Love. God is love. God loves people. God’s people love people. But what if believers love people more than God? So much so that we let what would delight them checkmate what HE declares?
Last Sunday I alluded to Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins which selectively uses Scripture and church history to pitch an old heresy that eventually everybody gets to heaven. He contends that’s as true for the atheist as it is for the Buddhist as it is for the repentant Christian.
Pastor of the massive Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Bell is a spellbinding communicator who has long been recognized as a marquee player in the emerging church world. Looking at the world through Jesus’ eyes, his slick 10-minute NOOMA videos have captivated believers from all quarters of the church and across denominational lines.
Committed to reaching people who need Jesus with Jesus, the emerging church has often criticized both the traditional church and the megachurch movement for neglecting the mission while being preoccupied with itself and its programs. There’s some merit to the criticism. As a church grows, by nature it turns inward. The expansion of the institution claws for more and more attention to the institution instead of to the mission it was formed to carry out.
Mission is good, but not if we love the object of the mission more than the Designer of the mission. I believe Bell has a great passion for lost people but I think his false doctrine on hell typifies how dangerous it can be to love lost people more than God. We’ll be tempted to take our doctrinal cues from people who don’t know God, don’t know or believe His Word, and don’t really have any inclination to submit to someone they can’t see or hear. Especially Someone who seems so narrowminded.
What unbeliever wants to hear that unless he repents of sin and casts himself on the blood of Jesus Christ, he is an object of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3)? Apart from the Holy Spirit convicting her, what unbeliever wants to give anybody the kind of authority God demands over her life? If given a vote, unbelievers would clearly vote hell, judgment, wrath, and sin all out of doctrinal office. Problem is, all those things would still be as true as they were before the vote. And the voters would still be in as much need as before. Really loving lost people means giving them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Bell’s departure from biblical orthodoxy will not be the last time a prominent Christian goes public with his/her innovative beliefs. In fact, as Christ’s return nears, we will hear more and more of this kind of thing–and, many will be duped by their teachings. The Bible says so. It’s why we must all be Bereans (Acts 17:11) and compare whatever’s being taught with the Word of God.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to heart. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
[Here’s the link to Kevin DeYoung’s excellent review of Love Wins. Get a cup of coffee if you’re going to read it; it’s 20 pages long: