as robed in the righteousness of Christ. All that is left is for people to “live in this new reality”…

This doctrine is not only erroneous, it has disastrous results. Bell’s error here is precisely what has lead to the abysmal decline of missions in the mainline churches. After all, if the nations are already reconciled to God because of Christ, why bother them with pesky, fundamentalist missionaries who demean them by telling them they still need to be saved from the wrath that is to come?

If the Lord is angry enough with what is attempting to pass for His Church in America today …just how do you think He’s going to handle a punk rock appreciating pseudo pastor like Rob Bell? A mixed up man who will enthral audiences with his theories about quantum physics and evolutionary fairytales until people nearly believe in his almost the gospel message?

Another very helpful website [again one of the COOL LINKS on our own ministry website under the heading of ‘Beware of Contemplative Prayer] is that of Lighthouse Trails Publishing and the following link

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/robbell.htm

will take you to a selection of helpful articles and websites.

Earlier I wrote ‘The use in the name of the church of ‘Mars Hill’ and its appellation of ‘Bible’ will unfold in all their hypocrisy as we progress through this article’. We have already seen from Ken Silva’s article how, unlike Paul who on Mars Hill affirmed the Biblical revelation of God’s creative work, Rob Bell chose to  ‘dismiss’ such creation truth. In the following extracts from an article posted on this link

http://www.gender-news.com/article.php?id=37

you will be able to gauge for yourself just how much the ‘Bible’ does actually govern and direct what happens in Rob Bell’s church.

Monday, September 27th, 2004
by Jeff Robinson

Mars Hill Bible Church opened its doors in February of 1999 with a stated desire to exist as a “church where scripture would be taught in a new way, a way that would reach a changing culture.”

…In those early days of church plant exhilaration, Knapp did not dream that within four years Mars Hill’s desire to engage the Gen-X culture would result in no small capitulation to the feminism incipient within that very culture. On June 9, 2003, Mars Hill amended its constitution and statement of faith, opening all offices-including that of elder-to women. Today, the church has two women serving on its eight-member elder board. Mars Hill’s original constitution/confession of faith clearly set forth-in Section 6.400-the traditional view that Scripture limits the office of elder to males…”During the annual church meeting in September of 2002, (Mars Hill pastor) Rob Bell mentioned in a very tangential way that the church board and he were looking into the issue of women in church leadership,”… A vote took place after a series of Tuesday evening gatherings of the congregation, called the “Areopagus Meetings,” during which Bell presented leadership’s rationale for moving toward egalitarianism. Three such meetings were initially planned, but due to the overwhelming number of questions from those who attended the first three, a fourth was added,… What drove Bell’s seemingly abrupt ardour for egalitarianism? …it apparently stems from Bell’s drinking deeply from the well of a radical new hermeneutic proposed by William Webb in his 2001 book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis…”Truth for them [Rob Bell and Mars Hill Church]  seems to be more subjective and experiential than a product of a worldview developed by means of an interaction with God’s Word, an interaction that often requires rigorous exegetical study and a measured reflection upon the results of that study.”

Unlike the Apostle Paul, who on Mars Hill in Athens [see Acts 17:22-34] was totally faithful in his preaching to God’s truth as revealed in His scriptures, Rob Bell in his modern day ‘Mars Hill’ Church in Michigan, USA is, with calculation, being unfaithful to those same scriptures. Rob Bell is disobeying the Word of God and dishonouring the God of the Word.

In the DVD ‘Bullhorn’ that I mentioned earlier he mocks those who publicly proclaim the need for men to repent of their sins and turn to Christ for salvation. What a contrast this modern-day ‘Mars Hill Message’ is from that proclaimed by Paul in Athens when he declared to his listeners “God who made the world and all things in it…And hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and hath determined …that they should seek the Lord…overlooked the times of this ignorance but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent [A ‘Bullhorn’ message?] Because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge [Another ‘Bullhorn’ message?] the world in righteousness” [Acts 17:24-31].

I think John the Baptist would have fallen foul of Rob Bell’s views on ‘Bullhorn’ preaching for saying in Matthew 3:2 “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and for telling the Pharisees and Sadducees in verses 7-8 “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits befitting repentance”. We learn in Luke 3:19-20 that through being bold enough to challenge Herod’s immoral relationship with his sister-in-law Herodias, this led to John being incarcerated in prison – obviously if he had simply preached that ‘God is love’ he would not have ended up behind bars and would not have been executed. How did the Lord Jesus view the ‘Bullhorn’ preaching of John the Baptist – He said in Matthew 11:11 “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist”.

When it comes to challenging people publicly through preaching and witness with their need to repent of their sins and believe the Gospel the Bible shows clearly that this can be done in a ‘general’ sense as with Paul and John the Baptist addressing crowds in public places or it can be done on an ‘individual one to one’ basis in the normal course of everyday life as we see with the Lord and the woman at the well [see John 5:5-30].

On the following link I came across a very well thought out response to Rob Bell’s ‘Bullhorn’ DVD. A Christian broadcaster called Todd Friel has made a DVD using the same ‘street evangelism’ approach and presentation to show that it is perfectly possible to present the true gospel message [denied and decried by Rob Bell in ‘Bullhorn’] in such a way that it does not engender the type of hostile reaction portrayed by Rob Bell. This is the link –

http://www.wayofthemaster.com.au/Bullhorn.htm

If you’re perhaps wondering who Todd Friel is the following information on him was downloaded from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Friel

Todd Friel is the principal host of “The Way of the Master Radio“, a two-hour daily Christian talk show with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron as frequent co-hosts. The program is available live on Sirius Satellite Radio, terrestrial radio stations, streaming Internet radio, and podcasts. Other Christian teachers that have influenced him include Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John MacArthur, and John Piper.

Originally from the St. Paul, Minnesota area, Friel went to college [citation needed] and got a degree in theology. However, instead of entering into Christian ministry, he became a stand up comic for six years, performing alongside with Jay Leno, Louie Anderson, and Ellen DeGeneres. In retrospect, he believes that at this time he was in fact not a Christian at all, based upon his lifestyle, though he did later become “truly converted”.[1]

He began his career in talk radio while substituting for T.D. Mischke in the Twin Cities area on AM 1500 (KSTP). Intrigued, he moved into the profession full-time. Friel initially hosted a talk show on Northwestern Bible College Radio’s local AM station (KTIS, 900 AM) called “Talk the Walk.” [citation needed] After a couple of years, the show was cancelled, and Todd moved his show over to AM 980 KKMS in the Twin Cities, where the show grew in immense popularity. One of the reasons for this, as well as a reason he is often criticized, is that he rarely refuses to talk about controversial issues in Christianity (except perhaps predestination). [citation needed] In late 2005, he planned the move to a national spotlight, transforming “Talk the Walk” into “The Way of the Master Radio” on January 2, 2006, with a heavier emphasis on evangelism and with Comfort and Cameron as regular co-hosts. Making fun of his own height, the radio show frequently introduces him as “..Todd ‘Freakishly Tall’ Friel.”

Todd has also published YouTube videos combating the Nooma series produced by Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church (Grand Rapids, MI). Specifically targeting the Nooma video “Bullhorn”, Friel is depicted sitting near a bus stop, refuting the ideas of Bullhorn as unbiblical.

  1. Friel, Todd. “My Salvation Story.” Talk the Walk Ministries. 17 Mar 2005. Talk the Walk Ministries. 07 May 2006 http://www.ttwministries.com/articles/My%20Salvation%20Story.pdf

Earlier I wrote ‘Rather than their [The ‘Bullhorn’ preachers]  biblically honest message of sin and its consequences he [Rob Bell] was ‘over-the-top’ in his insistence that only the message of ‘God is love’ should be set before people. You can read my reaction to that in an email of mine that I include later in this article’.

Herewith is the email that I referred to – it was my message of appreciation and encouragement to Todd Friel to which he graciously responded.

 

Subject: Response to ‘Bullhorn’

Date: 28/03/2007  

Time: 18:26:55 GMT Standard Time

From: Takeheed

Dear brother Todd,

Thank you for your video response to ‘Bullhorn’. It’s really only in recent months that Rob Bell has been impacting the ‘Christian’ scene here in Northern Ireland. I was shown the ‘Bullhorn’ DVD a few weeks ago and was absolutely appalled by this unscriptural ‘God is [only] love’ mantra that is proclaimed in so many ‘churches’.

A former Pastor of mine once said ‘when a half-truth is proclaimed as the whole truth it becomes a lie’ and this ‘mantra’ fits that bill.

I’m working on an article that will have ‘Alarm Bells’ somewhere in its title and there will certainly be a link to your video – so – many thanks and every blessing.

Yours by His mercy

Cecil Andrews

‘Take Heed’ Ministries

http://www.takeheed.info

 

I began this article by mentioning how Gary Gilley had first alerted me to the problems posed by the teachings/views of Rob Bell and his wife Kristen. A recent ministry letter by John MacArthur [15 March 2007] has reinforced those very same concerns. John MacArthur wrote –

A couple of years ago Christianity Today published a major cover story introducing the Emerging Church to their readers…One brief series of quotations from Rob and Kristen Bell seemed to capture the general drift of the movement…As the article puts it, the Mars Hill church took shape during a period when the Bells

‘…found themselves increasingly uncomfortable with church. “Life in the church had become so small,” Kristen says. “It had worked for me for a long time. Then it stopped working”. The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself – “discovering the Bible as a human product” as Rob puts it rather than the product of divine fiat. “The Bible is still the centre for us” Rob says “but it’s a different kind of centre. We want to embrace mystery instead of conquer it. “I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible” Kristen says “that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again – like life used to be black and white and now it’s in colour”. [Gary Gilley also used this last quote in his presentation].

Those shocking words sum up the Emerging Church movement’s most dangerous characteristic: an unhealthy preoccupation with mystery, doubtfulness, uncertainty, vagueness and at times rank scepticism – while casually brushing away the Bible’s divine authority. “Truth” in the Emerging system is deliberately portrayed as fuzzy, fluid, and flexible, open to any and all new interpretations or novel perspectives. There are no theological or doctrinal absolutes – all truth is on the table for discussion, debate and deconstruction’.

Those last comments by John MacArthur in his excellent summation of the so-called Emerging Church reminded me of the old but ever-relevant couplet concerning divine “truth” –

If it’s new, it’s not true

If it’s true, it’s not new

In that same ministry newsletter, John MacArthur gave details of an upcoming new book by himself on this whole subject of the Emerging Church. The book will be called ‘The Truth War’. I have a copy on order and so cannot give a judgement based upon having read it but knowing the excellent discernment exercised and subsequently published by John MacArthur on other past ‘controversies’ I would feel confident that this will be a valuable tool in defending God’s ‘truth’ against the latest devilish assault of ‘Yea, hath God said?’

Truly when it comes to the Emerging Church there are lots of ‘Alarm Bells’ ringing!

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 2 April 2007

 

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