Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

I Don’t Know What It Means, I Just Know You’re Wrong!

But in his book Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith (VE) this is exactly what is being expressed in this quote below:

I was in an intense meeting with our church leaders in which we were discussing several passages in the Bible. One of the leaders was sharing her journey in trying to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue at hand and she said something like this: “I’ve spent a great deal of time recently studying this issue. I’ve read what the people on the one side of the issue say, and I’ve read what the people on the other side say. I’ve read the scholars and the theologians and all sorts of others on this subject. But then, in the end, I decided to get back to the Bible and just take it for what it really says.”

Now please understand that this way of thinking is prevalent in a lot of Christian churches,…but this view of the Bible is warped and toxic, to say the least… The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda—and perspective—free…This perspective is claiming that a person can simply read the Bible and do what it says—unaffected by any outside influences… When you hear people say they are just going to tell you what the Bible means, it is not true. They are telling you what they think it means.
(053, 054, emphasis his)

Let me bring to your attention that Emergent Church leader Rob Bell has actually introduced a key non-issue (aka red herring) into his attempt above to cloud what the historic orthodox Christian Church means by one of the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation, namely sola Scriptura—“Scripture alone.” Note he says, “The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda—and perspective—free.” Yet no one is actually saying this at all. Everyone recognizes that as human beings we all have a level of “outside influences”. However, it’s critical to recognize here that Bell is now making a self-defeating statement because not being “agenda—and perspective—free” would also include the very postmodern “perspective” of Rob Bell himself. So as he goes on and teaches using Scripture then Bell himself is only telling you what it is that he personally thinks the Bible means. 

Rob Bell Clearly Denies The Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura

And that Bell is firmly against the Biblical truth expressed by the Reformers as sola Scriptura, which he is attacking in his VE, becomes crystal clear as Rob Bell goes on to tell us:

This [canon of the Bible was not settled until the 4th century] is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. (67, 68)

The following from Bob DeWaay in his Rob Bell’s Abstract “Elvis” A Critique of Velvet Elvis, which is a fine critique of this uber popular Emerging Church book at Critical Issues Commentary, clearly shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bell does deny sola Scriptura:

Bell claims that people in church history (he gives Luther as an example ) were involved in “rethinking.” I don’t deny that. But when he says that we have no objective means to determine whether Luther’s teachings or those of the Council of Trent are in closer agreement with the teachings revealed once for all in the Bible—there I strongly disagree. In fact Bell rejects “Scripture alone” on principle…

He thereby takes the same position that the Roman Catholic Church took against the Reformers: That since the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) gave us the Bible, the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) is authoritative over the Bible. Bell’s version simply expands that idea beyond Rome to any Christian group anywhere struggling with the meaning of the Bible. Rather than to rely on a grammatical/historical approach to determine the author’s meaning, he trusts that in some manner the Holy Spirit is “enlightening us.”

I believe that inspired, authoritative revelation was given once for all and is contained in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible by inspiring the Biblical authors, not by inspiring 4th century clerics. They merely recognized the evidence that pointed to the true apostolic source of writings Christians had cited as authoritative since the death of the apostles. Therefore revelation is not an ongoing process.

Bell, on the other hand, likens his view to the fluidity of jumping on a trampoline and calls the views of theologians like me, “brickianity.” This [brickianity] he claims is not good news but bad news about walls that keep people out. Incidentally, this brick wall metaphor is Bell’s way of repudiating systematic theology—a practice he shares with every Emergent/postmodern writer I have studied (which are many). (Online source)

Now we can return to what Bell has told us above in that no one can really know “what the Bible means”; and further, that people like me who would say that we can are only telling you what we “think it means.” Here a fundamental flaw in the false philosophy of postmodernism comes *ahem* emerging. Rob Bell is actually making a statement which he expects us to believe is true. But, in addition to simply telling us what he thinks, Bell’s problem is that if we can’t know for certain what is true in the Bible to begin with, then it also follows that we can’t really even know if his own view about Holy Scripture itself is true.

And so off we go through the Looking Glass along with good ol’ Alice into Wonderland where we’ll end up chasing rabbits down their holes. In truth Bell’s denial of sola Scriptura is really a very childish way to look at the Bible that God inspired. As Dr. John MacArthur has said of the Emerging Church, it’s not that the Bible isn’t clear; no, rather it’s that they don’t like what it clearly says. At Apprising Ministries we agree that this is precisely what we are dealing with false teachers like Rob Bell, who are now corrupting an entire generation with their counterfeit Christianity.

From where I stand they don’t like what the Creator has told us about our true human nature in the Bible, so they just attempt to deny the concept of an absolute meaning, period. And if you’d like to see this foolishness for what it really is then just imagine a “know-it-all” thirteen-year-old being told that they are not going to get their way. As soon as this fact finally cuts through all of their pouting then off they go storming away loudly stomping up the stairs to their room. There they slam shut the door and turn up the CD player in a vain attempt to drown out the mean old icky world. So recognize this tactic by Emergent Church teachers like Rob Bell when you see it: Yea, hath God said?

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