RAZING HELL WITH SHARON BAKER : Apprising Ministries
RAZING HELL WITH SHARON BAKER
By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Aug 31, 2010 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Emergence Christianity, Emergent Church, Features, Youth Ministry
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
Trying To Put Out Hell With A Faulty Fire Extinguisher
A large part of this online apologetics and discernment work of Apprising Ministries is cover foolish trends developing within rapidly apostatizing mainstream evanjellyfish as it continues its lust for acceptance by unregenerate mankind and his world system ruled by Satan. Yes, I know, that’s so yesterday and apparently embarrassing to those so seduced by the man-centered semi-pelagian (at best) Church Growth Movement, which is far more deeply rooted within largely pretending to be Protestant evangelicalism than you may even realize right now.
Now I’ve already warned you that evanjellyfish is only just beginning to pay a heavy price for its foolish embrace of the sinfully ecumenial Emerging Church aka Emergent Church, which has grown into a full-blown neo-liberal cult operating within its walls. This is because what we’re now dealing with is an upgraded Emerging Church 2.0—complete with its new version of Progressive Christian theology that they’re referring to as “big tent” Emergence Christianity; and it’s not as if they’re even hiding it because this Liberalism 2.0 forms the theology EC guru Brian McLaren began to lay out in his latest book A New Kind of Christianity.
Sadly, for a good fifteen years now evangelical churches have been treating their younger sector in Young Adult and Youth ministries as spiritual guinea pigs in “alternative” worship services where they’re using the warped and toxic teachings of EC leaders to feed them, which now brings us around to this issue. A couple of days ago the Huffington Post tweeted:
The link takes us to the article The Problem with Hell by Dr. Sharon Baker, who’s Associate Professor of Theology and Religion, Messiah College, which:
is a Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences. The College is committed to an embracing evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church. Our mission is to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society. (Online source)
Now because I’m tracking the traitorous teachings of EC guru McLaren the name Sharon Baker was already familiar to me from his post 11 Women Writers You Should Be Reading, where Baker appears first. Guru McLaren muses:
Here are some of my favorite women writers of spirituality and theology in no particular order with short comments on why I recommend them.
1. Sharon Baker: Her new book, Razing Hell, will put her on the front line of Christian thinkers asking important questions and responding to them in helpful ways. (Online source, bold his)
We note that Baker’s book happens subtitled: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught About God’s Wrath and Judgment and, but of course, comes “highly recommended” by—surprise—Brian McLaren who gushes:
“What I tried to do in my book The Last Word and the Word After That, Sharon Baker has done in Razing Hell – with more brevity, more levity, and probably with more clarity and accessibility too. Highly recommended.” (Online source)
So this pretty much tells you that we’ve already wandered off the reservation and out into the whacked Wonderland of postmodern Humpty Dumpty language; yet another “re-ing” of whatever, of which, I personally am getting really tired of reading about. Seriously though, you need to understand that people like McLaren and Baker are not really coming up with anything new; no, what they’re doing by and large is repackaging views from progressive/liberal theology and then bringing them into the mainstream of evangelicalism. It only looks new because, prior to these rebels against the Word of God gaining evangelical acceptance, the average evangelical wouldn’t even have had to deal with these vapid views as they have already been largely debunked by respected mainstream evangelical scholars; though sadly, their number is rapidly dwindling.
Baker begins her post, which is essentially a commercial for her book by telling us, “When I was 26, I found out I was going to hell.” Being “impressionable, and without a strong faith,” Baker then describes an event “25 years ago” when she:
listened intently as the pastor of a church I was visiting described in graphic detail the tortuous, unquenchable flames that would burn human bodies forever and ever. He spoke of worms eating away at decaying flesh, total darkness without the presence of God, and worst of all, no release from those horrors for all eternity. I certainly didn’t want to be one of those unfortunate many to feel the flames licking at my feet soon after leaving life in this world. So I took out the proper fire insurance and asked Jesus to save me from my sins and, therefore, from eternal torment in hell. (Online source)
You’ve probably heard similar descriptions yourself while those who wish to “rethink” set up their pet attack on some “fire insurance” gospel they apparently heard somewhere; as if something akin to Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God by Jonathan Edwards is being preached every Sunday. Dr. Al Mohler put it well in his post from January of this year Air Conditioning Hell: How Liberalism Happens. While discussing the “new pattern of evangelical evasion” of the doctrine of hell that ”has surfaced” in the evangelical community Mohler points out that because they “already rejected the truthfulness of Scripture” the “Protestant liberals and modernists of the twentieth century simply dismissed the doctrine of hell” outright. He goes on:
