Dangerous flirtations with heresy 26

This retweet from Brad Cooper is giving me heartburn tonight:

Acknowledging the historical fact of His resurrection doesn’t save u (James2:9). Being changed by His resurrection does (Rom6)

I think more highly of BCoop than some of you might suppose, so seeing him entertain this kind of idea stuns me. The cancer in the modern church movement is the tolerance for the denial of the historicity of Scripture (c.f. Rob Bell et al.)Β With this tweet, Cooper seems to be endorsing the idea that believing that the resurrection is a historical fact is optional to our faith.

No. No. No. No. No.

If we don’t believe that the resurrection is a historical fact, we are not going to be changed by it because we have no faith. The resurrection as historical fact is everything; without it, the foundation of our faith crumbles.

Yes, I was disappointed in the whole BAMF stuff, but this is much more serious. Perhaps he’ll retract and explain in an upcoming tweet. I really hope he does.

(BTW, I don’t get the James 2:9 reference. Is it a typo, or am I missing something? UPDATE: It was a typo. The proper reference is James 2:19.)

26 thoughts on “Dangerous flirtations with heresy

  1. Anthony Aug 11, 2009 8:15 pm

    I think what he means is that just acknowledging that Jesus died on the cross for our sins isnt enough and it isnt. When you accept Jesus into your life and live in a way that honors Him, thats when you are changed. I agree with you about the importance of the historical fact. WOW! Did I just say I agree with you about something James πŸ™‚

  2. James Downing Aug 11, 2009 8:20 pm

    I’m thinking he meant James 2:19, which then would make the context of his tweet seem to mean: A simple intellectual belief in Jesus is not enough, you must be reborn.

    Horrible, Horrible wording on his part.

  3. Anthony Aug 11, 2009 8:23 pm

    Do you mean the original post? Or do you mean with James 2:19 was it horrible wording? It was probably just a simple mistake.

  4. JT Aug 11, 2009 8:35 pm

    The meaning was obvious to me from reading his tweet the first time. We are not saved by our knowledge of Jesus’ divinity. Maybe Cooper’s tweet was clear to me because I’ve had this discussion with a few people in the past. I know a few New-Agers who believe Jesus is God, died, and was resurrected, but they sure ain’t saved.

    And yeah, he definitely meant James 2:19.

  5. James Duncan Aug 11, 2009 9:00 pm

    What’s surprising is that Cooper surely knows that Bell’s ahistorical beliefs are part of what makes emergent theology so toxic, and are what give people pause about the tendencies of churches like NewSpring. It’s remarkable that with a tweet like this, he’s putting an arm around Bell and his heretical teachings.

    I hope it’s just carelessness, but shouldn’t he have a bit more of a clue? He’s responsible for shaping the faith of an awful lot of teenagers.

    I agree that simply believing in the historical fact of the resurrection isn’t going to save you, but salvation surely requires that belief. Oxygen doesn’t make you alive, though without it, life is impossible.

  6. Anthony Aug 11, 2009 9:03 pm

    JT — I thought so too. Knowledge alone doesnt get you to Heaven. James knows that, I just think the missing 1 in James 2:19 threw him off and rightfully so. I think Brad Cooper is doing amazing things through God with those students. If you havent yet got to listen to his sermons and their worship, I definitely encourage you too.

  7. Sara Aug 11, 2009 10:59 pm

    i think his tweet was perfectly clear. i didn’t have a problem understanding the biblical context of what he meant. maybe if you weren’t always looking for errors and trying to critique others, you would have an easier time understanding what people really mean!! πŸ™‚

  8. Albert Aug 11, 2009 11:28 pm


    That’s true sometimes. However, details matter–especially when you’re on a staff that is so influential.

  9. James Duncan Aug 11, 2009 11:31 pm

    Anthony, there are two levels to this. One, it’s just very badly worded to the point of being wrong.

    Two, it does sound just like the worst aspects of emergent theology. Given that Noble probably wants to avoid being lumped in with the emergents, Cooper’s echoing of their thinking is not going to help. We learned a few months ago that NS uses Bell in their small groups, and now a senior leader is essentially channeling him.

    For what it’s worth, I think I used enough disclaimers in the original post to suggest that I’m happy to give BC the benefit of the doubt, but it would be good if he would clarify why he tweeted this. I mean, why pick the resurrection as your example of the inadequacy of head knowledge?

    The historical reality of the resurrection is essential head knowledge.

  10. MW Aug 11, 2009 11:39 pm

    Haven’t read the above comments yet so that I can comment on the post specifically.

    You can’t be changed by the resurrection if you don’t believe in it happened in History. I know what He’s trying to say… I think He’s basically saying that “even the demons believe.” Believing that it happened and letting it change you are two different things. You can believe it happened and not be changed by it. I really don’t think Brad is going down the road you say He might be going down. There is nothing in that tweet that would ever cause me to doubt he believes in the historic truth of the resurrection.

  11. MW Aug 11, 2009 11:50 pm

    OK now I’ve read the comments. I see where you are coming from on being careful because of the camp NS can tend to be associated with, and I can see that it’s not worded all that great (Twitter limits the amount of words that you can use), but I wouldn’t have taken him to mean anything even close to heretical about that statement.

    However, to someone from the Emergant (heretical branch) church it might get twisted to mean what you are saying it could come across as.

    I just think you’re stretching this one a little. I can’t imagine reading this and thinking that He means anything other than the fact that you must be transformed by the cross not just believe it.

    I am a bit biased though. I don’t know how a stranger would read that. Maybe they would take this differently. It’s hard for me to read it outside of the context that I know about Brad.

  12. Lane Chaplin Aug 12, 2009 12:25 am

    If he meant James 2:19, then it’s still baffling. The verse is speaking of belief in monotheism not the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And to think these kids want us to give them so much credibility and forsake all (apparently including the very little bit of critical thought required to not read into things into texts that the author had no intention of saying) when they can’t even read a sentence accurately. Amazing!

  13. James Duncan Aug 12, 2009 1:14 am

    MW, you and I know (or really, really hope) that BC doesn’t believe this stuff. Do the people who read his tweets know that, though?

    We can’t keep complaining that Twitter lacks context because it limits characters. If you want to broadcast a clear message about the historicity of the resurrection, you probably shouldn’t be using Twitter.

    Or you should be as sharp as Piper.

  14. Josh Aug 12, 2009 1:22 am

    We ARE saved by what we believe, though. John 4:10 is the gospel: Know who Jesus is (the Christ) and ask Him (call upon Him) and He WILL give you living water.

  15. JT Aug 12, 2009 12:44 pm

    James D.- I still think the tweet was pretty clear. Don’t you think that it is unfair to expect Cooper to adjust his wording because some might interpret his words incorrectly?

    Josh- The “ask” part that you refer to is a step beyond simple belief, isn’t it? Otherwise, my New-Age friends that I previously mentioned would be saved, right? After all, they readily agree that Jesus is God, died, and rose again.

  16. MW Aug 12, 2009 1:20 pm


    Piper does know how to use some twitter. I agree.

  17. Josh Aug 12, 2009 2:51 pm


    John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

    I think Jesus probably knows what he’s talking about πŸ™‚

    Jesus died for everyone, but saves only those who call on the name of the Lord in faith.

    Acts 2:21: And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  18. James Duncan Aug 12, 2009 3:08 pm

    JT, yes, he should have adjusted his wording, especially because some might interpret his words incorrectly. As I’ve pointed out again in the Rob Bell post, this tweet so very similar to the trash that’s coming out of the emergent church that he should have known not to repeat it. If he doesn’t know what kind of material is coming from Bell and co, what is he doing leading kids who think Bell is the cat’s pajamas?

  19. JT Aug 12, 2009 6:40 pm

    Josh- Are you saying that we are saved based upon our belief (about who Jesus is, and what He did), and by our asking for salvation?

    If so, we agree. The point that Cooper is making is that knowledge alone does not equal salvation.

    James Duncan- I disagree that this tweet needs to be reworded. It was clear as the sky in San Diego to me. Cooper’s statement is remarkably similar to what I’ve heard pastor’s say from the pulpit throughout my life.

    Now, maybe if I’d just heard Bell say something similar, I’d have read it as you did. But I still don’t think it’s fair to read anything into his tweet beyond what he actually said.

  20. KeithO Aug 12, 2009 7:18 pm


    I lean more towards your view of what I think he said. Acknowledging the resurection doesn’t save, but if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you can’t go any further in your faith. Resurrection is part and parcel to faith.

  21. Josh Aug 12, 2009 7:24 pm

    That’s what I’m saying, JT.

    As to Cooper’s tweet, I do think it’s pretty ambiguous. I guess it really depends on what he means by “being changed.” If he means that by faith in Christ we become born again and new creatures, I agree. If he means that because we believe the resurrection we are saved if we “turn from our sin” and become a Christ-follower, I disagree. I guess I couldn’t really draw conclusions based on that little info, but I agree that it’s subject to multiple interpretations, some which are right, some which are wrong.

  22. JT Aug 12, 2009 11:35 pm


    Cooper may very well mean the latter. After seeing your previous discussion regarding grace, perseverance of the saints, etc… I’m not going to go there! Honestly, I not sure which side is right, or even which side Cooper would side with.

    My argument is simply that the original post that claims that “Cooper seems to be endorsing the idea that believing that the resurrection is a historical fact is optional to our faith” is reading more into Cooper’s words than were intended, or should be reasonably inferred from them.

  23. James Duncan Aug 13, 2009 12:03 am

    Josh, you’re onto something that I missed in my focus on the first part of the statement. The first part is highly suspect, but the second part is dead wrong. We are not saved by any change. We are saved by the Savior through faith.

    Change comes after we’re saved and as a result of salvation. It’s the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that changes us, not the resurrection.

    The appeal to Romans 6 (though we can’t be sure exactly what part the author had in mind) is yet another echo of the Bell approach to the resurrection as being primarily a personal, mystical experience. The historical resurrection, according to the emergents, is not nearly as important as the personal spiritual resurrections we can experience. This adopted Cooper tweet completely falls in line with that.

  24. David J Horn Aug 13, 2009 12:19 am

    I think Cooper would be better served to put down the Rob Bell books and advise Noble to do the same http://www.perrynoble.com/2007/06/08/i-pod/

    Bell and heretics like him will only create confusion and cause problems within the church.

    I had to read Cooper’s tweet several times trying to figure out if he just typed without thinking. Either way it’s very poorly worded. I hope Cooper explains what he meant on his blog very soon. If anyone has Cooper’s ear then please ask him to explain this statement in detail.

  25. Anthony Aug 13, 2009 5:41 am

    David — What is wrong with what Perry listened to in his IPOD TWO YEARS AGO! Wow man you are digging!! Nothing better to do with your time huh? WOW

  26. Anthony Aug 13, 2009 6:56 am

    Brad does not need to explain anything just because you all THINK he worded it oddly. I understood it from the beginning and I am not the only one. Look Rob Bell is controversial to say the very least–I have read two books but have not listened to any sermons or speaking engagements by him. Therefore I cant say anything to that end except that I will probably eventually agree with you regarding him–just not yet.

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