Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him… “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Proverbs 30:5, Matthew 5:17)

Karl Barth’s Emerging Influence

You should know that one of the main reasons we have this disinterest and even denial of Biblical inerrancy, and with it the final authority of the Bible, by men like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren is the pervasive influence of Karl Barth. If one wishes to understand the predominant view of Holy Scripture held by these emerging Hollow Men of this Emergent Church cult of a new postliberalism it helps to have a working knowledge of the bibliology of Swiss theologian Karl Barth whose:

doctrine of the Word of God, for instance, does not proceed by arguing or proclaiming that the Bible must be uniformly historically and scientifically accurate, and then establishing other theological claims on that foundation.

Some evangelical and fundamentalist critics have therefore tended to refer to Barth as “neo-orthodox” because, while his theology retains most or all of the tenets of Christianity, he is seen as rejecting the belief which for them is a linchpin of the theological system: biblical inerrancy.

(For instance, it was for this belief that Barth was criticized most harshly by the conservative evangelical theologian, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, who was a student of strident Barthian critic Dr. Cornelius Van Til.)

With this background on Barth you will better be able to understand why the Emergents you talk to have so little interest in Biblical inerrancy and will often deny it outright. In the case of Rob Bell pastor Casey Freswick is right when he says that Bell’s “repainting of false teaching looks like a merger of the dialectic philosophy of Hegel, the liberalism of Rudolph Bultmann and the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth.”

Bultmann was known for his “demythologizing of the Bible” where Barth was not necessarily interested in whether Scripture is “historically and scientifically accurate.” This also helps us understand statements such as the following from Bell in his book Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith:

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mirtha and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births… Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? (026)

Painting Away The Historic Christian Faith

In this paragraph we can see evidence of a Bultmannian hypothesis in demythologizing the Virgin Birth and a Barthian it really doesn’t matter if this teaching is accurate or not. The idea here is that even if it the Virgin Birth was a myth and/or not exactly true scientifically someone could still be a Christian. To be fair on the next page Bell does affirm “the historic Christian faith,” but right now let me focus your attention on the cavalier attitude toward the critical importance of proper doctrine.

Dr. Gary Gilley then brings out the critical flaw in Bell’s postmodern philosophy here:

In this brief statement alone he sees as superfluous the virgin birth, the incarnation, the hypostatic union of Christ and the inspiration of Scripture (since the Gospel writers lied about the person of Christ). Of course, like dominos, as these doctrines fall they take others with them, not the least of which would be the substitutionary atonement since a mere man could not die for our sins.

In one stroke of the pen Bell has undermined the whole Christian faith, but he sees it as a non-issue. To Bell, and other emergent leaders, Jesus is not the way and the truth, if by that we mean He is the embodiment of truth and the only way to God. No, to these men the “way of Jesus is the best possible way to live.”

As we return a bit more specifically to Karl Barth’s doctrine of the Bible, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer was trying to point out that Barth’s emphasis on preaching over Scripture is corrupt because Barth was:

proclaiming a rigorous Christian theology without basing that theology on a supporting text that is considered to be historically accurate as a separation of theological truth from historical truth; for his part, Barth would have argued that making claims about biblical inerrancy the foundation of theology is to take a foundation other than Jesus Christ, and that our understanding of Scripture’s accuracy and worth can only properly emerge from consideration of what it means for it to be a true witness to the incarnate Word, Jesus.

Empty Deception According To The Tradition Of Men

And the way the Devil always works is to take some truth and ever so subtly twist it until it becomes false. The Emergent Church specifically goes to Karl Barth as his view of Scripture does deny inerrancy because Barth did not hold that the Bible was equally inspired in all of its parts. Dr. Walter Martin put it this way:

Barth denied verbal inspiration though he accepted plenary in that [the Bible’s] all inspired but you have the right to let it speak to you and whatever speaks to you [becomes] the Word of God. And he was wrong.

Here’s a good concise definition to help you more fully grasp the neo-orthodox view of the inspiration of Scripture from Wikipedia:

The Neo-orthodox doctrine of inspiration is summarized by saying that the Bible is “the word of God” but not “the words of God”. It is only when one reads the text that it becomes the word of God to him or her. This view is a reaction to the Modernist doctrine, which, Neo-orthodox proponents argue, eroded the value and significance of the Christian faith, and simultaneously a rejection of the idea of textual inerrancy. Karl Barth and Emil Brunner were primary advocates of this doctrine.

So what we end up with is a denigration of expository preaching because in Barth’s view what is said is more important than whether or not the written words on the page were completely accurate in every way. This is why Emergent “communicators” believe it is the “heart” of the story which matters so they really aren’t concerned whether or not they can back up what they are saying with the text of the Bible. Any way you slice it we have opened the door to a highly subjective approach to Scripture.

All Scripture Is God-Breathed

What Satan is doing through these emerging deceivers is confusing the issues surrounding sola Scriptura and the doctrines of verbal inspiration and plenary inspiration of the Bible. Dr. Loraine Boettner explains what we mean by these terms as he gives us some good solid teaching concerning Biblical inspiration:

The terms “plenary inspiration” and “verbal inspiration” as used here are practically synonymous. By “plenary inspiration” we mean that a full and sufficient influence of the Holy Spirit extended to all parts of Scripture, rendering it an authoritative revelation from God, so that while the revelations come to us through the minds and wills of men they are nevertheless in the strictest sense the word of God.

By “verbal inspiration” we mean that the Divine influence which surrounded the sacred writers extended not only to the general thoughts, but also to the very words they employed, so that the thoughts which God intended to reveal to us have been conveyed with infallible accuracy — that the writers were the organs of God in such a sense that what they said God said.

The problem which completely undermines Karl Barth’s faulty view of inspiration as a viable understanding of Scripture for the Christian is that he held the Bible “becomes the Word of God.” It should be noted that Barth did say that Scripture only becomes what it already is as the Holy Spirit inspires it to a believer. However, what we end up with is the individual must then use his own reasoning as the criterion in deciding what parts of Scripture actually make up the Word of God.

But the spiritually fatal flaw in this line of reasoning is that mankind’s reasoning is corrupt and therefore cannot be trusted. And still these are the mystical myths where the Hollow Men of the Emerging Church like Rob Bell hide in order to continue sowing their postmodern confusion in the Body of Christ.

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