Monday, January 30, 2012

The Confusing Evangelical Ether

Out in the atmosphere, metaphorically and literally speaking, of evangelicalism there is an incredible confusion. The simplicity of the gospel has been rejected for a complicated and convoluted array of representations that are hardly recognizable as the gospel itself. What once was a glorious narrative of redemption through faith in the death and resurrection of the Incarnate Christ has been dismantled at the molecular level of Biblical truth. The cleverness of man’s intellect and communicative prowess has replace the power of the Holy Spirit.
No longer do men need a sanctified life. The sheer weight of their communication and Madison Avenue advertisement techniques are enough to elicit the popularity they seek. Men like Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and others have become the Pied Pipers of evangelicalism and now command a sizeable following based upon books, Cds, conferences, television, and careful strategies to advertise their “ministries” and create a human thirst that can be quenched without the Spirit.
Confusion on this scale has come in on the wings of the expansive technology of communicative media. Mass communication has sorely wounded the spiritual integrity of the visible church. I believe I am generous when I say professing believers and lost sinners are confused. Confusion is deception, and God is not the Author of such things. And a new phenomenon has emerged in this spiritual climate.
Doctrine has become almost irrelevant to the average evangelical. Now I have spoken loudly and often about the doctrinal Bourgeoisie who have made doctrine itself an idol and a god of sorts. But doctrine, or Biblical truth, must remain very important especially as it pertains to Christ and salvation. And a perfunctory statement of faith is never adequate to establish the authenticity of one’s discipleship. Cold and dead are such words if they are not exhibited by living and vibrant epistles that radiate the very Person of Jesus Christ. Some challenge, eh?
And it is very easy to either ignore humanitarian deeds or to see them as spiritually redemptive. Both of those views are Biblically wrong. And the confusion about those things have been rather central to the spiritual slide in the church. While one church points to their orthodox statement of faith as the evidence of their discipleship, the other church points to their ministry to the poor and needy as their proof. We as believers should have both things observable in our spiritual walk.
But how often have I run across a believer who is considered mature in his fellowship, and he remarks how wonderful Rob Bell's Nooma series is. Or he may say that he admires Rick Warren. Or, God forbid, he may say he and his wife watch Joel Osteen. And this is from someone who has been save quite a while and should be able to discern much better than that, but because of the immense confusion he has been captured in deception. Now he may stay in the Baptist church he now attends, or like many thousands he may go join a church like Mars Hill in Michigan. The point being he is now vulnerable to great compromise.
I cannot tell you how my heart breaks over such things. I must confess that about twenty years ago I became interested in Kenneth Copeland’s ministry for about one year. Praise God my eyes were opened before it was too late. But that is why I have a heart for the deceived, and also why I speak out from time to time to warn believers that there are wolves out there. The deception grows while the sand continues to run quickly to the bottom of the hour glass.
Are you confused? I do not mean about the fringe issues about which we all discuss and sometimes disagree. This is not about free will or no free will. The issues about which I speak are central to the gospel. They are non-negotiable. If you are confused I suggest you take one week and read the New Testament through from Matthew to Revelation. Ask the Spirit to speak to your heart and reinforce the bedrock truths upon which our faith is built. And do not just look for doctrine, but also open your heart to seek His face and lengthen the cords and deepen the stakes of your own spiritual walk.
Again, there is much confusion of which none of it is of God.


Cal said...

I'm ambivalent on Bell.

I think that he is trying to open doors in the wrong way to rethinking what Americans perceive as the Church. I watched some of the Nooma and didn't find them bad (though muddled at times and factually erroneous at times). I don't think he necessarily deserves the same harsh words as Warren, Copeland or Osteen.

However, I don't recommend turning to his books as a guide. In fact we have so many books out by too many evangelicals on points that are unnecessary. I think he's participating in the cult of personality that evangelicalism has come to in this country. It is quite disturbing.

But at the end of day, I still count Bell a brother (wayward as he may be).

My 2,

Rick Frueh said...

I have read several of his books and listened to some of his teachings. He has had Brian McLaren, Doug pagitt, and peter Rollins preach and teach in his pulpit. And he hired a quaker who teaches that all religions have a part of Jesus and every sinner has a spiritual sail. (Quaker theology)

That Quaker is now the pastor at Mars Hill. Bell is an unambiguous heretic who does not believe the Bible is literal. And his latest book espouses universalism to which John Piper said, "Good bye Rob Bell".

Robin said...

"If you are confused I suggest you take one week and read the New Testament through from Matthew to Revelation."
Amen! There are so many people saying so many things, and this is what it all comes back to. You have to KNOW the Bible before you listen to the rest, because otherwise there is no way to know who is right and who is wrong. I found this out the hard way! - Robin

Rick Frueh said...

Here is a post about the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit preached at Rob Bell's church.

Cal said...


I read your article and I would definitely turn someone to that on understanding the "Wind"!

I know Bell is heterdox on many things and rebuke is necessary, but I'm not willing to say he's an out-and-out heretic. Like you said, every teacher must be checked against the Commands of King Jesus.

I don't think Bell is ever advocating Universalism. He flirts a bit with universal-salvation, but in the sense of a hope. Not necessarily bad, we ought to hope all are saved as according to God's will that all are saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth.

He definitely is treading universalistic pluralism with his inclusivism and that just encourages people to put off interacting with the very direct Command of Jesus. On this, I agree it is dangerous.

However, I'm always a little sympathetic to the feeling of inclusivism even if I reject their premises. Who knows what happens in the last moments of life, what occurs inside a man. Supposedly my grandfather, a secular man all his life, after a going in and out of a coma, was approached by 3 men who all told him to come home. I don't know what it means, but I can hope.


Cal said...

By heretic I should've said apostate or unregenerate. I meant by heretic in regards to deviate so far that he knows some other Jesus.