Archive for April, 2011

Forget Bell’s drift towards universalism for a moment.

If there’s anything apparent in this debate/interview, it’s that Pastor Bell is intent on playing a game.  Over and over again he’ll sidestep direct questions about his view, joke around, and play cat and mouse with Justin and Adrian.  Don’t get me wrong, the guy is winsome, jovial, quick on his feet and likable.  But he’s also slick.  And it’s the slick part that really frustrated me during this discussion.  He’s very good at disarming and dodging.

Several times during the interview, I wanted Justin Brierley to stop him, open his bible and read 2 Corinthians 4:2, which says,

“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

As for Adrian Warnock, he handled himself well enough, I suppose.  I wish that he would have been a bit more forceful at times.  Bell will steer the conversation- frame it- direct it- if given the chance.  Adrian also seemed a bit taken back when Pastor Bell tossed some Greek at him.

Now there’s one other thing I’d like to comment on.  It happened at the 12 minute mark.  I’ll reproduce the exchange:

Justin: [After quoting from Bell’s book about all people/nations coming to God] “It comes out that you’re not agnostic on this, Rob.  It comes out that you do believe everyone will ultimately be saved.  Of course you acknowledge that it’s one in a variety of options, but it sounds like that’s the one you prefer- the one you’re most convinced by.”

Rob: “Do you long for that to happen?

Justin: “Oh, yes, uh, well, Adrian…”

Rob: “Do you long for it to happen?”

Adrian: “I’m not a Christian who believes that only a few will be saved.  That’s for sure.” [Here Adrian continues, ending by saying that he believes we should stick to what the Bible says].

If I remember correctly, Pastor Bell pressed this line of reasoning twice.  When backed into a corner, he turns the tables by asking if you want all people to be finally saved.  Don’t you long for it?  Don’t you wish to see all men and women in heaven?  Don’t you hope for this?

As I listened to the exchange, something from the book “The Brothers Karamazov” came to mind.  There’s a powerful section in that work where Ivan is questioning his pious Christian and younger brother Alyosha about the problem of evil.  I know of no more potent presentation than the one presented by Ivan.  It is horrific.  Horribly horrific.  And sustained.  It can be found in Chapter IV, Rebellion.

Near the end, when Alyosha cannot bear his brothers maddening imagery, he cries out, “Why are you trying me?  Will you say what you mean at last?”

Ivan continues on and then asks, “Tell me yourself, I challenge you—answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance— and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions! Tell me, and tell the truth.”

‘No, I wouldn’t consent,’ said Alyosha softly.”

Rob Bell’s approach is fundamentally no different.  It prompts men to consider what they would do if they were God, which always proves futile.  “Do you long to see all men saved?”  “Yes,” comes the reply.  “Ah, well, God doesn’t agree with you… see how He is?”

And where does it stop?  Would you allow 911 to happen?  Would you allow your aunt to get cancer?  Would allow one child to die of starvation?  Would you create a hell?

Maybe I should ask Pastor Bell if he longs for God to give all men (and demons) lollypops and create heaven on earth right now- forgive everyone by divine fiat (never mind justice, after all)- and dance in a big circle.

Do you long for that?  Well, don’t you?

In all this we can easily forget that God alone is God, and perfectly good and perfectly wise.  Likewise we must not forget Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the end of the day, everything comes back to that.  Everything.  We either assume the right of deity or bow the knee.  Isn’t that what our history is all about?

If you would like help thinking through this more deeply, I would highly recommend two messages by John Piper.

The Echo and Insufficiency of Hell (Link).

The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and New Earth (Link) [or a very similar message “The Supremacy of Christ and the Sorrow of Calamity Link].

Difficutly:  Moderate

Must Listen Factor: Moderate

Length: 1 Hour

To Download:  Click Picture.  It’s April 23rd, 2011.

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Ok, I have a confession.  Portal 2 came out this week.  If you don’t know, it’s a PC game.  But not just any old PC game.  It’s one of the coolest games ever, and I’ve been looking forward to it for some time now.  So yeah, needless to say, my boys and I have been hanging out in front of the computer these past few evenings, teleporting and what not.  

What does this mean?  It means that I’m going to keep this review short and simple.  Really short and simple… the game isn’t finished yet 🙂 

So you ready?  Here goes:  Tim Keller’s message “Getting Out” is a fantastic, Gospel rich, must listen sermon.  If you want a superb example of how to preach Christ from the OT, here you go.  It’s a gem. 

Difficulty: Moderate   

Must Listen Factor: It’s a must listen!  Everyone will benefit from this message.

Length: 52 minutes.

To Download: Click picture.

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The audio bin is overflowing with stuff!  So, you guessed it, it’s time to pull out the shotgun and just start firing.  Here we go: 

Peter Williams on the Reliability of the Gospels 

There are those who can discuss the historical reliability of the Gospels and there are those who can discuss the reliability of the Gospels.  Peter Williams falls into the latter camp.  He knows what he’s talking about.  So if you’re into this kind of stuff at all, give this interview a go.  More than once I found myself nodding my head, thinking, “Hmmm.  Very tasty point!  Very tasty point indeed.”


Unbelievable: Is God a Moral Monster?  Paul Copan and Norman Bacrac (April 9th 2011)

In a recent debate, William Lane Craig said that Paul Copan’s new book on the morality of the OT was excellent.  It may be.  I haven’t read it.  But if Paul Copan’s exchange with atheist Norman Bacrac is any indication of the book’s promise, I must say that I’m less than optimistic.  Actually, the exchange was pretty bad.  Dr. Copan spent most of his time trying to convince us that when Joshua, for example, destroyed all the people in a particular city, not everyone was destroyed.  Even if we grant his exegesis at certain points, which deserves consideration, one wants to ask Dr. Copan, “Well, uh, did at least one woman and one child die by the sword?  And if so, what say you?” 

I gotta say, at the end of the day, it felt like he was trying to dodge what is quite plain in the Bible.  God justly destroys people.  But again, maybe the book is better.


Christianity and the Tooth Fairy: A UCLA Law Professor Questions an Oxford Mathematician on the Claims of Jesus

On the brighter side of things, John Lennix really shines in this talk.  He handles a variety of questions with class and Oxford verve.  As a presuppositionalist, I might have approached a number of the questions a bit differently, but I’m quibbling.  Dr. Lennix is a sharp and winsome man, and Christians should enjoy and be thankful for this recent interview.


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Armchair Theology

Recently I was asked by Dave over at Armchair Theology if I would be willing to answer a few questions about my blog, interview style.  I was like, “What the!  Who me?”  But after looking over my shoulder and finding no one standing there, I answered, “Well, sure, it would be my honor!”

So if you’re curious about how The Sound of Doctrine came into being, and other such questions, click your way over to Dave’s blog.  Thanks again, Dave!

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About ten years ago, Roman Catholicism was without a doubt the number one issue troubling me.  The question of authority, as well as the nature of justification, and especially how it relates to the warnings to persevere in Scripture, left me feeling unhinged.  My world was spinning, as I tried to work through the labyrinth of issues involved in those two subjects. 

Along the way, I was helped by a variety of sources.  Eric Svendsen, James White, John Piper, Robert L. Reymond, Van Til- they all played a pivotal role in grounding me.  Let us not forget Edwards’ profound handling of the subject of justification either (link). 

Mark Seifrid contributed as well.  I can still remember picking up his “little” silver volume entitled “Christ, our Righteousness.”  It was out of my league.  But I still gleaned a few tasty nuggets here and there. 

Here recently, while browsing around a bit aimlessly, I stumbled across his 2000 faculty address at SBTS.  I’m glad I did.  The lecture provides a refreshingly clear and helpful exposition of justification; one that is both scholarly and engaging.  You can feel his passion, even if the passion doesn’t exactly burst out and start dancing.

There’s a lot of theological sanity here.  So if you’re wrestling with the doctrine of justification, I would definitely ask you to consider giving this a go. 

Must Listen Factor: Low to moderate.  This will probably only tickle those who are keenly interested in theology. 

Difficulty: Fairly advanced.          

Length: 50 minutes.

 To Download: Click picture and download accordingly.

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