Kevin DeYoung

Don’t Be Trite with the Gospel

Here are a couple of good posts warning us to beware of using “the gospel” as some sort of catch-all spiritual pill we drop on people without any context or specifics:

Thabiti Anyabwile: I’m Tired of Hearing “The Gospel” (Warning: Mild Rant)
Kevin DeYoung: The Hole In Our Holiness: A Friendly Rejoinder to Gavin Ortlund

The gist of these articles is that when someone has a problem, struggles with a sin, is tempted by sin, or faces a trial, etc. we cannot just say, “Believe the gospel!” or “Remember the gospel!” Thabiti and Kevin both argue (rightly, in my opinion) that we must be specific with people and use Scripture. Thabiti gives this example:

My husband of 50 years just died? Can you not tell me at length something about the resurrection—Jesus’ and ours—and the adoption the entire creation awaits to be fulfilled? Can you not reduce the entire scope and swoop of Christ’s redemptive work to the mere facts of the gospel, but along with those facts sketch and paint something of the goodness of this news? I know I need Jesus. I know the news is good. I need reminders specifically enumerating the reasons why. That’s what plants, roots, and grows enduring faith. That’s how we actually get to know Jesus more personally—by finding out what He’s like in the crucible of life.

So let us not be trite with the gospel. If we are to be truly “gospel-centered,” then we will get to specifics and be ruthlessly committed to using God’s word in every situation. As DeYoung writes in his post, let us not fail to “employ the full arsenal of Scriptural threats, warnings, promises, examples, and commands for fear that unless we explicitly say something about our deep down gospel issues we aren’t really dealing with the ultimate problem and we aren’t emphasizing grace as clearly as we ought.”

When you are pointing people to the glory of God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and all that goes along with this (promises and warnings included) as revealed in Scripture, trust me, you will be gospel-centered.

God is Not Egotistical

Movie actor Brad Pitt, explaining why he abandoned Christianity, spoke for many when he said, “I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t then you don’t get it!’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.” Pitt’s operating assumption, as with every fallen human, is that he is “like God” (Gen. 3:5). After all, he places God and humanity in equivalent moral positions, as if God and humans are entitled to the same things.

But would Pitt or we be so self-assured if we were all standing in God’s throne room with Isaiah? Consider Isaiah’s response: “Woe is me!” For the first time in his life, Isaiah’s eyes are opened to the utter contradiction that is fallen human existence–the contradiction of a creature posturing as Creator, thereby denying and defaming the Creator. Isaiah, in the presence of God, finally sees his fallen self, and the only proper response is “woe” and “lost.”

- Jonathan Leeman, “God: Not Like You,” in Don’t Call It a Comeback: the Old Faith For a New Day, Keving DeYoung, ed., (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), page 52-53.

The Rob Bell Saga

If you follow blogs and Twitter (and you probably do since you are on this blog), then you are probably not unaware of what is going on with Rob Bell.  If you are unaware, then you either 1) fasted Twitter the past week or 2) are in denial of what your tweeting eyes see.

Full disclosure: I used to like Rob Bell’s teaching. Then I read Velvet Elvis. I made no secret here what I thought about Bell after reading that book.  He has been particularly ambiguous over the past few years with key biblical doctrines.

This past Saturday, Rob Bell blew up the Internet, specifically, Twitter, with the release of some promo material, including a video, for his new book Love Wins which will go on sale this month.  In the promos, Bell appears to align himself with universalism — the belief that everyone goes to heaven.  He was mentioned so much on Twitter that he was “trending,” which means that even tweeters in Egypt were hearing about Rob Bell.  Who had the biggest beef with Bell? It was the Reformed theologians and bloggers, of course. They were (in my opinion) being discerning, honest, biblical, and faithful to the gospel.

Here’s a timeline of some things that went down:

  • HarperCollins (Bell’s publisher) releases a blurb about his new book and a video promo featuring Bell.  (You can watch the video below.)
  • Justin Taylor blogs his thoughts about the promo material and Bell.
  • John Piper tweets, “Farewell Rob Bell. http://dsr.gd/fZqmd8.”
  • Josh Harris tweets, “There’s nothing loving about preaching a false gospel. This breaks my heart. Praying for Rob Bell. http://bit.ly/gsE4Gl.”
  • Harris follows up his tweet with a blog about why he hopes he’s wrong, including thoughts from Denny Burke, dean of Southern Seminary.
  • Kevin DeYoung presents eight reasons why believing in God’s wrath and hell is important.
  • Tony Jones writes that the Reformed bloggers have been waiting to pounce on Bell.
  • Kevin DeYoung shares two more thoughts on the brouhaha.
  • Beliefnet blogger, Jason Boyett, questions the tweetings of Piper and Taylor
  • Albert Mohler weighs in on Rob Bell’s suggestive theology.
  • CNN writes an article about all of this, interviewing Taylor.

Stay tuned. I’ll do my very best to continue to link to helpful posts and tweets. And when the time is right, I will share some of my own thoughts, though I can’t possibly top DeYoung’s and Burke’s.

Bell’s promo video: