Category Archives: In the News

The Unsurprising Descent of Rob Bell

 

I began writing this blog in January 2009. Initially, it was a way to communicate truths about God’s Word to others while also serving to help me grow in my walk with Christ and my own personal understanding of the Bible. Those early days were marked with semi-frequent posts on the Emerging/Emergent Church and certain trends in evangelicalism that some might’ve read in greater detail on so called discernment blogs. I suppose in part, some errors that I had been exposed to either within the church or online through these types of blogs began to spill over into the content that I wrote on my own blog. An example of this was numerous posts on Rob Bell, then pastor of Mars Hill (not the same as Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill).

At the time, I was so concerned about the influence and teaching of Rob Bell that I tried to make his name and heretical beliefs known to as many people as I could. His books, sermons, and videos had begun trickling into the youth group that I was serving in at the time and as Scripture states clearly, a little leaven, leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6). There was really no other option but to confront those who endorsed Rob Bell, give them opportunity to dissociate from him, or otherwise ask them to leave (Matthew 18:15-20). That final step is what ended up happening on several occasions. I am deeply indebted to the Lord who through His grace granted me discernment in these matters, constantly forcing me to examine what I had read or heard in light of His holy word. As much as the popular evangelical establishment dislikes discernment blogs, they were right on Rob Bell then and the fruits of his ministry are even more evident now.

More recently, Rob Bell has stepped down from his pastorate and moved to California to begin a television/entertainment career and now has his own show on Oprah’s OWN network. In the past year or so, Bell has published a new book with his wife titled The Zimzum of Love and has recently appeared with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday program (the irony is overwhelming) to endorse and promote the book. Before we get to some interesting things in that interview, a word about the book’s title.

suessismsZimzum. Sounds catchy, almost Dr. Seussian isn’t it? Here is how Bell defines Zimzum on his website:

“Zimzum is a Hebrew term where God, in order to have a relationship with the world, contracts, creating space for the creation to exist. In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish. Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish.”

I’ll admit, I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. It sounds philosophical and intellectual and this creates intrigue I suppose, but I actually think this pseudo-intellectual language is gibberish. In order to have a relationship with the world, God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, that the world through Him and Him alone, might be saved if they repent of their sins and believe the Gospel. That’s crystal clear. Additionally, God’s Word clearly defines the “secret” to what makes a marriage work:

“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33 Again, clarity abounds.

Back to the philosophical gibberish. While the indication that Zimzum is a Hebrew word is strategic to help the readers feel more comfortable with it, as though it is a biblical word or at least has biblical roots, it is actually an unbiblical anti-God concept because it finds its developments in the Kabbalah religion, made popular more recently by Madonna and several prominent members of the entertainment industry. Kabbalah itself has Hebrew origins and sounds very intellectual and philosophical much like the definition of Zimzum given by Bell above. Here’s what CARM says about Kabbalah:

“Kabbalah is difficult to categorize because it is a subjective non-falsifiable belief system. In other words, it rests in non-verifiable philosophy, not in historic fact. Nevertheless, Kaballah is a mystical and esoteric system of observing and interpreting the universe and mankind that also seeks to reveal the true relationship between God, man, and the universe. It teaches that there is a divine being, neither male nor female, that has 10 primary aspects called sephirot which are represented in the Tree of Life. Kabbalah teaches that the supreme being created the universe through a series of those 10 aspects that descended through various levels until creation was fully realized.”TreeofLife

They go on to summarize Kabbalah as follows:

“Because there is no way to verify the truth of the 10 aspects of God, that Kabbalah was given to the angels for the creation of the world, etc., the Kabbalist is left to either believe or disbelieve based upon his preferences. Instead of believing what the Bible actually says, the Kabbalist is left with following the baby and mystical interpretations of a few ancient Jews.

Unlike the Gospels, Kabbalistic literature is full of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, unverifiable and subjective ideas, and words that are strung together in such a way as to appear to be semi-coherent. The problem is that Kabbalah contradicts the Bible. Therefore, it is not true.”

In its philosophical nonsensical way, Zimzum is trying to express the presence and absence of the divine. As it relates to marriage, Bell is seemingly trying to correlate this term and apply it to knowing when to be present and knowing when to give space. In reality, what Rob Bell has done then is to co-opt a Kabbalah philosophical term, as to create nuance and intrigue and then apply it to the idea of marriage between professing Christians such that the audience broadens to include not only New Age/Kabbalah followers, but also appeal to Christians who may already be familiar with him. Simply put, this is the classic methodology of Satan whom the Apostle Paul says disguises himself as an angel of light.

If his outright embrace of Paganism wasn’t enough, nor his association with Oprah who has promoted such New Age philosophers as Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Oz and such books as The Secret, A New Earth, and A Course in Miracles, then allow the interview of Bell and Oprah to shed additional light on the further shift of Rob Bell away from Orthodox Christianity (if he was ever truly there to begin with).

