Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Acts 20:28-30)

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

For six years now the online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries has been exposing the sinfully ecumenical Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church, which is a neo-liberal cult currently operating right within mainstream evangelicalism itself. There are those ignorant of the subject who think this false move attributed to God has died out.

However, I showed you e.g. in The Emerging Church Is Unaware It’s Dead that it’s alive and well. As a matter of fact, they’re hard at work even now building a version of the mush god of mysticism, with a man-shaped hole in his/her/its heart; in an upgrade to the Emerging Church 2.0 we can see that they actually have their own new postmodern form of “big tent” Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—sometimes referred to by these rebels against the final authority of God’s Word as Emergence Christianity.

Unfortunately evangelicalism would make the foolish decision to embrace the EC and so now much of its younger sectors are being swept along with The Emerging Church On A Wild Goose Chase; however, you may be sure that The Wild Goose Of The Emerging Church Is Not The Holy Spirit. This can be seen in Wild Goose Festival: Spiritual Renewal Takes Flight! where Reverend Roger Wolsey, who was at WGF, tells us: “God is doing a new thing among us… just as She always has.”[1]

Then consider this tweet yesterday from Tony Jones, progressive/liberal “theologian in residence” at Solomon’s Porch, and part of the unholy EC trinity with his universalist EC pastor Doug Pagitt along with Living Spiritual Teacher and apostate EC guru Brian McLaren:

(Online source)

Quite obviously this is not the Holy Spirit Jesus speaks of, and as I said before, this Emergent menace is actually a wild goose chase after another Jesus than the one we’ve always proclaimed, and to receive a different spirit from the one we received, and to accept a different gospel from the one we’ve always accepted (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4). One of the most visible of these neo-Gnostics which infest this Emerging Church is its rock star pastor Rob Bell with his ear-tickling Love Wins mythology.

This fractured fable argues for the EC soteriology of Christian Universalism, which I first discussed two years ago in Rob Bell And Christian Universalism. Much of the minor protest and talk about Love Wins has died down but we did just come across Message of the Week: Book’s ideas about hell get many preachers hot by Josh Graves, who’s “the preaching minister for Otter Creek Church.” Graves actually hits upon a major problem with Bell’s mythology as he begins:

Rob Bell experienced hell this year, both in his writing and in his personal life.
(Online source)

No, he didn’t. 1) While he took some criticism from a few evangelicals, it was hardly hellacious; and 2) there isn’t anything in this world that even remotely approaches enduring the full wrath of the one true and living God. Let’s get that straight; Bell rings wrong when he tries to put forth the fable that we experience hell on earth. Graves then inadvertantly points out another flaw with such as these on their wild goose chase when he writes:

Bell, one of the more engaging Christian teachers in North America, leads Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. It is a church that preaches Jesus and serves its city with fervor that I’ve envied for at least a decade.

Anyone who’s been close to this church community understands that its first priority is to love the community in which it finds itself. (Online source)

However, Jesus told us that the first priority of the Christian is — “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). But for these emerging neo-Gnostics—the spiritual equivalent of 1960′s hippies—their mystic mush god with a man-shaped hole in his/her/it’s heart has issued a new command: “You shall shut off your mind and love mankind, whom you worship, with all of your heart and all of your true self and all of your strength in your nonduality.”

After Graves reminds us of the promo video Bell did to stir the waters for his Love Wins musings he says:

The video asks the provocative question, “Do you know for sure that Gandhi is in hell?” in response to someone who anonymously disfigured a painting of Gandhi at an art show hosted by Mars Hill Church.

Bell never answered the question regarding Gandhi’s stance before God, which caused a firestorm among preachers who accused Bell of being a Universalist… (Online source)

No surprise there, Bell not answering questions; I’ve told you that postmoderns are a lot like “know-it-all” 13 year-olds who’d rather ask questions and create their own synthetic version of reality. That said, look closely and you will see Rob Bell argue in favor of Christian Universalism in Unbelievable Rob Bell And Adrian Warnock Debate Transcript. Graves reveals that his sympathies do lie with Bell as he tells us:

A little detail that I find intriguing: Most of the early criticism came from ministers who had not even read the book. The vitriolic responses came before the book was released.
(Online source)

The truth is, they were reacting with that promo video, which made it quite obvious to anyone not under the spell of Bell that in his book he would argue for the position of Christian Universalism. This was made crystal clear when it did finally come out, so Graves’ point is moot; and as I said, I told you two years ago that Rob Bell was already heading in that direction. It’s not really that hard to see; any of us who’ve studied mysticism, with its myth of an alledged “spark of the divine” within all things, can tell you that all mystics will eventually land upon universalism in their deluded state. 

Next we see Graves whine the tired ol’ emerging centered on the self (cf. 2 Timothy 3:2) straw man:

I would add that it’s almost as if we have tended to want to have hell more populated than heaven. As if hell is our way of ultimately winning some kind of competition in which my beliefs, my God, my cross and my Jesus are for me and those who agree with me. It’s as if hell becomes the religious Super Bowl for those who need to be right. (Online source)

No, we preach about hell because Jesus did; ignoring it, or trying to wish it away, leaves souls in eternal peril. Here’s another thing that’s covered in the postmodern fog these neo-Gnostics, on their wild goose chase, bring into the church visible; prior to being regenerated people are already headed to hell:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God… Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:18, 36)

As my friend Dr. Larry Dixon has brought out, this is The Other Side Of The Good News; and even pouty postmodern emergent mystics like Rob Bell threatening to hold their spiritual breath isn’t going to make hell go away. Finally, Graves gives us another gospel, which is no gospel at all (cf. Galatians 1:6-9):

Specifically, I think evangelicals are exposed in this book for thinking that the Story of Jesus (call it Gospel, too) is primarily about a Jesus who died for my sins and my future instead of (the more orthodox view) a Jesus who died for the world, including his enemies.

