False Teaching in the News

March 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Posted in False teaching | 2 Comments

In the past two days I have seen several examples of false teaching making the secular news.

The first incident is the story of John Dominic Crossan on CNN, cofounder of the Jesus Seminar, The Jesus Seminar is group of liberal scholars who tried to bring scholarly biblical debate to the forefront of popular thinking.  That in it self is not a bad goal, but the founders seemed to have an a priori mindset against the miraculous.  The seminar tried to find the historical Jesus, but began with an assumption that the miracles and resurrection didn’t happen.  Of course from a pure history perspective, the oldest manuscripts that witness to Jesus say that they did happen.

Of Crossan, the article says:  “His days as a priest would end, though, because of the same forces that shaped the rest of his career:  the clash between church dogma and scholarly truth.”  Do you see the subtle implication that church dogma can’t be true if scholarly opinion says it is not?  Such an implication is not only false, it ignores the many scholars who would disagree.  However, Crossan’s a priori assumptions against the supernatural, and apparently CNN’s also, discredit such scholars before the debate even begins.

To their credit, CNN does quote one evangelical scholar to the contrary:  “Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar who has written several books about the early Christian community, says Crossan’s work allows people to sidestep questions like:  Did he come to save the world?  Is he the son of God?  ‘It’s a user-friendly Jesus that doesn’t make demands on someone,’ he says.   Witherington says Crossan is trying to find a nonsupernatural way to explain Jesus and Scripture, and ‘the shoe doesn’t fit.’”

The second example of false teaching in the news is popular author and speaker Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan (not to be confused or associated with Mars Hill Church in Seattle whose pastor Mark Driscoll disagrees with Bell).  Bell is soon to release a book called  Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  Though Bell has been mum about the real contents of the book, the questions he raises in his video indicate he believes in an unbiblical universalism.  Numerous popular pastors with more orthodox leanings have been very critical of the video in the past few days.  See for instance Justin Taylor’s article here. Taylor embeds the video in his article and links some other criticisms as well.  Thanks to Dr. Pegler for the heads up on this matter.

Finally the last one I saw today tells of the popular Glenn Beck meeting with Billy Graham. Beck, the article says, is “positioning himself as a new leader for Christian conservatives.”  CNN quotes Beck’s blog post from last Tuesday, “My message to you,” Beck continued, “is we must come together.  Evil has – the left has stood – is standing now with profound and clear evil and they’ve connected from evil all the way to the average Democrat and everything in between.”  The implication here is that political liberalism and liberals are the enemy, and Beck is on the good side.

However, Beck is a Mormon who doesn’t believe the Gospel of Jesus.  Though I may have vast political agreement with Beck, and though I may admire what he is doing on the political front, and though I may find liberalism distasteful and even evil in some expressions, liberalism is not the enemy.  To the extent that evangelicals believe that part of Beck’s dogma, they are following a false doctrine that can only lead away from the true Gospel.  Political conservatism, no matter how much we evangelicals agree with it, is not the Gospel of Jesus, and Glenn Beck, though he may be a worthy conservative political leader and deserve our following on that front, should not be allowed to position himself as a leader of Christians.


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  1. Great post. I too agreed alot with Glenn Beck’s political views, and thought he did a good job uncovering things in our govt. But I can no longer support him. He has been pushing his Mormanism for the last year, and is starting to pull Christians away from the true Gospel. He is no better than Oprah. I pray Christians wake up before it’s too late. There are alot of false teachers out there: Glenn Beck, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, and many more….

  2. For my readers. I appreciate the earlier comment on this post. However, I would not put Rick Warren is in the false teacher camp. Though his gospel presentation in Forty Days of Purpose was very weak, as far as I can tell, Warren would pass every scriptural test of a false prophet.
    I have yet to call Rob Bell a false prophet too. We don’t really know what conclusions his book presents, but this video release sure puts a question mark on his theology.

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