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Oprah’s network releases sneak peek of ‘The Rob Bell Show’

Image courtesy of the OWN Network
Image courtesy of the OWN Network

“The Rob Bell Show” premieres on the OWN Network next month. – Image courtesy of OWN

Riding on the success of a pile of bestselling books and a hit video series, Pastor Rob Bell became one of the most sought after religious speakers in America during the early 2000’s. But after Bell questioned whether hell was real in his New York Times bestselling book Love Wins, many conservative Christians tried to oust him from the inner circle of evangelicalism.

How did Bell respond? By quietly bidding his haters adieu, leaving his church, and attaining even more success.

In 2011, Bell was named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and, after finding his way into Oprah’s good graces, he will be hosting a new talk show. “The Rob Bell Show” will premiere on the OWN Network on December 21 at 8 pm.

“Through riveting conversations with a live audience, and by incorporating creative on-camera storytelling, Rob—as only he can—explores themes such as owning your story and wonder and awe,” according to the show’s description.

Below is a sneak peek of the first episodes that was just posted to the OWN website:


SEE ALSO: “Will God Be Left Behind?” An Interview with Rob Bell

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

64 Comments

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  • “many conservative Christians tried to oust him from the inner circle of evangelicalism.”

    many conservative Christians did oust him for the inner circle of evangelicalism.

    Fixed it.

  • “More success” how? By making it to the Oprah network? That’s how we define success now? Next step, TCT and begging for donations 24 hours a day.

  • Good for Rob. I think the evangelical church and evangelicalism are too small for him.

    He was criticized by the very one’s who made him a rock star, something evangelicals do with great zeal. Always looking for the next latest and greatest Christian celebrity. It’s pretty sad.Why? For using the bible to interpret the doctrines so many swallow without any serious biblical exegesis.

    I think he’ll continue to be a leading voice for Christianity and he’ll probably continue to reach folks that those who condemn him will never reach.

    “Hey Jesus… we saw some dude over there casting out demons in your name, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t one of us.” Luke 9

  • He truly is not one of us. He is only manifesting more of his true nature these past few years and now that’s he’s been more honest about where he stands many have openly rejected him for the heretic that he is.

  • @Wayne N.
    Evangelicals regularly come to my door and offer to save me from the hellfire that their very own loving God has cooked up for all of us children of God who do not agree with them and their “Holy Book” (conveniently rendered in modern English and magically understood by the common man).
    To put it mildly, they do not see the unattractive absurdity in their bizarre story. The greatest evidence that there is no God, is that these peddlers of fear, who plot criminally to usurp “divine” powers, are not destroyed by an outraged God of decency.

  • Will he proclaim the Gospel?
    I doubt it. He doesn’t understand it.

    Will he call sinners to repentance?
    Definitely not. His god doesn’t punish people for their sin.

    Will he condone homosexuality?
    Probably. His god loves everybody regardless of what they do.

    Will he bamboozle everyone with mumbo-jumbo Christianese rhetoric that sends everyone to hell?
    Absolutely. That’s what Post-Moderns do.

    His god is not the God of the Bible.

    Go watch something else.

  • But after Bell questioned whether hell was real in his New York Times bestselling book Love Wins, many conservative Christians tried to oust him from the inner circle of evangelicalism. –

    Maybe because they’re not in the business of running a feel-good racket.

  • I’m a Christian = Jesus lover= spirit filled! I can’t wait to watch this show.
    I have always appreciated Robs style, words, and Christian Heart.

  • To put it mildly, they do not see the unattractive absurdity in their bizarre story.

    Well, you know, Samuel Johnston, we often do not see ourselves as others do.

  • The Bible warned/warns that many will depart from the faith and not stick to
    sound doctrine so this is no shock. What’s happening today is we have tons
    of false conversions because of faulty/man pleasing preaching so people
    fall away/get swayed very easy cause they were never really saved in the
    first place. Bible says man shall perish because of their lack of knowledge!
    We see it everywhere with people who claim to be Christian yet they don’t
    know what the Bible says and their life/lifstyle hasn’t changed one bit. Bible
    says that drunkards go to hell in 1 Corinthians 6:10. Ephesians 5:18 says
    don’t get drunk yet I meet person after person that still gets drunk cause
    so many people only want to talk about abortion or homosexuality so they
    don’t have to face their own sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists many,many sins
    right along with homosexuality so all sin is bad! The wine that Jesus made
    was new wine/diluted/made for symbolic reasons not to get drunk plus the
    Bible says don’t get drunk on strong wine/don’t get drunk with wine for it’s
    debauchery so people who still get drunk with strong wine are also wrong!

    The Bible says not to subtract from it or you go to hell so all the people who
    teach that there is no hell will then go to hell because of that teaching! Ironic.

    Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you continue in My teachings and
    follow Me/many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven so this so
    called “preacher” Rob Bell/others like him need to Repent cause it doesn’t
    matter how spiritual people are if they aren’t Biblical they are still lost and
    headed for hell. If you say that you love Jesus and then you don’t follow the
    Bible/religion no Truth is in you! It’s not enough to believe. We must follow!
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!

  • @ Art Deco
    Yes, I do know -since grammar school.

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!

  • It’s not at all evidence against the existence of God that He does not exact judgment at this time. He is patiently waiting for some to turn to Him. In Isaiah 59 the prophet explains how He is the God who hides, because of our sin. But He also reveals Himself to whom He chooses. That He has not revealed Himself to you, does not mean He does not exist.

  • Hi John,
    You accept an explanation that is really no explanation at all, nor is it evidence. Does God act justly, or are God’s acts just because they are God’s acts? Socrates maintained the former, and held that an unjust God was not worthy of esteem, but was a demon. I concur. I must act and judge while I live. Eternity is just an empty name, a null set.

  • Samuel,

    There is no hell”fire”, so good for Rob Bell questioning the truthfulness of it!!

    The Bible explains that the living know they will die, but the dead know nothing at all; that when we die, for whatever reason (sickness, disease, old age, etc.), we go to the grave (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20; 9:5,10) and/or return to the dust (Genesis 2:7; 3:19; Psalm 103:14).

    The dead are basically asleep in death or “resting in peace” and there is no eternal torment taking place there or anywhere else. Yes, God is very loving and just, and he does not torment anyone, even the wicked, forever and ever.

    It’s a sad shame that so many religions teach the doctrine of hellfire, when it is non-existent.

  • Interesting personal comments here. Does anyone care what the word of God says or have believers settled into ‘whatever I believe is truth and whatever you believe is truth to you?’ Can’t we know truth by what His word says?

  • Rob Bell does in FACT preach the Gospel, which is the reason many religious evangelicals condemn him. He preaches the actual GOSPEL.

    The Good News really is good news, but sadly many who claim to be followers of Jesus really don’t believe the Good News.

    Sad…

  • Byron-Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven because only one guy Repented/had a change of heart about sin.
    If the people don’t Repent/change they are not saved…Period! Jesus said
    that many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! We must Repent!

  • This emergent wolf is now among fellow haters of the Biblical Jesus Christ from where he can spread his drivel. Past depraved.

  • Julie and Frank,

    Have you read “Love Wins”?

    A honest yes or no will suffice.

    I’ll be blunt, by the tone of your posts, I suspect you have not. Which really only makes you are part of the greater problem within the Body of Christ and you need to “repent”, that is, change and turn toward God.

    I have read it. I am a pastor and have a MDiv from a respectable seminary. I’m not naive. What Rob wrote in Love Wins isn’t anything new or emerging, it was actually a very biblical sound and true to the texts and the culture in which they were delivered.

    So, what’s your beef with Rob Bell?

    Again, have you read Love Wins?

    If not, you should simply be honest and say what’s true, you are judging a person and only parroting the crap someone else has said who most likely hasn’t read it. You are part of the problem, not Rob Bell.

  • Julie and Frank,

    Have you read “Love Wins”?

    A honest yes or no will suffice.

    I’ll be blunt, by the tone of your posts, I suspect you have not. Which really only makes you are part of the greater problem within the Body of Christ and you need to “repent”, that is, change and turn toward God.

    I have read it. I am a pastor and have a MDiv from a respectable seminary. I’m not naive. What Rob wrote in Love Wins isn’t anything new or emerging, it was actually a very biblical sound and true to the texts and the culture in which they were delivered.

    So, what’s your beef with Rob Bell?

    Again, have you read Love Wins?

    If not, you should simply be honest and say what’s true, you are judging a person and only parroting the crap someone else has said who most likely hasn’t read it. You are part of the problem, not Rob Bell.
    A guy went to heaven?

    Really?

    That’s not what Jesus said. That’s not the text. Read it again.
    What you are parroting is the story you have told yourself or has been told to you. Read it again. What’s it say?

    What did Jesus mean by paradise? Not what you think, but what did Jesus mean by paradise?

    What is repentance? Not what you think it means, but what did it mean to Jesus? How did Jesus use the word that was translated into Greek “metanoia”?

    By the way, have you read Love Wins?

    If not, you should focus on the wood in your own eye and not the sawdust in Rob Bell’s.

  • Samuel, I was merely pointing to your erroneous evidence that God does not exist. The burden of proof in this instance is on you. Do you actually hold that if God exists He would be judging those that come to your door and preach judgement? If so, you must think you know who is worthy of judgment, and who is not. I suspect it is that you are angry with the idea of judgement altogether. In any case, you will have a hard time disproving the God who hides.

  • Rob and I have been friends for years. He IS the real deal. He is honest and definitely thought provoking. My life with God is better because of our friendship.

  • @ John,
    I was merely being poetic (even the stones cry out!). Do you really contend that I must prove that all the thousands of gods worshipped by men through all the ages must be disproved- or just your favorite god? Astrology is more universal than any god cult. Must I disprove astrology? Tell you god to stop being cowardly and come out of hiding. I have a few questions.

  • Samuel, I’m not contending that you do that at all. YOU made the contention that does not hold water, and I showed you why. As for me bringing my God out of hiding, that’s always been up to Him, in His timing. I bring His word. You seem to think Jesus was being poetic when He said the stones would cry out, however because God’s word in Zechariah 9:9 says basically, Rejoice o daughter of Zion, your king comes to you with salvation, lowly on a donkey.” Jesus WAS that king, and God’s word would be fulfilled even if the people did not rejoice. But of course they did, and the stones were silent. This is just one of many prophecies that add up to a picture of Christ. Are you humble enough to search it out?

  • @john,
    I give up. You appear to believe that the stones really would have cried out!
    Now that’s a tough call even for the “every word of my holy book is true” crowd.
    So, will the angels stand on the four corners of the earth?

  • The four corners are poetic, but if one believes in God, it’s an easy thing to believe in miracles. I mentioned the prophecies Christ fulfilled, so here’s one that foretold a miracle and speaks of “the Lord” doing it. “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calls the storm so that it’s waves are still.” (Psalm 107:28-29.) The fulfillment is in Matthew 8:26,27. The prophets foretold His death for our sins in Isaiah 52 & 53 and Daniel 9:26, if you are brave enough to look.

  • Alan, yes of course we can put our trust in His word. He has proven it many times to me. The proof is there to find. In addition, there is absolutely absolutes. (When someone says there is no objective truth, ask “Is THAT objectively true?”)

  • Thanks for your post, Leonard.

    I’ve read much of what Rob writes, not so much because of the “content” but mainly for how he delivers it. He is truly gifted in that regards. It’s why he was embraced by the evangelicals in the first place.

    I don’t think much of what Rob writes is “new or emerging” it’s simply how he delivers it and helps people to relate to it.

    I’ve seen the guy crucified mostly by those who are called to love him, and sadly by people who have never actually read his works.

  • @john,
    “..if one believes in God, it’s an easy thing to believe in miracles.”
    YES!!!!! Once you buy the big daddy (or mama) in the sky that can do anything, there is no limit to credulity. We become subject to any rumor or claim. Reason is not truth, nor is probability based on observation.
    They are simply the best tools we limited humans possess for judging claims. We also have useful emotions, including empathy. We are not simply helpless passive creatures, waiting for the inevitable.

  • The fundamental flaw that broke the modern Christian religion for me was that God, who is the definition of love, designs creatures who He knows will fail and then punished them for it. That premise leaves its followers defining love by one who plans failure for his children (or at least, His creations, who will either be chosen to believe just the right version of the salvation story or happen to choose it among the thousands of belief systems in this world. While I can’t say I belong to his religion, Rob’s take effectively remedies this.

  • Bluemayskye-Every other religion says you have to be good/earn your way
    to heaven but with Christianity it says there are none good…not even one!
    God created us to have a relationship with Him but He gives us free will so
    when we don’t listen to God we see the results around the world of us not
    listening to what God said. Jesus among other gods by Ravi Zacharias is
    a good book for you to read to deal with what you are talking about. Only
    one God went to the Cross/died for our sins cause there is only one God!
    The devil fooled Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by making them
    think what God said was wrong. Sound familiar? He does the same thing
    today by tricking the people to follow false gods/religions because man is
    very sinful/we rebel and that’s why we need the Bible/Christ. The Bible
    can be trusted because of prophecy accuracy. If there were other ways
    to heaven why would Jesus go to the Cross if there are/were other ways?
    Psalm 22:16-18 and also Isaiah 53:3-7 are both very specific about Jesus.
    Sayin all ways/roads are the same doesn’t make sense cause each belief is different. All roads are not the same. Jesus is the only way! God bless.

  • Yes. It’s a terrible piece of fallacious theology.

    The problem with Rob Bell is that about 80% of what he says is true, sadly that 20% completely destots any credibility he might have had.

  • I am not subject to any “claim” or “rumor”. For the last forty plus years I have studied the evidence in the case for Christ. I have a BA in the subject, and have studied apologetics extensively. How much have you? I came to the Lord through the evidence of the prophecies that Christ fulfilled and the witnesses of the resurrection, among other things. However most of all, it is by His Spirit that we are born anew. As Paul said, “His Spirit beats witnesses with our spirit that we are His children.” Let me ask you this, are you “passive” when it comes to searching out the most important of issues? Have you looked into the details of what I have been saying concerning the evidence?

  • @ John,
    As it happens my undergraduate degree is in, Political Science, with minors, in History, Philosophy, and Religion. My Father and Grandfather were Methodist ministers. As a youth I went to Church more than any human should have to.
    1. I detest Paul. He cared nothing for the Historical Jesus and even less for his teachings. Christology is his doing. The destructive emphases on faith is his doing.
    2. I have nothing against the Historical Jesus, but his message that there is a God the Father who cares about each and everyone of us is, is contrary what I see and have experienced in my 70 plus years on the planet.
    3. I agree that the Church has been “The worst disaster to ever befall Western man”.
    4. Science is not the answer to all questions or human problems, but I vastly prefer Modernism even with all its problems to Medievalism and its unenlightened superstition and ignorance.
    Finally, I am not in rebellion against my father. He was very kind and understanding.
    Naturally, we disagreed about many things, but were close and discussed everything.
    He did not subscribe to the Hell doctrine, and he knew that everyone has to find his own way. His God really was about love.

  • Doc Anthony, Frank, Art Deco and a host of other people with a particularly nasty-minded and spiteful version of Christianity don’t like Rob Bell. I would take that as a ringing endorsement. Bell must be doing something right. 🙂

  • Doc Anthony, Frank, Art Deco and a host of other people with a particularly nasty-minded and spiteful

    Well, don’t look now, but Samuel Johnston is trying to muscle into your act.

  • I agree that a person’s opinion does not determine reality. What I am trying to explain is how traditional Christianity’s perspective on God’s modus operandi is flawed. Maybe some math will simplify things.

    God= love
    God’s modus operandi to design beings He knows will fail = love

    How do you apply His methods to your life?

  • I agree that no works are required for salvation. What is required is a savior.

    1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn:

    Ultimately, our road is irrelevant save for the journey. What Christ did, no religion can add to or take away.

    1 Timothy 4:10

    10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

  • Well I guess we’re done here. I’ll leave you and any others who have been reading this thread to He who “has mercy on whom He has mercy.”

