A little over a week ago, jihadists executed 21 Christian Egyptian men. None of the martyrs were wealthy or educated. They had gone to Libya looking for work and ended up in the hands of ISIS. In a picture accompanying the article I read, the men were kneeling on a beach with a gray overcast sky in the background. Each was dressed in an orange jumpsuit and behind each man stood a black-clad, hooded terrorist, knife in hand, ready to do his bloody deed. These men were targeted because they were “people of the cross.” According to this report, they were tortured in an effort to persuade them to deny Jesus and save their lives. Another report said they were whispering the name Jesus as they were executed. Presented with the choice of denying Christ or dying, they chose death.
Just days later another story hit the news circuit, this one situated in America. This one involving an author and former pastor heralded as one of the most influential Christians in America. His name is Rob Bell. Clad in hipster skinny jeans, sitting on rattan furniture in a cozy outdoor setting, Bell was being interviewed by the guru of secular spirituality, Oprah, and they were discussing his endorsement of same-sex marriage (you can read about it here). In that interview, Bell stated he is convinced the Church is just “moments away” from accepting same-sex marriage. Asserting that churches which don’t embrace same sex-marriage are a dying subculture, Bell makes this audacious claim: “You sort of die or you adapt.”
In a word, there is his theology — adapt. If you’re at all acquainted with Rob Bell you will come away from his books and talks with the distinct impression that Bell’s brand of Christianity isn’t really derived from an honest representation of what the New Testament teaches. In reality, he is more committed to cultural relevance than to actual truth. I think he would take that observation as a compliment. In his opinion, the Bible is outdated when it comes to establishing timeless norms for things like marriage, and it is horribly misrepresented in traditional Christian belief on the subject of hell. Rob Bell left the church he founded and pastored due, in part, to a fallout with the congregation over the less than orthodox views he expressed in his book Love Wins, stating he left to “search for a more forgiving faith.”
My purpose in this post isn’t to get into the same-sex marriage issue. My focus is on this “adapt or die” brand of Christianity promoted by such an influential person. His adaptable doctrine speaks volumes about the American brand of Christianity that is so popular these days. Christian martyrs down through the centuries wouldn’t buy Bell’s mantra. And neither should we. Those 21 Christians kneeling on that desolate beach demonstrated that Jesus – and what He says – is worth dying for.
Sometimes it is better to die than adapt.