John MacArthur versus the Emerging Church - 2
Review of The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
In the opening paragraphs of his book on the Emerging Church, John MacArthur cites an article in Christianity Today that included a profile of Rob and Kristen Bell.
MacArthur writes, “One dominant theme pervades the whole article: in the Emerging Church movement, truth (to whatever degree such a concept is even recognized) is assumed to be inherently hazy, indistinct, and uncertain—perhaps even ultimately unknowable…The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems attractive to young people who are in tune with the culture and in love with the spirit of the age and can’t stand to have authoritative biblical truth applied with precision as a corrective to worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behavior. And the poison of this perspective is being increasingly injected into the evangelical church body.” (pp. x, xi)
This is a bold charge against Rob Bell and other voices in the Emerging Church movement.
People reading that should hear alarms sounding. MacArthur is purposely saying that Bell is a heretic—advocating a hazy, indistinct conception of truth that comes from an insidious desire to advocate worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behaviors.
John MacArthur equates those who espouse ideas associated with the “Emerging Church” to the false teachers about which Jude writes who secretly infiltrated the First Century Christian community. As Jude fought a truth war in his day, MacArthur is calling for a new truth war in our day. According to MacArthur, Jude 4 is contending for “truth” as the basis for faith. MacArthur promises his readers that he will apply this verse to today by discussing “why Jude’s warning is particularly applicable for the times in which we live.”( pp. xxv-xxvi).
Don’t miss this: MacArthur is stating that Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and anyone else who would embrace what they teach and pass them along in today’s churches are “certain men who have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for condemnation.” They are not really seeking to be faithful to the biblical faith but are “ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Does Rob Bell really fit this description?
In just a quick survey of Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, I found at least ten “truth claims” that Bell makes. Bell is very interested in getting to the truth.
Here’s one reference:
“God is the ultimate reality. There is nothing more beyond God.
Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality.” (Velvet Elvis, p. 21, emphasis added)
“I remember the first time I was truly in awe of God. I was caught up for the first time in my life of something so massive and loving and transcendent and…true. Something I was sure could be trusted.” (Velvet Elvis, p, 72, emphasis added)
It is certain that Bell calls into question a modernistic love for dogmatic confidence, but it is also certain that Bell is on a quest for truth.
It is certain that MacArthur is guilty of calling a brother in Christ, a fellow pastor who proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ, something that he is not - a godless man, condemned by God.
The Entire Series:
1: John MacArthur’s Post-Enlightenment Philosophical Understanding of “Truth”
2: Is Rob Bell a Godless Man, Condemned by God?
3: Is Postmodernism Primarily Concerned with Truth?
4: Straw Men – The Emerging Church is Filled with Hard Postmodernists
5: MacArthur Fits His Own Criteria for an Apostate
technorati: emerging church, postmodernity