Hey guys. A friend of mine posted a note on Facebook today regarding the announcement of Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. You can read a short article about it and watch a video Rob Bell made here. The guest post following this page break is by a dear friends of mine, Zach Hartley. Enjoy the post, I hope you learn something from it.
I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand about 2 weeks ago and it seems that in the 2 weeks since I finished it I have seen what Rand warns about in her book everywhere. One of the major warnings that Rand raises in Atlas Shrugged is with the way post-moderns use language. In Atlas Shrugged post-moderns are caricatured by their ridiculous ability to consistently use language in such a way that it communicates absolutely nothing. They make no definite statements, only vague generalities that can be taken several different ways. This use of language flies in the face of Ayn Rand’s entire philosophy, the cornerstone of which is the law of identity (A is A), or in other words, a thing is what it is and can never be otherwise at the same time in the same sense. To misrepresent any aspect of reality in such a way that it is possible for “A to not be A” is always wrong. Every statement must be either true or false, right or wrong.
I have now realized how deeply the destructive roots of post-modernism have crept into Evangelical Christianity. One of the cornerstone beliefs of the Emerging Church is the weakness of language to speak about eternal truths or about God Himself. They claim that God cannot be contained within imperfect human words and language (not realizing that this is a statement about God made with human words and language) and that because of this nit-picky theological debate is useless and harmful. Fair enough. I agree that theological debate can often get nasty and is often harmful when the motivation for debate is not love. The Emergent Church however, has decided to get rid of theological debate altogether. They prefer “theological discussion.” They would rather simply talk about theological beliefs rather than make definitive statements about God and theology. This is their major problem.
The Biblical authors do not have theological discussion. The Biblical authors argue, debate, and make unyielding claims. The prophets do not warn that “God will probably destroy you if you do not repent.” There is never a time in any of the Gospels where we find Jesus make a remark to the Pharisees along the lines of “gee, I never thought about it that way before!” Paul never urges in any of his letters that “the Judaizers might be a little bit off, but go ahead and listen to them anyways because they might have some good things to say.” Rather, we see all of the Biblical authors making absolute claims. The prophets warn that judgment is definitely coming. Jesus tells his opposition that they are flat-out wrong. Paul argues that the Judaizers preach a false gospel and are accursed.
I am not saying that we have the authority in ourselves to make eternal truth claims quite like the Biblical authors did (we can affirm what they affirm though). What I want you to notice, however, is that the Biblical authors all believed in an objective truth, and they used words and language to communicate that truth with the assumption that their meaning would be understood by their audience. They leave no room for discussion on certain issues. According to the Biblical authors Jesus was definitely God, definitely man, definitely born of a virgin, definitely sinless, definitely the Savior of the world, definitely the only way to the Father, and definitely coming back to judge the world. Most pertinent to the discussion of Rob Bell’s new book, according to the Biblical authors there is definitely a Heaven and a Hell, and the only way to be saved from eternity in Hell is to put your faith in Jesus.
Eternity is not an issue that is open to discussion for Christianity. To all Emergents out there, I’m sorry, it is simply off the table. One cannot claim that people will not be spending eternity in Hell and remain within Biblical Christianity. We love the truth of Hell with as much love as an oncologist has for cancer. We are grieved by the reality of Hell, but we see the denial of it as an evil of the worst kind. We defend the doctrine of Hell not because we are comforted that people will go there, but because to deny it is to most certainly be sending people there. The Church is a pillar and buttress of the truth, and it is the job of the leaders of the Church to confess the doctrines of the Bible both in word and action.
Rob Bell has stepped outside the boundaries of his profession by calling into question one of the most essential and necessary truths of the Christian faith. Whether or not he turns out to be a universalist, he has abandoned his mandate as a pastor and teacher of the faith. It is not his job to be a leader in theological discussion. It is his job to affirm and defend the doctrines of the Bible. He should not be pleading Christians to re-think what they believe about Hell; he should be pleading non-Christians to re-think what they believe about Jesus. We do not save people from Hell by convincing them that Hell might not be real. We save people from Hell by convincing them that Hell is very real, and that God has revealed His love for us in the death of His Son Jesus and that by putting our faith in Him we are saved from eternal death and receive eternal life with Christ.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post and learned something from it. Be discerning folks.