…Bell is responding to evangelicals who purportedly believe that people “are going to suffer in eternal agony because they didn’t believe in the Jesus they never heard of.” Let me say this as clearly as I can: No one will ever suffer for any length of time in hell or anywhere else for not believing in the Jesus they never heard of. Should I say that again or is it enough to ask that you go back and read it again?
Awake to a deeper sense of the sorrowful state of those who are “without Christ.” We are often reminded of the many who are without food or clothing or school or church. Let us pity them, and help them, as far as we can. But let us never forget that there are people whose state is far more pitiable. Who are they? The people “without Christ!”
J. C. Ryle, Holiness
While reading Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There last night, I was very convicted by this quote from Martin Luther. How often do we allow the “minor” issues to slip by?
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
Martin Luther, quoted by Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
Of course our grand concern should not be to take Scripture literally or non-literally. Insofar as we claim to be Christians, our goal must be to take Scripture as Christ took it. Otherwise, we might as well claim to be “SpongeBobians” as “Christians.”
Jesus lodged a great many charges against the religious leaders of His day. He complained that their righteousness fell short of that of the Kingdom (Matthew 5:20), that they didn’t practice what they preached (Matthew 23:3), that they made proselytes who were worse than they (Matthew 23:15), and a host of other accusations.
But did Jesus ever fault them for being too literal?
When you read Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, you can sense his honesty about the problems with evolutionary theory. Like a good scientist should do, he acknowledges that his theory could be proven false it’s falsifiable. He even offers specific examples of the kind of data that is necessary to show he’s mistaken about his theory. He was a fair-minded man.
When the law and my sins accuse me I say, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. It’s all true. I am a stinking wretch. I’m not living the victorious Christian life. I’m still struggling with the very same sins with which I struggled at the very beginning of my Christian life. Should I try harder? Yes, but I fail to meet even that law. Do I need exhortation? Sure, I need the law. It doesn’t produce perfection in me or even godliness, but it does drive me to Christ, who was and remains perfect for me. When the law and my sins accuse me righteously I confess but I also say, “If Christ is for us, who can be against us?”
No, it’s not a law firm, it’s a commentary on what is or isn’t judgmentalism vs. moral judgment. It’s always fascinating to me that the people who are most likely to accuse of judgmentalism, in the Christian context, are those making a judgment based on no authority than their own opinion – the very quintessence of judgmentalism itself. Perversely, those they accuse of judgmentalism are often making a simple pronouncment or proclamation not based on their own opinion, but an external authority – i.e., the Bible.
To [CNN host Piers] Morgan, making any moral judgment amounts to judgmentalism. Of course, this leads logically to total moral insanity, since the only way to avoid being identified with judgmentalism is to make no moral judgments whatsoever — which no sane person can do.
- A La Carte (1/27) (challies.com)