Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Al Mohler on the Rob Bell Flap

Mohler calls Bell’s video a “theological striptease” that deserves a response. From Mohler’s website today:

“We must await the release of the full book in order to know what Rob Bell is really saying, but his advance promotion for the book is already saying something, and it is not good. The material he has already put forth does demand and deserve attention.

“The Emerging Church movement is known for its slick and sophisticated presentation. It wears irony and condescension as normal attire. Regardless of how Rob Bell’s book turns out, its promotion is the sad equivalent of a theological striptease.

“The Gospel is too precious and important to be commodified in this manner. The questions he asks are too important to leave so tantalizingly unanswered. Universalism is a heresy, not a lure to use in order to sell books. This much we know, almost a month before the book is to be released.”

Read the rest here.


  • Louis Tullo

    I completely agree with Mohler. As a 23-year-old, I felt Bell’s video was incredibly manipulative, using the post-modern sensibilities thrust upon myself and peers by the world. As a Christian, it offended me even more because it attempted to paint a picture of God as hateful and cruel. While some of the initial criticism of the book might be slightly premature, I do believe the response to the promotional video has been fair considering the outrageous statements he makes in it. My approach when things like this happen is to read the book through the lens of the Gospel in order to be better able to converse with people about it’s rightness or wrongness.

  • Derek

    I agree with Dr. Mohler, but I am sure that Bell sees it the other way. Watching the book promotional video, I got the distinct picture that Rob sees himself as a prophet who sees Al Mohler and his cadre as the ones who have created this grotesque version of the Gospel that is driving people away from God.

    Also, Bell has never really “joined on” to the emergent movement, although it’s hard not to see similar characteristics (he probably sees himself as bigger and more influential than they are and he’s probably right).

  • Lisa Ralston

    I think it was Chuck Colson who once spoke to a group of Hindus and he asked if any of them wanted to pray to accept Christ and he was shocked that nearly every hand went up. He later found out that many Hindus study and believe that Christ was enlightened and god-like.
    Hinduism is polytheistic, so for a Hindu to embrace Christ in one fashion or another is not remarkable. What is remarkable is when a Hindu truly accepts all of Christ’s claims and Lordship and rejects Hinduism.

  • David Rogers

    I found Rob Bell’s video promotion to have a kind of “nice guy condescension” toward those who affirm the reality of hell. Having said that, I still think that those who have charged him with a full-blown charge of universalism have jumped the gun. Load the exegetical weaponry and be ready for a rigorous analysis and critique of the work AFTER it has been fully read in context.

    Yes, I have read those who have justified the critique on the basis of the video comments, but I still think the gun has been jumped. One could critique the video and promotional material as being provocative and that would be legitimate. But, the flippant Twittering dismissals and critiques are also disturbing to me.

    Before one says, “I disagree and here’s why,” one should be able to say “I understand exactly the thoroughness of the position you espouse by having read exactly what you have said in presenting your position.” Or more concisely, “I understand. I disagree.”

  • Ryan K.

    The only thing is David is that no one has charged him with “full-blown” universalism.

    Bloggers have said his video indicates he is heading that direction, but no one has made the charge you are accusing them off.

    I almost feel like JT and others are getting more mis-read than Bell himself.

  • Mark

    No has charged Karl Barth with “full-blown” universalism, but if you read certain parts of his theological writings you know that he leaned towards a wider hope than the exclusivity of the gospel.

  • David Rogers

    Ryan K.,

    All I know is that John Piper has bid him “farewell.” Why did he do that if Bell hasn’t drifted into “full-blown universalism” or does Piper bid farewell for less?

  • Ryan K.

    Your changing your point David. I don’t know what John Piper tweeted what he did, nor am I really interested in trying to read his mind.

    All I know is that no one has done what you are upset about, so it might me your complaint is a tad invalid.

    I do get where your coming from in wanting people to be thoughtful and patient in their commentary and critiques of Rob Bell, I just think we should do the same for all parties involved.

  • David Rogers

    John Piper’s Tweet:

    “Farewell Rob Bell”

    This can be easily checked out at Piper’s twitter account (unless someone wants to claim this is a fraudulent account; and if it is, then we have another major story of how Piper’s identity has been stolen)

    Piper obviously believes something about Bell that prompted him to say goodbye to him. Piper links to Justin Taylor’s blog post.

    Okay, I will concede that the charge of “full-blown universalism” may not have been made by some blog posters, but many commenters who have read the blogs have have read it with that conclusion as the assumption.

    The postings by some bloggers is thus “sloppy” at best.

  • Ryan K.

    Good thoughts David and I would agree that some blog posts by both sides of this subject have been sloppy.

    I am just curious but did you find anything troubling with the video? And if you did how would you have conveyed those thoughts/opinions if you were in JT’s shoes with a very popular blog.

  • David Rogers

    I found the video a little too condescending. The attitude showed by Bell came across as “more loving than thou”. If I had a blog like JT (and I go there everyday because he is very helpful and useful for keeping abreast of many things in evangelicalism) I would have let people know of the coming book and the real possibility that it may (MAY) be controversial but the major emphasis would have been on urging waiting, waiting, waiting, preparing, preparing, preparing in Bible study. I would not have titled it “Rob Bell: Universalist?” but “Rob Bell:Provacateur?” or “Rob Bell: A Brewing Controversy?”

    JT’s blog article immediately went toward a conclusive stance about the content of universalism which he then felt he needed to update and alter by deleting certain Scriptures and changing his phrasing.

    On a tangential note: It is interestng to see the Calvinist uproar about this when the theology of Calvinism seems to have to admit that the controversial viewpoint of universalism has no actual impact on the salvation of a single elect person. Also, since Calvinism seems to promote that all things (including heresies) come about because of God’s good pleasure toward glorifying himself, do Calvinists have any emotional queasiness about the rise of universalism or do they emotionally and inwardly rejoice that the heresy brings glory to God while intellectually denouncing it as part of the proper theological process of glorifying God?

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