The Robbery of Neutrality

by Mike Ratliff

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

The title of this blog article “The Robbery of Neutrality” is the title of chapter 1 of Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen’s book on Presuppositional Apologetics, Always Ready, which I just received and am working my way through now. By trade, I am an I.T. guy, specifically a Database Administrator. However, my boss has made it clear to me and the rest of our staff that he values me mostly as a key problem solver. I have been in I.T. since 1973 and I have learned over the years that it is far better to get to the root of a problem and even if quite painful, solve it there, rather than go after just surface level solutions to try to fix issues. Therefore, when the uproar of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins began even before it was available, I waited until those I trusted and respected had a chance to review it before I started looking at it. What is Rob Bell’s motive? What is he attempting to accomplish in writing this small “puff piece” book that says nothing new? If you listened to the man talk in any of his interviews then you probably got a glimpse of what is really going on when he encountered an interviewer not willing to let him off the hook with his over generalizations. You see, that is exactly the point. Rob Bell seeks to be “truth neutral” when it comes to all those things he sees in God’s Word as being “exclusive” and “divisive.” 

On the other hand, the late Dr. Bahnsen tells us in the very first paragraph of the 1st chapter of Always Ready, “The plea for Christians to surrender to neutrality in their thinking is not an uncommon one. Nevertheless it strikes at the very heart of our faith and of our faithfulness to the Lord.”1 That very statement by Dr. Bahnsen is completely antithetical to Rob Bell’s theology, such as it is. We see this in his continual casting of doubt on the deity of Christ, the veracity of Sacred Scripture as the infallible, complete, and authoritative Word of God, and even in his disparaging remarks in Velvet Elvis upon original sin.

Rob Bell states that for God to truly show his love for man, he must give us the freedom to choose. I see that nowhere in Scripture. Bell’s god is not sovereign. He is not omniscient. He is not omnipotent. His creation has gotten out of his control. Therefore, to help this inefficient inept god balance the books and “be fair” according to the values that Bell and those like him insist that he have, they force him to elevate Free Will as what decides everything. He even has scenarios in his book Love Wins in which those whom God has saved and is now in Heaven decide to leave and this god Bell has made up allows it.

This is what happens when the truth of God’s Word that is exclusive is made to be seen as neutral and men are allowed to make up the rules for themselves. Those who fall under the spell of this sort of thinking have actually been  robbed by the demands of neutrality.

Whatever some people may say with respect to the demand for neutrality in the Christian’s thought—the demand that believers not be set apart from other men by their adherence to God’s truth—the fact is that Scripture sharply differs with this demand. Contrary to neutrality’s demand, God’s word demands unreserved allegiance to God and His truth in all our thought and scholarly endeavors. It does so for good reason.2

in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:3-8 ESV)

Carefully read this passage my brethren. What we learn is that all wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. Think about that. What does this tell us about our academic pursuits, our daily thoughts, and what we do at work? They must all be related to Christ Jesus. Why? It is because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If we attempt to do work or have any pursuit that excludes Christ then what we are doing is opening ourselves up to be being misled with untruths from the spiritually dead! It is the beginning of knowledge to reverence God (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).

In order for us to not fall into the trap of being robbed by the demands of neutrality, then, we must be presuppositionally committed to Christ in the world of thought and firmly tied to the faith we have been taught. If we do not do this, the persuasive argumentation of secular thought will eventually delude us no matter how firm our convictions. Therefore, the Christian is obligated to presuppose the Word of Christ in every area of knowledge; the alternative is delusion.

These truths about the fallacy of truth neutrality that Rob Bell and those like him are all about should make it clear that they are not of God for God would never allow His truth to be presented that way. He is not about neutrality when it comes to His truth. No, anyone who is familiar with the Word of God at all knows that. This is why Rob Bell and his friends attack it with such fury. My brethren. Let us get very serious about becoming completely presuppositionally committed to Christ in all parts of our lives.

1Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, (Nacogdoches: Covenant Media Press, 1996), p.3.

2Ibid, p4.

20 thoughts on “The Robbery of Neutrality

  1. Thank you for this Mike! I’ve been tempted in the past to apologize to those people who have been offended by my sharing the Gospel with them. Not anymore! The Cross is an offense to those who are in the world. Why should I apolgize for telling them the truth! We’re in a war, and there’s no neutral ground! My husband and I are going to be meeting with my unsaved sister and her husband this coming weekend. They are closed to any sharing of the Gospel. Praying that the Holy Spirit will give us an open door to proclaim His truth!

