Tuesdays with Theophilus
Did you hear? Rob Bell is leaving Mars Hill Bible Church. You know, the Rob Bell that wrote the controversial book about hell called Love Wins. Of course things don’t seem to be getting any better for the folks at Mars Hill since it seems that his co-pastor Shane Hipps will continue the teaching duties.
Bell plans on moving to Los Angeles, California. That should be no surprise, since many of the residents of the Greater Los Angeles area are described in The Song of Solomon 6:11, “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley…” I think Mr. Bell will fit right in with all the other theological nuts and fruits that southern California has spawned.
Apparently Bell told his Mars Hills congregation that he was not going to start another church as he wanted to concentrate on writing. Apparently as you read this he plans on releasing a “Love Wins Companion Study Guide in November. It seems this is a study guide for those who want “to go deeper” and “take the next step.” How far and how deep does one need go into deception and false doctrine?
It seems to me, in my humble Roman aristocrat opinion that this really is not anything to get up in arms about or raise our theological dander. I think I can safely say this for at least four reasons.
First – False Teachers already exist at Mars Hill
Shane Hipps seems to be Bell’s successor as teaching “pastor.” Hipps has already shown his “true/false” colors in a number of sermons. Recently he stated, “…that all religions are valid and that even Osama Bin Laden has the divine spark within him.” One of Hipps most interesting and self-revealing statements (again in my opinion) “I have never died, so I don’t have a theological position on heaven or hell, I can only entertain theological possibilities.” Hipps is in step with those in the emergent church and so things most likely won’t change at Mars Hill unless they theologically grow worse.
Second – False Teachers are God’s judgment upon those who reject Him
False teaching and false teachers are a judgment from God upon those who reject Him. I don’t think you can find any stronger Scripture to substantiate this truth than Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica. Listen, (2:11) “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order at that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Why would God send such a strong delusion as judgment? We find the reason in verse 10, by the way, that is why the therefore is there for, to lead us to God’s reason, “…because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” We also see a reason in the last line of verse 11, “…but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Regardless of whether it is Grand Rapids, Los Angeles, Rome, or Your Town, USA false teachers and false teaching are a judgment from God.
Third – False Teachings are necessary according to the apostle Paul
If false teachers are a judgment from God upon those who reject God, then, that alone would be sufficient to establish the necessity of false teachers. However, Paul reveals to the Corinthian believers a very remarkable principle in I Corinthians 11:19, “for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (ESV) The KJV uses the word which we translate as “heresies.” The false and the dividers of the body are necessary in order to demonstrate the true and the genuine.
That seems odd to you and me but God has ordained it otherwise. The false is exposed and reveals the truth by its very existence. Brilliant, don’t you think?
Fourth – False Teachers will proliferate whether in Michigan, Los Angeles, or Rome
False teaching is dangerous. It can lead people away from Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation. False teaching can lead people to make terrible decisions or practice godless rituals. False teaching will be ever present opposing the truth, the very truth that Paul’s personal physician and companion, Luke taught me. Luke was so careful to investigate; interview, compare, and he trusted the Holy Spirit to enable him to record the truth about Jesus Christ and His gospel. False teachers and false teaching will oppose this truth anywhere this truth exists. So, whether it is Mars Hill in Michigan, or the likes of Rob Bell writing in Los Angeles, or here in my home town of Rome, false teaching will exist.
Now that I think about it, false teaching does rile me up and gets my theological dander up. It both grieves me and angers me to hear someone mishandle the precious Word of God. We need to cry out against false teachers as Paul commanded us, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17, ESV)
RomeWhat do you think?