Why 2,000 year old letters matter: An Impassioned Plea to Rob Bell!
Having been a ‘victim’ of exaggeration and outright lies about things I’ve said, preached, or written I always try to err on the side of grace, and when I feel it’s necessary to speak to a subject, make sure I’ve done my research.
Several years ago Rob Bell wrote a book entitled Love Wins, a book which ended up costing him his pastorate. It felt like every evangelical/orthodox pastor with a social media account was bashing him even before the book had been released! Knowing the world we live in and Satan’s great desire to divide those of us who claim the name of Christ I actually went out and read the book, go figure! The book wasn’t as evil as everyone said, but Mr. Bell’s conclusions were simply made because of his emotions about the subject rather than his research of the truth on the subject from Scripture. The biggest problem that developed from his book was not the discussion on Heaven and Hell, that was good, instead it was the increasingly embraced idea that maybe, just maybe, placing your faith in Jesus Christ in this life isn’t the only way for salvation. Now, for fairness sake, Mr. Bell doesn’t come right out and say this verbatim, but he leads you right to the doorstep, knocks on the door, looks at you with a smile and says, ‘So, whatcha think?’.
Again, Mr. Bell and now along with his wife, have come out with a new book on marriage called The Zimzum of Love. Now, I will readily confess that I have not read the book, nor do I plan to, but Mr. Bell and his wife gave an interview with Oprah, which I watched in it’s entirety. It is this interview and the words that he and his wife chose that I now have to address. I could address the fact that they include homosexuality as a viable option for humanity, but I’ve done that before. Suffice to say that I believe like all sins, homosexuality is a cheap imitation of God’s relational design, that will leave all those who participate in it more broken, more wounded, and less fulfilled. Satan is the ultimate deceiver and he’s garnering more and more of professed believers into accepting the lie that God is keeping something from you, when in reality it’s that God is wanting to protect you, because He’s got something better for you!
Here are my previous posts on the subject:
- Extreme “Christian” Views on Homosexuality
- A Biblical Response to Homosexuality
- What about Gay Marriage?
However, that is not why I write this post. I write this because of a statement that Mr. Bell makes while trying to defend his position on homosexuality. Here is the quote verbatim:
“I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life.”
And here is the salient clip, just in case you think I might be taking it out of context:
For clarity sake, what Mr. Bell has just said is that the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it makes it’s best defense the Bible. Allow that to sink in for a moment… He has just said that ‘flesh-and-blood people’ not a holy, sovereign God should determine what is right for them. He has just implicated that the Bible is in fact, irrelevant in our world today, it cannot be relied upon, it cannot be trusted as truth. He has finally hypothesized that if the church keeps as it’s focus the truth found in the Word of God, they will cease to be an influence on the world around them.
I am most certain that Mr. Bell will not read my small, inconsequential blog, but hopefully people who listen to him will. Hopefully, my friends who have read some of his previous writings, which for the most part were solid, will veer away from this new iteration of his faith. My friends, I beg of you to consider the implications if indeed the Bible is irrelevant:
- The mission of the church is founded in those 2,000 year old letters. I have often stated that I believe that the local church, as the messenger of Jesus Christ, is the hope of the world. If the Bible is irrelevant, our world is without hope.
- The message of the gospel is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father except through me.” If this truth cannot change culture, than culture cannot be changed!
- The key to genuine fulfillment is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says that He came to give us life in all of it’s fullness! If His words are irrelevant than we as a human race are living empty lives, void of fulfillment, and without the possibility of real enjoyment.
My friends, those 2,000 year old letters are precious to me, not because I am some stuck in the mud, fundamental, traditionalist who still believes that a fat adulterous King was the only one who could authenticate Scripture (King James if you’re wondering), but because I have tried them, tested them, and applied them to my life year after year, and they have proven faithful! Those 2,000 year old letters change lives, saves marriages, and alters eternal destinies, they are far from irrelevant, they are essential!
Think about it,
The Church is the Hope of the World?
Well known mega-church pastor, Bill Hybels, is famous for his oft-repeated statement, “The church is the hope of the world!”. So, how does that hit you? Some would say that is an overstatement. Some would say that the world is truly without hope, that the church just simply makes this world tolerable until Christ comes back. Some would say, “It depends upon your eschatology” (yeah, I had to throw that in there, it means your theology of the end of the world).
The biggest “push-back” I’ve really ever heard is that Jesus, not the church is the hope of the world. Which sounds incredibly spiritual…but at best it’s Biblically inaccurate at worst it’s an intentional denial of the true nature and purpose of the church. Let me explain:
What is the nature of the church?
The main metaphor used to describe the church in the Bible is the Body of Christ. We are told that Jesus Christ is the Head and the church is the body. Taking this analogy the church is the main and only outlet for the will of Christ to be accomplished on the earth. Now that is a powerful statement. If you woke up tomorrow to your screeching alarm and your brain sent a message to your right hand to reach over and smack the crap out of it, but your hand didn’t move you’d be concerned. The natural outlet of your brains or heads desires is your body. In the same way the natural outlet of the desires and will of Christ is the Church!
What is the purpose of the church?
When Jesus Christ left this earth he gave this very specific command to the men who would launch the church,
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” – Matthew 28:19-20.
So, the purpose of the church is to reach people for Christ and then train them to be like Christ (disciples). But, how do we do that? Paul answers that question,
“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
So, the purpose of the church is to reach people for Christ, train them to be like Christ, and our method of doing that is to be the ambassadors or representatives of Christ’s message to the world which is “Come back to God!”
According to the Bible the church IS the way the message of Jesus Christ is getting out. So, the question then becomes, “Is Jesus Christ the hope of the world?” The answer is found in the book of Matthew (other places as well, but this is really the clearest and most compelling), as he retells a prophecy given several hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ…
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” – Matthew 12:18-21
Since Jesus is without question THE one and only Hope of the world, and we his church are the main and only outlet for the will of Christ to be accomplished on the earth, then the church without question and without embarrassment IS THE HOPE OF THE WORLD!
Now the question is are we living up to our billing?