McLaren Takes on Mohler

In a recent blog post, Brian McLaren takes issue with Albert Mohler’s review of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. Using a baseball metaphor, McLaren argues that Mohler has made four errors in his analysis of Bell’s book. Here is my summary of McLaren’s concerns.

1st base – Mohler claims to “know” the gospel story. McLaren says that Mohler only knows his interpretation of the gospel, which shouldn’t be confused with the gospel itself.

2nd base – Mohler says God’s holiness and justice require the traditional doctrine of hell. McLaren says God’s holiness and justice are jeopardized by the notion that hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment.

3rd base – Mohler argues that anyone who rejects the traditional doctrine of hell is drifting toward a theological liberalism that has killed mainline churches. McLaren argues that the liberal/conservative narrative is misguided and that mainline churches have diminished for reasons other than their liberalism.

Home – Mohler confuses secularism with liberalism. McLaren says that secularists come in both liberal and conservative varieties—both of which should be rejected by Christians.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I disagree both with McLaren’s framing of the issues and with his responses to Mohler. Mohler says that he will be responding forthwith. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Summaries are always inadequate, so I encourage you to go read McLaren’s entire argument. When you do, keep in mind that you won’t be able to know what McLaren is arguing. You’ll only be able know your interpretation of his argument which is not the same thing as his argument. Since you’ll never really be able to know McLaren’s argument as it really is, maybe you shouldn’t worry about reading it after all.

43 Responses to McLaren Takes on Mohler

  1. Mike Gastin March 22, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Thank you. Why does the idiocy of McLaren’s logic seem so obvious, but is embraced by so many?

  2. Danny March 22, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    i was going to write a comment, but as i went back to proofread it, i realized that i can’t really know what i wrote, but only the interpretation of what i wrote, which i wonder how you’ll interpret it?

  3. Kates March 22, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Your last paragraph was brilliant….and funny. I, too, look forward to Mohler’s response.

  4. Anthea March 22, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Hello Mr Burk
    I found your blog and downloaded the radio interview with Martin Bashir. The Rob Bell book is being advertised here in the UK. Your analysis is helpful. Rob Bell always seemed fishy to me. Many seem to accept him because he has lots of Da Yoot in his church, and he has a trendy image. Success and attractiveness on that superficial level don’t mean much. If you are a decent pastor, you’ll still be of use to God when you are too old and rickety to be trendy.

    May I recommend another comment on the Bell book? The radio show Line of Fire has devoted the programme to comparing Bell’s ideas with Scripture. It’s especially useful to have a contribution from a believer like Michael Brown, because he’s a non-Calvinist. In other words, it’s not just one group of Christian thinkers who can see the unbiblical stuff in Rob Bell’s teachings.

    Here is a link to the show:

    http://www.lineoffireradio.com/

  5. Mike Gastin March 22, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Danny, the nice thing is you don’t have to know what you mean because all readers will apply their own meaning to what you said. Thus, we can make what you said fit what we’d like to hear.

  6. BPRJam March 22, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Being a longtime reader of this blog, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am disappointed with the sentiment that any human effort in knowing is not a de facto interpretation.

    I think the argument might be less with McLaren, and more with the contemporary philosophies of interpretation over against much older frameworks that assume absolute knowledge can be attained.

    If I may be so bold – the pithy and glib comments about interpretive theory smacks of an anti-intellectual arrogance. For what it’s worth, I encourage us all to have a more upbuilding discourse.

  7. Mike Gastin March 22, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    BPRJam,

    First, I agree that any effort in knowing requires interpretation. But, if you’ve read or listened to much of what McLaren and his people communicate, they are quite adept at using that argument to avoid having to make definitive statements. As I’m sure you’ll agree, our God has gone out of His way to make Truth knowable, in a definitive way. I can’t speak for others here, but my sarcasm is aimed at what I believe to be the insecurity of McLaren and his obfuscation of the Truth.

    Second, if a little sarcasm paints me as anti-intellectual I wonder what chastisement you’d have for the Apostle Paul who went so far as to tell Judaizers to cut of their genitals and cursed anyone who ‘preached another Christ.’

    BPRJam, the time for upbuilding discourse may have passed.

  8. Benji Ramsaur March 22, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    When you do, keep in mind that you won’t be able to know what McLaren is arguing. You’ll only be able know your interpretation of his argument which is not the same thing as his argument.

    Oh, but it goes beyond this as well.

    I can’t know your argument which involves only your interpretation of McLaren’s argument, and thus not his real argument, but only my interpretation of your argument and not your actual argument.

    Therefore, if I read McLaren’s argument, then I can’t know if you are right or wrong about your interpretation of his actual argument, since I don’t know your actual argument in the first place, but only my interpretation of your argument which is based on your interpretation of McLaren’s argument and not on the argument itself.

    In fact, I don’t know if you have an argument since I can only go on my interpretation. And you can’t know if I have an argument either. And we both can’t know if McLaren has an argument.

    Do you see what I am arguing?

    No, you can’t actually. I mean, I’m not trying to be argumentative here. I’m just saying that we all need to refrain from making authoritative declarations that everyone else has to abide by except for the authoritative declaration that I just gave.

    Now, you can only know your interpretation of what I just said.

    That goes for McLaren too.

    So, we are back to square one.

    Although in saying that, I must show my humility by mentioning that it is only my interpretation that there are words “So” “we” “are” “back” “to” “square” “one”. I certainly can’t know that for certain.

    Thanks for letting me post this on an actual website, I think.

  9. Mike Gastin March 22, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Ha ha! Looks like I proved my lack of intellect in my previous comment. Anyone know a god way to remove egg from the face?

    1. “I believe to be the insecurity of McLaren” should read “insincerity”.

    2. “cut of their genitals” should read “off their genitals”.

    😉

  10. Mark March 22, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    How can McLaren understand or “know” what Mohler’s words mean? McLaren only knows his own interpretation of Mohler’s words which should not be confused with what Mohler actually meant.

  11. Doug March 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Loved your concluding remarks, Denny. Good thing to keep in mind.

    And Mark adds some good thoughts too, taking your argument a bit further on down the road. Great points both!

  12. Brian March 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    A lit major should be able to pick up on irony: Somehow McLaren thinks his interpretation of Mohler has transcended that whole “it’s just your interpretation” thing.

    Strange times indeed.

  13. Benji Ramsaur March 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I actually do not disagree with the notion that interpretation is inescapable.

    However, I also believe that some things are clear.

    And I think one of those things is the gospel (though I think someone could have some difficulty interpreting the James passage on faith/works in relation to the gospel).

  14. Christiane March 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    “Since you’ll never really be able to know McLaren’s argument as it really is, maybe you shouldn’t worry about reading it after all.”

    I thought about that caveat,
    but I did go and read McLaren’s argument for myself.
    I CAN see an argument clearly formed by McClaren in his words here:

    This is the crux of McLaren’s statement, I think, and it DOES challenge a structured version of what some Christians (not all) choose to call ‘the biblical gospel’:

    “Rather, Rob is suggesting that Jesus’ original story (as he interprets it) is better than the version many hold and proclaim today. He’s making a distinction – nuanced to some, obvious to others – between the actual original gospel and the imperfect versions or approximations of it that any of us proclaim. He wants to be bound to that original story rather than to a popular (perhaps the most popular in some settings) version of it.”

    Wow.
    I remember the first time I came across the term ‘biblical gospel’, and how it was interpreted to me by a fundamentalist-evangelical.

    He also explained to me, that the ‘biblical gospel’ was not the same as the four Holy Gospels of the Bible . . . so I would know that these four testaments were not the same as ‘the gospel’.

    From this Rob Bell controversy,
    I am understanding more and more about how conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity differs profoundly from mainline, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

    It’s been interesting to see all of this unfold.

  15. Joe Blackmon March 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I am understanding more and more about how conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity differs profoundly from those who have rejected the Bible and are enemies of the gospel.

    Sorry, you had a typo in that sentence and I thought I’d help you out, L’s.

