Martin Bashir Takes on Rob Bell

I don’t know what else to say. This interview is devastating. It exposes the inconsistency of Bell’s argument. Bell wants to be a universalist without taking the name, and Bashir won’t let him off by a facile appeal to “paradox.” Watch above or read the transcript below.

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Bashir: one megachurch pastor has ignited a theological firestorm by suggesting that our response to the Christian message in this life will not necessarily determine our eternal destiny. in his book “love wins, heaven, hell and the fate of every person whoever lived” ultimately all will be saved. He argues people will be persuaded by god’s love postmortem in the life to come. good afternoon. Before we talk about the book, just help us with this tragedy in Japan. which of these is true? either god, is all powerful but doesn’t care about the people of Japan and they’re suffering or he does care about the people of Japan and but he’s not all powerful? Which is it?

Bell: I begin with the belief that god, when we shed a tear, god sheds a tear. I begin with a divine being who is profoundly empathetic, compassionate and stands in solidarity with us. secondly the dominance story of the scriptures is about restoration, it’s about renewal, it’s about rebirth, it’s about a god who insists in the midst of this chaos the last word hasn’t been spoken so people of faith clung to the hope god will fix this place. it’s a beautiful hope. we ought to keep it front and center now.

Bashir: Which is true, he’s all but powerful and cares?

Bell: I think it’s a paradox at the heart of the divine, some paradoxes are best left as they are.

Bashir: Okay. this book you’ve written has been stirring controversy because the implication is, as you put it god’s love will eventually melt hearts, that’s what you say in the book. are you a universalist who believes that everyone can go to heaven regardless of how they respond to christ on earth.

Bell: I would say are you a universalist I would say no. that’s a perspective within the christian stream. there’s been within the christian tradition a number of people who have said given enough time, god will win everybody over. but one of the things in the book I’m clear on and want people to see is that this tradition has all of these different opinions, everybody will be won over, some will continue to resist god’s love, and that christians have disagreed about this speculation.

Bashir: I get that. so is it irrelevant and is it immaterial about how one responds to christ in this life in terms of determining one’s eternal destiny? is that immaterial?

Bell: I think it’s extraordinarily important. I think it’s extraordinarily important.

Bashir: In your book you said god wins regardless in the end.

Bell: Love wins for me, as a way of understanding that god is love, and love demands freedom.

Bashir: You are asking for it both ways. that doesn’t make sense. I’m asking you, is it irrelevant, as to how you respond to christ in your life now, to determine your eternal destiny, that is irrelevant? is it immaterial?

Bell: It is terribly relevant and terribly important. how exactly it works out and how it works out in the future, when you die we are in the realm of speculation. and my experience has been a lot of christians built whole dogmas about what happens when you die and we have to be very careful we don’t build whole doctrines and dogmas on what is speculation.

Bashir: I’m not talking about what happens when you die. I’m asking you how you respond here and now. the question I’m asking you what you seem to be saying in the book, god will love, will melt everyone’s heart eventually, some even post port em in death. you’re the one making speculation about the afterlife. what I’m asking is, is it irrelevant and immaterial how you respond to christ now to determine your eternal destiny, relevant or irrelevant? does it have a bearing or does it have no bearing?

Bell: I think it has tremendous bearing. also at same time raises all sorts of questions and that is why the discussion is so lively and vibrant, namely what about people who haven’t heard about jesus? what about the woman I talked to a couple of weeks ago who was abused by her pastor? so for her, jesus is tied up in all sorts of things and I assume that god’s grace gives people space to work those sort of issues out.

Bashir: one critique of your book says this, there are dozens of problems with love wins. the history is inaccurate, the use of scripture indefensible. that’s true, isn’t it?

Bell: no, it’s not true.

Bashir: why do you choose, for example, to accept and promote the works of the early writer origin and not, for example, Arius who took a view of jesus’ deity as being not god? what do you select one?

Bell: I’m a pastor so ideal with real people and a real world asking and wrestling with these issues of faith. what I have discovered and over again people who have questions and hunches and have sort of I’m struggling with this and when you can simply give them the gift of, by the way, within the christian tradition, there are scholars and theologians and other people who have had the same questions. they have had the same theories.

Bashir: you’ve indicated one of the problems with the book, you’re creating a christian message that’s warm, kind, and popular, for contemporary culture but it’s, frankly, according to this critic, un-biblical and historically unreliable. that’s true, isn’t it?

Bell: no, it’s not true.

Bashir: you’re amending the gospel so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach. so here comes rob bell, he’s made a Christian gospel for you and it’s perfectly palatable, it’s easy to swallow.

Bell: no, I haven’t. there’s a chapter on hell, throughout the book over and over choices matter, decisions we make whether we extend love to others or not, the ways in which we resist or we open ourselves to god’s love, these are incredibly important.

Bashir: how much is this book you working out your own childhood experience of being brought up in a fairly cramped evangelical family and finding it difficult as you became an adult?

Bell: I would own up to that in a heartbeat. I think we’re all on a journey. we all were handed things. this is what what matters, here’s who is in, here’s who is out. we spend our lives pushing back and questioning and probing. I think that’s what makes it so engaging. it part of the joy of life.

Bashir: pastor rob bell, thank you very much for joining us. your book “love wins, the book about heaven, hell and the fate of every person who ever lived.”

67 Responses to Martin Bashir Takes on Rob Bell

  1. Matthew March 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    As a journalist myself, I thought it was a brilliant piece of work by Mr. Bashir.

    Frankly, I have no idea what (if any) theological convictions the man has, but he sure did his duty as a journalist. Well done, sir.

  2. Caleb March 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Wowsers! “you’re the one making speculation about the afterlife.”
    The world wants definitions, facts, absolutes.

  3. Josh Philpot March 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    Best interview yet. Very telling, but expected as well.

  4. Ryan K. March 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Wow this is what happens when something squishy runs into something firm.

    It was like watching Jello hit the wall.

    Personally, I don’t rejoice in this and can tell Bell feel uncomfortable outside the comfortable confines of disgruntled Christians who are quick to applaud and nod at every evasive answer and story of “paradox.”

    Yet I think the ER video that Denny has posted on here before does the best job highlighting the reality for most people; we want a real God with judgment, love, Heaven and Hell, and a pastor that believes in them.

  5. cyndi grace March 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Wow! Talk about actually wanting an answer when there is none! Mr. Bashir, you have voiced the questions all of us have about Bell’s beliefs. Thank you.

  6. Denny Burk March 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Ryan, I’m with you. I felt sorry for him too. I’m happy, nevertheless, for false teaching to be exposed for what it is. We need to pray for Bell. Wouldnt it be a joy beyond words if the Lord used this to bring about repentance in his life? So as we pray for the truth to shine forth in spite if his error, let’s also pray for the man to be renewed in gospel conviction.

  7. Ranger March 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    It looks like an article from 2003 said Bashir was a devout Christian, but that was quite some time ago and the Guardian isn’t exactly the best source for someone’s religious beliefs.

    I thought Bell’s answer to the old Epicurean problem of evil was abysmal as well. Apparently, being a “pastor” to Rob Bell means being able to say to people, “Oh, you don’t know why?…I don’t know why either…let’s be ignorant together.” A better strategy for pastors would be to encourage their with what God has revealed. Maybe Rob Bell is the one in need of pastoral help?

  8. Hart March 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Wow. Bell actually handled Mr. Bashir better than I thought he would. Denny says: “Bashir won’t let him off by a facile appeal to ‘paradox.’” but many critical christian doctrines are paradoxical such as faith & works and God being transcendent yet immanent.

  9. Paul March 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    “It was like watching Jello hit the wall.”

    Yep. Mr. Bell should resign from his church, because for all of his talk of God, there’s no God in his talk.

  10. wow March 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Sweet Dawkins!

    The Irresistible Force meets the Easily Movable Object…

    Even athesists are wincing…

  11. wow March 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Master communicator?

    Media genius???

  12. Rob March 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    1. I’ve seen Bell before in his videos, and I see him now. Every time I saw him, I always thought, “Something ain’t right.” And, yes…I said “ain’t” to myself.
    2. I just don’t understand how soooo many people will watch him, when they know truth! I have friends who somewhat defend him, and they know truth. Even if my people, and other people, knew only 1/2 truth, how could they defend him?
    3. I also can’t believe how soooo many people go to his church, and other churches like his. You know, I immediately think of the verse on how people will turn from the truth and turn to their own desires. I understand that we were born sinners. But, to see so many people at these churches, I just don’t understand why they keep going. I also don’t understand how the churches keep them coming. You have to “produce” every week! It’s like sales!
    4. Last, can anyone find out if Martin Bashir is a Christian? I understand being a journalist you need to know your information when you interview someone. But, man…he knew a lot of the “Christianese”!

  13. wow March 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Did Bashir read the book before attcking it?

  14. John March 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    It’s not just false teaching…it’s egregiously poor thinking. Somehow, Bell can ask the question “what is God really like?” And call it “the question behind the question behind the question.” No it isn’t, it’s the first question. And it isn’t even remotely original. Shoot, Crossan dedicates a whole appendix to this classic liberal question (a reprimand, really) in The Birth of Christianity. Maybe Bell is teaching heresy (and he is), but it isn’t even logically consistent heresy, as Bashir pointed out.

  15. Ryan K. March 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Hey Hart,

    Minor correction, faith and works is not a Biblical paradox. Jesus sums it up pretty well when he talks about if we abide in him we will bear fruit.

    When you become a Christians good works are the absolute result. Are there seasons of being pruned and in which a Christian is less fruitful? Yes, but overall Christians bear fruit, because they abide in the vine.

    I would suggest Mark Driscoll’s sermon from a few years ago in his religion saves series about faith and works, and their relationship.

  16. Michael Marlowe March 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    I never even heard of this Rob Bell guy until I read this blog post. How does he rate so much attention?

    He’s obviously just another of those meretricious mega-church personalities, like Bill Hybels and Ted Haggard, who cannot be taken seriously as theologians.

    The fundamental problem here is not Bell, but the whole “evangelical” scheme of things, in which people like him become influential solely because of their winsome personalities.

  17. Michael Marlowe March 15, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Some time ago I put together a collection of web articles on the subject of Hell and the afterlife, and posted them here:

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/hell.html

    Some of the articles respond directly to the universalism of recent “evangelical” writers. I hope this helps.

  18. Hart March 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Thanks Ryan. I would say that your suggestion is a fair attempt to resolve the paradox. As someone within the Catholic tradition, hopefully you can understand why I am not persuaded. Consider that even though Martin Luther parted with hundreds of years church tradition to proclaim the vital “by faith alone”…he struggled with reconciling text like Rom 3:28 & James 2:24 and consequently questioned the place of the book of James in the canon. I don’t doubt that the brother you have referred to has found a way to reconcile faith & works in a way that you find satisfactory but the more I study theology, the more I think it’s a paradox.

  19. Jes March 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    About 3 years ago, my then 7 year old son and I visited a “church” in our community.

    The pastor showed a Nooma video, and my son leaned over to me and said, “Mommy, let’s go. This video is making me feel uncomfortable.”

    I whispered to him, “Not yet.”

    He leaned over a few minutes later and said, “Please Mommy. This guy isn’t real. This is fake. It’s a show.”

    I remind you…he was 7…and he could see through what Rob Bell had to offer…but I firmly believe it’s because my son had been being taught the TRUTH.

    I’ve taught him through the tools of inductive Bible study since he was 3 years old…probably started younger than that, actually, just by doing so orally when we’d read the Word.

    So, after the Nooma video ended, the pastor stood up and started teaching on the beatitude, “blessed are the poor in spirit.”

    I had just taught a Precept study on the Sermon on the Mount, so I was ready to discern truth from error, based on the Word.

    However, when the pastor started out with, “Have you lost your house? Have you lost your car? Have you lost your money? Have you lost your pride?”

    “Jesus wants to give them all back to you! Jesus cares about your pride!”

    And then he tried to build a case for his statements based upon “blessed are the poor in spirit.”

    When he made the comment about pride, my son looked at me (now totally done!) and stuck his fat little tongue right out.

    It’s heartbreaking to see a pastor with the kind of following and influence that Rob Bell has, leading so many away from Scripture.

    All of the concerns that people go to him with can be honestly answered with the healing balm of God’s Word.

    Never once did he mention leading anyone there.

  20. Barry March 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Ouch. Ow. Best, and most painful, interview so far. He didn’t look like a “rock star” in this interview. Bashir seems to get it. Why can’t the president of Fuller get it as clearly?

    Barry

  21. Michael March 16, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    From what I understand, Bashir is a member of Redeemer (Tim Keller)

  22. James Corona March 16, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I know wikipedia says Bashir was born to Christian parents, but I haven’t seen anything on him personally.

  23. Rob March 16, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Michael–I actually thought of that. Keller was on Fox News recently, and I can’t remember the name of the lady journalist that interviewed him, but she stated at the very beginning that she’s a member of his church. It’s the “religious/spiritual” correspondent.

  24. Ted March 16, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    “As a communicator, Rob Bell is a genius. He is the master of the pungent question, the turn-the-picture-upside-down story, and the personal anecdote. Like Harry Emerson Fosdick, the paladin of pulpit liberalism, Rob Bell is a master communicator. ”

    - http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/03/16/we-have-seen-all-this-before-rob-bell-and-the-reemergence-of-liberal-theology/

  25. Ryan Gear March 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Bashir’s interview was not devastating to Rob Bell. I blogged about it today at ryangear.com. Bashir was trying to back Rob into a corner that doesn’t exist

  26. Evan March 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    that seemed a remarkable amount of accusation and aggression displayed by Martin Bashir.

    it seems to me that Rob Bell is trying to promote thought and conversation about these subjects.
    a worthy cause.

    if there was less judgement thrown around then perhaps we could work together to humbly explore the overwhelming majesty of who God is.

  27. Rick Wade March 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for posting the transcript. This is a terrible interview. Bashir should be ashamed of himself. He comes across as more than a little high and mighty. Some of his questions were insipid, and he showed no interest whatsoever in finding out what Bell thinks. He just wanted to nail him. Shoddy work.

  28. Ken Silva March 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Hard to tell what Bashir is as this lists him as “20/20 and Nightline anchor and atheist”: http://bwog.com/2008/02/20/lecture-hop-the-veritas-forum/

  29. Matt March 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Wow. It’s difficult to state a grey position when those trying to dominate the discussion only want something that’s white or black. But Rob continues to handle these questions with grace and humility.

    I’m thankful for Rob Bell and the discussion that has started from his new book. I just wish most others would show the same grace and humility in how they question Rob Bell instead of judging him or putting words in his mouth that he never said….that’s true, isn’t it????

  30. Steve March 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Funny,

    The only ones who seem to be turning the tables on the interview are those who, well, who look like Rob Bell :)

    http://ryangear.com/2011/03/16/rob-bell-and-martin-bashir/

  31. Lucas Knisely March 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Regardless of Bashir’s faith or lack of faith, his questions were pointed and tough. It makes for great interviews when they don’t ask soft balls.

  32. Marc Murchison March 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I have been an ordained pastor since 1982. In my ordination Q&A, where I was grilled by theologians and other pastors, I was asked this question, “If there was one heresy you wish were true, what would it be?” I answered Universalism – the doctrine that all people will eventually be saved. However, I cannot actually be a Universalist, because I accept the bible’s parameters for entry into heaven. A person must come through faith in Jesus. When asked by people over the years, I have tried to be gentle and as kind as possible, when I tell them there is a real hell. Yes, there are questions about those who “never heard of Jesus” but I have to leave that to God in His wisdom. If there is a way for them to avoid hell without Jesus, God has not disclosed that to us. If you are thinking about this subject, you do not qualify for any possible expemption that might exist. You know about the offer of salvation made by God through Jesus. You are without any possible excuse. Romans 1:18-20 is pretty clear, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” It does not make me happy to think about the loss of a person to hell, but wishful thinking, will not help people avoid hell.

  33. scott mckenzie March 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    crazy – mind-boggling how he thinks he can have it both ways. It seems he is being schizophrenic – that he can’t decide – so he wants both. It’s a cross between inclusivist and universalist. Pray for Mr. Bell to come to the realization of what Scripture truly says. That after death comes judgement, and only those who believe in him in hope will be saved.

  34. Steve Chastain March 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Rob Bell should just be an atheist and get over it already.

    Seriously… it’s much much easier. I agree that Bell’s wishy-washy stance is very unappealing and makes him appear weak. I think he’s working his theology out and it’s probably best to either do that in private or at least be up front about it. He’s definitively undefinitive.

  35. Bob March 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Rob Bell’s only problem is that he doesn’t go far enough, I’d like to see a figure like Bell admit the error of the infallibility of scripture and become a sceptic. Read Thomas Paine’s “an examination of the prophecies” for a few of the real inconsistencies in Christianity.

  36. Megan March 17, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    This is clearly an interview with an agenda with no real interest in engaging with Rob Bell at all. It was disappointing and quite boring really, there was no discussion. It was full of loaded questions, without any real interest in the answers.

  37. Anthony Doheny March 17, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    It’s pretty evident to me that love doesn’t win in the conversation in this thread.

  38. Ashley M. March 17, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Why is there so much vitriol for this guy? I’m rather new to faith and as an atheist, truned agnostic, turned Christian, I cannot fathom why so many people are divided by the differences within church doctrines. So they guy espouses a belief slightly different than what others may have been taught. So goes it with Catholicism, Primitive Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. If you have a central focus on God and the sacrifice of his only Son for us to be saved in Jesus’s name, why are we still arguing over petty details?

  39. Joe Blackmon March 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Because those details matter, Megan. Either hell is everlasting or it isn’t. Either Christ was the wrath bearing sacrifice for our sins or He wasn’t. Either a muslim who is sincere in their muslim faith is acceptable to God and will go to heaven even if he never consciously professed faith in Christ or he won’t.

    These are not nitpicky details about which Christians can agree to disagree (infant baptism? premillenialism/amilinialism?). These are questions about the gospel. The false gospel Bell teaches will damn people to hell. The gospel found in the Bible will save people from their sins.

    Quite frankly, Bell is being rightly raked over the coals as if people’s eternal lives depended on it because they do.

  40. Derek March 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    This is just a point of observation, but Bell released a video several years ago based on a live tour he did called “The Gods Are Not Angry” and many of the ideas and themes are the same as “Love Wins”. His ideas were enthusiastically received and the tour/video was not considered very controversial. He filled some pretty big venues on his tour and the young, restless and reformed types barely noticed. Just goes to show you that Bell’s ideas had a lot of traction and momentum long before “Love Wins” came onto the scene.

  41. Fr. Bill March 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    “It was like watching Jello hit the wall.”

    I thought something a tad different, viz. that Bashir had finally succeeded in the epic attempt to nail jelly to a tree.

  42. Amy2 March 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    I’ve got news for Rob. “Truth” wins, and that truth includes a HOLY God who does what He says He will do, an he will send unrepentant sinners to eternal damnation. Do I like it? No, but it’s THE TRUTH.

  43. chuck March 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    your transcript is missing stuff. fyi

  44. Amfortas March 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    So may people are SO certain they ‘know’ what God is about. Yet God is defined as ineffable. He and His mind cannot be understood. Bell exclaims that his answers are ‘bacause’ he is a Pastor and people ask him questions. What sort of rationale is that? Can he not just say, “I am a man like you and just don’t know all the answers”.

    Silly question, really. What he means is he makes his buck by telling his parishioners what they want to hear.

  45. Tim M March 21, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Ashley M, people are arguing over the petty details because many Christians are simply petty with the details. We all lose track of the contexts, the realities that we are at the mercy of interpretation from the days a group of 1st-century through 4th-century people began to organize a religion around Jesus. Now we have 20+ centuries of interpretations, except only a few actually acknowledge the fact that we depend on interpretations.

    For the majority of believers, however, they just don’t care. They (wisely) don’t want to be theologians or scholars. They simply want to follow Jesus like you suggest, and leave the rest up to God.

  46. C Eric March 22, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    To Marc Murchison comment. I’m pretty much with you all the way. Except I think of people who are hung up because of terrible experiences with churches, or being ‘burned’ by someone who claimed to be Christian. These people are in some kind of transition, not sure what to believe. That’s not an excuse for someone to deliberately latch on-to, not for me to cling to some gray area. But I think for those who really don’t know perhaps God’s Grace acts/works in ways we can’t and shouldn’t try to pin down.

  47. C Eric March 22, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    At the end of reading all this discussion, and others, and still waiting for my copy of the book; I get the impression that Bell is deliberately trying to muddy the waters because he feels many are too self-assured in their certainty of how/what they know and that this is somehow damaging to the Church & the gospel message. Too many smug Christians thinking they have God’s plan all figured out. Bell’s not putting out new ideas, that in itself is a revelation to many. Bell wants more people to have thoughtful discussion, more people in the discussion, and he’s hoping people do so by being more comfortable with some uncertainties. Unfortunately, it seems much of the debate on the web has actually drawn attention to how many of us want to assert (and fight for) our interpretation. The original review was interesting, as well as all the comments. On a side note, the discussion sent me back to C.S. Lewis’ great little book “The Great Divorce” – where in his dream he meets one of his heroes George MacDonald. The last few pages especially offer a little of Lewis’ take on this subject, but it’s definitely as through a dim mirror.

  48. iHisBeloved March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Right on Martin Bashir!

    Heres What I think:

  49. RTL March 25, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Let’s be very honest. Rob Bell is just selling a book not a belief system. It’s obvious, he doesn’t have one, he too vague and obtuse. He’s just selling another book. I’m not sure we should be giving him this kind of attention.

  50. Brad March 28, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Martin Bashir’s interview is devoid of real substance about the book… which was the point right? Do you really think the subject of heaven and hell can be summed up in a 5 minute interview? Bashir was just trying to play “gotcha”, and was not really interested in Bell’s answers. Bashir is obviously a Christian who thinks differently than Bell and is close-minded to Bell’s concepts and tries to disguise it as “journalism”.

    This is blatantly obvious when Bashir paints Bell as a disgruntled Christian raised by Evangelicals… who is hell bent on righting the wrongs of his upbringing.

    People have been debating and analyzing the Bible for thousands of years. I would like to see Bashir have a real dialogue with Bell for more than 5 minutes before passing judgement.

  51. Rich April 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Martin Bashir is now on my list of Christian heroes. Bring him up on Facebook. “…born to muslim parents, but identifies himself as a committed Christian”. He gave full evidence of such commitment in his questions to Rob Bell. Go back and examine the questions – Bashir was acting as a defender of the faith once delivered to the saints. I have a suggestion: In the interest of full disclosure, honesty, even diversity, Bell should have Bashir as a guest speaker in his congregation, take the platform together and let the chips fall where they may. Giddy up, Martin.

  52. Steve C April 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    I agree – we should canonize Martin Bashir. He is a saint… he is amazing.

    **Gag**

  53. Murf April 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I am late to the game on this one.

    The ONLY thing that I noted, was the shoddy journalism by Martin Bashir. The Rob Bell wishy washyness was a given, as we can see in every interview.

    Here’s where Martin Bashir blew it:

    “Before we talk about the book, just help us with this tragedy in Japan. Which of these is true? either god, is all powerful but doesn’t care about the people of Japan and they’re suffering or he does care about the people of Japan and but he’s not all powerful? Which is it?”

    -Martin Bashir

    A question off topic? Ok. Not so bad… it can relate to the topic indirectly.

    An EITHER/OR question? Absolutely, horrible and journalistically unethical question. A journalist is there to report and interview, and not inject illogical assumptions in the hope of entrapping the person you are interviewing.

    Even if the object of the question was to show Bell’s inability to call recognize an illogical question, and formulate a third answer, it’s still not the point. That also serves to throw off the person you are interviewing. It’s a sucker punch.

    Let’s not be sooo against Rob Bell and “heresy” that we call it a good interview.

    0 master class points for both sides of that discussion.

  54. yankeegospelgirl April 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    I agree that opening question was odd. It was not how I would have kicked things off, because it’s a false dichotomy. But the rest of Bashir’s questions were spot-on, so I’ll forgive that misstep.

  55. Charlton Connett April 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    If you think about it, the opening question isn’t really that odd. The fact is that Bashir probably knew that he was asking a question that was a false dichotomy, a classic error of logic. By asking this question, and getting Bell’s answer, Bashir would have been able to point out Bell’s own use of the false dichotomy in how he phrases his questions in “Love Wins”. Because of Bell’s wishy-washy answer though, Bashir moved the questioning along a different line, but the question still revealed the failure of Bell’s theology, in that while espousing the goodness of God, he had to appeal to mystery, not God’s authority in every situation. The first question was effectively both a soft-ball, that Bell wiffled on, and a set up question.

    I could be wrong about the purpose of the question, but as I thought about it this seemed to me to be the logical flow of questions, had Bell actually taken a strong stance on God being both good and powerful.

  56. Murf April 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Great point. I would like to see that be the reason, because this was the lead in:

    “One megachurch pastor has ignited a theological firestorm by suggesting that our response to the Christian message in this life will not necessarily determine our eternal destiny.”

    That’s what the interview is supposed to be about.

    Then he asks:

    “Before we talk about the book, just help us with this tragedy in Japan. Which of these is true? Either God, is all powerful but doesn’t care about the people of Japan and their suffering or he does care about the people of Japan and but he’s not all powerful? Which is it?”

    Most would not understand the question immediately following with out a wrap-up. We actually have to guess at Bashir’s intent. We have to wiki his background just to find clues.

    What Bashir starts off with is a fundamental question that trumps the heaven/hell discussion with many viewers. It’s a prelude to a common atheist lead-in argument regarding the existence of God. Question his goodness or question his power, take a pick… that kind of garbage.

    His second question to Rob Bell was great. More time could have been devoted to that.

    “Are you a universalist who believes that everyone can go to heaven regardless of how they respond to Christ on earth?”

    Anyway, that’s what hit me first when the interview started. Mountain out of a molehill??

  57. Ian April 15, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    Well, for the purpose of stirring up debate, allow me to express a contrary opinion.

    I found Bashir cringeworthy and embarrassing. He repeatedly parrots the question of whether it is irrelevant or relevant, how a Christian behaves in this question, and comes across as though he has smugly destroyed Bell’s thesis with one single smartass question, despite the fact that Bell repeatedly answers the question.

    Then he goes on to put words into Bell’s mouth and attempts to make his conclusions for him, by making statements such as “according to this critic, un-biblical and historically unreliable. that’s true, isn’t it?”. A fairer comment would have been “… according to this critic, un-biblical and historically unreliable. How would you respond to that?”

    Finally, he asserts that Bell’s perspective is a consequence of his evangelical upbringing.

    I wonder what profound depths of cynicism influenced Bashir in his own upbringing.

  58. Chris Woolsey May 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    I am just a simple lay Christian, but I must say that I was more inspired by the words of Martin Bashir than I was by the words of Rob Bell. Bravo, Mr. Bashir, if only more Christians expounded what the bible actually says, rather than what they would like it to say. That is REAL love.

  59. yankeegospelgirl May 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    The problem of evil dichotomy left me scratching my head and wondering whether Bashir himself was a believer. But the rest of the interview was excellent. I’m still not sure why he started off that way, but I guess he just wanted to see how Bell would respond. Of course Bell proved pathetically incapable of recognizing a false dichotomy when he sees it, so I suppose it did reveal something about him, but I think I would have gone straight to the point myself. Still and all, a good interview that needed to be done, and I just have to roll my eyes at all the Christians out there who are clicking their tongue at Bashir for being “unloving.”

  60. Rita Schembri June 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Hey you people who watched and read this interview with Rob Bell. Please don’t fall for Martin Bashir’s style of interviewing. He is very underhanded and he is still behaving the same way he interviewed Michael Jackson at the NEVERLAND RANCH. SHAME ON YOU. HE JUST CORNERS PEOPLE AND ACCUSES THEM WITHOUT GIVING THEM SPACE THAT THEY COULD BE RIGHT. HE MAKES OUT HE IS ALWAYS RIGHT. HE SHOULDN’T BE DOING WHAT HE DOES. IT IS VERY UNPROFESSIONAL AS A JOURNALIST INTERVIEWING PEOPLE.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Martin Bashir Interviews Rob Bell « Taylor Stewart’s Blog - March 15, 2011

    [...]    http://www.dennyburk.com/martin-bashir-takes-on-rob-bell/#more-11841 [...]

  2. When Elijah Comes To Town » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch - March 16, 2011

    [...] One simply has to watch how Bell weasels his way around specific and direct questions in this interview. He would make any postmodernist or deconstructionist proud. It seems that in the end truth is whatever you make it to be, and the more vague, grey and wishy-washy you are, the better: http://www.dennyburk.com/martin-bashir-takes-on-rob-bell/ [...]

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    [...] More on the interview from Justin Taylor and Denny Burk. [...]

  4. The Second Death « Possessing the Treasure - March 16, 2011

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  5. » Martin Bashir Talks about Bell Interview | Denny Burk - March 17, 2011

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    [...] If you were able to watch the interview Rob Bell did with Martin Bashir on MSNBC, then I would highly recommend you listening to this [...]

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