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In an unassuming village north of Jerusalem the gospel began. It had been foreshadowed in many ways and through many prophets, but no one actually understood what would actually happen. Some dreamed of a special prophet while others though of a high priest after the lineage of Aaron. Most Jews had long since stopped anticipating any coming Messiah, and those who did viewed him as a deliverer from the national bondage in which Israel continued to suffer. To be sure most Jews had blurred the lines of personal redemption and national ransom.
But the Author of the gospel began His journey in Bethlehem and walked the Galilean countryside for over thirty years before He arrived one day, that day, in Jerusalem. Riding upon a donkey He parades into Jerusalem to the shouts and praises of the crowds who were given a fresh breath of hope for their nation. But soon their hopes would be dashed and the death of this Messiah seemed to only add to their suffering and shame. They were not interested in being mocked; they desired a Victor.
Fast forward to the evangelical climate of today. Jesus did not come to begin a “movement”. He came to redeem a lost race one sinner by one sinner. His ministry was not to spread just love; His ministry was to seek and save that which was lost, which at its core was a ministry of love. But the eternal rescue had a price tag that was much greater than just teaching truth. The price that would be required would be His very life through unimaginable suffering. It is quite out of vogue today and almost impolite to discuss the sufferings of God’s Lamb The gospel has been slowly replaced by words of men’s wisdom.
Rob Bell is not the only teacher who has strayed, but he provides a looking glass into what now passes for Biblical Christianity. Stories and poems and human reasoning provide spiritual nourishment for believers and unbelievers alike. Men with communication skills and wistful personalities attract millions of gullible followers many of which have solid doctrinal backgrounds. But the deception that compromises and even obliterates the gospel is a strong demonic force that is clever and sophisticated. This is no Joseph Smith saying “An angel told me”, no, this mirrors a one man show on a stage as he waxes philosophical and opines with great literary deftness. There is nothing wrong with literary devices and creative communication mediums, but what must be addressed is what is being taught by men like Bell.
To begin with there is no cross. Men like Bell desire to pass by the cross and manipulate the resurrection as a metaphor for a new beginning for the universe. The new spiritual genre is very erudite, witty, and appealing to the western mindset which says “entertain my mind” rather than “challenge my life”. While being careful to maintain certain residuals for former Christian practices such as communion and baptism, the message has been altered and continues to migrate away from Christ and His gospel. And now the gospel is presented by witty slogans and catchy phrases. They are not the gospel.
2. It helps if the teacher is fully deceived and convinced of his own words.
3. The hearts of the listeners must be open for deception. That state can occur by many methods including the charismatic nature of the teacher, however a desire for something new combined with an agitation about the same old thing (your father’s religion) are a major component of opening a heart for deception.