A good friend of mine posted the following quote on his blog from Tertullian refuting the heretic Marcion. In case you’re not up on your heretics, Marcion was a man who presented himself as a Christian in the second century AD. Christianity was, at that point, about a hundred years old, and even then Marcion’s views were investigated, reviewed against scripture, and promptly rejected. What were these views? Well, in part, very similar to what we see in liberal christianity today! He disavowed the doctrine of hell, the idea of a judging God who is angry at sin and sinners, and instead he believed in a god who was simply all about love. He affirmed that this god of his was Jesus Christ, but the Jesus that he spoke of was very different than those whom the Apostles knew and wrote about. That heresy was refuted by many notable Christians at the time, among whom were Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. The following quote is a from Tertullian’s refutation of Marcion, his teaching, and his followers:

But evidently he does judge evil by refusing consent, and condemns it by forbidding it: yet he forgives it by not avenging, and excuses it by not punishing. There you have as a god a defaulter against the truth, one who annuls his own decision. He is afraid to condemn what he does condemn, afraid to hate what he does not love, allows when done that which he does not allow to be done, and would rather point out what he disapproves of than give proof of it. Here you will find the ghost of goodness, discipline itself a phantasm, casual precepts, offences free from fear.

Listen, you sinners, and any of you not yet so, that you may be able to become so: a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind. Of course he forbids you to sin—but only in writing. It lies with you whether you consent to accord him obedience, so as to appear to have given honour to your god: for he will not accept your fear. And in fact the Marcionites make it their boast that they do not at all fear their god: for, they say, a bad god needs to be feared, but a good one loved.

Fool: you call him lord, but deny he is to be feared, though this is a term suggesting authority, and with it fear. Yet how shall you love, unless you fear not to love? Evidently he is not even your father, to whom would be due both love for affection’s sake, and fear for the sake of authority: nor is he your lawful lord, for you to love for human kindness’ sake and fear for the sake of discipline. This is the way kidnappers are loved without being feared. The only domination which can be an object of fear is the lawful and regular one: though even an illicit one can be an object of affection, since it rests not upon respect but upon affectation, on seduction and not on force: and what greater seduction is there than to abstain from punishing wrongdoing?

So then, you who decline to fear your god because he is good, what keeps you from bubbling over into all manner of vice—the superlative enjoyment of life, I suppose, for all who do not fear God? Why absent yourself from those popular pleasures, the excitement of the race-course, the savagery of the wild beast show, the lechery of the stage? Why also during persecution do you not at once offer your incense, and so gain your life by denial? “Oh no”, you answer, “far from it”.

In that case you are already in fear — of doing wrong: and by your fear you have admitted your fear of him who forbids the wrong. It is another matter if, in imitation of your god’s perversity, you pay respect to him whom you do not fear, as he in turn forbids what he does not punish. With much greater inconsequence, to the question, “What will happen on that day to every sinner?” they answer that he will be cast away, as it were out of sight.

Is not this an act of judgement? He is judged worthy to be cast away—evidently by a judgement of condemnation: unless perhaps the sinner is cast away into salvation, so that this too may stand to the credit of a god supremely good. And yet what can being cast away amount to, if not the loss of that which he was on the way to obtain if he were not cast away—salvation, no less? So then he will be cast away to the damage of his salvation: and a sentence like this can only be passed by one offended and indignant, a punisher of wrongdoing—in short, a judge.

HT: Adkinsblog (formatting added for readability)

Oh to have men who speak without fear of being called “intolerant” in these days. Rob Bell produces a new book where he sides with Marcion and the world (and liberal christians) adores him. Christian men and women revolt against his teaching and are dismissed as intolerant. Jesus told us this would happen and while it’s painful to watch, it just points out the facts found in scripture. Good to see old heresies recycled though – that makes them easier to refute…

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

Relevant magazine has just published a write up (see puff piece) on the heretical Rob Bell. I’ve been “blessed” with obtaining a scan of a page such that I don’t actually have to buy it so that I can read some and respond. I don’t have a lot of time but this is totally worth it. First, let’s get some understanding of what this is about, then we’ll tackle the quote and get some follow up in here.

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.
In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

~ Isaiah 19:18-25

There is an absolutely mind-blowing passage in Isaiah 19 where God calls Egypt His son and Assyria His beloved. Egypt and Assyria were the archenemies of Israel. Today, that passage would literally be “Taliban My son, Al-Qaueda My beloved.”

~ Rob Bell, Relevant Magazine Jan/Feb ’08, page 67

When you read it in context you see that the reason that God is blessing Egypt and Assyria as well as Israel is because God has just judged them and punished the lands for their worship of false gods. It was in that persecution from God that they turned in a right response to God and worshipped Him. They had received the grace of God. Not ALL of Egypt and not for all time. Read Judges to see how stupid and sheep-like we are; worshipping God while we have a great leader then back to worshipping idols when we think no one is looking. The last 7 verses speak of FIVE cities turning in a right response to their creator and it’s filled with that language. The best part is, as you know, the prophet Isaiah is speaking in the “prophetic language” which speaks of a recent and a far off prophecy. It meant something to them locally at the time and something that won’t happen for a long time to come. This section is about the day of the LORD, and that, as we know from the rest of scripture, refers to the day when Jesus comes in glory to rule and reign for a thousand years. That’s after the rapture and after 7 years of brutal tribulations.

Does that mean that God is totally accepting of those who fail to call on Jesus in a right response in light of their sinfulness and their separation from Him in that sin? NO! All of scripture declares the glory and righteousness of God and we can see it over and over in the Law, and in His righteous judgements, and in the way in which we are to respond to Him! If you take all that information and all of that knowledge and toss it aside to create for yourself a new god who is loving and accepting for all, then that’s fine but don’t call it Jesus and don’t peddle it to millions of people in your books or “speaking tours”.

Here’s a great commentary on this chapter that explains it in much more detail For reference, I really like the Matthew Henry Commentaries


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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)