Evangelicals Divided

I found this post to be very enlightening, read the comments as well.

HT: Steve Hays

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Posted in Church Matters | 2 Comments

When the Bell is Rung…

This interview is probably going to make the rounds very quickly, but I thought I would post it with little comment (since it speaks volumes in and of itself). I do wish that Rob Bell got to answer Bashir’s question about the relevance of believing in Jesus here and now. The more you let someone who is in error speak, the more rope they roll out upon which to hang themselves (as Greg Bahnsen used to say). It has become very clear throughout this little, temporary controversy (since he is really only teaching recycled and discarded error from the past) that, generally speaking, those in the emergent camp Rob Bell is a part of find vagueness and doubt commendable.

Bashir is right. Bell attempts to amend the gospel to fit modern cultural sensibilities which make it palatable and easy. What a shame. The eternal well-being of precious souls is at stake here, and when the existence of hell and of God’s wrath toward unrepentant sinners is lessened so as to be almost an abstraction, the gospel is denigrated. May Bell turn away from such folly.

Also, Kevin DeYoung does a good job reviewing the book Love Wins here. It is thorough, gracious, and pastoral. If you go here, Justin Taylor has some further comments and links on the situation that are helpful.

Posted in Emergents, Hell, Post Modernism, Universalism | Leave a comment

For Whom the Bell Tolls…

About a week ago Rob Bell released a video trailer promoting his upcoming book Love Wins, in which he asks several provocative questions about the eternal destination of unbelievers. He has his sites on the biblical, traditional and orthodox position on hell. In case you missed it, the beginning of the whole brouhaha can be seen here on Justin Taylor’s blog:

Rob Bell-Universalist?

So much has been said on this topic elsewhere that I feel no need to re-hash everything here. I just have a few observations about the whole situation.

Some have commended Rob Bell for being willing to ask the difficult questions.  It’s as if these questions have never been asked before, or that the church has never wrestled through the issues involved.  Mr. Bell’s questions, as well as his answers, are repackaged errors with a slick new marketing campaign.  There is nothing new under the sun.  However, if it’s commendable that he asks the difficult questions, why is it any less commendable (if not more so) for those who accept the Bible’s difficult answers?  Rob Bell’s answers are nice and easy, not to mention pleasing to human sentiment and squarring well with what we consider to be fair of God.  No, we can’t bear to believe the scriptural teaching as it has been accepted and understood on the eternal destiny of all those who reject Christ.  Regarding this, Rob Bell and his supporters say, along with the many disciples in John 6:60b, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

It has also been said that Bell fears God more than men, and that is why he is posing these questions.  I find this a strange assertion, for who would fear the god that Rob Bell preaches Please notice I didn’t ask who would fear Rob Bell’s God, but who would fear the god he preaches?  There’s a very important difference.  Could someone tell me what there is to fear?  Because in the end, in case you were unaware of it, love wins.

Finally, it has also been asserted that asking the difficult questions and challenging the status quo is “good” Protestant theology.  Ok, I’ll go with that, but what is the substance of that theology?  Good Protestant theology is produced by clear exegesis of Scripture with biblical principles of interpretation.  However, that is not what I have seen from Rob Bell.  What we get in it’s place is like skipping a rock across a stagnant pond, jumping from one spot to the next until the stone sinks in the water.  I have not seen a compelling or cogent argument made from exegesis of the appropriate texts from anything I have read to this point.  Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, and if I am I will certainly post a recantation of the views I am expressing here.  His assertion, for example, that the Greek word aion doesn’t really mean “eternity” or “everlasting”, but that it can also mean “age” or “a period of time” or “intensity of experience” is on level with Jehovah Witness argumentation.  Is it possible for the word to be translated that way?  Yes, outside of the context of the passage it’s in, that is a possible translation of the word.  However, within the context of the passage (which dictates the usage of it) it is not possible.  At least not if the text is going to make any sense.  

There is nothing wrong with asking difficult questions.  Indeed such questions have marked the history of the church, it’s compiled in what we call historical theology.  Familiarize yourself with it and you won’t find Rob Bell all that compelling.  I would never dissuade anyone from asking hard questions of the text of Scripture.  If we are to be always reforming, we must do this.  We should be careful not to make the Scriptures say something they do not say, we should handle them carefully.  However, we should also not subject them to our human sentimentality, moral intuitions, or our ideas of fairness.  God will not be so bound…

Posted in Emergents, Hell, Post Modernism, Universalism | Leave a comment

Universalism and Romans 9

From James Anderson:

Romans 9
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 But then I remind myself that no one will be finally accursed and cut off from Christ and that puts a swift end to the great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 5 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, and Esau I loved too.”

6 What shall we say then? Is God unloving? By no means! 7 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on everyone, and I will have compassion on everyone.”

If Paul had been a Universalist…

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Logic, Reason, and the Bible

Some Christians denounce the use of logic or reason when it comes to Scripture and theology. The truth is, however, these same folks use logic and reason when they come to the Scriptures and theology. It’s inescapable. Yet, somehow, the loud protest still sounds. Give this post from Michael Sudduth a careful read:

The “Heresy” of Good and Necessary Consequence

HT: Paul Manata

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Thy Word is Truth?

Briefly stated, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy (from here on referred to as BI) is that the Scriptures as given by God Himself (God-breathed, inspired) are without error.  I am not here dealing with the transmission of the text, that is a different matter that I may address at a later date. 

So here are three supporting arguments for BI.

1) Whatsoever God has spoken must reflect His character. God’s words are not affected by sin, even if the instruments He chooses to utilize in recording them are affected by it. God cannot “breathe out” error, for, according to the Scriptures, He is perfect (Mt. 5:48). How, therefore, can perfection “breathe out” imperfection? Can a fig tree produce thistles? Can a fresh water spring produce salt water?

Some may counter that God is not the source of the supposed error in Scripture, but the fallen sinners whom He used to record it. Then I must ask, “Is God limited in His ability to communicate exactly what He wants to by His chosen instruments?” Even a man can communicate exactly what he wishes, why does God not have that same ability?

2) Christ Himself said that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4). How could Christ assert this if the Bible contains error? How could we know every word that proceeds out of His mouth otherwise? If the Word contains error, this statement by Jesus is incoherent.

3) If the Bible is not inerrant, it is left to the individual to determine which words are true. Although Jesus said “Thy Word is Truth” (Jn 17:17), it is the sinner who must decide which words. This sets up the individual as the judge of God’s Word, rather than God’s Word being the judge of the individual. Of course, such an arrangement is very appealing to the sinner. The very first attack of the serpent in the garden was an attack on what God said, and with good reason. The satanic modus operandi is no different today.

John Frame helpfully points out:

Some have objected that this [inerrancy] is a conclusion from a deductive argument, rather than an explicit statement of Scripture. True. But (1) the term inerrant is not found in the English Bible itself, so any conclusion about it, affirmative or negative, must of necessity be determined by implication from the actual language of Scripture. (2) Theology inevitably engages in logical deduction because its mandate is not just to repeat the biblical language, but to apply that language to questions and situations not explicitly mentioned in Scripture. All use of Scripture to define doctrine engages in logical deduction. (3) There are also many explicit statements of Scripture that are relevant to the question before us. To elaborate on (3): Scripture says in a number of places that God’s word is true, or truth. He is a God of truth. He desires truth in the inward being (Ps. 51:6). His word is the word of truth (119:43, 160). His law is true (119:142, 151). Jesus prays for his disciples, ‘Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth’ ”

The Doctrine of the Word of God, pp. 169-170

The denial of biblical inerrancy is an a priori commitment not derived from the text of Scripture, plain and simple. Those who think BI is not taught in the Bible have to blur the big picture, and in the process, obscure the details. Not only that, but worse, they leave their feet in mid air. Once BI is denied, any appeal to Scripture as truth is undermined. For what difference does it make if the Bible says one thing and not another, for who can discern which text is accurate? Such a position makes the Bible as easy to mold as a wax nose, and if you’re clever enough you can make it say whatever you wish. Redefine the words, redefine the concepts, and *presto*, you have come to understand God’s revelation better than almost anyone who has come before you. This is not reforming, this is Re-Forming.

Posted in Inerrancy, Scripture | 1 Comment

An Old Friend and Good Music

This is part of a classical guitar recital from November of 2010, performed by my best friend from high school–Micah Scoville. He’s been an incredible guitar player since we were barely teenagers (yeah, way long ago). Give it a listen, tremendous.

Posted in Music | 2 Comments

Enlightening Media

My brother-in-law (Paul) likes to use film as a medium to present and promote the gospel.  You can check out his website here

The “actor” in this short film is my future brother-in-law, Alfredo.

May God bless your efforts, my brothers!

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Monday Morning’s Cold Cup of Coffee: New Studies in Biblical Theology

Cold Cup of Coffee is a semi-regular posting in which I will feature a book or books that are worth reading on a Sunday evening (or any other time, for that matter). When the book is good, the coffee sits until cold.

The NSBT is an excellent series edited by D.A. Carson and worth a careful reading. Some volumes are better than others. I can vouche for Vol. 5 being worth the time spent. See here for the entire series to date.

HT: Andy Naselli

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Biblical Inerrancy: What’s the Debate All About?

My time is scarce at the moment, but I did want to highlight the standard statement on biblical inerrancy found here.

Also, there is a helpful article in Themelios that looks at the history of the debate and the issues surrounding it (as well as reviewing recent contributions to it) found here.

Lord willing, I hope to discuss some of the issues involved and look at some pertinent texts of Scripture as time allows. The above links are an excellent starting point in the mean time. Enjoy!

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