I think beneath all of this debate is the question of the cross. What exactly did God do on the cross when he allowed Jesus to take on the powers of darkness, sin, evil and the injustice of the world? (Online source)

God didn’t merely allow Jesus to enter into the human sufferings of this world in order to fight the evil empire; no, God specifically sent the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world to die the death we deserve for our sins:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

In closing this out, for now, I remind you that in Farewell, Rob Bell I was pleased to tell you about a new book by the aforementioned Dixon that completely dismantles the Love Wins mythology of Rob Bell. I’ll leave you with the following section from “Farewell, Rob Bell”: A Biblical Response to Love Wins by Dr. Larry Dixon; you can find out how to purchase this valuable resource in combating the infection of Bell’s fractured fables right here:

In interviews, Bell has recoiled from the idea that he doesn’t believe in hell. He says, “I have a whole chapter devoted to that topic.” He briefly covers the less than a dozen places where Jesus uses the term “hell” and says, “That’s it. That’s all the times the word is used.”

But one could ask, how many times must God Incarnate speak of a subject for it to be considered important? He has greatly under-valued Jesus’ teaching on eternal lostness.

Bertrand Russell rejected Christianity and Jesus Christ mainly because of the doctrine of hell. He wrote, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.” The Unitarian minister Theodore Parker once remarked: “I believe that Jesus Christ taught eternal punishment—I do not accept it on his authority!”

It is abundantly clear from the following passages in Matthew’s gospel (where the term “hell” is not used) that Jesus spoke the most about eternal judgment.

Some Points in Matthew’s Gospel on Eternal Lostness Missed by Bell:

1. Jesus speaks of “the danger of the fire of hell” (Mt. 5:22) and of being “condemned to hell” (Mt. 23:33).

2. Jesus speaks of the narrow gate & the broad way (Mt. 7:13-14).

3. Jesus says that many will demand to be let into heaven at the end of time and He will say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” The entrance requirement for heaven is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Mt. 7:23; 25:10-12).

4. Jesus says that those who thought they were guaranteed the kingdom “will be thrown outside, into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” They will not throw themselves out; they will be thrown (Mt. 8:10-12; 18:6-9).

5. Jesus says that the demons believe a time of torturing is coming (Mt. 8:28-29; 18:32-35).

6. Jesus says there will be differences of punishment in hell (Mt. 10:15; 11:20-24).

7. Jesus says we should be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

8. Jesus speaks of disowning in heaven those who disown Him in this life (Mt. 10:32).

9. Jesus speaks of the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit—a sin that will not be forgivenin the age to come (Mt. 12:30-32).

10. Jesus speaks of harvest time at the end of the world in which the weeds will be separated from the wheat (and will be burned) and the bad fish will be separated from the good fish (and will be thrown away). “The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnance, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 13:30-50).

11. Jesus says there will be some who will seek to gain the whole world, but will forfeit their soul (Mt. 16:24-27).

12. Jesus says those who show up at the wedding feast without the proper clothes will be bound and thrown “outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 22:11-14; 25:29-30).

13. Jesus says that His angels “will gather his elect from the four winds” (Mt. 24:31). (Barth makes all of humanity the elect).

14. Jesus says all of humanity will be divided into two groups: the sheep who knew the Lord and showed it by their works and the goats who did not know the Lord and did not meet the needs of others. The goats “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous (the sheep) to eternal life” (Mt. 25:46).

15. Jesus commands His followers to fulfill the Great Commission and to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19-20).

A Brief Study on the Wrath of God:

[Rob] Bell criticizes a church’s website which speaks of eternal judgment in their doctrinal statement. He remarks, “Welcome to our church!” But if a church believes in hell, shouldn’t it say so?

I checked Mars Hill Bible Church’s website for their statement on eternal lostness and found the following:

We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent. God will reclaim this world and rule forever. The earth’s groaning will cease and God will dwell with us here in a restored creation.

On that day we will beat swords into tools for cultivating the earth, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, there will be no more death, and God will wipe away all our tears. Our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation will be whole.

All will flourish as God intends. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. And we are giving our lives to living out that future reality now. (Online source)

It seems to me that there is a logic of damnation that Christians have not fully explored. D.A. Carson puts it this way:

Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes, but they didn’t’ believe the right stuff. They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their Maker and want to be at the center of the universe.

Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isn’t gentle enough or good enough to let them out. It’s filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be at the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying rebellion.

What is God to do? If He says it doesn’t matter to Him, then God is no longer a God to be admired. He is either amoral or positively creepy. For Him to act in any other way in face of such blatant defiance would to be to reduce God Himself.[2]  

End Notes:

[1], accessed 6/27/11.

[2] Larry Dixon, “Farewell, Rob Bell”: A Biblical Response to Love Wins [Columbia: Theomedian Resources, 2011] , 30-33.

See also: