Jamie Kiley is wrestling with a worthwhile question, namely, “What does Paul mean when he says that ‘everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God’?” Her question was prompted by the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (someone who I do not respect at all as an expositor of the Word of God.)
Bell uses this verse as part of his justification for the following statement:
As a Christian, I am free to claim the good, the true, the holy, wherever and whenever I find it. I live with the understanding that truth is bigger than any religion and the world is Godâ€™s and everything in it.
This quote is troubling to me, in part because I wonder where Bell is going with it, and in part because I wonder what he uses to determine what is truth. I honestly don’t know the answers to those questions though, as I don’t have the book.
I can tell you what I fear. I fear that because Christianity can be perceived as an incredibly simple thing, because it can be seen as the Bible taught in Sunday school with flannel graph and cookies, or as the Bible taught in the most shallow of churches, or as the “we wear culottes and dresses made of homeliness and our children are taught that 1 + 2 = the Trinity” brand of religion that the world likes to portray and unfortunately does exist; I fear that because it can be perceived this way by the world, Bell is going ahead and taking this as the definition for Christianity and then saying, “There is truth out there outside these walls, there are Buddhists who are wiser than some of these simple Christians. Perhaps we can sit with them, and glean what they know. Perhaps through their perspective we can come to better know our Lord.”
If that is what’s being said, I’d recommend to Jamie that she put the book down and not return to it. It seems to me that regardless of his intentions, and in the end it is his intentions that worry me, Bell is playing games with words.
Christianity is not a man made thing, it is defined by the one whose name it bears, and as a result, there is no truth outside its walls. There are to be sure, people who do not know Jesus Christ, who possess some of his truth, who have come to know some of the Words of God. And if God brings such a one into your life, and if you see some thing you have never seen before and you take it to the revealed Word of God and see that it is true, then thank God humbly for His revelation. But don’t believe that you have traveled outside the walls of Christianity to learn it. Or that you must seek other non-believers to know God better.
We must remember that it is the exception and not the rule for an unbeliever to know the truth of God. Consider what Christ says to them:
I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
It is shocking when those whose father is the devil, speak the truth. We should not be surprised that they are deceived, nor that they seek to deceive us as well, for they know not God.
As I said, I don’t know where Bell is going with his arguments. I’ve certainly run into plenty of authors and speakers who make similar cases for the flexibility of truth. If I’ve judged wrong, maybe someone can set me straight.