To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
(Isaiah 8:20)

Behold The Cult Of A Postmodern Neo-Liberalism

Apprising Ministries has been blessed of Jesus to be used as one of His leading online apologetics and discernment works for coverage of the warped and toxic teachings of EC leaders like the Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell.

Sadly, mainstream evangelicalism became spiritually spineless and embraced the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church,  now upgraded to 2.0 with its newer, more clearly delineated, postmodern Progressive Christian theology, which these rebels against the final authority of the Word of God will often refer to under their circus “big tent” as Emergence Christianity

In Apprising Ministries: Rob Bell Resources I’m bringing what I consider to be the best resources concerning the mythology of Rob Bell and reviews of his latest book of myth he calls Love Wins. In my estimation, a couple of particular note would be God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins” by Kevin DeYoung and Rob Bell’s New Book LOVE WINS: A Review and Response by Jeremy Bouma.

DeYoung tells us:

I really must say something about the two most grievous errors in the book: Bell’s view of the cross and his view of God. According to Bell, salvation is realizing you’re already saved. We are all forgiven. We are all loved, equally and fully by God who has made peace with everyone. That work is done. Now we are invited to believe that story and live in it (172–73).

Bell is not saying what you think he might be saying. He’s not suggesting faith is the instrumental cause used by the Spirit to join us to Christ so we can share in all his benefits. That would be evangelical theology. Bell is saying God has already forgiven us whether we ask for it or not, whether we repent and believe or not, whether we are born again or not. “Forgiveness is unilateral. God isn’t waiting for us to get it together, to clean up, shape up, get up—God  has already done it” (189)…

Bell categorically rejects any notion of penal substitution. It simply does not work in his system or with his view of God. “Let’s be very clear, then,” Bell states, “we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer” (182). I see no place in Bell’s theology for Christ the curse-bearer (Gal. 3:13), or Christ wounded for our transgressions and crushed by God for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5, 10), no place for the Son of Man who gave his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), no place for the Savior who was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), no place for the sorrowful suffering Servant who drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath for our sake (Mark 14:36). 
(Online source)

As DeYoung says, this is not “evangelical theology”; and below Dr. Michael Horton gives us the proper definition of evangelical:

The term [evangelical] itself derives from the Greek word euangelion, translated “Gospel,” and it became a noun when the Protestant reformers began their work of bringing the “one holy, catholic and apostolic church” back to that message by which and for which it was created. People still used other labels, too, like “Lutheran,” “Reformed,” and later, “Puritans,” “Pietists,” and “Wesleyans.” 

Nevertheless, the belief was that the same Gospel that had united the “evangelicals” against Rome’s errors could also unite them against the creeping naturalism and secularism of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. The so-called “Evangelical Awakening” in Britain coincided with America’s own “Great Awakening,” as Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, Tennant, and so many others centered their preaching on the atonement. (Online source)

In his aforementioned review of Bell’s mythology (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4) Bouma brings out:

Bell proposes there will be “endless opportunities in an endless amount of time for people to say yes to God. At the heart of this perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence. The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most ‘depraved sinners’ will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God.” (107)

This is universal salvation, albeit with a post-mortem salvation thrown in! I’m confused why Rob doesn’t own the fact he is arguing for universal salvation and defend it… We don’t know for sure what he believes, but it appears that Bell views the Cross and Resurrection as symbols that reflect a truism of reality. The early followers of Jesus simply borrowed from nature to describe the new good, peaceful, loving reality Jesus brought through his teachings and message. It isn’t clear how Jesus’ actual death on the cross does anything for humanity,…

It appears as though salvation for Rob—the gospel for Rob—is about pursuing the life of heaven now… In other words: salvation, Rob’s gospel is about humanistic utopianism… While I certainly affirm these positive ethical actions, those ethics themselves do not change us, that is not the gospel. The gospel says that Jesus Christ himself through His death and resurrection transforms us through faith in Him. Bell seems to say something entirely different, that as we behave as Jesus would behave then our behaviors themselves will change us and we will bring positive ethical living of heaven to earth. (Online source, bold his)

Bouma’s right; “that is not the gospel,” which brings us to the heart of the matter: Rob Bell is not an evangelical because he does not believe, teach, and confess, what evangelicals have always believed. You need to realize that with Rob Bell, and others associated with this neo-liberal cult of a new postmodern form of Progressive Christian theology, we are talking about a different gospel entirely.

The question then becomes: Why aren’t evangelicals having no small dissension and debate with them (cf. Acts 15:1-2), but instead continue to allow these enemies of the cross of Christ (cf. Philippians 3:18) free reign within mainstrean evangelicalism to teach their younger sectors? Has the heart of the visible church really become so pathetically weak that we won’t even defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ anymore?

I shudder to think what would happen today should Arius had arisen in this gelatinous generation within spiritually squishy mainstream evanjellyfish. It’s against this canvas of compromise that I point you to a post today by Bruce Epperly called Rob Bell’s Universalism? You may recall I first introduced you to Dr. Bruce Epperly last fall in Big Tent Christianity Is A Postmodern Progressive Liberalism.

