Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rob Bell Is Not The Issue

The dust is beginning to clear on the whole Love Wins controversy. Not that the debate is over, mind you, but the lines have been drawn. The one team is convinced that Rob Bell is a heretic who has officially betrayed historical Christianity. The other team is convinced that Bell is a victim of pharisaical traditionalism. Likewise, all that can really be said about the theological debate has pretty much been said. I don't think we're going to see a lot more "discussion" on this issue. Everyone's pretty much had their say and we've officially arrive at the part of the debate where everyone just stares menacingly at each other.

However, in all this debate and fuss, I think it's important that we not lose sight of the main issue here. Whether or not Rob Bell is a true Christian really isn't the point. I think most on the orthodox team has failed to acknowledge that Bell and the other Emergent times have a tendency to both feed off of and feed into the current cultural mood. Bell is popular because he helps reconcile people's external religion (traditional Christianity) with their internal religion (anthrocentric postmodernism). This is just another attempt to make Christianity comply with postmodern thinking.

Bell is giving the people what they want to hear. This raises the question of why do they want to hear it? True, people don't like the idea of a God who sends people to Hell. I like what Randy Alcorn says to that, “Many imagine that it is civilized, humane, and compassionate to deny the existence of an eternal Hell, but in fact it is arrogant that we, as creatures, would dare to take what we think is the moral high ground in opposition to what God the Creator has clearly revealed. We don’t want to believe that any others deserve eternal punishment, because if they do, so do we. But if we understood God’s nature and ours, we would be shocked not that some people go to Hell (where else would sinners go?), but that any would be permitted into Heaven. Unholy as we are, we are disqualified from saying that infinite holiness doesn’t demand everlasting punishment.”

However, I think there's something else going on here to. Perhaps we don't want the responsibility that comes along with a belief in a literal, eternal Hell. Bell keeps telling people that this really isn't that big a deal. Maybe that's because, until Bell upset the fruit basket, we haven't treated it like a big deal. Isn't it true that we often live like functional Universalists? Lately, the Holy Spirit's been driving a hot iron through my conscience in this area (as a side note, please pray that I would have the courage to follow through on this conviction and the wisdom to do so effectively).

Condemning Rob Bell really isn't the issue. The issue is that people need Jesus and He's charged us with pointing people to Him. Does our lifestyle match our theology? Would my life be any different if I truly acted like I really believe billions of souls are a breath away from eternal, horrific torment? Am I living as though I've truly been commissioned with the making of disciples? Would I treat people differently if I were living with that truth in mind?

So, don't get distracted with Rob Bell. He's not important. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday: In Remembrance of Him

Having grown up in "Church culture" all my life, communion was one of those events that I always chalked up as "something we do just because." I never really got it. I mean, sure, I knew the correct Sunday school answer. We do this in remembrance of Christ. But, especially when I was younger, I always dreaded communion services. It seemed so dry and, well, religious.

But, the more I've begun to contemplate communion, the more it's beginning to make sense. Sure, we've reduced it a mere ritual, but it doesn't have to be that way. You see, God knows we're idiots and have a tendency to forget how good He is to us. So, whether it's the rainbow in the days of Noah, or the memorial feasts of the Old Testament, or the two ordinances of the Church age, God has given us little reminders of His faithfulness.

This week, people are going to talk about Good Friday and make a fuss about Resurrection Sunday - and rightly so. But I think it'd be unwise to forget what happened on Thursday. I encourage you to read Luke 22:7-53 today. It tells of what happened on that fateful Thursday before our Master's crucifixion.

I'll give you the highlights:

Jesus has a Passover meal with His disciples. There, He introduces the Lord's Supper. It is a testament to Christ's love and patience that He gave us a visual aid to help us remember all that He's done for us. The bread is His broken body, a testament that God became man; the Creator became a creature; a Spirit became flesh; the Holy One became sin for us.

The wine is His blood. To the Jews, there was something very sacred about blood. To have your blood spilled was a sign of God's wrath. Our Holy Brother was crushed in the winepress of God's anger for us.

But thankfully there's more. The sharing of the bread and cup is a foreshadowing of things to come. One day, when Christ comes, there will be no more need for communion for we shall share in the glorious Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Our communion with Christ and His Body, now imperfect, will be made all the more glorious.

Thursday is also a testament to humility. While the disciples were arguing about who should be the greatest, the King of kings wept before His Father and humbly proclaimed, "Not my will but Thine."

Thursday is a day to remember that Christ lived and died and lives forever more that we might be joint heir with Him. Take some time to thank Him for that today. :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"I Will Wait For You"

Someone showed me this a few days ago. And while I'm not really into this style of poetry, I'm definitely into the message. It expresses a lot of things that I've been thinking about lately, but from a different angle - a woman's angle.

This is a result of a generation of boys who don't want to grow up. For the guy's point of view, the first part of the poem is what not to be. But her beautiful description of "you" is an incredible challenge of what we are to be.

I hope that this is an encouragement to you.