Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheap Shots

So, I was in Germany for 2 weeks at an English Camp. Near our camp was a missionary school-type thing (I think) called Black Forest Academy, and it seemed pretty cool. There was also a church associated with it, that spoke English but had a translator for German. We went there one Sunday, and for the most part, it was pretty alright. But there was one thing that really bugged me. Irritated me, even. Ticked me off.

The sermon was about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The pastor had some good stuff, focusing on Jesus' rebuttals and why they were important and appropriate. And then (I don't really recall how), it segued into a discussion on the absolute necessity of Christ and the inherent hopelessness of man on his own. Amen. I am all for that. He talked about the rise of humanism, talking about how many people now believed that people could do it all on their own: that they could find salvation and meaning in their own selves, without God. Yes, it is true that people say that, and it is true that they are wrong. But then, issuing a number of one-liners targeting and ridiculing these people (humanists), he said, "And some say 'Love wins!'" And the tone was so contemptuous that I was shocked.

Now, Rob Bell, a controversial contemporary theologian, recently wrote a book called "Love Wins," which, while it doesn't directly say that Christian Universalism is the correct view, at least calls it better than the traditional view of eternal suffering for non-believers (Christian Universalism is the belief that all people, while inherently sinful and broken, will eventually be saved through Jesus Christ). This is undoubtedly what the pastor had in mind when he took this incredible cheap shot. And a cheap shot it was indeed, because Bell's views, wrong though they are, have nothing to do with humanism. Humanism believes that humanity can do it on it's own. That humanity is not essentially broken, or if it is, it can fix itself. This view is directly anti-thetical to the Christian faith. Bell would agree that it is impossible to hold to humanism while claiming to be Christian.

I am all for correcting false teaching (which I believe "Love Wins" to be). But it must be done correctly. Criticizing "Love Wins" for being humanistic is ignorant and actually harmful to the cause of orthodox Christianity, because it demonstrates that the one doing the criticizing doesn't know what he's talking about. Criticizing is not important: correcting is. And correction requires a knowledge both of truth and what you are trying to correct. Otherwise you just sound dumb.

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