    Be peaceful, dear one (snicker)

  16. Ferg March 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    I am so thankful for Brian McLauren (or however you spell his name–it’s not like he really matters

    Joe – he absolutely matters to God as he created him and loves him. Climb down off your high horse before you fall and hurt yourself!

  17. Christiane March 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Good Morning, JOE

    From time immemorial people of my faith have stood up for the reading of Christ’s Words from the Holy Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.

    We pray this: ‘may the Words of Our Lord be in our understanding, on our lips that we share Him with others, and in our hearts forever’

    At the conclusion of the reading, we are told,
    ‘This is the Word of the Lord’.
    And we respond: ‘Thanks Be To God.’

    Imagine being told that these four testaments are ‘not the same as the biblical gospel’.

    I was ill-prepared for the explanation that followed of the ‘true biblical gospel’.

    Yes, JOE. The man that told me about it was right. It wasn’t the same as the four Holy Gospels.

  18. Donald Johnson March 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I have not read the book, but read both AM’s review and BL’s concerns. I think AM comes off as claiming that HIS understanding is THE CORRECT ONE understanding. For all the world, this seems to be very similar to the “one true Church” claims of the Roman Catholics. Does AM really want to claim infallibility? I would like to see some humbleness and admission of the POSSIBILITY of misreading.

    And I see BL asking for similar things from AM.

  19. Christiane March 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    JOE, I could never preach against the four Holy Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.

    I proclaim them as apostolic testaments to the ‘Good News of the Kingdom of Our Lord’.

    You know of that ‘Great Commission’ verse, of course.
    Do you recall what it INCLUDES for people to do?

    Take a good look at this part of St. Matthew 28:

    “20 . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

    Joe, one thing I honestly saw missing from the fundamentalist-evangelical ‘biblical gospel’ was the imperative of Christ’s Commandments: the Royal Law, the teachings from Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount . . . MISSING from that fundamentalist evangelical ‘biblical gospel’, that I had been told is ‘not the same as the four Holy Gospels’.

    That stood out. Sharply.

  20. Derek March 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    That’s interesting, Donald – you have made numerous dogmatic comments about complementarians on this blog and seem very cocksure that most Christians throughout the centuries have fundamentally misunderstood passages like Ephesians 5, I Peter 3 and I Timothy 2. Your critiques and rhetoric has been so charged at points that you’ve compared complementarians to slave holders. You’ve also made dogmatic statements attacking the traditional Protestant and Catholic intepretation of Genesis 1-11. Yet when Al Mohler puts forward ideas that have been broadly and strongly supported by the vast majority of Christians through the centuries, he has to caveat what he says with acknowledgment that he might be wrong?

    Unbelievable.

  21. Reg Schofield March 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Yellow is red , red is blue and apples are grapes. These statements are how I interpret the world and who can say I’m wrong.If you get what I’m saying or not saying or perhaps saying.

  22. K Gray March 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    BPR Jam, I went through the whole “we can’t really know” interpretive thing, it was preached at my church. It made me feel hopeless and stupid.

    The problem with the humility-it’s all good camp is it is hard to square with the Bible in at least two important ways:

    1. the Word on hell/consequences of NOT trusting in Christ for salvation; and
    2. the Word on revelation, knowledge, confidence in God’s promises, the availability and nearness of the good news to everyone (everyone, the simple and child-like included or especially) through the Spirit, and so forth. God wants us to know some things (not all things) with confidence. Is He incapable of letting us know?

    What Bell and McClaren preach seems to rest heavily on “you can’t really know,” “that’s your interpretation” and “don’t believe the actual words that you literally read in the Bible about hell.” This is sad news for simple folks who have access to a Bible but no access to Bell or McClaren — which includes the majority of the world’s peoples.

    Any argument or criticism that STARTS with that foundation seems a poor fit with God’s ways of revealing Himself and His plan of salvation.

  23. Donald Johnson March 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Derek,

    A supposed majority opinion does not make it right, or we would all be Roman Catholics. But in the comp case, NO ONE used modern comp arguments, as they believed women were inferior, per the Greek philosophers. This argument does not work anymore for most people.

    If you read the slaveholder arguments, you will find them remarkably similar, this is because many of the pericopes that mention women also mention slaves. The SBC and PCA slaveholders did claim that people who did not agree with them did not accept the “clear teachings of Scripture”. But go read them yourself to see how parallel they are.

    On Gen 1-11, I teach that there are a wide variety of understandings from believers and that one should NOT separate over these diffs, just like one should not separate over end times diffs.

  24. TMAN March 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Apparently McClaren’s view of ‘interpretation’ is a foreigner to the authority of God’s Word.

    5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are **trustworthy and true**.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:5-8)

    How can someone read this and “interpret” John in such a way to think that the Bible presents a wishy-washy, on-again-off-again view of a hell that doesn’t hurt? And this is all through the Bible! How arrogant to think that he can interpret better than John (or Moses or Isaiah or Job or Jesus or Paul or Peter or Jude) can write?? The gall of this man!

    Want my opinion of McLaren?

    “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since man was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though his pride reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ (Job 20:4-7, NIV)

  25. Nathan March 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Re: 1st base – Be as snarky as you want to be, but I think it’s very important to realize an aspect of McLaren’s point here: in the end, your view of the gospel is only between you and God – Mohler can cheer or jeer your view, but who really cares because God is the only one that can judge your view perfectly. Follow God, not Mohler!

  26. RD March 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    My take is that McLaren and Bell (and others) are making the argument that our traditional understanding of Hell might not be all there is to it. Careful reading of scripture indicates various ideas of what Hell is. And it cannot be argued that throughout Christian history there have been Christians who read scripture and interpreted it to have a wider arc of mercy.

    Also, I think McLaren and Bell are saying that there are things we just don’t know. As we learn more and more from medical research and science it HAS to impact our understanding of human life. When does the soul actually leave a body? When is a person dead? If they aren’t breathing and their heart isn’t pumping but they still have brain activity, are they alive? And in those seconds between perceived death and actual, final death, is there room for God to interact with all of his children in a saving way in order to bring them “home”? In the brain-wave-only moments of pre-death, could ALL human beings be drawn to God and made aware of the reality of Jesus?

  27. Christiane March 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    ‘a wider arc of mercy’

    An interesting phrase, RD
    Well said.

  28. Charlton Connett March 22, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Wow! If McLaren actually holds to what he himself has written here, he has basically given up the idea of the Gospel entirely. To quote, (my apologies if this gets messed up, this is the first time I’ve actually tried to use Denny’s tags)

    Our versions (mine included) are all, then, human interpretations of the gospel of Christ and the apostles, and human interpretations of the original message are not exactly the same thing as the original message. Some are more true to the original and some less, but no articulation of the gospel today can presume to be exactly identical to the original meaning Christ and the apostles proclaimed. That doesn’t mean we can’t proclaim anything with confidence, but it demands a proper and humble confidence rather than a naive and excessive confidence.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Note that McLaren says that our “interpretation” is not equal to the original meaning, not just the original message! That means that when we proclaim the Gospel today, we don’t even mean the same thing as what Christ and the Apostles meant when they proclaimed the Gospel. Effectively then, that can only mean that there is no actual way you or I can really know what Christ and the Apostles meant by the Gospel, so the question of whether we are “saved” becomes moot as the meaning of “saved” for the Apostles cannot be known by us today. This is nothing short of giving up the entire gospel!

    McLaren says that Bell wants to be bound to the original gospel, but then he goes on to say that we cannot even know the original gospel. If that’s the case, why be bound to it at all?

    Interestingly also is the fact that McLaren’s defense of the “second base” point is more a defense of his own questions about the nature of hell, not a defense of anything that Bell himself says. Mohler points out that Bell divorces hell from God’s justice, and McLaren’s response is, “First, many of us are concerned about the traditional doctrine of hell for reasons of justice and holiness, not mere sentimentality.” While that may be all very nice, the fact is that Mohler says Bell specifically has committed this error, and McLaren never even attempts to argue against that point.

    McLaren is equally sloppy with his third point. Mohler does not say everyone who questions hell is pushing theological liberalism, he says that it appeared (thus a purely opinion statement, not even a critique of Bell, note also use of the past tense here, in other words, this was a conclusion that Mohler and others came to before Bell’s newest book) that the leading figures of the emerging church were pushing liberalism. The second statement of Liberalism that Mohler uses notes the connection between Bell’s “gospel” and the gospel that theological liberals proposed, thus it is a use of the term as an historically understood category, another point that McLaren fails to address at all. The third use of “Liberal” by Mohler is similar to the second, the use of the term to categorize Bell’s theology in an understood historical category. McLaren’s whole argument is simply over whether or not theological Liberalism killed the mainline churches, Mohler’s point is not so much that liberalism killed the mainline churches (that is secondary) it is that as an historical category, liberalism is an aberrant teaching, it is not the gospel.

    There really isn’t much to be said for McLaren’s fourth point, because it isn’t really an argument against Mohler.

    It is sad to see this kind of writing as a “defense” for Bell, as McLaren claims he intended. McLaren fails to interact with Mohler’s arguments in any meaningful way. I’m wondering if McLaren has so bought into the “interpretation” narrative he seems to espouse that he is no longer able to actually engage with others, because he can’t quite get passed his own interpretation of what they are saying. In any case, it would seem, in my estimation, that he might want to get a new decoding ring, his old one seems broken.

  29. Louis Tullo March 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    “When you do, keep in mind that you won’t be able to know what McLaren is arguing. You’ll only be able know your interpretation of his argument which is not the same thing as his argument. Since you’ll never really be able to know McLaren’s argument as it really is, maybe you shouldn’t worry about reading it after all.”

    This is worth a ROFL! 🙂

  30. David Rogers March 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    The thing I find interesting is that in a Calvinist oriented interpretive system there is not one elect person whose salvific destiny is hurt by the teaching of universalism, and there is not one non-elect person whose destiny in damnation is helped by the teaching of universalism.

    For non-Calvinists there is strong motivation to exegetically show that universalism is not true, because actual souls are in real danger due to this teaching.

  31. Joshua Wooden March 23, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    Concerning this discussion on the distinction between the actual gospel and our interpretation of it, I think it might be useful to read the preface of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis (p. XIII-XV). He was responding to an altogether different criticism but it might be useful here.

    The irony, of course, is that Lewis himself, while championed most frequently by conservative Evangelicals, was an Anglican, and was quite liberal by modern Evangelical standards. In fact, I think he might belong within the group of people that Joe Blockman accused of rejecting the Bible and was an enemy of the gospel, in the sense that he wasn’t an Evangelical.

    Moreover, Lewis says a number of things that go in the direction of universalism- most notably the last chapter of “The Last Battle,” in his Chronicles of Narnia series, but also in his book “The Great Divorce.”

    What’s more, George MacDonald, a universalist, was acknowledged by Lewis as having a tremendous impact on his life and thought. I say that only to say that his comment on the proper use of language in the preface, while giving insight to the current discussion, should not be taken to mean that Lewis himself would agree with Dr. Mohler (or for that matter Burke, Taylor, DeYoung, etc.)- he just would have disagreed differently.

  32. Joshua Wooden March 23, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    As a matter of fact, I just found out that someone posted through my professor’s blog on the parallels between Lewis and Bell that’s worth thinking about:

    http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/03/23/rob-bell-and-c-s-lewis-by-jeff-cook/#more-15051

  33. Tom1st March 23, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    Denny,
    Honest question – do you make no distinction between ‘what the Bible says’ and ‘Denny’s interpretation’ of the Bible? Or no distinction between ‘the gospel’ and ‘Denny’s understanding of the gospel’?

    And if you do allow for such distinctions, it’s because you understand yourself to be limited, finite, and culturally situated – and therefore prone to mistakes. Right?

    So, how then does your position differ from McLaren’s?

    I understand the role of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t make us 100% objective, does He? So in some way, you and I are still culturally situated (for better and for worse) interpreters. Aren’t we?

    This obviously does not deny that we have access to the truth – the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. But it denies that we have access to all truth or a-cultural truth.

    And it requires that we be skeptical of our own interpretations, motivations, and applications of scripture.