  • @John,
    I sincerely wish you well. I am just sorry that you are stuck in Plato’s cave.
    I am powerless to rescue those who are determined to play at shadows.

  • @Art,
    Don’t you guys over at the Vatican have your hands full, what with two popes, declining membership and revenues, a shortage of priests, vast legal liabilities, and doctrinal drift (I love alliteration). You just leave Larry alone!

  • I have come to the conclusion that objective truth exists but no one has claim to all of it. Which is why faith in the unseen is a such horrible way to determine whether a person lives in paradise or is tormented for eternity.

  • @Karla,
    What person witnessed this conversation and overheard these comments?
    You do not know. All I know is that the story got around, so four centuries later it was selected by the Bishop of Carthage and his committees to be included in the Bible. For prospective, consider that it has only been some five centuries since Columbus sailed to the Caribbean, and a mere two and a half, since our country was established.
    I think the witness must be the same old Jewish scribe that first wrote down God’s
    command “Let there be light!”

  • Rob Bell equals Harry Emerson Fosdick. Not being critical– we have seen his kind before. That being said, I will watch his show.

  • I am blown away by all the cold judgement in some of these comments. Throughout history, the Bible has been interpreted many different ways. We would flinch in horror at some of the things that were preached from the pulpit even 100years ago. Time moves on, culture changes, and God reveals himself to people who look very different to the days of old. Thank goodness we have a faithful God, unchanging and unshakable, yet able to connect with anyone from any culture, time or place!

    Having a degree in practical theology, I have wrestled, and continue to wrestle with the things I have been taught or heard somewhere and accepted as truth. The conclusion I have drawn has 4 points:
    1. Despite the judgement going on in Jesus’ time by the religious leaders, Jesus still found a way to show them love and grace, which changed their lives for the better. People were uplifted after their encounters with Jesus.
    2. Different is not wrong, it’s just different. God created us that way and we all understand things from our own perspective. If we want truth, we ask God to reveal it to us. People are on different journeys, and what may be ok for one person is not ok for someone else – these are down to our convictions – that God brings, and we are not to look down on someone else for their different journey – we have no idea what road they have travelled, in the same way as no one else knows ours.
    3. Life is grey. There is no black or white, there is only our own reality (no one is truly partial) in which we seek God’s presence, and we listen to what God is asking of us and change in his timing. Which leads me to…
    3. God is far bigger than we give him credit for. We try to stuff him into our tiny ‘God’ box, because our minds can more easily comprehend Him that way. The truth is that he is incomprehensible, and he does not fit into any box – this is the God who ‘holds all the waters of the earth in his hands’. I certainly don’t have a box that big, so I work hard everyday to let go of the limitations and judgements I place on others, and simply ask God to change me to who he made me to be, and to help others to do the same.

  • Keli-The Bible is the Word of God. Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you
    continue in My teachings/follow Me! Bible says if anyone does not continue in
    teaching what the Bible says/preaches a different Gospel then they will be
    eternally condemned. Jehovah witnesses,mormons,false teachers/preachers
    like Rob Bell will be eternally condemned. Read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the
    whole chapters. Bible says that many will depart from the faith and not stick
    to sound doctrine. Bible says we are not to listen to false teachers. The Bible
    says even if an angel appears to you and preaches something different don’t
    listen to it and several of these false religions were based on an angelic visit
    but it was the devil who was/is a fallen angel who appears as an angel of
    light to fool/deceive people like he did with the so called “prophet” from Islam
    and fooled the so called “prophet” Joseph Smith from mormonism. God bless.

  • I have said it before that Rob Bell…in the eyes of many in the Church comes across as a real “anointed of the Lord”. But the truth of the matter is he is a heretic who teaches a compromised gospel. Now even more he teams up with the queen of the “new age” cult…who is in a “marriage” with the likes of other heretics…Osteen…Jakes. I wonder if these so-called pastors [maybe in the eyes of their followers] realise that they are being subtly drawn into a web of deceitfulness and leading millions astray from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. These so-called pastors are enemies of the Cross of Christ because they have compromised the true gospel and watered it down so they can be part of Winfrey’s TV network to promote them and make them even more famous and richer. Do not be deceived by these heretics.

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