Ears Which Long to be Tickled

Someone recently quoted this and I was surprised I missed it the first time I browsed the site. It’s from the “About NOOMA” section on NOOMA.com, one of Rob Bell’s projects. See if you can figure out what the folks producing it care most about and are pursuing with all their heart, mind, and strength from what is written in the description of NOOMA. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not truth.

We can get anything we want, from anywhere in the world, whenever we want it. That’s how it is and that’s how we want it to be. Still, our lives aren’t any different than other generations before us. Our time is.

We want spiritual direction, but it has to be real for us and available when we need it. We want a new format for getting Christian perspectives.

NOOMA is the new format.

It’s short films with communicators that really speak to us. Compact, portable, and concise. Each NOOMA touches on issues that we care about, that we want to talk about,
and it comes in a way that fits our world. It’s a format that’s there for us when we need it, as we need it, how we need it.

To Bell and the rest of the Emergent movement, it’s all about what we want, we need, and we care about. It’s not about knowing the absolute truths about God and ourselves and then conforming our lives to what God wants. To Bell and those like him, it’s about redefining the truth about God to make it conform to what man wants.

Regardless, I plan on going to see Mr. Bell speak in Cleveland on December 1st. Not because I’m not already thoroughly convinced that what he teaches is contrary to Scripture in the utmost. It is firmly established in my mind that Mr. Bell is the dreaded h-word that so many Christians are afraid to utter, even in the face of clear evidence which justifies its use. But I digress. I will go because I have friends and loved ones who are being deceived by what this man is teaching to the flock. And to be credible to them, it would be profitable to hear what they are hearing (although we ought to strive to listen always in a discerning manner) and read what they are reading to know what is being said in order that we might respond point for point to the deception that has come and will no doubt abound all the more when Mr. Bell comes to town.

We must contend earnestly for the faith that was handed down once for all to the saints. And we must not be afraid to call out false teaching for what it is. We know that more is coming and that much is already here (Mike Bickle, Lou Engle, Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, etc). Jesus Himself said in Matt 24 and Mark 13: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.”

Paul gives instructions to Timothy in 1 Tim 4:1-5 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

My prayer is that we would be wise, filled with the knowledge of Truth, not being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, but holding fast to that which is sound, to that which is true. My prayer is that God would open our minds and hearts to the Truth first and foremost so that we might easily recognize the many counterfeits, discarding that which is bad and holding onto what is good.

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2 Responses to Ears Which Long to be Tickled

  1. Mark says:

    I usually refrain from posting replies to blogs anywhere for a couple of reasons. First off I subscribe via RSS, so I don’t get an update when new replies are posted, so I rarely see the follow-up & often times people are left with the impression that my post has been refuted & the person who posts next has somehow triumphed in the conversation because they got the last word & I, having been shown my place, am too cowed to respond, which may in fact harm my cause more than help it. And secondly, I have NEVER, in all my years on the internet, seen one single case where a person changed their viewpoint based upon one of these discussions. People come in with preconceived notions (myself included) and tend to become more entrenched in those views as the conversation goes on. Oftentimes these discussions turn much harsher than the people would actually be, had they had the discussion in person. That being said, I felt this post was (IMHO) outrageous enough to warrant a response. I won’t be checking back to see any further discussion, so Bill will have the last word, but I hope that my comments inspire thought on the part of any others who may come across this blog post.

    Sometimes we see what we want to see. It’s not surprising that you never noticed this bias in the “About Nooma” section of Nooma until it was pointed out, as it is likely not there. Yes the Nooma people use the worlds we/us/our 19 times out of the 131 words in the About Nooma section of the website, or 6.89% of the words they use. This would seem to imply a very selfish worldview that is only interested in we/us/ our. And yet, what else would should an “About us” section of a website be, except for “about us”. I decided to click on the “Why a blog?” section of this very website (Located at the very top of this page) and noticed that Bill used the words I/Me/my 7 times in 46 words, or 6.57% of the time. Roughly equal to the About Nooma section of the website. Am I now to assume that Bill Carlyle himself is only about ” what I want, I need, and I care about. It’s not about knowing the absolute truths about God and myself and then conforming my life to what God wants. To Bill and those like him, it’s about redefining the truth about God to make it conform to what he wants.”

    Of course not, and yet that is exactly the slander that has been perpetrated on the nooma brand right here (A brand that I IMHO has done more to reach the world for Christ than you & I put together). If I were looking to discredit this blog, I could certainly point to the “why this blog” section & impugn(sp?) the motives of the one writing it. And yet do do so would be as wrong in that case as it is in this one.

  2. Bill says:

    Mark,

    We’re friends, and my hope is that our disagreements we happen to have regarding Mr. Bell and his NOOMA videos don’t change that. We’re seriously overdue for some Chipotle. 🙂

    I think you misunderstand what I meant by “I didn’t notice this.” I’m saying that I didn’t read that section when I went to the NOOMA site before. All I did was watch some of the previews to the videos. I didn’t look in the “About NOOMA” before I closed the window. When I read that statement, even before I got to “NOOMA is the new format.” I was disgusted with what I read. It is utterly man-centered. “Things that claim authority over our lives (spiritual direction) have to be ‘real’ to us and available where, how, and when we want it.” That is the essential message of the About NOOMA section.

