Bullhorn Guy

I had occasion earlier this week to go back and watch one of Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos from seven years ago. This one is titled “Bullhorn.” When I first saw this about six years ago, I didn’t know much about Bell. So I walked away with one question: Is Bell’s problem with the messenger (the Bullhorn Guy) or with the message? There was an ambiguity about it then. But I guess not so much now. Note that he even uses the phrase “love wins.”

39 Responses to Bullhorn Guy

  1. Christiane April 13, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    He was talking about the dangers of falling into the ‘Westboro Syndrome’.

    The deeper a fundamentalist preacher falls into the Westboro Syndrome,
    the angrier, the more strident, the more condemning, the more judgmental he becomes . . . his message spirals downward, downward, into something recognizably unChristian.

  2. Preston Sprinkle April 13, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    Wow, I can’t believe that Rob got Scot McKnight to play the Bullhorn guy. What a good sport…

  3. John April 13, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Of course, it really is impossible to abstract a “message” from it medium…a good reminder to all messengers out there that the world consists of humans, not computers who will analyze your speech logic apart from your life testimony. I think Paul said something about that. The testimony thing, not the computer thing.

  4. Brent Hobbs April 13, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Half of him is so right, and the other half is deadly.

  5. KC April 13, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Is it just me or does that pic make him kind of look like Owen S?

  6. Darius April 13, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    “If I’m loving someone with an agenda, then that’s not really love, is it?”

    Wait, I thought the point of Love Wins (which I’ve read) was that God DOES have an agenda with His love: He wants to save everyone. Well, guess that’s not really love.

  7. Kelley Kimble April 13, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    My experience has been, many people don’t listen to the gospel no matter how softly spoken the messenger is or how loving. They don’t want a Jesus who requires something from them. Everyone knows that Jesus said, “Judge not…”, but they don’t want to hear about the Jesus who spoke of the narrow gate and eternal torment. Maybe it’s time to re-post Chris Rosebrough’s “Bullwhip Guy.” Jesus is love, but He is also hellfire and brimstone. No one can deny that. If how you love others is how you love God, then that means you will tell others the truth about the whole of Scripture. Truth wins.

  8. Jeff Parsons April 13, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    I agree with Brent. I haven’t watched this video for a long time and remember how much I loved it when I first saw it. I was saved in a fundamentalist, KJV only, no shorts wearing church. When God took me out of there, I wanted nothing to do with that kind of fundamentalism ever again. This video was a type of vindication for me, since it condemned much of the behavior I saw in that church that didn’t line up with the gospel. However, now I see the danger in it. Half the gospel isn’t half the truth, it’s no truth. It’s interesting how a few years can change your perspective.

  9. Derek April 13, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Bell is just like Hananiah in Jeremiah 28 – the “good cop” who comes in to humiliate Jeremiah and make him the “bad cop”. Long before Rob Bell came along, Hananiah knew all about stage props and about telling people exactly what they wanted to hear too. Hopefully Bell’s story doesn’t end the way Hananiah’s did.

  10. henrybish April 13, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Is that really Scot Mcknight playing the bullhorn guy?

    I remember when I first saw this Nooma a number of years ago it really troubled me. Because it seemed to come across as though Rob preached love to all – except the poor Bullhorn guy.

    In my experience the Bullhorn people do not have the motives Rob attributes to them. They are actually quite scared of doing it and don’t enjoy it but feel they are obligated to do so otherwise they are not a faithful Christian.

    I feel much sympathy for the Bullhorn guy’s who can hardly bear what they feel they have to do. They need sympathy and freeing from feeling that every Christian is called to street preaching, rather than being treated like an outcast by a guy who preaches love but does not practice it.

  11. yankeegospelgirl April 13, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Gosh this is awful. And so dangerous.

    I love Bullwhip Guy. Love it when he gets to the parts where he’s saying, “I really don’t want to be associated with you.” Ouch.

    The music in this Nooma creeps me out too. I can hear a line in there that says, “Heaven weeps for the creeper people like you.” What is THAT??

  12. Christiane April 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    “Half of him is so right, and the other half is deadly.”

    Brent, just be sure you know which is which . . . you can find the answer in the Holy Gospels.

  13. Murf April 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    I have no problem with the video or Rob Bell. His message has a valid point, however, there are two things that bother me.

    First, is that it’s one guy with a bullhorn. He is in the EXTREME minority. One ant in the anthill. The problem is WAY over magnified. I saw the same thing happeneing in Tiajuana, MX, only it was nun, and she had no bullhorn. She was decrying the wickedness all around her and it was TOTALLY in context of her surrounding culture.

    Secondly, why did Rob Bell spend money on a video with imagery, scripting, and music? How about walking up to the guy and asking him a few questions? How about finding out the “why” before you judge.

    Rob complains a lot that people haven’t read his book before criticizing him. Did Rob find out this mans story? Or is it the book cover he’s judging?

    It amazes me that the production value and time it took to create his preppy little video could have been spared. What would Jesus do? He would go instruct the man in the proper way, IN PERSON. What would Peter, Paul, or Pricilla and Aquila do? Go instruct the man in the proper way. None of this artsy video response garbage to his legions of like-minded sycophants.

    How about Rob goes and makes a video about “Jonah Guy,” or “Ezekiel Guy?” He can then criticize them on how know one is listening, they are only offending, and it’s the wrong message. 🙂

  14. Murf April 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Strike the first line. Obviously I do have a problem with the video. 🙂

  15. yankeegospelgirl April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Yeah Murf, I was a little confused. 🙂

  16. Chris April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Who is to decide who God uses and how God uses them?

    I am no fan of bullhorn people and I used to be quite vocal about it but then I realized (God slapped me upside the head) that God works in many different ways through all kinds of people and while I personally am not called to be a bullhorn guy, maybe some are!

    We cannot put limits on God!

  17. Christiane April 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    “Who is to decide who God uses and how God uses them?”

    A donkey talks, the ‘simple’ of the Earth understand what God keeps from the learned . . .
    and only the humble are able to live in imitation of Christ

    The paradoxes found in sacred Scripture tend to rule out the importance of our earthly wisdom and pride.

  18. Brian Manns April 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I realize this video is a few years old and “bullhorn guy” was set up to make a point in it but I look forward to the day when Christians in general will realize that street preaching is just as important as pulpit preaching. I wouldn’t recommend using a bullhorn because it makes your voice sound ugly.

    Its a given that nonbelievers will reject and mock the street preacher but even today’s Christians see it as an “extreme.”

  19. Joshua Wooden April 14, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    Denny, what about you? Is your problem with Bell’s message or with Bell?

    With all of the rhetoric coming from this blog lately, it’s really hard for me to discern which.

  20. Joshua Wooden April 14, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    @ Darius: An alternative? Should we or should we not love with an agenda? Is it possible to love someone without an agenda? Would that be Biblical? Or are you just trying to find flaws in Bell’s argument for the heck of it?

    @ Kelly, when you said, “My experience has been, many people don’t listen to the gospel no matter how softly spoken the messenger is or how loving. They don’t want a Jesus who requires something from them.”

    Agreed. But I don’t think this lets loose the floodgates to say the things I’ve heard Christians say “in the name of God.” But I agree with the gist of what you said.

    @ Chris, does that mean God can equally work through guys like Rob Bell then?

    @ Brian, when you say, “street preaching is just as important as pulpit preaching.” Okay, but how?

  21. Joshua Wooden April 14, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    Scot McKnight is not the bullhorn guy. That guy doesn’t even resemble Scot McKnight.

  22. Brian Manns April 14, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Joshua Wooden

    1 Cor. 1:21- it pleased go through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

    So Paul saw preaching as essential to save those who believe. When looking at the book of Acts we see how we went about accomplishing this.

    Acts 9:28- So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

    Acts 17:22-34 Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill.

    My point is that street preaching is the example of the New Testament. What happens on Sunday is great, necessary, worshipful and should continue. But if God has gifted a man to preach he should not just use that unique gift within the church walls where people have come to listen to him, he should also go to the street.

  23. Joshua Wooden April 14, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    @ Brian: interesting point, but that application of scripture to our own world is ahistorical and fails to see the ambiguity that exists between translating the world of the 1st century church to our own 21st century world. Just because you can find instances where Paul does something that might (might) resemble street preaching, does not mean that it is an infallible rule to be applied in any cultural context. The fact is, those methods of evangelism (tracts/pamphlets, street preaching with picket signs and bullhorns, and/or door-to-door evangelism) are overwhelmingly ineffective, and the vast majority of people who come to faith do so through a personal relationship. Now, that might not always be possible, and I’m not advocating that we shut out the Spirit’s call, but if building relationships with people is more transformative, wouldn’t it be a more effective use of our time to find people to pour into?

    I’ve been on the giving end of street evangelism once or twice, as well as the receiving end. I don’t recommend it. For the most part, I find street evangelism to be quite lazy, actually. It may make people afraid before they do it, but that just distracts them from realizing that the alternative is much harder over the long haul: it’s much more difficult to get involved in someone else’s life, sacrifice for them, care for them, pray for them on a regular basis, etc. That takes more work; but it’s more effective, and actually, it’s more fun, too.

  24. Joshua Wooden April 14, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    @ Brian

    On that note, I just remembered a story I read that really rang true of my own experiences, and it’s found in a book titled “The Unlikely Disciple.” (link found here: http://www.kevinroose.com/)

    Or, if you don’t want to read the book, there was a post related to this one that expands on the point I was trying to make. (link found here: http://www.dare2share.org/articles/does-street-evangelism-work/)

  25. yankeegospelgirl April 14, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I think Chris is making the point that Rob is taking a self-defeating position by casting judgment on bullhorn guy while preaching the evils of judgmentalism.

    Could God work through Rob Bell… Well, I guess if he worked through a donkey he can work through anything. Except I’d bet on the donkey over Rob Bell.

    🙂

    No, in all seriousness, I can imagine people saying, “Well look at all you high and mighty hypocrites. You’re just sitting around on your duffs all day criticizing and not doing anything, while Bell is a pastor touching millions of lives for Jesus.”

    But I must ask, along with Denny: Which Jesus? And is it really a good thing for Bell’s followers to be influenced by the kind of gospel he’s presenting to them?

  26. Stephen Vedro April 14, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Rob Bell whines too much. I would like to see a nooma video on 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12.

  27. Kelley Kimble April 14, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    And to add to yankee’s question, which gospel? While this Nooma video is several years old, we now see through “Love Wins” that Bell’s theology is quite different from that of Jesus. I wonder what the members of Mars Hill are thinking now in light of all the discussion. Surely there are some dedicated Bible readers among them. Even the name of the church takes on a new light, in view of all of Bell’s books and films. Compare Paul’s sermon at Mars Hill with Bell’s message in Bullhorn. During Paul’s ministry he was mocked, beaten, imprisoned and ultimately executed. There are places in the world today where that is still a very real possibility for Christians. But Bell stands at Mars Hill preaching something entirely different than what Paul preached. Times change, but Bell is trying to change the message. I wonder if we will eventually see him become a Bart Ehrman.

  28. Brian April 14, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Murf,

    You picked up the irony that Bell probably missed–this video was not for the Bullhorn guy, but for the cheers of “spiritual” people embarrassed by street preachers.

  29. Chris April 14, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    @yankeegospelgirl – Yes you read me correctly! 🙂

    I do think God uses Rob Bell when he doesn’t make things up!

  30. yankeegospelgirl April 14, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Right Chris. I always say that Rob Bell’s Noomas are passable as long as he stays away from politics and theology. 🙂

  31. Murf April 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Brian,

    Yep.

    As a side note on street preaching. Perhaps our views would change if we put our best most mature, and educated, Christians on the streets, or better yet in the community?

    No more new converts and youth groups. No more crazy hellfire guys and Mormons.

    How about some senior pastors, deacons, and professors?

    The difference between me on the street 17 years ago and today is the difference between being effective and not, for me.

    Crazy thing about good evangelism is you need a willing audience and a venue or you need to look people in the eye and shake their hand, and give something, other than tracts. That’s the part of Bullhorn Guy that I can agree with.

    What do you give to the populace that has most everything? For all our problems here in the U.S. it’s a pretty great place to be a citizen!

    Maybe wrath is a good thing, even on a bullhorn….? People pretend like they are not listening, but I betcha some are taking the message home. Like an earlier post alluded, maybe Bullhorn Guy is obeying the Lord. Maybe he doesn’t like being out there any more than we do. I am sure that Ezekiel did not like cooking with dung or laying on his side for many days, but he did it. We know that Jonah did not wnat to do his thing. I am pretty sure that Hosea did not want to marry a pagan temple prositute and have kids with her, yet all obeying the Lord and did not consider how they looked, because they esteemed God greater than any man or woman.

    I ramble.

  32. Derek April 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Good point, Murf. When I was in college there were two street preacher types who were well known to virtually everyone on campus. Both of them were very direct and knew how to get attention, but one of the two of them was a very impressive public speaker with an apologetic bent. He engaged people with their questions and always directed people to the Gospel after he answered their questions/challenges. He was always respectful and direct and when he spoke he would often draw a crowd. The other guy just wasn’t as good of a communicator and didn’t connect that well with the students. So I tend to think that this kind of ministry can be quite effective, but not everyone is cut out for it and if you are, you really need to study to show yourself a workman approved, just like any other type of ministry you might go into.

  33. Dillon April 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Having never seen this before I thought the video was rather clever and quite well done.

    But..but..but..one thing I’ve learned over the years is that if a Pastor/leader is teaching without Scripture – listen carefully and be on guard for deception. Bell’s words are capitavating, soothing, almost hypnotic. Not to be overly dramatic, lol, but that’s the problem with messages like these. They sound so good and so true that you wouldn’t realize that you’re very slowly having the wool pulled over your eyes.

  34. yankeegospelgirl April 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Yeah, Dillon. That’s why we’re all saying it’s so dangerous.

  35. Jes April 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Last summer my kids and I were trying to get through a Boston Red Sox crowd.

    Right in the midst of all of them walking to the game was a “Bullhorn” guy, sans the bullhorn.

    His message was clear,
    “Repent. Be saved.”

    He wasn’t hate filled, but rather Holy Spirit filled.

    Speaking the truth, in love.

    The vast majority of the people walked right past him, although many grabbed the tract he handed them.

    However, I’ll never forget the one 30-something guy who walked right up to him and asked,
    “Hey, can I have one of those?”

    The kiddos and I stopped right then and talked to “Bullhorn Guy” and held hands and prayed together for the young man who had just taken the tract.

    Hope we see his smiling face in Heaven one day.

    I also hope that neither my kiddos nor I ever forget the courage of that one believer to stand in the midst of hundreds of Sox fans on game day, in order to share the Good News of Jesus Christ..even if only for that one man.

    And 2 impressionable kids.

    🙂

  36. yankeegospelgirl April 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Yeah. I hear there was a dude named John the Baptist who did something like that too.

    Man, I wish he hadn’t done that. “Repent and be baptized!” So embarrassing.

  37. Daryl Little April 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    yankeegospelgirl,

    Good point…I was thinking of Jonah.
    One of the Pyromaniacs made that comparison some time ago.

    But…I think we know now that Rob’s issue (and I do think it came forward on the “Bullhorn Guy”) is the theology being presented, even more than the manner of the presentation.

  38. Greg Wilson April 20, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Not only did he use the phrase Love Wins, but he also said that he is looking for Jesus to give him the “best possible life, right now.” Sounds like another popular Christian author…

    I think that Rob is a nice guy who wants Jesus to be simply a “nice guy” that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings and doesn’t say anything judgmental. Idolatry is simply man trying to create God in his image.

    I just prayed for Rob Bell, and I hope that the rest of you will too.

  39. Noahkephart April 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    This is Rob Bell’s hatred with the evangelicalism that he grew up with. Look at the difference between how Rob Bell acts during the movie and how the bullhorn guy acts. And even the camera clarity and color when Rob is on and when the bullhorn guy is on. Not to mention how this guy dresses…

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