Bell and the Dragon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

I’ll begin with an over-simplification of an important issue: One cannot know who Jesus is without accepting the Bible as the absolute, inerrant Truth. The Sadducees missed Him, as did the Pharisees (though not all), and you will miss Him too if you do not accept the Scripture as without error.

By debasing the validity and accuracy of the Scripture, its authority is undermined. Once the historical validity is sufficiently weakened, just about any concept of who God is and who Jesus is can be set forth. This is a great comfort for those who don’t want to follow the Jesus of the Bible.

Current society likes to emphasize only the love of God. Rob Bell declares that in the end, love wins. Bell departs from the Bible in many ways, having decided beforehand how God will act. He then superficially imports his view of God onto the Bible, even in contradiction of the Bible itself! This is simply idolatry: making a god for myself. In Rob Bell’s concept of the Bible, Jesus is a good guy, the Bible is whatever readers make it, hell doesn’t exist, and everyone goes to heaven or whatever because God is just that awesome. But Rob Bell misunderstands God because he does not understand or believe the Scriptures.

The real situation that the human race finds itself in is that we are a fallen creation. Humanity has made an “appalling commitment to usurp the Creator’s place” (page 46 of this book). This commitment destroys every relationship, whether with God or the people who bear His image. As ridiculous as a mouse shaking its fist in the face of a giant is the maniacal assertion of mankind that “I shall be God!”

This is a prideful, rebellious stance and it strikes at the very heart of who God is. God opposes the proud. God is sovereign, but humans insist on deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. This is the stance of humanity: “We don’t care, God, if our ways produce death—we judge for ourselves! If you don’t like it, we will make our own gods! Gods that will love our death and decay—gods like us!”

So what is a God who loves His own creation to do? Creation belongs to God, all of it! It is for this reason that all of creation remains under God’s righteous wrath. Shall God allow death to reign in His own creation or should He destroy the works of the devil?

God is sovereign and therefore creation OUGHT to reflect the character of its Creator. But creation stands in suicidal opposition to God. Creation persists in darkness, death, and deceit. God is none of these things; He is truth, light, and life! As John wrote, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:5-6).

Lucifer is an ideal god for fallen man! He promises knowledge divorced from God, freedom from God’s moral law, power to utterly destroy one another in an all-or-nothing bid to be the ruler of the world. Fallen man uses this arcane knowledge to wring every drop of the human essence out of his fellow man with a lust for more. They are wrung out in turn by the devil himself, consumed by the god of this world. This is the way fallen humans like it; it suits our nature.

But creation belongs to a good and benevolent creator; it does not belong to the usurper nor his small-hearted conspirators. God has now become the judge. He can’t just sit and watch the world burn; He will not allow this “bondage to decay” to continue. The Good News is that God Himself has initiated the salvation of the whole world in Christ. The world must “be reconciled to God.”

But the individuals in the world do not want God nor His plan of redemption. They prefer to make their own gods and their own way of salvation.

This is where the trouble that people have with the Bible arises. The Bible comes pre-interpreted. You either accept God’s point of view or you do not. Jesus Christ is the “exact representation of [God’s] being” (Hebrews 1:3). The Bible expressly testifies to the person and work of Jesus Christ, God the Son. The Bible confronts us in our sinfulness and lostness. Jesus Christ comes into the world confronting the world in its evil. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).

The distance between Creator and creation is seen in heart-shattering clarity in the opening lines of John’s answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” He writes, “The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him” (John 1:9-10). God is fully aware of this gap and has opened the way for us to reconcile to Him.

Unfortunately, however, the Christ that Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals invoke is not the Jesus of the Bible. They have reimagined Jesus, and he bears little resemblance to the Word made flesh! Alas, Jesus is in the world, but Rob Bell cannot recognize him. Among other diversions from the Bible, Bell’s view is that essentially Jesus changed God; Jesus reconciled God to sinful humanity.

In spite of the deficiencies of post-evangelicalism and their selective reading of Scripture, the Gospel writers did not exclude God’s justice, holiness, or perfection. They call sinful humanity to repentance and agreement with God’s righteous condemnation of fallen humanity. We must reconcile to God, not recreate Him in our own fallen image.

Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals insist that there is no hell-fire, that no one is ever judged. But the Bible says that Jesus Himself will be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near; this is the reality to which Jesus reconciles us.

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