    Let me quote that section again with emphasis placed on phrases rather than just the words “we,” “us,” and “our.”

    We can get anything we want, from anywhere in the world, whenever we want it. That’s how it is and that’s how we want it to be. Still, our lives aren’t any different than other generations before us. Our time is.

    We want spiritual direction, but it has to be real for us and available when we need it. We want a new format for getting Christian perspectives.

    NOOMA is the new format.

    It’s short films with communicators that really speak to us. Compact, portable, and concise. Each NOOMA touches on issues that we care about, that we want to talk about, and it comes in a way that fits our world. It’s a format that’s there for us when we need it, as we need it, how we need it.

    My first issue is with the self-gratifying nature of the statement in its entirety. It’s plain to see. Reread the statement. Take out the word NOOMA and ask yourself: “If someone else said these exact things, what would I conclude about their motives?”

    My second issue is with several other statements from those in the Emergent Church movement which irrefutably support the assertions I have made regarding Bell and others. When a man claims that the Bible is not first and foremost timeless truth, I take issue with that. The Westminster Shorter Catechism speaks of the Bible in this manner:

    What is the chief end of man?
    Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

    What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
    The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

    What do the Scriptures principally teach?
    The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

    So if the Scriptures aren’t first and foremost truth, what are they?

    Bell says in his book Velvet Elvis:

    … the Bible did not drop out of the sky. It was written by people. People who told stories and passed on oral traditions and sat down and wrote things with a pen and paper. The Bible originated from real people in real places at real times.

    It is poems and stories and letters and accounts. It is people interacting with other people in actual space and time. It is God interacting with people in actual space and time. We cannot ignore this.

    To take statements made in a letter from one person living in a real place at a moment in history writing to another person living in a real place out of their context and apply them to today without first understanding their original context sucks the life right out of them. They aren’t isolated statements that float unattached, out in space.

    They aren’t first and foremost timeless truths.

    We may, and usually do, find timeless truths present in the Bible, but it is because they were true in real places for real people at real times.

    I heard somebody refer to the Bible as “data”. That person was in an intense discussion about what the Bible teaches about a certain issue, and he disagreed with someone else so he said, “I don’t see the data for your position.”

    The Bible is not pieces of information about God and Jesus and whatever else we take and apply to situations as we would a cookbook or an instruction manual.

    And while I’m at it, let’s make a group decision to drop once and for all the Bible-as-owner’s-manual metaphor. It’s terrible. It really is.

    When was the last time you read the owner’s manual for your toaster? Do you find it remotely inspiring or meaningful?

    You only refer to it when something’s wrong with your toaster. You use it to fix the problem, and then you put it away.

    We have to embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of people experiencing the living God.

    Doubting the one true God.

    Wrestling with, arguing with, getting angry with, reconciling with, loving, worshipping, thanking, following the one who gives us everything.

    We cannot tame it.

    We cannot tone it down.

    If we do, then we can’t say it is the life-giving Word of God. We have made it something else…

    Real people, in real places, at real times, writing and telling stories about their experiences and their growing understanding of who God is and who they are.

    This does not in any way discount the power of reading the Bible with no background knowledge at all, which is why these words are so powerful. We can enter into them at any level and they speak to us. Whether we are reading the Bible for the first time or standing in a field in Israel next to a historian and an archaeologist and a scholar, the Bible meets us where we are. That is what real truth does.

    Bell is a post-modernist. To him, there is no such thing as objective truth. What is “true” is only true because it is “true in real places for real people at real times.” So according to Bell the Bible is not objectively true because it is the Word of God (which Bell seems to have issues believing in the first place given his insistence on the man-centeredness of Scripture), but rather, some of it is true because it was “true” to a particular person.

    Wrap your head around this one for a moment. He’s saying that a propositional statement such as “Jesus is God.” is not objectively true apart from someone “experiencing” it as true. He’s not saying it’s untrue, just that it’s not necessarily true for everyone. “Jesus is Lord” might be true for you, but it might not be true for me. It can only be true if it’s “true” for a “real person in a real place at a real time.”

    The apostate Emergent Church has married itself to post-modernism, and the results of that embrace are that they deny Scripture as objective, authoritative, absolute Truth about God and mankind.

    NOOMA is merely one manifestation of such post-modern, man-pleasing rewriting of the Christian faith to take out the parts that don’t make us comfortable as we continue to love our filthy, immoral post-modern world. The difference between NOOMA and my blog is vast. NOOMA isn’t merely a rarely visited webpage where some guy is writing his thoughts down and others can comment. NOOMA purports to be a source of public teaching. To try to equate the two is inaccurate and it makes a straw man out of the assertion that the Emergent Church (and in this case, NOOMA in particular) is primarily concerned with seeking to please the flesh.

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