    I am genuinely asking these things. I am not trying to provoke argumentation. I think by answering them, it will help your readers understand why you are so skeptical of McLaren’s comments regarding interpretation – you obviously dislike them, I’d just like you to explain why for the betterment of this conversation and the edification of those you teach and those who read this blog.

    Thanks.

  34. Donald Johnson March 23, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    My take is AM and DB are tending towards claiming church magisterium authority, which would be shocking to what the original baptists thought and taught.

  35. Derek March 23, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Tom1st and Donald Johnson. Several years ago he wrote this piece about “Theological Triage”, where he articulated the need to distinguish between primary, secondary and tertiary differences among professing Christians. Since the beginning of the Church, first order questions/controversies have existed (read more in the article I linked to).

    As he stated, “First-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.” He goes on to say that “The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist”.

    All Christians have an obligation to understand the foundations of our faith because there is an enemy who has been assaulting those fundamentals and has been producing one counterfeit after another, in hopes of deceiving millions. If that makes Denny Burk and Al Mohler “church magisterium authorities”, so be it. God does seem to raise up prophetic voices in every generation. But: the very reason that DB and AM have joined a thousandfold choir of other pastors at the Gospel Coalition is so that we could form one unified and multifaceted rallying call to the Gospel “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

  36. Derek March 23, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Tom1st and Donald Johnson – Several years ago Al Mohler wrote this piece about “Theological Triage”, where he articulated the need to distinguish between primary, secondary and tertiary differences among professing Christians. Since the beginning of the Church, first order questions/controversies have existed (read more in the article I linked to).
    As he stated, “First-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.” He goes on to say that “The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist”.
    All Christians have an obligation to understand the foundations of our faith because there is an enemy who has been assaulting those fundamentals and has been producing one counterfeit after another, in hopes of deceiving millions. If that makes Denny Burk and Al Mohler “church magisterium authorities”, so be it. God does seem to raise up prophetic voices in every generation. But: the very reason that DB and AM have joined a thousandfold choir of other pastors at the Gospel Coalition is so that we could form one unified and multifaceted rallying call to the Gospel “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

  37. Donald Johnson March 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Someone might have misunderstood all the doctrines of Christianity and yet have a saving relationship with Jesus and contrariwise, someone might have all the doctrines down pat and yet not have a saving relationship with Jesus. What counts is the relationship.

  38. Tom1st March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Derek –

    Sorry, bro, but that doesn’t answer the question I was asking.

    I agree there are issues that are central the gospel.

    I’m asking Denny about how he understands his understanding of the gospel vs. the gospel itself. And there interpretive process that lies therein.

  39. Tom1st March 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Am I being moderated because I’ve done something offensive? If so, that wasn’t my intention. I’m really trying to ask genuine questions and promote reflection and understanding.

  40. Derek March 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Possibly so, Donald. I don’t doubt for one moment that we’ll meet many people in heaven who had strange and incorrect views of justification or even of God.

    But that is a separate concern and question. The aim and responsibility of every person who proclaims the Christian message and Gospel is to accurately describe who He is and what He has said. The danger of giving people an incorrect view of God and the Gospel can not be understated – especially when it is done in a cavalier and self referential manner.

  41. Donald Johnson March 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    My take is I EXPECT to be corrected on some things when I sit at the Master’s feet. So ALL I CAN DO TODAY is try to do my best in understanding ancient text. When I teach on debateable things I try to present the choices on how faithful people have understood it; and then I can add how I see it myself, but NOT to seperate for other believers.

  42. Derek March 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Richard Mouw created two categories for us, “stingy” and “generous”. Virtually anyone who challenges Bell’s speculative ideas (most of which have been widely rejected since Origen) gets to be in the “stingy” category. Then, Bell leaves an unmistakable impression that orthodox views on hell are “toxic”.

    So remind me who is being divisive again?

  43. Ed June 23, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Loving your comments! Good luck with your interpretation of this remark. I am nervous that once I hit the submit button I will forever be at the mercy of my own interpretive projections of my own remark and will NEVER be able to recover what I meant. I feel so helpless.

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