Heresy is as old as the serpent’s lie in the garden.
There is nothing new about revisionist theology. “God didn’t really say that,” is an expression that has echoed throughout the corridors of human history.
Tonight Rob Bell will live stream an event to promote his new book Love Wins, which undermines the reliability of the biblical teaching of God’s sovereign judgment over the nations. As Kevin DeYoung commented in his review of the book, “The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.” Like the episode in Eden, the trustworthiness of God’s word is once again being called into question.
Evangelicals will either embrace a politically appropriate projection of God, or submit to the authority of God’s revelation of himself. We will either worship him for who he is, or we will fashion a god more palatable to our preferences. We can either serve our own tailor-made idol or the living God with whom there is no room for human revisions.
When it comes to eternal judgment, we will either rely on the Bible or allow media savvy communicators to define the doctrine for us. “Surely God has not said…” is still a seductively powerful expression. And it’s still a damnable lie. But Rob Bell is right: love does win in the end. However, it is a costly love that demanded the substitutionary death of the Son and necessitates a decision from every man. As the Apostle John said:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
This is the love of God that drives us to missional urgency. If there is no fear of God there is no reason to persuade men. We will either commend ourselves and our own message, or we will be compelled by the love and fear of God. It is a choice as old as time itself.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us… (2 Corinthians 5:11-14a)