VIDEO: Rob Bell Cold On Hell
Rob Bell. That’s a name that engenders all kids of emotions. He is in the news lately because of his new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person That Ever Lived.
I first heard of Rob Bell in 2003 when I heard a session of his from Catalyst Conference on cd. He was famous for starting a church by teaching through the book of Leviticus. Although this seemed like a bad idea (Leviticus is notoriously boring), the church exploded.
His session at Catalyst was so moving, which made sense of it all. Something about what Rob said changed me forever. And from then on I made sure to never miss a message. I listened to him teach every week via his church’s website. He had a way of teaching that was deep, passionate, and relevant to my life. I still have hundreds of his teachings in my computer. In addition, I consumed his supplemental resources NOOMA. Week after week I received from the well of Rob Bell.
Until July 29, 2007.
That was the moment he really jumped the shark. The series was “God Is Green“. I listened to this series four times to make sure I was hearing what I was hearing, because I knew this might mean a departure for me. I suspected I could no longer support or recommend Rob, so I wanted to be sure of what I was hearing.
This was a series about creation and the environment. Now, I’m all for being responsible and taking care of God’s creation. But there is a fine line. I don’t worship it. I am not subservient to it. I worship the Creator, not creation. That is a form of idolatry, as the Bible might say. And I felt God is Green crossed that line.
Yes, I believe the environment is important. After all, I live in it. But I felt Bell elevated it to a status that it was not meant to have:
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles… They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. -Romans 1:22,23,25
Bell went so far as to say that disrespect for the environment was a sanctity of life issue. That went too far. Sure, we all love the family pet, but Spike isn’t on the same level as my children. The sanctity of life is a concept that has it’s origins in Christianity. Specifically, it refers to humans because of their obvious difference from the rest of creation–we have souls. We are God’s crowning achievement. That’s what this term refers to.
Up to then, I had begun to sense a drift in Bell’s teachings over the course of a year or so. There was something evasive. It was as if he wasn’t saying some things he really thought regarding some foundational Christian doctrines–namely, Hell, sin, the nature of the death of Jesus, among other things–and some others were becoming questionalable (like in “God is Green”). There seemed to be a faint pluralism creeping in. And “God Is Green” is where I drew the line. In fact, I indirectly reference some of his themes in my own book (the problem of exclusivity, Hell, and sin) entitled 10 Thing I Hate About Christianity. Of course, these deserve exploration.
But I never listened to another Rob Bell message again.
Now, I kept up with all his books. He’s still a great communicator. I just couldn’t listen to him teach his church Sunday morning representing the office of pastor, so to speak. It may sound strange, but it was a line I had to draw.
So now Rob has a new book called Love Wins. It’s safe to say, my suspicions were right. It is creating quite some waves across the face of Christendom. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to challenge the process and question the status quo, but that doesn’t mean you’re right–or I’m right–or he’s right. I am in the process of reading it and a review is forthcoming (probably next week).
But I wanted to show a video of a recent interview he did on MSNBC with Martin Bashir. What’s interesting is that it seems like Bashir is the Christian here. Yes, oddly enough, he seems to be the one defending traditional Christianity–not Pastor Rob Bell. That was a bit of a surprise. Bell even seems a bit uneasy in the clip. This I understand as I have done nearly 100 interviews for my book (two for ABC News)
The irony is, I suspect that Bell has developed what he believes to be a faith that will crossover. By redefining Hell, sin, and consequence he likely hopes it will appeal to people who are not generally open to Christianity (like the main stream media). But in reality, they are not buying into it (I have seen other interviews that have gone much the same way). It makes even them suspicious.
Here is the clip:
This entry was posted by Jason Berggren on March 29, 2011 at 8:00 am, and is filed under Churchy Stuff, Touchy Subjects, Unauthorized Blogs. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
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[…] of his teachings when he was pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI. (a while back I explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story altogether). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is […]
[…] was a bit more serious with my post of Rob Bell Being Cold On Hell. Monday was uncomfortably funny with The Praise Brothers. Today is just […]
[…] his NOOMA videos as a basis for small group discussions, and listened to hundreds of his teachings (last week I explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story all …). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is hard not to. That is why this review is so […]
I think it’s one of those jokes that would fall flat — really flat.
Just curious. Do you have any idea what Andy Stanley means by his twitter bio “Rob Bell’s ghostwriter.” And not to mention John Woodall tweeting…”Reading “Love Wins” by Rob Bell. I have tears in my eyes. I can’t put it down. The questions this man raises are soul stirring for sure.”
Not sure. Andy likes to do funny things. He’s got a dry humor. My guess is that it’s was an April Fool’s joke.
There are a lot of ways to look at the book. So John is correct. Of course there is more. My review will post Monday. I encourage you to read it.
Reading the book and being moved by the questions it poses are not at all problematic. My feeling on the book is that these are very good questions to wrestle with and deliberate. My problem, like Berg’s, is that Bell seeks to circumvent the need to actually answer the questions, or, when he does, provides an inclusivist/pluralistic answer that is self-contradictory and does not measure up against both the Biblical text or the heritage of orthodoxy–both points of which Mr. Bashir makes very explicit in that excellent interview.
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apparently Martin Bashir attends Tim Keller’s (of the Gospel Coalition i.e. John Piper, Driscoll…) church in NYC so yea, he’s the one defending the traditional Christian stance.
Interesting if true.
Interesting of true.
“Bashir discloses that he is a committed Christian and that he attends Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City”
I heard that. Cool stuff.
Rob Bell, “I assume that God’s grace gives people space to work those issues out.”
When you start to rework God’s Word into what you want to believe, then you are creating a god… a false image of who HE really is. At this point, you have to start making assumptions of what God does or does not do.
Let’s stick to what I AM says in HIS Word.
Excellent points. Thanks!