Hipps on Hell

In September, Rob Bell announced that he was stepping down from his role at Mars Hill to pursue work on a TV show with one of the producer/writers of Lost. Teaching Pastor Shane Hipps, a Fuller Theological Seminary grad, will take on the lead teaching role. With the swirl surrounding Rob Bell and Love Wins, many might be asking what Hipps thinks about heaven and hell.

Recently Shane Hipps wrote a blog entry discussing that very topic. Hipps post was cross posted on the ChurchLeaders.com site. I came across the entry when I saw Scot McKnight’s tweet which opened up a discussion on the article at his blog the Jesus Creed.

For those with short attention spans Hipps conclusion is that theological positions on heaven and hell are all speculation.

There is a lot of talk these days about heaven and hell. …

It’s strange that so much passion and ink has been spilled over something that is all speculation.

I can only comment on this one piece, I don’t know Shane Hipps and have not read other things he has written. Continue reading

Burger King Theology

The “have it your way” meme has hit religion according to a recent article in USAToday. The quote that sums it all up is here:

“We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs — our clothing, our food, our education,” he says. Now it’s our religion.  … Barna laments, “People say, ‘I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.'”

Nadine Epstein, editor and publisher of Moment magazine is quoted:

It’s incredibly exciting. We live in an era where you pick and choose the part of the religion that makes sense to you. And you can connect through culture and history in a meaningful way without necessarily religiously practicing,”

I guess this should not be too surprising given our postmodern culture which is enamored with subjectivity and relative truth and which views Oprah as its spiritual adviser. Back in 2008, USA Today reported essentially the same thing:

Religion today in the USA is a salad bar where people heap on upbeat beliefs they like and often leave the veggies — like strict doctrines — behind.

Going on to add:

The impact of Oprah is seen throughout this survey. She uses the language of Bible and Christian traditions and yet includes other traditions to create a hodgepodge personalized faith.

How does Oprah view spirituality –  according to a USA Today article reporting on her appearance on the Piers Morgan show:

In Oprah-vision: We’re all good, we should not judge each other and morality is relative. This is no Jesus-centered, born into sin and in need of salvation God who both loves and judges.

Her message of hope is to believe in yourself, redeem yourself. Very popular but not very Christian.

In that same article a partial transcript reveals:

Oprah: There couldn’t possibly be only one way with millions of people in the world!

When asked how she reconciled her spiritual teachings with Christian beliefs, Oprah essentially replied – I have an open mind.

I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call God,” Oprah said. “I took God out of the box because I grew up in the Baptist church and there were rules and belief systems and doctrine.

“What I believe is that Jesus came to show us Christ-consciousness. Jesus came to show us the way of the heart … Jesus came to say ‘Look, I’m going to live in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done. These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way’. . . Even as a Christian, I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.”

Unfortunately an open mind did not include and open Bible.

This “salad bar” view of religion has its supporters even in the evangelical realm. Rob Bell, author of Love Wins wrote in his previous best seller Velvet Elvis that Christianity was like a trampoline and doctrines were the springs.

The springs are statements and beliefs about our faith that help give words to the depth that we are experiencing in our jumping.

Offering up the possibility that the Trinity, virgin birth, and other holdings in Christianity could be questioned and even removed.

We don’t need all the springs to jump. While I understand and respect his view that we need to be able to question our beliefs. Test them and evaluate them. There is a fine line big difference between subjectively dropping springs we don’t like and changing springs based on logical reasoning and a study of the Scriptures.

I guess Solomon was right – there really is nothing new under the sun. This has played out before:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 ;21:25)

Why is Oprah’s view of spirituality so popular and why does removing the springs we don’t like so popular? I think it is because it is “politically correct”, its “open to anything”, its warm and fuzzy and feeds the “have it your way” culture we live in.

What do you think truth should be based on?

[Continue reading: Where’s the Beef]

Anger Management

Some of you may remember the Hulk TV series, that started with the flashing word “anger”. As the camera pulls back the word is shown to be the word “danger” and is the warning light on the Gamma Ray machine. It also featured the memorable quote from Dr. Banner – “don’t make me angry – you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”…

The episode introduction would then end with the quest that Banner finds himself on – “finding a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him”. I guess I am showing some of my age but I enjoyed this show as a kid. However in the show is a powerful message that we are all like Dr. Banner, with a monster within us that can be unleashed when we too are angry or under stress. Driving 5 miles in 30 minutes knowing you have to go nearly 20 miles to make your class on time and you are likely to be late because you gave yourself only an hour to get there is certainly a time when we can start to show our inner Hulk.

However Solomon reminds us that:

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. (Prov 14:29)

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Prov 16:32)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,  for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. (Eccles 7:9)

Examining Jonah we can learn a lot about anger and when we are angry we can learn a lot about ourselves. Continue reading