Embrace The Truth

March 10, 2007 — 5 Comments

I do not claim to be an expert in postmodernism or the emergent church. I am continually learning, and in the past few weeks have been doing some intense study on the topic of truth, something I hit on very early in my writing career. I came across a statement that was so utterly false, I had to talk about it. Rob Bell teaches that we should “embrace mystery and doubt.” How utterly foolish, I said.

Now before we go any further, we have to understand the differences within the “conversation” or movement and realize that a good many of the emergents, like Brian McLaren, are preaching heresy. On the other hand, we have many emergent men and women who are saying that we need to reject the belief that we can know all things with our own power and insight. Some believe that we should embrace postmodernism, holding to the truth that we are fallible humans, so therefore we cannot know infallible truth because the culture around us will mar our interpretation of Scripture. This teaching is extremely dangerous due to the fact that if we cannot know infallible truth, as Christians we must question and doubt Christ’s deity, the creation, and even the gospel.

That is what many are preaching within the emergent conversation. Others want to “embrace mystery and faith” instead of mystery and doubt. In other words, we need to embrace the many things we do not know in the Bible and teach more about faith instead of relying on our own selves. We need to be embracing the fact that God is bigger than anything we can know or imagine: He is indescribable. We need to have a huge sense of awe at our finite state and inability to understand any infallible truth without the Holy Spirit. By doing this, we as The Church come closer together. This is all well and good, and much of it true, but I don’t believe it is the route we should be taking.

We must embrace what we know by embracing truth and orthodoxy. Or as Josh Harris and New Attitude has put it, “Embrace Humble Orthodoxy.” We need to embrace the truth of the gospel, the things we do know all the while understanding that we are indeed fallen human beings who only by God’s grace know these things. We still understand that the non essentials must be decided with fear and trembling, but we cling not to the things we do not know, but to the things we do know. The mystery has been revealed to us, and it is no longer hidden. This does not diminish the importance of faith and humility, but rather affirms it. We understand that we have no power within us to know the mystery, and only by the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance and faith do we understand. This is so important as we understand how truth affects our lives and how it affects the world around us.

We must not embrace mystery and doubt, but rather the mystery that has been revealed, the truth of the gospel. The Bible leaves no doubt about what that gospel is, about who we are, and about who God is. Let’s embrace this truth.

Tim Sweetman

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Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

5 responses to Embrace The Truth

  1. What exactly has Maclaren and others said that you would describe as heresy.

    I’m no fan of the Emerging church, but I would certainly put limits on what I would describe as heresy.

    If Maclaren (or others) preached that the Bible needed to be added to in the form of personal experience and/or revelation, then I would consider him a dangerous threat to Christian thinking, but not a heretic.

    If Maclaren (or others) preached that homosexuality was an acceptable practice that was approved by God in monogamous relationships, I would consider him very dangerous to Christian thinking, but not a heretic.

    If Maclaren (or others) preached that the godhead was made up nine persons, or that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to cover our sins, or that God does not know the future, then I WOULD class him as a heretic.

  2. I agree with OSO – heresy is far too serious an accusation to be made so lightly.

  3. First, I appreciate your concern and thank you for checking up on my use of that word. It’s a strong word, and not one that I use lightly. I’ve always known the word “heretic” to mean “someone who holds beliefs which are contrary to what the Bible teaches.” Things such as the trinity, the gospel (not by works, etc.), heaven and hell, and even homosexuality — in direct violation of clear teachings in God’s word. So, the question would be “does Brian McLaren mess with the clear teachings of Scripture?” The answer is yes. For example, McClaren says the following about missions:

    “I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all?) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it’s not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many ‘Christian’ religious contexts, either.”

    The Bible to him is “a unique collection of literary artifacts that together support the telling of an amazing and essential story.” The Bible is more than a story. I like the term “theodrama,” which is more than a story. It is a story with great theological implications. We cannot just say “it’s an important story” but rather it is a book full of many genres of literature, some stories, and much theology. But that’s beside the point. The point is really a rejection that the Bible is propositional truth. That is extremely dangerous, but then again it is not heretical. But I wanted to point that out.

    He believes that salvation is not found outside of the work of Jesus Christ, but maintains the belief that we cannot say “there is not salvation outside belief in Christ.” In other words, Jesus Christ was the one who paid our debt, but we can call him many names and still get to the same place.

    McLaren also denies the existence of the devil, angels, and demons, as well as the existence of hell. (Language warning) It’s too mean for God to send someone to hell in his opinion.

    And that is just the beginning. I understand that that word is strong, and not something to be playing around with. But McLaren sadly fits into the category of preaching heretical doctrines. He can try to evade the questions, but it isn’t going to help. I respect Mclarens humility and grace, but that does not fix his theological problems. I can only humbly reply with the Bible in hand and say that what he is teaching is far from Scripture.

  4. Well, you answered my question and that’s fair enough.

    In other words, Jesus Christ was the one who paid our debt, but we can call him many names and still get to the same place.

    This is a very problematic statement to make by Maclaren and it is, as you say, quite postmodern. There’s no evidence in the Bible for this belief at all, and it would preclude any form of evangelism as being necessary. Paul’s phrase “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10.13) makes a direct link between salvation and knowledge of Christ. A person cannot be a Christian unless they know Christ (except in the OT, when they trusted in God’s promises).

    Is such a person a heretic though? In my own experience I once believed that it was possible to be a Christian without knowing Christ, so long as you repented of your sins and committed yourself to God. This was quite wrong and the Bible very clearly disagreed with me on that one, but at no point did I ever believe that you can be saved by faith in your other religion through the death of Jesus.

    The bottom line is (assuming this quote of his is true of course) that Maclaren is teaching people that to follow other religions will still result in salvation. People don’t need to hear about Jesus in order to be saved. Yes, that is heresy.

  5. Exactly. That quote comes from his book “A Generous Orthodoxy” and the other quotes can be found in various interviews on the internet. He’s tough to read, but it is easy to see that he is one of the emergents that has gone way too far. Thanks for checking up on my, OSO.

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