 In addition to the esoteric language and conversation which says little of substance while saying a lot in quantity, here are some takeaways:

  • 23:27 Marriage is an opportunity to find God in each other
    • The theologians call it incarnation, when the divine and the human exist in the same place.
  • 29:20 “Marriage – gay and straight is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, and sacrifice.”
    • Discussion on the embrace of homosexual marriage begins here
  • 30:00 Oprah: When is the church going to get this? Bell’s: We are a moment away from the church’s embrace of homosexual marriage.
    • Culture is there, church will be irrelevant if it continues to quote letters from 2000 years ago as their best defense.
  • Exactly Zero Scripture references/quotations

dont-drink-the-kool-aidChristians, this video should disturb you; from the talk of energy fields and spirituality, the debasing of the Bible, to the embrace of homosexual marriage intertwined with an appeal to the emotional desires of people to be loved. This material is presented in such a way that makes you less likely to recognize the cyanide and drink the Kool-Aid unsuspectingly.

Rob Bell is a false teacher. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing when wolf-572x368making his Nooma videos and writing such books as The Velvet Elvis, Sex God, and Love Wins, but now he is making perfectly clear the sheepskin has come off to reveal an extremely dangerous teacher who claims Christ but mixes truth with error. In an age of Christianity where believers are seen as intolerant and violence against Christians is at an all-time high, need there be more compelling evidence for the call to be even more vigilant, even more discerning, and even more willing to stand as Ezekiel and be a watchman for the Church.

Happy Reformation Day – 2014

The video below is a narration, by the excellent Max McLean, of the events surrounding the bold stand taken by Martin Luther against the oppression and tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century. Below that video is a repost of a previous Reformation Day blog that includes some additional thoughts on Luther and the significance of the Protestant Reformation that he sparked.

In honor of Reformation Day 2014, this is a repost of an older post that highlighted the trial of Martin Luther, several years after he boldly nailed his 95 Thesis to the Castle Church door of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.  An event which sparked the Protestant Reformation and changed the world forever: “Here I stand.  I can do no other.”

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In reading R.C. Sproul’s classic book, The Holiness of God, I was fascinated with the chapter entitled The Insanity of Luther in which he describes Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms (dee-et of vorms).  An interesting note that Sproul highlights is that at the initial inquisition, Luther was not the bold, fearless man that we’ve seen portrayed in movies or read of in books.  Like his first mass after his ordination, he faltered.  The first session met April 17, 1521 and prior to his arrival, Luther had spoken out boldly saying, “This shall be my recantation at Worms: ‘Previously I said the pope is the vicar of Christ.  I recant.  Now I say the pope is the adversary of Christ and the apostle of the Devil.”  Such was Luther and the crowd expected much of the same, but instead to his 95 thesis Luther replied “The books are all mine, and I have written more.”  When asked if he recanted them he replied, “I beg you, give me time to think it over.”  That night feeling the weight of the situation Luther prayed:

O’God, Almighty God everlasting! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens and swallows me up, and how small is my faith in thee!…Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan!  If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over….The knell is struck….Sentence is gone forth….O God! O God! O thou, my God!  Help me against all the wisdom of this world.  Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this…by thy own mighty power….The work is not mine, but thine.  I have no business here….I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world!  I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace.  But the cause is thine….And it is righteous and everlasting!  O Lord! Help me!  O faithful and unchangeable God!  Does thou not hear?  My God! Art thou no longer living?  Nay, thou canst not die.  Thou dost but hide thyself.  Thou hast chosen me for this work.  I know it!…Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will!  Forsake me not, for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, my defense, my buckler, and my stronghold.  Lord – where art thou?…My God, where art thou?…Come! I pray thee, I am ready….Behold me prepared to lay down my life for thy truth…suffering like a lamb.  For the cause is holy.  It is thine own!…I will not let thee go! No, nor yet for all eternity! And though the world should be thronged with devils – and this body, which is the work of thine hands, should be cast forth, trodden under foot, cut in pieces,…consumed to ashes, my soul is thine.  Yes, I have thine own word to assure me of it.  My soul belongs to thee, and will abide with thee forever!  Amen!  O God send help!…Amen!

And with that, literally one man against the entire Roman Church, the following day Martin Luther delivered the legendary defiant response similar to the scene captured in the movie clip below:

 

Ebola and the Supremacy of Christ

 

It isn’t difficult to find out what’s going on with the latest virus fear spreading around the world.  Several years ago, fears were being spread (via the media) about the Bird Flu, SARS, West Nile, Swine Flu, etc.  Now, it’s 24/7 coverage of Ebola and to a lesser yet significant extent the Enterovirus.  These are legitimate virus’ and there is a continual legitimacy to contracting them or any of those previously mentioned, or the common cold, or the flu, or rabies, or cancer, or even getting hit by a bus or struck by lightning.  While the odds may not be equal between those, there nevertheless remains a possibility.  The problem with turning to the news for information concerning the latest virus to spread is that they can only report and speculate, they cannot control.  We can turn to any major news station right now and get the latest headlines on the treatment of those who are stricken with Ebola, the strategies for how to contain it, the blame for not doing enough or doing the wrong things.  Watching this, it would be easy to reach the conclusion that Ebola was spinning out of control on its own self-wrought plan to bring civilization to a crippling halt and cease existence as we know it.  The problem with that…?  Ebola is not in control, nor has it ever been.  Neither is, nor has any other virus or for that matter molecule.  While we may be able to turn to the news to find out whether this latest virus is spreading to a neighborhood near us and perhaps even the precautions we can take to avoid getting it, we will not hear, dare I say never hear, that Christ reigns supreme over the entire universe, including the spread of Ebola and that it does not operate outside of His sovereign authority.  For that we turn not to the media, but to the pages of Scripture that magnify the supremacy of Christ. In that, and in that alone we can rest our fears.

