Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rob Bell's Dangerous Perversion Of History

The Christian Gospel isn't the only thing that Rob Bell perverts. He also does a bang up job of sounding authoritative in his handling of history.

Rob Bell disappeared off the radar of this blog for a long time and I was of the hopeful opinion that Bell's theology was in the cargo hold of the "emergent ship" when it sank. But alas, Bell managed to grab an enormous amount of publicity through his latest book "Love Wins" where he becomes a lot less vague about some of his heretical views including universalism. On the positive side of the ledger, Bell is doing a lot more strutting around without his sheep suit these days and it appears that he may have shot himself in both feet in the process. Even Zondervan (a greek word meaning "anything that'll make a buck") publishers ditched Bell because of his latest book (I don't know if it was principle or pragmatism)!

And to his legion of defenders out there in cyberspace, Bell's confession that "I am not a universalist" is not exactly a watertight legal defense. The proof is in the pudding and Bell has been writing and preaching a whole lot of pudding for more than half a decade now. And all that hate mail is a great way to champion your "love wins" motto!

A big part of Bell's MO in gaining believability in the false gospel he proclaims, is the way he sounds so credible in the way he reinvents history (always at the expense of historic orthodox Christianity). A very popular post that was done on this blog at the end of 2009 gave a compare and contrast between the Gospel according to John Piper and the gospel according to Rob Bell. I recently had an interesting video from James White drawn to my attention that I thought would be very worthwhile posting on my blog today. If there's one thing I know about Dr. James White it is that he has a brain the size of a planet. If there's one thing I don't know about Dr. James White it is how that giant brain fits inside his regular sized head. Whatever the reason, the guy has an excellent working knowledge of church history and the following critique is an excellent rebuttal to Bell's "gospel presentation" and perversion of history that appeared in that post. This is well worth the look for all of us who heard the alarm bells (pardon the pun) but didn't know enough history to put our finger on what the exact problem was with how Bell recounts church history:

Monday, March 28, 2011


Our Summer Conference in Denmark is now fast approaching and many of us are very excited to be hosting Voddie Baucham for Reformation Resurrection 2011. Above is our conference promotional poster. Any readers who wish to support/promote/attend this conference are most welcome to use this picture on their own websites/emails/facebook pages to help us get the word out. For simplicity, you can just save the picture and then hyperlink it to this web address:

This conference is a rare chance for the brethren in Europe to gather and sit under excellent reformed preaching, build relationships, get opportunities to speak one on one with the keynote speaker, and get a much needed kick up the pants to contend earnestly for the once for all delivered faith. The Lord Jesus Christ is so worthy of our undivided attention and fervent labor and Reformation Resurrection 2011 will equip us for Europe's single greatest need - that the Gospel must thunder once again from pulpits in every corner of this continent. Click here for all the details.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Will Be Preaching In Brisbane Tomorrow

This Is Short Notice but to all the Brisbane readers I just wanted to let you know that I will be preaching "The Days Of Noah" at Banyo Baptist Church (Sovereign Grace Baptist) tomorrow morning (27 March) at 9:30AM.

Corner Musgrave Road and Hartley Street
Banyo QLD 4014

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Friday, March 25, 2011

What Is Biblical Discipleship And Growth? (Part 1)

I do desire to post things that are more instructive than critical. But the proliferation of false teaching and stupid gimmickry that plagues modern evangelicalism right now has left me with overwhelming compulsion to respond and refute much of what is floating around right now. Perhaps that is how Juder felt when he wrote:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you(G) to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed(J) who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 1:3-4).

However, considering all the criticism I have dished out of late I remain wary of the pitfall that always looms large in the world of "watchblogging" - that being diagnosing too many problems and offering too few solutions. With that in mind I have taken it upon myself to contrast so much of this modern junk with true biblically defined discipleship and growth. What follows is based upon a sermon I recently preached that drew heavily from Mark Dever's excellent book "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church".


Growth and discipleship are popular buzz words in modern churches. Terms like “church growth” and “mega church” testify to the popular idea that growth is about getting a lot of people to sit in a lot of chairs. I also have often heard comments like “the great commission is about making disciples, not converts” and another favorite “conversion is the easy work, discipleship is the hard part”. It is important that we understand growth and discipleship as the Bible defines them. It is also important to rightly understand conversion in order to understand what a disciple really is.

With all the “church growth manuals” for sale at the Christian bookstore it is helpful to start with Who causes the growth:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, words of the Apostle Paul).

As a preacher, my flesh needs to be constantly reminded that it is God who grows His church. He has given me the priveledge of proclaiming His Gospel that He delivered. Read through the book of Acts and you will see over and over again that the church grew as God added people to the church.

Peter painted a beautiful picture of the growing church:

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:2-5).

As this series continues will look at some of the elements that are important in church life so that we may grow as disciples. Much of this will be based upon . In part 2 of this series we will take a look at the importance of expository preaching and biblical theology in facilitating our discipleship and growth.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 2

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rob Bell - Al Mohler's Verdict

Rob Bell's new book "Love Wins" is a case of a book that you can judge by its cover. Bell certainly removes his sheepsuit for the promotional video. But I thought I might step aside today and let someone way smarter and more articulate than myself comment on this current controversy swirling around Rob Bell's newest book/assault on biblical Christianity. When it comes to theological heavyweights they don't come much bigger than Al Mohler who is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. With Mohler you get careful, well thought out critique, through a sharp biblical lens. Mohler undertook the aggravating task of reading "Love Wins" and here is what he found . . .

This brings us to the controversy over Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. As its cover announces, the book is “about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.” Reading the book is a heart-breaking experience. We have read this book before. Not the exact words, and never so artfully presented, but the same book, the same argument, the same attempt to rescue Christianity from the Bible.

As a communicator, Rob Bell is a genius. He is the master of the pungent question, the turn-the-picture-upside-down story, and the personal anecdote. Like Harry Emerson Fosdick, the paladin of pulpit liberalism, Rob Bell is a master communicator. Had he set out to defend the biblical doctrine of hell, he could have done so marvelously. He would have done the church a great service. But that is not what he set out to do.

Like Fosdick, Rob Bell cares deeply for people. It comes through in his writings. There is no reason to doubt that Bell wrote this book out of his own personal concern for people who are put off by the doctrine of hell. Had that concern been turned toward a presentation of how the biblical doctrine of hell fits within the larger context of God’s love and justice and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that would have been a help to untold thousands of Christians and others seeking to understand the Christian faith. But that is not what Bell does in this new book.

Instead, Rob Bell uses his incredible power of literary skill and communication to unravel the Bible’s message and to cast doubt on its teachings.

He states his concern clearly: A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

That is a huge statement, and it is clear enough. Rob Bell believes that the doctrine of the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners in hell is keeping people from coming to Jesus. That is an unsettling thought, but on closer look, it falls in upon itself. In the first place, Jesus spoke very clearly about hell, using language that can only be described as explicit. He warned of “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

In Love Wins, Bell does his best to argue that the church has allowed the story of Jesus’ love to be perverted by other stories. The story of an eternal hell is not, he believes, a good story. He suggests that a better story would involve the possibility of a sinner coming to faith in Christ after death, or hell being a cessation of being, or hell being eventually emptied of all its inhabitants. The problem, of course, is that the Bible provides no hint whatsoever of any possibility of a sinner’s salvation after death. Instead, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” [Hebrews 9:27]

He also argues for a form of universal salvation. Once again, his statements are more suggestive than declarative, but he clearly intends his reader to be persuaded that it is possible — even probable — that those who resist, reject, or never hear of Christ may be saved through Christ nonetheless. That means no conscious faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. He knows that he must deal with a text like Romans 10 in making this argument, “How are they to hear without someone preaching?” [Romans 10:14] Bell says that he wholeheartedly agrees with that argument from the Apostle Paul, but then he dumps the entire argument overboard and suggests that this cannot be God’s plan. He completely avoids Paul’s conclusion that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [Romans 10:17] He rejects the idea that a person must come to a personal knowledge of Christ in this life in order to be saved. “What if the missionary gets a flat tire?” he asks.

But this is how Rob Bell deals with the Bible. He argues that the gates that never shut in the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:25] mean that the opportunity for salvation is never closed, but he just avoids dealing with the preceding chapter, which includes this clear statement of God’s justice: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” [Revelation 20:15] The eternally open gates of the New Jerusalem come only after that judgment.

Like so many others, Bell wants to separate the message of Jesus from other voices even in the New Testament, particularly the voice of the Apostle Paul. Here we face the inescapable question of biblical authority. We will either affirm that every word of the Bible is true, trustworthy, and authoritative, or we will create our own Bible according to our own preferences. Put bluntly, if Jesus and Paul are not telling the same story, we have no idea what the true story is.

Bell clearly prefers inclusivism, the belief that Christ is saving humanity through means other than the Gospel, including other religions. But he mixes up his story along the way, appearing to argue for outright universalism on some pages, but backing off of a full affirmation. He rejects the belief that conscious faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, but he never clearly lands on a specific account of what he does believe.

Tellingly, Bell attempts to reduce all of the Bible and the entirety of the Gospel to story, and he believes it is his right and duty to determine which story is better than another — which version of Christianity is going to be compelling and attractive to unbelievers. He has, after all, set that as his aim — to replace the received story with something he sees as better.

The first problem with this is obvious. We have no right to determine which “story” of the Gospel we prefer or think is most compelling. We must deal with the Gospel that we received from Christ and the Apostles, the faith once for all delivered to the church. Suggesting that some other story is better or more attractive than that story is an audacity of breathtaking proportions. The church is bound to the story revealed in the Bible — and in all of the Bible … every word of it.

But there is a second problem, and it is one we might think would have been learned by now. Liberalism just does not work. Bell wants to argue that the love of God is so powerful that “God gets what God wants.” So, God desires the salvation of all, he argues, so all will eventually be saved — some even after death, even long after death. But he cannot maintain that account for long because of his absolute affirmation of human autonomy. Even God cannot or will not prevent someone from going to hell who is determined to go there. So, if Bell is taken on his own terms, even he does not believe that “God gets what God wants.”

Similarly, Bell’s argument is centered in his affirmation of God’s loving character, but he alienates love from justice and holiness. This is the traditional liberal line. Love is divorced from holiness and becomes mere sentimentality. Bell wants to rescue God from any teaching that his wrath is poured out upon sin and sinners, certainly in any eternally conscious sense. But Bell also wants God to vindicate the victims of murder, rape, child abuse, and similar evil. He seems not to recognize that he has undercut his own story, leaving God unable or unwilling to bring true justice.

In truth, any human effort to offer the world a story superior to the comprehensive story of the Bible fails on all fronts. It is an abdication of biblical authority, a denial of biblical truth, and a false Gospel. It misleads sinners and fails to save. It also fails in its central aim — to convince sinners to think better of God. The real Gospel is the Gospel that saves — the Gospel that must be heard and believed if sinners are to be saved.

But this is where Rob Bell’s book goes most off-course. He describes the Gospel in these words:

It begins in the sure and certain truth that we are loved. That in spite of whatever has gone horribly wrong deep in our hearts and has spread to every corner of the world, in spite of our sins, failures, rebellion, and hard hearts, in spite of what has been done to us or what we’ve done, God has made peace with us.

Missing from his Gospel is any clear reference to Christ, any adequate understanding of our sin, any affirmation of the holiness of God and his pledge to punish sin, any reference to the shed blood of Christ, his death on the cross, his substitutionary atonement, and his resurrection, and, so tellingly, any reference to faith as the sinners response to the Good News of the Gospel. There is no genuine Gospel here. This is just a reissue of the powerless message of theological liberalism.

H. Richard Niebuhr famously once distilled liberal theology into this sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Yes, we have read this book before. With Love Wins, Rob Bell moves solidly within the world of Protestant Liberalism. His message is a liberalism arriving late on the scene. Tragically, his message will confuse many believers as well as countless unbelievers.

We dare not retreat from all that the Bible says about hell. We must never confuse the Gospel, nor offer suggestions that there may be any way of salvation outside of conscious faith in Jesus Christ. We must never believe that we can do a public relations job on the Gospel or on the character of God. We must never be unclear and subversively suggestive about what the Bible teaches.

In the opening pages of Love Wins, Rob Bell assures his readers that “nothing in this book hasn’t been taught, suggested, or celebrated by many before me.” That is true enough. But the tragedy is that those who did teach, suggest, or celebrate such things were those with whom no friend of the Gospel should want company. In this new book, Rob Bell takes his stand with those who have tried to rescue Christianity from itself. This is a massive tragedy by any measure.

The problem begins even with the book’s title. The message of the Gospel is not merely that love wins — it is that Jesus saves.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lame Attempts At Relevance (Part 5)

Ed Young Jr's secret to winning over unchurched people in the 21st century certainly has a lot to do with his study of the latest trends that emerge in his surrounding culture. It would certainly seem the billboard on the right did not escape Pastor Ed's eagle eye of relevance. It is certainly a persuasive advertisement for 3D movie technology and how it is the latest, greatest, and coolest thing to ever hit our screens. Except for one small oversight - this 3D promotional poster is from the 1950's - yes, more than 50 years ago! I am already drafting my apology to all churches that use 80's music as a lure for people who were born after 1990. Their lameness does not even come close to the new dizzy heights achieved by Ed Young Jr!

The following quotes that appear in italics are from the Dallas Morning News who ran a story on Young's "latest innovation":

To Young, taking advantage of the latest 3-D craze is just another way to reach people who might not otherwise come to church. "Christmas is the best time of the year for people to give God a shot," he said.

What does he mean by "give God a shot"? That people should visit his aisle in the idol supermarket? That he lives in the hope that his god might measure up to the requirements of discerning pagans? "Hey you've tried everything else, why not try out my god!"

"What a great opportunity for the church," Young said. "3-D is so hot."

This reminds me of every item of clothing in my wardrobe. Yes it is all "so hot" - it's just that the era I wore each item never happened to coincide with the historical moment when it was "so hot".

Young emerged from a critique session after the service to say he was "blown away" by how things went, but would be working with staff to improve instructions for when people should put on and take off the glasses.

Great to see Ed Young Jr prioritizing his time like all good shepherds should - as the CEO of a marketing firm with a low view of their clients!

Dave Travis, managing director of Dallas-based Leadership Network - a firm that advises churches in growth strategies - said as far as he knows this is the first time churches have used 3-D.

Wow - only 50 years after the cinemas caught on to the idea! Maybe there is a reason why churches have never used 3D. Maybe they were too busy doing stuff like . . . . I don't know . . . . preaching??!!!

Most in attendance gave a big thumbs-up, though some added that the makers of Avatar shouldn't feel threatened. "It was old school, like when 3-D first came on," said Marque Ross.

So it didn't quite measure up to James Cameron's work? What a surprise . . .

"It's a little cheesy, but cheese works," said Ed Young, pastor of the Grapevine-based megachurch. On Saturday night about 4,000 people - nearly a full house - came for the first of the church's well-advertised 3-D Christmas services. Adults and children alike each got a pair of paper-frame glasses with red and blue plastic lenses. They donned them for three brief videos shot in 3-D. The third re-created a real-life episode from last Christmas, in which Young's dogs got into the living room and tore up gift packages.

We're talking quality cheese here! Watching dogs eat gift wrapping through red and blue plastic lenses certainly has deep seated connections with the Christmas story . . . somehow . . . actually I need some help on this one . . .

After that video, the lights went up, and Young himself, fully dimensional in jeans and a sweater, appeared on stage. "You can take your glasses off now," he said, laughing. He then preached on the Christmas story, arguing that accepting Jesus as savior is the way to find depth in life.

Jesus does not need our acceptance Ed, but it seems that you need the world's. Unfortunately, embracing the latest craze from the 50's may not be the best way to go about it.

Ed Young Jr has now appeared twice in the "Lame Attempts At Relevance" archive making him a true hall of shamer.

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just Added - The Pleasures Of God

John Piper's sequel to Desiring God has just been added to my resource directory!

John Piper

Category: Theology
Click Here To Order
One way to see the glory of God is to meditate on what makes him happy. In The Pleasures of God John Piper unfolds for us a vision of God through the lens of his happiness. What most delights the happiest Being in the universe? God's gladness in being God. If God's excellencies can be admired in his pleasures, and if we tend to become like what we admire and enjoy, then focusing on these pleasures can help us to be gradually conformed to his likeness. In other words, we will be most satisfied in God when we know why God is most satisfied in God.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rob Bell Gets A Much Needed Spanking

I recently posted my commentary on the storm that erupted over Rob Bell's new book "Love Wins". Though Bell has broadcast his heretical views for more than five years now, he has been so vague and hazy about it, that many commentators have given him the benefit of the doubt. But in his latest video, and book, Bell really started to strut around without his sheepsuit on - so much so that it did not escape the notice of many respected Christian leaders who have since pronounced anathema over Bell.

Martin Bashir is a world famous interviewer in the secular media known for his exclusive interviews with people such as Michael Jackson and Princess Diana. Bell must have thought he would be safe from a theological mauling when he accepted Bashir's invitation onto his show. I don't know if Bashir is a Christian or not, but what follows is a face to face thrashing that Bell should have received a long time ago from many discerning Christian apologists. Martin Bashir was like a dog on a bone in this interview which provided yours truly with some much needed therapy . . .

It may well turn out that Bell has shot himself in both feet in his publicity stunts to promote "Love Wins". If anything positive comes out of this, let's hope that it includes Bell no longer pretending to be a Christian!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Found A Good Church In Australia!

Last Sunday was a great experience. I attended a great church service with excellent preaching and saw many friends I hadn't seen in more than four years. But when I got in the car to drive home the reality really hit me. It felt like an oven and the steering wheel burnt my fingers - welcome to Brisbane in autumn. I'm not complaining about the heat mind you - I'm absolutely loving it! Admittedly, the summers are beautiful in Denmark, but I really struggle with the other eleven months. So to come and sweat in Brisbane is pure defrosting joy for my body!

Those of you who have read my highly critical posts about Hillsong may be led to wonder if "there is anything good that can come out of Australia". Well, today I can tell you about something really great in Australia - a biblical church!!!! There are no words to express my joy at finding so many of my friends who have abandoned the world of "kookiness and spookiness" for a body of true believers with true shepherds. It is so great to phone them from Denmark and and hear them say, after two years of attendance, that they absolutely love their local church.

Grace Bible Church in Brisbane (Holland Park if you're a local) is a fellowship led by a team of elders which includes two men who shoulder the preaching workload and also happen to be graduates of John Macarthur's Masters' Seminary - Dave D'Amor and Craig Lloyd. One could be forgiven in 2011 for thinking that Spurgeon's Down-grade controversy bottomed out a long time ago. But it is great to find a place in Australia with fidelity to the Gospel and a passion for biblical evangelism. They even practice - gasp - church discipline!

So to all my Brisbane friends - if you're looking for a church or attending one where the major focus is "40 days of your best prayer of Jabez now", then go and check out Grace Bible Church where you'll get a warm welcome of genuine Christian fellowship. After church you can even have conversations about biblical topics without having it shut down on you by someone with exceeding cultural relevance. So if you find yourself screaming "no more" and running for the door at Hillsong's Brisbane franchise - just keep running for another three blocks and you'll end up at a real church!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lame Attempts At Relevance (Part 4)

Ed Young is a straightforward communicator who uniquely connects God's unchanging truth with a diverse culture through compelling and creative teaching methods. He is the founding and Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church. The church has its main campus just north of the DFW Airport and operates three satellite campuses in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area and one in Miami, Florida.

At least that is what the Ed Young Jr PR machine says about him. Ed is definitely an innovator at finding ways for middle aged men to look stupid to an audience that is half their age while promoting a Hillsong conference at the same time. And what better medium to convey this profound lame attempt at relevance than hip hop!

I have to say that this video certainly changed my perception of Hillsong's conference. Whereas I once considered it as an affront to true Christianity, I now see it as an affront to the general public as a whole. But the fake tattoo gives certainly Ed some "street cred" with bubble gum tattoo'd children worldwide. And the cavalcade of false teachers was certainly impressive in its diversity as well as the first public recognition of Joel Osteen's emerging mullet. Ed Young Jr is certainly hall of fame material in the "Lame Attempts at Relevance" archive!

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Just Added - Redemption Accomplished And Applied

This classic work on the atonement has just been added to my resource directory.

John Murray
Category: Theology

Click Here To Order
For thoughtful Christians since the time of the Apostle Paul, John 3:16 has started, not ended, the discussion of redemption. Yet few recent interpreters have explored in depth the biblical passages dealing with the atonement as penetratingly or precisely as John Murray, who, until his death in 1975, was regarded by many as the foremost conservative theologian in the English-speaking world. In this enduring study of the atonement, Murray systematically explains the two sides of redemption: its accomplishment by Christ and its application to the life of the redeemed. In part I Murray considers the necessity, nature, perfection, and extent of the atonement. In Part II Murray offers careful expositions of the scriptural teaching about calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, union with Christ, and glorification.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Video That Made Me Weep - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 16)

Wow, I finally finished wading through all the muck that Rick Warren dished out at last years (2010) Desiring God conference. And I was left bewildered and perplexed as to why John Piper (who I treasure as a great preacher and expositor) would invite Rick Warren to deliver the same old man centered moralizing that he has delivered for years in his books, sermons, and interviews. Not only that, I believe a strong case can be made that Piper actually breached his own theology (laid out in books like Desiring God) by giving airtime and kudos to someone who is the antithesis of the Christ centered teaching advocated so forcefully by John Piper over the years. But, after a complete train wreck of a sermon by Rick Warren, what happened in the following piece of video left me weeping and with a strong sense of betrayal.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 2:47 to 9:11

I just cannot believe what I just heard. Is there two John Pipers? And did Burk Parsons, who edits Tabletalk (which is an outstanding Reformed Magazine), check his brain at the door? What was going on there? Don't they realize the damage they can do by giving Warren additional credibility in circles where he should be shunned? Don't they realize that many faithful shepherds have lost their jobs because they would not abandon biblical exposition and embrace pragmatic "church growth" philosophy? These are the people who were looking to Dr. Piper to provide perhaps the only forum where, finally, the Purpose Driven guru might get taken to task. Piper is normally so clear in his teaching, but did the need for diplomacy turn him into an incoherent and confusing spokesman? If these guys won't put Rick Warren in a headlock, who will? I wish I knew the answer to all this. I still love John Piper and will always be grateful for how he delivered me from the yoke of modern man centered preaching to soar in the great sky of God being glorified in all things. But why he just dragged me back to the vomit I gleefully abandoned I cannot fathom nor answer.

I welcome any comments that may clarify this issue because I am completely at a loss. That was my vote for the saddest piece of video in 2010, and at that, I will gladly sign off from this series. Time to talk about other things that I do understand . . .

Go On To The Piper Warren Interview
Go Back To Part 15
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rob Bell Takes Off His Sheep Suit - And John Piper Bids Him "Farewell"

If it walks like a universalist, and talks like a universalist, then it's probably Rob Bell:

LOVE WINS. - Available March 15th from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Rob Bell is an enemy of the true biblical Gospel and if that is not apparent in this video then may I recommend a book called Romans written by a guy called Paul.

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? I speak in a human way. By no means! For then how could God judge the world? (Romans 3:5-6)

And it might help if Bell took the time to read all the verses in John chapter three and not just verse sixteen.

Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 and for the record the word "cannot" is actually translated "no chance" in the original Greek)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:17-18)

So the note concerning Ghandi, while perhaps inappropriate, is not based upon some guy who wants to assert his omniscience Rob! It's based upon an elementary understanding of the clear teaching of the Bible. You know - the Bible - that big old book that you spend most of your time perverting and confusing it's plain meaning! Ghandi, as a professing Hindu, is almost certainly in hell. This is not because I think so but because the Bible tells me so (the "almost certainly" disclaimer is in the genuine hope that Ghandi repented of his sin and put his trust in Jesus Christ prior to his death, in which case God would have saved him). And Rob, are you biblically incompetent or deliberately deceiving people? Which one is it? What do you do with verses like Romans 5:9 which directly refute what you assert in this video:

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 9:5)

When we deny an attribute of God, such as His wrath, we are breaking the second commandment (idolatry) by making a god in our own image. In this video, Bell just cannot conceal his utter disdain for the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and for those who defend it. I certainly didn't feel the love from "Mr Love Wins" in this video. Can you feel the love tonight?

This is the video that was the cause of the entire internet melting down a couple of weeks ago (in case you didn't notice). Partly because Bell is becoming more and more overt in his long established heretical views, and also in part because of John Piper's legendary tweet in response to this video which simply said "farewell Rob Bell". It is quite right that John Piper and the Gospel Coalition have put Bell outside of the camp, but I still have to ask the question why did it take so long? The contrast between the Gospel Piper preaches and the gospel Bell invented could not be more stark. Piper says "God is the Gospel" whereas Bell says that "you are the gospel". More than five years ago Bell wrote these words in his book Velvet Elvis in a sneaky affirmation of his universalism:

So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.” (Velvet Elvis p146)

What is staggering is how much of a sacred cow Rob Bell has become, and the number of professing Christians (and also unbelievers - which is telling) who are willing to relentlessly defend Bell (hence melting down the entire internet in their flurry of protest). Guys, how hard is this? I know that in his latest video (shown above) Bell does his usual schtick of asking provocative questions and never answering them. I also know that Bell has made an art form out of pretending to be a Christian for many years now. He trades on the evangelical world's willingness to always give the benefit of the doubt to vague, obscure, and foggy theology. But Bell's obvious disdain and resentment for the historic orthodox Christian faith, coupled with his continual propensity to cloud crystal clear doctrines of first importance is despicable to say the least.

This has been the MO within the emergent movement from the very beginning. Have leaders like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones grown more and more heretical over the last decade or has it been a planned gradual release of false teaching to an evangelical landscape as it gradually grows more tolerant. These guys are all non-Christian theological liberals who have held their views for a long time but had a vested interest in concealing much of their heresy until the modern evangelical climate was deemed ready to receive each incremental attack on the historic Christian faith. Tony Jones obviously didn't get that memo because by 2008 he had already run out of things to deny.

And now Bell is spending more and more time without his sheep suit on. If you meet Rob Bell, please share the Gospel with him. Like Ghandi, he also needs to repent of his sins and trust in Jesus Christ to save him from the wrath to come.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Failure To Understand Biblical Repentance - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 15)

Currently, Rick Warren's church (Saddleback) is making a brazen public display of the lousy way they handle Scripture. Their new craze - The Daniel Plan - is an absolute theological farce and a worthy candidate for my "Lame Attempts At Relevance" series. One can only wonder whether any of the people who promote the Daniel Plan have actually read the first chapter of Daniel.

This Daniel Plan is a weight loss initiative based upon Daniel's dietary intake found in the first chapter of the book Daniel. I'll let Rick Warren elaborate:

The Daniel Plan, based on the prophet Daniel who chose healthy eating instead of the king's rich foods, is a yearlong, churchwide program to help the Saddleback parishoners get physically healthier. "The Bible says that God wants you to be as healthy physically as you are spiritually," said Warren in a video announcing the event. "The plan will help you feel better, look better, have more energy, get in shape, and use your body the way God wants you to. (online source)

Am I opposed to healthy eating or weight loss - no. But I am opposed to anyone who tries to invent a biblical basis for a weight loss program based upon a part of Scripture that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with weight loss and healthy eating. In fact, just the opposite is the case. Daniel's choice to not eat the kings meat but only stick to the vegies was something meant to point to God's supernatural sustenance in the face of an inadequate diet. Go back and read Daniel 1 and see for yourself.

This does not even warrant lengthy discussion but it is actually quite funny to examine a few of the facts from Scripture:

1. Jesus did not subscribe to the "Daniel diet". He ate meat (eg fish and the passover lamb)and possibly drank wine (I know that's a debate in itself).
2. This "Daniel diet" appears nowhere else in Scripture - because it is not a diet, it is a step of faith to trust in God's sustaining power.
3. Did Daniel lose weight while he was on this diet? I'll let Daniel 1:15 answer this question:

At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food (Daniel 1:15).

Hey, if there's a buck to be made by finding weight loss programs in the book of Daniel then I think I've found two more to put on the market. How about "The Lion's Den Diet" - pray that God will shut your mouth so that you cannot eat anything. We could also sell "The Nebuchadnezzar Diet" - go crazy and spend seven years grazing like an ox eating grass. Guaranteed weight loss or your money back!

And Warren has the gall to tell his audience that they need to buy a copy of "Warren's Bible Study Methods". The Daniel Plan is a huge advertisement for Warren's lousy Bible study methods. And in the video that follows (the closing part of his Desiring God sermon) we get another clear advertisment.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 54:13 to FINISH

More of the usual from America's Pastor here. Moralistic, five more things to remember on top of the other fifty million things, and some amazing Yoda like wisdom - "those of you who are doers need to think more and those of you who are thinkers you need to do more". This stuff isn't really worth talking about for the umpteenth time, but one glaring statment demands a response. In this section of video Warren claims that repentance is only a change of mind and not a change of actions. And Rick, if you took a look in your Bible, you wouldn't need to go and check your "Greek Lexicon".

Jesus Himself told the church at Ephesus:

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Revelation 2:5).

Hands up those who think Jesus was telling the church members in Ephesus to only change their minds here? If you go on and read all of Jesus' letters to the seven churches you will see five calls to repentance which CLEARLY imply the need to stop practicing the sins that they were doing at that time. I could list countless Scriptures that reinforce this point but the fact that this is the common understanding of repentance throughout church history (not to mention the Bible writers) tells me that this simple point warrants little defence or discussion. But for the sake of nailing the point I'll mention just a few more.

John the Baptist when preaching his message of repentance actually gave the crowds some application of what biblical repentance really means:

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the crowds asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than you are authorized to do." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:7-14)

So here we see John the Baptist clearly expecting an outward change of action that demonstrates true repentance. Ezekiel also, when describing conversion, gives a great illustration of what true repentance is and the Sovereign role of the Holy Spirit in this process:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules . . . Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27,31)

Here we see that it is the Holy Spirit that regenerates those who are dead in sin causing them to turn in faith towards Christ and, hence, away from their former carnal lives. We also see the Holy Spirit working genuine contrition and godly sorrow in the lives of those whom He regenerates. And finally, to show that this is how repentance has been clearly understood throughout church history, Chapter 15 Article II from the Westminster Confession, when describing repentance, says:

By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments (emphasis mine).

If you asked Rick Warren he would tell you that he does preach repentance. But this highlights our need to always ask people to define their terms of reference when they affirm a doctrine or creed. How can he preach repentance rightly when he has wrongly redefined what it means biblically (this is just like when Rob Bell "affirms the message of the Bible").

At the heart of all these problems lies the common thread that ran through the entirity of this sermon. Rick Warren's absolute failure to understand or articulate the Gospel and the true nature of biblical conversion. And teaching this false view of repentance is a deadly doctrine that has given false assurance to many a false convert or "carnal christian". John's first Epistle makes it clear that those who continue in their old sinful lifestyle are not converted and are of the devil (1 John 3:4-10). This is not to say that Christians don't sin, but rather there is a big difference between warring against sin or dancing with sin.

Overall, I am so grieved and angry that this farce of a sermon ever received airtime at a conference that is known for fine biblical exposition. What a tragedy that Rick Warren has managed to gain some legitimacy in places where he should have remained an outsider.

I will wrap this all up on Friday when I will show the video that made me cry . . .

Go On To Part 16
Go Back To Part 14
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, March 5, 2011

WooHoo - I'm Coming Down Under!!!!!

There has been a sudden and unexpected twist in the plans of the Buettel family. Due to several unforseen circumstances (some good and some bad) we decided to seize upon a rare window of time to make a trip down under for the first time in over four years. Wow - I'm already getting cravings for musk sticks, fruit tingles, chicos, tim tams, and vegemite! I will be in Australia (mainly Queensland) from March 12th to May 20th 2011. I know this blog has quite a few Aussie readers so if anyone of you wants to contact me or if I can help/serve you in any way then email me at and I'll get back to you. And if anyone sees my mother be sure to stand well clear. Grandmother is at Defcon1 right now making sure that ALL necessary security and entertainment requirements are in place prior to the arrival of her three little treasures.

One of the most annoying questions I sometimes get asked outside of Australia is "why does Australia and New Zealand have the same flag?" We don't OK - take another look at the stars dude! I know Ray Comfort refers to New Zealand as "down under" and Australia as a small island off the coast of New Zealand but nothing could be further from the truth. Australia is "down under" which makes New Zealand "left over" (at least when you look from north of the equator).

But speaking of New Zealand, after the shocking flooding and cyclones that hit Australia, it was stunning to wake up and see the pictures of Christchurch after their huge earthquake. Christchurch is Ray Comfort's hometown where he began his open air preaching ministry in front of the cathedral (pictured left). The following picture reveals what's left of it now!

I thought it might be appropriate to close with this article Ray wrote in the aftermath of the earthquake because they are sobering words for all of us and remind us of Jesus words in Luke chapter 13 about the collapse of the Tower of Siloam (check it out if you don't know the story) and that we usually ask the wrong questions when it comes to disasters:

As many of you know, our home city of Christ-church, New Zealand, was hit with a massive earthquake Monday (2/21). This is the city where I spoke in front of a large Cathedral in the local Square for many years.

My heart goes out to the many who have lost loved ones. Sue and I appreciate those of you who have contacted us and assured us of their thoughts and prayers. (We were even contacted by some atheists--who were kindly sympathetic.)

Our eldest son, Jacob, and his wife and son were visiting Christchurch when the earthquake struck. They are okay, and so are all of Sue’s and my relatives, for which we thank God.

Many in the city had very frazzled nerves even before this quake. A 7.1 hit six months ago with no fatalities, and since then there have been more than 4,500 aftershocks. This one was much worse. None of my family know the Lord. Please pray that this will make them realize the fragility of life.

Back in 1971, just before my conversion, a surfing buddy who was deeply into pornography got his girlfriend pregnant, was married at 16, and had the baby girl adopted.

At the age of 16, she searched out her natural parents, found them, and turned up at their doorstep, pregnant. My friend became a grandfather at 32 years old.

I tried to witness to him when I went back to New Zealand in 1992, but it didn't work out too well as it was in his surf shop, and customers kept coming in. Although he did say that he wanted to ask God about his younger brother, who had tragically committed suicide because he got into financial difficulty.

For some reason I thought about all this, this past Sunday, found his surf shop online, emailed him and was amazed to get a reply. He said that my god (he used a small "g") really scared him with the big earthquake they had six months ago (he used profanity to say how much it scared him). I then wrote back and said that I failed to tell him something when I last saw him, and added that Jesus said if you lust after a woman, you commit adultery with her. I said that Hell was real, and that God made a way for us to be forgiven and have everlasting life.

He responded “That is scary, you mean I have committed adultery about 140 times already today? Hell won’t be so bad – at least all my mates will be there and all the naughty girls. Just don’t tell me it will be onshore all day every day. That will really make me gnash my teeth. Heaven sounds really boring -- all the goody two shoes kids drinking tea and singing hymns all day. Is there surf there?”

I emailed back that there would be no friendship or any pleasure in Hell and talked about his misunderstanding of Heaven, hoping he would get back to me.

The following day, the earthquake struck. His shop was very close to the epicenter. I don't know what happened to him.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lame Attempts At Relevance (Part 3)

Maybe you're thinking "what could possibly be more cool and relevant for the 21st century than worship band cover versions of 80's music or breakdancing to Hillsong?" Hey - nothing says hip relevance like a motorbike in the sanctuary!

So how cool was that!!? Obviously the pastor is familiar with that obscure biblical verse that says "He that rideth a motorbike into the midst of the congregation will give the Gospel clarity and maketh himself popular to the perishing thereby making Jesus more popular and cool to become a Christian" - Megaliar 13:22

This video is actually poetic and a great metaphor for much of what is going on in "modern Christianity". Now I'm not going to condemn someone for riding a motorcycle into the sanctuary (though you could probably make a good case for it) but it does summise the many endless lures modern churches often try in order to get converts and grow. The crash is a metaphor for the world looking on and laughing because they can see through the lame ideas. The rider getting up after the crash and waving his arms going "It's all cool - I meant to do that" is metaphoric of how to reassure the congregation that everything is under control and "we're definitely heading in the right direction".

On a subliminal level it is an admission that the Gospel does not have enough power in and of itself. I cannot say this for certain in every individual case but it is certainly a prevalent thought among many congregational leaders and perpetuated by church growth experts. But it is a suicidal road trying to add to the Gospel. It both obscures it and distorts it.

The church is relevant because we are different. We offer a message that is unique and is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor 1:18).

It has become cliched and popular to use the bogus quote of Francis of Assisi (bogus because there is no proof that he said it) "Preach the gospel, if necessary use words". That is like saying "wash always, if necessary use water". The Gospel is not visual but verbal which is why Paul said "how shall they HEAR unless a preacher is sent".

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Dream Theology" - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 14)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 45:46 to 54:13

This section includes the standard fare of man centered moralisms, absence of God's Sovereignty, self promotion, self serving use of bad Bible translations, and your stock standard Rick Warren Scripture twisting. Most of these things have been covered ad infinitum in this series but I thought Daniel Neades had some helpful insights into Rick Warren's "dream theology". How ironic that Warren would choose to close out this nightmare of a message with his self-invented dream theology.

This aricle courtesy of Daniel Neades from the Apprising Ministries website.

Much of modern evangelicalism seems to be fixated upon the idea that we can only progress as individual Christians and the church if we are pursing a dream or vision. This tendency is epitomized in these two claims by Rick Warren:

Nothing happens till somebody starts dreaming. What we need today are great dreamers.

Now, where exactly does the Bible teach any of this? Ah, I see we are helpfully given two Scriptures. Let’s look at those.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:8)

Actually, that’s Proverbs 29:18, not 29:8. But, no matter. It’s easy to make a harmless mistake like that. But there’s another, more serious, problem. Proverbs 29:18 does not teach that ‘what we need today are great dreamers’. Here’s a more accurate translation, with the second half of the verse included:

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.’ (Proverbs 29:18, NKJV)

That’s better. It is now plain that this verse talks neither about our dreams and hopes for the future, nor of some leader’s ‘vision’ for a better tomorrow. No. Rather, it refers to prophetic revelation from God. And specifically, as is made clear by the second half of the verse, it is referring to the revelation of God’s Law (torah), which of course we have in the Scriptures by the prophets. Here’s a tiny snippet about this verse from a reputable commentary:

[Janzen] adds: “The conviction in Prov. 29:18a semantically and syntactically parallels that in Prov. 11:14a, ‘Where there is no guidance (tahbūlôt), a people falls.’ There can be no doubt that tahbūlôt refers to the guiding power of wisdom received from God (cp. Prov. 1:1–7), and as such is generically synonymous with tôrâ (“teaching”). Anyone capable of holding the conviction expressed in xi 14a is capable of holding that ‘where there is no vision the people fall into anarchy.’ ” In sum, hāzôn [‘revelation’] refers here to the sage’s inspired revelation of wisdom. (Waltke, B. K. (2005). The Book of Proverbs. Chapters 15-31. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament p. 446).

What Proverbs 29:18 says about this revealed Law is that, without it, people will ‘run wild’ (as HALOT succinctly puts it). In other words, this verse teaches us that God’s Law acts as a curb on the base instincts and desires of our sinful nature. This understanding is exactly in keeping with orthodox Christian doctrine, and is what Lutherans call the ‘first use of the Law’:

…the Law was given to men for three reasons:

First, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins;
thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life… (Epitome of the Formula of Concord, Article VI

Proverbs 29:18 thus has nothing to do with letting ‘God stretch your imagination’, or our need for ‘great dreamers’, but rather with one beneficial use of the revelation given by God through His prophets.

Thanks for that Daniel. Tim Challies says that Rick Warren is an abuser of Scripture and here is one classic example out of a very long and growing list.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 15
Go Back To Part 13
Go Back To Part 1