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What is Heresy? April 26, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, Christianity, Rob Bell, The Church.
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The word “heresy” is one that is thrown around alot in the Church today, usually when someone disagrees with another’s interpretation of Scripture. And especially when that interpretation might not be considered “orthodox.” I have resolved to never call another Christian a heretic if they are honestly wrestling with Scripture and legitimately come to their conclusion. Afterall, we continually tell people to read and study the Bible for themselves. When we, mere humans, wrestle with the Word of the infinite God, we are bound to get some things wrong. I came across this series of statements on Twitter today from a pastor named Tim Timmons. His points are very compelling, in my opinion. What are your thoughts?

Thinking of those calling Rob Bell a heretic…(heretic is) only mentioned once in the NT. Peter speaks of destructive heresies…that diminish Jesus.

I don’t think that is happening w/Rob. A destructive heresy is literally a destructive opinion & that diminishes Jesus.

HMMM…a destructive opinion w/in the Church today might be thinking that the auditorium is the “sanctuary” of God, when each believer is.

Or a destructive opinion might be when one leader speaks ill of another (called gossip) & gets away w/ destroying a person’s reputation.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking that Christians have the power to go & convert the world to Christianity.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be teaching that Jesus prefers mega-churches to the smaller version of the Jesus movement.

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking going forward at an altar call or standing to say, “I believe” is all that is needed…

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be shutting the door on people from other cultures as they want to follow Jesus….

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) is thinking that Christianity is the way, when it isn’t! JESUS IS….

Or a destructive opinion (heresy) might be thinking Jesus was the founder of Christianity or that he was a Christian…that’s destructive!

And all of those opinions “diminish Jesus” and His preeminence!

Everything added on to Jesus as a pet theological belief oryour favorite commands or your religious system is a potential destructive heresy.

Love Wins…and Still Kind of Loses April 3, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity, doubts, Heaven, Hell, Rob Bell, The Church, theology, universalism.
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Welp. It took the entire Christian blogosphere commenting on one book to coax me out of my blog hibernation ( caused by the 60 hour work weeks I’ve recently had to endure). And while I sincerely doubt that many people will read this post because, let’s face it, this dead horse has been beaten just about as much as it can be while still being able to be recognized as a dead horse. But, still I feel it is my duty as a Christian blogger and wannabe pastor to review the most talked about  and controversial Christian book since the 1611 King James Version of the Bible (and yes, in 1611 that was quite controversial for several reasons).

First of all, let me say this: I like Rob Bell. If I had to go to war by his side or any of the “New Calvinists,” I’d easily choose him. He comes off as much more Christlike, even if his theology can be a bit wacky at times. Having said all that, I do believe that people who tend to like
Bell will like the book more than people who tend to dislike him. I also do not believe he is a universalist, at least not as I understand universalism.

As for the book itself, overall, I found it very enjoyable and I did learn a lot from it. It did stretch my faith in some ways. However, I did not agree with all of it. I think anyone who has a bit of knowledge about the Bible could easily point out the parts where Bell is deeply Scriptural, and where he stretches it a tad to match his thesis. We’re all guilty of doing this from time to time, I might add. My advice, as it always is, to people listening to sermons or reading books by pastors is to eat the fruit and spit out the seeds. I agreed with parts and disagreed with parts of the book. That’s not the issue. The biggest issue I have with what’s come out of this book is harshness with which people have discussed it. I’m guilty of being a little harsh myself in some of the discussions I have had about it. My problems being with people who claim that Rob Bell is a heretic and going to Hell himself. Personally, I don’t think anyone is a heretic who is honestly wrestling with God and the Scriptures to try to figure out the Father’s heart. What’s heretical about that? Just because someone comes to a different conclusion to what the Scripture is saying than you believe or has been taught for the past 1500 years does not necessarily make them a heretic. What makes a heretic is one who is trying to undermine God and the Scriptures just for the sake of undermining them. Bell is not doing this. I believe he really has studied, prayed, and wrestled with these issues and is simply teaching what he feels he has learned. That is in no way heresy.

The other problem I have with it is the people who are commenting on the book and on Bell personally without ever reading it. Most of these people just take the position their pastors take. This is typical, lazy, American Christianity. The saddest thing is that most pastors want their people to follow them blindly like this. If a pastor is gonna make a judgment on a book without ever reading it, and just wants their people to go along with him, how does he expect them to actually read the Bible for themselves? The secret is he doesn’t want them to. He just wants them to go along with what he says about the Bible and every other topic. Welcome to modern day conservative Christianity. Though let’s not pick on just the pastors. It’s the people, overcome by their own laziness and idol worship (their pastor is their idol) that force that away from reading the Bible and thinking for themselves.

This is my plea to you. If you decide to have an opinion on Love Wins,  or even on Rob Bell himself, please do so after reading the book and doing much research. Do not form an opinion based on news stories, blogs, book reviews, and especially not based on whatever your pastor says. You have a mind and Jesus said you were supposed to love Him with all of it. Not reading these books for yourself and blindly following whatever your pastor says is failing Jesus in that regard, because it is just plain stupid.

Books Every Christian Should Read (Part 2) October 15, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, books, Brennan Manning, Christianity, Francis Chan, grace, Holy Spirit, John Eldredge, Rob Bell, spiritual authority, theology, Timothy Keller, Watchman Nee.
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Yesterday I started listing some books that I think every Christian should read at least once in their lifetime. This list will continue today, but allow me to say this because I know someone will eventually call me out on it. I am not listing the Bible in this list, because I am assuming (hoping?) that if you are a Christian you read the Bible often, so it goes without saying that Christians should read the Bible. Now that we have covered that, on with the list!

                                                                                                                     Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Most people come down on either side of the fence on Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They either love him or hate him. I’m in the former category. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the vast majority is brilliant. He gets a bad rap from “heresy hunters” who take some things out of context, or just hear some things and don’t bother to even read the book. But, there’s a lot of good stuff that deserves some serious thought in Velvet Elvis. I especially like the section on what Bell calls, “Brickianity.” You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Velvet-Elvis-Repainting-Christian-Faith/dp/0310273080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287160820&sr=8-1

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Chan is known more by his first book, Crazy Love (a great book in it’s own right), but the lesser known Forgotten God has the more important message for today’s Christians. In it, Chan examines the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and gives a very balanced view of the Spirit’s work in our lives. Not overly Charismatic, and not too traditional, Chan explains how the extremist views of the Holy Spirit have scared many Christians and churches away from even discussing the Holy Spirit and that this should not be. The Holy Spirit is needed in our lives, and Chan does a wonderful job of placing him on the throne that he deserves to be on. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-God-Reversing-Tragic-Neglect/dp/1434767957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287161524&sr=1-1

 Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee

Nee’s story is amazing. He spent the last twenty years of his life in a Chinese prison. Through the face of extreme persecution and torture, Nee maintained a Christlike attitude. In Spiritual Authority, Nee explains how to have this Christlike attitude when it comes to those in authority over us. This is extremely important in today’s Church where our leaders are constantly called into question. Nee even explains how to submit to our authority when they are wrong. He states, “Submission has to do with attitude. Obedience has to do with conduct.” Nee’s message is badly needed today. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Authority-Watchman-Nee/dp/0935008357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287162169&sr=1-1

 Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

While written toward men, I think Wild at Heart should be written by Christians of both sexes. It will help men understand why they are like they are, as well as women. There are some things in it that will initially cause you to disagree with Eldredge, but continue to press through it and you will begin to understand what he is saying. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Discovering-Secret-Mans/dp/1400202817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163161&sr=1-1

 The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

While some would consider Mere Christianity and Simply Christian “apologetics” books, The Reason for God is really the only true apologetics book on my list. While there are plenty of other great books on the defense of Christianity out there, this is my favorite just because of Keller’s intellectual, but conversational, writing style. Most of these kinds of books tend to be scholarly to the point of reading like a textbook. Keller’s, on the other hand, really feels like your sitting in his office and he’s explaining to you why belief in the God of the Bible makes sense. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163582&sr=1-1

 

                                                                                                     The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Of the hundreds of books written on grace, Manning’s is in a class by itself. Manning delivers a beuatiful picture of how God’s grace is power for what he calls “ragamuffins,” people who are beat up, bedraggled, and burnt out. By that definition, I think all Christians could be considered ragamuffins from time to time. You can buy this at http://www.christianbook.com/the-ragamuffin-gospel-brennan-manning/9781590525029/pd/525020

That’s my current list of books every Christian should read. I’m sure it will grow and expand the more I read, however. This list is by no means exhaustive. So what did I miss? What other books do you think every Christian should read? I look forward to hearing your suggestions and your reviews of the books in my list!

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