Our sinful natures are naturally bent towards unbelief and one symptom of doubt is fear.  The over-information and speculation of the news media simply stokes the coals of doubt and fear that are already existent and causes us to lose focus on Who it is that is in control and upon Whom we should set our trust.

In Hebrews 1:3 we get a glimpse of the supremacy of Christ over the universe, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Of particular interest is the phrase, “He upholds the universe by the word of His power”.  What does this mean exactly?  I take it to mean that Christ “upholds the universe by the word of His power.”  Simple enough.  The universe is an all-encompassing statement, such that the extent of Christ’s power is unlimited.  Throughout the Gospels we get insight into the supremacy of Christ over nature, the spiritual realm, diseases, and even death.  In other words, His supremacy extends throughout the entirety of the universe.

Supremacy over Demons: Mark 1:21-28; 1:37-39; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29

Supremacy over Disease: Mark 1:29-31 (fever); 1:40-45 (leprosy); 2:1-5 (paralysis); 3:1-6 (withered hand); 5:25-34 (issue of blood); 6:53-56 (healings in Gennersaret); 7:31-37 (deafness); 8:22-26 (blindness); 10:46-52 (blindness- Bartimaeus)

Supremacy over Death: Mark 5:35-43 (Jairus’s daughter)

Supremacy over Nature: Mark 4:35-41 (calms the storm/seas); 6:30-44 (feeds the 5000); 6:45-52 (walks on water); 8:1-10 (feeds the 4000);

When we read these passages yet continue in fear, doubting the supremacy of Christ over any aspect of life, we are in sin.  Just yesterday I was contemplating the spread of Ebola in light of how God has used pestilence in Scripture and in history as well.  I came upon an article discussing the Bubonic Plague that ravished much of London in 1665-66.  Of note in this article was the Puritan Thomas Vincent whose congregation was suffering under the grip of the plague.  The article stated that 68,000 people had died in the city of London, including seven in Mr. Vincent’s own house as he cared for them and ministered alongside them as they suffered.  Yet in all his exposure, the Lord sovereignly protected him every step of the way.  The author of the article is quick to point out that Vincent had no guarantee from God that he would not contract the disease, yet he entrusted himself into the sovereign care of God under no obligation that his life would be spared.  In his book The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ Vincent writes:

“If you have but little love to Christ, you will be apt to faint in the day of adversity, to shrink when you are called to take up His cross and suffer for His sake. Lesser sufferings will decompose you, greater sufferings will frighten you and amaze you, and you will be in danger of turning into fearful apostates in time of great trials. There is need of great love to Christ, as well as great faith, to carry you through sufferings with courage that you may persevere unto the end” (p. 33).

As in Vincent’s day, Christ’s reigns supreme even now.  Like the pestilence in Scripture and the Bubonic Plague in the 1600’s, Ebola is not a rouge virus that is running rampant unchecked in the universe.  It is within the sovereignty of Christ.  It neither afflicts nor is avoided without Christ’s sovereign ordination.  That should be a great comfort for the believer and should put to rest any fears and doubts that may arise, whether stirred up by the media or others.  If Christ is so concerned with the details that neither a sparrow falling from the sky nor a hair turning black or white escapes notice, will not He also supremely rule over the most vicious of viruses?  Should believers contract it, as the missionary workers in Liberia, we can know that the virus will not run its course nor take a life apart from Christ’s sovereign decree.  Should it take a believer’s life, what great consolation there is in knowing that there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ and that upon the conclusion of their suffering, they are ushered into the glorious presence of the Majesty on High to rule and reign with Him for eternity.  Does that sound like a worthy prize for the temporal suffering that a virus might bring?  I should hope so.

If you are an unbeliever, take special notice.  Though Christ is supreme, His arm is not shortened preventing Him from bringing any affliction He desires upon you for the purpose of bringing you to repentance or resigning you to judgment.

Christ will use means, such as Ebola, getting hit by a bus while crossing the street, or simply old age, to either usher believers into the presence of His glory or resign unbelievers to the place of eternal suffering, apart from His glory.  Through His death on the cross and resurrection on the 3rd day, He has defeated death.  Subsequently, all those who are united to Him by faith will likewise defeat death upon their resurrection.  The question is not when or by what method, but who.  Who is your faith in?  Are you united to Him by faith, or apart from Him by rebellion and unbelief.  In either case, Christ reigns supreme and He will get glory out of both the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy, but rest assured there is nothing rogue or outside of His dominion.  All authority in heaven and on earth is His.