Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Exactly Has Got Some 'Splainin' To Do?

Rob Bell, megachurch pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church (an ironically named church if ever there was one), was recently interviewed about his controversial new book "Love Wins" and had this to say:
"So that means if I'm a Christian, I have to consign all Buddhists to hell?.....Is God like that? Is that the kind of God Jesus talked about? That view has a lot of answering to do. It has a lot of answering to do."
Rob Bell, Creator of Nooma videos
Pastor of an enormous church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and wildly popular among churchgoing youth, Bell has been dubbed "a rock star in the church world" by Time Magazine, and has influenced millions with his Nooma videos and his bestselling book "Velvet Elvis."  But in the quote above, as well as in his newly released book, Bell is revealing more and more of his backwards, man-centered theology in which God answers to man.

Bell's view, which he develops at length in the newly released "Love Wins," is what is known as "Christian Universalism."  Christian Universalism is the belief that God's love is his primary attribute, and that because of this, God MUST save all people eventually in the end. Christian Universalists believe that Christ on the Cross constituted the "mechanism" (Bell's word) that will enable ALL people to end up in heaven eventually.
“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (Job 38:2-3)
But as any discerning Christian can see from Bell's statement above, the problem with Bell's theology is that he has it all wrong who, exactly, has the power. Do Christians have the power to consign anyone to hell, as he implies? No, in fact, Christians are actually so burdened with the realization that many are headed for hell that they act in obedience to Scripture that commands them to:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
We also know from Scripture that the power to bring ultimate judgment belongs to God and God alone:
"And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
In closing, let me point out that Rob Bell was not as straightforward about his views when he first burst onto the Christian scene 20 years ago. And due to his quick wit and approachable teaching style, he rapidly became extremely popular among churchgoing youth. But let me go on the record here in stating that Rob Bell is a dangerous heretic who has unmasked himself in his latest book. We now know where he stands. I therefore urge all parents reading this post to make sure they are taking an active role in safeguarding their kids against Bell's false teaching. We must heed the exhortation from Scripture not to simply hand the instruction of our children over to others but to actively take responsibility, as parents, in biblically guiding, teaching and discipling our own children:
"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deut 6:6-9)

photo credit: xxxCurtisxxx via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Rob Bell In His Own Words on the Inerrancy of Scripture

 Rob Bell's View 
" wasn't until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the 'Bible'. This 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. (“Velvet Elvis,” my emphasis, p 67) 
"The Bible is a human product, rather than the product of divine fiat." (Christianity Today interview, "Emergent Mystique")
 Historic Orthodox Christian View 

The Bible is divinely inspired, and was written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  That means that it is inerrant and infallible, and that every word is true. Every word is God-breathed and given to us plainly and clearly so that we may know what God, the Creator, requires of us, his creation.  God himself tells us that "I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land..." (Isaiah 45:19) and "Come near me and listen to this: From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret..." (Isaiah 48:16)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.... (2 Tim 3:16)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:1-7, my emphasis)

photo credit: MykReeve via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

How Important Is The Inerrancy of Scripture?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Is Fundamentalism?

Posted by Christine Pack

For a while, we used the quip "Putting the 'fun' back into 'fundamental'" as our tagline here on the Sola Sisters blog. But my sister finally convinced me to take it off because, as she rightly pointed out, the term "fundamental" is now so loaded with baggage as to no longer be useful. So I thought a short little post on what fundamentalism actually is, as opposed to what it has become, might be helpful.

 The Roots of the Fundamentalist Movement 

The Fundamentalist movement was a conservative Christian movement that formed in the early part of the 20th century in response to the flood of liberal heresies which were flowing virtually unchecked into our churches. This movement formed specifically for the purpose of creating a document reaffirming and defending key Christian doctrines that were under direct assault from the proponents and teachings of Modernism. Modernism had gained ground in - where else - academia, and was opposed to the idea of a personal, sovereign Creator God to whom mankind was beholden.  Science and reason - as opposed to God - were rapidly coming to be viewed as mankind's ultimate authority. It follows then, with science and reason being king, that a natural by-product of this movement was for the supernatural realm to come to be regarded with deep suspicion and skepticism.  Thus, miracles and the like came to be viewed as highly improbable if not outright impossible by this movement.  With its denial of the supernatural, the Modernist movement was literally ripping Western culture and Christianity apart. After all, the historic orthodox Christian faith is based upon an understanding that there is a transcendent, sovereign Creator God who has the ability to supernaturally intervene into the world He has created through:
  • A supernatural birth (Jesus), 
  • The supernatural creation and protection of his communication with us (the Bible), and
  • Supernatural events (miracles, resurrection from the dead, etc.) given for the purpose of demonstrating God's power and validating his message to us
Conservative Christians understood that ceding ground on these issues would result in a church that was at odds with the clear teaching of Scripture. And so the leaders of the Fundamentalist movement wrote an extensive series of articles that were eventually hammered out into a single document that clearly and concisely laid out the key doctrines that were most under assault at that time from liberalism. (Benjamin B. Warfield was one of the better known theologians involved in the movement.) These key doctrines came to define the Fundamentalist movement, and are so fundamental to the Christian faith that lack of belief in even one of these doctrines is considered to be heresy.

