Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:15-19)

It’s Time For You To Come To Grips With The Fact That Sometimes The Truth Hurts

Apprising Ministries has been busy documenting for you the very rapid penetration of apostasy into the heart of the  mainstream evangelical community—particularly in its younger sectors—because of its ongoing embrace of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church. You really need to know that those spreading rumors of its demise are woefully misinformed. The EC hasn’t died; it’s morphed into the Emerging Church 2.0 with its own postmodern Progressive Christian theology.

These rebels against the final authority of the Word of God will often refer to under their silly circus “big tent” as Emergence Christianity. At the core of this lunacy in the Lord’s name is its highly subjective Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard. [1] It’s simply beyond question that a leading spokesman for all of this is the Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell, whom you may know is a co-teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church (MHBC) along with his good friend, the heretical Shane Hipps.

By all of this, I mean both CSM and the postmodern form of liberal/progressive Christianity—Liberalism 2.o—because Bell is heavily involved with both. Let me remind you that his mentor Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren [2] laid his progressive/liberal cards on the table with his tome A New Kind of Christianity; therein this heretical wolf in sheep’s clothing openly confessed his version of progressive Christianity. It was a way for leaders in this EC cult to test the waters to see just how far they could push heresy while remaining mainstream; as we would come to find out, all the way to pagan universalism.

Now Rob Bell has finally become emboldened enough to follow suit with his own Love Wins mythology. However, two years ago in Rob Bell And Christian Universalism I showed you that this was what he has been arguing for all along. How did I know you ask; simple. I saw that Bell has himself been practicing mysticism, as well as teaching it to his infamous MHBC community, since at the very least 2001; and that’s where all mystics will eventually end up. I also have in my possession, from a source who once attended MHBC, the text from an apparently unpublished plastic spiral booklet from that year by Bell.

This work is entitled The Sound of Sheer Silence; and essentially forms what would go on to become much of the text for his 2005 Nooma DVD Noise below. In recent pieces like Word Faith Heretic Cindy Trimm Receives Award From Billy Graham Evangelistic Association I’ve explained to you that the crown jewel of this spurious CSM is a form of meditation while in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP). If you didn’t know, you need to realize that this is what all the talk about spending time in “silence” is really all about; it’s mystic-speak for the practice of CCP.

O, in the Lord, how I wish these perverted purveyors of this mysticism-lite would follow their own advice and remain in silence. However, such as these persist in their public propagation of pietistic and ascetic “spiritual disciplines,” which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions that would produce the theology of apostate Roman Catholicism. I’ll also point out that those who persist in the prolonged practice of CSM, like Rob Bell, eventually receive a delusion that God has some “dream” to make the world a better place by bringing all factions of Christianity together as one.

Seriously, even in as short a time period as a couple of years ago, who would ever have thought that the secular song Imagine, John Lennon’s anthem to the love of the self (cf. 2 Timothy 3:2), would become evangelical Christian doctrine. Yet for the really deluded ones like EC pastor Samir Selmanovic this depraved dream would actually include all religions; think I’m kidding, see for yourself in Emerging Church Leader Samir Selmanovic Worships With Witches. Then in the Love Wins mythology of Rob Bell, we now even see that postmortem, after some kind of a Protestant purgatory, this would eventually include all of mankind.

Here’s the heart of the matter: We are dealing with the subject of soteriology, in other words, the very Gospel itself; and another gospel entirely. Consider Kevin DeYoung:

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…

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…

Bell categorically rejects any notion of penal substitution. It simply does not work in his system or with his view of God… (Online source)

DeYoung is dead on target; but 1) this is not the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins, salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross by Christ alone, and 2) it also happens to be what Rob Bell has always taught:

So this is reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth, to God.” All things, everywhere.

This reality then isn’t something we make come true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making. [3]

Bell’s mythology of a mystic mush god with a man-shaped hole in his/her/its heart is as much evangelical doctrine as the Dalai Lama is Christian. Although in the postmodern pudding of contemporary evanjellyfish, given its affinity for Humpty Dumpty language, and a bit more time…well. In closing this, for now, I’ll point out again that the disagreement we have with Rob Bell has to do with the Gospel itself! Even though, in the Bible of evangelical leaders, it’s apparently written in invisible ink the text of Holy Scripture still reads:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9)

For Those Not Under The Spell Of Bell There’s Clear Evidence Of His Preaching Apostasy

I’m not being harsh and unloving Mart De Haan of Radio Bible Class; and it’s well past time for you to take your nose out of Henri Nouwen and man up. I’m being throughly and consistently Christian here; and after-all, I didn’t say it, God did. Sadly, at this critical time in church history, what we’re witnessing is a rather nauseating display of pathetic Protholic evangelical leaders so scared of their own spiritual shadows, and too timid to defend the purity of God’s Gospel, to throw this apostate out of the Lord’s church where he belongs.

You’d best believe that if Arius suddenly arises today, in short order you’ll be worshipping God right alongside Jehovah’s Witnesses as your fellow evangelicals. So, against this proper framework I’m pleased now to point you to the following from Dr. John MacArthur, a man to whom I raise my Sword of the Spirit for having the spiritual intestinal fortitude to boldly speak the truth concerning the heretic Rob Bell. You see, for years now I have carefully studied the mythology of Rob Bell, as clear a fulfillment of  2 Timothy 4:3-4 as it gets.

From this, and from talking with many sources in and around MHBC—some who have personally known Rob Bell even before he went to Wheaton—I can tell you with certainty MacArthur is dead-on-target here:

If Christopher Hitchens or Deepak Chopra penned a book that scoffed at the biblical teaching on hell, we would not be surprised. So why would anyone be shocked or confused when Rob Bell writes Love Wins? Has Bell shown any more commitment to gospel truth, or any more devotion to the principle of biblical authority than Hitchens or Chopra?

Is Rob Bell truly a Christian, or is he one of those dangerous deceivers Scripture warns us about repeatedly (Acts 20:29; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 2:1; etc.)?

It’s a fair—and necessary—question. Christ’s famous warning about wolves in sheep’s clothing is given to us as an imperative: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Our Lord clearly expects His true disciples to be able to spot spiritual imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing—especially those who are purveyors of deadly false doctrines.

Rob Bell certainly fits that category. He relentlessly casts doubt on the authority and reliability of Scripture. He denies the Bible’s perspicuity, disavows its hard truths, and ridicules some of the most important features of the gospel.

Granted, Bell (who was raised in the evangelical movement and is an alumnus of Wheaton College) still insists on calling himself “evangelical.” He reiterated that claim recently in a March 14 interview with Lisa Miller, where he stated, “Do I think that I’m evangelical and orthodox to the bone? Yes.”

A careful examination of Bell’s teaching suggests, however, that his profession of faith is not credible. His claim that he is “evangelical and orthodox to the bone” is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Bell’s teaching gives no evidence of any real evangelical conviction. If “each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44), we cannot blithely embrace Rob Bell as a “brother” just because he says he wants to be accepted as an evangelical.

If, as Jesus said, His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27), then we ought to look with the utmost suspicion on anyone who doubts and denies as much of Jesus’ teaching as Rob Bell does, and yet claims to be a follower of Christ.

Scripture is crystal-clear about this: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4).

Historic evangelicalism has always affirmed the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture, while declaring (as Jesus and the apostles did) that the only way of salvation for fallen humanity is through the atoning work of Christ, and the only instrument of justification is faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the gospel.

Rob Bell believes none of those things. His skepticism about so many key biblical truths, his penchant for sowing doubt in his hearers, and his obvious contempt for the principles of divine justice as taught in Scripture all give evidence that he is precisely the kind of unbelieving false teacher Scripture warns us about.

Bell is an inveterate syncretist who loves to blend “progressive” and politically correct dogmas with eastern mysticism, humanistic jargon, and Christian terminology. His teaching is full of barren ideas borrowed directly from old liberalism, sometimes rephrased in postmodern jargon but still reeking of stale Socinianism.

What Bell is peddling is nothing like New Testament Christianity. It is a man-centered religion totally devoid of both clarity and biblical authority.

Given those facts, you might think any true evangelical would reject Bell and his teaching outright. But evidently many in the American evangelical movement think they are obliged simply to accept at face value Bell’s claim of orthodoxy. No less than Mart DeHaan, voice of Radio Bible Class, decried Bell’s critics, portraying them as the divisive ones for pointing out the unsoundness of Bell’s teaching. DeHaan wrote,

I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy? [emphasis added]

The biblical answer to DeHaan’s question is clear and fairly simple: The best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy is to “[hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching . . . to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers . . . who must be silenced” (Titus 1:9-11).

We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies. It won’t do to sit by idly while someone who denies the danger of hell mass-produces sons of hell (cf. Matthew 23:15).

In a series of posts this week, we will demonstrate from Rob Bell’s own published works that he has long been hostile to virtually every vital gospel truth; we will consider some of the questions he has raised about what the Bible has to say about hell; and we will compare and contrast what Bell is saying about hell with what Jesus said about it.

Buckle in and get ready to be challenged. These are admittedly some of the hardest truths in the New Testament, but there’s no reason anyone holding authentic evangelical convictions should find the subject confusing or controversial. (Online source)

John MacArthur

This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.
Copyright 2011, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

End Notes:

Back to note 1 — You can follow some of the corrupting results of this spurious CSM as well as how far its spread already e.g. in Contemplative Spirituality Growing Within Mainstream Evangelicalism and Lifeway Encouraging Southern Baptists To Practice Lectio Divina.

Back to note 2 — McLaren comprises the unholy EC trinity of apostates along with Doug Pagitt, heretical universalist pastor of Solomon’s Porch, with the third member being his progressive/liberal “theologian in residence” and Fuller Theological Seminary professor Dr. Tony Jones.

Back to note 3 — Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Rethinking the Christian Faith, [Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2005], 146, emphasis mine.

See also: