I have gone back and forth on whether or not to even say anything about this story in the news, but I think I will share a little something. With all the flap out there about Rob Bell’s new book, this is almost a side issue, but I think it is an important one. Many of the “mainline” denominations have been struggling in recent years to hold onto a biblical orthodoxy. Various denominations have caved on issues like homosexuality and even the “exclusivity” of Christ as the only Way of salvation. For that reason, I am actually a little surprised to hear that a Methodist church fired their pastor for echoing Bell’s universalism.
It was just a couple of years ago that we had a Methodist campus “pastor” come and speak at a baccalaureate, put together by the ministerial association here in town, and essentially espouse a similar type of message. She asserted that various faiths like Hindu, Baha’i, Buddhism, Islam and so forth all espoused some variation of the “golden rule” and believed in “god.” Of course, she wasn’t much for mentioning Jesus Christ and hedgingly referred to a Creator a few times. It is the Methodist church that has been running the “open doors, open hearts, open minds” ad campaign for several years now as well. I have been worried about my brothers and sisters in the Methodist church from recent experiences.
The pastor in question mentioned in the story that he had expressed some other “controversial views” recently:
Church members had also been unhappy with Internet posts about subjects like gay marriage and the mix of religion and patriotism, Holtz said, and the hell post was probably the “last straw.” Holtz and his family plan to move back to Tennessee, where he’ll start a job and maybe plant a church.
“So long as we believe there’s a dividing point in eternity, we’re going to think in terms of us and them,” he said. “But when you believe God has saved everyone, the point is, you’re saved. Live like it.”
When someone makes a statement like this and declares to be a follower of Christ, I have to ask myself what Bible they are reading. Are they reading the Gospels? If they are, they don’t believe them. Jesus made exactly this distinction over and over again. Sheep and goats, wheat and tares, and others are exactly and precisely about a dividing line and a demarcation. To declare otherwise is nothing short of an attempt to gut the teachings of Christ.
We cannot compromise the truth and we can’t rewrite the words of Jesus to make them more comfortable for our generation. We are not “new” or special. There is nothing new under the sun. Those who reject the God who is will always seek to make a god to suit themselves of their own design. It’s called idolatry and it still happens today.