Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Rob Bell on “Morning Joe”

I thought I was done with the Rob Bell posts. But when I heard that he appeared this morning on my favorite talking-head program “Morning Joe,” I knew I had one more. The video of Bell’s appearance is above. There’s nothing new here and certainly nothing hard-hitting. The only thing new that I got from this is that apparently Mika likes what he’s selling. The others sounded like they weren’t very interested in the interview. FWIW.

One more thing. In the clip below, Joe Scarborough asks Bell about others who label him a “heretic.” Bell answers this question in strange way. Here’s the relevant portion from the transcript:

Scarborough: You’ve been called a heretic by other pastors. What’s your response to them?

Bell: That I’m actually not saying anything new and my interest has always been the good news of Jesus and as a pastor at an actual church in an actual town, I believe our world needs good news more than ever. What’s fascinating about the word heretic is its roots come from a Greek word which means “able to choose.”  So literally the origin of the word is somebody who’s able to choose… which puts an interesting spin on it, to say the least.

There is much that is wrong with this statement. First of all, it is another one of Bell’s etymological fallacy howlers. Despite its etymology, “heretic” does not denote “one who chooses.” Second, why is Bell trying to redeem the word “heretic”? Is he trying to suggest that being a heretic–one who chooses–isn’t such a bad thing? I thought this was really odd.


  • kevin s.

    What I find interesting is that he is actually less coherent than he was in the Bashir interview. His answer to the question just before the two minute mark is a doozy.

  • Jason Still

    My friend last night said that Bell was just robelling (rebelling). Maybe just as God cannot help but let love win as it is who he is, Bell cannot help but robel as it is in his nature as a careful analysis of his name reveals.

  • Christiane

    Denny, thank you for posting this interview . . . I like ‘Morning Joe’ also, but I missed this show.

    I have recently decided that a lot of the pre-publication brouhaha was designed to steer people away from reading Bell’s book for themselves.

    I am right, aren’t I ? (Perhaps for many, I might be wrong about this, but this pattern is something that we saw with the publication of ‘The Shack’, wherein so many commented ‘heresy’ and then admitted they had not read that book, nor did they intend to do so.)

    I think Bell wants to open a dialogue and others are uncomfortable with that possibility.
    But what does that reveal to us about their fears and insecurities concerning an open discussion where all questions are taken on in depth?

  • Rick

    I am curious to how Rob Bell’s church is responding to this? Was this something they all knew he believed before or has it created the same firestorm in his church as is happening in the conservative Christian world? Thanks!

  • Joe Blackmon


    What a pedantic comment. No one has to read the book to know that it is heresy. It has been reveiwed and the quotes from the book prove, to anyone with a lick of sense anyway, that his doctrine is unbiblical. The only “pattern’ to see is that you will support anyone who rejects the true gospel (Rob Bell, Wm Paul) and that you will attack with a vengence that is truly frightening anyone who preaches the gospel.

    BTW, the email to Debbie that offended you so much–apply it to you as well.

    Be peaceful, L’s. (snicker)

  • Christiane


    Your reply (minus the curse of that e-mail) does illustrate the point I was making.

    People can take ‘quotes’ from any source and apply them to their own ends . . . even Satan can do that with sacred Scripture.
    So that part of your ‘reasoning’, I cannot respect as solid thinking.

    What I ‘support’ is this: reading in ‘context’ and not being ‘afraid’ of any questions that arise . . . if that is more than some Christians can handle, how on Earth are they to go out into the world and take Our Lord’s message to those who will have many, many sincere questions for them to respond to?

    Hovering in the upper room fearfully went out as a response to the world when Our Lord sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. . . if we ‘fear’ any honest questions, are we also afraid that we don’t have what it takes to respond to those questions openly and with compassion for those who ask them?

    As for ‘cursing’ people, I don’t believe in it, JOE. Instead I bless your heart that God keeps you from all harm and brings you safely into the Kingdom of Our Lord.

    I do, however, call upon those (especially those ministers) who may have ‘encouraged’ you in your curses to Debbie,
    and I ask them to repent of the harm they have done to you and to the Church. They know who they are.

  • Stuart

    I thought Johan Meecham asked a couple of good questions. Would have been great if Bell would have at least taken a stab at answering the first. I hope that if I were contending that a particular view of hell was more “early church” than “Jesus”, I’d want to be prepared to answer such a basic question.

  • Derek

    Stuart noticed the same thing I did. Meacham asked informed and meaningful questions (which were not answered). Joe’s questions were a textbook example of “mailing it in”, especially when you compare his questions to Bashir’s. Hard to believe that Bashir and Scarborough attend the same church (Tim Keller’s).

  • Steve Wilson


    This is a blog for Christians who actually believe what the Bible says. You obviously do not, or at least for the most part you do not, therefore, you will not get a sympathetic response to your liberal drivel here.

    As for Rob Bell, he is well on his way to the fate of the seed that fell on thorny ground. Like Brian McLaren before him, I expect him to apostasize from the faith fairly soon. Probabyl next year, or the year after, or sooner, but he will eventually.

    Like the Health and Wealth teachers there is simply too much money, and too much personal credibility at stake for him to turn around now.

  • Christiane


    ‘what the Bible says’ ?

    I thought that was mentioned as a part of Rob Bell’s discussion to be presented in his book, concerning ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’, ‘what the Bible says’ about them? But I haven’t read the book yet, so it’s hearsay, isn’t it?

    Personally, I hope Bell is challenging the world of those whose ‘biblical’ gospel preaches ‘salvation from hell’ but doesn’t free its adherents from hating people and having contempt for others. That strange version of the ‘gospel’ needed challenging, as it is very far from biblical and extremely far from the Teachings of Our Lord and His Kingdom.

    The intensity and tone of your remark emphasizes the need for challenging questions, in my opinion.

    Let’s put it this way:
    people are going to read that book.
    And make up their own minds about it.
    And THEN, they are going back, and take a critical look at the people who tried to get them not to read it for themselves.
    And they are also going to take a look at the people who judged the whole book, before they read the book.

    That kind of reflection is healthy, especially now, when the Church is burdened with those who have been taught to hold so many in hateful contempt, while also claiming to ‘believe what the Bible says’.

    God have mercy.
    Christ have mercy.
    On all of us together.

  • Steve Wilson

    “The intensity and tone of your remark emphasizes the need for challenging questions, in my opinion.”

    Don’t worry about my tone, young lady, I come from a long line of preachers whose tone offended the hypocrites, starting with Jesus and the Apostle Paul. The “intensity and tone” of my remark comes from years of dealing with the kind of heresy and false teaching people like you, and Rob Bell, secretly introduce into the church. Then we have to clean up the mess you leave behind.

    You try to come across as sanctimonious and pious, but your words belie the inner rot that is consuming your mind and your soul.

    I grew up during the “challenging questions” era of the 60’s so don’t try and lecture me on your “consciousness raising” tripe. I had enough of it in college from “open minded” leftists like Benjamin Spock and Bishop Pike.

    I know exactly where you’re coming from and want you to know that you are headed straight for the Hell you so cavalierly dismiss.

    I wouldn’t be so cock-sure of your self if I were you. Without the inerrant infallible lock solid foundation of the Word of God, you are crossing a bridge held together with toothpicks.

    As far as mercy goes, God’s greatest gift to you would be the gift of ears to hear the words of those who are telling you the truth.

    That’s how merciful He is. He is giving you more chances than He did Sodom and Gomorrah, or even Assyria. Don’t let His Word, delivered by men and women called to preach His gospel, pass you by it may be your last chance.

    And that’s not talk that’s Bible (Romans 10; 2 Corinthians 5, etc).

  • Christiane


    The Holy Gospels don’t teach people to harbor contempt and hatred for others.

    What teaches people to harbor hatred and contempt is ‘another gospel’. One that wasn’t taught by Our Lord.

  • Steve Wilson

    I guess I hit the wrong “tag”, for some of the verses have left off the key parts, like Psalm 5 left off the God hates sinners portion, “You hate all who do iniquity.”

    Matt. 10: 28 was supposed to include the words “both body and soul in hell.”

    And Galatians 5 left off the words, “stumbling block of the cross” in verse 11, and “those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.”

    I guess I better test my posts next time before using those tags below the “submit comment” button.

  • Christiane

    Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    It is a ‘strange hatred’ you speak of, Steven. I think maybe you mean that God hates sin.

    One of my favorite verses describes how Our Saving Lord felt about the ‘lost’:
    “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
    (Matthew 9:35-36)

    my dear Steven, that doesn’t sound like hatred, does it? Not to me.

  • Rick C.

    early 14c., from Fr. hérétique 14c.), from Church L. hereticus, from Gk. hairetikos “able to choose,” the verbal adj. of hairein

    “an opinion of private men different from that of the catholick and orthodox church” [Johnson], early 13c., from O.Fr. heresie, from L. hæresis, “school of thought, philosophical sect,” used by Christian writers for “unorthodox sect or doctrine,” from Gk. hairesis “a taking or choosing,” from haireisthai “take, seize,” middle voice of hairein “to choose,” of unknown origin. The Greek word was used in N.T. in reference to the Sadducees, Pharisees, and even the Christians, as sects of Judaism, but in English bibles it usually is translated sect. Meaning “religious belief opposed to the orthodox doctrines of the Church” evolved in Late Latin in the Dark Ages.

    Thus, the original meaning of “heretic” or a “heresy” is about the same as a “sect” or “denomination”: Points to individuals and/or groups who “choose differently from others.”

    Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

  • Steve Wilson

    From Joe Blackmon to “Christiane” on Feb. 26:

    “What I asked was how does a person get to heaven? Upon what basis is anyone admited into heaven? You never did (and you won’t) answer that question because it would too clearly your true colors. You intentionally avoided answering the first part and answered only the second part. Of course, since you’re a gospel denying liberal with no integrity, this really comes as no surprise.”

    Christiane, you are the embodiment of the “don’t throw pearls before swine” teachings of Jesus. I read some of your prior comments, and Joe is right, you have ignored many who have tried to help you see the truth. You ignoring me comes as no surprise since you have been ignoring God’s Word for, probably, years.

    What a shame.

  • Brian Manns

    Steve Wilson if you are really concerned with Christine “ignoring God” it might help if you were more persuasive. Don’t use the bible like it is a club.

    John 13:34-35 Jesus tells us that by our love people will know we are his disciples. Not by how hard you hit with the bible.

    Jesus bore the wrath of god on our behalf because of love. That is the distinguishing mark of believer.

  • Christiane

    God bless you and keep you safe, JOE.
    As for those people who have encouraged you in your ‘messages’ to Debbie, I ask them to reconsider what harm they have done to you.

    Put your stones down, Joe.
    Go and rest for a while.
    You are cared for more than you know.

  • Brian Manns

    Joe Blackmon Because you have received grace why do you act like you are better than other people. Were it not for a miracle of God your heart would hate God.

    We are all enemies of God calling a person filth will never convince them you are right or that your God is desirable.

    Grace should make us humble not boastful.

  • Christiane

    Brian, pray for JOE.
    Some people have encouraged him in his negative comments to Debbie Kaufman.
    He has not always been this way, as Aaron Weaver pointed out to me.
    Some people have OPENLY encouraged Joe’s ‘dark side’, and I have appealed to them to rethink the harm they have done to him.

  • Joe Blackmon


    Give me a break.

    Nothing “changed”. As much as you love for it to be otherwise, when I talked about being able to “agree to disagree”, I meant about things that are not central to the gospel among people who are actually Christians. (i.e.–Christians who hold to different views regarding end times or non-salvific infant baptism) I certainly didn’t mean people like you and Rob Bell who not only reject but attach the true gospel.

  • Muff Potter

    Mssrs. Blackmon, Wilson,,

    Suppose for the sake of argument, that hell as taught by the Holy See and the Reformers for quite some time now does not exist.

    Would you guys be disappointed?
    It sounds like you fellas would not be very happy at all with no hell below us and above us only sky.

  • Steve Wilson

    “Suppose for the sake of argument, that hell as taught by the Holy See and the Reformers for quite some time now does not exist.”

    1. Since I am not a RC I could care less what the “Holy See” says on anything.

    2. I don’t obtain my doctrinal positions from men, no matter how smart, or how well intentioned.

    All I need is the Word of God. And the Bible teaches there is a Hell waiting for those who stubbornly rebelliously refuse God’s only means of salvation – the cross of Jesus Christ.

    Brian said –
    “Steve Wilson if you are really concerned with Christine “ignoring God” it might help if you were more persuasive. Don’t use the bible like it is a club.”

    If you really cared about her soul you would not be trying to censure anyone who uses the only means of bringing her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ – The Bible!

    If you don’t believe the Bible is persuasive enough to lead someone to Christ, then I can’t help you.

    Joe- “You are an enemy of the gospel. You are filth.”

    She is an enemy of the gospel, but she is not “filth”. Besides, Jesus died for “filth” like us. Right?

    John – “Denny, have you checked the comment thread recently? I cannot think that you condone some of these comments…”

    I couldn’t agree with you more John. But, your view of what should be condoned and mine will probably differ. This blog does need better oversight. Most likely Dr. Burke is much too busy to keep up with all the comments.

    My main concern is the heretical doctrinal positions being promoted in the combox. Young Christians are highly susceptible to false teaching, and Dr. Burke allowing that to continue uncensured is troubling to me.

  • Jeff

    Love Wins? Not here. All I see is hate from most of you. But then again, I am one of these “L’s.” You know, since I support the ordination of women. And open communion. But there is hope. I used to be like them. Not willing to take questions and challenge what I’ve been taught and read. Do I agree there is no hell? No. But do I think can we question what God is capable of? Absolutely. God is God and we are no where close. God will save a newborn infant who dies at birth, but not someone who never had the chance to hear the gospel? Not something I am willing to put claim on either way. No easy answer. But then again, what does my two cents contribute? I am one of those “L’s” and they won’t hear me anyway.

  • Steve Wilson

    “Love Wins? Not here. All I see is hate from most of you. But then again, I am one of these “L’s.” You know, since I support the ordination of women. And open communion. But there is hope. I used to be like them. Not willing to take questions and challenge what I’ve been taught and read.”

    – So, you’re a liberal, and that means you have advanced beyond the “certainty” mode, and you like questions?

    “Do I agree there is no hell? No.”

    – And how do you know there is a hell? You obviously don’t believe what the Bible says about women’s roles in the church, why start believing what it says about hell?

    “God will save a newborn infant who dies at birth, but not someone who never had the chance to hear the gospel? Not something I am willing to put claim on either way. No easy answer.”

    – Now, you don’t want to take a position on the exclusivity of the gospel, but you are certain there are “no easy answers.”

    You don’t care to believe what the Bible has said on the issue, but you are sure there are “no easy answers.”

    Boy, you “L’s” sure have trouble making up your minds.

  • Doug Stitt

    Two points I’d like to bring up:

    1) Who is asking the questions has a great bearing on what questions are being asked.

    2) Regardless of style, hatred (real or perceived), the responses to scripture demands an answer.

    Regarding the first point, it is an entirely different thing for a lost person to ask a question than it is for someone who is or claims to be in the Christian faith. Someone who doesn’t know Christ is curious, ignorant, wandering, disenfranchised, angry, confused… or some combination of all or some. They can ask whatever they want. They’re coming to the Bible with no knowledge, no Holy Spirit inside of them, no background (or a background that may include experimenting with cults or false religions). Point being, virtually any question is fair game to someone who is not saved, because there are no absolutes, spiritually speaking, for them. This is not the same for someone who does know Jesus and/or has had some background/education/experience with the Bible, the things of God. And I would add this is especially true of pastors and leaders. There needs to be clear validation as to WHY you’re asking WHAT you’re asking, but no one seems to be minding the why part of this equation. Instead, any question is fair game to those who are claiming to be in the faith, and this dynamic alone puts the Bible under interpretive fire. It’s like saying I have the right, as a believer, to ask whatever question I want against the Bible and demand that the Bible answer it for me. A good example of this is Rob Bell’s answer to “what/where is heaven?” His position is that hell is now, Jesus is restoring everything, and that heaven is here on earth, eventually. Well, if you’re going to introduce the what/where is heaven question, you should be willing to address what scripture says about it. Rob Bell says it’s not about evacuation, not about “us” going “there.” Well, John 14 has much to say about that (amongst many other passages). “I go to prepare a place for you.” “That where I am, there you may be also.” That doesn’t sound like Jesus making heaven here? But nonetheless, he’s allowed to ask the question. A nonbeliever would and should have tons of questions on what heaven is. A believer, while realizing that heaven is not fully described in the Bible, is both compelled and required to consider what the Bible says before asking questions and making assertions that are contradictory to a simple, contextual reading of the Bible.

    Regarding the second point, if anyone here is going to raise a style question that trumps their need to respond to the claims of scripture, they’re diverting attention away from the real issue. Steve Wilson (and perhaps others), I don’t know you guys from Adam. And you don’t know me. But let’s, simply for the sake of argument, say that you, or I, demonstrated a wrong tone in any of our responses. Whether we did nor didn’t is not my point. Let’s just say you could’ve said it better. OK, with that said, what do you do with what the scripture says about God? Salvation? Hell? Heaven? Christ’s exclusivity? God’s anger toward unholiness and unholy nations? Regardless of style, and not to say style is insignificant (plenty of scripture points to that as well), there are clear claims/truths the Bible makes that one has to answer. But here’s what heresy does. It doesn’t just come out of the gate like a bull in a china shop, shooting from the hip, condemning everything left and right. Heresy starts with a question. A seemingly innocent inquiry of scripture that, itself, carries intent and purpose. So if Steve is really a hateful person (not saying you are, Steve, just play along here), and you dismiss him for that, you can’t dismiss what scripture is saying about who Jesus is, what salvation means, and where people go when they die? The Bible is crystal clear on that, and if the response to the Bible’s clarity is “well, that’s clear according to how you look at it,” then the Bible is open to teach whatever we want or need it to teach, and no one is really right… or wrong. There are no absolutes. There are no stakes in the ground. There is nothing to respond to other than your own interpretation. And who, in their flesh, wouldn’t want a Jesus who saves everyone, eventually. But that’s not who Jesus is. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks in Mark 8, I believe. The answer to that is not “whoever you and I think He is based on how we look at things.” There is a real, singular, clear answer to that question, or Jesus would not have asked it.

    So in summary, you may not like how a question was asked, or how someone approached an issue. Fair enough. Regardless, it doesn’t excuse any of us from answering the question, and answering it in the light of what the whole of scripture teaches, not what we assume it means.

    The sincerity test need not apply to our questions (particularly as believers) as much as it does what scripture clearly teaches. And scripture is not unclear on heaven, hell, Jesus, and what the gospel and good news really is.

  • Dill

    I found interesting Bell’s comments on Pastors at funerals saying the departed are going to burn in hell.

    Just curious if anyone has attended a funeral that this was said?

  • Jeff

    Just to clarify, it’s called sarcasm. I am far from being a liberal. Denny knows me and my family. He would agree. But you would say I am from what I read in your comments and from where I stand on certain church doctrine issues.

    I would try to clarify my points, but what’s the point? You won’t listen or engage. You will just tell me why I am wrong and you are right.

    But I do like how I say there are no easy answers on some issues, yet I do not see you answer directly, yet deflect the infallible text of scripture back at me. So, tell me, does an infant newborn who dies go to heaven even though it did not believe in Jesus?

    And wow, Jesus spoke on the law not being what we put our faith in but geez, some of you get so caught up in proof-texting scripture that you are doing that exact thing. Hurray, let’s build an entire doctrinal belief over verses in 1 Timothy.

    Believe me, Jesus is much more concerned with people coming to know him then who delivers the message. And to think Jesus is against the true gospel being presented by a woman is ludicrous.

    But then again, it is for naught. I will just hear the same rhetoric I’ve read throughout this thread. And it is ok. I know that you know Jesus. You of course think I don’t. I just desire to for us to understand scripture is but a glimpse of how we know God. Go look at Wesley’s Quadrilateral.

    That is all.

  • Doug Stitt

    There are no easy answers on some issues, key word being “some.” But there are easy answers on other issues that, while easy (meaning they are plain to see in the entire context of scripture, not just a verse here or there), are difficult to stomach. Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. That’s as exclusive as you can get, and many of his names proclaim His exclusiveness (I am that I am comes to mind). But exclusiveness is not accepted in our culture. It is responded to with “who are you to say what’s right, what’s exclusive, and what’s not.” The answer draws us back to the Bible, where the response is simple and easy. Hard to swallow, but not hard to grasp.

    So to see these threads about Rob Bell and the false gospel he preaches turn into discussions about a woman’s role in the church and infant salvation is, to me, getting substantially off course. Such questions are certainly valid, but they are not germane to the topic at hand; being true to the truth of the gospel.

    It’s like saying someone is going to decide their view on abortion by what they’d do if a woman got raped, or if the mother’s life was in danger to carry the baby to full term. These are difficult and real issues, but if we’re using those issues to determine the viewpoint overall, it’s the theological version of the tail wagging the dog. Let’s realize some issues are tough, but let’s also be aware that those tough issues should not be the primary driver for the main issues.

    Again, I am not saying these topics are insignificant in their own right. Churches, pastors and people grapple with them every day. But last time I looked, this was a discussion about whether or not Rob Bell is teaching the true gospel or a false gospel.

    He is clearly teaching a false gospel, and I am not the better for it as a believer to give credence to what he says simply on the basis that I want to be open and a good listener.

  • Jeff

    show me where Jesus, Paul, Peter, anyone uses the word “liberal.” Exactly. Liberal is a coined phrase used today. So my point in allowing Denny to clarify I am not a liberal has total merit. Scripture says nothing of it. You and Mr. Joe are the ones who love to throw out the “lib” title.

    Anyway, I also like how my questions aren’t answered. Kinda like Joe always harassing Christiane about not answering questions. So, if you believe one must accept Jesus, what about infants who die?

    Also, what about Outler’s Wesley Quadrilateral? No one wanted to touch that one either.

    I figured as much.

  • Amelia

    He’s a false teacher and a wolf in sheeps clothing. Love already won out on Calvary over two thousand years ago when God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. Those who believe are saved and those who don’t are condemned. It is written in the Book. The “freedom” that Bell speaks of is not the same freedom that our Lord speaks of. Those who accept Christ are walking in the liberty of life. Walking away from our sin nature has set us free. I choose to serve my Lord. I am free because of it. I chose this willingly. I am free from the law of sin and death. I am no longer in the bondage of Sin.

  • Paul

    Steve Wilson seems like he’s down a couple of cups of prune juice. If he gets any grumpier, I’m going to expect him to start picketing military funerals.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.