 The Fundamentals 

I'm putting these doctrines forth because I keep having conversations with people who have no idea whatsoever that there are even essential beliefs a Christian must hold to in order to be considered orthodox. The reason for such spiritual illiteracy is undoubtedly the result of an entire church generation having been doctrinally dumbed-down from having been fed an unending diet of ear-tickling, self-help messages.  So here are the core beliefs of Christianity, just in case your church has neglected its God-ordained responsibility to teach:
The Five Essential Beliefs of the Christian Faith 
1. The Deity of Jesus Christ
2. The Virgin Birth
3. The Blood Atonement
4. The Bodily Resurrection 
5. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures
Not many words are used in comprising the above list of the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but many challenging concepts are contained therein, are they not? In fact, all true born-again believers have had to wrestle through the hard truths contained in these 19 words, not to mention their implications. If you have never seen this list before, I invite you to dwell on it and its truths, and make sure that you are in wholehearted agreement with them. And if you are not, then, by all means, let the wrestling begin. Your eternity depends upon it.

 Additional Resources 

A Beginner's Guide to Modernism and Postmodernism

The Fundamentals: A Testimony To the Truth

Rick Warren's View of The Five Fundamentals of the Faith

Monday, March 28, 2011

Prodigal: An Animation

This video, entitled "Prodigal" is based on Luke 15:11-32 and 1 John 3:1, and is set to a song by Sovereign Grace Music. Perhaps the sweetest video ever. A wonderful exposition of this parable (from the Luke passage) can also be found in Pastor John MacArthur's book, A Tale of Two Sons.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Rob Bell's Theology Looks Like in the Real World

Let's say you are one of the following:
(1) a pedophile 
(2) a serial rapist 
(3) a sociopathic murderer 
(4) a greedy corporate CEO
At some point, you come under some kind of conviction for your wrongdoings. You are conflicted. You are troubled. Someone gives you a copy of pastor Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins." After reading Bell's book, you surmise that - according to Bell - your options are as follows:

(1) Make different choices in your life so as to stop "creating hell" for the people in your life affected by your choices, and after you die, you will spend eternity in heaven; or,

(2) Spend the rest of your life doing what you are already doing, with the understanding that when you die, you will (according to Rob Bell's theology about hell) spend some time being "pruned" by undergoing "an intense experience of correction" ("Love Wins" p.91)....after which you will spend eternity in heaven.

What is your choice?

And now for the bigger questions:
- Is this what Jesus taught? 
- Is this historic, orthodox Christianity?  
- How is justice served in this scenario?

 Additional Resources 

What Is The Emerging Church Movement and Why Is It Dangerous?

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Love Wins" the Smoking Gun That Proves Rob Bell is a "Christian Universalist"

In a recent article at, it was reported that sources from Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI attended a meeting Saturday night at Mars Hill in which Senior Pastor Rob Bell made a statement and answered questions about his controversial new book "Love Wins."  The meeting was called after members at MHBC apparently became concerned over a promotional video for the book in which Rob Bell made statements that led many to question whether or not Rob Bell was a Universalist (i.e., one who believes in universal salvation for all people). In the meeting held at MHBC, however, Rob Bell apparently stated unequivocally he “is not an universalist, believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation, believes in the Virgin Birth, believes Jesus is God.”

Just as we suspected. Really. Because here at Sola Sisters, we've been sounding the alarm not to fight the battle of "Universalism"........but instead to call Bell's heresy what it is: "Christian Universalism" (also known as "Universal Reconciliation"), which is a belief in Universal salvation for ALL, but which comes exclusively through Christ.

We therefore expected that Bell would, in his new book, affirm to one degree or another all of these Christian concepts:
- God's Wrath
- God's Judgment
- Sin 
- Hell
- Jesus, and Salvation through Jesus alone
- the Atonement
And he did. Christian Universalism/Universal Reconcilition - which Bell holds too - does not deny these concepts.  No, they are redefined, as in classic cult methodology (i.e., "Hell" is a place of limited punishment, akin to the Roman Catholic idea of purgatory; the "Atonement" is effectual for saving ALL people, not just those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ's atoning death).

In closing, let us point you toward several very good reviews of this book which have already been published, and which include detailed chapter by chapter analyses of this book.  Tim Challies' can be read here, and Kevin DeYoung's can be read here. And rather than tread the same ground and review a book that has already been very well-reviewed, we will be posting direct quotes from Bell's book in upcoming blog entries.  This will be done so that anyone reading will be able to assess for themselves what it is that Bell believes.