  2. Boy, Mike, you nailed it with this post. I have had numerous talks with folks over the last few months about faith and the gospel. Three of them were religious. Basically in talking to them, I realized that all three are making themselves the final arbiter of truth. Whether it was their experience, their own reason, the voice they hear that they think is God’s, what someone told them, or what they read in a book – not one was willing to make scripture their final authority. Not one. They are looking for more revelation either in themselves or outside of themselves. But they don’t want the Bible. I am left scratching my head: why would God give us more revelation if we reject the revelation that He has given us?

    They pretend to be neutral until it comes to the truths of scripture, then they are anything but neutral. Is this the strong delusion or what? 2 Thessalonians 2:11

  3. Joanne, I pray that it goes well. Remember Peter’s words from 1 Peter 3:

    Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. Julie, yes, the Holy Spirit gave you that discernment. You saw it, they were blind to it. They have been robbed by their neutrality, however, your trust and presuppositional defense of our faith and God’s truth has been blessed by God with you being able to clearly see the truth. I have been asked by many friends why it is that so many “nobodies” like us can see the truth so clearly when those who should be calling out the heretics from the visible church seem to be mired in mediocrity. I think this is at least part of the problem. God’s ways are spelled out very clearly for us in His Word and Jesus said it very clearly. There is no room for compromise.

  5. Mike thank you for this.
    Mike my husband and I were at church this morning and friends of ours had their son down for the weekend, he lives in Toronto is attending a place called “The Meeting House”. This is their statement on their home page.
    “Are you tired of religion but still interested in spirituality? Are you cynical about institutional approaches to God while still being open to exploring your faith? Welcome to The Meeting House—a church for people who aren’t into church. We’d love for you to join us as we explore issues of importance in a decidedly irreligious way.”

    Anyway this young man’s mother stopped my husband after church and said she wanted Jim to talk to her son about Hell. He says he is a believer (I really have my doubts after listening to him for awhile) and he is reading Rob Bells book and now he is questioning hell and a few other things. They stood outside of church for an hour and he still had loads of questions. Jim is going to send him some articles about Rob Bell and send him some books about hell and a few other things and communicate with him through email.
    Also Jim visited the one of the 2 christan(so called) books stores in town and seen Rob Bell’s book on the shelf, he knows the owner quite well and said to him I am really disappointed to see this book on your the shelf and the owner said well there are pastors that want to read it so that they can have answers for others that read it. My question is what about all the folks that buy this book and read it and believe it, so many young folks are out there that are so gullable and want easy religion, non- accountability religion and they love these types books and these type of men.
    Colossians 2:3-8 Amen

    Cristina

  6. Cristina, I rejoiced at you and your husband’s stand as well as the mother of the boy. Do not be deceived, Rob Bell’s book is about MONEY. He is making boat loads of money on a this little puff piece book that says nothing that no other so-called Christian liberal has not said before. It’s just repackaged for young men like you described. The bookstores and publishers are just conduits of the money machine for this. Our part is to do what you are doing. Tell the truth firmly and with love and all meekness and humility. The Holy Spirit is just as powerful as ever. The Name of Jesus is still the Name of Jesus and the Word of God is still the Truth. We are being called to stand firm, to take our turn at the plate as did the generations before us. Some did better than others obviously. I think its time we turned this thing around don’t you? We can’t do it ourselves, only God can do that, but if we will obey Him and not compromise, standing firm, and tell the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit… well, I think all of this utter nonsense that like being missional, acts 29, name it and claim it, the emergent stuff would just blow away because it has NO FOUNDATION. I would like to see this before I die.

  7. People do not like anyone who is confident in their faith. Meaning they believe the totality of the Scripture, including the Old Testament, and that it is inerrant. Oh, they will say that they believe the Scripture, but in their daily lives this is proved otherwise. They gravitate toward the “gray”.
    For me, it is black or it is white. This is a comfort to me! And although I have been called many names because of it, the most common being “legalistic”, I still cling to the Word and the rest I find in the Lord Jesus Christ when I am obedient to said Word!
    Ironic though these same people who call me names and criticize my standards, well when they have a problem I am usually the first one they call for prayer.
    I have to stand firm and be unmoveable, especially in these last days. And may the Lord Jesus Christ grant me sharper discernment and have things line up with His Word and not my own heart (emotion) because my heart deceives me!
    Thanks for the post.

  8. Great article, Mike!

    People will readily love the false rather than the truth. It’s their nature. The false will in some way be about you and the truth is always about Christ. Only God can cause anyone to love His truth and that happens when we are born again. That is what happened to me- a God ignorer who never read the bible changed by God into someone completely different and eager to learn more and more of what His word says.

    Isn’t that what happens with regeneration? God says he will cause us to walk in his ways?

    God bless, Mike!!

  9. Diane, that is a great quote: “The false will in some way be about you and the truth is always about Christ.”

    Amen.

  10. It all comes down to placing our human standards on who goes/doesn’t go to heaven instead of following God’s word. So many people, even (or maybe especially) in the church, believe: “God is love. God loves me. I’m a good person. A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell. Therefore, I won’t go to hell.” Sadly, they often haven’t been taught otherwise. To be honest, I’d like to believe that…it would make life seem so much fairer. But it’s not the Truth, so I reject it.

  11. That line of reasoning that you shared Linda is totally man-centered and is at the core of what we must stand firmly against if we are to be presuppositionally living our lives totally for Christ. The presuppositionalist understands that all things begins and ends with God so you have it right, we must reject the man-centered view of creation and theology.

  12. Rob Bell,

    “And I believe in Jesus, and
    I believe Jesus is the way, and
    I believe in heaven, and
    I believe in hell, and
    I believe the Bible is God’s word, and
    I’m not a universalist, because I believe God’s love is so great God lets you decide.
    I believe in the communion of the saints,
    I believe the church is the fullness,
    I believe in the new heaven and a new earth,
    I believe in healing,
    I believe in miracles,
    I believe in salvation,
    I believe in the power of prayer,
    I believe that God is alive and working,”

    Ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the Christian Scientists, the Roman Catholics, to assess that nebulous list and they all will support it enthusiastically. A person who says something that he knows will both appease others as well as be misinterpreted by others is called by a Biblical name.

    A liar. If only the martyrs could have implimented the Bellian method of communication they could have avoided all that trouble.

  13. Amen for this post Mike!!
    speaking of no hell…
    Mike, I was reading yesterday in Isaiah 30 about what will happen in the end to those who have sacrificed their children in the fires of Molech, strictly forbidden by God…(or today in abortion clincs) and who have danced to the timbrels and drums to drown out their screams)? And one day there is a day of reckoning coming…why would there not be justice for the innocent children who died, from a just God? Isaiah 30 is God’s retribution for those who took part in this abhorrent practice in Ben Hinnom or Topheth…where the fires outside the city burned constantly to the detestable God, Molech?…and God has prepared his own Topheth which he will light with his own breath.
    Here is an excerpt from Isaiah 30
    what do people like Rob Bell do with Scripture like this?
    28 His breath is like a rushing torrent,
    rising up to the neck.
    He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction;

    30 The LORD will cause people to hear his majestic voice
    and will make them see his arm coming down
    with raging anger and consuming fire,
    with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.
    31 The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria;
    with his rod he will strike them down.
    33 Topheth has long been prepared;
    it has been made ready for the king.
    Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,
    with an abundance of fire and wood;
    the breath of the LORD,
    like a stream of burning sulfur,
    sets it ablaze.

    This is a serious post for a serious error

    Rob Bell is one who says: another excerpt from Isaiah 30:
    Tell us pleasant things,
    prophesy illusions.
    11 Leave this way,
    get off this path,
    and stop confronting us
    with the Holy One of Israel!”
    12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says:
    “Because you have rejected this message,
    relied on oppression
    and depended on deceit,
    13 this sin will become for you
    like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
    that collapses suddenly, in an instant.

  14. Julie, you said Basically in talking to them, I realized that all three are making themselves the final arbiter of truth. Whether it was their experience, their own reason, the voice they hear that they think is God’s, what someone told them, or what they read in a book – not one was willing to make scripture their final authority. Not one.

    It made me think of “they sow to the wind and reap the whirlwind”. I completely understand what you are saying. I just look at them in stunned disbelief as if we are from different planets. I get the glazed look or else the one where they turn on you and take a strip off you. I almost prefer the first one. :-)

  15. Carolyn, you get it, you see it because you are not man-centered, but God-centered. Bell and those who follow him are the opposite and they are dumbfounded that anyone would protest and “cling” to these outmoded ideas of hell and the wrath of God. Yes, but, we know God and those people do not. That is the difference. Yes, when judgment does come and God’s wrath begins to be poured out, their rebellion will be over, but their suffering under His wrath will be eternal.

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