Why Rob Bell is A Better Evangelical Than Evangelicals

Can I rant for a minute about the once-again-fashionable dog-piling on Rob Bell? He’s been circulating Twitter and FB feeds recently, first because of his new show on the Oprah channel, and second, because he has a new book coming out about marriage called The Zimzum of Love.* Most recently, I read this RNS story bewailing how these two things are further signs of  how far he’s fallen from evangelicalism.

I am truly baffled at how evangelicals, of all people, can’t see the positive possibilities that Rob Bell creates by engaging lots of people– lots of non-Christian, agnostic, atheistic, skeptical people– in discussions about God. Consider: The OWN channel is in 85 million homes worldwide. Oprah reaches millions of people every year, and sometimes in a single episode. What kind of confused evangelical would look at those numbers and say, “You know what would be terrible? If a Christian had his own talk show on that network. That would be really awful news”? What’s more, Bell is known for being someone people enjoy listening to. He’s engaging, he talks in normal English, he illustrates and weaves stories together masterfully. Of all people, evangelicals should know this, because they almost single-handedly are responsible for the 2.5 million Nooma videos that were sold, not to mention his sold out speaking tours and multiple best-selling books. Apparently, that was all okay, but now that he’s planning to bring that same energy and message to people outside of the walls of mega-churches, to the millions of people who haven’t yet heard him talk about God or the Bible or Jesus or pursuing this beautiful, justice-and-mercy-filled way of life, it’s not OK?

That makes absolutely no sense. Not for anyone, but certainly not for evangelicals.

If Oprah calls you up and invites you to share your thoughts on your faith, what kind of a moron would you have to be to say no? Would evangelicals really rather someone NOT be talking about God? Is it really that dire? Is Rob Bell so bad, so different from you, that silence is the better option? Because that’s what evangelicals currently have with broader culture: silence. Crickets. The vast majority of America has tuned them out. What kind of special prize do evangelicals think they are getting by not connecting with the very people they say they want to reach?

I know evangelicals are upset in part because they say they don’t believe the same gospel as Rob Bell, now that they consider him a heretic. I’m just going to go ahead and call BS on that idea right now. Let’s put this into perspective: We disagree on many things, we Christians, but if someone were to put together a collective sampling of people from across the world and asked us to tell our faith stories, and then asked people to classify groups by story, everyone would lump all the Christians together, regardless of who we voted for in the last election cycle, or even what continent we hail from. We share the same story. We do. We are the people who tell the story of Jesus and new life and a coming Kingdom. All of us tell that story. We differ on the details, but the idea that Rob Bell is somehow outside of his own Jesus-tinged faith skin is preposterous. It’s also really small-minded, because if you think Rob Bell is too different from you, go hang out with a group of Armenian Orthodox for a couple of hours and see if you feel differently. (Also, consider that the Armenian Orthodox practiced and thought it their way first, so we’re the ones who “evolved” past their faith expression, not the other way around.) Our story is really big, and we all live out this story different ways. So enough of the “he’s not sharing the real gospel” malarkey.

Sure, Rob Bell goes for the big picture. He sets a mood, he captivates people’s imaginations and attentions. He’s not holding lectures on minor points of doctrine. Of course, that’s why people are listening to him. Can I tell you something? Can I be really honest? The only people who care about the conversations about God that evangelicals are having are evangelicals. And honestly, a number of young evangelicals are leaving because they don’t care about those conversations, either.

Rob Bell understands how people who are outside of organized religion feel about things. He gets how they see the world. And he gets how to connect how they see the world with how he sees the story of Jesus, the narrative of Scripture, the work of the kingdom. That is fantastic news. We should all send him a holy high-five and tell him to keep talking. Because let’s be honest: American people have about had it with listening to religious anything. They are fed up with the meanness and the judging and the battles with science and the fundamentalism and it’s enough for them to tune out the whole conversation before it even gets underway. If Rob Bell knows how to talk to people about their souls, how to help people examine their lives and think about meaning and purpose and seek to love and care for others, and he can do so while reaching millions upon millions of people, he is not just an evangelical. He is a better evangelical than all the rest of us. 

There are potentially 85 million homes filled with people who might just hear Rob Bell talking about God, and faith, and justice, and peace, and redemption, and reconciliation on his new show. If you think that’s a bad thing, you shouldn’t call yourself an evangelical. But Rob Bell definitely deserves the title.

 

 

*As a side note, I consider this further proof that Bell is a Moltmanniac, because zimsum, as you know from my inaugural Word post, is a term and idea Moltmann made popular by connecting it to the Trinity and God’s love. I think connecting that to the space we make for each other in marriage sounds beautiful. Well done, Bells.

111 Comments

  1. Chris EstusDecember 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Bravo Daniella. Really terrific post. I was in a room in Laguna Beach with Rob and a group of fellow “Robbellians” and listened to him talk about his hope of doing a Sunday night show on network television. Just thinking about the positive impact that could have on people gave me goosebumps. Now it is happening, and I am thrilled.

  2. Thanks Chris! Cool story- thanks for sharing! And I’m thrilled, too.

  3. I think the biggest reason the evangelicals hate the potential that Bell’s TV program might have is that it is not likely to cause people to start giving their money to support evangelical buildings and leaders. That’s “evangelism” to many western evangelicals. I’m excited about this opportunity for Rob Bell and the gospel…and the good that flows from it.

  4. its not just that he preaches another Gospel…..he preaches another ‘Jesus’. We can not pick and choose from the Word of but must, by faith, believe the truth of the whole counsel of Gods word

  5. can we go ahead and erase the word “evangelical” from the dictionary? It has no meaning whatsoever.

  6. Rob Bell is so 1990s

  7. Great summing things up! Right on!!!

  8. A different Jesus? The gospel writers had different takes on Jesus . Paul and Peter saw Jesus differently. Evangelicals have different takes on Jesus. These differences are essential to the witness the church gives to Jesus.

  9. Rob gets on my nerves for a whole different reason. He writes and speaks about super controversial subjects (hell, homosexuality), but then he get annoyed when people challenge him on these things. He needs to learn to back up his arguments.

  10. YES!!! :-)

  11. THANK YOU! thank you. Thank You. THANK you. thank YOU.

    I can’t say thank you enough.

  12. Brent DavisDecember 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The Gospel writers had different “takes” on Jesus??? They wrote from different perspectives but all under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The only valid discussion regarding any of our “takes” on Jesus is a diligent study of the Bible. When we begin to use all manner of arguments to validate our “takes” on Jesus other than a rigorous investigation of Scripture…then we are pretty much making up our own jesus. Good for Rob and his new TV show reaching millions. But that is not a standard to judge the veracity of anyone’s “take” on Jesus as your article seems to promote. You see…I haven’t made any comments on the quality of Rob’s “take” on Jesus. That discussion should be had with regards to Scripture, not according to Rob’s popularity with the masses. My enthusiasm for anyone’s breadth of influence can certainly be tempered by the quality of their Biblical “take” on Jesus. Your chastisement of evangelicals (whoever they are) for not cozying up to Rob seems to miss that point. I’m happy to have a discussion regarding my enthusiasm for what Rob is up to. And even modify or change my perspective. But that discussion will never allow me to ignore the totality of Scripture, which your article seems to wish for me to do just because Rob seems to have a voice to the masses like Oprah.

    I would be intrigued by an article that explains how the Gospel writers have different “takes” on Jesus. That could certainly be a more profitable path to convince me of the quality of Rob’s views. Your article seems to wish for me to be joyful about Rob’s influence in culture and with millennials without investigating whether this influence is solidly Biblical or not. I’m not making that judgement in these comments but simply to point out that this article doesn’t address the solid ways I would make a decision to cuddle with Rob or not.

    Does that make me an evangelical? Is that a bad thing?

  13. Brent Davis’ comment above is SPOT ON! I agree with his every word! The article totally misses the point!

  14. Hilarious, I’ve been ranting all day about this and you have summed up perfectly!

    Especially about the conversations.

    The conversations that Oprah is having and the people she is having them with are all amazing and interesting and insightful and REAL.

    My life as an evangelical was defined by judgment and fear. Now I reject everything that comes wrapped up in that package.

    Instead, I choose freedom, relationship and life.

    Your question about what is the “special prize” is spot on. It seems to me they get the exclusive rights to defining “true” faith and spiritual living. I don’t want to be anywhere near that prize.

  15. Does anybody really believe Bell is going to point anyone on this show to Jesus?

    Being so unequivocal as to point to a person’s exclusive need for Christ is not who Bell is.

    Call him an Evangelical. Call him anything you want.

    The only thing he’s better at than Evangelicals is his reluctance to say that Jesus is the Only Way to God.

  16. Fantastic post! It reminds me of how much time and energy is spent among “Christians” or “evangelicals” or “____________” (fill in the blank with whatever denomination has a conference scheduled to talk about _________________ (fill in the blank about whatever issue said denomination is currently worried/scared of/clueless about because of their own self-imposed exile from real life) talking at each other. And thanks to Rob for following Jesus (rather than Christendom).

  17. Sadly, this post completely misses the point. It saddens me that so many evangelicals today have little to no knowledge of the history of the church. Even a cursory study of church history and its record of the intense struggle for truth and Biblical doctrine engaged in by so many great men and women who came before us will show men like Rob Bell to be wolves of the most dangerous kinds. Using the author’s logic she would have no problem with men like Arius and Pelagius reaching the masses with their message. After all they were men who simply desired to tell “…the story of Jesus and new life and a coming Kingdom” and only differed “on the details.”

  18. The details matter. The Doctrine of Hell matters. Our views surrounded around the biblical declaration matter. It’s not that we disagree, his theology is dangerous. He teaches false doctrine. He scoffs at the idea of divine justice. He has been led astray and taking many with him.

    Rob Bell is not attending church, that’s unrepentant sin. He charges groups $500 to meet with him, irresponsible of a “pastor.” Rob Bell is dangerous and I hope no one I know follows his dangerous teaching, and error filled view of God.

  19. “I know evangelicals are upset in part because they say they don’t believe the same gospel as Rob Bell, now that they consider him a heretic. I’m just going to go ahead and call BS on that idea right now. Let’s put this into perspective: We disagree on many things, we Christians, but if someone were to put together a collective sampling of people from across the world and asked us to tell our faith stories, and then asked people to classify groups by story, everyone would lump all the Christians together, regardless of who we voted for in the last election cycle, or even what continent we hail from. We share the same story. We do. We are the people who tell the story of Jesus and new life and a coming Kingdom. All of us tell that story. We differ on the details, but the idea that Rob Bell is somehow outside of his own Jesus-tinged faith skin is preposterous.”

    Well Rob Bell is a heretic. He rejects the doctrine of hell which is clearly seen throughout the Bible, and has embraced universalism. Jesus himself said, “none can come to the Father except through me.” Ron Bell can’t reconcile his ideologies he presents in “Love Wins” with this bold statement. Sure, his Nooma stuff and velvet Elvis was good, however, he has strayed very far from the ideas he expressed in that series.

  20. I love Rob Bell, but it baffles me why anybody thinks that Rob Bell is an evangelical (in any way that most of us use that word). He explicitly denies ever being an evangelical. One of the phrases he uses in one of his talks, when it comes to evangelicalism is, “I get accused of not playing by the rules of golf, when I think I’m playing tennis.”

  21. Represent, Rob, represent. Loved you at Mars Hill. Love where God is leading you now. If that’s Oprah, then Go Rob!

  22. well, to be fair, he is an evangelical; i.e., an emerging evangelical.
    (It’s the evangelical equivalent to progressive Christianity)

  23. This article is ignorant.

  24. Love your take on this. So, so true. This came up on my Facebook feed, and now I’m following you. We’re from the same tribe – I just didn’t know it! Sometimes I refer to myself as “post-evangelical”, because I get so exhausted with evangelicals picking fights with each other instead of concentrating on better things. Such a living a lifestyle of love, grace, and compassion. I’m also going to look for this show on OWN and hear what Rob Bell shares in his own words. Thanks so much!

  25. As someone that followed Rob’s teachings for over 10 years at his home church in Michigan, I can say that he is a completely different teacher than he was at the beginning. He has “progressed” to the point that he has become a Universalist. He preaches a man-centered gospel and not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Take note of how often Rob mentions Jesus, repentance, the blood of Christ, the cross, or salvation. Oprah won’t allow that kind of talk!

  26. I loved this article and I love Bell. I don’t have to agree with everything he says, but the one thing I do agree with is he does indeed preach a ‘different Jesus.’ Yes, this is a GOOD thing. Because the way I see it, the Jesus that the Fundamentalist ‘religious’ right is promoting is not even close to being accurate. The church today–any many of its legalistic minions would rather spew a faith consisting of hatred, greed, pious self-righteousness, and racism. I know what you are thinking: who I am to judge? That’s the thing–I don’t judge I think most Christians are good people–I just think they have it all wrong. I see the Jesus in scripture and he does not reflect the one that many “Christians” are emulating. If anything, the behavior of these people, when compared to scripture, seem more like the Pharisees. I spent 20+ years in the most legalistic church and it was nothing but arguing, fear mongering, division–and I don’t see how this has changed much within the church as a whole. I experienced a paradigm shift for sure in how I think; this is not a scary thing–it is a hopeful thing for me. But I digress; many believers–many who have posted here–have yet to grasp the concept of doing right instead of being right. And that is just sad.

  27. Bravo! Love the article. Now, I must take issue with prior comments about Bell being a heretic. The crux of the matter is how we know, and how we know that we know. Take the idea of being biblically correct, or true to doctrine. What is called “truth” in a hard form of modern Christian fundamentalism is not the same as “truth” in the time of the biblical authors. Luke, who undertook to write an orderly and truthful account of Jesus’ life and the Acts of the apostles, had Jesus ascend to heaven on Easter Sunday in his gospel, but a good many days thereafter in Acts. Factuality did not always equal truth in ancient times. Factuality as truth is a modern concept. In church terms it became important as a reaction to the Enlightenment. Proclaiming the Bible as “inerrant” in our modern sense simply cannot hold water. For those who are convinced that they have all their doctrine exactly right, how do you know you have just exactly the right one? Do you know how many different theological opinions have come and gone, how many different denominations there are in the world? If God’s truth is so easy to learn (Bible), why are there so many opinions? Does God care? At one time societies were convinced that it was God’s design that black people were inferior to whites, and women should be subjugated to men. We changed our minds, and decided we were wrong – that is not who God is. Isn’t it more like Jesus to trust fully in the good character of God, and to understand that the Bible is how our ancestors in faith saw things, and not necessarily how God sees things (conquest and genocide in the Promised Land)? The Bible is God’s Word, not God’s words. And for Christians Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus, I daresay, trumps the Bible. (I am indebted to Dr. Marcus Borg for many of the above ideas.)

  28. Bell is not an Evangelical…he has moved beyond the that tired worldview. The term “Evangelical” has never been anything other than a marketing term for Fundamentalism anyway…the “Evangelicals” here who lose their minds whenever anyone questions how a moral person can believe in their doctrine of “hell” are really no different than Islamic Fundamentalist extremists like ISIS. One group tortures and murders people for not accepting the “one true faith” and the other believes in a deity that tortures and murders people for not accepting the “one true faith”…tortures them eternally, even, and who absolves them of any responsibility. “God said it, not me…” Well, if you believe it you are just as evil. You can’t hide behind the bible. There are parts of the bible that teach genocide, slavery, rape, and murder…there are moral passages as well, but to claim that the whole mess came straight from the lips of God is some sort of blasphemy.

  29. I second this comment below from Nan. According to the Bible, Jesus is the only way to heaven (yes, there is a heaven, Rob). Bell’s refusal to acknowledge and proclaim this makes him a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Disappointing to see how far Rob has fallen from the truth after having listened to him for so long at Mars Hill. Oprah’s joke theology has nothing to do with the Bible.

    “As someone that followed Rob’s teachings for over 10 years at his home church in Michigan, I can say that he is a completely different teacher than he was at the beginning. He has “progressed” to the point that he has become a Universalist. He preaches a man-centered gospel and not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Take note of how often Rob mentions Jesus, repentance, the blood of Christ, the cross, or salvation. Oprah won’t allow that kind of talk!”

  30. Doug FrazierDecember 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I like Rob. But he’s ambiguous, vague and doesn’t seem to speak much about the significance of the Jesus Story. You herald him for being a speaker of the Way of Jesus, but I hardly hear that name come from his mouth. It’s all inward-gazing spirituality.

    This post is an ugly rant. You demean, pontificate and finger-point to the rest of the Christian Body for being disagreeable and talking about topics and things important to our faith, but you perpetuate the same anger, range and demeaning disregard with those with whom you disagree. This smacks of utter hypocrisy. And let’s be clear: it’s certainly that.

    I think a lot of Evangelicals have dismissed Rob for his unorthodox views, while others just don’t know what his views are, because he’s not saying what they are. In interviews, he often times does a remarkable job at being evasive. People just want to know what his cards say. And if they disagree, let’s hear why and how. Not all of us are ugly monsters. Many of us just care deeply about the “faith once delivered to the saints.” We don’t want to lose it or deduce it into spiritual vagueness.

  31. Doug FrazierDecember 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Hey Biz! Christian Universalism is still Christian. Many believe Jesus will reconcile the whole world… that’s still the same lead actor :)

  32. Doug FrazierDecember 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Hey Alex! Is CS Lewis also a heretic? What about some of the Church Fathers? Careful when you make your own dogmatic hill to be King of…

  33. I am amused by the way the word “heretic” gets thrown around. When someone on the Religious Right calls someone from the Christian Left a “heretic”; know that the word has no power. It’s like trying to impale someone with a gummy worm.
    It means nothing. Heresy is when your belief doesn’t line up with my belief and I appoint myself as the Gatekeeper of All Truth>>>>that’s what the gummy worm arrow sounds like! Jesus Christ himself was called a heretic by the religious folk of his day. And the religious power structures called Galileo a heretic for saying the sun was the center of the universe and Martin Luther was labeled one too. If Rob Bell is a heretic I would say he is in very good company!

  34. Chris CanalesDecember 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “You know what would be terrible? If a Christian had his own talk show on that network. That would be really awful news.”

    Yeah, let me know when a Christian does in fact get a show on that network. Another pagan who says Jesus sometimes doesn’t count.

  35. Brendt Wayne WatersDecember 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Chris Canales , pardon my bowdlerized French, but who the copulate died and made you God, that you get to make definitive declarations about the salvific state of another?

    There are a lot of things that I disagree with Rob about (and a few that I disagree with this article about, too), but to state that someone – ANYONE – is not a Christian is nothing short of blasphemy.

  36. Curt MatzenbacherDecember 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I’m always amazed how prevalent these same “defenses” of Scripture are, as found in some of the replies in this comment section. I agree 100% with Danielle, and I can address some of the criticisms.

    1. Rob Bell still believes that Christ is THE way that we find God. He might disagree on the ways in which people can find Christ, but he has stated that this is why he does not consider himself to be a universalist: because he believes all salvation goes through Christ. Also, from Love Wins: “One way to respond to these questions is with the clear, helpful answer: all that matters is how you respond to Jesus. And that answer totally resonates with me; it is about how you respond to Jesus.”

    2. You’re not better at reading your Bible just because you take the “the Bible says it; that settles it approach.” This creates a false dichotomy of thinking you can either rely on what you read in the Bible or you can make it say what you want. As Derek Flood states in an article posted today “The choice is not so much between our fallen morality and the Bible, but between our fallen and limited morality and our fallen and limited interpretation of the Bible. In other words, everything we do goes through our broken lens—including our interpretation of Scripture. So rather than shutting down our brains and conscience as we read, we need to instead learn to read with our hearts and minds fully engaged.” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/12/biblical-violence-and-reading-the-bible-like-jesus-did/) You can’t read the Bible “just as it is” because we all bring our own eschatology with us as we are reading. Which leads me to point #3…

    3. You are doing the Bible a disservice by thinking there is no room for struggle with it. Struggling with and creatively interpreting the Scripture in ways that aren’t immediately evident is exactly what we find key characters doing throughout the text, INCLUDING JESUS AND PAUL. It’s a very Jewish way of reading the Bible… but for some reason the current “evangelical” culture has deemed it inappropriate. I’m not making this up. See The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns and/or Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did by Derek Flood. The current stereotypical “evangelical” lens is not the same one that the Jews did, and I think the traditional Jewish lens is more effective.

    Please try to actually understand a viewpoint before condemning it. Otherwise, you’re making a straw man argument. Maybe I’m doing the same, but I’m coming from a place where, a few years ago, I would have tried to make all of the arguments I’m addressing, so I think I have a fairly good grasp on them.

  37. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone, and doing so in a respectful manner for the most part. I do think a big part of this conversation is about how to define “evangelical” and how to define “orthodox.” I have a post coming on Thursday to talk about that.

    Much of the rest just comes down to things that won’t change in the comments section of a blog post… Would love to have rousing conversations about this stuff if any of us are ever in the same room!

    Doug, I have to say I think the idea of this post being angry is off-base. That may be because we don’t know each other, but also, even the best writer can’t be perfect in communicating tone. If we were in the same room, I’d hope you’d hear this: I do find it annoying that Evangelicals don’t see the good coming out of Bell talking about anything- shallow as you may think that might be- relating to God and the story of Jesus. I do find that utterly baffling, and clearly, I think Bell is evangelizing in the purest, simplest sense of the word. He’s sharing good news. But I’m not mad about it. I don’t have my fists in balls. I don’t hail from Evangelicalism so I’m saying this also as an outsider. Maybe that means I don’t have any skin in the game, but I’d hope that it also gives me a perspective that those of you inside might not see. All of that to say, I’m sorry if it came across to you as angry or mean. Not my intention at all. I certainly don’t think all Evangelicals are “ugly monsters” and honestly, this post is trying to call Evangelicalism to its better angels, so to speak.

    If someone doesn’t think it’s possible for Bell’s discussions of God to lead someone to Jesus, that person might not trust the Holy Spirit enough. Bell’s starting a conversation that can open a lot of people to considering faith. Maybe on his show it will be vague, but I for one do not believe that means his work is meaningless. He’s sowing seeds, as you Evangelicals would say. :) I, too, think the details matter. (I’m a huuuuge theology nerd.) But I also think it takes all kinds and all stages, and we shouldn’t discount the people who get even the most general conversation about faith started as unnecessary. More than ever, they are absolutely necessary if we are to get to the details at all.

  38. John Lennon also knew “how to talk to people about their souls, how to help people examine their lives and think about meaning and purpose and seek to love and care for others, and he (could) do so while reaching millions upon millions of people”. So, I’d suggest we need a better definition of “evangelical” than that. The article is an interesting modernist argument (ratings, numbers, power, Oprah!) for a postmodern voice for Christian faith and is a passionate appeal to re-examine what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, and what language we should use to share Good News. Those are worthy discussion points, but I’m not persuaded that the basis of determining the way forward is whether you can get a show on OWN. And, of course, Danielle surely knows that those who object to Bell are not doing so because he’s now outside the church walls, rather than inside. But we were warned. It was a rant. ;-)

  39. We’re comparing cultural credibility with doctrine and have assumed that the ultimate goal is relevance (to have an audience).

    I love Rob, I deeply appreciate his ability to communicate, and I greatly admire the fact that he’s not the hypocrite that so many in the evangelical world (even me) can be. But the crux of this article seems to be “C’mon — he has a show — it’s a lot more than you people have done!!”

    This is fine if, again, doctrine and marketability are on the same plane, with the goal being relevance.

    I dunno. Can we just say it that way: we’re glad Rob can talk about spiritual things to a huge audience, so let’s not be too demanding of orthodoxy? I need more time to think about that…

  40. Can you sign me up for updates, your RSS feed did not work

  41. Phil McCarthyDecember 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Wonderful, wonderful blog. Completely agree. If it makes it down to New Zealand, this just may be the one religious programme I’d be interested in watching. Because I suspect, just maybe, that it actually will bring LIFE!

  42. Phil McCarthyDecember 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Oh – and if we’re talking about ‘orthodoxy’, Can I remind everyone that the Orthodox tradition has always regarded the ‘doctrine’ of penal substitution as a blasphemy and a heresy.

  43. Maybe, just maybe… Jesus likes what Rob is doing….
    Who’s able to say He doesn’t?

  44. Rob Bell has taught on Hell and does not ‘reject the doctrine on Hell.” He teaches through every biblical scripture on Hell in the Bible. That is a lot of doctrine.

    Rob Bell in “Love Wins” – where does his thorough teaching on Hell – brings clarity to every different word that we might translate as Hell. That is at least laying the grounds for biblically-based doctrine rather that ‘what we always taught’ doctrine.

    Those who read “Love Wins” carefully are able to say that Rob Bell does not reject the need for a teaching on Hell. Of course those who have read Bell know that “Love Wins” asks a lot of questions and that has made a lot of people uncomfortable.

  45. Whywomen ShouldntbepastorsDecember 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    This is an uneducated and foolish response – very blanketing and generalistic. Might I add that poorly articulated, SUPER PASSIONATE, hateful language in articles meant to be a critique or response is quite tasteless. So I will respond in like with this comment, because apparently, that’s how you are supposed to engage with people who believe differently than you. Sounds like Jesus right?

    First of all, do you see the picture at the top of this article?

    Rob Bell is speaking on a stage with a giant picture of himself in the background. People who aren’t Christians, much less evangelicals, don’t do that. It just sends off hints of incredible hubris and narcissism. So does twisting scripture. If you’re twisting scripture, you’re in bad company – namely Satan. Going to strange theology sources to create entire new doctrine about God and proclaim ‘new thoughts’ about God proves unorthodoxy or in other words, heresy. Lots of people have new thoughts about God that don’t come from God. We shouldn’t call them ‘evangelicals’ either…but I digress.

    Have you ever seen Steve Jobs give a speech with a giant picture of his face in the background? You’re argument may be, Jobs is representing Apple and Apple has it’s logo in the background, in fact, in many circles Steve Jobs and Apple are synonymous! Jobs is promoting Apple. Rob Bell isn’t promoting Jesus or representing Jesus, he’s simply trying to propagate Rob Bell. That is what Scripture calls a wolf.

    Rob Bell probably ‘gets’ the world so well because he is of the world, not in it.

    Second of all, you are a female pastor?

    “Danielle is the author of The Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise (Jossey-Bass, 2009) and speaks often on issues of theology, church leadership and emerging communities of faith. She is part of Journey Church in Dallas, where she served as Pastor for 8 years. Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas.”

    Yikes. I already know that you have a very low view of the word of God because you directly are contradicting what scripture says about gender roles in the body of Christ. If you were a deacon, minister, professor, counselor, or really any other profession of Christian ministry, then I would take you more seriously. However, since you are a self-professed pastor, I can assume you take scripture as seriously as Rob Bell does, which is to say that you only use it to bolster whatever philosophical whim seems sexy to you in the moment.

  46. Oh thank you! What a good piece.

  47. Loved it, Danielle, well said!

  48. Awesome!!!!

  49. Thank you! I wonder how many critics of Rob have actually sat in his church and listened to what he has to say? I did, for 6 years! I have also sat in other churches for far more years and never received what I did under Rob’s ministry. What I heard under Rob’s teachings moved me spiritually to such a deep place inside my heart that I have been changed forever. So now Rob has a larger audience….Wonderful! I am hoping that more lives are changed and become full of God’s love and caring that it affects multitudes of people. Mark my words, there will come a day when God will judge… It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with all the critics who don’t have a clue…who have such ignorant opinions (that’s what they are…just opinions), those who speak from their heads (not their hearts) and who live in fear of truth. My life has changed…THAT is truth. It changed from listening to Rob and letting myself believe in God’s love, grace and mercy. Rob presents these things in a way that people can understand. Not in high, lofty, terminology that sounds like it comes from another world.

    I thank God for Rob and all that he is bringing to light. I thank you, Danielle, for your fierce support of my former pastor. :D

  50. Carole LafreniereDecember 4, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Love Rob Bell. Glad more people will hear him. For the haters, don’t watch the show….

  51. I fear that modern americhurch evangelicalism is simply a new twist on old time phariseeism. Straining out gnats and swallowing camels. Rob bell is ambiguous and vague? Yes, but so was Jesus. Rob doesn’t believe in an eternal conscious torment version of hell? Neither do many Christians worldwide- and it’s certainly never shown to be a critical belief of the Christian faith either way- it’s not a “fundamental” or foundational belief. Rob believes that grace is more critical and important a defining attribute of God. More than his justice when it comes down to it- and it seems to me that “mercy triumphs over judgement” is a biblically sound side to fall on in this argument.

    Keep it up, Rob. Jesus wasn’t popular with the “religious conservatives” of his time, either.

  52. Derek FriediheimDecember 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

    The Tzimtzum (Hebrew ?????) is a term used in the Lurianic Kabbalah teaching of Isaac Luria, to explain his new doctrine that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which finite and seemingly independent realms could exist.

  53. Boy–you have a lot of followers! And, yes, so does Rob Bell! I guess I will be the only 1 to disagree with your post! He is NOT evangelical, at all! I believe he has MANY people that he has led astray. We have bought some of his beginning NOONAS. They were powerful. BUT…then he slowly “inched” his way in an opposite direction! As Satan can get a little toe into your life, soon his foot is there. And, then Satan has control of your mind, heart, etc. Rob Bell is NOT preaching Biblical Theology. He is “motivating” for fulfillment. We are all sinners, needing God’s provision. The bridge between God & man is Jesus Christ! JC is the Way, the Truth & the Life. No one comes to the Father, BUT…thru Him!!
    I could go on & on about his false teachings! I really believe there are people that think they are going to heaven, cuz of Rob’s words. Yet, they don’t have a clue to Biblical Christianity. Read the Scriptures. Search the Scriptures for the Truth!

  54. What a great opportunity he has? I don’t watch shows like this. Is he teaching the Gospel or the Oprah? I could understand how someone could be skeptical if Bell was teaching a billion people the wrong idea! These same skeptics get excited when just one person is able to learn the true Gospel and then directed into a loving relationship with Christ. But I get the impression that Ol Robby Poison Seed is just spreading HIS Own good news over all those people to further HIS OWN kingdom. Am I right?

  55. Well said and I so agree. Praying for him to have a great impact.

  56. The problem is that Rob is presenting a false view. I loved Rob for years. I don’t have any hatred or animosity toward him. I grew up in West Michigan and attended Mars Hill a number of times when he was there. I watched the Nooma videos. I read the books. I didn’t even really have much of a problem with Love Wins. I find asking questions to be an important part of faith and belief. However, there is a significant and fundamental problem with presenting a gospel different than the gospel that Jesus came to preach. And that is what Rob is now doing.

    Discrediting or changing the words or views of Christ is NOT beneficial, whether that audience is people in the church or people who would never step foot in a church. Jesus was NEVER about numbers. He often challenged people who said they wanted to follow him. He warned them of the great cost of being his disciple. He told them of God’s unending love. He was the fulfillment of God’s unending love. But he also called people to repent and live in sin no more. You cannot profess only one side of the Gospel. You cannot simply adopt the love portion and throw away the rest. The Gospel must be presented in the context of Jesus and scripture, which always points to Jesus. And if Rob is now preaching this false gospel to an even wider audience, especially when it is people who wouldn’t step foot in a church, I consider that to be quite harmful rather than helpful. And it brings a great and deep sadness that so many people are celebrating it.

  57. Interesting. Could someone explain to me the definition of a couple terms being thrown around: “Evangelical”, “Gospel” and then how someone becomes and then continues to be a follower of Christ? Thanks

  58. There are absolutely different gospels about different Jesus’. That’s the basis of the book of Galatians (vv.6-9 establish this,) where Paul intervenes to protect a church of believers from being deluded with what he has elsewhere called “plausible arguments” (Col. 2:4), which may be considered wise by some yet do not demonstrate the power of God (1 Cor 1-5).

    So this is the concern of many Christians. Not that we don’t want audience for the Gospel–obviously we understand that Jesus has commissioned us to seek that to the ends of the earth (Ac 1:8), and we understand the opportunities provided by nationalized televising, but what I and others are so convinced of is that such an offer is being extended not to the Gospel message, but to a man who has evolved to preach a different Gospel that does not ably reflect the one passed on to the Apostles through the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12), and as great as it is to have a willing audience, sometimes the willingness reflects a predetermined agreement with the message. So if you’re reaching a world who doesn’t know Jesus with a message they already agree with, what’s the message?

    It’s not as though Christians have no cause for skepticism about such a TV deal from a secular network. Networks tend to not deal with any Biblical rhetoric, and have even been known to throw the occasional Red Wedding for Christian guests, like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQdgMgyP2tE . I’ll not even joke to suggest that this was not intentional on CNN’s part. But the point is that this is not a failure of Christians to reach out to our world, yet it is iconic of the response that our love for others manifested in speaking what we believe to be salvation to mankind (Rom1:16) often garners.

    Contrary to your articles statements about the church’s disdain of the world’s interest or audience to the Gospel message, reaching hearts with the saving Gospel of Christ is the greatest desire of myself and the disciples of Jesus who I church with. But our culture is quick to dismiss any Gospel that calls for change, repentance, or submission to God, and what are we left to do but shake off the dust and move on? It’s what Jesus commanded his own disciples (Mk 6:11)–we can deliver the Gospel, we can’t make people accept it.

    I read Bell for a long time, but any Bible teacher ought to encourage his audience to stack his words against their own Bible study. We want to teach rightly and we need to be accountable to God’s word. Some people responded pretty horribly to Rob after his marked divergence from Biblical teaching, and I’ve lamented that for him, prayed for him over it. But others have reached out with gentleness in a hope to restore some of his errors with reproof, which doesn’t tear down, it adds value (Prov 25:12). Bell will have to answer for his own methods, and that will be between him and God. But for the Church looking on, we desire for the world to see Christ, and that this will be seen when we reflect Christ as he is known through Scripture, not through our preferences. For me, I am left in a place where I want Bell to be right because there were a lot of things he taught me through his books, but where he departs from giving the whole picture of Jesus to the world in an effort to gain audience with those who only want certain pieces, I cannot be with him, and am affected by the burden that his influence begins to lay on the whole Church.

    The Bible has to be woven into discussions like these, or else this is all simply conjecture.

  59. John PetersDecember 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I think we can learn from what Rob Bells says and doesn’t say. He connects with people at their needs and emotions. He encourages people with those biblical topics that cause positive emotions while topics in the bible that cause negative emotions (hell and homosexuality ) are dismissed. Often evangelicals are just the opposite. We push people away by focusing on God’s judgment of sin (especially homosexuality) while our lives fail to express God’s love and forgiveness. When I listened to Bell he sounds big on compassion while weak on theology. If evangelicals leaders can be big on compassion while holding to biblical theology then I see role Bell has fading away.

  60. Is nothing more appropriate than Kory (and the others hiding pitchforks and torches behind their back) saying, “Bell will have to answer for his own methods, and that will be between him and God.”

    I was waiting for that dynamite, and Kory outed himself.

    It’s so great that you pray for Rob, Kory.

    And I’ll pray for you, too. Because I feel you’re exactly what’s wrong with “the Church” today. I will pray that enlightens you, shows you the path, because you’re lost. I pray that God allows you revisit scripture, and maybe focus on Christ’s ACTUAL commandments, like LOVING thy neighbor.

    I will keep you, Kory, and everyone else here who thinks they’re an evangelical by posting passive-aggressive messages of hate toward Rob and anyone else who doesn’t tote the garbage theology they were raised in.

  61. Sorry but Bell is a false teacher. If a true follower of Christ were invited to go speak on Oprah or have their own show, they of course should seriously consider accepting because the platform that would give them. Pro tip though? Oprah would never invite a true follower of Christ like that to have their own show. She would consider them too “narrow-minded” or “hateful” or “bigoted” or “homophobic” or some other such nonsense. Rob Bell isn’t leading people to Christ anymore, he’s engaging in what these verses describe:

    2 Timothy 4:3-4
    “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

  62. Hey Doug G,

    in answer to your question , Evangelical is a term used to describe people who believe the Bible is the Word of God, as the authors were all inspired by God. they ( we believe Jesus is God. The term Gospel means ” good news” and the good news is that God made a way for us to be back in union with Him by sending His perfect son, Jesus, to die for all humanity’s sins. present and future. John3:16 for God loved the world that He sent his one and only son that whoever believed in Him would not perish. WE cant be good enough to earn Gods love, we are dead in our sins. By trusting in Jesus for your salvation, for dying for you, and suffering for your sin, you become a child of God. It is by faith we are saved, and we rest in Christ. He then lives in us, and we are born again.
    Read the chapter of John in the new testament, ask God to reveal himself to you, and you will understand. I don’t know about this Bell person, I have not investigated it on my own yet, But I know that God loves me and no matter what, The King of all days is with me. and whom shall I fear?

  63. Truly awful post with many logical flaws. Obviously a biased opinion and a complete misunderstanding of the word evangelical. Ugggggh….

  64. am currently hanging out with Armenian Orthodox Christians. Our conductor and soloist. Learning to sing one Christmas hymn in this beautiful ancient language. We share the same creeds! we are also singing The Lords Prayer in Syriac, the closest living language to Aramaic. I owe an enormous thanks to these people for preserving our shared faith through song for 2000 years.

  65. Jesus loves Rob, shame his church struggles to.

  66. I don’t know Bell except through his writing and articles. I take no place of ultimate judgment of his heart. God’s job, not mine. Still…Personal opinion, but symbols matter. As I look at the picture heading this article, I cringe. Would–I don’t know– Billy Graham, RC Sproul, Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, or whomever speak in front of a 20′ tall picture of themselves? Or would they choose a 20′ tall cross? Or some other background? Communication experts say, “The medium is the message.” Symbols and images communicate powerfully. So what is the message, Rob?

  67. Fine, Brad. Let’s play your game of “Medium is the message.”

    John Calvin had innocent people burned alive. There’s your symbol of communicating powerfully.

    Martin Luther advocated for the burning of people alive. There’s another.

    The Catholic church enacted the Crusades. Another.

    Do you want me to keep going? I can go on ALL DAY LONG.

    But Rob writes a book called “Love Wins,” Oprah markets him more effectively than most, and people urinate themselves before judging him.

    Get *OVER* yourself and your false sense of faith. Goodness, you’re all actually proving the author’s point, and so freakishly self-involved you cannot see the forest through the trees.

  68. Adrienne,

    Thanks for the reply.

    My questions become: As part of drawing people to Jesus Christ for salvation and a relationship with God, is RB willing to tell people they are sinners, separated from God, and that Jesus paid for their sins to start and then develop that relationship? Isn’t that what God and Jesus both say pretty consistently? If RB is drawing all these people in but deviates from that, doesn’t he need to learn it as any follower of Christ does? In the meantime, is he really engaging in evangelism, which is what God says His ultimate goal is? In “Love Wins”, did RB actually say what God says about how someone gets to heaven by faith alone in Jesus Christ? In drawing people closer to Christ, is RB willing to say as Jesus did “Neither do I condemn you” and “go and sin no more.”? Is RB willing to call what Jesus called a sin? Aren’t these the ways God would evaluate RB?

    Finally, The title of the article is interesting. If God says He is our judge and no longer condemns us, then why should I care about my standing in relation to any man?

    Regards

  69. Kristen BellDecember 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you Danielle. I am so grateful for your voice.
    Much grace and peace to you.

  70. I was a member of his church in Grandville, MI. I loved him and his way of teaching like no other. He made the Bible come alive like no other preacher. When teaching started to go a little weird we couldn’t figure out what was going on. He told us that he was just trying to reach the un-reached with a message they can understand, but that he still preached the same Jesus, the Same sovereign God, and the heaven and hell we all read about in the Bible. I don’t know what he has been preaching lately, but I do know that Opera wouldn’t accept anything besides a Universalist’s way of preaching which is not Biblical. I pray for my old teacher and still love him. However, if he is preaching a non-Biblical Christianity, this is not cool.

  71. Jeff FeatherstoneDecember 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    My problem is Rob Bell is not that I disagree with him on a number of issues. It’s that, when challenged, he does not appear to be able to give a cogent, scriptually-based defence of what he believes. A good example is this discussion between him and Andrew Wilson. Whether you agree with Andrew or not, it’s very noticable that, whenever he makes a clear point, Rob just looks slightly awkward and doesn’t say a lot. He gives the impression of not really having thought through why he believes what he does. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF9uo_P0nNI

  72. My daughter was active in a Campus Crusade chapter at a large university. Here she got mixed signals. On the one hand CC urged its members to evangelize non Christian students. On the other she was given fairly clear directions to stay away from frat parties or any other place that didn’t have the Christian stamp of approval on it. “There’s something wrong here, ” she said. They say: “engage non Christian students.” but also “stay away from them.” Having grown up as one of a handful of Christians in a country where Christianity is a minority faith, she has always been puzzled by the separatist mentality of American evangelicalism.

    Bell is on the right track.

  73. Hello again Doug G.,

    I have not had time to explore Rob Bell’s teachings, But I do agree that if he is not talking about sin, then he is not teaching the Gospel.

    We can’t deviate from the message. man has a sin problem that he cannot fix. He needs a savior , only one without blemish would do. the sacrificial lamb

    If we all went to heaven no matter what, the cross was in vain-

    God bless.

  74. I understand Christians wanting to be liked by everyone but at a certain point we have to follow God’s Word. God’s Word gives us the boundaries regarding how to love, morality and other issues. This is not about bashing Rob Bell. I think his passion to share Christ is commendable. As Christians we also have a responsibility to correct one another. When one of us goes astray we need to be willing to come alongside and help point out where that person has taken a misstep. Regarding the issue of homosexuality God’s word is clear that this is outside God’s boundaries. Romans 1: 26-27 makes it clear that homosexuality is outside of God’s boundary. I understand Christians wanting to be liked by nonbelievers, however that does not mean that we compromise God’s Word. That also doesn’t mean that we impose our standards are nonbelievers because they’re not able to fulfill or obey God’s word. Many Christians have gotten in trouble by trying to impose their standards on unbelievers and as a result the nonbelievers call Christians judgmental. It seems Christians are divided into two camps those who judge and those who accept almost any behavior. The Bible calls us to humbly love a person who needs corrected and restore them to the best God wants from them.

    Paul also says in Romans that “as far as possible be at peace with all men.” We as Christian should strive to do this, however when what others believe contradict what God says we need to follow God’s Word. If we as
    Christians continue down this path of compromising God’s word we will lose our distinctiveness. We will no longer be Christians. If the world someday says that pedophilia & anti-Semitism are good will we follow? As Christians we cannot continue to follow the world standards.

    We as believers must trust in God’s Word. God’s Word is amazing. It is true. It is grounded in reality. When I read about Old Testament characters like Abraham and seeing his repeated error of lying about his relationship wife to protect himself and how his Son follows the same habit. I see that the same thing happens today. Children often pick up their parents bad habits. The Bible even though it was written centuries ago is true. It is relevant. Sure there parts of the Bible that are hard to believe, but I’ve found that in time I discover a reasonable explanation. All this to say that as Christians we must place our faith in what God says rather than the words of humans even if their intentions are good.

  75. Nate,

    Your comments are a non sequitur and maybe a strawman aka a misrepresentation of what it means to be a follower of Christ. If God paid for everyone’s sins via Jesus’ death on the cross, then that raises a couple questions about your post. Are you saying Christians have to explain for other Christians sins? Are you saying every Christians has to be perfect after they accept Christ? How actually would that happen? Is God big enough to fold even. Luthers or Calvins sins Into His plan? Who are you to condemn or criticize someone who God has chosen or redeemed? If we are all sinners and God redeems us, who are you to condemn anyone? If God understands all of this, doesn’t that give comfort and motivation to all of us that we can live a life of faith even in our sins? Wasn’t this and isn’t this Gods plan from the beginning?

    Finally, isn’t Rob Bells approach to this a little absurd? I mean, if we are all sinners, why are we arguing about one sin, homosexuality? Does it not water down to say the Christ died on the cross for our sins, but say homosexuality is debatable? What is so special about homosexuality that it has to to some special case? If a person enter into this relationship with Christ, would He not reveal to them what His will be as with respect to their sexuality?

    Regards, Doug

  76. The problem with this article is it is taking the popularity and the potential reach of influence of Rob Bell over the content of what he actually teaches. I agree, his reach would be greater being on Oprah’s network where people who wouldn’t normally hear about Christianity would, but if Rob Bell isn’t teaching correct theology, then it is worse for more to hear him.

  77. What Christian good can come of a non Christian engaging other non Christians? It happens every day on Oprah.

  78. Doubt if anyone reads this far down the comments, but nevertheless: Rob Bell stopped talking to them a long time ago….that’s probably why they don’t like him.

    Great post – thanks.

  79. Wow….how this could impact the world. Jesus has never been shared like this before. I’m so excited about what God is doing. Let’s pray for Rob and God’s work because there are people who will come to know Him through this avenue. Jesus is radically different then we christians have portrayed. He is pure LOVE, not condemning, He is Patient and kind, never delighting in bashing people…..lets not get distracted and waste time. Jesus is coming soon and there are people that will miss out on this amazing future if we don’t care about them….

  80. The ignorance in the comments is beyond shocking. I’m hearing people like Bill claim the issue of homosexuality is “clear” in the bible.

    It’s not.

    Or that Rob doesn’t teach “proper” theology.

    There are 60,000 denominations within Christianity. Very few aligned on (yet all claiming) “proper” theology.

    We have people like Doug who claims my previous post was non sequitur, then goes onto miss every. single. point. laid out by both my post and the article, before his matter-of-fact stance on sexuality.

    We have the religious right, sitting in their ivory, Roman towers, pointing at Rob and others and claiming egregiously that he isn’t talking about sin. That he isn’t talking properly about Jesus. The same Jesus who said to forfeit your fortune. Who says woe to you who are rich.

    If you aren’t tracking, he means you.

    He means you, you who cannot properly define “sin” or “repentance.” You only know some blanket description gleaned from too many sermons you’ve snoozed through. In a stodgy church with its roots in a medieval understanding of the bible, a church your parents made you attend. Or maybe that you felt guilted into attending because of that thing that happened that one time.

    You’ve never stopped to actually read the bible in its entirety. Or maybe you read bits and pieces from the KJV, written in an outdated tongue, but you read anyway. With no context. Hoping to be guided by “the spirit.”

    You read something about homosexuality, and don’t think that maybe Paul was talking about the rampant man-boy sex that occurred in ancient Rome. Or the sacrilegious sex and rape that occurred in the OT. You didn’t think that, in Paul’s day and before, small, tribal communities relied on generational growth, so “homosexuality” wasn’t even a word that existed in Rome at that time because it wasn’t even a part of their culture.

    You didn’t think of any of this is because you don’t think for yourself. You’re conditioned. A robot. You believe whatever you’re told by whatever system is in place. You’re also scared shitless of what you might stumble upon if you DID think for yourself. If you did look beyond words interpreted for you.

    I feel bad for each of you. But thankfully, you’re a remnant of a dying culture that marginalized Jesus in favor of a legalistic perspective that all but destroyed the REAL good news.

    You’re all in my prayers ~

  81. Jeff RobinsonDecember 11, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Tzim-Tzum, or Tsim-Tzum predates Moltmann by quite a lot. Jewish mysticism from long, long ago. Beautiful imagery.

  82. No one has all the answers to the mystery of God or Christ, so it is better to have a wide-eyed wonder and awe of a little child amazed by the awesome love of God/Great Spirit/Universe/Highest Self, who is all and is in all, and who holds all things together. I dare say some may not like the idea of the mythical hell being debunked as it would mean losing the opportunity to control and manipulate others with fear, guilt and shame. Thanks for the article.

  83. One of the reasons people are so turned off by the church is that we talk about Love but instead constantly throw stones at each other! Rob Bell whether you like him or not is a child of God. Pray for him. Pray for his family. Pray for Gods love to be the thing that people see.

  84. Southern WomanDecember 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

    “They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.”

    II Timothy 3: 6

  85. It baffles me how little people understand about what is called “Evangelical Universalism or Christian Universalism.” I understand being concerned about its growing popularity. I understand concern about it denying certain doctrines that have been held virtually throughout church history. I understand concerns, from conservative Evangelicals, that proponents of Christian Universalism, especially someone as well known as Rob Bell, may be leading people astray. Howeve4

  86. Rob himself once said ‘you define your god and then your god defines you’, he also said that anywhere HE sees truth HE claims it for god. Rob Bells ‘Jesus’ like another well know English ‘Evangelical’ is the ‘lens’ through which he sees the bible, or more accurately when you listen to them defines the bible – which is seen as mans faulty attempt to describe god.

    So their ‘Jesus’ can not be defined by the bible, because he defines the bible. So their Jesus is based on something other than the bible – i.e. another Jesus to that proclaimed by the early disciples and apostles.

    It is simply another Gospel. Listen to what Rob Bell and others actually say, look for it in the bible – Oh, it’s there – but note who Mr Bell sounds like.

    We live in the age of relativity where we do define our own god and our own truth but that should not be confused with the God and Truth found in the bible. Maybe we ‘Right Wing Evangelicals’ have it wrong but what is certain is that we do not follow the same as these guys. Our God is defined by the bible – the whole book – which as far as revelation of God’s nature and character goes is in our view inerrant, regardless of secondary issues. This other Jesus is defined by the ‘witness of the community and scholarship’ – or at the very least his morality is if RB is to be believed when talking to Andrew Wilson on Premier Radio.

  87. Let’s get to the real problem with Rob Bell: he puts unnecessary line breaks between EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH in his books! I mean, is he trying to pad it out or something? Does he get paid by the page? Ugh….I find that so annoying. It makes his books almost entirely unreadable for me.

  88. It baffles me how little people understand about “Evangelical Universalism or Christian Universalism.” I understand being concerned about its growing popularity. I understand concern about it denying certain doctrines that have been held virtually throughout church history. I understand concerns, from conservative Evangelicals, that proponents of Christian Universalism, especially someone as well known as Rob Bell, may be leading people astray. However, to misrepresent a particular belief because you want to steer people away from it, is dishonest, and makes YOU and YOUR message less credible. So here’s what Christian Universalists DO NOT believe: They DO NOT believe that there are plural ways to Heaven. They DO believe that Jesus is the ONLY WAY. They also uphold His Divinity, His death on a cross and His bodily resurrection from the dead. They view Scripture as the inspired Word of God. There are differences on the nature of hell, and it’s duration. That’s IT FOLKS. They believe that EVERY ONE who dies without Jesus is lost. The only place they differ is on the nature and duration of someone’s time spent in the Lake of Fire..and what the time spent there will accomplish. They see the Lake of Fire as redemptive in nature. They see it as corrective punishment, instead of eternal damnation. They see the sinless life of Jesus, His death burial and Resurrection as I FINAL MORE POWERFUL than the fall of Adam in the garden. If sin and death can involuntarily reign over all creation, just by virtue of us being born. Than surely the redemption that is offered through Jesus Christ is even more powerful. They DON’T believe that “everyone is already saved” and they DON’T believe that a confession of faith in Jesus is NOT required. They fully believe Romans 10:9&10 in conjunction with Philippians 2:9-11. So in the end, Jesus wins over Satan. Life wins over death. Love wins over hate and fear. And God who wills ALL humanity to be saved, will get His way.

  89. Rob Bell does not know the 1st thing about what goes on “outside the church.” And to be frank: no “evangelical” does. Society is turned away by your theological abstraction and your closed-off communities. If any christian is out there actually striving to live, preach, and teach the gospel, it is Claiborne, Hartgrove and Perkins. Wake up America!

  90. “If Oprah calls you up and invites you to share your thoughts on your faith”

    Yeah…Well if Oprah called me up and invited me to share my thoughts on my faith on her show, that is basically the same thing as having the Devil tell you, “sharing your thought’s would profit my kingdom in this world and would further blind the eyes of the goats that think they are sheep”. Personally that would make me repent in dust and ashes immediately.

  91. If you want to tickle the ears of a large audience Oprah is your ticket. “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

  92. Some initial thoughts/questions I had:
    Is his message consistent with the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14?

    Does the world love or hate him? Is he being persecuted by the world for his message? (John 15:18-20)

    Who is he catering to? Is he seeking the approval of God or men? (Galatians 1:10)

    Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    John 15:18-20 NIV
    “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

    Galatians 1:10 NIV
    Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

  93. The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today the church is married to prosperity, personality and popularity. ~Leonard Ravenhill

  94. You make it sound as if evangelicals are a business, whose primary goal is to gain as many followers as possible. If we claim the name of Jesus then the opposite should be true, since, as has been cited already, followers of Jesus will be hated by the world, and they are called to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. So no, evangelical Christianity does not seek to gain as many followers as possible, but rather to proclaim the church of God. To think of evangelicals as marketers is to reduce Christianity to a self-benefiting religion.

  95. EMJ (and others who have made similar critiques), I’m not at all advocating for Christianity to be a business. I’m not advocating for popularity either. My whole ministerial life shows the opposite of that. But Jesus has called us to share the good news to the ends of the earth. Our job is to spread the word to everyone; whether a lot or a few people follow the Word is out of our hands.

    This is a classic parable of the sower situation. Planting the seed is not flashy and it takes a long time and it’s hard work and it doesn’t look like you’ve done anything at all when you have finished. And yeah, it may not even bloom come springtime. But SOMEBODY has to do it, and my point is that Rob Bell, whether you like it or not, is planting seeds for people who are simply not listening to other Christian voices. (I’m not going to comment on the “Rob Bell isn’t Christian” thread anymore.) It seems to me that many of the Evangelicals upset about this are expecting Rob Bell to plant a whole garden in one episode of his show. That’s not how it works, especially nowadays, especially for people turned off by Christianity.

    He’s also planting seeds for people most Evangelicals want nothing to do with, which has been proven by many of the comments. This is the parable of the banquet, writ large. He’s giving people an invitation. There are no rules for what has to be talked about during dinner, or what kind of person you have to be to attend, or what the outcome has to be for it to “count” as dinner. He’s inviting people into a conversation with no strings attached. He’s pointing them toward the feast of God. The idea that when they get there he has to run through fifteen points of doctrine before the appetizer course is ridiculous. The MEAL, the conversation, will communicate enough for the moment, thanks to the Spirit. It’s the start of something. It’s a window into a way of living. I agree, Rob Bell’s show is not going to have him literally preaching the gospel. But my point is that it will have him pointing toward the gospel, recalibrating others toward that good news, opening up space for them to imagine a whole and full life with God.

  96. Jackie ClaffeyMarch 29, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    OMG…How vain is this guy to post a large picture of himself on the screen of the pulpit. He is thin, has cool hair cut and clothes, but beyond that he is not an attractive man. Sorry to say. But is so true. I would say his god is his own image. How sad.

  97. Thanks for posting so much quality content, thank the blog, for taking all my morning

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