Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Resolution on the NIV

I am sure most have now seen the resolution put forth by the SBC against the 2011 NIV.  While, I am not going to talk about whether the translation is correct or not, I am discouraged at the way this went about.  Here is a link to the video; it starts at about 24 minutes and goes for about 12.  What I am disappointed in is how the issues at hand were oversimplified.  The gentlemen speaking against the NIV doesn’t appear to have a firsthand knowledge on the situation, but is simply speaking from secondhand information.  All the messengers heard were a couple of two minute speeches that the NIV was gender neutral.  There was no discussion on what that meant.  The messengers voted on denouncing the work of a scholarly committee which took over a year to come up with these changes in less than 12 minutes.  And the Southern Baptist Convention wonders why their own denomination laughs at their resolutions some times.  This is truly a sad display of wisdom and due diligence on such an important matter.

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Earthquakes, Rapture, and the End of the World…oh my!

I have been trying to stop myself from blogging about the whole Harold Camping fiasco, but after coming across these free downloads I thought I should.  One of the hardest things about this situation is that Harold Camping has been introduced by our wonderful news media as an Evangelical, when in fact he is a leader of cult who is twisting the Word of God for financial gain, power, and influence.

If you are like me you probably poked fun of the this whole “Doomsday” thing he came out with, but at the same time I quickly realized how I needed to be careful not to mock God.  Yes, this man is either delusional or a monster preying on the weak minded. Still, we can’t detract from the assurance God has given us that the end is near.  While we may not know the day or hour, we still have to live as if His return will come at any moment.  So, I guess I just wanted to take a moment and remind everyone while it is OK to see this man as he is and expose him for who is, we must keep a reverent fear of who God is.

Anyways, the above link is to an apologist named James White.  He has actually debated Harold Camping and has talked extensively on why interacting with people with such notions is important.  Once you are at the website wait until you see the banner with Harold Camping and you can download his debates and reviews of this man for free.  I hope you are blessed.


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John Piper’s Interview of Rick Warren

To everybody out there who couldn’t believe John Piper would ask Rick Warren to be a speaker at his Desiring God conference, I am right there with you.  These two preachers have very little in common when it comes to their styles of preaching and seemingly big difference in theological beliefs.  Well, the interview in the link below is the culmination of the commitment John Piper made to Warren, since he was not able to attend the conference in person.

I won’t say much on the interview as don’t want any of biases to stop you from really hearing and understanding what is being said.  I will say though, this is a very good interview and Rick Warren is very open with his answers.  John Piper asks many straight forward questions and most of the time Warren gives straight forward responses. 

I know it is often easy to criticize and judge people, especially authors, before we truly understand the person or what the individual is writing.  Each of us brings with us specific views and opinions as we read a book and these views can often hinder us from understanding the meaning behind what is said.  Just like when we read the Bible, we have to read books from the authors view point, not ours.  This is why I believe this interview is so helpful; as it truly gives great insight into Rick Warren, which can help us understand his books a little better.

Anyways, here is the interview

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Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society

Veneer is a new title published by Zondervan.  Its authors, Timothy Willard and Jason Locy, devote themselves in this book to describing the ways in which we try to hide our true selves to those around us and how to move beyond this.  I found myself nodding in agreement many times while reading this book and feeling challenged at the same time.  Still, I did find a few things about this book a little trivial and left wondering why certain things were worded the way they were.  But lets start with the positive.

This books starts off strong, by making its reader face the fake self they have been trying to promote to those around them.  They take special aim at first making sure this book is directed straight to the reader and not for “somebody else”.  In a very convincing fashion readers will quickly be convicted if they allow themselves to internalize what they are reading, which is one of the better parts of this book.

Fortunately the authors just don’t diagnose the problems of our culture and ourselves, but they offer their own advice on how to move beyond our surface level selves.  There are plenty of people who can see the problem, but it takes a special insightful person to be to see a solution and I am glad these authors were able to do that.  The authors do a tremendous job of showing we will never move beyond ourselves until we first encounter the creator of this world.  It is until we see God in his majesty that we first understand the deeper calling He has for our lives.  This was a point which resonated greatly with me and I applaud the authors for focusing first on God.

Still, with all its positives I did find a few things in this book which left me questioning some of the methods the authors used to convey particular points.  There were multiple times in the book I believe the authors used sensual language which did not need be used.  One instance from page 56 talks about how Brooke Shields posing in Calvin Klein Jeans changed they way people viewed jeans is a good example of this.  I believe it would have been enough to simply state how this ad changed marketing of Jeans, but for some reason the authors felt they had to point out the fact Shield’s had an “unbuttoned shirt” on.  I know to many this is no big deal, but I feel as if it is these little things which move the reader’s attention from God and the point of the book to more earthy and lustful images, which detract from the book.

Overall though, I would say this was a good read.  While some might see this book as just another self-help book from the cover, once you delve a little further readers will quickly see truths which can be found within its pages.

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Veneer Book Review

This is a book just released by Zondervan Publishing.  I am going to be writing a review on this book in the near future, but I thought I would share with you another review on this book I found helpful.

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Relevant Magazine review of “Love Wins”

When I first started to read this article is seemed like this author was going to be pretty politically correct and try not to ruffle any feathers and say nothing of true importance on the book; while this is true during some parts of the review some good questions are raised.  Below is sort excerpt from his article and if you would like to read the rest please click here.

“Bell’s seeming refusal in Love Wins to wrestle with the explicit difficulties in the biblical text seem as shortsighted as Dawkins’. It would be easy to imagine a new Christian assuming Love Wins is an all-encompassing view of God, and then being dreadfully confused when they read Judges for the first time. Bell’s summation is at least as non-holistic as Mark Driscoll’s “My Jesus beats people up” image. It’s disappointing to see Bell fall into the same trap as Driscoll and some of his contemporaries, when the complexity and paradox in the character of God seem to be overlooked in the chase to gain points.”

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Martin Mondays

For anybody who read Love Wins and was surprised by the quote from Martin Luther in it, here is the quote in context.  Something Rob Bell obviously doesn’t see as important.

“If God were to save anyone without faith, he would be acting contrary to his own words and would give himself the lie; yes, he would deny himself. And that is impossible for, as St. Paul declares, God cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13). It is as impossible for God to save without faith as it is impossible for divine truth to lie. That is clear, obvious, and easily understood, no matter how reluctant the old wineskin is to hold this wine–yes, is unable to hold and contain it.

It would be quite a different question whether God can impart faith to some in the hour of death or after death so that these people could be saved through faith. Who would doubt God’s ability to do that? No one, however, can prove that he does do this. For all that we read is that he has already raised people from the dead and thus granted them faith. But whether he gives faith or not, it is impossible for anyone to be saved without faith. Otherwise every sermon, the gospel, and faith would be vain, false, and deceptive, since the entire gospel makes faith necessary.” (pgs. 53-54)

Works, 43, ed. Translated by G. Wienke and H. T. Lehmann (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1968), 53-54; WA 10.ii, 324.25-325.11)

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Martin Mondays

“Confidence in your ability drive you along here; you think that by your eloquence you can so dupe the public that nobody will realize what you cherish in your heart and what you are trying to achieve by these slippery writing of yours.  But God is not mocked, and it is not good policy to run against Him!” (pg 77)

“Bondage of the Will” by Martin Luther.  Translated by J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston. (Revell, Grand Rapids, MI, 1957)

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Love Wins: A Tale of “Christian” Liberalism

I want to first start this post by saying I have never been a Rob Bell hater.  I have used some of his first Nooma videos for a few study lessons, but at the same time I have never been a real follower of him as well.  I have been to his church a few times, as I live in Grand Rapids, and have known wonderful friends who have also attended Mars Hill for a length of time.  I say this first because I know the natural reaction from many people when they first see a critique of a book they naturally assume they have no idea who the person is or they have some grudge.

So, onto the book itself.  I was very disheartened to not see any citations in the entire book, other than scripture.  Mr. Bell speak of particular people saying certain things, but we are always left with simply trusting him and hoping he is not either making these quotes up or that he isn’t quoting out of context.  This concerns me greatly as a Christian as we are commended to test the spirit in which something is said (1 Thessalonians 5:21), but how can one test the truthfulness of this book if Rob Bell gives no references to any person or book he quotes?  I feel like this is a major mistake on the authors part and does not fair well, in my opinion, on his creditability.  It seems very disrespectful to his Christian audience as he is not allowing anybody to easily engage his statements he is trying to pass off as fact.

I first noticed the tone Rob Bell begins with in this book.  It quickly became evident to me the author was writing this book out of the anger and bitterness he has from his past, which should throw up major red flags to all Christians.  I say this because it shows Rob Bell has not been able to remove himself emotionally from the issues and look at them away from their traditions.  As James White has often said on his Podcasts, “Traditions – everyone has them and those most enslaved by them are those who don’t think they have any.”

With that being said I am only going to grab a few comments from the book and hopefully a better Biblical explanation in this review.

On page 10 Rob Bell makes an error many cults, such as Muslims, make when approaching the scripture and that is if the Bible doesn’t say something the exact way we are used to, then it isn’t Biblical.  Let me be more clear.  On page 10 Mr. Bell says, “The problem, however, is that the phrase ‘personal relationship’ is found nowhere in the Bible.” So his point here is if this exact phrase can’t be found in the Bible, then it must be some tradition which must have been made up.  So, if we follow this logic on other points then Jesus is not God and there is no Trinity.  That’s right, Jesus never uses the phrase “I am God” nor does the Bible simply say Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit make up the Trinity  Yet, on Mars Hill’s own Statement of Faith they say they believe in these things.  Obviously this is simply poor argumentation and as I’ve heard many times before, “inconsistency is a sign of failed argument”.

Another issue with “Love Wins” is Rob Bell’s book completely throws out any sense of a Holy and just God.  When we see Rob Bell’s hell is in only the tough things in life which happen to us, we quickly lose the importance of God’s wrath against sin and the power and need of the cross.  So, while Rob Bell is trying present a gospel which will make those who are hurting feel better, the ultimate conclusion these people are left is that the pain, suffering, and loss is for no purpose what so ever.  For everything which happens in this life has no reflection on our life in eternity.  In fact it is the one inflicting the pain to which Rob Bells gospel would most come as good news.  Think about it…if a rapist were to hear hell is only the bad things that happen on earth and our dislike of heaven, then what would ever posses that person to stop raping?  In the end he can be as evil as he wants, die in his sin and then after a few years of eternity finally decide to go to heaven and stand right next to those he raped and smile.  What a mockery this makes of God.

I also notice Rob Bell never truly interacts with the Bible in this section.  The closest he comes is when he talks about the rich young ruler of Matthew 19.  Of course it is easy to pull one liners from the Bible and present them out of their context to make his position sound better, but Mr. Bell doesn’t not provide any context to the scripture he uses, but simply puts them out there and gives commentary to what he thinks they mean.  I would have loved to have seen Mr. Bell take time and review some of the verses which would refute his argument.  For instance 2 Thess. 1:8&9 say, “8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”.  I would like to know where this verse falls in Rob Bell’s theology.

Overall, “Love Wins” is not a book which can be classified as within the realm of Orthodoxy.  It is a book which preaches universalism.  It denies the Holiness of God and in the end extracts any meaning for this life.

For other reviews I would suggest this review by Kevin DeYoung and James White here and here

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