Those of you who read or write here are well aware of the fact that I am a huge, huge disciple of Eugene Peterson. Not in any sycophantic or worshipful way, but in the sense that he has been my pastoral mentor since I first ordained as a preacher nearly twenty years ago. When Eugene Peterson speaks (or mostly writes) I have a tendency to listen well. I trust his judgment because he is wise, learned, and has been a pastor all of his life. He understands people, especially those in Christ, and he listens well to what they say before he opens his own mouth. (One trait of Peterson’s that I have yet to master perfectly.)

When he endorses someone or something, it is not because he made a snap judgment, but because he has prayed through it. Peterson is not afraid to learn and grow (as is evidenced in writing his latest book, a memoir simply called The Pastor.)

So I happened to chance upon a short interview with Peterson here. And if we are willing to listen to what he says in the interview (only two small paragraphs or so), we might find he is saying something rather profound about the church–the church he has been a pastor in all his life. The interviewer, Timothy Dalrymple, asks Peterson: “What are your thoughts regarding Rob Bell’s book and the controversy it ignited?  What inspired you to endorse the book?” Peterson’s response is nothing short of beautiful:

Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister.  We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God.  And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight.  I think that’s bad family manners.

I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says.  But I think they’re worth saying.  I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people.  I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.

I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement.  I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him.  He may not be right.  But he’s doing something worth doing.  There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal.  We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.

Now I fully realize that this conversation will be ruined because all we will want to talk about is whether Rob Bell is a heretic or not. Or we will find a way to mince Peterson’s words until he is saying something utterly different than what he is saying. But I want to make a larger point that may otherwise go unnoticed: There is something wrong with the church.

That is Peterson’s point. The church is not the place where we arrive. The church is a collection of misfits who do not fit into this world–who have been brought together by love. The church is a people who worship and rejoice and cry and struggle and hurt and suffer and live and love together. The church is a collection of people, ragamuffins, on a journey (which is one reason why I think the Bible constantly portrays God’s people on the move), but too often the church is seen as a place from which kings and queens pontificate. And Peterson is right about how such an attitude affects the church.

We get so caught up in the ‘who is right and who is wrong’ and the ‘who is in and who is out’ that we totally miss the struggle and the beauty of church. Who can scream the loudest? Who are the power-brokers? I laugh at the words ‘Farewell, Rob Bell’ because I don’t know that Bell was ever invited in in the first place. I never cease to be amazed at who believes they are the arbiters of inness and outness in the church. Maybe Rob should have tweeted back, ‘Farewell, John Piper.’ But I suspect, given what little I know of Rob, that he probably would have tweeted something like, ‘Grace and Peace, John Piper.’

Peterson said, “I Don’t think that brothers and sisters should fight.” I agree. That’s the way the world does things, not Jesus; not the church.

There may come a day when the church will become what it was born to be, but I suspect until that time comes, there will be a segment of the church that will continue to guard the doors with AK-47’s and M-16’s. They will welcome some and dismiss others; they will hire some and fire others; they will talk about grace and live by the sword; they will act like they are the head of the church, and not Jesus. They will say as much that they want to hear from God, but when he speaks they will cover their ears.

And those who want a simple church where they can hurt and suffer together, question and dialogue, journey and struggle, will be left out because they simply do not have it all together. And in today’s church, where aesthetic beauty triumphs over filthy catacombs, no one wants the ugly to mess up the pretty.

  • Share/Bookmark
This entry was posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 10:42 am and is filed under Church and Society, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

73 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

“Peterson said, “I Don’t think that brothers and sisters should fight.” I agree.”

Does that include fighting with those who fight?

” The church is a collection of misfits who do not fit into this world–who have been brought together by love.”

So easy. Does that include Joseph Smith, Charles Russell, Mary Eddy, and Fred Phelps?

“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;”
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Sometimes things are just not pretty but are of God.

2   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

So easy. Does that include Joseph Smith, Charles Russell, Mary Eddy, and Fred Phelps?

Sooooo….what are you saying? I don’t see the relationship or understand your point.

Thanks for clarifying.

3   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Does that include fighting with those who fight?

I don’t understand this either. Example?

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Let’s leave it at you don’t understand. I understand that.

5   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

No, seriously. I don’t understand your point. What are you trying to say? Are you saying that Rob Bell or Eugene Peterson are in the same lot with those you mentioned?

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

“Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister. We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God. And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners.
I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says. But I think they’re worth saying. I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people. I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.”

Interviewer: Martin, what do you think about Pope Leo X?

Luther: Leo and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister. We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God. And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners.
I don’t agree with everything Pope Leo X says. But I think they’re worth saying. I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people. I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.”

And so the Reformation, a real mess, was avoided.

7   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Oh, so you are saying that Peterson is wrong then. I get it. You could have just said, “I disagree.”

(I still don’t see what this has to do with Phelps or Russell or any of those others you mentioned, but like you said, we can just leave it that I don’t understand.)

8   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Meanwhile, because people like you insist that fighting is a good thing, the world looks on and insists it will have nothing to do with Jesus.

Good call, bro Rick. Good call.

9   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

It means sometimes we must confront (fight) with those who stray from the truth. BTW, I give Peterson’s endorsement the same weight I give McArthur’s rejection.

None.

10   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The church wants nothing to do with Jesus. The world is in good company. Let us all just sing “All You Need is Love” and all will be well with the world.

Just this obscure blog reveals that no one believes this, in fact, this blog was originally constructed to fight those who fight others. Circular.

11   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

And the administrator of this blog, just yesterday, revealed a less than gracious attitude about a brother which had nothing to do with doctrine. Yep, Peterson’s words are easy but often lead to endorsing error. (i.e. Love Wins)

12   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 25th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Confronting and fighting are two different things. You seem to be saying they are the same, Rick. The purpose of fighting is for me to win and for my enemy to lose. Confrontation should be done with the ultimate purpose of reconciliation. Luther actually had hoped that some sort of reconciliation would be possible with the RCC in the beginning.

13   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Ok, then what I say about Bell’s writings and beliefs be considered “confrontation”? Let me get this straight, to criticize Peterson for endorsing Bell is fighting but criticizing those who do not endorse Bell’s writings is “confrontation”?

It’s all so subjective.

14   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

So Luther “in the beginning” desired reconciliation but later called the pope “Satan”. What is the time frame when one can be released from seeking reconciliation and free to condemn?

15   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Yep, Peterson’s words are easy but often lead to endorsing error. (i.e. Love Wins)

I didn’t realize you’d read the book, Rick. Or are you just making an uncharitable assumption? ;-)

16   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I haven’t read The Book of Mormon either but based upon exerpts I do not endorse it. I have never made any “uncharitable assumptions” about Rob Bell the person and have often rebuked those who have. And if he was fired I would feel some level of sympathy for him and his family, regardless of his doctrinal views. :cool:

17   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
March 25th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

#6: that’s an awesome analogy (Luther). As you say, sometimes things aren’t all rainbows and unicorns.

Paul was not shy about identifying false teachers like Alexander, Hymaneus, Philetus or others. Nor was he shy about warning the Ephesian elders about false teachers, even among themselves.

An awesome example is Peter. His epistles are full of humility but he is also extremely firm as to undermining influences.

18   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Tell you what Paul, when Rick F is canonized and appointed an apostle of Jesus Christ, I will accept his ‘ability’ to point out false teachers. Until then, I give his criticism of Bell, this blog, Peterson (and just about everyone on the planet) the same weight he gives our supposed lack of criticism: None.

19   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

#17 – There are important issues that are not salvific. The Trinity and the existance of hell, the inerrancy of Scripture and eschatology are among those.

But when you suggest sinners without trusting in Jesus while alive can, and sometimes always will, be saved then you have entered the core of what it means to be regenerated and what it means to be a believer.

That still does not mean a teacher is not a Christian because they still believe in the divinity of Christ and the sacrifice of the cross and the resurrection. But those teachings must be addressed regardless of who takes offense about the confrontation itself.

I have never heard Paul C. suggest that he is being demeaned just because people confront him about some of his views. I will never sign up as an advocate for any man. To his credit Paul C. has been clear about his views and no one is rushing to his defense saying “That’s not what he meant.”

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

“and just about everyone on the planet”

Ah yes, Peterson woukld be proud. Reading and agreeing with someone’s writings must be revealed in actions or you are just typing words. I think james addressed this ancient phenomenon.

21   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
March 25th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

#18: See Jerry – you’re getting away from the very tone and intent of your post less than 20 comments in.

Rick does bring up a valid point. Confrontation about the most important matters on the globe (the Word of God) have always been and will always part of life.

A Rodney King approach to the gospel is not a reality (ie: “Can’t we all just get along?”).

Read the 7 letters to the churches in Asia. There were men in those churches perverting truths and Christ was not silent just because they were still naming his name.

Hymaneus & Philetus still taught Christ. The only issue was that they taught the resurrection had already happened… Shouldn’t Paul have just been happy about the good things they were still saying?

Why not remove 2 Peter or Jude from the Bible? Why did Jesus warn, 3 times, in Matthew 24 about false teachers still preaching Christ (”in my name”)?

Not everyone naming the name of Christ is in Christ.

22   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I have to go to work now, but I will leave with one question: Paul, what do you think the tone and intent of my post was? I don’t think you know, or else you wouldn’t be taking up bro Rick’s cause.

Have a nice day gentlemen.

23   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 25th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Ah yes, Peterson woukld be proud. Reading and agreeing with someone’s writings must be revealed in actions or you are just typing words. I think james addressed this ancient phenomenon.

Rick, you don’t even agree with James so how can you throw him in there?

Besides, I’m perfectly at ease right now. You are the one fighting. If you didn’t want to fight, you would not have responded to this post. You would have ignored it. Admit it Rick, you like fighting because you like thinking you are right not because you have any virtue to uphold.

24   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I have no virtue but Christ. Again, you do not understand why I responded, but if judging my motives makes you feel at ease so be it.

25   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 25th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Of course there a number of admonitions warning about false teachers in the NT, but when you look at the NT as a whole it seems the number of times we are told to love one another and care for each other far exceeds those admonitions. Perhaps I simply don’t trust the motives of those appointing themselves as protectors of the flock because I see so little of them actually caring about the greater commands to love one another. Combatting false teachers is useless if we fail at loving each other. It’s all about priorities.

26   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

#25 – And I agree. We cannot be consumed with chasing false teachers, but we cannot ignore them either. And we must look to ourselves and our discipleship image even more. It is a sacred balance.

But not warning people about false teachers/teachings does not seem loving either. How loving is it to sit and watch sheep follow a falsehood without warning them. But I agree that we should do it advisedly.

27   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
March 25th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

#25: Phil, you definitely bring up some valid points. I hear you. I actually liked the line in Jerry’s OP:

I never cease to be amazed at who believes they are the arbiters of inness and outness in the church.

That said, it’s not an ‘either-or’ thing. The early church, especially the NT, demonstrates this.

One of the best examples is Peter. 1 Peter is perhaps the most humble letter in the NT, if I can use that word. Yet, 2 Peter follows with clear admonition, especially chapter 2.

So the NT is full of commands to love one another, but it is also full of warnings against men that desire to “make merchandise of you”, “clouds without rain, wells without water”.

It’s a very accurate depiction of our day.

I sometimes wonder if people would stop reading all their 1000s of books and focused on the Bible, there might be more clarity.

“The Bible is buried beneath a wealth of commentaries.” – Luther

28   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 25th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

How loving is it to sit and watch sheep follow a falsehood without warning them. But I agree that we should do it advisedly.

I agree… That’s why I’ve been trying to do my best to rescue my Reformed and Fundamentalist brothers and sisters from their erroneous ways (only half kidding about this).

29   neil    
March 25th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

And the administrator of this blog, just yesterday, revealed a less than gracious attitude about a brother which had nothing to do with doctrine.

which, when it was pointed out as such by both you and i, he apologized for and clarified what he intended to mean.

30   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

#29 – I realize that. My point was for all the words about the post subject the actions lag behind in all of us.

” That’s why I’ve been trying to do my best to rescue my Reformed and Fundamentalist brothers and sisters from their erroneous ways”

Me too.

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

1) Methodist response to yesterday’s news: No Methodist Minister Was Fired For Agreeing With Rob Bell

2)

But when you suggest sinners without trusting in Jesus while alive can, and sometimes always will, be saved then you have entered the core of what it means to be regenerated and what it means to be a believer.

So are you saying that the two-year-old who disobeys Mom (thus sinning) and sticks a fork in an electric socket and dies, but has not yet trusted Jesus, is damned to eternal torture?

32   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Chris – The age of accountability is another issue, however there is scant Scriptural evidence either way. I cannot say either way, but I realize people cover them by God’s grace. That may be true but unprovable Scripturally.

God killed children in the Old Testament so there is no ironclad Scriptural treatise.

33   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

The story about Chad provides evil surmise and is disingenuous. Chad said he was fired for his beliefs. The Methodist church has refused to “provide fior things honest in the sight of all men”.

So far only Chad has provided evidence.

34   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 25th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

#32 – Of course if we are going to use “how abouts” as evidence then I have a few of my own.

How about if I were God?

* I would have not allowed Hitler’s parents to meet, or have killed him at age 2.
* I would have known that Lucifer was plotting against me and destroyed him before he could.
* I would have elected everyone.

You get the picture.

35   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
March 25th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister. We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God. And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners.

Not everyone who is baptized is a Christian. One of the evidences of faith is endurance to the end. People who have been called by Christ stay in Christ.

I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says. But I think they’re worth saying. I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people. I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.

I thing Rob Bell asks great questions, I just wish he would reference Scripture when answering them. Anybody can ask an open ended question, the question is not the problem; it is the source of the answer. Is it based in the way, the TRUTH and the Life Jesus Christ?

I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement. I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him. He may not be right. But he’s doing something worth doing. There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal. We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.

At the end of the day the issue is not civility, it is truth. Calling someone a brood of vipers or a whitewashed tomb is not very civil, but if it is true it may need to be said.

36   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
March 25th, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Calling someone a brood of vipers or a whitewashed tomb is not very civil, but if it is true it may need to be said.

When you actually die for someone else, this will actually carry some weight with me. As it stands now, some GLBT people show up at your church and you claim persecution.

37   Neil    
March 25th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

At the end of the day the issue is not civility, it is truth.

these are not mutually exclusive. the primary issue may be truth, but often incivility rules the day.

Calling someone a brood of vipers or a whitewashed tomb is not very civil, but if it is true it may need to be said.

once a guy walked into our worship service and up to the front of the room, he was purposefully dressed to shock and his ranting was as well… after being kindly escorted to the foyer he was told him he could stay if he acted in a civil manner he could stay, but disrupting our service in this manner was unacceptable behavior. his response was to compare his behavior to jesus’ cleansing the temple… disrupting their worship. he was told that jesus also raised people from the dead… and as soon as he did that, we would gladly give him all the time in front of the church he wished…

38   Neil    
March 25th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Rick does bring up a valid point. Confrontation about the most important matters on the globe (the Word of God) have always been and will always part of life.

saying you disagree with bell is one thing. which is about all the confrontation one can do when not in person…

saying he is not a christian, or saying he is going to hell, or saying he is denying jesus, or the bible, or the like… that is way beyond confrontation.

39   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
March 25th, 2011 at 11:55 pm

If Rob Bell does not believe what Jesus taught about Hell, He will find that it is true soon enough.

I pray he gets saved before that happens if he is not presently.

40   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 12:08 am

If Rob Bell does not believe what Jesus taught about Hell, He will find that it is true soon enough.

For someone who claims he’s never heard that churches treat questioning your view of hell as denial of Jesus, you’re about the biggest hypocrite I know.

41   Neil    
March 26th, 2011 at 12:29 am

one thing i have never seen in scripture is the requirement that a right belief about hell is required to be saved.

42   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 3:39 am

#41 – It isn’t. After listening to Bell’s sermon many years ago, and after hearing his tesimony way before Mars Hill, I must conclude he is a believer. But even if I had my doubts, I, like anyone, can never be sure either way.

To openly declare a person is not saved is unwise and malicious as well as self righteous. Even Jesus said not to pluck up people since yuo might pluck up some wheat. That should tell you two things: We cannot accurately tell who is saved and some who we think are not are really saved anyway.

43   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 8:26 am

John, you wrote:

I thing Rob Bell asks great questions, I just wish he would reference Scripture when answering them.

Read the book. It is full of Scripture. In fact, that’s Rob’s point. We need to base answers on Scripture, not on others’ interpretations and doctrines from the Scripture.

44   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 9:09 am

Many books are “full of Scripture”. Roman Catholic books, Jehovah’s Witness books, Christian Science books, et. al..

“We need to base answers on Scripture, not on others’ interpretations and doctrines from the Scripture.”

That’s a joke. EVERYONE interprets Scripture, it’s just when they don’t interpret as you do. The elevation of man is a huge problem. Like Jerry tends to give credibility to Peterson for his reasons, so millions give credibility to the interpretations to their favorite preacher.

And so you have followers of men and not God.

45   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 26th, 2011 at 10:01 am

Roman Catholic books…

I’ve heard some good reviews on Pope Benedict’s book from a few different people.

That’s a joke. EVERYONE interprets Scripture, it’s just when they don’t interpret as you do.

Perhaps the joke is that we (evangelical protestants) have given people this notion that anyone can sit down, read the Bible, and decide for themselves what it means. It’s like when I was doing campus ministry and one guy came and told me he had just “figured out” the book of Daniel.

To me listening to view of other people has nothing to do with me being final arbiter of how Scripture should be interpreted. It’s more me recognizing my limits and simply realizing that no one has it all figured out.

46   Neil    
March 26th, 2011 at 10:06 am

rick is right – mormons, jw’s, lots of cults – they all appeal to scripture.

i think want tboy meant was – “I thing Rob Bell asks great questions, I just wish he would [interpret] Scripture [as I do] when answering them.

funny though – if you look at the total corpus of belief, particularly the fundamentals, i bet tboy (and piper and rick and me and…) has more in common with bell than we have disagreements.

47   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 26th, 2011 at 10:13 am

rick is right – mormons, jw’s, lots of cults – they all appeal to scripture.

Well of course they do. They all clearly are heretical at their very cores, though, too. Of course appealing to Scripture in and of itself doesn’t mean a lot. But when a Christian pastor or writer like Bell appeals to Scripture, it certainly means something more than when a Mormon does it. To be a Christian is to submit yourself to the ongoing narrative of Scripture. It’s not just to pull certain parts of pieces out to justify certain systematic theologies. Being a Christian is joining into the movement of what God has been doing, and what He will do in history.

48   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 10:47 am

Rick, until you read the book and see how Bell interprets those Scriptures, please stop assuming he interprets them incorrectly. No one is elevating “Love Wins” over Scripture. I was specifically responding to John’s assumption (since he has not read the book either) that Bell does not use Scripture.

49   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Please do not assume that only by reading an entire book can you reach an intelligent and well thought out opinion. I have not read the entirety of Calvin’s Institutes but I have read enough to have formed an opinion.

“You have not read the whole book” is a straw man when in this day and age we can find an enormous amount of excerpts as well as many interviews by the author himself. Can you come to the understanding that there are some of us who do not attack Bell personally, nor question his sincerity, or even his standing beofre God, but strongly and sincerely reject what we believe to be his expressed views?

You may disagree with my opinion, but when you suggest that my opinion is invalid because I do not understand Bell or that I am twisting his words then you are doing to me what you suggest I am doing to Bell. I have not come to my opinion lightly or with rancor, and i do not need to read this new book in its entirety to have my opinion find legitimacy.

“Perhaps the joke is that we (evangelical protestants) have given people this notion that anyone can sit down, read the Bible, and decide for themselves what it means.”

Of course there are teeachers. But when it comes to the core principles of redemption I believe all of us can and should completely come to our own understandings with the promise of the Spirit’s guidance.

One thing I do not fully understand. Let’s say I hold the writings of Leonard Ravenhill in very high regard and I apprecaiate his ministry. (I do) And let say there are those who consider him an heretic and criticize his ministry. (there are) I can honestly say before God I do not care one little whit and I would not waste my time defending him. I read his books from time to time and let them minister to me, but I am not his defender even if the attacks are inaccurate.

So why do you guys feel such a compulsion to argue and defend Rob Bell (or others). I cannot relate to that.

50   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:18 am

Rick, from the word go, you’ve accused Rob Bell of distorting the truth. And then you demanded that those who said, “No he doesn’t” prove that he doesn’t. Sermons were sent to you. They’re too old. His recent sermons are on the Mars Hill Bible Church website. Listen to them. His books are accessible. Read them. You are the one accusing him. Please back up your accusation by listening to him and reading his books or please stop accusing him.

You mean to tell me that if I said, “Ravenhill was a heretic” and posted excerpts out of context to prove my point, you would not say, “Time out. He was not a heretic. Here’s the full quote.”? And if I ignored that and kept posting lies about the man, you would sit idly by?

51   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:25 am

Comment #50 is filled with inaccuracies. I have listended to 3 sermons, two recent. The earlier one seems much more orthodox, hence my contention that Bell has staryed. I have read Paggit and the Quaker staff member (I forget his name) and I find that telling as well. I have read one of his books, read scores of excerpts, and listened to several interviews.

That may not meet your requirements to have an opinion, but your information about me seems as incomplete as you suggest mine is about Bell for you to say I am twisting his words.

If someone said Ravenhill was an heretic – AND THEY DO EVEN CLAIMING HE WAS NOT SAVED – I can safely say it would not bother me and I would not defend him to the extent you guys are signed up with Bell.

The way you defend Bell seems in line with the same way some defend Calvin.

52   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:29 am

Fair enough.

53   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Some believer: Ravenhill is an heretic and here are some quotes.

Me: Yawn.

(Let it be known that I use Ravenhill as an example. I hold his views no higher than my own Scriptural interpretations. Mostly they are inspiring to me.)

54   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:33 am

I hold his views no higher than my own Scriptural interpretations. Mostly they are inspiring to me.

I would say the same about the Bible teachers and writers that I enjoy.

55   nathan    
March 26th, 2011 at 11:40 am

we are not saved by virtue of our assent to a particular articulation of hell.

OR a particular understanding of the economics of salvation.

56   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 11:58 am

#55 – I’m not sure what you mean by the economoics of salvation but I agree. When I got saved I knew absolutely nothing except that Jesus was God and I believed in Him.

I believed in evolution, I still smoked pot, and I had never heard of the rapture. And just to make my view of God’s grace known, I believe a gay person can believe on Jesus and never come to a complete undertsanding of his lifestyle in God’s eyes.

All of us practice sin that we do not realize is sin and all of us practice sin that if pressed would admit it is sin. ALL OF US. Can anyone here top that view of grace??

57   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 26th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

BTW – Ravenhill would strongly disagree with me! Who cares??

58   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 26th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

That’s a joke. EVERYONE interprets Scripture, it’s just when they don’t interpret as you do. The elevation of man is a huge problem. Like Jerry tends to give credibility to Peterson for his reasons, so millions give credibility to the interpretations to their favorite preacher.

[insert sarcastic response]

59   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 26th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

So why do you guys feel such a compulsion to argue and defend Rob Bell (or others). I cannot relate to that.

I would contend that what we are arguing for, as opposed to defending, is actual intellectual conversation based upon facts–not based upon assumptions and secondhand information.

That is: read the book, then make a judgment. (Which is why the OP is only tangentially about Bell.) Don’t have an idea about someone, make a judgment, and condemn them or call them a false teacher or heretic (based upon secondhand information or a book review or whatever.)

If the book proves poor theology, so be it. Many have written poor theology–it doesn’t mean they are lost or false teachers or not-christians.

60   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 26th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I would contend that what we are arguing for, as opposed to defending, is actual intellectual conversation based upon facts–not based upon assumptions and secondhand information.

Yes, that’s it exactly. It’s not that I feel like I have to “defend” Bell about anything. He’s a big boy, and he can defend himself. It’s just that I think that to let lies go on unanswered, is well, wrong.

61   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 27th, 2011 at 5:06 am

“If the book proves poor theology, so be it. Many have written poor theology–it doesn’t mean they are lost or false teachers or not-christians.”

As far as false teachers goes it depends upon how aberrant is the theology. And many times people say that bad theology is “But I think they’re worth saying”.

Bell aside, are there any evangelicals which can be called false teachers or heretics? And if you say someone like Joel Osteen, there are any number of his supporters who will engage you in “actual intellectual conversation based upon facts–not based upon assumptions and secondhand information.”

And if you say Osteen or Phelps or Copeland, I do hope you have read all of their books and listened to scores of their sermons. :cool:

62   Neil    
March 27th, 2011 at 11:02 am

in one sense a false teacher is anyone who teaches something false – but then we’d all fall into that category. therefore it takes on a technical sense that transcends just teaching falsely – a person becomes known for the false totality or extent of their teaching. They are a “false teacher.”

63   Neil    
March 27th, 2011 at 11:04 am

62 cont…

it reminds me of the term “sinner.” we are all sinners in the literal sense. but too has taken on a technical sense that is transcendent. when someone sins often enough and grievous enough they… at some point… take the title “sinner.”

64   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 27th, 2011 at 11:39 am

My definition of a “false teacher” transcends just everyone who teaches something false. It goes to the heart of redemption and what it means to be redeemed and the path to that redemption. As I have said before, many important doctrines are not savific.

However if you teach that people from other religions might be saved, or that sinners without Jesus can die and still be saved, then you have significantly altered the gospel and are misrepresenting the eternal plan of God, and rendered the sacrifice of Jesus as pedustrian within the world’s religions as well as removing the monumental importance of personal faith before death and the appointed judgment.

That is what I mean when I say a “false teacher”. So indeed we have all taught things that are false, but that does not eliminate what the Scriptures call “false teachers”. I realize that is unpleasant but it still is part of God’s Word.

65   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 27th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

However if you teach that people from other religions might be saved, or that sinners without Jesus can die and still be saved, then you have significantly altered the gospel and are misrepresenting the eternal plan of God, and rendered the sacrifice of Jesus as pedustrian within the world’s religions as well as removing the monumental importance of personal faith before death and the appointed judgment.

Is Billy Graham a false teacher?

When asked in a Newsweek interview about the fate of “good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people,” Billy Graham said, “Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won’t … I don’t want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”

66   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 27th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I was saved watching Billy Graham on television. I am grateful for his gospel ministry. But he is a false teacher and has made many, many unbiblical alliances. But aside from his island dwellers theology, he preaches a very clear gospel.

That also is a great difference. There are those whose theology is false but who preaches a clear gospel. Then there are those who do not.

67   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
March 27th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Ha! Rick was saved by listening to a ‘false teacher’!! I will be cutting and pasting this and reposting it every now and again.

:-)

68   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 28th, 2011 at 5:42 am

Yes I was because Graham preached a clear gospel, however his views of being saved because you have never heard are false. :)

69   James Snapp, Jr.    http://www.curtisvillechristian.org
March 28th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Chris, I’m not a fan of Eugene Peterson, mainly because he mauled the Scriptures in that thing called “The Message.” I am not surprised that he endorsed Rob Bell’s book, because Peterson likewise downplayed the severity of hell in his “translation of tone.” (One example being Peterson’s butchering of Matthew 10:28.)
Peterson says in the interview that Christian brotherhood precludes “fighting.” But what did Jude say? I quote from “The Message” — “fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.”
Of course the subject is not physical fighting; it’s debate, analysis, discussion. If Peterson were saying that we should not test Bell’s claims and see if they line up with Scripture or not, what a lack of discernment that would show. He must mean something else. But what? Is he merely saying that the dialogue about “Love Wins” should be civil? Was there really a need to correct some individuals who were insisting that it should be incoherent and rude? No; I think that this interview was simply a way of saying, “Please do not call Rob Bell a heretic even if it looks like he is one.”
There is something wrong with the church, all right: the lack of discernment that has arisen as a side-effect of cafeteria Christianity. This is not about recognizing that we are all at different stages in our spiritual walks. It’s not about affirming that we are all strugglers. It’s about whether or not the church is authorized to teach that people will have opportunities to repent after death. If Bell is promoting (however vaguely) the doctrine that people will have opportunities to repent after death, then Peterson should not have endorsed Bell’s book.
And regarding John Piper’s “Farewell, Rob Bell” tweet: I notice that some of the people who are quick to insist on focusing on issues instead of personalities are the same ones who have characterized Piper as flippant and dismissive. As if a treatise should be expected from a tweet. Piper’s analysis has apparently led him to believe that Rob Bell is not his ministry-ally. Why is that something to laugh about?
It is rather an overstatement to say that a segment of the church guards the doors with AK-47’s and M-16’s. It is not the doors that are being guarded, but the doctrine – and for this there is a clear New Testament mandate. Many of the people who are skeptical about Rob Bell’s orthodoxy are motivated by zealous love; they don’t want to polarize people or separate brother from brother; they simply want to separate right doctrine from wrong doctrine. I hope that is something that Eugene Peterson wants too, but he has a strange way of showing it. Yours in Christ, James Snapp, Jr.

P.S. “Anyone else who is baptized”? Does that include “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” etc.??

70   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Jim (do you go by James, Jim or Jimmy these days?) -

I’ve never been a big fan of Peterson, either, though I’ve found some of his other works to have good illustrations/metaphors and thoughts in them. Even so, I don’t know that he’s ever claimed that “The Message” was a translation, but rather a paraphrase for getting people interested in reading the Bible. Jerry (the author of this post) follows Peterson a lot more closely, so he might be able to speak more to it.

Piper’s analysis has apparently led him to believe that Rob Bell is not his ministry-ally. Why is that something to laugh about?

Because if you’re not a 5-point Calvinist, you’re not John Piper’s ministry-ally. And even if you are, you still might not be.

John Piper as never been a ministry-ally with Rob Bell, so it’s no surprise that he would flippantly dismiss him on the drop of a dime. Piper’s dismissal of Bell is analogous to Paul Krugman dismissing Jonah Goldberg as a racist for opposing Barack Obama. Not surprising, whether there was any veracity to the claim in the first place.

71   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 28th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

No; I think that this interview was simply a way of saying, “Please do not call Rob Bell a heretic even if it looks like he is one.”

How exactly does a person “look like” a heretic? Is it the glasses? The haircut? The metrosexual wardrobe?

Piper’s analysis has apparently led him to believe that Rob Bell is not his ministry-ally. Why is that something to laugh about?

As far as I can tell, Piper hasn’t shown that he has even read the book. I’m pretty sure Piper was reacting to promotional video and blurb of the book. Personally, I don’t see much value in Twitter for anyone, but I would think that someone who has been a pastor as long as Piper has would not be surprised that issuing such a vague statement on such a medium would lead to all sorts of problems.

72   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 28th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

P.S. “Anyone else who is baptized”? Does that include “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” etc.??

A phrase I’ve seen used before is “baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity”. This would effectively exclude most of these cults. I assume Peterson would be talking about something like that.

73   Louis Carabini    http://monex.to/wiki/Louis_Carabini
March 31st, 2011 at 1:31 am

Its a time for parents and families to commit to God and their church family that they will raise their child under the guidance and counsel of Scripture and that they will seek to be parents who provide every opportunity for their child to be exposed to and receive the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. We will introduce you to the church family then ask all those participating to join in a vocal commitment that expresses the aims mentioned above.