It is not my intention to rip Rob’s words out of context. It is my aim to be Scriptural, coherent, and logical. Although I am passionate about the truth of Scripture, I will not allow my emotions to go on an anathematizing rampage; I expect the same from any who wish to comment.
“It’s possible to believe all the right things and be miserable (page 35).”
So true, Rob. Thanks for the reminder.
Now for the The Bad
ONE —- While speaking of the words of Jesus in John 14:6, which reads:
I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me
“Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living, perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are.”
Rob’s handling of the verse is invalid for two major reasons.
1). It’s based upon an exegetical fallacy. On the line above the quote in question, Rob says,
“And God is the ultimate reality. There is nothing beyond God.”
I have no problems with that. He is describing God as ultimate reality. The problem arises when he takes that definition of God and superimposes it on John 14. Now his interpretation is not “no man comes to the Father…”, but rather “nobody can approach ultimate reality — the way life was meant to be lived.” It’s a cool thought and maybe a true one, but it’s not the point of the verse.
2). This unfortunate handling of the text misses the obvious context of John 14. It’s a famous passage, most certainly speaking of heaven. Jesus told the disciples that he was going to “prepare a place for them” — a real place where they would eventually “be also.” Thomas responded to Jesus’ teaching and said something like this: “We have no idea where you are going, but we want to be there. How can we get there?”
Then Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth…” He is making exclusive claims about entrance into heaven, about how the disciples can follow.
TWO — Rob makes it sound like as though the doctrine of the trinity were not based upon Scripture. He writes,
“Take for example the doctrine – the spring – called the Trinity. This doctrine is essential to historic, orthodox Christian faith., While there is only God, God is somehow present everywhere. People began to call this presence, the power of God, his ‘Spirit.’ So there is God, and then there is God’s Spirit. And then Jesus comes among us and has this oneness with God that has people saying things like God has visited us in the flesh. So God is one, but God has also revealed himself to us as Spirit and then as Jesus. One and yet three. This three-in-oneness understanding of God emerged in the several hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection. People began to call this concept the Trinity. The word trinity is not found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus didn’t use the word, and the writers of the rest of the Bible didn’t use the word. But over time, this belief, this understanding, this doctrine has become central to how followers of Jesus have understood who God is. It is a spring, and people have jumped for thousands of years without it. It was added later.”
Does Rob believe the trinity? Yes he does. But you wouldn’t get that from reading Velvet Elvis unless you turned to the back of the book and read his fifth endnote.
THREE — Rob says some unfortunate things about the importance of the virgin birth. I have already addressed this in an earlier post.
FOUR – Rob affirms the problematic, emergent rallying cry that orthopraxy (right action) is far more important than orthodoxy (right belief). He says,
Perhaps a better question than who’s right is who’s living rightly?
I am far more interested in jumping than I am about whose trampoline is better.
Maybe Rob should do his good works on the Buddhist trampoline or the trampoline of the Muslims — I’m certain they would love to play trampoline with Rob. Some atheists do good things too — even things that are spoken of in the Bible. I’m sure they would welcome Rob to their trampoline as well.
Only one chapter in and so far, I haven’t been pleasantly surprised.