Friday, October 30, 2009

Moving House

I´m moving house as I write today and don´t have any time to feed the readers today. Please pray for us as it is always a bit tumultuous as a family with three young kids moves house. One word of advice for those in the same boat - whatever instrument of discipine you use on your children, make sure it is the last thing you pack and the first thing you unpack. TTo give you a taste of the challenges we face and the remedies we will attempt to pursue in an apostate nation this interview with Paul Washer may be of interest to you . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paul Washer Describes The Virtuous Woman

Last week I posted a three part series on God's design in marriage. It is based on a short sermon I recently delivered at my brother-in-law's wedding. To discuss male headship and female submission in Denmark (even among professing Christians) is extremely counter-cultural. Feminist ideology has infiltrated the culture on every level - so much so that I've heard pastors steer around verses that may offend the "independant woman". Two of the great tragedies in the ignorance of the biblical truth concerning male and female roles are the failure to see male headship as a demonstration of Christ's sacrificial love for His church, and secondly, to see the great God honoring nobility in being a virtuous woman as described in Scripture. Paul Washer sheds some much needed light on the subject of the virtuous woman . . .

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why America Is So Great!

Now that I have the aggravated attention of my native Australians and the Europeans I live with - let me explain why the USA is the greatest nation on earth. And the point of this is not to inflate American delusions of grandeur, it is actually for the benefit of those of us who live outside "the land of the free". And I think the reasons I give are going to surprise you. (I think I can hear my Aussie friends gnashing their teeth already).

Am I saying that the USA is a bastion of righteousness and that the prevailing "brand" of Christianity over there is the train we all need to get on? My answer to this question is a resounding No! America is in big trouble and the decline seems to be accelerating. This should be of great concern to any Christian because America is still the global engine room of missions funding, missionary activity, and theological training. But something great is also happening over there at the underground level and it is something that those of us on the outside would do well to embrace. Though one can never speak for every individual citizen, there are still some very distinguishable marks at the ground level of American culture.

There are three major reasons or observations that necessitated this post. Firstly, because those of us living in western countries with a Christian heritage need to wake up from the cancerous passivity and indifference that plagues us. Secondly, because the only form of politically correct racism is American bashing. And thirdly, because the health of the church in America has massive repercussions on all of us.

Observation 1
One thing I continually find to be overwhelmingly different in the USA is the common belief that there are still things worth fighting for. Right now there is a truth war going on over the Christian Gospel. In both Europe and Australia, the passivity of professing Christians concerning the fundamental truths of the Christian faith has allowed the false gospels of life enhancement and post modern philosophy to have an open door into mainstream evangelical churches. This has also happened in America but at least there is a fight going on over it. We seem to roll over and play dead when it comes to defending the once for all delivered glorious Gospel purchased with the precious blood of Christ. Meanwhile in America, there are still great preachers who are leading a growing phenomenon of churches and young preachers who will not compromise on the purity of the true Christian Gospel. This is important for all of our sakes. It is also a call to men who have relinquished the roles of priest in their home and guardian in their church to man up, realize that there are hills worth dying on, identify those hills, and go out there and fight to the death.

Observation 2
For many years I have heard the anti-American tirades of many a man on the street and sometimes even in the pulpit. There is no doubt that there is legitimate criticism that can be levelled at the American culture - not least of which their disastrous choice of a radical pro-abortionist President. People certainly vary from state to state and demographic to demographic but I have to say that when it comes to Christian hospitality and compassionate love, I have never experienced it on the level that I have in the local church communities that dot the American landscape. This is something that has humbled me in my travels and caused me to reexamine my own life and conduct among the body of Christ. So instead of taking up the popular pastime of "yank bashing" maybe it's time to at least try to adopt one of the finer points of their culture.

As an extra note I find it interesting how often I find myself discussing the war in Iraq or Afghanistan with my Christian neighbour in a conversation that never transcends the worldly level of foreign politics and anti-americanism. How about, as Christians, we evaluate the goings on in Iraq and Afghanistan in the context of Christian persecution and advancement of the Gospel. If you come at the subject from this angle and study the plight of Christians who live in these places it may radically alter your view.

Observation 3
May we never forget that America is the engine room of missions giving, missionary activity, and theological training. The global blessing that this has been is a sleeping giant that those of us who are Christians living outside the USA take for granted. (It also needs to be said, in fairness, that much of what is bad has also emmanated from the USA and we have been quick to embrace many of these in the name of pragmatism). In spite of all the flaws, there is a lot for us to be thankful for when it comes to American contributions to the Great Commission. And pray for the great arsenal of faithful preachers as they persevere in the "Truth War" that rages over there.

There is so much more that could be said. But I just decided to throw in my ten cents worth today. I am curious as to the response this might provoke. But more than that I am hopeful that it will awaken us to the need to fight for the Gospel on our home fronts, support our Christian brothers and sisters fighting in the "Truth War" over there, and cause us to give thanks for the great ways God has used America to bless the world.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

God's Design In Marriage (Part 3)

Continued from Monday . . .

That leaves one final person to talk about. And if I don’t talk about Him then none of this can make sense. Everything I’ve said so far hinges on both husband and wife understanding how Christ loved the church and I am inadequate to ever fully explain that. But it would be wrong if I didn’t try to give you some small glimpse of His amazing grace. To tell of the great love of my precious Savior. The Bible tells us that Christ’s love was revealed by dying for a people while they sinned against Him. You see if we don’t understand our sin we cannot understand Christ’s love.

Did you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “where did all the stars go?” Did they all just disappear? No – but we only ever see them shining in their glory against the background of a dark night sky. And the cross of Jesus Christ shines in its glory against the dark background of our sin against Him – and it was only when God helped me to see the awful darkness of my sin against Him that I could start to see the depth of His love for me in sending Jesus Christ - and this has everything to do with marriage!

Sin is so offensive to God, not only because of how evil sin is, but also because of how perfect God is. Good judges can never ignore crime. How much more can God never ignore every time we break one of his laws. If I lie to my daughter she can do nothing to me. But if I lie to my wife I’m going to be sleeping on the sofa. If I lie to my boss he can fire me and if I lie to the government they can throw me in jail. Did you notice that it was the same crime but when I did it against a higher authority the consequence became more and more severe. How serious is it to lie against an infinite authority? It is an infinite crime and that is why there is a hell.

I used to ask how can a loving God send people to hell? But then I realized that I was asking the wrong question. The right question was “how does God put up with me?” And there are times in marriage when you’ll be wondering “how can I ever put up with her” or “how can I ever put up with him”? Those are the times when you need to look in the other direction toward the cross and remember how much mercy God gave you and how He calls you to reflect that love to your sinful partner.

If you really see the dark night sky of your own sin then the question you will ask is this – How can God ever forgive me without violating His goodness and justice? How can He be both just and the justifier? How can He save me from the hell that I deserve? There was only one way and that is why He is the only way - it would cost Him everything! The God Who created the universe had to become a man, Jesus Christ, and live a perfect life keeping all of the laws that we have broken. He then had to die on a cross as a substitute, suffering God’s holy wrath that we deserve. God treated Christ as if He had lived our life so that He could treat us as if we had lived His - if we repent from our sin and cry out to Him for mercy.

Let me ask you – is God’s grace really amazing to you? May God’s amazing love be the fuel that keeps the fire of your love blazing for your spouse. May you always look in the direction of the cross when you don’t like what you see in the direction of your partner. Never move on from the cross. Dive deeper into it full of awe and wonder so that the wife's submission to her husband, and the husband's love for his bride will be a shining star of the resurrected Jesus in a very dark world.

Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, October 19, 2009

God's Design In Marriage (Part 2)

Continued from Friday . . .

Now for the men! In case you're confused - we're the ones who don't look as good! As a husband you are called to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave His own life for it. Years ago in my Air Force days I can remember the day that my ultra feminist, commanding officer came walking towards me with steam coming out of her ears. Some of the guys I worked with had told her about me, that I was a Christian, and that I didn’t think that husbands should treat their wives as equals. That was fuel on her fire! In a voice that sounded like a volcano that was ready to blow, she asked me “Is it true that you don’t think women should be treated equally?” I looked that woman straight in the eye and told her that what she heard was true because real men don’t treat women as their equals, they treat them better than themselves.

Nowhere should this be more true than in the marriage relationship. Maybe you will never be called upon to give your own life for for your beautiful bride – but you’d better be willing to! And I can guarantee you that you will be called upon to die to your own agendas and desires in order to serve your wife. Yes your wife is called upon to submit to you - in all things! But remember also that her husband is called to be a servant and not a dictator. I’d be lying if I told you that I always do this right – but it is the goal that I must always aim for – always chasing it though never fully reaching it. So that is the other side of the picture that you and your wife are to present to a world that doesn’t know God. You are to portray Christ’s servant heart and sacrificial love for His church in the way you love your wife, and she is called upon to submit to you in complete devotion portraying the church’s submission to Christ. This is God’s design and plan for men in marriage.

Concludes on Wednesday . . .

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, October 16, 2009

God's Design In Marriage (Part 1)

Some of you might be thinking – hmmm what could Cameron possibly know about marriage, after all, I’ve only done it once and that was ten years ago! But in reality it is a very fair question to ask of me. Who am I to speak on a subject of such great importance. The only reason I’m willing to speak here on this subject is because of my Maker and His Manual. I’ve come to learn that He speaks with authority on every subject in the Bible and this includes marriage. And I’ve come to learn that His advice trumps Oprah every time. God is always right about everything – hey, it isn’t arrogant if it’s true! So my answer to the question is that I can speak with authority purely because God speaks with authority through His Word and God is so kind that He made His Word knowable for a simpleton like me.

The God Who made the universe also designed marriage. He knows how it works and He gives clear counsel on how to make it work. This is because marriage is an earthly picture of Christ’s love for His Church. The book of Ephesians tells us:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33).

The wife is called to submit to her husband just as we are called to submit to Jesus Christ. This verse is very unpopular in “modern Denmark” and many try to deal with it by ignoring it or denying it. I think we should try and understand it because the One Who made woman, and knows what is best for her, gave the Bible to teach her everything she needs to know about everything. To understand God's calling for a wife, she needs to see the big picture in this – and it is something very glorious!

The Scripture teaches that the church is the bride of Jesus Christ. It is made up of all the people who have repented from their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). So first of all we know that the call to submit does not categorize the wife as someone of lesser value, but rather someone different in function. Secondly, we see that she is not called to submit to other men in her role as a wife but to her husband, and that he belongs to her. His body is her possession. Thirdly, submitting to her husband is not about slavery. It is about a devotion that is so great that it paints a picture to the rest of the world of how devoted the church is to Jesus Christ. This is God’s design and plan for the wife in marriage.

Continued on Monday . . .

Go On To Part 2

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ravi Zacharias Warns About Hell

Eternal damnation is unbelievably horrific to meditate on. How can one grasp forever? As dreadful as it is, it is worth pondering from time to time. To stir us to evangelism, to recognize so great a salvation as found in Jesus Christ, and to examine ourselves in the light of God's holiness. Ravi Zacharias waxes eloquent on this frightening subject . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

What David Letterman Can Teach Us About the Gospel

How relevant is this blog? David Letterman and the scandal surrounding him has been headline news recently. We have no interest in dredging the cess pool of gossip that swirls around media scandals. But Russell Moore has written a post on his blog that gives a great angle for us as Christians to learn from - what David Letterman can teach us about the Gospel. It is a great read and I couldn't help but post it on my blog as well. Take it away Russell . . .

If you pay a little attention right now to David Letterman, you could learn something critical about carrying the gospel to your neighbors, and to yourself.

I’m not talking about re-tooling some Christian version of the late night comedian’s “Top Ten Lists” or his “Stupid Pet Tricks.” I’m not talking about his cynical humor, or emotionally detached coolness. I’m talking about why he was so scared of a blackmailer’s extortion.

We’ve all been there.

Last week Letterman started off a segment on his nationally-broadcast program “The Late Show” by telling his viewers a “story.” The studio audience, laughing along, seemed not to be able to tell, at first, if this was a set-up for a joke or a skit, but it became clear this wasn’t a gag.

Letterman said that he had gotten into his car at six in the morning one day to find an envelope in his car, an envelope with details and evidence of Letterman’s sexual affairs with women on his staff. The extortionist wanted two million dollars or he’d make it all public in a screenplay or book.

At first glance, this is just another celebrity soap opera, and, frankly speaking, not a particularly shocking one. What interests me, though, is not that Letterman was doing “terrible things.” What else would I expect a man outside of Christ to do?

What’s interesting to me is that the blackmail scared Letterman, and the reasons why.

Letterman said the extortion note was disturbing, first of all, because he feared the mysterious correspondent was watching him. Someone who knew this much about his life, would this figure be tapping him on the shoulder from the shadows? Pulling him into the back of the car?

Letterman also, though, was upset by the note because it was true.

Letterman acknowledged to this viewers that he had, in fact, had sex with women on the “Late Show” staff. He also said that seeing his “terrible things” there in print, with evidence for it all, in front of him, made him feel “creepy.” Even in his deadpan comedic, “aw shucks this ain’t so bad” wink-and-grin performance, we can hear a terror, a terror that is common to humanity.

If the envelope in the car had accused Letterman of being a member of an Islamic terrorist cell, he might have still been worried that the crazed writer was around, but, after getting out of the parking garage, Letterman wouldn’t have been, in his words, “menaced” by the accusations. Why not?

It’s because he knows he’s not a member of an Islamic terrorist cell. There could be no evidence to show it, because it’s not a fact. The power the blackmailer had over the comedian was in the truthfulness of his accusations, and in the cold, rational evidence he had for each of his charges.

You and I once felt a deeper, more primal blackmail, and it scared us to the core. In fact, we often still do. Now, for most of us, it’s not the same kind of transgression or the same type of discovery. But we’re blackmailed just as surely, in fact even more so.

The Scripture says that Satan’s reign over this present order is by holding us captive through the slavery of the “fear of death” (Heb 2:15). And why are all humans afraid of death? Because, like Letterman’s letter in the back of the car, our conscience is pointing us to judgment, with a “black box” of evidence of our guilt (Rom 2:15-16).

That’s why the gospel is such good news for blackmailed creepy people like us.

Jesus says of Satan, in one of the most remarkable passages to me of all of Holy Scripture: “The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (John 14:30). Jesus’ calm is the same as if I were asked to take a DNA test to prove that I’m not the father of one of Michael Jackson’s children. I know there’s just nothing there.

Jesus knows that, as the one sinless human since Adam’s catastrophe, Satan has no evidence of guilt in Jesus. He’s been tested, and he’s still standing.

Jesus doesn’t fear Satan’s accusations because he has nothing to hide, from the demonic watchers, from his Father, from himself. He is truth, and the truth makes him free indeed. With his tranquil conscience, Jesus marches right to the pole of slaughter, paying the wages of sin for those in the satanic slavery.

That’s why our Lord Jesus shows us, through our brother John, that “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Rev 12:10). And how do those in Christ triumph over this accusation? It’s “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11).

Satan has nothing left to accuse because at the Place of the Skull “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). If you’ve already been exposed, you can’t be re-exposed. If you’ve already been damned, you can’t be re-damned.

David Letterman said the accusations bothered him because he’s a “tower of Midwestern Lutheran guilt.” But there’s nothing particularly Midwestern or Lutheran about it. It’s a signal of a conscience that points to judgment. But it could also point to the One who has borne all the penalty due at judgment, including the public humiliation of being caught. We’ve all been there.

Let’s remember the gospel, and learn from Dave Letterman how scary blackmail can be. As the accusations come at us, let’s acknowledge the truth of the satanic claims. Let’s find ourselves in Jesus. And let’s point to a bloody cross and an empty tomb where those accusations were verified and crucified.

Poor David Letterman. This extortion is nothing like the one he, and billions more, are facing from a threatening presence who can’t be indicted by a New York grand jury. Let’s pray for him, and plead with those like him in our neighborhood and in cities and villages all around the world, as we remember what it’s like to be that scared.

And let’s remember not to be paralyzed by cosmic blackmail. The satanic powers have the evidence against us; yes, they do. But every accusation comes before an Advocate with a still conscience in his chest, scabbed-over spike-marks in his hands, and a crushed snake skull at his feet.

The satanic accusations are usually true. They wouldn’t bring them up if they weren’t. But if Christ Jesus is raised from the dead (and he is) then they can’t paralyze us anymore.

In fact, if you think about it, they’re just stupid demon tricks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What You Missed At Deeper

For the last two years Living Waters/Way Of The Master (the evangelism ministry of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron) has held a conference called Deeper. I am one of the priveledged people to attend both conferences. Coming from the reformation watelands of europe it was such a rush to fellowship with thousands of like minded Christians and be assaulted by powerful sermon after powerful sermon. It can be quite overwhelming for someone living in an apostate land. For those of you who weren't there here are some bite sized samples (the DVD's can be purchased here) . . .

First up is the man with a brain that's bigger than Richard Dawkins' faith in himself . . .

Deeper is so huge that even Mike Seaver got excused from detention . . .

And the stage had been sanitized to the point where Todd Friel will even venture onto it . . .

Mark Cahill - a man so intense his head could explode at any moment . . .

Johnny Hunt downed a Red Bull before he preached . . .

I cannot reveal this man's identity but I can tell you that his intials are EZ . . .

And how about the man who was genetically engineered in the 50's using DNA from George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, and Mini-Me . . .

For some reason the video of Greg Koukl is not available on youtube yet but I can tell you that it was an outstanding apologetic presentation on the Trinity. It is a great ride when you get to listen to a top drawer apologist when he is "in the zone".

In hindsight, the only counsel I can offer is to be there when Deeper 2010 rolls around!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Kirk Cameron An Evangelism Actor?

Do you ever wonder if Kirk Cameron is an evangelist or an actor whose acting career has extended into evangelism videos? Do you wonder if witnessing encounters like this are engineered events far removed from real life? It's a fair question . . .

Reality TV has become an oxymoron. It seems that most things get staged, one way or another, and are rigged in an effort to improve ratings or gain publicity. Kirk Cameron is someone who learnt to thrive in this environment. He grew up in "Tinsel Town" and became very successful at Hollywood's game of succeeding at pretending to be someone else. In the late 80's and early 90's Kirk won adoration in living rooms all over America as a fictional character called Mike Seaver. Mike Seaver might be long gone but Kirk Cameron soldiers on as a co-host of the TV series The Way Of The Master. This time around he's kept his real name but you may be left wondering if the character is still fictional. Does he revert back to an insecure celebrity in an ivory tower once the cameras stop rolling? Is the evangelism captured on film a thin veneer for a man who likes to live in isolation from the general public? Well I know the answer!

I got to scratch through that veneer and guess what I found - more veneer! To put it more accurately I found out that there was no veneer. What I found was a humble man (almost as humble as I am) who is keen to share the Gospel with strangers and hungers to learn how to better represent Christ on this planet. What you see on film is "reality reality television". It's how he really is!

Recently, when visiting Atlanta for the Deeper Conference, I had the great fortune of eating at a restaurant with a group of people, one of whom had an uncanny resemblance with Mike Seaver. Kirk, not being a local in Atlanta, asked his hosts if the restaurant had been "sufficiently tracted" (that's Raycomfortese for making sure all staff have received Gospel tracts). When he found out that it hadn't been "sufficiently tracted" he then took it upon himself to hand out tracts to each of the staff and then proceeded to preach the Gospel to them. Kirk is definitely the real deal. It was me who walked out of the restaurant feeling like an actor that night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stay At Home Moms/Mums Are My Heroes

I had the great fortune of being hosted by three different families during my recent trip to the USA. In a world that seems to have gone totally mad, I have found some oases out there. They are the households of true Christian families, and these are households that run largely on the labor of stay at home mums (that's moms for you Americans who can't spell).

Though it is an occupation of ridicule among feminists and social engineers, it is a pursuit that exceeds the demands of "higher education", is way more important than any other career, requires skills beyond any rocket scientist, greater sacrifice than any political office, and a lot more intelligence than any social worker. These women are the true heroes rising above the ashes of "feminist utopia". The guys from Go Fish might not be able to spell mum correctly but they do get it right when they say that it's the most important job in the world . . .

So to Laura, Susan, and Chelsea - I cannot thank you enough for going the extra mile for me when I stayed in your homes. You all have full plates as it is and I am truly humbled by the kindness, selflessness, and amazing hospitality you all extended towards me. Your amazing children shine in a dark world as a testimony of your godliness and discipling. You've all chosen the narrow road that requires sacrifice but also yields the greatest rewards as you nurture a new generation of Christian missionaries. It is also the career for women that God is most pleased with due to it's alignment to His plans and purposes . . .

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:10-31)

And finally, the even greater blessing in my life! God, in His immense kindness, granted me a wife, who surpasses anything I could have hoped for, and goes way beyond any blessing that I never deserved. To my darling Mrs Buettel - thank you so much for your constant integrity, support, and selflessness. I am already seeing real dividends from your immense investment in our three children. How could I ever thank you for your Christ-like love that hides my failures and makes me honorable among my peers. The favor I gain from being the husband of you is a revelation of what grace really means - undeserved favor.

My words fall short of doing justice to the labor of these amazing women. Nevertheless - to all you stay at home mums out there, especially Laura, Susan, and Chelsea, and none more so than my gorgeous wife - you are all true heroes, missionaries, and world changers. The Bottom Line salutes you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Foxes Book Of Emergents With Hurt Feelings - Rob Bell (Part 10)

Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs has writen an article on the emergent sacred cow otherwise known as Rob Bell. It is such a great and insightful read that I have posted it here as well. If ever there was a barometer of the lack of discernment among professing Christians, Rob Bell´s popularity certainly makes it very obvious. The guy is a seductive speaker and innovative story teller but if you don´t get a lot of red flags every time you hear this guy speak you need to give your biblical literacy a serious boost. In this article on the Pyromaniacs blog, Phil Johnson responds to an interview Bell did with a Boston newspaper which has a link below. Johnson is a truly exceptional Christian thinker of the modern era and I encourage you, the reader, to take the time to digest Phil´s words . . .

See, this kind of stuff is why I keep saying the historic meaning of the word evangelical will probably never be recovered. (You might want to read The Boston Globe's religion section and then come back here. The rest of this post will be more relevant if you have the full context.)

I do agree with Rob Bell about one thing. (Quick. Somebody wash my mouth out with soap. Please.) He's right when he points out that the way the secular media usually employ the term evangelical—as a synonym for religious right-wing politicos—is a misnomer. Bell says, "For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context."

Well, yeah, OK. I suppose that's part of the problem. More precisely, the term evangelical has been systematically evacuated of any reference to its historic doctrinal roots. People today therefore feel free to assign it any meaning they fancy—religious or non-religious. Practically everyone in the world of popular religion now claims to be "evangelical" in one sense or another. That includes not only old-line Moral Majority types who think the Republican Party agenda is gospel truth; hip middle-class Willow Creekers who couldn't care less about either doctrine or politics but just want to be entertained; crypto-Socinians like Bell and McLaren; crass socialists like Jim Wallis and Sojourners; heavily politicized left-wing wingnuts who think Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Al Franken are all good medicine—or whatever.

In fact, listen to Bell's own cockamamie claim about what the term properly describes: "I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That's a beautiful sort of thing."

So is that what Bell considers "a spiritual context," or did he already forget what he had just been saying about how the term became politicized and corrupted in the first place? Hmmm.

An interviewer at The Boston Globe evidently wondered the same thing. He tells Bell, "I'm struck by the fact that I don't hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you."

Bell's answers to that question and others in a similar vein are instructive. Among other things, he admits, "I have as much in common with the performance artist, the standup comedian, the screenwriter, as I do with the theologian. I'm in an odd world where I make things and share them with people."

One thing is clear: Bell himself is no true evangelical in any historic sense of the term. The Boston Globe's headline ("Bell aims to restore true meaning of 'evangelical'") is exactly backward. Bell has no agenda to "restore the true meaning" of the term evangelical, much less encourage a revival of true evangelical belief. In fact, Bell has made a career of attacking historic evangelical convictions—laying siege to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God against sin, the authority and perspicuity of Scripture, the necessity of the virgin birth, the coherence of the biblical testimony about the Resurrection, the exclusivity of Christ, and whatever other historic Christian doctrines Bell finds politically incorrect.

In fact, if you have the stomach to read the complete version of The Boston Globe interview, don't miss Bell's arrogant skepticism about the sovereignty and omniscience of God: "For a lot of people, dominant questions center around, 'Why is this happening? Why me? Why now?' Unfortunately, the religious voice often enters into the discussion at an inappropriate time—'God just planned this.' Really? Your God planned this, not mine."

If any popular figure "in the evangelical movement" (or on its copious fringe) deserves the label "heretic," it is Rob Bell. The guardians of evangelical politeness don't like that kind of candor, but when a secular newspaper like The Boston Globe is publishing pieces implying that the best, most promising alternative to right-wing civil religion is a mish-mash of Open Theism and performance art—and that whatever "evangelicalism" is, it must be one or the other of those two abominations, it's time for people with historic evangelical convictions to speak up clearly and make the biblical message heard again.

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