Rob Bell, Harold Camping, and Deviations from the Truth

According to Harold Camping: Judgment Day is this Saturday. According to Rob Bell: Don’t worry about it because “love wins”.

Camping and Bell both leave me scratching my head wondering if these men (and others like them) are reading from the same Bible as me. Have they found a new insight no one else has found? Or did they both come down with a bad case of exegesis?

I’ve been studying 2 Timothy 2:14-26 for the past few weeks and I think there are several insights in this passage about how to handle those who “deviate from the truth”.

Diligently Study the Word

The best way to understand if a false teaching needs to be challenged (or even if it is a false teaching) is to know the truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 says,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

I won’t be held accountable for Rob Bell or Harold Camping’s teaching but I will be held accountable for my own. Will my teaching gain man’s approval or God’s? Will I eventually be ashamed of my teaching?

Before I respond to someone to correct, instruct, or teach, have I thoroughly sought to understand them? Have I carefully considered what the Bible says about the issue? As we read and study and memorize the real thing it’s easier to spot the counterfeit and know how to appropriately respond.

The Resurrection Was A Mass Hallucination! Really?

The resurrection of Jesus is hard to believe. The most we can expect for someone to return from the dead is minutes, not hours, and certainly not days. If someone claimed to have been dead for three days we would find it hard to believe and hard to prove. Much less if it happened nearly 2,000 years ago. How would we even begin to think historically (and rationally) about such a claim?

Yet, the resurrection is the most plausible explanation for the historical “facts in evidence”. In his book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Mike Licona does an amazing job of outlining a) how to conduct historiographical research and b) how the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation of the “historical bedrock” that is accepted by virtually all New Testament scholars (which includes Jewish scholars, liberal scholars, atheist and agnostic scholars, evangelical scholars, etc. who study the Bible for academic purposes).

Historical Bedrock

So what is the historical bedrock? Licona informs us that apologist and theologian Gary Habermas has completed an academic review of 3,400 scholarly books and journal articles written on the resurrection of Jesus since 1975. An overwhelming majority of those scholars, whether skeptics or believers, will grant a high probability of historicity to the following four events:

Did Jesus Claim to be God? [Matthew]

I have talked with a lot of people who argue that Jesus never said the words, “I am God.” So, if that were true, why does orthodox Christianity teach that Jesus is, in fact, God in the flesh?

First, I would say that the Gospels present us with four perspectives on the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus and I find them to be trustworthy. We have these four witnesses to the divinity of Jesus who are quoting Him and giving us a record of His activity on earth.

As I have studied the Gospels and the languages and culture of these early followers of Jesus, it is clear that they were thoroughly convinced of Jesus’ divinity and that they
communicated that fact very clearly to their original audience. They showed that Jesus
was God both by what He did and by what He said.

Jesus’ Actions Confirm His Divinity

The Gospels are filled with all of the evidence for Jesus’ divinity, so for the sake of this post I’ll highlight just a few events in the life of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 1:23

See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’

It’s not every day that a virgin conceives and the significance of the baby Jesus fulfilling prophecy and being named “God is with us” isn’t lost on Matthew’s Jewish audience.