Liberal NY Times best-selling author understands Christianity better than Christians do
Some of the Church’s worst enemies have come from within. Judas. Rousseau. Robespierre. Marx and Engels. These Inside Men have inflicted great damage to the Church over the years. Now, former megachurch pastor Rob Bell wants to join their ranks…
Rob Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan in 1999. By 2005, according to Wikipedia, every Sunday over 11,000 people were showing up. He then published a book in March of 2011 titled Love Wins in which he questioned the Christian doctrine of Hell, which drew criticism from conservative pastors such as John Piper. Following the controversy, he announced in September of the same year that he would be leaving the church to pursue other opportunities.
His book, Love Wins, was a New York Times Bestseller. Its controversial reaction garnered a sympathetic NYT editorial. So you know it had to be bad. Denying the biblical reality of Hell is how you identify a theological liberal. The conservatives in the PCUSA found this out the hard way. Failing to enforce their pastors’ mandatory belief in a literal Hell, they lost control over the church to the liberals in 1936.
SPOTTING A HUMANIST
No hell — that’s the foundation of humanism. There’s no hell because there’s no God standing in judgment over mankind. That’s a nice thought.
Now, Rob Bell has written a new book that brings old liberal lies to a new generation. It wraps it in fancy packaging. It’s charismatic in the way that Rob Bell is. He’s mesmerizing.
To prove to you how generous he is, let me show you, in Bell’s own words, that he understands Christianity better than a lot of Christians do. From a recent interview he gave:
RB: I begin with the Bible as a collection of human books, so I begin with its humanity. Who was writing this? What was the world like at that time? What were the economics and politics? Were there any new technologies? In my observation a lot of religious people begin with, “This is God’s holy book. Why did God write it down this way?”, instead of, “This is a human book.” If you start there, it has all this room for doubt, and fear, and anger. It opens its arms wide to the full spectrum of the human experience, and I think that’s interesting.
ONLY TWO CHOICES
My freshman year of college, I took an Old Testament course at a Baptist-affiliated university. My professor was a Baptist minister. And he taught me that the Old Testament is a book of fables, written by charlatans. The point is to undermine the testimony of Moses. Since Jesus believes in the truthfulness of the words of Moses (Luke 20:37, John 5:46), if you undermine Moses, you undermine Jesus.
I didn’t understand that at the time. That’s because I wasn’t very familiar with my Bible. I didn’t understand the implications.
So, I was greatly confused for a while. That’s because I was being taught by an inside man, a man of the cloth, who was sanctioned by a Christian-affiliated university. If he’s a preacher, speaking on behalf of Christ, and he says the Old Testament is bogus, then surely I must listen to him …. right?
The key thing that Rob understands is this: you can either assume the Bible is a purely human document; or you can assume it is what it says itself to be — the self-authenticating Word of God. The way you analyze and understand it is determined by which of those fundamental presuppositions you hold. There are no other choices.
OLD WINE IN NEW WINE SKINS
What Bell is promoting is what is called “higher criticism.” It begins with a scientifically unprovable assumption: there is no God. It assumes that regular men wrote the Bible. Therefore, it is full of mistakes and errors. It is not to be trusted. Yet liberals who wish to sound spiritual will say these errors and imperfections are what make it so wonderful.
It is also a hoax.
Now, on the other hand, Christians ought to hold a different, and also scientifically unprovable, assumption: the Bible is the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God, written by men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This is an assurance based on evidence that humanists don’t accept: faith (Heb. 11:1).
If the book is truly a divine book, then you cannot judge it by human standards of criticism, like Bell, with the liberal higher critics before him, is insisting we do. Believing that it is fundamentally a work of men is to deny the God of the Bible. On the other hand, believing it is God’s handiwork and the foundation for all ethical and logical thinking is to affirm the Triune God of Christianity.
The two positions can never be reconciled. They are, at their foundations, completely different. You might say one is built on sand. The other, stone.
Bell is correct: “If you start with the presupposition that it was not put together by God, it has all this room for doubt.” He wants you to embrace this doubt like he did. It’s the road to perdition. Misery loves company.
Christians don’t often understand this. We get bogged down by our fear of being labeled as intellectual inferiors by humanistic, government-certified academics. So, we compromise. We bend our beliefs to fit in with the “smart crowd.” Paul called this being captured by high-sounding, worldly philosophy and empty deceptions (Col. 2:8).
Bell has been inside the Church. He knows its strengths, and he also knows its weaknesses. He knows where Christians are most vulnerable because he spent over a decade training them. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels launched the most successful counter-religion the world has ever seen. And they knew how to do it because they were enthusiastic Christians when they were young (see Chapter 9).
In Bell’s case, he understands Christians aren’t familiar with their Bible: “You have so many people with such strong opinions about the bible, but when they talk about those opinions you find yourself thinking, ‘Have they read it?'” He is targeting these Christians.
People want to be logical, but Christianity teaches that man’s mind is fallen. The presence of sin means that people don’t think straight. They alter their logic when their logic directs them towards God. God requires that we do the right thing. This is abhorrent to the sin nature. Truth is abhorrent to the sin nature because God is Truth (John 14:6-7).
So, fallen people devise systems of “logic” that inevitably deny the truth. Unbelievers will say Christians use fallacious reasoning and circular logic by affirming Biblical truth as an unverifiable assumption.
Bell is more sophisticated. He knows there are only two ways to look at the Bible, at bottom. And he uses ridicule effectively to attack the standard Christian position. He makes the Christian feel small. When asked what he thinks about biblical inerrancy, he said: “I just always say I have a higher view of the Bible than that. To me, that’s what you argue about when you’ve already missed the point.”
So let me get this straight. Being “in error” is better than being “without error.” If you think otherwise, you’ve missed the point…right. Only suckered Christians will buy that.
NOT ACTUALLY LOGICAL
But humanists like Bell never admit that they must argue from their own scientifically unfounded presuppositions. The foundation of reason is faith. You can’t prove the scientific method using the scientific method. And you can’t assume that the laws of physics tomorrow will behave like the laws of physics today, because you don’t have all knowledge of how the laws of physics operate throughout all the universe, for all time. Unless you are being arbitrary — and thus, irrational.
All humanistic forms of “rationality” are founded upon intellectual irrationality. So, the academics hope you’ll never notice. Their falsity is proven by their internal contradictions. They argue that we must always be rational, but the foundation for their system of reasoning is logical irrationality. “Except that,” they’ll say, “or else we could never get started. We have to assume something about the world to start making sense out of it.”
If you don’t want to be arbitrary, you can accept God’s claim, presented in the Bible, that he holds all things together for our benefit (Gen. 8:22; Jer. 33:20-21; Col. 1:17). Paul says unbelievers are really believers. They know this to be the truth. But, they are angry with God. So, they suppress this truth (Rom. 1:18).
For someone to embrace God’s Bible-revealed truth in faith literally requires a miracle: the intervention in history by the Holy Spirit to change someone’s heart.
This is an enlightened era that doesn’t believe in miracles. But that doesn’t stop them from happening.