Monday, May 2, 2011

Theology--Does It Matter?

This morning I read a newsletter from a Christian bookstore that I enjoy.  I found the newsletter troubling, though, in light of the book I just finished reading and will be reviewing in my next post.  The newsletter was a review of a book published in response to Rob Bell's book Love wins.  Much has been made of Rob Bell's new book.  Honestly, I haven't read it.  I read several reviews and interviews that he gave.  One particular thing he said stood out to me from his interview with CNN.  Here is the quote that caught my attention:

"What stirred many critics was a promotional video in which Bell asks whether Mohandas Gandhi, India’s non-violent leader, was in heaven. Bell’s answer offers a good insight into his view of salvation.  Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.”  Bell insists there is room for mystery in salvation and that Christianity is open to discussion."  The full article about Rob Bell's interview can be found here:  
Two weeks ago, our pastor made an interesting point during his sermon.  He mentioned that he's watched John MacArthur participate in several interview panels of religious leaders.  He noted that when MacArthur has been questioned in the past by Larry King he says things like: "the Bible says", "According to the Scriptures", and "in the Bible".   Macarthur always comes back to the scriptures.  
There are some things that the Bible is very clear on.  
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6 NIV
It is easier to walk a fence than to take a stand.  I do not want to criticize Rob Bell, but I do want to disagree with him.  We do not know all about heaven--that is true.  We do know that when we get there--we will be praising God.  We also know that the only way to heaven is by believing in Jesus Christ, according to the Bible.
Often times people will claim that the Bible isn't clear, as Rob Bell claimed in the quote above, but in order to make that claim one must disregard, reinterpret, add to, or twist Scripture.  That's very dangerous.  The book I just read helped me understand why I've been so troubled by issues that are not salvation issues but are significant doctrinal issues.  
When we get misled on certain doctrinal issues, we can find ourselves on a road to theological liberalism because of the logic behind those beliefs.  Wayne Grudem defines "Theological liberalism" as "a system of thinking that denies the complete truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God and denies the unique and absolute authority of the bible in our lives." Evangelical Feminism, p. 15.
Grudem also makes this point on page 20 in the same book, "Francis Schaeffer warned years ago that the first generation of Christians who lead the church astray doctrinally change only one key point in their doctrinal position and change nothing else, so it can seem for a time that the change is not too harmful.  But their followers and disciples in the next generation will take the logic of their arguments much further and will advocate much more extensive kinds of errors."
There is a popular idea today that new is good and old is bad.  But, that is an idea that I find myself more and more guarding against.

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