The forgiveness of sins...cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise?
*- Large Catechism V 31
The Gospel...preaches righteousness and gives the Spirit
*- Solid Declaration of The Formula of Concord V 22
God's ways appear foolish to those who do not understand them (1 Corinthians 1:25; Isaiah 55:8). At the same time, even the outwardly "holy" and "righteous" and "wise" need to be careful that they don't become fools themselves through their own sinful arrogance and pride.
Case in point, 1 Corinthians 1:19 speaks against people who "draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13).
The foolish, weak, and despised bring down and prohibit the boasting of the wise, strong, and esteemed. Though Jesus' death appears foolish and shameful, it is the only basis of our salvation!
You may be wondering why I went through that little exercise. Well, it's because this is going to be a difficult one for me today. I debated about whether or not I should even publish it since it involves a once dear friend.
Truth is, he's still "dear" to me even though we haven't spoken in a couple of years now. Complicating matters is the fact that our daughters are the same age (9-years-old) and are good friends too.
So, why haven't we spoken in a couple of years now? We had an awful falling out after a pretty heated discussion about homosexuality/"Gay Marriage," Rachel Held-Evans, Nadia Bolz-Weber, women pastors, and Eugene Peterson's "The Message" -- all people and things he enthusiastically supports and seeks to share with anyone and everyone who will listen on social media (and not just family and friends).
Basically, I brought my concerns about that to his attention after removing the log from my own eye and patiently waiting for the right time to speak to him one-on-one about it.
Yes, I called him out on it as worried brother in Christ and friend (Proverbs 27:5-6), tried to patiently go through the Bible with him one topic at a time (2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Peter 2:19-20), and his final response time-after-time was asking me repeatedly, "Did God really say that though?"
Genesis 3:1 anyone?
We exchanged a series of lengthy emails back-and-forth since that fateful day in the weeks that followed it and then it all just stopped when it became clear that the problem is Conservative Christianity vs. Liberal Christianity (I'll let you decide which of us is which).
I don't know why I do it, but every couple of weeks I still feel compelled to "check-in" with him by checking out his social media accounts on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.
I guess there's still a part of me that hopes that he'll change. Why wouldn't I? God can convert the most hardened hearts and that has been my prayer for him ever since our relationship fell apart once I felt obligated to speak the truth.
Sadly, the things I find and read only make things worse though. It's like his heart is hardening more and more to the truth of God's Word rather than becoming convicted by it and it's painful to watch it unfold.
He's surrounded himself with so many wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) and references and quotes them incessantly to the point where he should be called the "Wolf Whisperer" from now on. When he's not doing that, he's sharing some Buddhist concept for life instead.
While you might think I'm trying to be funny, this is certainly no laughing matter, my dear friends! I mean, we all know what can happen when false doctrine replaces the pure, unadulterated truth of Law and Gospel.
That's why what I just saw on his Twitter feed today sent a chill down my spine and my heart breaks for him whether he wants to believe me when I say that or not.
This was the series of tweets he shared with the world within the past week...
— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
In Cleveland to hear @realrobbell talk tonight. Should be interesting.— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 28, 2015
Waiting for @realrobbell to come out. Feeling a bit extra not-a-hipster tonight. pic.twitter.com/0JHfsJwwCJ— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
For what it's worth, @realrobbell ain't wrong: everything IS spiritual, even (or especially) the dark matter. pic.twitter.com/9LZy74smiV— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
I'm super tired, but hearing (and meeting!) @realrobbell last night was worth it. Dude's alright.— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
#OpinionTime! If you're talking about God in a public space and NOBODY is calling you a heretic, I'm not sure you're trying hard enough.— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
I say Huck Finn nailed it: if trying & getting it wrong = hell & denouncing those who try = heaven, well... All right, then, I'll go to hell— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
Related: as I found out last night, @realrobbell puts together a helluva string of words on stage AND says interesting things about God.— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
Point is, say what you want about his theology, but @realrobbell is just trying to understand all this, and I think God digs that about him.— Matthew Lafferty (@THEmattlaff) July 29, 2015
The sad irony? Christianity has always believed, taught, and confessed the doctrine of hell...as did Jesus Christ Himself. We merely proclaim the harsh reality that awaits unrepentant sinners.
Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death...
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment...
He should know this, but now he's fully embracing a doctrine being taught by another genuine false teacher that proclaims just the opposite and it is incredibly heartbreaking to watch as it unfolds.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
It's clear his ears have been itching for years now and this latest adulation over Rob Bell is his attempt to continue to sooth that itch.
Please don't misunderstand me either. It's not like I'm somehow blaming myself for his current spiritual condition. I mean, it's not like you and I somehow have the power to convert and/or save souls by the apologetics approach we take let alone with our eloquent speech. No, not at all!
Again, at the risk of repeating myself and sounding like a broken record here, it's just that I care about him enough to say something.
Even now after all this time it still bothers me. Most importantly, I simply revere God's Word so much that I know it has the power to convict him, lead him to repentance, and save and restore him before it's too late (if it's not already).
Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
I just wish we still had an open line of communication, but we don't.
I once pointed out that many of the things being written by the likes of Eugene Peterson, Rachel Held-Evans, and Nadia Bolz-Weber were examples of apostasy, blasphemy, heresy, or all of the above.
From that point on, all he ever heard come out of my mouth was "I think you are a heretic!" even if it was the Bible I was reading to him.
Look, I get that I'm not the first person to go through something like this. I guess I'm just having a very difficult time with it, because now that he seems to be cozying-up to the likes of Rob Bell and his twisted theology, I can't help but to think the worst, you know?
Once a so-called "Christian" turns the corner and then crosses the line into believing that there is no Hell, that there is no punishment for sins, that we will all get a "second chance" to be saved even if there is a Hell, then how does the Holy Spirit work through God's Word to eventually convict that same individual of any sin much less the sin they've committed by believing false doctrines?
I know nothing's impossible with God, and I know this is way above my pay-grade and it's not my responsibility to worry so much about such things to the point where I place the burden of his current spiritual health upon my shoulders, but I can't help it!
For whatever reason, I just can't stop thinking about him and this latest departure further and further away from Christianity, which amounts to him playing with fire -- eternal hell fire to be blunt about it. I hate to be so blunt, but that is a very real possibility here, isn't it? The rest of us still believe Hell is a literal place, right? We Lutherans still believe it's possible for a Christian to one day reject Jesus Christ and turn their back on the faith, correct?
So then why will some people attack me instead of the false teachers in this case? Why will I be the one who's reprimanded for not being mindful of the Eighth Commandment or for not going to another believe privately to discuss this?
Like I said, I've tried that a few years ago and it didn't work, and now things have gotten worse. Besides, these sinful transgressions of his are quite public, wouldn't you say? His approval and endorsement of another false teacher like Rob Bell warrants a public reply of some sort.
Not so sure about that? Please prayerfully consider what our Confessions have to say.
The true way in this matter would be to keep the order in the Gospel. In Matthew 18:15, Christ says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Here you have a precious and excellent teaching for governing well the tongue, which is to be carefully kept against this detestable misuse. Let this, then, be your rule, that you do not too quickly spread evil about your neighbor and slander him to others. Instead, admonish him privately that he may amend his life. Likewise, if someone reports to you what this or that person has done, teach him, too, to go and admonish that person personally, if he has seen the deed himself.
All this has been said about secret sins. But where the sin is quite public, so that the judge and everybody know about it, you can without any sin shun the offender and let him go his own way, because he has brought himself into disgrace. You may also publicly testify about him. For when a matter is public in the daylight, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying. It is like when we now rebuke the pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. Where the sin is public, the rebuke also must be public, that everyone may learn to guard against it.
*- Martin Luther / Large Catechism from
Bell is no stranger to these parts either.
In 2013, we referenced Rob Bell's audacious debate with Andrew Wilson on homosexuality and the Bible. Of course, do a Google search for his "Love Wins" bestseller and you'll be blown away by the things he wrote in that book.
Many of you may be wondering what brand of Christianity could produce a Christian like Rob Bell or Rachel Held-Evans who have absolutely no problem whatsoever questioning ANYTHING and EVERYTHING while constantly challenging the authority and supremacy of God and His Word (James 1:6-8).
Worse, people like them do so to the point of blasphemy and heresy while deceiving millions of well-meaning believers all under the guise of "love" and all at the expense of Biblical truth (2 Corinthians 11; Galatians 1:6-8).
Of course, while they demand to have all their questions answered to their satisfaction despite what Deuteronomy 29:29 says, their hypocrisy shows when they rarely ever give you a straight answer to a question of your very own even when you tee things up for them where a simple "Yes" or "No" would suffice.
Simply put, Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, and their cohorts are a product of what's known as the "Emergent Church" these days, which is the unholy marriage of Christianity and Postmodernism.
Clearly, Rob Bell is a false teacher that Scripture warns us about repeatedly (2 Peter 2; Mark 13:22; Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11; 2 Timothy 3; Jude 1:4; 1 John 4:1). This is what happens when a person allows man's wisdom to trump God's wisdom, or when a person allows their experiences and opinions (fueled by political correctness) to trump the holy Word of God that is crystal clear about such things (Proverbs 3:5; 1 Corinthians 1:25; Galatians 1:10). This is why we must know our Bible and why we must be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
That's why I refuse to remain silent about any of this. How can I in good conscience?
Perhaps I just thought that sharing this story with all of you would help to serve as a cautionary tale of sorts for us to remain rooted in the wisdom of God as opposed to the wisdom of men.
Perhaps I was hoping that some of you might pray for him and for Rob Bell (and for me too!).
Better yet, please feel free to reach out to him via Twitter and strike up a conversation in response to these recent tweets of his -- without mentioning me or this post at all -- and share God's Word with him once more. If he won't listen to me, then maybe he'll listen to a complete stranger instead.
The end is the same for the wise and the foolish. All that is done in the absence of faith will become chaff thrown into the devouring fire. That's why Christ bids us to come to Him and be yoked to His light burden. Those who are burdened are invited to come to the Lord for rest (Matthew 11:28). Seek first His kingdom and His gifts, and all other things shall be given!
Heavenly Father, everlasting God, where would we be if You were to forsake us? How quickly the educated become infants; the prudent simple; the wise, fools! Keep us in the fervor of faith and daily increase it through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.
Clearly, the Lord has some powerful things to say about the "fool" and He says them in no uncertain terms too. However, as a Christian who's called to love his neighbor (including the atheist, non-Christian, and the Christian like my friend who is currently self-deceived and enslaved by false teachers and their doctrines of demons), I don't take any pleasure in those verses, otherwise, I'd be no better than the Pharisee who is grateful that he's not like the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).
Instead, I pray for the grace to continue to have compassion for them no matter what.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is precisely why so much of the New Testament contains so many warnings for us to constantly be on guard against the false teachers that would arise and their destructive false doctrines.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!