Is he a Universalist? Bell insists no, but we say yes. And his new book is the smoking gun that proves it. For now we'll leave you with several quotes from Bell's new book:
"John remembers Jesus saying, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' 
This is as wide and expansive a claim as a person can make. 
What he doesn't say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through him. He doesn't even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him. He simply claims that whatever God is doing in the world to know and redeem and love and restore the world is happening through him." ("Love Wins," p.154) 
"What Jesus does is declare that he, and he alone, is saving everybody." ("Love Wins," p. 155)
More to come.....

 Additional Resources 

Is Rob Bell A Universalist?  Yes and No.

Is Rob Bell A Universalist? Yes and No.

Rob Bell, creator of NOOMA videos and author of "Velvet Elvis" and the newly released "Love Wins," recently released a video discussing his controversial new book.  This video has gotten everybody talking because, from the statements made in the video, it appears that Rob Bell might actually be a Universalist. So the question has been raging: is he or isn't he?

Well, yes and no.  And by that I mean, "Yes," Rob Bell is a Universalist, but that "No," he wouldn't call himself that because what he really believes in is a slyer, more "Christianized" version of Universalism called "Universal Reconciliation." And in fact, in a recent meeting at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI where Rob Bell is the Senior Pastor, a source who attended the meeting reported that Bell made a statement and answered questions about his controversial new book "Love Wins."  In his statement, Rob Bell unequivocally stated that he “is not an universalist, believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation, believes in the Virgin Birth, believes Jesus is God.”

How can this be? How can somebody who is a Universalist make such statements? Well, this should come as no surprise, because as we have written before, we fully expected Bell to affirm Christian concepts in this book because he is the particular kind of Universalist mentioned above: he is a Universal Reconciliationist (and please note that Universal Reconciliation is also sometimes called "Christian Universalism").

Universal Reconciliationists often use Christian terminology and claim to hold to certain Christian concepts (like Jesus, Hell, the Atonement, the Cross, etc.).

Let me repeat that: There is a stream of Universalism (again, called "Universal Reconciliation," but sometimes called "Christian Universalism") that teaches Jesus, Hell, the Atonement, and the Cross. Yes, really.  How can they teach such Christian concepts? This is how: all of these concepts have redefined meanings.

So let's look once again at Universalism, that is to say, the straight up, New Age, Oprah kind of Universalism that most people have at least some understanding of:
UNIVERSALISM: ALL paths leads to God.  You can be a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, whatever, and you get to God through your own path, whatever that looks like according to your faith tradition. In the strictest sense of Universalism, there is no Jesus, no Cross and no Hell.  (Please note that these are the main points that distinguish Universalism from Universal Reconciliation)
And now Universal Reconciliation:
UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION (a.ka., CHRISTIAN UNIVERSALISM): ALL people are ultimately saved through Christ. They may not have a complete understanding of who Christ is, but in some way, the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ constitutes the mechanism that provides redemption for all humanity and makes atonement for all sins.  A limited form of hell is sometimes held to, but not always.
My friends, this really does matter because if we try to contend for truth on this issue in the same way we would contend against Universalism (i.e., quote scripture affirming Jesus, Hell, the Atonement, the Cross, etc.), we're going to get head-pats and chuckles from the more "enlightened" Rob Bell followers.

Case in point:

I went on Rob Bell's FB page a few nights ago, and saw a number of sincere and earnest Christians trying to contend with Bell's followers about the issue of Universalism.

They kept insisting - “But there is a hell!” And Bell's followers would answer back - “Well of course there is!”

I could see that the Christians were truly stumped.

And they would try again: "Jesus is the only way anyone can be saved!" And Bell's followers would answer back - "We believe that too!"

I could only imagine what the Christians were thinking as they processed these answers:

("Wait? Did they just say that there is a hell? And Jesus is the only way? work here is done.....I guess...")

And away they would go.  These earnest contenders, you see, have been reading the glut of articles stating that Rob Bell is a Universalist without understanding that Bell is a Universal Reconciliationist, and he therefore does affirm there is a Hell (though in his view it is a temporary, purgatorial version of "hell"), and he does affirm Jesus and the Cross (but only in the sense that he believes ALL are saved through Jesus' death on the Cross).  Understanding these distinctions is crucial if we are to plead this point with any hope of exposing Bell's dangerous heresy. When we call Bell a Universalist without making the distinction that he is a Reconciliationist, and attempt to argue that he is denying there is a Hell (he isn't), and that he doesn't believe Jesus died for sins on the Cross (he does), then we will be hamstrung in this debate. And for the sake of our Christian children - who, trust me, are very familiar with who Rob Bell is - it really, really does matter that we understand this distinction.  

See also: