I remember when Rob Bell‘s Velvet Elvis came out. I listened to it on audio in my vehicle and remember the righteous indignation that arose within me when he stated that Christians lose nothing important should we discover that Jesus had an earthly father. That statement is not only foolish (he would go so far as to admit that), but it turned out to be an early declaration of his apparent lack of interest in anything resembling orthodoxy or historic Christianity.
At the time, there was still a sense (at least among those not wholly-committed to discern the difference) that the emergent stream was just another lane on the emerging church highway, and it’s theology was not a new line of thinking altogether, but a shift of emphasis. Fortunately for anyone with the smallest amount of Biblical awareness, today the blurred lines have become clear and the wolves have removed their sheep’s clothing.
In Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins. – Harper Collins Publishers (emphasis mine)
The emergent pastors have long sought to dull the sharp edges of Jesus and the Bible, and now Bell writes in direct opposition to Jesus’ teachings and the entirety of the Biblical teaching on the subject of hell. (It’s not even a new position for those in his “theological” camp – Brian Mclaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones have beaten him to that proverbial punch.)
And in the same manner that removing the virgin birth calls the reliability of Scripture into question, to remove the reality of hell would place us at odds with the words of Christ himself. One simply cannot hold to a high view of the Bible and agree with Bell.
At the Gospel Coalition Blog, Justin Taylor wrote, “it is better for those teaching false doctrine to put their cards on the table (a la Brian McLaren) rather than remaining studiously ambiguous in terminology.”
We who love and trust Christ actually benefit from the honest (though extremely misguided) admission of Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt’s theological positioning and heretical doctrine.
The tragic reality is not only that they have set themselves apart from historical, orthodox Christianity (which would be heart-wrenching enough), but that each of these men have a high, public stage from which to mislead, misguide, and confuse those who do not have the Biblical awareness to see through their teachings.
Brian McLaren, considered the grandfather of the Emergent Village (the liberal organization started and led by those who agree with his Generous Orthodoxy) began questioning what a New Kind of Christian would look like in response to the postmodern shift in our culture. And last year, he released his theological treatise, A New Kind of Christianity, which has been dubbed by many who I respect, An Old Kind of Heresy. At the very least, we now have what McLaren believes – and whatever we call that belief-set, we can be sure that we cannot call it Christianity.
So thank you Rob. Thank you Brian. Thank you Tony. Thank you Doug. While I wish you would take the Scriptures and Christ more seriously, I no longer have to pretend that you are, in fact, “Christian” authors. You don’t even do that any more.