[anzac] THE PROBLEM With ROB BELL’s GOSPEL - Lee Grady

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2013 23:29:52 +1200
by J. Lee Grady

The controversial author says evangelical Christians are too narrow.
But didn´t Jesus tell us to follow the narrow path?

When former evangelical pastor Rob Bell published his bombshell
book Love Wins in 2011, his Michigan megachurch reportedly lost
3,000 members. They scattered quickly because Bell questioned
the existence of a literal hell. His point was that Christians need
to develop a nicer message with a lot less judgment. But his
solution was to throw out 2,000 years of Christian theological tradition.

Then last month, Bell made a more stunning announcement from
a pulpit in California. He told people gathered at Grace Cathedral,
an Episcopal church in San Francisco, that he supports same-
sex marriage. His primary reason, he said, was that culture has
changed and we need to adapt.

"I am for fidelity," Bell said. "I am for love, whether it´s a man and
a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man ... This is
the world that we are living in, and we need to affirm people
wherever they are."

I can appreciate Bell´s desire to affirm people. And I agree that
some Christians come off sounding unbelievably harsh when we
talk about homosexuality. But Bell didn´t have anything affirming
to say to the evangelical Christians who were his support base
during the early years of his ministry. He trashed us. And he
was judgmental about it.

Describing evangelicals, Bell predicted our doom in his March 17
remarks: "We are witnessing the death of a particular subculture
that doesn´t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically
intertwined, culturally ghettoized, evangelical subculture that was
told, `We´re gonna change the thing,´ and they haven´t. And they
actually have turned away lots of people."

If Bell wants to come off as affirming and non-judgmental, he should
use kinder words when describing a group of Christians who make
up an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population. Bell seems to
be saying: "I´m right, and you evangelicals are irrelevant." He´s
ready to officiate at our funeral.

In response, I offer three points:

1. It´s actually OK to be narrow. Bell accuses us of being narrow.
But wasn´t it Jesus who told us the way to salvation is narrow? He
said: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the
way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who
enter through it" (Matt. 7:13, NASB). Besides the fact that Jesus
refers to hell in that passage, He also says we have to be narrow
to avoid it.

Righteousness requires limitations. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees
for being judgmental on one hand, yet He drew lines and demanded
holiness on the other. We can´t be like Jesus, nor can we
demonstrate true love, if we affirm every lifestyle and embrace
every behavior.

2. Our subculture is not dying. The denominations that are losing
the most members today are actually the mainline groups that
have lost their commitment to the Bible. I´m in a different church
almost every week in this country (mostly charismatic or
Pentecostal), and I see vibrant faith, growing congregations and
the emergence of multiethnic leaders.

(And speaking of multiethnic, some of the most conservative
Christians in America are immigrants from Africa, Asia and Latin
America. Does Bell think they are irrelevant? They are the real
future of our movement. Bell is out of touch if he thinks
evangelicalism is just a bunch of old, white, Republican guys.)

3. We do need to change our attitude. I will agree with Bell that
there is a segment of evangelicalism that is too politicized. We
misrepresent Jesus when we label Him a Republican or a Democrat.
He is neither. And we alienate people from Jesus when all we do
is pontificate about what we are against.

It is very possible that gay marriage will become the law of the
land in this country, just as the Supreme Court sanctioned abortion
in 1973. Just because our government legalized the killing of an
unborn baby does not mean I have to support that choice personally.
But I do have to show love and extend Christ´s forgiveness to a
woman who has aborted her child. Yelling at her or condemning
her will not bring her to faith in Jesus.

In the same way, we are called to show love and respect to gay
people. I don´t have to agree with a person´s lifestyle to love them.
Jesus showed amazing compassion to the woman caught in
adultery-and He rebuked the religious bullies who wanted to
stone her. But when they put down their rocks and walked away,
He told her: "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin
no more" (John 8:11, emphasis added).

Jesus was totally comfortable using the word sin when He showed
love to a person. And that´s the part of Jesus´ gospel that Rob
Bell ignores.

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