Skip to main content
#
Exploring a Faith That Embraces Discipleship
our twitterour facebook page google plus
BLOG
Monday, September 01 2014

The Devil’s Gospel

“You can’t do this. Leave people alone, you can’t really know anything for sure so quit acting like you do.”

“ The first thing I tell pastors is don’t trust crowds. They are dangerous, fickle, and they lie to you.”

Bill Hull

“ This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 

I Corinthians 4:1 Revised Standard Version

Immanuel Kant remains a towering force in Western intellectual history. He remains so because he asked questions to which no completely satisfactory answer can be given. This tiny man with a very dull life convinced his world and ours that you can’t really know anything for sure. Religion is more likely than not an interior thought of humans necessary to cope with life and give it meaning. But you can’t trust any non-empirical knowledge claim that lies outside of scientific truth such as, “I know my mother.” That is a form of knowledge, but it can’t be proved by science. Given Kant’s standard for proof, there is very little that anyone can know that is important about life. Kant played an important role in the development of the Devil’s Gospel. [1] This is the Devil’s gospel because Lucifer is a thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy. [2] The most important possession he stole from us is the belief that we can know something non-material with as much certainty as gravity. Even though the greatest scientific minds can tell you only what gravity is, they can’t explain gravity itself. That is the growing challenge of a pastor seated at his desk holding a bible in his hand. Can he really have confidence that what he is reading, preaching, and banking his life on is knowable? Most of society has decided that he cannot. Religious knowledge is a matter of faith, not of the mind, not empirical, therefore, not to be included within the boundary lines of respectable inquiry now undertaken by a University.

This explains to some degree why pastors are no longer considered custodians of knowledge, the knowable truth about God. As Paul so profoundly stated about he and Apollos, “ we are stewards of the mysteries of God.” [3] The mysteries of God is a body of knowledge that is as serious and relevant as any other truths about life. Most institutions that used to pass on this body of knowledge have abandoned their posts and have left it to the church. But first they had to divest religious knowledge of its meaning and importance by deconstructing the bible. Public schools, governments, national, state, and local authorities along with university’s have now left this hollowed out shell to the church and said, “you can have it, we don’t want it. And, oh, by the way, keep it to yourself, we will let you know if we need it.”

The pastor has his book and he has choices to make. Will he teach it or take another route where he extracts the spicy parts for public consumption? There are the ones who have stuck with it and have taught it faithfully. Others have abandoned any serous attempt to teach it and are using the most interesting bits to grow their congregations. Then there is the muddle in the middle, those who are devotionalists, storytellers, and romanticists who are committed to reaching people on an emotional level. People love to be moved and speakers love to move them, everyone walks away feeling cleansed, affirmed, until the feeling leaves them. But there are precious few who are willing to attempt what the Devil’s gospel says is impossible, “Teaching people to do everything that Jesus commanded.”  The Devil doesn’t want this done, this is what he is against with his complete being ,because people who are taught to do what Jesus commanded have a knowledge that will take him down. It will disrupt his plan, destroy his strategy, and set his captives free. There is nothing he won’t do to stop it. The most effective strategy he has is to convince these stewards of the mysteries of God that it cannot be done. The second is to convince the world that what these pastors teach is worthless. Pastors are the last group that have the knowledge, skill, and opportunity to pass on this knowledge, to implement God’s plan, and to rescue us all. So what now?

 

[1] A.N. Wilson, God’s Funeral, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, page 32-37. Kant is best known for his works, Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, Critique of Judgment and Religion within the Limits of Bare Reason. 1793. Kant lived eighty years, rarely left his town of Konigsberg in East Prussia; never married, never varied his daily routines. He was a small man who barely could be seen above the Lectern, but he left a giant imprint on the minds of European intellectual history.

[2] John 10:10

[3] I Corinthians 4:1 

Posted by: Bill Hull AT 06:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 01 2014

The Devil’s Gospel

“You can’t do this. Leave people alone, you can’t really know anything for sure so quit acting like you do.”

“ The first thing I tell pastors is don’t trust crowds. They are dangerous, fickle, and they lie to you.”

Bill Hull

“ This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 

I Corinthians 4:1 Revised Standard Version

Immanuel Kant remains a towering force in Western intellectual history. He remains so because he asked questions to which no completely satisfactory answer can be given. This tiny man with a very dull life convinced his world and ours that you can’t really know anything for sure. Religion is more likely than not an interior thought of humans necessary to cope with life and give it meaning. But you can’t trust any non-empirical knowledge claim that lies outside of scientific truth such as, “I know my mother.” That is a form of knowledge, but it can’t be proved by science. Given Kant’s standard for proof, there is very little that anyone can know that is important about life. Kant played an important role in the development of the Devil’s Gospel. [1] This is the Devil’s gospel because Lucifer is a thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy. [2] The most important possession he stole from us is the belief that we can know something non-material with as much certainty as gravity. Even though the greatest scientific minds can tell you only what gravity is, they can’t explain gravity itself. That is the growing challenge of a pastor seated at his desk holding a bible in his hand. Can he really have confidence that what he is reading, preaching, and banking his life on is knowable? Most of society has decided that he cannot. Religious knowledge is a matter of faith, not of the mind, not empirical, therefore, not to be included within the boundary lines of respectable inquiry now undertaken by a University.

This explains to some degree why pastors are no longer considered custodians of knowledge, the knowable truth about God. As Paul so profoundly stated about he and Apollos, “ we are stewards of the mysteries of God.” [3] The mysteries of God is a body of knowledge that is as serious and relevant as any other truths about life. Most institutions that used to pass on this body of knowledge have abandoned their posts and have left it to the church. But first they had to divest religious knowledge of its meaning and importance by deconstructing the bible. Public schools, governments, national, state, and local authorities along with university’s have now left this hollowed out shell to the church and said, “you can have it, we don’t want it. And, oh, by the way, keep it to yourself, we will let you know if we need it.”

The pastor has his book and he has choices to make. Will he teach it or take another route where he extracts the spicy parts for public consumption? There are the ones who have stuck with it and have taught it faithfully. Others have abandoned any serous attempt to teach it and are using the most interesting bits to grow their congregations. Then there is the muddle in the middle, those who are devotionalists, storytellers, and romanticists who are committed to reaching people on an emotional level. People love to be moved and speakers love to move them, everyone walks away feeling cleansed, affirmed, until the feeling leaves them. But there are precious few who are willing to attempt what the Devil’s gospel says is impossible, “Teaching people to do everything that Jesus commanded.”  The Devil doesn’t want this done, this is what he is against with his complete being ,because people who are taught to do what Jesus commanded have a knowledge that will take him down. It will disrupt his plan, destroy his strategy, and set his captives free. There is nothing he won’t do to stop it. The most effective strategy he has is to convince these stewards of the mysteries of God that it cannot be done. The second is to convince the world that what these pastors teach is worthless. Pastors are the last group that have the knowledge, skill, and opportunity to pass on this knowledge, to implement God’s plan, and to rescue us all. So what now?

 

[1] A.N. Wilson, God’s Funeral, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, page 32-37. Kant is best known for his works, Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, Critique of Judgment and Religion within the Limits of Bare Reason. 1793. Kant lived eighty years, rarely left his town of Konigsberg in East Prussia; never married, never varied his daily routines. He was a small man who barely could be seen above the Lectern, but he left a giant imprint on the minds of European intellectual history.

[2] John 10:10

[3] I Corinthians 4:1 

Posted by: Bill Hull AT 06:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 16 2013
 I am so thankful for God given me the push to write. I was an unlikely suspect, but he chose me to give my life to publication about making disciples. I was again moved today about what my friend Dallas Willard said about one of my books, The Disciple Making Pastor. 

"Bill Hull tells us the truth about church life and its leadership--biblically, courageously, and intelligently. I have no doubt that this is the best book available on disciple making and disciple development in the contemporary church. And this is the single most important issue now facing the church worldwide."--Dallas Willard, author, The Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart; professor of philosophy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

It helps to be encouraged, we all need it 

Posted by: Bill Hull AT 09:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 31 2012
 An accommodationist church is one who has trimmed back the specific demands of the Christian faith. Such requirements as repentance of sin, the following of the clear moral teachings of the New Testament, the belief in a literal resurrection, et al are not considered necessary for membership. These churches surprisingly don't disappear, they decline and then level off with their own market niche. It survives most vigorously in the nation's intelligentisia which makes one wonder what value there is to intelligence. These Christians retain a cultural clout disproportionate to their numbers. Ross Douthat says they are "forever failing-but forever being rediscovered." There seems to be a static market share for Americans who what to think about Jesus, to rediscover Jesus, to interact about Jesus, but not to follow Jesus. I suppose they would be fans, admirers, and users, but not disciples. There is a tendency in us all to accomodate, to go in search of a Jesus we can be comfortable with and who will affirm our every quirk and prejudice- please don't follow that Jesus, the real Jesus  isn't an accommondationist. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said is so well, "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity with out Christ." Jesus calls us to follow him, that way we accommodate him. 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 01:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 21 2012
 Discipleship is not an abstraction, it is not knowledge of theories and techniques, it is a state of being. It is not directly a devotional life, but it is a life of devotion. It is not about more church, more meetings, and greater discipline per se- it is about learning to live one’s life as though Christ were living it. It is the reality of Christ in one’s life in all life’s events and circumstances. Its greatest apologetic is to love as Christ loved. God’s love is a concrete action taken for the benefit of another. God’s love is more than an intention, it is an action that can be recognized by those receiving it. It is about living your ordinary mundane daily existence in a place God loves, a place where you live, work and play. If you need to learn to be kind, God has prescribed a way for you to do that- it combines, discipline, devotion, and all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

 

Posted by: Bill Hull AT 06:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 08 2012
  There is a tendency to think that only pastors in the West and the Northern Hemisphere are committed to not make disciples. I would suggest that I hear the same reasoning from leaders whether they be in Viet Nam, Pakistan, Omaha or Chicago. First of all there is a great deal of confusion among pastors about what making disciples or discipleship actually is. This comes from a pastoral training that places its emphasis on preaching, worship style, and growing churches. These are all subsets of the only thing we have been authorized to do, make disciples. [Mt. 28:18-20] Pastors tend to say," I've never really been discipled myself, and look, I made it."  Or another variation, " I haven't been through it, so I don't really know how to do it myself."  And or, " I am a preacher, I delegate discipleship to lay people or staff, its really good for them, they really dig it."  A very common excuse is, " I'm do busy running the church." What allows pastors to do this is they have preached a gospel that is separate from discipleship.  Another way to put it is that they preach a gospel of salvation that doesn't include discipleship. Discipleship is not required for salvation, so it is less important than getting people to decide for Christ. This kind of thinking is dangerous, debilitating and I would like to drive a stake through its heart. I am going to talk about this in future blogs, but let me end this way for now-the answer to our marginalized and weakened church is a redefinition of what is means to be a Christian. It begins with a gospel that includes discipleship, discipleship is not a program or an option, it is a life of following Jesus. The gospel calls us to follow Christ, it expects transformation to normative. Pastors are confused about it, it does include some vulnerability and real apprenticeship, something many leaders are not acquainted with. Until next time ponder this question, " Do you need to be following Christ in discipleship to be a Christian?" 
 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 09:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 07 2012
 There is a tendency to think that only pastors in the West and the Northern Hemisphere are committed to not make disciples. I would suggest that I hear the same reasoning from leaders whether they be in Viet Nam, Pakistan, Omaha or Chicago. First of all there is a great deal of confusion among pastors about what making disciples or discipleship actually is. This comes from a pastoral training that places its emphasis on preaching, worship style, and growing churches. These are all subsets of the only thing we have been authorized to do, make disciples. [Mt. 28:18-20] Pastors tend to say," I've never really been discipled myself, and look, I made it."  Or another variation, " I haven't been through it, so I don't really know how to do it myself."  And or, " I am a preacher, I delegate discipleship to lay people or staff, its really good for them, they really dig it."  A very common excuse is, " I'm do busy running the church." What allows pastors to do this is they have preached a gospel that is separate from discipleship.  Another way to put it is that they preach a gospel of salvation that doesn't include discipleship. Discipleship is not required for salvation, so it is less important than getting people to decide for Christ. This kind of thinking is dangerous, debilitating and I would like to drive a stake through its heart. I am going to talk about this in future blogs, but let me end this way for now-the answer to our marginalized and weakened church is a redefinition of what is means to be a Christian. It begins with a gospel that includes discipleship, discipleship is not a program or an option, it is a life of following Jesus. The gospel calls us to follow Christ, it expects transformation to normative. Pastors are confused about it, it does include some vulnerability and real apprenticeship, something many leaders are not acquainted with. Until next time ponder this question, " Do you need to be following Christ in discipleship to be a Christian?" 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 06:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, May 26 2012
 It is 4:00 AM Sunday and I am on a treadmill, it must be Hong Kong. At least that is what my watch, map, and mind tell me. The body, that is a different matter- I felt great sweating out the Kung Pao Chicken and some of that other stuff with no name we have eaten in the last few days. Last night on the train back to our hotel we found ourselves among thousands going to a rock concert, someone named Jackie Chan, not the 58 year old actor, but a 51 year old singer who is apparently very hot. We acted like we knew what was going on and all of those younger than us, which meant everyone, were properly giggling as we walked along with them. These are some of the perks when you travel around the world and learn about the vast numbers of people who live very different lives than Jane and me. I have that mission accomplished feel right now, eight messages in three days at the Asian Consultation on Discipleship in Malaysia. Pastors and leaders, men and women from Singapore, KL, The Philippines, Viet Nam, Yeman, Pakistan, Sir Lanka, et al. It was an honor to serve them. May I never tire of those joyous and thankful faces of the delegates that spurred me on. The problems that pastors around the world have are similar, the economies are different but not the challenges. How many times I heard, " I am so busy it is hard to find time to make disciples." I will keep going until I can't go anymore- May God raise up many younger ones who will carry the gospel forward. 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 04:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 14 2012
 Today Megan Kelly of Fox News called five Oral Roberts University students killed in a tragic plane crash fundamentalists. I have no idea what Ms. kelly's religious views are, she may of not written the actual words she read from the teleprompter. Regardless, read them she did and it revealed the lack of theological sophistication of the secular press. I graduated from ORU in 1969, and it wasn't even fundamentalist then. Fundamentalist is not used by the press as a description of the five basic fundamentals of conservative theology that separated them from liberal theology. It was used in ignorance to smear the University and describe the young people as not so bright knuckle dragging enthusiasts traveling to a bible camp. The word is used to categorize, it unfairly makes the public think that these were not well-educated thoughtful students. It is not only inaccurate, it attaches all the stereotypical images of right wing prejudice, and naivete toward a progressive world view that anyone really educated would have. It is too bad that Megan did not catch herself, but possibly she didn't understand what she had done. What would be the right label to use of these young people?  How about "five graduates of Oral Roberts University were tragically killed in a plane crash in southern Kansas yesterday." And then after some description of the details, " Oral Roberts University is a private Christian University located in Tulsa, Oklahoma." 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 09:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 10 2012
 Have you noticed that the United States is becoming more like Western Europe? It seems that many would like for us to have eight weeks of vacation, and job security even if we don't work. Parisians in their twenties are marching in the streets to protest the retirement age being raised from sixty to sixty-two. In Greece mobs trash public buildings because the government has run out of money and the welfare state must be trimmed. Western Europe in particular suffers from what Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania calls, " learned helplessness." In social-democratic Spain nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. As Arthur Brooks wrote in the Wall Street Journal, they are "Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits." The history of the United States is that of a meritocracy, of earned success. Right now the U.S. Government is spending 36% of GDP, about the same as Spain. The Congressional Budget Office says it will be 50% by 2038. It also tells us that 70% of Americans take more out of the tax system than they put in. What concerns me is that we are fast becoming a nation that is teaching "learned helplessness." This is poison in the water, it will create a greater welfare state, the economy will suffer, people will become less motivated to work and achieve. Do we really want to create a new generation that doesn't understand the rewards and punishments of behavior and how it is connected to merit?  Scripture teaches us very clearly, " What a person sows,  they will also reap." Galatians 6:7. God says that this is reality, and it is the kind of world we live in. Last summer my wife and I sat in the Tuileries gradens on a beautiful August evening, Paris was lit up in all its glory. I looked to the right and there was the Musee du Louvre, to the left and I could see all the way down the Avenue Des Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. I was caught up in the beauty of one of the world's most magnificent cities, but I held a Big Mac in my hand just to remind me of where I was from. 
Posted by: Bill Hull AT 11:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

Share this page!
Facebook
Google+
Twitter
Bill Hull
Long Beach, CA
Email: Bill@BillHull.com
Site Powered By
SiteHatcher.com