Though this pattern is found among some who would claim to be evangelicals, this is not the most common evangelical pattern of compromise. A new apologetic move is now evident among some theologians and preachers who do affirm the inerrancy of the Bible and the essential truthfulness of the New Testament doctrine of hell. This new move is more subtle, to be sure. In this move the preacher simply says something like this:
“I regret to tell you that the doctrine of hell is taught in the Bible. I believe it. I believe it because it is revealed in the Bible. It is not up for renegotiation. We just have to receive it and believe it. I do believe it. I wish it could be otherwise but it is not.” (Online source)
Fast forward now to Sharon Baker and a remarkable similarity to Mohler’s example:
Hell haunts me deep down inside, where I fear to tread and fail to admit uncertainty lest ripples of doubt disturb my secure little world of faith, lest someone find out and think me less Christian and more heretic. I have no intention of doing away with hell. I can’t — certain verses in the Bible won’t allow me to do that. So I am very concerned about remaining faithful to the Christian scriptures; but I’m even more concerned about remaining faithful to the God of love, who loves the worst of the worst, the world’s enemies, including, even, the Hitlers, the Idi Amins, and the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
Our traditional views of hell as a place of eternal punishment where unbelievers dwell in undying flames contradict the image of God as merciful, forgiving, and compassionate. Our traditional focus on hell as an evangelistic tool does not genuinely communicate the very heart of the gospel. If we receive Jesus as Savior merely because we want to avoid hell, we miss the entire point. (Online source)
Don’t get caught up with Baker’s red herring about receiving Jesus “because we want to avoid hell”; it’ll only take you down a rabbit trail, and you’ll miss the main point that Al Mohler will bring out for you when he says:
Statements like this reveal a very great deal. The authority of the Bible is clearly affirmed. The speaker affirms what the Bible reveals and rejects accommodation. So far, so good. The problem is in how the affirmation is introduced and explained. In an apologetic gesture, the doctrine is essentially lamented.
What does this say about God? What does this imply about God’s truth? Can a truth clearly revealed in the Bible be anything less than good for us? The Bible presents the knowledge of hell just as it presents the knowledge of sin and judgment: these are things we had better know. God reveals these things to us for our good and for our redemption. In this light, the knowledge of these things is grace to us. Apologizing for a doctrine is tantamount to impugning the character of God. (Online source)
Bible Believing Liberals Confusing Cultural Conservatism With Theological Conservatism
As an example that we’re not dealing with anything new, consider the following from Harry Emerson Fosdick and the Emerging Theology of Early Liberalism by Dr. John MacArthur. Of this leader of early liberalism MacArthur reminds us that:
Fosdick ultimately would not acknowledge the literal reality of God’s wrath toward impenitent sinners. To him, “the wrath of God” was nothing more than a metaphor for the natural consequences of wrongdoing. His theology would not tolerate a personal God whose righteous anger burns against sin. To Fosdick, the threat of hell fire was only a relic of a barbaric age. “Obviously, we do not believe in that kind of God any more.”
Fosdick wrote those words almost ninety years ago. Sadly, what was true of liberalism then is all too true in the so-called “evangelical movement” today. “Evangelicals” have to a very large degree rejected the reality of God’s wrath. They have disregarded His hatred for sin. The god most evangelicals now describe is completely benevolent and not the least bit angry.
Post-modern “evangelicals” have forgotten (or simply refused to believe) that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). These days, they are the ones saying, “We do not believe in that kind of God any more.” (Online source)
You see what we have here with people like Sharon Baker is what pastor Todd Wilkin, host of the fine Issues Etc. radio program, has called Bible Believing Liberals, which he explains as those who:
have confused cultural conservatism with theological conservatism. Theologically these Bible-believing Christians have a lot in common with liberals. I had been thinking about this for some months. Then, during a conversation with Gene Edward Veith, he said something that made it all clear. Dr. Veith was describing the old-line liberals in the 20th century:
In the churches there was a sense of panic, that “Oh people, the culture’s changing! So if we’re gonna survive, we’ve got to go along with the culture.” And so you had a movement in the Christian church to change Christianity according to the dominant culture… And that’s what liberalism is: changing your theology to fit whatever the culture is.
I suddenly realized that Dr. Veith was also describing many Bible-believing Christians today. “That’s what liberalism is: changing your theology to fit whatever the culture is.” He was describing Bible-believing liberals. (Online source)
But for those who accuse God of being unfair by creating hell, or of not explaining Himself to us in the ways we’d prefer—the dreadful and awful, glorious and majestic, LORD God Almighty of the Bible would likely say to you: “Take off your shoes, you’re on Holy ground. Don’t you ever ask Me about Who I Am, or what I Am; you just be thankful when I tell you that I Am!” There’s a book that discusses the doctrine of hell on a lay level called The Other Side Of The Good News (TOS), which I highly recommend to every serious student of the Bible. It’s written by Dr. Larry Dixon, who points out that one of Christianity’s greatest theologians, the great 16th century Church Reformer John Calvin, once said: “We are taught by Scripture to perceive that apart from Christ, God is—so to speak—hostile to us, and His hand is armed for our destruction.”
In his article Does God Love the Sinner and Hate Only His Sin? Dr. John Gerstner also brings out:
“Repent or Perish” forces people to ponder seriously the popular slogan, “God hates the sin and loves the sinner.” Is a necessary repentance consistent with “God loves the sinner?” If God loves the sinner while he is alive, it is strange that God sends him to hell as soon as he dies. God loves the sinner to death? Loves him to everlasting torment? …
God is perfectly displeased with the sinner. The sinner hates God, disobeys God, is ungrateful to God for all His favors, would kill God if he could. He is dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph.2:1) “The thoughts and intents of his heart are only evil continually.” (Gen.6:5) He is the slave of sin (John 8:34), the servant of the devil, (Eph.2:2). God has no complacent love for the sinner at all. He has a perfect hatred of him, “I hate them with a perfect hatred.” (Ps. 139:22) (Online source)
Then in TOS Dixon goes on to point out that, “Seldom do we consider the malevolence of God, and almost never do we hear, or preach sermons on God’s wrath and the justified perfect hatred God has of sinners”; we’re speaking of those apart from Christ here. We need to remember that God is infinite and to our limited, finite, minds many things about Him are a paradox; in other words at first things appear to contradict, but actually don’t. You must understand that apart from Christ we are simply not the delightful little creatures we like to think we are. Here is what Jesus said about the unregenerate nature of man in Matthew 7:11 — If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Did you get that? The Master, your Creator, says you — who are evil.
Let’s go to the Book of Romans chapter 8 for a moment. The Apostle Paul tells us that, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, our basic nature is self-ishness, as our minds are set on the “flesh”, the “carnal” — in other words on our-selves. Romans 8:7 — For the mind — [if you have the King James Version it reads — the carnal mind]; the Greek word here is sarx, and it refers to your body—your flesh—the carnal nature…well, you. With this in mind then, let’s begin again — For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. The absolute truth is that all who are, apart from, i.e. without Christ are controlled by the carnal, sinful, human nature—those not regenerated, or born again — cannot [possibly] please God (Romans 8:8). And this is not just my opinion, that’s the very Word of God the Holy Spirit Himself.
In commenting on this verse John Calvin put it this way, “the will of man is in all things opposed to [God’s] will; for, as much as what is crooked differs from what is straight, so much must be the difference between us and God.” Still need more convincing? Note what God tells us about our human natuure in Genesis 8:21 — “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Now listen to what Jesus tells us about mankind here in Mark 7:21-23 — For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” And Paul once again — For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh… Wretched man that I am! (Romans 7:18, 24).
Understanding the above helps you see through Sharon Baker’s six centered on the self (see—2 Timothy 3:2), points in her post where she “rethinks the issues surrounding traditional notions of hell as a place of eternal punishment in favor of a view more consistent with that of a loving God.” I’m not going to bother with a specific rebuttal because frankly her piece is somewhat self-refuting where she is in some contradiction with herself, e.g. “I have no intention of doing away with hell. I can’t — certain verses in the Bible won’t allow me to do that” with, “By holding on to the doctrine of eternal hell, we in essence hold to the belief that in the end God’s will to save all people goes unfulfilled, which puts God’s power and goodness in doubt.” She’s appears to be arguing for a form of Christian Universalism; and sounds very similar in that regard to EC rock star pastor Rob Bell, with a futile hope for an empty hell.
Suffice to say that the Bible unquestionably teaches that all who die apart from a saving relationship to God through the blood shed on the cross by Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins—no matter what culture, no matter what race, no matter what religion—all who die apart from Christ will follow the Devil and his angels into hell. They will be forever shut out of the presence of God; with no second chance. And not even the mystic musings of Rob Bell, or his friend heretical quasi-universalist EC pastor Doug Pagitt, can help them. Now let’s not get bogged down here either with what exactly hell is, or isn’t, because we do know this much for sure: hell is so awful that Christ Jesus was willing to undergo crucifixion to grab the keys to the gates of it. Not only that, but consider carefully it also took the power of the life, death, and resurrection, of God the Son to keep all of us from going there!
Certainly, one has the right to believe whatever one wants to believe, that most—or eventually everyone—will be saved; as I just mentioned above, this view is called “universalism.” As I previously pointed out it’s a very popular belief right now—it’s rapidly gaining ground even within mainstream seminaries—and now even within the heart of the alleged evangelical community as it continues embracing Emerging Church apostate e.g. like Spencer Burke: I’m A Universalist Who Believes In Hell. However, even though those like Sharon Baker may try, it’s crystal clear that you will find no actual support for this heretical view in the Bible; the eternally fatal false hope of avoiding the bloody Cross of Jesus Christ, and the absolute certainty of hell for all those who reject Him, collapses with the precision laser beam light of God the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures of Lord’s Word—the Bible.
And something Emerging Church fools, following their mythical mush god with a man-shaped hole in its bleeding heart, ought to take note of; it was Jesus Christ Himself Who says to false religious teachers — You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
RAZING HELL WITH SHARON BAKER : Apprising Ministries