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    August 14th, 2012 @ 8:02 am by Kevin

    You’d think pitching a film that asks probing questions about hell in Rob Bell’s backyard would be an easy sell. Apparently not. I wasn’t able to attend Unity Fest, which takes place a stone’s throw from Bell’s former church in Grand Rapids, MI, but my co-producer David Rempel did. And it was not only the smallest turnout on the tour (due to incessant rain) it was also the most hostile.

    It was so hostile, in fact, that after watching our trailer, one person ripped off his headphones and shouted “Blasphemy!” as he pointed at the screen. Another couple were so livid that they accused us of “working against the church.” Then they had the festival president come down and watch the trailer. That led to a 45-minute discussion, during which our continued presence at the festival hung in the balance.

    Later, the president returned to say he had contacted the organizers of several other festivals we had attended to see if we had caused any problems there. To our credit, the reports all came back positive. Even so, the president warned Dave to steer clear of debate, saying “questions only breed confusion.”

    If I had been there, I probably would have had a few questions about that statement. Then again, I wouldn’t want to risk confusing things any further…

    I will say this though: questions may indeed breed confusion, but certainty almost always yields violence.

leave a comment on this post (23 Comments)

  1. Yikes. Yes, Western Michigan isn’t exactly the breeding ground of outside-the-box thinking. The irony… “Unity Fest”!

  2. yeah, ouch. Thought we would’ve seen a more balanced group out there. I think the crowd there confused unity with unanimity. I had a lady come to chew us out even after we took the tent down. This crowd was scared to death of anything that challenged their box.

  3. Woah! It sounds more like their combination of word and deed is breeding confusion.

    They certainly developed concrete thoughts on the movie on the trailer.

  4. There you go Kevin, the most damning argument yet. You are clearly of the Devil and not of God, because God (as the scriptures say) is not the author of confusion 😉 Perhaps debating is what we shall do in hell for all eternity…

  5. Wow. The first quote in the trailer seems especially poignant after reading this. Why are people so afraid of questions? Fear ( and subsequently clinging to dogmatic certainty) can lead to terrible things.

  6. Certainty almost always breeds violence? So you’re not certain there’s no hell then? So it is a possibility?
    Obviously a statement like ‘questions breed confusion’ is a real gift to such persons as you who, like McLaren fancy yourselves free-thinking and open-minded. But can we be uncertain about that which God has revealed? Perhaps the speaker was thinking of this verse.

    2ti 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes (‘questions’ NKJV), knowing that they generate strife.

    Are you not certain, as were the apostles, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Hasn’t led to any violence though, has it?

    You and your ilk want us to have no sure answers to anything; the exact opposite of what the scriptures teach.

    1jo 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

    It is understandable that people dislike your questioning…not because it challenges the (STRAW MAN!!) ‘traditional organized religion’ doctrines but because you hold God’s word in contempt which some of us tremble at (Isaiah 66:2).

    On a slight tangent, here’s a question I’d really like you (Kevin or anybody) to answer to see if you even know the God you claim to serve. The verse below: fact or fiction? Did it happen as written or perhaps someone is slandering God again?

    Jos 10:40 So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded.

    • David: a disagreement over how to interpret a text does not equate to “slandering God” or heresy. All of us are finite, subjective beings. So we should hold all ideas, opinions, theology, etc. loosely, b/c it is likely to be revealed as partially false in the light of new information.

      • The problem is, Kevin, there is no new information. I do wholeheartedly agree with you that we must be willing to challenge the teachings of any particular pastor or church or whatever. For example, if the Prosperity Gospel had somehow been believed for 2,000 years (instead of waiting for the invention of television!) we would still be bound to reject it.
        Likewise if a teacher comes along, like yourself, who, using scripture, corrected or modified previously held beliefs it would be the wisest course to take heed.
        I am convinced, however, that people like Gary Collier, Joshus Tongol, Brian McLaren and Greg Albrecht, etc. having nothing to offer but human reason and sentimentality. As for the scripture I cited, it is historical. God ordered the wholesale slaughter of human beings. Anyone here agree?

        • David: Joshua may very well have thought God told him to do these things. But that doesn’t equate to a divine directive. As I said earlier, no one I know is disputing the authority of Scripture, just particular interpretations of it.

          • So one of these took place:

            a) Joshua thought God said to do it so he did.
            b)Joshua thought God said to do it but disobeyed.
            (in either case, Joshua was delusional)

            Also in either case, God permitted this to printed in the Bible…some moldy writings of spaced-out ‘early Christians’ never trumps that.

        • David. In your posts you continually indicate that you think Kevin is saying something new. But the fact is, that the early church viewed Jesus as the full representation and teaching of God (as Paul says in his epistle) and Jesus wasn’t wrathful. Jesus wasn’t having his enemies “slaughtered” but instead was merciful to people who deserved to be stoned to death under Old Testament law.

          The early Christians understood God to be free from wrath based on the teachings and illumination of God found in Jesus. This is quite apparent in the “letter to diognetus” which was one of the earliest Christian apologetical writings that we know of. It can be found here.


          Now some pertinant quotes from the letter showing an early Christian understanding of God’s character.

          Ch 7: 17 …. “He Him; as God[17] He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us….”

          ch 8: 2 ……..”Yea, He was always of such a character, and still is, and will ever be, kind and good, and free from wrath, and true, and the only one who is [absolutely] good;[3] and He formed in His mind a great and unspeakable conception, which He communicated to His Son alone”

          It was after the early Roman church began to be more and more infiltrated with pagan thought, that this view of a wrathful, slaughtering God that your espousing entered into Christianity. It was not what the early Christians who lived closest to the time and culture of Christ (and knew the apostles) believed. They believed that Jesus was the full representation of God and they filtered their theology through Jesus….. not Old Testament texts that are hard to understand. You are the one that is following a “changed” tradition.

          • Here I am open to Kevin’s approach that there are a number of things that may have happened resulting in the recording of scripture.

            Is it possible Joshua was hearing his own wicked inclinations and ascribing those directives to God?

            Is it possible God was simply sitting in a tent telling the writer “write this down” and then dictating the book of Joshua to the scribe – so it’s a story and it never happened?

            There’s probably lots of things we could think of that might have transpired but we’ll never really know.

            So far I favor the traditional understanding, however, this notion that the wicked inclinations or man are embedded into the text is something that makes sense to me. After all while at the Master’s College, I learned that one needs to understand A) The writer’s audience – B) The writer’s culture – C) The intent of the writer. Are we saying the writers proclivities are present? If so is the dark side present? I would imagine so. But just how deep does the rabbit hole go?

  7. David Moore, you believe in the possibility that God will torture me forever while you enjoy eternal bliss. I believe in the God revealed in Jesus who is “reconciling all things.” (Colossians 1). Thus I cannot write you off even as you may write me off. Peace, Tim

  8. If one part-per-million of what you people believe were true then the Bible would be absolutely worthless. If we could not rely on the word of God then we would just have a bunch of beard-scratchers sitting around looking at a (as it has been called) ‘wonderful collection of truth-filled myths’ and saying “Gee, I wonder what God’s like? We’re nice…I guess He must be nice, too!”

    Here’s my Apostate Litmus test for Bible-deniers (Christianity Today has already failed) :
    Was there a man made from the earth, a real, individual man called Adam from whom God made a woman called Eve and are these the parents of the whole human race?

    In my view, not believing Genesis is akin to not believing God. Anyone here believe God? Or only on your terms?

    • Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is the manger which holds the Christ.

      The litmus test is the Revelation of God’s character in Jesus, the Image of the invisible God

    • David said:

      :In my view, not believing Genesis is akin to not believing God. Anyone here believe God? Or only on your terms?

      Where does it say that in the bible? You keep saying not to have views outside of the Bible and then continuously express them.

      David. Do you really mean this stuff, or are you a troll?

      • Christopher and Tim, do you not see the conundrum you present? You cite (as do many pacifists anti-infernalists) the Bible and the ‘nature of Christ’ revealed therein but refuse to accept it as literal document. The Bible says on many occasions (Psalm 19, Psalm 119, etc.) that the word of God, when not referring to Christ is the scriptures. Read every reference to ‘the scripture(s)’ in the BIble. I challenge you. To twist them is to ensure one’s destruction. There’s a lot of that going on here.

        • David. Just because the Bibles the word of God doesn’t mean it should be read literally. Is God really a “strong tower? Does God really ride on his chariots in the winds? Are you really going to pluck out your eye if it offends you?

          If not then you don’t read “the Word of God” literally.

          • Such desperation. Obviously Jesus couldn’t mean the part about the eye, foot, etc. since he taught Himself evil proceeds from the heart (so one could sin up a storm without any members) and we see no one does it or teaches it. However, plain recitation of events simply must be taken literally. For example, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven and consume men as Elijah did (2 Kings 1). If James and John were wrong about that historic event, surely Jesus would have said so…right?

  9. What is plain here is that this post is full of dead theology that attracts spiritual carrion. No one here accepts God as He has revealed Himself and thus they shamelessly reinvent Him. Idolatry, I think they call that.

    I’m through casting the pearls of the precious word of God before hippie swine. Over and out.

    • Yes, the logic of your interpretation is to call us pigs. You are holy. We are disgusting and not worth your time.

      And many good, faithful, orthodox interpretations say that God in Jesus seeks us until he finds us. (Luke 15)

      I take the scriptures as inspired on their own terms, not in a modern-enlightenment-scientific-historicist manner. Luther said the Bible is the manger that holds the Christ. That metaphor is most certainly true.

      I hear that alternative ways, besides literal (as you define), of conceiving biblical authority are sickening to you. So to disengage from the conversation is probably healthy.

      Go in peace, you are loved. God is good!

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