In an emotional interview with Sally Quinn, Rob Bell says that he has been misunderstood and slandered. There is much that could be said in response to this accusation. I think Quinn followed-up with the most obvious response. In what way does he feel misrepresented and slandered?
Bell’s answers, however, really miss the mark in my view. First, he sort of alleges that his critics are accusing him of not being a “serious follower of Jesus.” I don’t know anyone who is saying that he is not a serious follower of his version of Jesus. Second, he suggests that his critics don’t understand that he is simply trying to present Jesus to people who need him. But this is begging the question. What Jesus is he presenting to them? Is he calling people to the Jesus of the Bible? Or to some other Jesus? That is what this conversation has been about (“the question behind the question” as he puts it). I think we will all concede that he is calling people to Jesus. The question is, “which one?” (see 2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
I think it would be helpful to know, for instance, if Bell is calling people to the Jesus of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, who promises to give â€œretributionâ€ and â€œeternal destructionâ€ to those who â€œdo not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.â€ Many of us donâ€™t see the Jesus of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 in Bellâ€™s book. Is he saying that he does believe in this Jesus and that his critics are wrong to suggest that he doesnâ€™t?
If he is going to say that he has been misrepresented and slandered, I would like to hear some substantive engagement with his critics. Maybe subsequent interview snippets will tell more (Why is “On Faith” releasing the interview in pieces?). We’ll see.
Break out the violins…
Has there been any talk getting together an open forum with Bell and guys like you, DeYoung and Taylor? If he’s so concerned that he be understood, wouldn’t it be helpful to talk openly with the guys he says don’t understand him?
I pray the Holy Spirit helps Mr. Bell begin to REALLY analyse his words against the truth of Scripture and what the “slanderers” say. Best case scenario: Rob Bell recants “Love Wins” with another book “I misunderstood how Love Wins”
If that’s how Bell feels, then I wish he would respond to the concerns brought up by Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, Darrell Bock, etc instead of simply being a talking head on “secular” media. I for one would be willing to pay to watch a roundtable with Bell and other notable evangelical leaders, moderated by someone like Mark Galli of CT. Let’s have this conversation out in the open, where Bell can be asked specifically about things in his book and where he can respond in kind.
Great idea. That would be strong. Probably will never happen though.
Elephant Room part two?
I know Chris, that’s my feeling as well. Has Bell ever said that he’d be willing to have a public debate with any of these guys? It’s not like they would refuse to let him have his say. Frankly it looks a bit tacky for him to say essentially nothing in response to the many detailed concerns that have been raised by fellow Christians. But if he wants to throw a fuzzy-headed pity party instead of actually engaging with the ideas, that’s his choice…
FYI, this video doesn’t work in Internet Explorer – if you want to see it you need to use a different web browser like Firefox.
So…long treatises are not close to God’s heart? I guess I can remove Romans from my Bible. Ssssswwwwweeeeetttttttt!
He’s doing the very thing that he’s criticizing other Christians of doing. He’s taken the Bible and condensed it into basically 2-3 chapters at most. We most definitely are to be known by our love and actions. But we are also to see our sin and Christ’s crucifiction as the ultimate gesture of love saving us from God’s wrath. Why is the cross of value Rob? Why? Why do we need a Savior if God is not just and will not punish those who sin against his holiness? We don’t if that’s the case. If Rob Bell wanted to write a book challenging modern Christianity and reformed Christians to love greater and to hear the call of Jesus and God thru the epistles of the utmost importance of Love – then wonderful. It is needed. I need it. However, to reduce Christ’s sacrifice and death to a mere optional entry point to heaven vs. no longer existing – removes the entire remdemption work of our mighty King.
He needs to read 2 John and Galatians 1-2 again.
Ok, we’ll try it this way…
Letâ€™s see here, Bell has been committing heresy for years. He publishes a book that Christians recognize as heresy and has pretend christians responding â€œYouâ€™ve got to read the book firstâ€ or â€œJudge not, let ye be judged, ya knowâ€. And he is gonna whine about â€œOh, Iâ€™m being so mistreated.â€ No, Rob, youâ€™re getting what you deserve.
Thanks for the video tip.
If it is a bunch of people piling on Bell, each trying to score points, I do not think that would be useful.
A discussion might be useful, but if it is a just a bunch of white guys with degrees posing as Grand Pooh-Bahs (infallible interpreters), I would have concerns.
He’s obviously been deeply wounded by hypocritical and unkind “Christians” and wants to offer people something different and more loving than what he was offered. But that “different Christianity” is not nearly as loving and powerful as the real love of God that Bell can’t seem to accept.
Personally, I would love to see Rob Bell sit down with Brian McLaren, John Piper, and eith Tim Keller or Albert Mohler. That gives Bell some reputable (from that camp) support while engaging two reputable men from the opposing view.
The moderator would be key as the way the questions are framed and timed can sidetrack, or even hijack, the discussion.
I would love to see that!
Anyway, Bell was typical Bell…
” A discussion might be useful, but if it is a just a bunch of white guys with degrees posing as Grand Pooh-Bahs (infallible interpreters), I would have concerns. ”
Maybe we could use black guys instead.
Lol. What kind of remark is that?
Standard tactics, secular PR 101:
1. Say something controversial
3. Play the victim
4. Slander the “slanderers”
5. Pretend to get “death threats”
Number 5 is next. Just watch.
It was a comment because I noticed it was a bunch of white guys discussing this, for the most part. God’s Kingdom is diverse and cuts across racial, gender, cultural, and economic lines, or at least it is supposed to. Sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out.
Well, as a black guy, I wonder what being a white guy has to do with it…
I agree, what kind of remark is that, anyway?
Yeah, I’m lost on the whole white/black thing too. LOL.
Bell would receive more sympathy if he had been more generous to others in his book. He framed the traditional Christian interpretation on hell in a very negative light, calling it a “toxic” theology. He also unleashed a vitriolic diatribe on those who use the second half of John 3:16 in their presentation of the Gospel!
The bottom line is that Bell did not simply advocate a fresh and alternative perspective – he impugned the motives and methods of most evangelicals. He also used straw man arguments by claiming that many of his fellow evangelicals are obsessed about hellfire and damnation (he might have been right about this 50 years ago, but this is an absurd and inaccurate claim today).
Bell wants the ability to throw sharp elbows and mix it up, but wants to play the martyr when he gets some pushback.
Sorry Rob, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Yankeegospelgirl is right, lets break out the violins…
What does race have to do with this? I’ve been reading and watching Rob Bell for a number of years and he doesn’t seem to have a very diverse following, but even to point that out is in my view, a non sequitur.
Bell says when talking about those that don’t know Jesus, “It’s a justice issue.” But the Jesus that he talks about only loves. He loves and gives grace to all. If that is true, then He is not just. The God we serve loves all, but in love He deals justly with every person for the way they used the time God gave them on earth. Deuteronomy 8:5 – “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.” A father who truly loves his children will discipline them for the wrong they have done. That is true love.
Derek makes a great point, namely the irony of Bell’s attitude here given his approach in the book. It’s an entirely self-defeating position. He accuses people of not giving other people a chance, being harsh, unloving, judgmental, etc., and yet he himself hasn’t exactly pulled any punches as far as casting judgment is concerned. He has in fact been grossly unfair to the evangelical community.
This is only part of a larger trend though. You see this in a lot of areas. Take politics for instance. How many times have you heard the Tony Campolo types blathering on about how Christians shouldn’t use political labels and conservatives assume God is a Republican, etc., etc? Nobody is pointing out the fact that they seem to be assuming God is a bleeding-heart Democrat!
Rob Bell “These people in our church adopted children.”
Jesus-“Many will say to me on that day, â€˜Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?â€™ Then I will tell them plainly, â€˜I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!â€™” Matthew 7:22-23
Race (and gender and culture and economic wealth) should have nothing to do with the conversation, but it implicitly does if the group discussing something is not diverse. The Kingdom IS diverse and not reflecting that diversity does not bode well.
1. Admit Nothing
2. Deny Everything
3. Make counter-accusations
I have a hard time believing that Bell cares about more than his image for the simple fact that he continues to refuse to answer his critics.
Fine, Donald – if you’re going to make race an issue, then let’s have a discussion about the lack of diversity in Rob Bell’s audience and church. Even Bell has admitted that his church doesn’t reflect the ethnic diversity of Grand Rapids. If there’s a pink elephant in the room here, that has to be it. I really want to see how this angle (or should I say “non sequitur”) is going to help Rob Bell.
Sooooo what should Justin Taylor and Co. have done? Go and find one black pastor, one Chinese pastor, and one Indian pastor and invite them to join the panel so they could win diversity brownie points?
You’re acting like somebody got pointedly snubbed on account of his race. The people who decided to have a discussion just all happened to be white. That’s how the chips fell. What’s the problem?
This reminds me of a story Fernando Ortega once told about being invited to lead worship at a church. After accepting the invitation, the pastor excitedly said, “Great! Now we have one white, one oriental, one Indian, etc… all we needed was a Mexican!”
Ortega was insulted and immediately revoked his acceptance of the invitation. And I would have too.
Shame on Bell for taking his case immediately outside the “family”. Seems like a breech of 1Chor.6:1ff? Also,how does our beloved John Stott get by with his heretical views on annihilationism?
Rob Bell is behaving like the Kanye West of the church. Victimizing folks while playing the victim.
“First, he sort of alleges that his critics are accusing him of not being a ‘serious follower of Jesus.’ I donâ€™t know anyone who is saying that he is not a serious follower of his version of Jesus.”
Um, with all due respect, I think you just did.
By using the phrase “his version of Jesus”, you’re implying that it’s not YOUR version of Jesus, and that you have the right one. Would you not be offended by that too?
I haven’t read the book so I can’t say I agree or disagree with his theology until I do.
But I can say I continue to see him slandered all over the Christian blogosphere.
I think we need to ‘fess up to that much and be more careful with our words.
My Scripture reading this morning was 2 Thessalonians 1, the passage you referred to. As I was reading it, the same thing struck me – how does this passage even remotely fit into a Rob Bell paradigm/theology?
Honestly, I don’t think it does.
I think it would be great to see a “conversation” with Bell, McClaren, Burk, and Taylor.
Should one invite an Hispanic so that diversity is shown? Not usually.
But this is a lot different that pointing out the LACK of diversity among those striving to be in the front in attacking Bell. But of even more concern is the apparent claim that these few “white guys” are the infallible interpreters of Scripture and from that position can pass judgment. Just as the Pope declared Luther a heretic, so did Piper declare Bell.
I do not think the Pope had that authority and I do not think Piper has either.
michael w henry
Well, now you know someone. Bell is not a serious follower of Jesus. He is not a Christian, as shown by his history of teaching and body of work. He is an unbeliever who is at enmity against God.
I do not think the Pope had that authority and I do not think Piper has either.
You know, the ironic part of that statement is you’re doing EXACTLY what you castigate Piper for doing. If he doesn’t have authority to pass judgment on Bell, then you don’t have the authority to pass judgment on Piper.
Thanks. I needed a good laugh.
By the way, Bell is getting WAY better than he deserves.
This is more of diverting the attention from what the Bible says, to how people feel and perceive Rob Bell.
I have a hard time taking Bell’s complaints seriously since some of what he may view as “slandering” may be due to his intentional lack of clarity.
It is Bell’s constant refusal to clearly and directly answer questions, and dance around hard questions by telling stories, that leads to the lack of understanding by his critics.
If Bell would just be honest about a whole host of issues it truly would help with his seeming feelings of slander.
Tell us Rob
1. Is Hell a literal place (not just an attitude) where some people will be forever?
2. Will people go to Hell if they do not in this life, experience new birth by the work of Christ on the Cross?
3. What do you believe the Bible teaches about sexual behaviors outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage?
4. Does someone having a personal relationship with the person of Christ matter? Or can one just be a faithful Jew, Muslim or even atheist and still be communing with God?
The questions go on and on, and I and many others grow tired of Bell’s seeming unwillingness to directly answer questions. Pastors have a responsibility to be clear about what they are teaching, and Bell seems to celebrate and make an are out of question dodging.
I have no interest in slandering Bell, but I remember in seminary being taught that when my audience does not understand me I can’t just blame them and assume it is there fault; rather I have to consider maybe I am not communicating clearly. This might be the case with Rob Bell.
When John Piper said “Farewell”, he was not pushing Rob Bell out of the evangelical fold. He was affirming I John 2:19, which is a verse he references often. I predict that when he explains his “tweet heard round the world”, he will reference this verse to explain what he meant. Mark my prediction.
Yeah, if anyone was pushing Rob Bel outside the bounds of Christian fellowship, it was Rob Bell. He’s the one who has denied and rejected the gospel so as to preach his own false gospel.
My biggest issue with Bell is not the fact that he has deceived himself into believing this ‘version’ of Christ. He can believe it, but it’s the fact that he is teaching these things with authority. Although I want him to come to repentance and believe in sound doctrine, it’s the sheep and the nonbelievers.
No, I have not said goodbye to Piper, altho I do think he should repent over some things.
Well, considering Piper is an orthodox Christian who preaches the gospel but is still a fallen, sinful human being it stands to reason he has things to repent of–just like all Christians do.
Calling Bell out on his heresy is not one of them. He’s treated Bell WAY better than Bell deserves to be treated.
1Cor.6, not 1Cho.6
Good grief. To hear some people talk, you’d think Rob Bell had been accused of eating babies’ brains.
Instead it’s…a respected pastor makes a tweet indicating that Bell has gone off the deep end, other pastors get together to talk about it without consulting Bell beforehand, and one interviewer with a British accent asks Bell some tough questions?
“Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay says”
Now JOE, everyone knows it’s you. 🙂
“Derek makes a great point, namely the irony of Bellâ€™s attitude here given his approach in the book. Itâ€™s an entirely self-defeating position.”
Absolutely. And, as one of those “bloggers,” I say it’s pretty hard for Rob Bell to play the slander card when the evidence is right within our posts.
Dave, I love your post on comment #30. True dat!
“Race (and gender and culture and economic wealth) should have nothing to do with the conversation, but it implicitly does if the group discussing something is not diverse. The Kingdom IS diverse and not reflecting that diversity does not bode well.”
LOL…how much more wrong can you get? This is about the GOSPEL, not about race. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is the same Gospel that saves, no matter if the person is black, white, purple, or blue.
Does anyone find it unusual that one would:
1) release a provocative video that seems to be calibrated to generate shock value, perhaps to generate a buzz with the goal of selling books
2) profess shock and hurt when people do not let themselves be inaccurately defined by the straw man generated in the book and video (evil reformed people saying Jesus needs to “save us from God”).
I have attempted to outline some history to this at:
And it was my intention for anyone who wanted to know to be able to know it was me, L’s. So as not to get banned again, let me just say–go read that email on Debbie’s blog (you know the one). Now, realize that it would be addressed to you if you knew where to send it.
Be peaceful, dear one. (snicker)
WOW have any of you guys actually read the book?! LIke really read it? To be honest, the dude has been slandered- and this website has been leading the way! Ppl are taking that Kevin deyoung has to say as orthodoxy. GIVE ME A BREAK KDY
I read the book. My review is here.
JOE, you actually got banned ?
Mr. Bell is misunderstood primarily because his statements are often vague, amorphous, contradictory and require fact-checking, much like a politician on a campaign trail. The church, and the world in general, need more pastors and less politicians.
Care to provide examples of How Bell has been slandered?
This is the most straightforward interview of Rob Bell to date. As far as his feelings, and motivations go. It’s only 3 minutes, but this is the most telling video I’ve seen.
To be honest I do feel bad for him, I think he’s sincere, and it seems like his feelings are hurt, he’s just wrong though. It looks like he’s just backlashing from “fundamentalism”, but he’s just overcorrected himself. Which usually gets you into more trouble than the initial mistake.
Ah, yes, because you HAVE to have read the book to know that when he says something akin to “People come to God through Jesus without every consciously placing faith in Jesus” is heresy.
I bet you don’t drink bleach because you know it to be poisonous. However, I’ll bet you never said to someone “Don’t you tell me something is poisonous unless you’ve died from it?” On second thought, you probably have.
As Christians, should we even be talking about “different races”? It doesn’t seem Biblical. See Acts 17:26
Whatever you look for, you will find. If you don’t like a certain brand of Christianity or perspective, you will find ways to tear it down. I have read Bell’s book and find it absolutely refreshing. I closed my eyes a few times and thought I was reading CS Lewis or Billy Graham – because they have said the same thing in their books. Really. As a professor and scholar, I find the criticism of Bell a circus sideshow by arrogant Christians who should know better. They could be about the ‘real work’ of the Father’s heart, but instead insist on splitting hairs about topics that we can only speculate about. Nothing that Bell writes contradicts scripture – it’s as simple and plain as that! Rather, his writing illuminates scripture and is having a profound impact on the Body of Christ.
I’ve read many articles and read countless comments since Rob Bell wrote this book. But, a single comment that I read early on has stuck with me more than any thing else. The comment was by a nonbeliever who simply said that Rob Bell’s words had made him feel good about his decision to take the path he had taken. This person felt confirmed that every thing was OK with his life choices. Sadly, many will read Rob Bells words and draw the same conclusions. Brothers and sisters, please pray for those being mislead and pray for Rob Bells repentance.
Brian (#62) – Just because some high-profile Christian theologians were wrong doesn’t make it acceptable. Nothing in the Bible (when looked at through proper exegesis & context) says anything to the tune of “everyone gets into heaven.” It’s heartbreaking, but it’s true.
When the minister offers only questions instead of (Biblical) answers, then his questions will be questioned. The minister is saying, “I am just as lost and confused as you.” How does that help anybody? “Jesus is the Way” If that is not declarative, it is incomprehensible. As is Bell.
Are you kidding me? He has the audacity to use the word ‘slander’ after what he has done with the gospel. Give me a break. Wake up church call him out and brand him with the label of false teacher.
” Nothing that Bell writes contradicts scripture â€“ itâ€™s as simple and plain as that! ”
Of course his writing doesn’t contradict Scripture. He chose to ignore the Scripture(s) that refutes his position.
” Rather, his writing illuminates scripture and is having a profound impact on the Body of Christ. ”
We’re all lead by the Holy Spirit, however, the body of Christ deserves the whole counsel God, not just the parts that give us the warm and fuzzies.
There is only one race, the human race, but if someone thinks the experience of a black human is the same as a while human or a male the same as a female or a rich person with a poor one, they do not live in reality.
“I closed my eyes a few times and thought I was reading CS Lewis…”
Really? I thought C. S. Lewis could write like a man.
Thank you for proving that you are not a Christian. Have a great day.
You are entitled to your opinions on hell, but please do not ever compare Bell to Lewis ever again. C.S. Lewis actually knew how to write.
This is worrisome. There’s two possibilities: you’re (the majority of commenters and the original blogger) are right about Rob Bell or you’re wrong. If you’re wrong, you’re taking a victim and making them guilty for the crime they’re victim to. It’s Rob’s fault he was attacked; he was asking for it, and won’t talk to us like we want him to!
However, on the other hand, let’s say you’re right. Is this the right way to approach the issue? The demonization of Bell is offensive and seems dangerous for a Christian to engage in. I would caution you– judge not, lest you be judged. The greatest commandment is to love God; the second is to love your neighbor, and like it or not, Rob Bell is your neighbor. Love him. The bloggers/commenter who assault Bell (and those who are amenable to his teachings) tend to show an extremely unChristlike and unloving approach. I would be ashamed to associate myself with such “Christians”.
In short… as a Christian who’s recently stumbled onto the whole Rob-Bell-Hateosphere, I’m disgusted by much of what I’ve found. Even if he’s wrong– and wrong in dangerous ways– his accusers are acting like secular arguers, rather than Christians looking to help their brothers and sisters who may be as lost as they once were.
I am sick and tired of watching this modern day Thomas Jefferson get 5 minutes with a camera and not say anything of value what so ever. I would love for him to actually answer questions directly and not digress into some revisionist story from people he knows. People do not define truth God does. Bell either never got that or has forgotten that all together. I am completely over this entire debacle.
As I was watching this clip, I realized that Rob Bell is a mystic. Note his discussion of his experience with God at the beginning of the interview. One really can’t argue with a mystic because their knowledge comes directly from God and the rest of us must merely have faith in it.
Every religion and sect has their mystics, and every religion and sect has those skeptical of the mystics’ claims. Terribly interesting stuff, but count me as a skeptic.
Am I the only one who struggles to understand and follow Rob Bell when he’s speaking?
‘ Am I the only one who struggles to understand and follow Rob Bell when heâ€™s speaking? ‘
Not really. This probably won’t help much either though. Rob explaining the book to Mars Hill.
If Bell is so worried about being misunderstood then perhaps he should learn a few declarative sentences and work those into his repertoire occasionally.
I think you’re on to something. Check out Jeremiah 28. When I think of Rob Bell, I think of Hananiah, who used stage props and theatrical speeches to attract crowds and followers to his mystical prophecies. Like Rob Bell, Hananiah consistently denied God’s judgment and always emphasizes His love and favor.
I guess Rob Bell’s ideas aren’t so new after all.
“…his writing illuminates scripture and is having a profound impact on the Body of Christ.” -Brian
I can’t see bell “illuminating the Holy Word of God. JC Ryle does. RC Sproul does. And count others do.
But Rob bell seems to be a humanist, who thinks we can use the Word of, the truth, for our own good.
Just find a really, really good version, and it will make you happy.
Does God work within all this folly? Surely He does.
But we need to be on this pastor, and challenge him as much as possible. He is in great error.
I can’t follow Rob’s thought process either, Mrs. Erven. He has no coherent message. His church may well have many sincere believers it in, but how long can they endure this kind of watered-down teaching from the pulpit? In a short time, his congregation will probably consist only of seekers who never find, because the Jesus they are looking for is not the Jesus who called us to repent and follow Him. People have been trying to re-define God since the fall; even believers have to guard against this and remain in close relationship with Christ so that we are convicted of our sin when we do it. Either God is the God of the Bible or He is not, and Bell is clearly taking the position that He is not. He wants to re-define love by suggesting that a Hitler, a Stalin or even a Nero can eventually get into heaven by being won over by God’s “love” somehow after this life. Where is this stated in the Bible? If that were true, would Jesus not have told us? If Bell does not accept the Bible as his authority for teaching, then he deserves whatever criticism he gets.
Yes, and he keeps trying to act like he’s just talking about island tribes who never heard the gospel or infants who died before receiving it. But in his book he openly talks about the possibility that EVERYONE, which would include all sorts of evil people who knew exactly what they were doing and had plenty of opportunity to accept God, will be won over.
Sort of a p.s. – having watched the youtube video, I think if my pastor launched into a diatribe like that on a Sunday morning, most of the congregation would politely endure, staring straight ahead – and that afternoon would start calling their deacons and church council members expressing concerns.
I can’t speak for everyone in this conversation, but for the record I don’t hate Bell. In fact, I am hoping and praying the best for him and his family.
That being said, I think that there may be a bit of misunderstanding of what love looks like when people disagree over fundamental gospel truths. There are many who seem to define love as the absence of conflict. For those folks, even grave public departures from the gospel should not be confronted in a public way. When they are confronted (as they are here with Bell), then the very confrontation shows a lack of love. I don’t think that this is the right way to think about love.
The Bible says that love always “rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). In other words, it is not loving to “rejoice” in error–especially when that error comes from someone who claims to be a brother. That is why Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Everybody would rather receive a kiss than a wound. Yet we all know that sometimes kisses can be little more than flattery and betrayal (think Judas). We also know that we need people in our lives to tell us the hard things when we get off track. I and others have been direct in our confrontation with Bell, but it’s not because we don’t love him. It’s because I am hoping to see him won back to the fold (2 Timothy 2:25).
One more thing on this point: Some have questioned whether public confrontation is the right way to oppose Bell’s error. They argue that perhaps Bell needs to be confronted but that it should only happen in private. While it is true that private confrontation is sometimes in order (Matthew 18), sometimes love calls for public confrontation as well. I have a few questions that I ask myself when I consider whether or not to bring a doctrinal confrontation to this blog.
1. Is this person a teacher? The Bible says that teachers incur a “stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Those who purport to be a teacher of God’s people have a greater accountability than those who are lay people sitting in the pews. That is why Paul says that elders who sin must be rebuked publicly (1 Timothy 5:19-20). We approach error in the pulpit differently than we do error in the pew.
2. What is the threat-level? In other words, is this person’s false teaching likely to have an effect on real Christians? I am not so concerned about the latest book by John Shelby Spong. Most Christians already understand him to be a false teacher. This is not the case, however, with Bell. Many evangelicals look to him as one of their own. Thus when he teaches error, it is much more likely to do damage than when any number of other people teach the very same error.
3. How public is the error? Confronting error should be no more public than the error. If someone tells me something in private that is a harmful error, you are never going to read about it on this blog. The error was private, and so will be the confrontation. If that same person goes public (even seeking publicity) with his error, then a commensurate response is in order. Pastors and teachers have a biblical responsibility “to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (TitusÂ 1:9). Pastoral correction has to happen at the same level as the error. It helps no one when error is public and correction is private. The flock needs to hear the correction or else they are only hearing the false teacher’s side of the story (1 Timothy 5:20; Acts 20:28-30).
If we love Bell and if we love people who might be under the sway of his dangerous teaching, then we have to speak boldly and publicly. Of course, we all need to let the wisdom of the Proverbs guide how we engage in controversy (Proverbs 15:1-2; 16:21; 25:11), and we all need to be humble enough to repent when we transgress with a shrill tone (Psalm 19:14). As Spurgeon said it, â€œIf you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words. Frequently you cannot convince a man by tugging at his reason, but you can persuade him by winning his affectionsâ€ (Lectures to My Students, p. 280).
Nevertheless, let us also love Christ and His gospel enough to â€œspeak the truth in loveâ€ (Ephesians 4:15), to correct those in opposition, and to pray that God might grant repentance to those who need to be won back to the truth (2 Timothy 2:25). Letâ€™s be suspicious of ourselves and of our own sinful hearts (Galatians 6:1), but letâ€™s not shrink back when God would have us to contend.
Thanks for commenting.
Thanks for sharing this video. Bell’s Jesus is nowhere near the one in the Bible, nowhere near the real Jesus.
If he thinks that’s bad, wait until he has to answer for his book at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
Here’s a much better book
Simply put: It’s not slander if its true!
#81, wow. Awful video.
“The epicenter of progressive culture…”
What a snob!
“do you think you’re gonna go to heaven?”
“Yeah, and I say that because I trust Jesus and I believe in Jesus. But I say it because of my experiences now. That which I can’t explain, the peace and joy now, the sense of presence, the sense especially for me it’s in the midst of difficult things. I am loved, I am being guided, I am being supported. I’m getting all like…” (choked up?) “um Jesus’ announcement was you can know God *now* and you can experience this *now* and greater and greater… yeah”
“Well this has obviously been a painful time for you to be criticized by so many people in your own faith.”
“and it took a lot of courage to come out and you wrote… and to write what you’ve written, knowing that you were going to get… and I assume you did know you were going to get…”
“My wife did. She has (unintelligible, laughing) “no, mmm-mmm.”
“then how do you deal with that pain?”
“Um. (Some of it’s? unintelligible) not true. I’m a serious follower of Jesus. And I’m a part of a church full of people who are serious about this Jesus. So some of it’s not true. So I push back.”
“talking to you. Saying No no no no no, I’ve been misunderstood, No no no no no, that’s slander, that’s not true. No no no, that’s totally missing what I’m saying.”
So it’s our fault now? Is he really a poor communicator then? Sure he is proclaimed an effective communicator, but then when he actually says something patently untrue, well then it’s the stupid listener’s fault for not getting it? He can’t have it both ways.
“And then secondly I remember that Jesus used the metaphor of fruit. That’s how he talked about it. You will not know them by their long treatises and papers, you will not notice them by how ferociously they blog, um, you’ll know the real thing by the fruit.”
(actually the quote “by their fruit you shall know them” is directly speaking about false teachers, Mr Bell)
“So I’m interested in Marriages being put back together. There’s this couple in our church, they’re in their mid fifties, and they’ve become captivated by the idea of the orphans in the world. This is something close to God’s heart. Again and again and again, God cares for the orphans. So they started adopting kids. And this guy’s like 55 and he has like 6 kids from around the world. That’s fruit. That’s real. I’ll take that. I’ll claim that, I’ll celebrate that.”
“But when you talk about the things that people say about you that are not true, what particularly is it that hurts you the most?”
(Why doesn’t she ask him to say what it is that isn’t TRUE that people are saying? Good grief. What a useless touchy feely interviewer she is).
with the Love of God. And they say ‘if that’s how you act, why would I ever want to know your Jesus? You’re not even kind, at a basic sort of human level. Let alone to people who apparently are on your team so to speak, you crucify them. ”
For one, Rob Bell isn’t on our team. But for two, this sounds exactly like what we hear of from questionable “emerging/emergent” teachers like Dan Kimball. It’s a patently UNChristian unscriptural attitude masquerading as “real concern for the lost.” And people wonder why we can’t take their profession of faith seriously when they say stuff like this.
Sorry, I only meant to put the last part, where I commented on what he was saying — not the transcript of the first part. I can’t see what all I’ve written in this tiny little window!
So old people adopting children is fruit? I guess the Mormons and Rosie O’Donnell are bearing fruit as well?
What a crybaby!
Agreed Paula. The reviewer was no help at all. “How do you deal with the pain…” Gag me! Martin Bashir she is not.
Also, it really gets under my skin the way he keeps bringing up all these examples of people doing good humanitarian things… as though pastors who write negative reviews of his books are supposed to somehow feel guilt-tripped by that? For all he knows, some of them adopt orphans from China too. He’s completely changing the subject just to make his enemies look bad.
Sorry, meant to say “interviewer,” not “reviewer.”
Bell, as the author, had the opportunity (and responsibility, I might add) to make his points crystal clear. If so many people of good faith have “misunderstood” him, maybe he should consider quitting the profession of communicating (writing books and speaking)- because it doesn’t seem like he is doing a very good job of it. By his own admission, he is claiming that people reading his words that he, I would assume, had poured over and struggled over to find just the right way to get his point across as any good author would do, misunderstood what he was trying to communicate. Bell, you may want to reconsider your profession.
Hey paula, Are you saying Dan Kimbal isn’t a Christian? If so, how do you know he sin’t?
Hey paula, Are you saying Dan Kimball isn’t a Christian? If so, how do you know he sin’t?
Thanks for the rational and well-thought-out response. I very much appreciate what you’re saying. Unfortunately, I’ll be honest– my perception has been that many (and I’m not accusing you in this) bloggers and commenters have been very unChristlike toward Bell. Statements such as, “it’s not slander if it’s true” and “what a crybaby” (I’m not calling out names, simply giving examples) seem as far removed from the Christian method as they are from the purpose of a Christian life.
You’re right that we should absolutely “speak the truth in love”. However, my perception has been that many people try speaking with truth– without speaking it in love. My fear would be that many of Bell’s accusers stand as guilty as he does. I’m not judging individuals, and I’m not “casting stones”; I’m simply commenting on what I perceive (though I may be mistaken) to be a growing trend in the blogosphere.
Bell apparently wanted to challenge the thinking of fundamentalist-evangelical people on some pretty intense issues,
but now he reveals his own presumption of their ability to deal with that dialogue;
if he was seeing fundamentalist-evangelicals as people who are open to ‘understanding’ beliefs are not lock-step with their own.
He forgot the nature of what makes fundamentalism what it is.
I wish I could have been watching the ElephantRoom when this came up. Bloggers notes from session4.
Without naming him Rob Bell’s issue is brought up.
Follow on twitter #ElephantRoom
BTW, most of the criticisms of Bell have been in writing so I think he meant libel and not slander… just sayin.
So, I’m not a smart man, but is he using his own experiences to justify his “heaven-bound-ness”?
That to me is pretty shallow. Anybody can claim an experience as valid but it is subjective and hardly testable. Jesus does say that we will know them by their fruit. But this is, in some sense, objective fruit, stuff we can see, right? If i want to prove that i am bearing fruit, do i go and tell everyone and show everyone my own fruit. No, others will see it. So far, his mouth bears no fruit that he is a follower of Jesus. He does not even uphold and affirm dearly that which Jesus taught while on earth.
Some one help me out here…
“Youâ€™re right that we should absolutely â€œspeak the truth in loveâ€. However, my perception has been that many people try speaking with truthâ€“ without speaking it in love. My fear would be that many of Bellâ€™s accusers stand as guilty as he does. Iâ€™m not judging individuals, and Iâ€™m not â€œcasting stonesâ€; Iâ€™m simply commenting on what I perceive (though I may be mistaken) to be a growing trend in the blogosphere.”
Actually, you did “judge individuals.” When you make a statement that your “fear would be that many of Bell’s accusers stand as guilty as he does,” you are making a judgment about them, which is the very thing you’re condemning.
But that’s OK, because that’s really a misunderstanding of Jesus’ statement about judging. The very same Jesus also calls us to “judge with righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24), and I don’t believe Jesus would contradict himself, so obviously he did not prohibit any kind of evaluation or judgment of any kind.
Sorry. Bell may not be a crybaby but he is a snake in the grass.
Eluros please tell me how my comment â€œitâ€™s not slander if itâ€™s trueâ€ is unchristlike?
And if anyone has said that Bell can’t write his way out of a paper bag, that’s not really accurate either. That should be WET paper bag.
“For some, the highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others who don’t articulate matters of faith as they do.” (183 LOVE WINS)
Matt, for some maybe, but I have yet to see that attitude here or anywhere as a matter of fact. I don’t doubt there are people like that however!
Chris is right. It’s one thing to say that nobody should sell him food. It’s another to say that he’s a false teacher who can’t write very well.
â€œFor some, the highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others who donâ€™t articulate matters of faith as they do.â€ (183 LOVE WINS)
The irony of this quote is it does exactly what it says not to do… in other words it is self-defeating.
Bell defames and marginalizes all who disagree with him, not to mention refuses to actually have a serious conversation about his exegesis, rather he chooses to make it personal and claim people are out to get him.
It’s very important to note, as a few others have here, that Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins,” while in many respects incoherent and self-contradictory, is crystal clear in one respect, and that is in its go-for-the jugular attack on traditional Christian teaching. He does indeed call it toxic. He says that the God portrayed in traditional Christian teaching is horrible, unbearable, someone we would “call the authorities” on. You can’t go much more negative than that, and he is labeling almost the entire sweep of Christian history “toxic.” He says his views fit in the “broad stream” of orthodoxy, but what he is actually saying is that only his view is orthodox. There’s nothing “broad” or “tolerant” about his teaching.
Over the years, Bell has frequently criticized bloggers and once stated that blogging to criticize other Christians was not a redemptive use of time.
Apparently, it’s only redemptive if you have a book deal.
I haven’t noticed if anyone else has picked this up, but in the interview Bell on a number of occasions refers to “this Jesus”. He is teaching a different Jesus the the Jesus of the Bible.
” He says his views fit in the â€œbroad streamâ€ of orthodoxy, but what he is actually saying is that only his view is orthodox. ”
Rob just demonstrates what people have always done – Making God into someone we think he should be rather than who He reveals Himself to be. The road is narrow.
Huntley Paton: exactly.
Bell opens with broad, deep, hurtful, insulting rhetoric about orthodox views and/or caricatures of orthodox views. Questions:
– Is this just fine, or do people simply not recognize an attack when they see it? Do his defenders acknowledge the depth, breadth and severity of this attack?
– Is this how the “irenic spirit” works? If so, why aren’t responses to it also called “irenic”?
– Is Bell’s proclamation that most of Christendom may be tragically wrong in traditional understandings of the nature of salvation and hell a good example of doctrinal humility?
Who holds these traditional yet “toxic” beliefs? Kids, the simple, unsophisticated, maybe uneducated? The special ed Sunday School class at my church? New Christians? Someone reading the Bible for the first time?
We can ask questions, too!
Left off a few:
– Does this approach promote unity?
– If this approach succeeds in promoting an important Christian conversation, shouldn’t all Christian authors try it?
– Does Bell believe that most evangelical pastors are, and have been, false teachers, therefore justifying the label “toxic?”
– If he does NOT believe that promoting “toxic and misguided” orthodox views is false teaching, then what does false teaching mean?
And so forth.
I was reading a few different things online today and ran across this:
There’s two parts. Click at the bottom for the next one.
It reminded me of Rob Bell. As he’s revealed his false beliefs I think he’s revealed a lot about himself and maybe other people that fall into false teachings. They sought after God, found Him perhaps, and then as their souls didn’t find the rest that God can give they started seeking after something else.
Interesting hearing Dr. Craig Blaising in chapel all this week at DTS. He was speaking about eschatology and made us think about God’s wrath. It does not seem to be reversable in the Scriptures. For example, Adam and Eve were never given a “second chance” to reverse their disobedience. Noah’s family was not able to reach out and save all those who perished in the Flood (represented as God’s purging, or wrath poured out) And so, the biblical pattern does not hint at a “second chance” for any after the beginning stage of the Day of the Lord. Rob Bell seems to assert that humans will have a “second chance” to choose God, post-mortem. But this does not square with examples in the Bible such as Psalm One where the two paths are clearly delineated.
Great points all, Paul. Really good stuff. hadn’t thought about the Garden, the Flood in that context, but that is very insightful.
“For example, Adam and Eve were never given a â€œsecond chanceâ€ to reverse their disobedience.”
The Eastern Orthodox celebrate a special prayer on Holy Saturday that you would NOT approve of:
“Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the son of Eve.
The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory. At the sight of Him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: â€œMy Lord be with you allâ€.
Christ answered him:
â€œAnd with your spiritâ€. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:
â€œAwake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you lightâ€.
Paul, your belief about the fate of Adam and Eve is not the same as what was taught in the early Church.
Paul, I forgot to mention that there exists a stained-glass window that shows a pregnant Mary embracing a weeping Eve.
It is symbolic. But it also points to another Christian view on the meaning of the Incarnation.
At the sight of Him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: â€œMy Lord be with you allâ€.
Do you really believe this?
Actually Adam is most likely a believer, and we will see him. But, can I ask, what is your point?
Point is this:
a lot of what passes for ‘orthodox’ among fundamentalist-evangelical Christian people does not line up with the Orthodox faith of ancient days in the early Church.
Do I believe it?
I believe very much that the INCARNATION is one of the great mysteries of our salvation, in that we cannot fathom it in our own understanding. That part:
“He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the son of Eve” has meaning in it very strongly in the Eastern Orthodox faith, even more so, than the Western tradition of the Church.
I hold with the early traditions, yes. Because, in those days, before bibles were printed, and before many could read, the Church felt its job was to receive what had been handed down, to guard it, and to pass it on intact. I would at least want to know more about the early Christians, and how they saw Our Lord. I would hold with them any day over some of the more strident teachings that pass for ‘biblical gospel’. The ancient Church spoke more of the Beatitudes and the Kingdom, and the life and teachings of Our Lord.
The modern fundamentalist-evangelical ‘biblical gospel’ does not focus so much on that, but I’m hoping there will be a return to the four Gospels which are testaments centered on Our Lord.
The woman made 2 faith statements honoring God after the fall in Gen 4. Cannot say the same for the man.
Thank you for pointing this out. While many Bell supporters (including, tragically, Doug Mouw) have gone out of their way to defend Bell’s positive beliefs, most of them have ignored Bell’s negative beliefs – namely, his castigation of the majority of Christian teaching on the doctrine of hell.
“namely, his castigation of the majority of Christian teaching on the doctrine of hell.”
I’m not viewing the fundamentalist-evangelical preaching on hell as the center of their ‘biblical gospel’;
in connection with the Holy Gospels that testify to Christ, His Words, His teachings, and His Kingdom.
The focus on hell is NOT the same: it is the CENTER of fundamentalist teaching.
Christ is the center of orthodox Christian teaching.
Is it possible that Bell wanted a dialogue about what should be emphasized ? Do fundamentalist-evangelicals realize that people see them as the ‘hell-fire’ people whose identity is not found in the teachings of the Beatitudes and the Kingdom of Our Lord ?
I don’t know.
I suspect Bell wanted to shake things up.
He certainly touched a nerve.
But maybe now, fundamentalist-evangelicals will begin to think more about their ‘hell-obsession’ and take another look at God as revealed in the ways of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, while He was among us. Possibility ?
Nothing is impossible with God.
Christiane @ post #127:
Who are you talking about? What is your working definition of a fundamentalist-evangelical and give us an example that demonstrates how hell is at the center of their theology rather than Christ? If you’re going to make these kinds of accusations, it is only fair to expect you to be more specific.
First, may I say…
I have never had much respect for blogs before this one.
What a wonderful time to read so many intelligent and, as far as blogging goes, considerate, comments back and forth!
Now, what’s with this Christiane:
“I hold with the early traditions, yes. Because, in those days, before bibles were printed, and before many could read, the Church felt its job was to receive what had been handed down, to guard it, and to pass it on intact. I would at least want to know more about the early Christians, and how they saw Our Lord. I would hold with them any day over some of the more strident teachings that pass for â€˜biblical gospelâ€™. The ancient Church spoke more of the Beatitudes and the Kingdom, and the life and teachings of Our Lord.”
I’m with Derek on questioning your post. My questions are:
1)What are you referring to with the terms “early traditions,””ancient church,”and “early Christians?”
2)Wouldn’t the apostolic writings in the New Testament pre-date your alleged Eastern Orthodox liturgy? In your appeal to antiquity, can we not go to the source, namely, the “words in red?”
Jesus is quoted in the 4 Gospels making more then a few STRONG statements about “hell,” and the wrath of God.
Perhaps, the early church did emphasize the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, with good reason. Many times does our Lord talk about hell and wrath in that particular sermon. How does this help you case against fundamentalist-evangelicals?
The tone and comments here simply make me feel sick!