Christianity,  Theology/Bible

An Unbiblical “Gospel” in Rob Bell’s NOOMA Videos?

Have you seen any of Pastor Rob Bell’s “NOOMA” videos? I first viewed a few of them a few years ago when a friend from church brought them to me and said that I needed to watch them. They are impressive in terms of production, and compelling in terms of Rob Bell’s delivery of the material. They are short, hip, punchy sermonettes that do a good job of reaching the pomo set.

Greg Gilbert has written a 3-part review of the videos that is now available at the blog for Gilbert ends up being extremely critical of the videos because of their lack (and sometimes distortion of) gospel content. He writes:

“If you take the videos on their own terms, and if you take Bell’s presentation of the gospel at face value, what you end up with is actually something very different from biblical Christianity. You end up with a “gospel” that misleads people about their relationship with God, is inexcusably unclear about the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and finally makes Christianity little more than a banal moral system that tells people to live in a certain way.”

The rest of Gilbert’s review is thoughtful and spot-on, so I recommend your reading it. Here’s the link:

“The Scoop’a on NOOMA” – by Greg Gilbert (


If you have never had the opportunity to see NOOMA video, there are some posted on YouTube. Here are a few.

NOOMA – “Rain”

NOOMA – “Kickball”

NOOMA – “Bullhorn” [clip]


  • Brett

    Give me a break, I thought we were past all this. This guy doesn’t have anything better to do with his time? I’m going to sit and listen to 10 of John Piper’s sermons and absolutely pick them apart, then I’ll post them on a website with proof-texts and philosophical arguments and quotes ripped out of context to debunk his sermons and show what a heretic he is!

    Seriously, get a life. This can be done with anybody, no matter how “spot on” they are.

  • Paul


    we usually agree. Here, though, we don’t.

    Personally, I have to wonder about the point of these videos. They’re of practically no use to someone who is already a Christian, and they seem to be perfectly made for the “seeker” set. After all, a seeker doesn’t need to hear about the true meaning of the cross or how God sent down his Son to be brutally murdered by the Romans in order to fulfill prophecy. Seekers need to hear that there’s a reason why their lives feel empty, and that’s because of the God shaped hole in everyone’s heart. Seekers need to hear that God loves them, and with His forgiveness, they too can be with Him for all eternity. Seekers need to hear that there is a way to live differently and apart from this wretched world and its materialism, its quick pleasures and its easy rewards and even easier downfalls. And best as I can tell, these videos do a marvelous job of just that.

    That said, how is a seeker going to come to these? Are they going to go to a Christian bookstore and plop down $11 for a 10 minute video? Probably not. Maybe, just maybe, some seeker friendly church might buy them and use them in presentations. But if all of the above stuff is true, then don’t they want to hear someone say this stuff face to face, instead of someone semi-callously saying, “oh, you’re broken, here, watch this video!”

    It’s a great idea in theory, especially for its intended audience. But I don’t really see the point in practice. I like the guy. I like what he has to say. But these need to be viral, all over the internet, as opposed to being a charged for item, which only takes them out of the very hands for which they’re intended.

  • Brett

    Hey Paul,

    I agree with you to some extent. I kind of wrote that first post out of anger b/c I consider Bell a Christian brother and to see somebody write that his Gospel is unbiblical or a false Gospel really gets me going…as it should every Christian. But anyways, the things you described about the seeker do need to be said and communicated b/c it is true. However, the other side needs to be preached and taught as well (the cross, death, resurrection, substitution, etc). Personally, I grew up hearing all about the latter, and never, ever about the former. I honestly felt like crap most of the times I would leave church b/c I honestly didn’t think God had a purpose for me, my life was empty, I didn’t think God loved me, I just thought he chose me for himself.

    About the price and selling of the videos…I completely agree. I believe Bell is probably capitalizing on it, and it’s a shame they sell such short videos for so much. They are good videos, but crap, for $11 I could buy a dang DVD that’s 2 hours long! So about that point we’re in total agreement.

  • Ted

    “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
    -2 Timothy 1:13-15

    Hey guys, is this what we’re supposed to “get past”?

    Rob Bell is an influential pastor who is in the public square– something he’s sought by the way. What he espouses is fair game for scrutiny. Plus, doctrine matters, at least it does to Paul and John, who often warn against false teachings. If the review is “critical” but done in the spirit of dialogue and Christian love, Bell might just profit it. I know my opponents have sure helped me.

    P.S. If you don’t like my comments, just remember, we should never seriously evaluate other’s statements 😉

  • Bryan L

    I just watched the first video “rain” and it’s the only one I’ve ever seen and I actually liked it. It was pretty good and even spoke to me, especially the last part where he talks about his son being in therapy and blaming his dad for making him go into that storm. I’d be interested to see what people here have a problem with in a video like that.

    Also being that this was the first time I heard Bell speak I can’t help but like hearing him and I can see why people flock to see him. It’s like he’s having a conversation with you, like you are right there in front of him and he’s telling you this story and ministering to you. Good stuff.

    I’ll check out the other videos later and see if there’s anything that jumps out at me but honestly even if it’s just a few things here and there that I take issue with I don’t think I would see it as a big deal, after all I don’t agree with anyone on everything anyway (and some I disagree with a whole lot less), but I know I can’t be right about everything and so I have to have grace for others I disagree with knowing that it may be me that’s wrong (and all my buddies who agree with me too).

    Bryan L

  • Brian W

    If Gilbert would begin criticism with friends like Mohler, Piper, Mahaney and others, I would take his criticisms of Bell more seriously. We got Piper walking around saying “God is the most God-centered person in the universe,” which is a completely heretical and unbiblical statement settled in Nicea in 325. If the NT teaches us anything, its that God is not “a person.” Yet, this unitarian language goes completely unchallenged. So what’s more dangerous, God-language that refers to God as “a person” or the things Bell says?

  • Tristan

    For those who are criticizing Greg Gilbert’s critique of Rob Bell, I might give you a bit of advice. Try reading his critique first. And if you have read it, then try interacting with the critique instead of throwing out a “give me a break” here and a “what’s the big deal” there. It would be beneficial to everyone if you would enumerate what it is about Greg Gilbert’s critique (other than the fact that he’s critiquing) that you find so absurd.

  • kevin b

    So Piper is a heretic because he refers to God as a “person”. Wow!

    I gues you don’t object to singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” which concludes a verse, “God in three PERSONS, blessed Trinity.”


  • Ken

    “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

    James 3:1, ESV

  • John

    Gos IS the most God centered “person”. He loves His glory more than He loves anything….For example:

    God chose his people for his glory:

    He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace. (Ephesians 1:4-6, cf. vv. 12, 14, NASB)

    God created us for his glory:

    Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7)

    God called Israel for his glory:

    You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified (Isaiah 49:3).

    I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. (Jeremiah 13:11)

    God rescued Israel from Egypt for his glory:

    Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works . . . but rebelled by the Sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. (Psalm 106:7-8)

    God raised Pharaoh up to show his power and glorify his name:

    For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17)

    God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show his glory:

    And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. (Exodus 14:4, 18; cf. v. 17)

    God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of his name:

    I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. (Ezekiel 20:l4)

    God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of his name:

    Who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? (2 Samuel 7:23)

    God did not cast away his people for the glory of his name:

    Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord . . . For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake. (l Samuel 12:20, 22)

    God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of his name:

    For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. (2 Kings 19:34; cf. 20:6)

    God restored Israel from exile for the glory of his name:

    Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name.. . . And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name. . . . And the nations will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 36:22-23; cf. v. 32)

    Jesus sought the glory of his Father in all he did:

    The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:l8)

    Jesus told us to do good works so that God gets glory:

    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 2:12)

    Jesus warned that not seeking God’s glory makes faith impossible:

    How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)

    Jesus said that he answers prayer that God would be glorified:

    Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

    Jesus endured his final hours of suffering for God’s glory:

    “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’ (John 12:27-28).

    Father, the hour has come; glorify your son that the Son may glorify you. (John 17:1; cf. 13:31-32)

    God gave his Son to vindicate the glory of his righteousness:

    God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood . . . to show God’s righteousness . . . It was to show his righteousness at the present time. (Romans 3:25-26)

    God forgives our sins for his own sake:

    I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

    For your own name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

    Jesus receives us into his fellowship for the glory of God:

    Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

    The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Son of God:

    He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:14)

    God instructs us to do everything for his glory:

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (l Corinthians 10:31; cf. 6:20).

    God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify him:

    Whoever serves, [let him do it] as one who serves by the strength which God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (l Peter 4:11)

    Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God’s glory:

    It is my prayer that . . . [you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9, 11)

    All are under judgment for dishonoring God’s glory:

    They became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images. (Romans 1:22, 23)

    For all havesinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

    Herod is struck dead because he did not give glory to God:

    Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory. (Acts 12:23)

    Jesus is coming again for the glory of God:

    They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

    Jesus’ ultimate aim for us is that we see and enjoy his glory:

    Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

    Even in wrath God’s aim is to make known the wealth of his glory:

    Desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, [God] has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory. (Romans 9:22-23)

    God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory:

    For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

    Everything that happens will redound to God’s glory:

    From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

    In the New Jerusalem the glory of God replaces the sun:

    And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Revelation 21:23).

  • jeremy zach

    I simply love how this Greg guy gives a litmus test for what is the biblical gospel and what is not the biblical gospel.

    We have to remember that when Jesus was preaching the “gospel” He did not have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in front of him.

    Also I love how Greg concludes what the end product looks like after reviewing over the nooma videos. Apparently, if you watch enough nooma videos this is what you will turn out like: You end up with a “gospel” that misleads people about their relationship with God.

    It is like Greg took these nooma video and put them in a scientific lab to “test” the gospel content and the end results. To me that seems way to systematic and distorted. I know these nooma videos have touched millions and millions of people and has helped many and many unprepared youth pastor arrange a cool youth meeting.


  • BrianW

    I see we have some critical readers on this blog. First, Kevin B, I said the statement “God is the most God-centered person” is a heretical statement. I didn’t call anyone a heretic, but I did label a statement as heretical. As to your reference to the old English hymn, there is an enormous difference between God being “a person” (which Pastor Piper affirmed he says at the 2008 BCP) and God “in three persons” (notice the plural) as in the song. A world of difference.

    and brian in 11, if “God is the most God-centered person” is a fair reflection of what’s being said, then (I would argue) that’s very unitarian (in contrast to Trinitarian). You’re implying that I think Piper is a unitarian, which I don’t. But who among us “orthodox” believers are immune from making heretical statements? I’m sure I do it.

    I’m just not sure why we give people like Piper a pass and want to call guys like Bell false teachers. That’s my point.

  • Tristan

    Let me see if I understand you correctly. You don’t believe that we should have any sort of litmus test for what is and isn’t the biblical gospel. Should we define the biblical gospel? Is there a biblical gospel? Or is it different for every person?

    And I’m also confused about your defense for the above statement in the line:

    “We have to remember that when Jesus was preaching the ‘gospel’ He did not have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in front of him.”

    Are you suggesting that what Jesus was preaching is somehow in contradiction to or disagreeing with what we find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Are you saying Jesus knew nothing of the gospel presented in those books? If not, how does this further your argument?

  • Ken

    BrianW: If God is not a person, does that make him a non-person? 😉

    One of the more important concepts in understanding trinitarian language is that “person” as used at Nicea does not mean the same thing as denoted by our contemporary usage. To accuse John Piper of espousing unitarianism when he speaks of God being a “person” scores rhetorical but not substantive (pardon the pun) points.

  • Ken

    Following on to Tristan’s comments, I’m wondering if JZ would rebuke Paul for insisting that his opponents were preaching a gospel that is no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-9). After all, the language suggests Paul had an idea he knew and could recognize the gospel, and that his opponents were not preaching it.

  • Brian W


    I specifically state that I don’t think Piper is a unitarian, nor do I think he’s espousing unitarianism. His statement would be unitarian approved, in my view, but that doesn’t “make” him anything.

    There’s no point in talking about what “person” meant to a Nicene participant. It doesn’t take sophisticated scholarship to know that if someone is talking about God as “a person”, he’s referring to God in single-subject language. Single-subject God-talk isn’t Trinitarian. One can very easily agree with and affirm Trinitarian doctrine but not incorporate it into their working theology.

    Back to the point: I find it interesting that I’m getting pressured on the fine points of doctrine in defense of Piper, yet the same charity isn’t afforded to people like Bell. Why is criticism so selective, I’m wondering?

  • brian

    BRIAN W said, “Single-subject God-talk isn’t Trinitarian.”

    Yes it is. God is constantly referred to as a single subject. But that doesn’t deny the trinity or count as heretical. God is a trinity. The single subject (God) is a trinity (3 persons). One “what” and three “who’s….but I don’t want to turn this into a debate on the trinity….

    It’s also a huge subject change on your part to bring up John Piper, when the post is on Bell.

  • Tristan

    Brian W,
    A quick definition of “red herring” from wikipedia: a diversion or distraction from an original objective.

    Do you actually have anything to say about Gilbert’s article on Bell? Because we could also start a conversation on the mating habits of jellyfish if you would like.

  • BrianW


    One of the beautiful things about scripture is how we see this continual unfolding of revelation. yeah, there is a lot of single-subject language in relation to God in the earlier books of the Bible, but as God continued to reveal himself, specifically in the NT, we see relational categories used of God, not single-subject language. God isn’t “a self,” God is the dynamic relationship of Father, Son, HS (per the NT). I’m surprised you are arguing this point so much unless you’re unfamiliar with this continual revelation. If the NT teaches us anything about “God,” its that we are to talk about God in relational terms, not single-subject terms. That’s my view.

    Tristan, thanks, but I didn’t ask for one. It seems to you, one can’t use analogies or illustrations to make a point. If you notice in every post, I conclude by restating my original point (double standards in critique and review). That seems relevant to the discussion. If you think this is a red herring, that’s fine. I don’t care. My thoughts don’t seem to matter much to you either.

  • Benjamin A

    Why does it seem that every conversation gets off track, and becomes a war of words to see who can outwit someone? May I suggest PRIDE! We all need to be bigger than that.

    This article was about Bell. Not Piper. Sure Piper could be critiqued as we all could. If you read the article he points out some very specific examples of his critique.
    So on the merits of the article alone either agree or disagree. I personally think, from what I read in the article, that Bell is very unclear at best in what he says regarding how to have a relationship with God the Father.

  • Paul


    I think both Gilbert’s and Mahoney’s critiques miss the point of what these Nooma videos might be all about.

    If they are intended to be seeker friendly, then they’re pretty much spot on: a good “advertisement”, if you will, for Christianity. If someone sees one of these on You Tube or Google video, they might very well bring someone to the local church on a Sunday where they can get more useful nourishment. Then, in turn, that more useful nourishment can make someone stronger in their relationship with God.

    If someone bases their Christianity upon these videos, then we might have problems. But something tells me that this is not the point of these videos. It would be really great if Rob Bell would come here and comment for himself, but I find that unlikely to happen, which is a shame. I’d love to hear his point of view.

  • Brett

    It’s because he is a Christian and doesn’t need to defend himself. In fact, I would conclude that these accusations and criticisms of Bell are persecution. Christ didn’t defend himself, Bell don’t feel he has to either.

  • Ben

    I suppose I disagree with both Bell and Gilbert.

    Gilbert is like the slow and expensive Human Genome Project, which thought that understanding every facet of what they were decoding was important to the project, hence the slow and methodical work. Bell is like Celera Genomics, which thought that simply getting the information into the hands of the public was at least as important as understanding what was being decoded. In the end, by the way, the two organizations called it a tie.

    Both Gilbert and Bell use different methods and different categories to bring the gospel into postmodern culture. The accusation from Gilbert that the scandal of the cross isn’t as forward as he would like simply highlights this difference. Bell, on the other hand, does seem to be playing fast and loose with the category of forgiveness.

    The number of times I saw “emergent” in quotes, as well as assaulting the Emergent agenda leads me to believe that he has an axe to grind with those identifying themselves as Emergent.

    In the end, I’ll call it a draw. I’m not convinced Gilbert isn’t looking for something, and I’m not convinced Bell isn’t purposefully softening things to be more palatable. Neither of which allows me to answer whether or not the videos are unbiblical.

  • jeremy zach

    Should we define the biblical gospel?
    Yes. The gospel is be reconciled to God. I think Bell communicates this, therefore it is gospel. However according to Greg experiment, Bell’s content is not gospel.

    Are you suggesting that what Jesus was preaching is somehow in contradiction to or disagreeing with what we find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
    No not at all. I am saying Jesus is the gospel and he responded to the many situations very differently.

    Are you saying Jesus knew nothing of the gospel presented in those books?
    Yes Jesus knew, but there is more of the story of Jesus than what these writers are portraying. Each gospel writer has a specific task and specific audience in how they portray Jesus.

    My point is that simply because Bell’s gospel presentation does not align to Greg’s gospel presentation does not necessary mean we rule out Bell’s gospel.

  • Matt Svoboda

    “The gospel is be reconciled to God”

    This is wrong. Reconciliation with God is a result of the gospel. Romans 1:16.

    I have not heard or read any statements, personally, to make me comfortably say that he is a heretic or that he preaches a false gospel. Although I would not be surprised. Can anyone give me a quote to prove he preaches a false gospel? If not, it is wuite the serious charge to say that he is preaching ‘another gospel.’

  • Bryan L

    That’s an interesting statement Matt.

    Someone says the gospel is be reconciled with God and if you translate gospel out it would say “The good news is be reconciled with God.”

    Where as if you translate your statement out it’s “Reconciliation with God is a result of the good news.”

    Either way I don’t see a problem with either of those statements and it kind of appears like splitting hairs to me.

    Also I find it odd that you haven’t heard or read any statements from Bell to make you comfortable enough to say that he is a heretic or that he preaches a false gospel.

    Then why would you be surprised? If I said the same about… oh I don’t know… Billy Graham (to keep it less emotionally charged) would you find my statement odd?

    Either way I’m curious why nobody has wanted to discuss the actual videos and what they say. Sure lets discuss the critique but after we’ve watched the videos ourselves and formulated our own opinions.

    That is one of the things I’ve been uncomfortable about with the more conservative Christian circles: the tendency to want to read negative critiques of books and videos that are different than the traditional conservative beliefs instead of actually reading the books and watching the videos themselves.

    So if we are going to critique Bell, fine but let’s actually watch him first and critique him instead of critiquing him through Greg and accepting everything Greg says… uncritically.

    Bryan L

  • Lucas Knisely


    You said:

    That is one of the things I’ve been uncomfortable about with the more conservative Christian circles: the tendency to want to read negative critiques of books and videos that are different than the traditional conservative beliefs instead of actually reading the books and watching the videos themselves.

    My experience is that I don’t have time to waste on books or videos that may not help me or edify me at all. If you value the opinion of a certain author/preacher/friend, and they tell you “The newest book by John Doe is riddled with heresy.” Would you run the risk of wasting your time and energy reading the book?

    I guess all that to say this: I’m too busy to waste my time reading bad or heretical books.

  • Bryan L

    The type of people I respect and listen to don’t usually classify books or authors as heretical or not. They might tell me they think a particular author or preacher got it wrong but they won’t warn me to stay away from someone.

    BTW not everything falls into the heresy or orthodox category. Those books that don’t, and that you disagree with do you then read them or do you mainly rely on book reviews and negative critiques instead?

    But if that’s your choice and you don’t believe you have time for those things you might disagree with then that’s your choice. I just like to know I’ve examined both sides of the argument/issue before I make my decision and I don’t really care to let others make my decision for me even if it does save me some time. Please don’t take this the wrong way like I’m taking a jab at you or something.

    I haven’t checked that video out. I’ll watch it soon and get back with my thoughts (hopefully).


  • Brittany

    Read some of Part 2 of Greg’s critique. Wanted to comment on one small thing:

    Greg takes issue with Bell’s assertion that:

    “Heaven is full of forgiven people.
    Hell is full of forgiven people.
    Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for.
    Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for.”

    Greg responds:

    “What Bell is asserting here is a bizarre kind of universalism in which every human being is forgiven and yet some forgiven people end up in hell anyway.”

    Yes, in a real sense, that is what Bell is saying. And yet this is not bizarre or unusual at all; it is a doctrine held by many Western Christian traditions, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, that take 1 John 2:2 (and other passages) seriously: “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” In the non-Reformed tradition, it is common for people to believe that Jesus’s death and resurrection propitiated God’s forgiveness of ALL people (everyone’s slate is wiped clean) and that the only sin left unforgiven is the sin of unbelief. That is the view, I think, that Bell is espousing.

  • Brittany

    And thirdly (I’ll stop soon, I promise):

    “Would you run the risk of wasting your time and energy reading the book?”

    Yes, given that I find the book’s topic interesting/relevant/what have you. I think Bryan’s point (well, mine, anyway) is that it wouldn’t be a waste of time.

  • Lucas Knisely


    No offense taken. I’ve read books with views that I knew I would disagree with. Both of Sam Harris’s books, Richard Dawkins, etc. But if its a book like, “The New View of Paul” or “The Secrets of Jesus” and everyone I respect is basically saying, “Don’t waste your time on this one” I probably will steer clear of it.

    Does that make sense? If there is a stark contrast, I think it can be good to read. Like the book Debating Calvinism or the above books I mentioned. But if the water is muddy, I’d rather not waste my time getting confused or irritated.

  • Brett

    Okay, just b/c it’s new doesn’t mean it’s not true. I don’t know why reformed evangelicals are so hostile toward the new perspective (NP). James Dunn is one of the greatest living scholars and he seeks to get into Paul’s mind and his time instead of Luther’s. It’s actually gaining more and more ground among scholars because they are seeing the legitimacy of it and see the good it has to offer. I’m at a fairly reformed institution and a few of the professors are very favorable towards the NP. And it’s not “new” in the sense that nobody has every thought of it, on the contrary, if Dunn and Wright are correct it’s the oldest view of all. We just look at Pauline literature through the eyes of the reformation, which is one of their main arguments…and a legitimate one.

    All that to say, just b/c the title says “New View of Paul” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Actually, Tom Schreiner, a staunch defender of the classical view of Paul, actually highly recommends James Dunn’s book on Paul’s theology. We can learn from these people, so they shouldn’t be shunned.

  • Brett

    No I didn’t, I just chose not to address your point. You mentioned something on the “new view of Paul” and I went with it. You seemed to be saying that the “new view” wasn’t worth your time. And I was just trying to say that it was…even Tom Schreiner is very favorable to Dunn’s “Theology of Paul the Apostle” book.

    Anyways, sorry I sidetracked your main point. I actually kind of agree with you (in some cases…not all). I just chose to address the new perspective since you mentioned it.

  • Brett

    Also, I’m just trying to get the New Perspective discussion back up and running!

    No, I just saw some previous posts from Denny about it and, of course, how antagonistic he is towards it. If anybody wanted a picture of a standard reformed conservative pro-American right-winger, I would point them to Denny Burk’s blog. I absolutely can’t believe some of the things he says. I mean, whatever American does (as long as the Republicans are in office), he will approve of it, and whatever Piper says and is in line with Augustine or Calvin, he will agree with it. Amazing.

  • Paul

    Rob Bell, as well as both the new and old perspectives on Paul, would all love my CD.

    (sorry, gotta do something to break up the dismal mood in this thread…)

  • Heather

    I have a couple of general comments to make:

    1st- I think everyone is taking these videos WAY too litteral. These videos are meant to be like an anecdotable parable. Jesus used parables ALL the time so that we simple minded humans could understand the complexity of who God is as well as His love for us. If society wasn’t so “technologically” minded we wouldn’t even have to go this far with trying to reach the lost.

    2nd- Since when is Christianity only about the crusifixion, death, and rising of Jesus? If that is what you make of it then you are worshipping Jesus and NOT God the Father. Christianity is becoming a CHILD of God just as Jesus is. We are co-heirs with Christ not proclaimers of His death only. Christianity is about becoming in a relationship with Christ as our brother and God as our Father which is why Bell uses his own son as an example; Because our earthly relationships are only a small taste of what we can have with God, we as human can identify with that and comprehend that so much more easily than that of only an intimate relationship with God.

    3rd- Has anyone actually stopped to think that all the contoversy itself is from the enemy and not Bell or his videos? The enemy is indeed gaining wisdom and we ourselves our becoming very blind to his tricks. I think that these videos could actually be onto something and that satan is trying to deture us from using them because they WILL indeed bring people, especially our teens, closer to God?

    At this time, from these three videos above that i did completely view, I do not see any mega harm behind them. No one person however should be their only source of preaching/teaching. The only TRUE gospel is the GOSPEL itself and until we as people are determined enough to dig in and let the Holy Spirit enlighten us as to what the Word of God DOES indeed say, then we have no right to even make statements against one of His Teachers!

    In God’s Service,

  • Heather

    Ok, so I have done some more research on this Rob Bell guy.

    While his videos seem fairly harmless and can indeed be used in some format of teaching the truth of God’s word, Rob himself and his church are indeed blinded.

    No where on their church website do they mention believing in the Trinity and that Christ died for our sins and that He rose again to be with God at His right hand.

    That alone is VERY Alarming!!!!

    I do believe that we need to be careful of who we choose to endorse in our Churches and our Christian book stores/retailers. I do hope that we as a whole will choose to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when something doesn’t quite feel right and become more active in persuing the only real Truth.


  • Zach

    I got to give props to John on the scripture use. Everything we say and do should bring God glory, even in the little things (1 Cor 10:31). I am a youth minister, and what we teach our future leaders is important. Constantly our students are encouraged to put to test everything they hear out of a teacher of the Word, (1 John 4:1-6). Also when I started in ministry a few years ago I bought all the new Nooma videos, and thought they were good, only to find out by more study, that they were taking away from the gospel. We can’t strap ourselves to the gospel, we are not the gospel. This quote was taken from a Casting Crowns CD, the reason for this song title, “What this World Needs”, from the Altar and the Door CD is this, “Galatians is the main basis for this song. False teachers were slipping in and adding to the Gospel. Jesus + being good = The beleiver’s life. Paul builds in a foundation for the Galatians people that it is by faith in Jesus that we are saved. Even today, we, the church, are in danger of adding to the Gospel. Jesus plus my denomination. Jesus plus our style of worship. Jesus plus our good behavior. We must be careful not to strap ourselves to the gospel”. The scriptures to back this quote up are: 2 Cor 6:3-13/ Col 1:13-23/ John 17/ Matt 7:1-3/ John 7:24/ Romans 16:17-19/ Phil 3:18-20. I encourage everyone who reads this to look up these scriptures. Also for you youth leaders, or just those interested in the slipping away of our youth, I encourage you to read a book titled “Decide For Yourself reThink is Student Ministry Working? By Steve Wright, check out his ministries web site at, and also check this guy out doing what we should all do, by checking Rob Bell’s stuff with Scripture Let’s not argue among ourselves brothers and sisters, but check ourselves with The Word, because that is the only thing that matters when it comes down to it, being biblical and living for Jesus. With love, May the Lord bless you and keep you.

  • Devin

    Having just read the critique of the NOOMA series, I would have to agree with Greg Gilbert that it isn’t often that Rob Bell doesn’t mention ‘resurrection’, ‘the cross’, ‘salvation’, etc. However, I disagree on how dangerous that supposedly is. Bell addresses where people are in life, and tells them how God sees the situation, how Jesus will get us through, (which is by the way salvation) and how these experiences are used for God’s glory. In no way are these teachings un-biblical. Bell reaches people on a practical level which teaches the values of Christ’s lessons for daily living. This not only ministers to the ‘seekers’ but to Christians as well. After all we all are supposed to seek God, and nobody will every be perfect in this life, though it is our desire to do so. The fact that NOOMA doesn’t talk about ‘the sheep and goats’ is irrelevant because that sermon is designed specifically to deal with people who are aware of the ways of God, yet refuse to live them. NOOMA is not an aggressive-corrective series, it is not meant to ‘spank’ the audience, which the sermon about sheep and goats is. Lastly, the issue of ‘the cross’, and I don’t mean to sound heretical, but what is the importance of the cross? It is the means that Christ died, but the manner, so if he had of come in medieval times it would have been the wheel. To anyone who can comprehend these movies, it is already given that Christ was crucified for our sins and rose again, whether they believe it or not. These movies should not be looked at as a gospel, but as a tool. THE BIBLE is THE Gospel, and everything else just emphasizes certain points. NOOMA is a good tool for Christian growth but in no way is it meant to replace the word of God. If you want to think about using this as your main means of theology, you have much bigger issues then are addressed here.

  • Brandon

    Mark 9:14-19
    Jesus comes down from a montain top experience with a few of his disciples and finds the others arguing when he arrives. He calls them an unbelieving generation. Does this speak to us? We spend to much time arguing over things that don’t really matter do they?

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