Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mars Hill (Rob Bell) Is More Greek Than Christian

It's seems anticlimactic, even redundant, to say, "This time Rob Bell and Mars Hill Church have gone too far." After all, Bell makes a habit of going too far--too far away from orthodoxy to be considered evangelical in any true sense of the word. But, if what has been reported on Twitter by Rob Bell's teaching pastor, Shane Hipps, is true, then maybe it's time to say just that. Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, and Mars Hill have gone too far. In fact, after reading Shane Hipps' tweets, I think it is safe to say Mars Hill is more Greek than Christian. While the name of the church, "Mars Hill," is likely a reference to the apostle Paul's interaction with the Greeks on the now ancient and historic site, one activity at the church today leads me to believe the name of the church speaks more about modeling Greek culture than apostolic teaching.

The following tweets are from Shane Hipps, the teaching pastor at Rob Bell's Mars Hill Church.
Watched members of @marshillorg invite a Muslim woman to the communion table today. You all amaze me. #bigjesus

@Blogustana For clarification, we practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome.

@TheBerker My apologies. I wasn't trying to be cool. I just thot it was cool. We practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome.

To clarify, the Muslim woman didn't actually take communion. Even so, taking it would violate her theology more than mine. Open table here

@BillyKangas Yes, the word "Sacrament" is from the Latin for "mystery." So I have a lot of room for disagreement on this one.

@jeffreykauffman I love the Bible. I think Paul is talking to a specific community, like head coverings, slavery, or women being silent.
Communion, like baptism, is an ordinance given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His Church. Communion is "open" in the sense that all who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcomed and encouraged to partake--regardless of the local fellowship to which the individual Christian belongs. All Christians are part of one Body (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Philippians 2:1-2).

On the other hand, communion is "closed" in the sense that it is an ordinance for born again followers of Jesus Christ, only. There are few things (i.e. Bible reading and meditation, prayer, worship, baptism) as spiritual in nature, in which a Christian will engage and participate, as communion. As such, Christians are commanded by the Word of God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) not to engage in any spiritual enterprise, any spiritual practice, any form of worship with those who do not know Christ and who idolatrously and blasphemously worship any other god other than the one, true God who has revealed Himself through His creation (Romans 1:18-20), through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and through His incarnation (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11). Those who know Christ (John 10:14), those who belong to His Church (Colossians 1:18), those who are part of His Bride (Revelation 19:6-8) should not join hands, hearts, or minds in any form of worship with Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hindus, Buddhists, or the like.

And to bring worshipers of false gods to the communion table is to encourage the idolater to partake of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). To bring the idolater to the Lord's table is to spurn the Son of God and to profane the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified (Hebrews 10:26-31).

What the leaders and the people at Mars Hill did today, around the Lord's table, was not an act of love toward the Muslim woman who was invited to the table. It was a supremely unloving and selfish act. For by trying to show the world how tolerant, ecumenical, and conversant they are with the practitioners of a godless religion (and the showiness of the timing, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks did not go unnoticed by this writer), the church at Mars Hill set up the Muslim woman to blaspheme God. Instead of calling the woman to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 1:15; 16:15; Acts 17:29:31), they called her to the Lord's table in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). How crafty. How careless. How cruel.

Fortunately, as Shane Hipps indicated in one of his tweets, the Muslim woman declined the idolatrous invitation. And in so doing, while still utterly lost in her sin and worship of a false god, she showed more spiritual integrity than those who invited her to the Lord's table.

Yes, Mars Hill Is More Greek Than Christian.
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.'

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." ~ Acts 17:16-31
Mars Hill Church in Michigan is not like the apostle Paul in the above passage. Mars Hill Church is like the Greeks of Paul's day--very religious, a church full of idols.

To Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, and the rest of the leadership of Mars Hill Church: "the times of ignorance go overlooked, but now commands [you] to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man [Christ Jesus the Lord] whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

I pray they do repent, turn to Christ, and live.

I pray the Muslim woman will find her way into a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. I pray she finds a church where Jesus Christ is worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)--a place where she will be taught "you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:21)--a place where she is taught about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). I pray she will one day come to the Lord's table, having receiving Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I pray she will one day come to the Lord's table in a worthy manner, eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for her sin.