by Mike Ratliff
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21 ESV)
Over this last week I have been battling some sort of stomach ailment and right now I don’t feel so hot, but at least I can sit up and type now. Also during this time I have listened to Dr. James White do a short analysis of Rob Bell and his book Love Wins. Dr. White did his analysis from the perspective of an interview done by someone else and then analyzed how Rob Bell responded to those direct questions. He promised to do a full review after reading the book. In any case, one of the comments he made about Bell that, I believe, is definitive of the man and his ministry is that he is very smart and well educated, but those things do not make one a true Biblical scholar nor do they even make one a Christian. No, no matter how much knowledge one has of Hebrew and Greek and Theology, if there is no true knowledge of Christ via the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ then all you have is what Dr. White refers to a just another Mainline Protestant Liberal.
Rob Bell consistently attacks what we in Reformed Theology call the five Solas:
Sola Scriptura In scripture alone we find
Sola Gratia Salvation is by grace alone
Sola Fide Through faith alone
Solus Christus In Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria! For the glory of God alone!
He attacks these things because they fly in the face of his man-centered theology which is all about man, not about God. Of course, to do this, he must sidestep and deny huge amounts of sacred Scripture that clearly teach these things as the foundations for the Theology of the Church. Though he is highly educated and, supposedly, has great knowledge, and is a very good communicator, he is not wise. In light of that let’s look at one passage from the book of Ephesians.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17 ESV)
In context this verse was written by Paul to believers exhorting them to walk in love, to be careful how they walk, to be wise, not unwise, to make the best use of the time because the days are evil. Because of all of this he gives us v17. Now if we must be wise and not foolish in our daily walk by knowing what the will of the Lord is, how important is it for someone in Rob Bell’s position of influence in the Visible Church to be even more so. He should not be foolishly trying to destroy the faith of millions of Christians with his attacks on Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and Solus Christus and in do that, totally ignoring Soli Deo Gloira. Before we look at the Greek in v17 I want to share one more thing.
My friend Ken Silva has been running a ongoing coverage of Love Wins and a continual exposure of Rob Bell and his theology. He gets a lot of feedback. Here is one he received the other day, “Do you really believe that going to the greek to disprove Rob Bell is helpful? In reality, he\’s at least as good of a greek scholar as you.” There was a lot more and several more back and forth emails between them, but through it all it came down to this. The person defending Rob Bell insisted that Christians must give room to others in Theology for disagreements in the exegetical analysis of the original languages. However, I know that that is only viable on non-critical issues that have nothing to do with our doctrine. Also, what is the purpose for attempting to move away from doctrinal soundness into this squishy, liberal view of God and man? It is to take away God as sovereign and righteous judge and put man in charge. Anytime we detect that its time to take whoever says that and their work and put them over on the side of the heretics. Also, notice that Rob Bell’s defender insisted that he is a least as good a Greek scholar as Ken. Please tell me what good that is if all you come up with is no different than that which Liberal biblical scholars of the late 19th Century in Germany did?
Here is Ephesians 5:17 from the NA27 Greek text: διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνίετε τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου.
Here is my translation: “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
That was very straightforward. I just noticed that my translation was the very same as the ESV. Well, it wasn’t intentional. The word “foolish” translates the adjective ἄφρονες, which is the Nominative, Plural of ἄφρων or aphrōn, which can be used as a noun describing a fool, or as a adjective meaning “foolish, senseless.” Whereas the root φρων or phrōn indicates wisdom, reason, or insight, the prefix α does not indicates a lack of knowledge but an inability to use it correctly. What does the Bible attribute this foolishness? It says that is comes from a lack of a proper fear of God and understanding of His will. Therefore, the passage we are studying tonight is especially important. Paul also argues in 2 Corinthians 11:16, 19; 12:6, 11 that if it were appropriate to foolishly boast in human accomplishments, he could boast mote than all men. However, he chooses not to be a “fool” but to boast only in his weakness. He also says elsewhere that the foolish person does not understand how God works in resurrecting the body (1 Corinthians 15:36). Fool also receive instruction from those who know God’s law, but they do not obey it (Romans 2:20, cf. vv 17-24). Jesus declares that those who value outward purity over inward purity (Luke 11:40) and the rich man who stores up earthly treasures instead of heavenly treasures (12:20) are both fools. Peter writes that doing good puts to silence the ignorance of the foolish (1 Peter 2:15)
When I look at Rob Bell, listen to Rob Bell, and see what he is up to with his books and ministry I can only think of him in this context.
Soli Deo Gloria!