Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 3, NIV84
Clarke has been sharing quite a bit lately, through posts and comments, about religious pluralism and related topics. (Incidentally, one of my all-time favorite posts by Clarke is this one on particularism and the wideness of God’s mercy.)
Religious pluralism is a difficult and tattered topic. There are lots of recent bestsellers stirring up great controversies, but the song remains the same. There is no end to the number of writers who want to reinvent Jesus and conform Christianity to some type of “fair for all people” standard.
But do we really have that liberty? Would that liberty even make sense?
The Apostle John recorded in John 13:35 that the world will know we are His disciples if we love one another—so why can’t that be the bottom line on the Christian faith? We should just love each other and everything will work out. You know, love wins. But…there are stern and passionate condemnations throughout the New Testament about not giving away the Gospel and the importance of contending for the faith that was entrusted to us. It all depends upon how we understand ‘love’.
This issue hits close to home for me. A friend from church recently told me how impressed he is with Rob Bell. While I can understand on a secular basis how Rob Bell’s teaching (‘doctrine’) appeals to a wide audience, given the plumb lines of Scripture it seems to me an insidious theological cancer. Our understanding of God is like a 20-year-old Oldsmobile? Really?! This is not a debate between creationists about how to interpret science and the Bible to determine the age of the earth. Nor is it a debate about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, nor whether baptism is a sacrament or an ordinance. It’s much more important than those questions. Why?
Here’s an excellent piece of on-topic teaching from Dr. Bobby Conway that lays out why it is so important to understand the Doctrine of Hell. It’s also a powerful example of why doctrine and theology matter.