Posted in atonement, cross, jay bakker, rob bell

Harlem Shake is dead but at least questioning the atonement is still cool

It’s a little rough but gets the point across:

The Harlem Shake is the latest “craze” to sweep churches that preach an emergent, soft, different Gospel. Those churches engage in social justice on weekdays and re-gather on Sundays to have rock concerts, share what dreams and revelations Jesus sent them whilst sipping cappuccino and admiring the gauge in their nose. You get the idea. There is more here from CNN about the Harlem Shake from a secular point of view, but make no mistake, the shake is sweeping churches. They have to stay relevant you know.

What was encouraging was that the Node ‘Last Shake’ video was posted to Facebook by 19-year old friend of mine. Not all youths are under the sway of the cool pastors in skinny jeans! Hallelujah!

At the blog A Twisted Crown of Thorns this is posted: “These relentless overtures to make the church more hip or more culturally savvy are in themselves a danger to any church. They downgrade the gospel, make people seek excitements as vehicles for their silliness and pander after entertainment instead of seeking Christ as a Savior for their sins. These excitements are a judgement to any church. Believers come seeking for bread and to be fed and you offer them stones! Oh brood of vipers, and you call yourselves Christ-ian (Christ-like)!”

I’m studying for the Sunday School lesson, it is from John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.” Pretty inspiring stuff. The cross never gets old, ya know?

Except when it does. I believe the study contained in our Sunday School quarterly is timely. The cross and Jesus as the substitutionary atonement, punished by taking the wrath of God for our sins, shedding His blood, is a doctrine that’s increasingly being denied.

Just last week Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) denied the atonement in his book “Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” following up his doubt about the atonement in an interview with The Christian Post. When CP asked him to clarify, Bakker said, “Yes I am definitely questioning the atonement.” (And yes, that thing on his lip is a honkin’ lip ring.)

One would think that there would be SOME hard and fast doctrines that people would not mess with. Like, Jesus as God. Or the Virgin Birth. Or, the Atonement. But these are exactly the ones that are under attack in the last few years. The atonement is being questioned and denied with increasing momentum. Besides Bakker, other notable people who question or deny the atonement these last 5 years have been people such as Reverend Jeffrey John, a Bishop of the Church of England, who called the doctrine “repulsive.” (Rev. John is gay, by the way).  Giles Fraser, a priest of the Church of England in London,  quickly followed up on John’s assertion by saying, “No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God.”

On this side of the pond, in 2011 Rob Bell denied the atonement in his book “Love Wins,” itself a denial of hell. In case you are wont to say ‘Oh that’s just Rob Bell, some guy who doesn’t affect me,’ think again. Time magazine named him to its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world, after making him the cover story in April 2011. Bell founded Mars Hill church in Michigan and it was considered one of the fastest growing churches in America.

William P. Young denies the atonement. Who is he, you ask? He wrote “The Shack,” a book which spent two years on the NY Times bestseller list AND was given the Diamond Award of sales over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association!

Still think that the doctrine of the atonement is solid at your church? The influence of these men who deny it is pervasive. Did you read The Shack? You were affected by the denial of the atonement. Think on how many people you knew were reading it, offered it to you, or commented about how good it was. Another influence on denying the atonement. Think you’re unaffected by the likes of Bell or Bakker?  They have large congregations, who are media savvy and have or produce their own television shows. They spawn other men who become pastors. They have congregants who go out into the community and speak of the these ideas. They have members who move and take these ideas with them. They and their ideas are poison chaff, blowing in the wind and landing at your threshold.

Be warned: the doctrine of the atonement is being chipped away at from all compass points and no doubt in your sphere too.

Speaking of Bakker, he announced last week he is leaving Revolution Church NYC “to pursue other opportunities.” And in other exciting news, he wrote a book that is being published this week. He wrote on his website-

“In the coming months, after 6 years in Brooklyn, I will be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have some exciting opportunities there and decided it was time for a fresh start. … [Sad that after only 6 years he feels stale…] My co-pastor, Vince Anderson, will remain on staff in his role as pastoral care minister and will continue to serve as a resource to the online community. He will be meeting with the local members here in Brooklyn, to determine how they would like to proceed. We believe that this time of transition will make for a more dynamic Revolution Church, and will help us focus and expand our scope and mission. Through this time, we ask for your continued support. Donations can be sent to our Brooklyn office, or online through Paypal. To support Revolution Church click HERE. On another note, my new book, “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” is now out.”

I’ll sum it up: ‘I am restless, bored, and moving on, need time to tour for my book and make merchandise of you, don’t worry, the online stuff is still there because we have diluted worship to the point where ‘connecting’ in Jesus’ name means ‘liking’ the podcast, and don’t forget to DONATE DONATE DONATE. See ya, bye.’

He is going to start a Revolution church in MN. In case you don’t think that Revolution church, with its gay marriage affirming, atonement denying, liberal teachings is a big deal, there is a Revolution Church in Tuscon, Long Beach, Wilmington NC, Gainesville GA, Atlanta GA, NYC, Canton GA, Oakland TN…and the list goes on.

Anyway, the cross. The cross is central. Stott wrote, “Yet the enemies of the Gospel neither did nor do share this perspective. There is no greater cleavage between faith and unbelief than in their respective attitudes to the cross. … Why do we ‘cling to the old rugged cross’ and insist on its centrality, refusing to let it be pushed to the circumference of our message? Why must we proclaim the scandalous, and glory in the shameful? The answer lies in the single word integrity.  Christian integrity consists partly in a resolve to unmask the caricatures, but mostly in a personal loyalty to Jesus in whose mind the saving cross was central.”

Are you loyal to Jesus? Then you are loyal to the cross. Stay that way.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.