Until about a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of an individual named Randal Rauser. When I first ran across him I had to look him up. He does have his own, admittedly sparse, Wikipedia page, which informs me that he is a professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, a small Canadian progressive Baptist seminary. Rauser has written a couple of books and maintains an apologetics blog, for which he has a twitter account called “The Tentative Apologist“. It was his twitter activities which first brought him to my attention as he engaged in a twitter debate with a fellow creation apologist, ApoloJedi in which Rauser appeared to insist that, in order to understand Scripture, you needed a seminary degree, something Apolo and I both challenged him on, pointing out that seminary never existed as concept until at least medieval Europe if not later, to which Rauser had no answer. However, despite his historical theology professorship, and just in time for Christmas, he displayed an incredible lack of both historical and Biblical understanding of Scripture. In his blog entitled “Five reasons that Christians unnecessarily experience a crisis of faith” Rause goes from stuck up elitist, to rank heretic in the space of fewer than seven hundred words.
I do not throw the word heretic around lightly. However, when one of Rauser’s points includes denial of penal substitutionary atonement, I feel justified in making such a claim. For those who don’t know, penal substitutionary atonement is the idea that Jesus took the penalty for our sins on the cross and was thus our substitute. This idea has been the keystone of the church for two millennia and is clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” Of course Biblical facts are irrelevant to progressive elitist Evangelicals like Rauser, who happily points to what he calls the “good news” that other frameworks exist. He undoubtedly means the N.T. Wright heretical view known as Christus Victor popular with BioLogos among others such heresies. Christus Victor proposes that Jesus did not have to pay for our sins, but simply rescued us from our sins. This fails because the Bible says that the wages or payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and if that penalty was not paid by Christ, it will be paid by us. While Rauser does not mention this view specifically, Wright does and Rauser and Wright share a lot of progressive tendencies.
Rauser’s other points are less heretical but continue to echo his progressive, heterodox views. He actually does not get to penal substitution until number four on the list. His primary reason is young-earth creationism. I didn’t even have to open his blog to know this would be on the list somewhere. Biblical creationist views are the most prominent whipping boy for progressive evangelicals and heretics. Unfortunately, the data simply demonstrates that Rauser has no idea what he is talking about. Studies repeatedly have shown that progressive churches that teach evolution and millions of years as Rauser does are imploding and young people are fleeing in droves. Even in more conservative churches, we find that one of the biggest indicators of those leaving the faith is being taught evolution. Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and Barna Research Group have all confirmed this. Rauser’s argument implodes at a touch.
Rauser further argues that the “genocides” in the Bible cause crisis in faith when taken as historical narrative. Again, his heterodoxy gets in the way of plain facts. I can’t think of a single Hebraist who would argue these are not meant to be taken as history. When God orders the destruction of Jericho, for example, there is reason for that. The society as a whole was incredibly wicked. They practiced temple prostitution, Baal worship, child sacrifice and all manner of wickedness. In fact, as Genesis 15:16 tells us, one of the reasons the Israelites were to take the land was the wickedness of the Amorites occupying it. God delayed handing the land over to the Israelites for four generations because he wanted to give the Amorites a chance to repent. Obviously, they did not and were mostly destroyed. Yet Rauser simply brushes this away with a wave of his hand as if it did not have the right to exist. Does not God, the just judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25, Ps 9:8) have the right to determine when judgment should befall a civilization?
Rauser’s third point asks about those who never heard. This is the one point where I could potentially see his argument. However, his logic is half-baked at best. Why would Jesus command us “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”(Mark 16:15) were those who have never heard bound for Heaven? It makes no sense. In fact, if God truly “would have all men be saved” (1 Tim 2:4) and those who have never heard were bound for Heaven, then Jesus should have said “Tell no one”! After all, if they hear and reject, then they will not go to Heaven so just better that they don’t hear in Rauser’s view. Unfortunately for Rauser, that’s not what was said. Jesus said go. Those who have not heard are lost and desperately need the Gospel.
Perhaps the reason Rauser takes the position he does about the unreached is his belief that there is no eternal hell. This is his final reason why people go through a crisis of faith. Unfortunately, again, he completely ignores the Scriptural evidence for an eternal hell. Mark 9:43-48 makes it clear that hell is an eternal place with a fire that burns forever.
The reason Rauser takes these absurdly unBiblical positions is that he has an a priori commitment to a progressive, leftist ideology that supersedes Scripture. Since his foundation is the fallible criticisms of man, it is no surprise he refuses to accept the plain teaching of Scripture and has wandered into heresy. Unfortunately, I doubt we will see a retraction from Dr. Rauser, nor will we see Taylor Seminary fire him for these statements. I will gladly be proven wrong, but the slippery slope inevitably goes left and Rauser is pretty far to the left to begin with. Christians should be very wary of elitists like Rauser who often profess themselves to be wise and become fools by changing the truth of God into a lie. (Romans 1)
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