In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. (Psalm 102:25-26)

Redeeming The Earth

If we were a doctor looking at the future of the cosmos based on the logical inferences derived from simply reading the above text and letting it speak for itself we would have to say the prognosis isn’t very good. But oh no, says the Emerging Church (EC) we are already in the Kingdom of God and Christ redeemed the universe on the cross. We’ll be looking more specifically at Rob Bell’s view in his book Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith, which is indicative of most within the EC, but I also wish to make a quick point in passing. Within the new evangelicalism of the Purpose Driven Church, the Emerging Church and the Word Faith Church the prevailing views concerning soteriology (salvation) involve some kind of a universal atonement of the world.

Space doesn’t allow me here to go into great detail but you will find this within the dominant positions of eschatology (end times) today, which are called by various names such as “Christian Reconstructionism,” “Dominion Theology,” “Kingdom Now.” Though these do have differences, they are all similar in the misunderstanding that Christ left His Church on the earth to “Christianize” it and prepare it for His coming rule. Each of the aforementioned views have been adequately covered elsewhere, I only bring this up here to uncover for you what the EC is generally talking about when they speak of “the Kingdom of God,” and being “followers of Jesus.” They are referring to the idea that God’s Kingdom is here on the earth right now through Christ’s atonement and that to be His “follower” we are to make this world a better place.

Again we must resist “wrestling with the serpent” here because there is truth mixed within Satan’s lie regarding the Kingdom of God and the mission of Christ’s Church to our fellow man. For our purposes here we simply point out that through the Church of Jesus Christ–the universal Body of Christ–the Kingdom of God is present on the earth to a limited degree, and then a secondary function of our mission for the Lord is to care for our fellow man. The EC has been very successful in selling the completely false idea that one like myself who holds to the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV) believes we have no responsibility to the nation we live in and to our fellow man. It is simply an incontrovertible fact that the true Christian faith has been responsible for improving the living conditions of mankind in virtually every area of life.

Universal At-One-Ment

We return now to the main point of this series concerning Rob Bell’s warped writings regarding Christ’s atonement and the actual mission of the Christian Church. In chapter five of his book Velvet Elvis (VE) Bell begins to describe his novel spin of “this Jewish man” Jesus of Nazareth “who lived” and “died” and then “according to his first followers, was alive again” (124). Then, in words that even Fosdick, Ferre and Bultmann could agree with, Bell goes on to tell us:

As his movement gathered steam, this Jewish man came to be talked about more and more as God, fully divine as well as fully human. As his followers talked about him and did what he said and told and retold his stories, the significance of his life began to take on all sorts of cosmic dimensions (ibid).

This is not to say that Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the Deity of Christ, but in grand McLarenesque style, from VE it’s hard to tell just what Bell himself does believe. However, it’s the next part of Bell’s story about the Master that concerns this work as he informs us that the followers of Jesus:

realized that something much bigger was going on here, involving them and the people around them and all of creation. Something involving God making peace with the world and creation being reclaimed and everything in heaven and earth being brought back into harmony with its Creator (ibid, emphasis added).

Let us stop right here. This is where we see the idea of a universal atonement, or if Bell is heading in the direction that Emergent spiritual director Guru Brian McLaren is heading, we see the doctrine of panentheism. It would appear Bell holds to the former rather than the latter in light of his mention of the cross in VE, something that is missing from McLaren’s work. Be that as it may, this is the foundation from which the faulty understanding of the Kingdom of God in Emerging Church springs. Bell is espousing the party line that somehow anyway Jesus brings all of creation back into its proper relationship with God. We’ll be returning to this issue later, but for now this false teaching has a couple of very serious flaws. If all of creation is now “in harmony” with God then the Devil himself would have to be included, and there would now also be no need for regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

The Toxic Effect Of Bell

Our focus initially will be on the ramifications that if all of creation has been redeemed by Christ there is no need for man to be born again. But as we begin men and women I know firsthand about the rapidly growing influence of this counterfeit Christian pastor-teacher Rob Bell and how his toxic teachings are shipwrecking the faith of the young people who end up following him. I have received numerous letters from parents across the country who have seen their children twisted up by Bell’s spiritual musings. The mom of one young man in particular comes to mind whose son had been progressing nicely in his walk with Jesus and had met with his pastor about entering the ministry. Sadly he ended up going to Mars Hill Graduate School and has come home turned completely backward in his faith after coming under Bell’s influence there.

Sure Rob Bell’s constant use of Hebrew words and his incessant references to what the so-called “Rabbis” say is quite impressive to the youth he speaks to. But those of us who happen to have a working knowledge of the original texts of Scripture and of the actual history of the Church can see through it. Meaning no disrespect to orthodox Jewish rabbis who most certainly know the Hebrew language better than I, in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, the Master Rabbi, Christ Jesus had an interesting discussion with a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus. A very important part of it is the following exchange:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:7-12)

Born Of The Holy Spirit

What needs to be stressed here as it applies to our discussion of Rob Bell and the Rabbis, which actually is a spiritual group of sorts, is that Christ is talking with a Jewish religious leader and the Master chides him for not understanding the concept of having to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God. How sad that much of what professes to be Christ’s Church today, and most particularly the Emerging one misunderstands the exact same thing! Keep that in mind as we look at Jesus tell Nicodemus – “you people do not accept our testimony.” We need to ask ourselves here: “What people do not accept our testimony?” The answer is the unregenerate, those who have not been born again through God’s grace alone–through personal faith alone–in Christ alone.

This idea wasn’t “made up” by the Reformers. This is what the historic Christian Church has always taught because this is what the Bible says. And Jesus tells Israel’s teacher that – I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? So now we know whom it is the Master speaks of when He talks about our testimony in verse 11. Primarily Christ is referring to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit when He says “our testimony,” but using the other edge of the double-edged Sword of the Spirit, which is Word of God, our Lord is also talking about His Church. You must remember that those who are not born of the Spirit will not accept our testimony either. Can you see how this works?

Now we might apply this Truth to many professing Christian teachers today like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Rick Warren and Joel Osteen who also don’t accept our testimony. This should give you pause for thought. Do you really think that the evangelical method of mass evangelism with its “pray a simple prayer” is really from God? Do you begin to see that there are a whole lot less people who have truly been born of the Spirit than claim to be. “‘Krazy Ken’ (as I’m known in Emergent circles) are you trying to tell me these fine Christian men with their big churches and followings that totally obscure yours aren’t born again?” That’s precisely what I am saying becomes a very real possibility if they do not accept the testimony of those who have been born of the Spirit.

Stand For The Truth

It is written: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20), and this is the position from which I write. As a pastor-teacher myself I am commanded in Scripture to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8), such as those parents who are writing to me for help, and to hold back those staggering toward slaughter (Proverbs 24:11), which are those who are not born again and are headed toward an eternity in Hell. Which brings us to an important point that is totally missed within more and more of the EC because of its neo-pagan mystical experience-oriented “Christianity.” And this is what Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus in our text from John – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is a key verse to understand in this whole discussion of the views of salvation and the end times that we are talking about, and specifically with Rob Bell’s salvation fantasies. The vicarious penal substitutionary atonement on the Cross by God the Son–Christ Jesus of Nazareth–was to take the punishment of His people’s sins upon Himself that they might be forgiven. With this gracious salvation offered by the Father through the Son by the Spirit comes a completely new creation within men and women who believe. This is what the Christian Church means when we speak of being born from above, or being born again. This is a literal spiritual fact, and just as the man is “recreated” inside, but awaiting his new spiritual body after his cursed natural one dies, so also the cursed heavens and earth will die and will also be recreated.

We’ll talk about this more in the next part and we’ll examine further the faulty man-centered premise that Bell erects his soteriological framework upon. The point that needs to be understood here is those who obey what Jesus has taught us in the Bible are like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24, ESV). And then conversely, the Master will say of the person in the Emerging Church like Rob Bell who hear these words of mine and does not do them that they will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand (v.26). The Truth is that if you in the EC do not choose to follow Jesus the way He has prescribed in Holy Scripture, then you would be wise to examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The critical question for those following things taught by demons and the leaders within the Emerging Church like Rob Bell is this: Do you really think that this life the Creator has given us is so neat and compartmentalized as to be understood by mere human intellect when avoiding Hell took the very intervention of God Himself and His brutal crucifixion on that bloody Roman cross?

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