Showing posts with label oprah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oprah. Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rick Warren and Joel Osteen Join Hands With Oprah

by Marcia Montenegro, Christian Answers For The New Age
(Original publication date: Oct. 6, 2012)


On October 5th, 2012, I watched 3 hours of live taping of Oprah’s Lifeclass online. This included an hour of Word Faith preacher Joel Osteen with Oprah and 2 hours of megachurch Pastor Rick Warren with Oprah. These programs will air later on the OWN network (Rick Warren’s two shows will air in early 2013).

 God's Word First 

Before discussing this, let’s look at God’s word. First of all, we are told to handle God’s word correctly: “Be diligent to (present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

It is important not to take scripture out of context, or to misapply it. Reading a passage in context and in comparison to other scripture on a similar topic or theme solves most mistakes or deliberate misuses of scripture applications.

Both Word of Faith teachings (Joel Osteen) and New Thought (Oprah) use scripture and claim Christianity, but take the Bible out of context to prop up false teachings. One of the most widely misused passages is Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” This is quoted by almost every New Thought teacher who has ever lived to support the view that your thoughts determine the reality of your life. The deeper belief here is that your thoughts can alter reality, and that positive thoughts attract positive events while negative ones draw negative events. This is actually a principle of sorcery.

How do we know what Proverbs 23:7 really means? It’s easy to discover if one examines the entire passage. Then it becomes obvious that the text is denouncing acting outwardly one way while inwardly thinking another way. Starting at verse 6, we read: "Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' But his heart is not with you." Rather than buttressing New Thought principles, this passage is condemning selfish, hypocritical behavior!

The subtle deception of New Thought is that renewing one’s thinking can be done through techniques and self-effort. This is Satan’s counterfeit of the putting on of the “new self” and renewal of the mind by the power of the Holy Spirit, which only happens when one has believed in Christ and been regenerated by the Spirit (see Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10; Titus 3:5).

 Joel Osteen 

Osteen gave his usual Word of Faith teachings that words have power over our lives and this is the way to change our lives. He gave the same kind of affirmations that are taught in New Thought and the New Age, so Oprah was totally on board with this. Affirmations are statements that one repeats, verbally and/or in writing, so that they will become true.

Oprah was spiritually influenced by Unity minister Eric Butterworth’s teaching that Jesus came to show how to achieve Christ Consciousness (the realization that we all have an inherently divine nature). I was not surprised at anything Osteen said, nor that Oprah found him in line with her views.

 Rick Warren 

However, although Rick Warren has had New Age Dr. Oz at his church (along with a professing Christian doctor who also endorses some New Age practices), I was hoping Rick Warren would give the gospel in the midst of his motivational advice, but he never did. He used the imagery of a poker game to explain we are dealt certain cards, and then gave a teaching on this that sounded like moralistic self-help programs I’ve heard so many times, throwing in a few Bible quotes taken out of context or misquoted. It was something almost any New Ager could accept. God becomes a tool for self-improvement and success.

Rick Warren referred to Jesus, but took scripture out of context and applied things said to believers to everyone. He also misused the Proverbs passage that says “as a man thinketh, so is he.” This passage is a famous text misused by New Thought proponents and is used in “The Secret.” 

What was really hard to watch is when a woman in Norway Skyped to say she realized she needed God but wanted to know who God is and she asked, “What should I do?” It was clear that she was ripe to hear the gospel and needed Jesus! It was a great opportunity to share the gospel with her, and at the same time, for Oprah to hear it. Instead of giving the gospel, Rick Warren seemed uncomfortable and finally just said something like, ‘Go to God and find your purpose” (or "Go to God and you'll find your purpose"). It was a terrible moment! The woman looked surprised and sad, like she was expecting something else. I prayed for her later and am hoping that the many Christians who witnessed this will pray for her.

Not only that, but when Oprah referred to God, as she often did, Rick Warren agreed with her as though she was referring to the biblical God, which she was not. He even said a few times, “Oprah has a good point.” No, she never did! She was speaking totally out of her New Thought/New Age beliefs. I am grateful that Warren recommended that people read the gospel of John. That was the best thing he said.

 A Different God and the True God 

New Thought followers and New Agers will refer to God and Jesus, but it is a god who is a tool for self-betterment and success, and a Jesus who inspires as a human example – not the righteous God who has wrath on sin nor the God-man Jesus who through is death and resurrection is found forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who believe.
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43

photo credit: shutterbean via photopin cc

 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 

Article on New Thought

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Does Mysticism Lead Us To God?

Posted by Christine Pack


Tomorrow's New Age Global Oneness Summit is proclaiming that spiritual growth and peace can be achieved on earth, in our time, through meditation and people on earth awakening to their own inner divinity (a panentheistic concept).  From the promotional materials:
"Mystics teach us our sense of separation is an illusion perpetuated by the fear-driven mind. However, a deep sense of oneness is within reach, if only we can move beyond habitual thinking and patterns."
As I have written in the past, this is the New Age/New Spirituality concept of salvation: that all human beings are already connected to "Divinity." Divinity is the New Age concept of "God" and is known by different names: Divinity, Source, God, Essence, Vibration, etc. This God/Divinity is thought to be something, as I noted above, that all humans, regardless of spiritual background or beliefs, can "awaken" to or evolve to through meditation and positive self-talk.

Translation: If you are a born again Christian, your ideas of "sin" and "separateness" from God without Christ are "fear-driven" and based just on "habitual thinking and patterns." If you oddball Christians could just get with the program, the whole planet could evolve to a better place, a more peaceful place, you see...
"Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Cor 1:20) 
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become 'fools' so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: 'He catches the wise in their craftiness'." (1 Cor 3:18-19)
Fellow believers, the truth is that mysticism does not and cannot lead us into union with God. The carnal "wisdom" of a man-made utopia without the God of the Bible, the one true God who alone determines how it is that man is reconciled to God, is a lie that dies very hard. This is a modern day version of "'Peace! Peace!' when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14). Peace does not come from "awakening" to one's own divinity, because this is not truth. We don't need to awaken to the fact that we are already God....we need to awaken to the fact that we are eternally separated by our sins from God, and we desperately need a Savior. Only then can peace be achieved, true peace, the peace that comes by repenting and placing our faith in Christ's atoning death for the forgiveness of sins.

Incidentally, this Global Oneness Summit features a round-up of today's most prominent New Agers and mystics:
- Neale Donald Walsche (author of the Conversations With God books) 
- Jean Houston - one of the founders of the Human Potential Movement, a New Age movement based on eastern mysticism and occultism 
- Barbara Marx Hubbard (author of the book The Revelation, her New Age version of the last book of the Bible by the same name) 
- Ken Wilber (a New Age mystic, and also the author of a book filled with New Age concepts that popular Emergent Church Movement author Rob Bell highly recommends to his own readers) 
- Michael Beckwith (a New Thought teacher who has been on Oprah many times, and who teaches that your words and your thoughts create your reality, an idea contrary to biblical truth, and similar to Word of Faith teaching) 
- Jack Canfield (author of the Chicken Soup For the Soul books) 
The reason this is an important event for Christians to be aware of is because most, if not all, of these New Age/New Spirituality/New Thought concepts are now coming into the church in "Christianized" forms: contemplative prayer, Lectio Divina, labyrinth, prayer circles, breath prayers, Word of Faith "name it and claim it," etc.

 Additional Resources 

Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit

Interview With A Former Mystic

What Is New Age Eschatology?

Conversations With (an Occult) God - a critique of Neale Donald Walsche

Conversations With (an Occult) God - quotes from Neal Donald Walshe's books

Conversations with God - a critique by Russ Wise (Christian Information Ministries)

Can Mysticism Lead To God?

Barbara Marx Hubbard - What does she believe?

What Is Mysticism?

Chicken Soup For The Soul - a Review

Rob Bell Recommends New Age teacher Ken Wilber to His Readers

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rick Warren and Joel Osteen Join Hands With Oprah

Article by Christian researcher and apologist, Marcia Montenegro. Marcia is a former professional astrologer and writes at Christian Answers for the New Age-CANA). Reprinted with permission.



On October 5th, along with others on Facebook, I watched 3 hours of live taping of Oprah’s Lifeclass online. This included an hour of Word Faith preacher Joel Osteen with Oprah and 2 hours of megachurch Pastor Rick Warren with Oprah. These programs will air later on the OWN network (Rick Warren’s two shows will air in early 2013).

 God's Word First 

Before discussing this, let’s look at God’s word. First of all, we are told to handle God’s word correctly: “Be diligent to (present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

It is important not to take scripture out of context, or to misapply it. Reading a passage in context and in comparison to other scripture on a similar topic or theme solves most mistakes or deliberate misuses of scripture applications.

Both Word of Faith teachings (Joel Osteen) and New Thought (Oprah) use scripture and claim Christianity, but take the Bible out of context to prop up false teachings. One of the most widely misused passages is Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” This is quoted by almost every New Thought teacher who has ever lived to support the view that your thoughts determine the reality of your life. The deeper belief here is that your thoughts can alter reality, and that positive thoughts attract positive events while negative ones draw negative events. This is actually a principle of sorcery.

How do we know what Proverbs 23:7 really means? It’s easy to discover if one examines the entire passage. Then it becomes obvious that the text is denouncing acting outwardly one way while inwardly thinking another way. Starting at verse 6, we read: "Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' But his heart is not with you." Rather than buttressing New Thought principles, this passage is condemning selfish, hypocritical behavior!

The subtle deception of New Thought is that renewing one’s thinking can be done through techniques and self-effort. This is Satan’s counterfeit of the putting on of the “new self” and renewal of the mind by the power of the Holy Spirit, which only happens when one has believed in Christ and been regenerated by the Spirit (see Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10; Titus 3:5).

 Joel Osteen 

Osteen gave his usual Word of Faith teachings that words have power over our lives and this is the way to change our lives. He gave the same kind of affirmations that are taught in New Thought and the New Age, so Oprah was totally on board with this. Affirmations are statements that one repeats, verbally and/or in writing, so that they will become true.

Oprah was spiritually influenced by Unity minister Eric Butterworth’s teaching that Jesus came to show how to achieve Christ Consciousness (the realization that we all have an inherently divine nature). I was not surprised at anything Osteen said, nor that Oprah found him in line with her views.

 Rick Warren 

However, although Rick Warren has had New Age Dr. Oz at his church (along with a supposedly Christian doctor who also endorses some New Age practices), I was hoping he (RW) would somehow give the gospel in the midst of his motivational advice, but he never did. He used the imagery of a poker game to explain we are dealt certain cards, and then gave a teaching on this that sounded like moralistic self-help programs I’ve heard so many times, throwing in a few Bible quotes taken out of context or misquoted. It was something almost any New Ager could accept. God becomes a tool for self-improvement and success.

Warren referred to Jesus, but took scripture out of context and applied things said to believers to everyone. He also misused the Proverbs passage that says “as a man thinketh, so is he.” This passage is a famous passage misused by New Thought proponents and is used in “The Secret.”

What was really hard to watch is when a woman in Norway Skyped to say she realized she needed God but wanted to know who God is and she asked, “What should I do?” It was clear that she was ripe to hear the gospel and needed Jesus! It was a great opportunity to share the gospel with her, and at the same time, for Oprah to hear it. Instead of giving the gospel, Rick Warren seemed uncomfortable and finally just said something like, ‘Go to God and find your purpose.” It was a terrible moment! The woman looked surprised and sad, like she was expecting something else. I prayed for her later and am hoping that the many Christians who witnessed this will pray for her.

Not only that, but when Oprah referred to God, as she often did, Rick Warren agreed with her as though she was referring to the biblical God, which she was not. He even said a few times, “Oprah has a good point.” No, she never did! She was speaking totally out of her New Thought/New Age beliefs. I am grateful that RW recommended that people read the gospel of John. That was the best thing he said.

 A Different God and The True God 

New Thought followers and New Agers will refer to God and Jesus, but it is a god who is a tool for self-betterment and success, and a Jesus who inspires as a human example – not the righteous God who has wrath on sin nor the God-man Jesus who through is death and resurrection is found forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who believe.
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18

"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43

 Additional Resources 

New Thought: Making the Straight Ways Crooked - A Warning For Christians

Rick Warren Get's John Piper's Stamp of Approval?



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Is A "Christian Universalist?"

Posted by Christine Pack

It used to be that Universalists behaved and stayed in the New Age where they belonged. But sadly, those days are over. And it used to be that a Universalist message was easy to "hear" and distinguish from the exclusive message of Christ. Again, no more. A new, peculiar brand of Universalism - unique to Christianity - does not deny the reality of sin and the resurrection of Christ, and yet still manages to have a distinctively Universalist message. For the sake of simplicity, I've given this new virulent strain of spiritual bacterium the name of "Christian Universalism." Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Like "jumbo shrimp" or "virtual reality." The truth is that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through the shed blood of Christ. And a person has to know this, understand this, trust this, and affirm this, and without this awareness, trust and affirmation, a person cannot be saved. The Bible has to be read in context. For a person to try to affirm Christian Universalism means that they have to get out their scissors and cut out parts that go counter to their proof texts.

A Christian Universalist is someone who makes a verbal profession of Christ, uses Christian terminology, but who holds to a Universalist view that attempts to work a non-exclusionary Christ into their message. Sometimes a false teaching called "the Wider Mercy Doctrine" is worked into this odd Universalist message, but not always. And, Christian Universalism is also sometimes referred to as "Universal Reconciliation."

There are two very popular pastors/writers today that I think hold to this view of Christian Universalism, and they are Dallas Willard and Leonard Sweet. Let me explain why I think this.

Let's start with Dallas Willard, co-creator of the Renovar√© parachurch organization and resource center which places a heavy emphasis on Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism (and also includes the non-biblical Apocrypha books in its own Renovar√© "Bible"). Willard is a prolific writer and is well-regarded in evangelical circles. Dallas Willard, though he is identified as an evangelical, is anything but orthodox in his views. In fact, Willard's own words prove that he is far outside of orthodoxy in his views. In a recent interview, Willard made some shocking statements which I have highlighted below, along with the correct Biblical teaching:

Willard: “Now, I believe that everyone who deserves to be saved will be saved no matter where they are or what they do.”

Truth: None of us 'deserve' to be saved. There is no-one who seeks after God, no-one who is righteous. (Romans 3:10-11)

Willard: "(God) is open and in touch with everyone in the world, and for all who seek them with all of their heart—and that is defined in terms of coming to love Him, and not just have the right beliefs about Him—but coming to love Him, and loving their neighbor as themselves." 

Truth:  Everyone who is saved may not have every i dotted or every crossed on a fancy doctrinal statement, but they WILL have right beliefs about God, including comprehension of and humble acknowledgement to the belief that Jesus is the ONLY way to God, and that no-one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6)

Willard: "I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say ‘he can’t save them.’ I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: ‘There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.’"

Truth:  What an odd statement this is. It sounds both Christian and Universalist at the same time.  Here is the Christian part:
"(A)nyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: ‘There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.’"
and now for the Universalist part:
"It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved."
I suspect that the reason Willard can make both these contradictory assertions in one statement is that he embraces the false teaching mentioned above: "the Wider Mercy doctrine." The Wider Mercy doctrine is a false teaching that salvation can be obtained even when a person has not heard the gospel and does not know Jesus Christ. It is a belief that, somehow, some way, God grants salvation to persons who are sincere in their religious beliefs, even if those beliefs are false. Therefore, according to this false doctrine, a sincere Buddhist or Shintoist or any other religious adherent can obtain salvation, simply because they are sincere in their belief and desire to approach God. 
The "Wider Mercy doctrine," in a slightly revised form, has been the main creed of Universalist belief for centuries. Universalism teaches that all religions are the same and that all beliefs are ultimately pointed toward the one true Deity. It does not matter which religion is accepted or practiced, they are simply different roads that ultimately lead to the same destination. (online source, my emphasis)

I could be wrong about this - and I sincerely hope that I am - but based on Willard's own writing, I suspect that Willard holds to either "Christian Universalism" or "the Wider Mercy doctrine." And this leads me to Leonard Sweet, an ordained United Methodist pastor, who is another prominent writer/pastor/teacher today that I believe is also a Christian Universalist masquerading as a Christian.

I actually know Leonard Sweet from my New Age days, having read his book Quantum Spirituality many years ago.  While Sweet has attempted in some ways to distance himself from the New Age Spirituality movement, his teaching, language and vision for the church very closely mimic the New Age Spirituality vision for today's church (which is an ecumenical coming together of all faiths through a belief in a "oneness" that unites all mankind, and a downplaying of the exclusiveness of Christ's message). Sweet's teaching in Quantum Spirituality advanced the idea that God is "in" everything....a very eastern idea that is more correctly known as "panentheism."

Sweet also uses the phrase "Christ consciousness," which is a New Age term used to express the belief that all humans already possess inner divinity. Please note that even though the term "Christ" is used, this is not a Christian term, because this view is counter to the orthodox Biblical view that man is born depraved, having inherited his nature from Adam, who sinned in the Garden of Eden and thus became depraved in his inmost being, a trait he passed down to all men and women descended from him. (The usage of Christian language such as "God," "Christ," "Holy Spirit," "grace," etc., is common in New Age circles, though these terms are always redefined to express New Age concepts.)

Sweet's books were very popular among my New Age friends who considered themselves "enlightened Christians." An "enlightened Christian" is someone that I would categorize today as a "Christian universalist," meaning it is someone who professes belief in Christ, but not the Christ of the Bible, with his narrow way and exclusive gospel message. No, the "enlightened Christians" believe that Jesus is their way to heaven...but that ultimately, all paths lead to God, and who are we to "put God in a box" and say that a good Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim couldn't find their way to heaven through their own faith tradition?

Here are some of Sweet's teachings from Quantum Spirituality, along with my commentary:
"The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be "in connection" and 'in-formation' with other Christians. Deeper feeling and higher relating go together. The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a comm-union whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness." p 122
"The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people "in-phase" with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another." p 147
"New Lights offer up themselves as the cosmions of a mind-of-Christ consciousness. As a cosmion incarnating the cells of a new body, New Lights will function as transitional vessels through which transforming energy can renew the divine image in the world, moving postmoderns from one state of embodiment to another." p 48
MY COMMENTARY: "Christ consciousness" was - and still is - a very prominent New Age Spirituality term used to describe a Christianized form of panentheism, which is the belief that God is "in" all things.
"A surprisingly central feature of all the world's religions is the language of light in communicating the divine and symbolizing the union of the human with the divine: Muhammed's light-filled cave, Moses' burning bush, Paul's blinding light, Fox's "inner light," Krishna's Lord of Light, Bohme's light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus' fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini's fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on." p 235
MY COMMENTARY: Sweet is attempting to show here that the "light" of God has manifested itself in many different ways through many different cultures.  This is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, which is that God chose to reveal truth ("light") through the Jews in the Old Testament times, with Christ being the culmination of this revealed truth in the New Testament.  Born-again believers also have the privilege of bearing this light in a dark and fallen world.  But, was there real "light" (i.e., truth) coming from "Muhammed's light-filled cave?" Or from the Universalist Quaker George Fox's mystical "light" experiences? Or from the "flow of Kundalini's fire" which was said to be the awakening of "serpent power" in the Hindu tradition? If so, then the Cross was a mockery, for what God would let his own Son die such a wretched, torturous death if all other paths to God were acceptable?
If I understand Leonard Sweet's latest book, Jesus Manifesto (co-written with Frank Viola) correctly, today's "Christian Universalists" are hanging their hat on Colossians 1:19-20* as their proof text:
"For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (my emphasis)
NOTE: I have a book dated from the late 1800s that uses Colossians 1:19-20 in an attempt to "prove" Universalism. So this is not a new strategy. Thus, a "Christian Universalist" would accept that^ verse, from Colossians, but would reject all other verses that express, explain and reinforce the exclusivity of Christ:
"Jesus is the stone which was rejected by the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12) MY NOTE: This verse says that salvation comes through Christ alone, and clearly expresses that others are NOT saved if they reject Christ.
"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:43) MY NOTE: This verse says that a person can't be saved without understanding and believing that their forgiveness and salvation comes exclusively through the person and work of Christ.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) MY NOTE: Again, this verse teaches that a person cannot be saved without understanding and believing that their forgiveness and salvation comes exclusively through the person and work of Christ. Perhaps the strongest expression of the exclusivity of Christ in the Bible.
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim 2:5) MY NOTE: Exclusivity again, boom.
A "Christian Universalist" would say, according to the Colossians verse, everyone ultimately gets saved through Christ. But given the verses I've posted above, is this not universalism? Because the idea is that all faith traditions have some version of the "light" that is in Christ (i.e., "Muhammed's light-filled cave," the "kundalini's fire," the mystic Quaker's "inner light," etc.) and all people will eventually be reconciled to God through this "light."

But again, this would make a mockery of the Cross and of Jesus's own words:
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
It is the preaching of the gospel message that saves lost and doomed sinners....and not the non-offensive message that all paths lead to God, and that the sincerity of one's beliefs are enough to protect one from God's judgment. And what is the gospel message that is so lacking from today's squishy, all-paths-lead-to-God universalism - "Christian" or "Wider Mercy" or any other kind?  It is this:

There is a sovereign creator God who has made us, and owns us, and has a righteous claim on our lives. But we have sinned against this God who made us and takes care of us by breaking his moral laws....and without his merciful and loving intervention, we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell forever.  It is a wretched, desperate situation. But God, being rich in mercy and loving-kindness, made a way where there was none: He has made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God. How could this be done? It seems impossible, given God's nature. We are sinful, wretched, depraved.....and He is pure, righteous and holy beyond our comprehension. And after all, the Bible itself plainly lays out the bad new for us in Proverbs 17:15:
"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both."
Will not justice be subverted if a holy God does both of these things - acquit the guilty (us) and condemn the innocent (Christ)?  And yet, God - in his magnificent, unsurpassable wisdom - found a way to do just this thing without compromising his perfect, holy justice. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word or deed, and who, because of this, was able to offer up his life as a ransom for many. I broke God's laws, and Jesus paid my fine in his life's blood so that I could be released from the rightful condemnation of the law. But this gift of salvation, though given freely, is narrow and exclusive. Only those who recognize their sinful wretchedness and need for a Savior, and repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning work done on their behalf, will see the kingdom of Heaven. The very first words of Jesus's public ministry (Matthew 4:17) were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Narrow is the way, and few be those who find it. But ah, the wretched, human heart, which hugs its sin and depravity close, and would rather perish, clinging stubbornly and unrepentantly to its "right" to determine how we may approach God.......

Brothers and sisters in Christ, professing Christians have crept in unawares into our churches and are using Christian terminology to teach and promote a damning message of universal salvation. To make matters worse, they don't outright deny Christ (which would be easy enough to spot).  They simply say things like this:
"Well, sure, Jesus is important, but couldn't other ways be possible too?"
"Don't put God in a box."
"Who am I to say that God couldn't save someone in any way He wants?"
"Jesus is the only way that we know of."
We must not allow the salvific power of the gospel message to be adulterated with today's easy-going universalist thinking. We must not let this idea of all-paths-lead-to-God infiltrate our own thinking or the gospel message that we proclaim.  It is the gospel that saves, and we must not be ashamed of it to the point of watering it down, or worse, denying its exclusivity.  God will save all who come to him...BUT, everyone who comes to him must come on the terms God has set forth.

photo credit: djbuchanan via photopin cc


 Additional Resources 

Echo Zoe Radio Interview About "Christian Universalism"

Love Wins? A Critique of Rob Bell's New Book


Rob Bell Answers His Critics....But Don't Be Fooled