Rob Bell, Oprah And The Post New Testament Age

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There is a new Bible, or should I say a “post” New Testament. You know, as in “post” modern. The cultural elite of our day have written it. They have received insight and revelation from God or maybe I should say permission in their minds from God to write this new teaching.  Now, it hasn’t yet been codified into one document that we all can look at and agree is there, but that is so passé anyway. It is the digital age after all. Besides, limiting this glorious new doctrine to one finite book is too restrictive and by definition goes against one of the main tenets of this post New Testament; restricting restrictions. But mark it down, there is a post New Testament being preached from and worshiped.

Now this supposed new canon is legitimate because some scholars who have religious type credentials said a few years back that we can have a post New Testament if we want it. They said since the New Testament corrected and cleaned up so many messes from the Old Testament there must be something to clean up the messes still left in the New Testament. These scholars championed something called the Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics or Trajectory Hermeneutics. “Say what?” you say. First, hermeneutic is a fancy term to mean how one approaches and interprets the Bible. Second, here is a run- of- the- mill Wikipedia definition of this approach, but it is a pretty good one:

 “A hermeneutical approach that seeks to locate varying ‘voices’ in the text and to view this voice as a progressive trajectory through history (or at least through the Biblical witness); often a trajectory that progresses through to the present day. The contemporary reader of Scripture is in some way envisaged by the Biblical text as standing in continuity with a developing theme therein. The reader, then, is left to discern this trajectory and appropriate it accordingly.”

“Say what?” you say again. Just focus on the last sentence, “The reader, then, is left to discern…” Simply stated you and I are writers of this post New Testament book; or least we can be if we want to be. We get to clean up whatever messes we think God just didn’t get to yet in the New Testament.

The landmark work on this hermeneutical approach came from William Webb in his book,  “Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals.” Webb argued that the trajectory of slave treatment was towards less slavery from Old to New Testaments. Therefore, the abolition of slavery along with a majority consensus from society denouncing slavery, completes the trajectory God intended. Likewise, the “treatment” of women in the Bible progresses from the Old to the New with increased rights and privileges. Thus, the varied woman’s liberation and equal rights movements of the last century again show that society has simply followed the trajectory God had begun in the New Testament.

Then there is the issue of homosexuality.  Webb argues there is an ever so subtle softening of the view of homosexuality from the Old to the New. He thus projects the trajectory of homosexual rights and privileges will also move forward but at a slower pace (keep in mind he wrote this book in 2001 before the rapid development of the LBGT movement).

Sounds reasonable. Sounds fair. Sounds politically correct. Sounds loving. No wonder it has gained so much traction even by millions who have never heard of William Webb. It is the philosophy of this age; we are so much smarter than anyone before us; we must be inspired by God to correct the mess He left for us to clean up. Surely God never meant for His revelation to end 2,000 years ago. He obviously has called us to complete what He started and we are more than happy to do so.

In particular, this is why you see the homosexual argument linked to the slavery argument or the role of woman argument. We are evolving, just as the Old Testament evolved to a New Testament, we are writers of an ever newer “post” New Testament. We are the ones truly fulfilling the law. Jesus, He came close, but didn’t get the job done. We on the other hand will pick up where He left off and take it from here.

This hermeneutical approach gives credibility to the idea that the Bible is antiquated for another era. It is a good book but let’s be real, there are just so many things in it that keep us from doing things we really like to do. It’s just, you know, too restrictive. So we must overwrite some of it and if we say we are being true to it by simply saying God wasn’t done yet and is still writing doctrine through us, well, we can feel pretty good about that.

Enter Rob Bell. Many of you reading this may not be familiar with Rob Bell, but he was this up and coming pastor in Michigan, drawing in a large number of young people with a hipster persona and a fresh way of teaching the Scriptures. Now, just a few years later he is considered a heretic by most if not all orthodox practitioners of the gospel ministry as he tours with Oprah Winfrey. What happened? He bought into the trajectory hermeneutic approach. This approach led him to write a book which renounced the existence of hell and the authority of the Scriptures. In his latest book, he embraces same-sex marriage. He believes that we are not bound by the Scriptures but rather we are to interpret the evolution of love that God started in the Bible against what we as a culture see as right and good. What we see as right and good surpasses the Scriptures because we are on this trajectory or redemptive movement through time. So, if most people do not believe in hell then there must not be one because how could a loving God have something His creation doesn’t want? And if most people believe in same-sex marriage, then that must be what God wants because God is for us not against us.

What is most insidious about all this however, is this faux attempt to justify these beliefs by tying them to a supposed “scholarly” understanding of the Bible. In other words, giving religious cover to that which is directly rejected by the Bible. This explains why people can say; “The Bible, as it turns out, really supports homosexuality.” Um, it doesn’t. But when supposed religious people like Rob Bell teach it does, via trajectory hermeneutics; it gives people what they want- a God who condones their personal desires.

That, my friends is called idolatry. But hey, idolatry is too restrictive and old fashioned of an idea so  let’s throw that out.  After all, the New Testament says the truth shall set me free and the truth according to the cultural majority is that my God wants me happy. So God, as it turns out, supports what I believe and that is the new and exciting gospel of our times. See how this works?

The apostle Paul warned of itching ears and boy do we have them. We are building our own Tower of Babel to our own heaven based upon the collective, so called wisdom of our age. Ironically, a guy named Nimrod was in charge of the first Tower of Babel and I think he might be in charge of this one too.

The canon is closed. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.

 

Blown Away

In the midst of this long harsh winter take 8 minutes to watch the video below and be blown away by what we are supporting as a ministry. The hospital in Mango, Togo where the Kosioreks are heading held its’ inauguration ceremony last week. Thousands of Togolese flocked to the hospital along with the President of Togo to participate in this historic day that saw the hospital project reaching completion. The Kosioreks are reaching completion of their language learning at the same time and will, Lord willing be at the hospital July 2nd. Please pray for this ministry and pray the Lord will raise up the final financial need ($20,000). The Kosioreks have to move all of their belongings and themselves to Togo. God is doing incredible things in northern Togo and the surrounding countries and our very own Kosioreks will be there soon to do their part see many come to Christ!

The Proposal: A Sweet Night

There is just something about that moment when a man drops to a knee and asks a woman to be his wife and promises to love her and take care of her forever if she will just say yes. Those ideas were the theme of this year’s Sweetest Night. A night highlighted with a wonderful catered meal (cheesecake!!), laughter, sweet proposal stories, a few classic “Roses Are Red Violets are Blue” poems and a room full of men delivering a rose and a proposal to their sweetest. Enjoy some pictures from our very sweet night.

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True Love?

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Are you ready for this? Are you ready for true love?

I wonder.

We all long for true love or at least we say we do. Truth is most of us shun it because we completely misunderstand it. But true loves awaits those who will accept it and embrace it; if we dare. But we must be prepared for love to look different than what Hollywood portrays or even the stuff of our childhood ideals.

What if true love is something quite different than what you thought it was? What if it is even diametrically opposed to much of what you have been taught? What if true love is demanding, consuming, unyielding and never growing? Could you handle that kind of love; if it was indeed true love?

The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). He is the source of it, the Author of it, the embodiment of it. So love must be understood through the prism that what God has said and done is the ultimate understanding of true love. So here are four immutable truth’s about God’s love that might just surprise you.

1. God’s love is demanding.

It is demanding in two ways.

First, in order to have a love relationship with God He demands you respond to His love. 1 John 4:8-10 says “…for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world , that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son, to be the propitiation for our sins.” Did you catch that? We do not naturally love God, we are not drawn to Him but rather away from Him. Yet God loved us, pursued us and gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins that we might have a way to know Him, be drawn to Him and love Him. John 3:16 states; “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” To experience true love a response is required; specifically one of belief. There is no true love without complete belief and trust; and unless you believe you cannot truly be loved. Romans 10:9-11 lays out what our response is to be; “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says; ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” True love takes away all shame because true love covers it all. God insists His Son is enough to wipe away all your stains and forgive all your sins. Can you insist He is too?  It’s the response God demands.

Second, God expressly says that If we love Him we will obey Him. Talk about demanding and flying right in the face of everything this world says about true love. Jesus says “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:23) That is just too much you may protest. Well, consider this well known verse from Romans 8; “All things work together for good to those who love God.” If  we love God and obey God all things will work out for our good. Mind you, good here is defined by God not by us. And yes, that is demanding of Him, but if He is God then He is all-knowing and we are not. So, how about having an all-knowing and wise God on your side who is in love with you and you in love with Him? I think things will work just nicely in this kind of relationship as demanding as it is.

2. God’s love is consuming.

We are to get lost in Him. We disappear. It is not about us at all. It’s not about the bride it is about the bridegroom. How does that fit in your worldview? True love it turns out is about giving a life away in order to really have life. Galatians 2:20 bottom lines this for us, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and this life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We are consumed it turns out, by the love of Jesus. How dare we expose ourselves to such a scandalous kind of love? We dare because He left the perfection of heaven to come here and be treated horrifically, unjustly and then brutally killed on a public cross of shame to save you from you. When one comes to grips with that love they willingly surrender everything and place it at the Savior’s feet. Whatever was mine Jesus, is now yours. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” We are most loved and happy when we are most consumed by Jesus.

3. God’s love is unyielding.

God doesn’t bend in this relationship. There is no negotiating the terms of the relationship with God. God never changes but He is always changing us. In our world, that is completely unfair and unacceptable isn’t it? “What do you mean I have to change but they don’t?” But true love is not of this world. True love is supernatural, eternal, and all-powerful- all things we are not. God is in charge of this relationship and He has one goal for it…conform you to Him. Again from the book of Philippians the Apostle Paul instructs us along these lines, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Please note it is a good work He is doing in you. His unyielding nature in this love relationship is to produce the best you, and the best you looks like His Son (Rom. 8:29). True love helps others to see and be truly loved, and God will produce that true love in you as you pursue His Son of true love. Pursuit of anything else is a pursuit of something less than true love and God loves you too much to see you do that. He’s unyielding that way.

4. God’s love is never growing.

He can’t love us anymore than He already does. Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” From the day you realize God’s love in the gift of His Son and accept that gift you have every ounce of the love of God you will ever have. He cannot love you more and He cannot love you less than He did that day, today or any other day. His love is inexhaustible so He does not have to worry about how much to love. He simply loves 100% of the time. Our love, on the other hand is always growing, or at least it should be. Our love fluctuates, even daily. We should not confuse the two– His love and our love. One is perfect 24/7/365/infinity. The other is woefully less. You will never out love God. Instead, He will always out love you. Not bad for a true love.

I invite you this Valentine’s Day to be sure you know what true love is. God is love, but His love is not the stuff of fairly tales but of true redemption and eternal bliss. This Valentine’s Day God is saying be mine and experience true love, maybe even for the first time in your life.

No Shades Of Gray

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a movie that has captured the attention and salacious desires of our culture. “50 Shades of Grey” is the film adaptation of the bestselling book of the same title. It is really nothing more than 50 shades of sin. No matter how a Christian might review, critique, slice or dice it; it is a celebration of sin. Have I read it or seen it, nope. Do I need to in order be fair and reasonable about my opinion, nope. From a mile away I can see what it is all about and the Bible tells me to stay that mile away (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22; Matt. 5:28).

This from Kevin DeYoung, pastor and blogger, “There is nothing gray about whether a follower of Christ should see 50 Shades of Grey. This is a black and white issue. Don’t go. Don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t rent it. Some movies do not deserve sophisticated analysis. They deserve sober repudiation. If the church cannot extend grace to sexual sinners, we’ve lost the heart of the gospel. And if we cannot tell people to stay away from 50 Shades of Grey, we’ve lost our minds.” (full article here)

Why even write about this? Why the fuss? Because many who profess to be followers of Christ will go see this. It’s art they may well protest. It’s the conversation everyone else is having and if we are going to be reaching our community we need to be in the conversation. No, we don’t; not this one anyway. In fact, I would argue the opposite is closer to the truth. The fact that we do not go will go farther in our witness than if we do.

Holiness is to be desired more than relevance. Truth is biblical holiness will accomplish everything being relevant is supposed to accomplish and will leave our testimony pure. Remember Jesus’ warning from Matthew 5:13, ” “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Yes, the next verse says we must be a light, but we must first be salt in order to be the light Jesus wants us to be.

Our light has no shades of gray. It is to be a holy light. Yes, we are imperfect (by a long shot!) but the world needs to see the difference a living Savior can make more than how cool or “with it” we can be as Christians. There are times and places for being “with it” and in “conversations” this is one that will better had from 50 miles away.

Friday Frivolity ~ Staff Instrumental Style

A merry heart does good…

The staff here at Grace is quite talented. Of course we seek to be humble and not flaunt our gifts but you know sometimes you just have to share your gifts with others to bless them. So to perk you up this bone chilling mid-winter weekend here’s a little somthin’ somthin’ from Pastors Shirk, Bartz and myself. Leading off is me on the flute, followed by Pastor Shirk on the trumpet and Pastor Bartz on the sax (because he is just so smooth- it’s the beard ya’ know). Enjoy!

Oh, and Pastor Shirk says, “Hi!” from Iowa where he is driving Claudia around in this beauty as they share at a state fellowship marriage conference (or so he says they are :)).

Shirk Mustang

Friday Frivolity ~ Super Bowl Style

A merry heart does good…

First up a little quiz. Which artist quoted from Psalm 51 during their performance of a Super Bowl halftime show (and perhaps the only artist to quote Scripture during a halftime show)? Take your guess by commenting below.

Now on to a collection of Super Bowl ads the editorial staff at Frivolity find favorable and funny! The first one is dedicated to Pastor Jeff Bartz!

More cat themed frivolity.

And we close with a sentimental classic.