As I pointed out previously, Epperly wants us to know that he’s “a teacher, spiritual guide, writer, lecturer, retreat leader, and reiki teacher”:

(Online source)

Sung To The Tune Of Just A Closer Walk With Thee  — “Right Into Idolatry”

We get another peek at where the Big Tent Christianity of the Emerging Church 2.0 is headed as our progressive guru Epperly, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who attends Disciples United Community Church, also tells us:

Persons of faith are called to be global pioneers. Although you may be rooted in a particular religious tradition, you may also find spiritual nurture through the insights and practices of the historical religious traditions, native spiritualities, or the new spiritual movements of our time. You may, for example, attend church on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, and share fully in the ritual of Holy Communion. But, throughout the week, you may practice Zen Buddhist meditation or Transcendental Meditation, receive reiki or acupuncture treatments, or attend a Native American sweat lodge.

The challenge for spiritual pilgrims is to find creative ways to integrate the wisdom of their own faith with global spiritual practices.

Over the past several years, I have been involved in exploring progressive Jewish and Christian spirituality. Despite a tragic history, progressive Jews and Christians can learn much from each other’s traditions. We look for common ground not only in the affirmation of an active, loving, and personal God but also the celebration of a common history and complementary spiritual practices. I believe that Jews and Christians can deepen their spirituality by sharing each other’s spiritual practices, holy days, and theological insights.

God’s truth is larger than any religious tradition. As we share our faith, we do not seek to convert one another, but grow together by sharing a common spiritual adventure. (Online source)

Like I said before, you need to remember now that this is a really big tent both Epperly and Rob Bell are under, so it’s no problem if you want to erect altars to the Baals practice Zen Buddhist meditation or make Asherah poles Transcendental Meditation because “God’s truth is larger than any religious tradition.” Ah, who cares that God takes a really dim view of idolatry e.g. 2 Chronicles 33:1-9; sure, these neo-Gnostics tell us that it’s different now because…um-well, because they happen to “feel” like it is.

Now there’s room for everybody who enters through this tent’s very wide gate; sadly though, they’re not listening to Jesus Who has already told us quite clearly:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

This should quell any doubt you may have that the Emerging Church 2.0 has left the Christian building; if it was ever even in it. Today Epperly elucidates concerning Rob Bell, “Once more evangelicals are fighting among each other.” However, he’s already off the rails because I’ve demonstrated, again, that Bell isn’t an evangelical; he’s actually aligned with big tent postmodern progressive liberalism.

What Bell does is to use Christian terminology without clearly defining what he means; this allows his hearers to then filter it through whatever grid they may use, which is why we can see the more Reformed evangelical, as well as the postmodern progressive/liberal, both sitting right next to each other nodding in agreement with Bell’s mythology despite their diametrically opposed theology.

Circa 1985 the late Dr. Walter Martin filled us in concerning how the original liberals also did precisely the same thing:

The major denominational structures in the United States today have pumped out all of the meaning of Christian terminology and have nothing but a hollow shell. And people are attracted by the shell because it’s the history and tradition of the Church. It’s not until they get in there that they find out that there aren’t sheep behind the pulpits there are wolves in sheep’s clothing who know not God and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content; they were simply using the outward shell so that they go on collecting money from the people and the churches; because they knew that if the people in the pew knew that they were apostate, they’d throw them out. So the strategy was hang on to the trust funds; hang on to the money we’ve got; hang on the properties we control, and we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology.

And then finally we will take control of everything. The gradual process of feeding you theological poison until you become immunized enough so that you don’t know what’s happening to you. And when you wake up to what’s happening to you, it’s too late they’ve got everything.[1]

Dr. John MacArthur also pointed out in 1994 that the next wave neo-orthodoxy followed suit:

Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant, What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”

Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they affirming traditional beliefs, their actual system differs radically from the historic understanding of the Christian faith. By denying the objectivity of truth, they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. It is a theology perfectly suited for the age in which we live. And that is precisely why it is so deadly…[2]

And you can thank the Emerging Church, and men like Rob Bell, that I would even have to cover this kind of spiritual monk-ee business within the mainstream of the visible church. But here’s where you’re at: Mainline denominations caved in to liberal theology; as I recently discussed in Spiritual Blindness And Famine In The Land, and now evangelicalism is beginning to cave in to this postmodern progressive liberalism.

So, if you want to see the future of mainstream of the church visible just look in the mirror of the mortally wounded mainline denominations. And you can’t say that you haven’t been warned:

Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 

Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?” Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. (Ezekiel 13:3-9)


End notes:

[1] Walter Martin, Cult of Liberalism, CD Rom, available from Walter Martin Religious InfoNet)

[2] John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When The Church Loses Its Will To Discern [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994], 25, 26, 27, emphasis his.

See also: