What ever happened to Rob Bell, the pastor who questioned the gates of hell?

Pastor Rob Bell from “The Rob Bell Show." Photo courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc.
Pastor Rob Bell from “The Rob Bell Show." Photo courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc.

Pastor Rob Bell from “The Rob Bell Show.” Photo courtesy of Harpo Studios Inc.

(RNS) Rob Bell was once the evangelical It Boy, the hipster pastor with the thick-rimmed glasses and the skinny jeans whose best-selling theology was captured in books with names such as “Velvet Elvis” and “Sex God.”

By 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham.

And then he went to hell.

In 2011, his book “Love Wins” pushed the evangelical envelope on the nature of heaven, hell and salvation. Many dismissed him as a modern-day heretic, unwilling to embrace traditional evangelicals beliefs about the hereafter.

While evangelicalism has always wrestled with the pull of its fundamentalist roots and a desire for a modern-day openness within certain boundaries, for many Bell had gone too far. “Farewell, Rob Bell,” retired megachurch pastor John Piper famously tweeted.

Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people isn’t even attending an organized church. Instead, he surfs the waves near Hollywood and has teamed up with the goddess of pop theology, Oprah Winfrey.

Exchanging his evangelical bona fides for the blessing of Oprah may yet prove to be his most unforgivable sin, at least in some circles. Which is not to say that Bell cares very much what anyone says these days.

“I never spent a minute wondering whether I’m in or out.”

Does he still consider himself an evangelical?

“If we mean Jesus’ message of God’s revolutionary love for every person, and we can surrender and give our life to acts to loving kindness, then man, sign me up,” said Bell, 44.

After the initial battle over “Love Wins” died down, Bell seemed to disappear from the public eye. He left his Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and headed out to California to work on TV projects.

“The Rob Bell Show” will premiere Dec. 21 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a one-hour show that features Bell and is co-produced by him. He also recently toured the country with Winfrey on a “Life You Want Weekend.”

In many ways, some elements of typical evangelicalism are a good fit for Oprah’s lineup of public confession and personal transformation, said Kathryn Lofton, author of “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon.” The difference, however, is that The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.

Rob and Kristen Bell, authors of "The Zimzum of Love." Photo courtesy of David Tosti

Rob and Kristen Bell, authors of “The Zimzum of Love.” Photo courtesy of David Tosti

“I think an interesting way to think about Bell and Oprah here is to observe how easily she incorporates him into her pantheon of spiritual advisers. She remains, as ever, the determining corporate deity,” said Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale.

“One way of looking at this is less a merger of two equal powers than it is the acquisition by one large corporation of another small business.”

To be sure, Bell still holds his evangelical credentials, with degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary. And like other leading evangelicals, he’s trying to stake out some ground on marriage.

“It seems like marriage is one of the central things in life that needs all the help it can get,” Bell said.

For anyone looking for any hints to his theological shift, his new book, “The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage,” is likely to disappoint. He came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013, and few evangelicals seemed surprised. If he could question the existence of hell, they said, why wouldn’t he shift on his views about sexuality?

Bell says he would conduct a same-sex ceremony, and he encourages churches to welcome gay members and allow them to be ordained.

“This is a justice issue,” Bell said. “We believe people should not be denied the right to have someone to journey with.”

Books & Culture, a journal published by Christianity Today, mocked Bell’s latest work, inventing a fake publishing executive to push the man behind the Gospel of Zimzum.

“He won’t talk about the cross, or sin, or the idea that marriage represents Jesus and his bride or God and Israel. So he’s not a Bible Christian, but really a Christian, then. Our new kind of Christian. Our evogelical,” the piece said.

"The Zimzum of Love" by Rob and Kristen Bell. Photo courtesy of HarperOne

“The Zimzum of Love” by Rob and Kristen Bell. Photo courtesy of HarperOne

And Florida pastor Dave Harvey, reviewing “Zimzum” for The Gospel Coalition, a central hub of the Reformed evangelical movement, criticized Bell for quoting the Bible only three times in the book: “If Christianity were outlawed and a mob amassed to burn Christian books, ‘The Zimzum of Love’ would not be at risk.”

Even when he talks about marriage, Bell sounds more like Oprah than a theologian, meshing what sounds both spiritual and evangelical when addressing marriage as an institution.

“All of these things that people think dropped out of the sky by divine edict are actually a reflection of ongoing human evolution and a thousand other factors that have shaped why we as humans have done what we’ve done,” Bell said.

Bell co-authored “Zimzum” with his wife, Kristen, and he said “she’s generally three steps ahead of me” in his evolution.

Now resettled near Los Angeles, the couple no longer belongs to a traditional church.  “We have a little tribe of friends,” Bell said. “We have a group that we are journeying with. There’s no building. We’re churching all the time. It’s more of a verb for us.”

He’s still a fan of churches — depending on the context.

“Churches can be places that help people grow and help people connect with others and help people connect with the great issues of our day,” Bell said. “They can also be toxic, black holes of despair. My thinking is, it depends on where you are in your life. One of the most extraordinary things I’ve done since I left Mars Hill is be with people and engage with people who would never step foot in a church.”

He conducts retreats in Laguna Beach and teaches on innovation, communication, creativity, how to read the Bible and how to surf. At the end of the gathering, he serves the Eucharist.

If he could do the “Love Wins” controversy over again, Bell said: “I would’ve had more fun with it. The book doesn’t even begin to go far enough. I let people frame it as though I was way off the reservation.”

Is he a universalist — essentially, someone who believes that everyone will be saved because a loving God would never condemn anyone to hell — as many claimed?

“I have no idea what people mean,” Bell said. “That just seems like stuff church people sit around and think about. Does God love everybody? Yeah.”

Many evangelicals are suspicious of Oprah, leery that she represents what many see as the worst of self-help spirituality. Bell, not surprisingly, disagrees once again.

“She has taught me more about what Jesus has for all of us, and what kind of life Jesus wants us to live, more than almost anybody in my life,” Bell said.

“Is she a Christian? That word has so much baggage, I wouldn’t want to answer for someone. When Jesus talks about the full divine life, you think, this is what he’s talking about.”

RELATED: “Controversial pastor Rob Bell and wife, Kristen, share new view on marriage”


About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


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  • This is the exact definition of what people mean by “slippery slope,” folks.

    Bell has long deviated from Scripture, first in small ways that people wrote off, then in larger ways, and now completely off in his own world of Oprah worship and “journeys” alongside people.

    People have been journeying alongside people since the dawn of time, but Christ says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” There is no getting around that, no matter what journey you’re on, or how many high and powerful people you know and have around you.

    His downward spiral makes me sad, but serves as a stern warning to any who would diminish small bits of unfaithfulness to Scripture. This is where it leads.

  • Rob Bell does not teach/preach the Truth. Hell is real and people that still
    preach/teach there is no hell are false teachers! The Holy Bible says not to
    subtract from it or you go to hell so people who teach there is no hell go
    to hell because of that teaching! Ironic. We all must Repent to be saved!
    The Bible says that many shall depart from the faith giving themselves over
    to seducing spirits/doctrines of demons. The Bible says that if anyone comes
    to you and preaches another/different Gospel don’t listen! Jesus said you are
    one of Mine only if you continue in My teachings/follow Me! Bible says even if
    an angel appears to you and preaches something different don’t listen and
    several false religions like mormonism and islam are based on an angelic visit.
    People forget the devil poses as an angel of light to deceive people like he
    did with the false prophet Joseph Smith. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists all who will
    not inherit the kingdom of heaven so Rob Bell/false preachers like him will be
    eternally condemned for preaching/teaching their false doctrine. Jesus said
    that many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! We all must change!
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We all must Repent!

  • He sounds like someone who’s just out for himself. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that the next stop for him is divorce. He will then say it’s part of his “spiritual evolution.” People like him don’t stay married, because they have no inner compass.

  • Many who were called heretics when alive were discovered to be saints after they died. History should teach us of the necessity to be careful about judging people… and even their thought. If it is of God nothing we can do will stop it, but if it’s of the devil it will die on its own. That’s still advice to live by.
    Sarah, I like the exclusive/inclusive way of defining evangelicals as apposed to all the other Christians. This confusion in the public mind explains why so many followers of Jesus, especially those in the 20-35 age group, would drop the tag “Christian.” They simply don’t like the exclusiveness found in some churches.

  • It looks like Rob Bell’s worst sin appears to be a lack of understanding the nature of his audience.

    People look to evangelical leaders to do many things:
    -make them feel good about their religious belief
    -give them uncomplicated, simple views of what God wants
    -forge a sense of sectarian identity,
    -provide an avenue of political power for them
    -confirm their prejudices in a socially accepted manner
    -make personal flaws such as ignorance, intransigence, pettiness seem like virtues

    What they don’t usually look for from such people are:
    -questions and ruminations on their faith beyond the answers they want
    -people who condemn prejudices commonly promoted by other sects
    -any of that universal love, kindness and unambiguous charity that Jesus talked about. The stuff Paul put the kibosh on when he started his letter writing campaigns.

    In an effort to be honest with his own beliefs and ideas about Christianity, he has PO’ed a group which is not interested in having a discussion on the topic. He mistakenly believed that evangelicals look for reasonable analysis and debate. As many of the responses here indicate, they really only look for confirmation and stock answers.

  • I don’t think that’s the case, Larry.

    What people are looking for is authenticity, what used to be called “truth in advertising.”

    When people call themselves something, people expect that they will believe and act in a way that has at least some correspondence with what they’re professing.

    Put another way, words have meaning and that implies some form of “exclusivity”. Thus if I call myself a vegan, and am one for purely humanitarian reasons, I am necessarily excluding a belief that there is nothing wrong with eating meat.

    If this were the 19th century and I were an abolitionist, that would necessarily exclude a belief that slavery is fine.

    Just as it would be perfectly natural for vegans to be upset if a vegan leader were to eat meat, it’s similarly natural for evangelicals to be upset when a self-proclaimed evangelical embraces beliefs that contradict evangelicalism. Rob Bell eventually had enough sense to respond to his “truth-in-advertising” problem and change his lingo and self-description, but it took awhile and as we have seen on this website, others like Bell have not done likewise.

  • Right, people have certain expectations of what they want from an evangelical leader. Confirmation, feeling good about themselves, to feel God is on their side. You expect certain things from them and get all annoyed when they don’t deliver. Departing from the usual cliches doesn’t win friends in that circle.

    Despite the ramblings of many here, it has nothing to do with “accuracy of the Bible” or “following correct interpretations”. It has to do with following in a given audience’s specific sectarian versions of the scripture. Bell departed from the script Evangelicals usually rely on. He was asking questions and making interpretations to an audience not concerned with them.

  • Bell’s elusive answers and squishy theology is downright scary. He is and will lead a lot of people astray.

  • The judgments here are startling to me. You may all be right. I do not know but where is the love. If Rob Bell is who you say isn’t there a story about a Shepherd who leaves the flock to rescue the one? I left Evangelicalism because this type of judgment made me literally ill. How can you be so certain?

  • Which is not to say that Bell cares very much what anyone says these days.

    Marketing is his business. He cares, unless he figures he’s made his pile and will clip coupons for the rest of his life.

  • Midge Decter used to admonish Fr. Neuhaus when she thought he’d misunderstood someone’s odd or shifty behavior: “You don’t think low enough”.

    The guy’s out in SoCal surfing betwixt and between peddling feel-good swill. Take the hint.

  • Tim-You are loved by Christ so I hope you come back to the church/Jesus
    but preachers/teachers/leaders are held to a certain standard as they should
    be. Read 1 Corinthians 5 the whole chapter. It shows us how we are to deal
    with a false Christian. Preaching against sin/rebuking people is Biblical and
    there is nothing wrong with it and really needs to be done more. We are to
    love people yes but in Truth. If someone needs corrected so be it. Preaching
    the Truth/against sin is not judging. Many people today take Bible verses
    out of context/twist Scripture to fit into their flawed theology/agenda which
    the Bible warned would happen so we need to know the Bible. God bless.

  • Amen, Larry. He’s actually wrestling with things and being honest about what he’s working through and why. There is no greater damnable offense in many Xian circles, esp the Evangelical/Fundamentalist ones.

  • Evangelical Christianity really just marketing plan for religious belief. Using all sorts of sales pitches to drive the numbers up.

    Hard Sell (Hell and eternal damnation)
    Soft Sell (join our community in faith)
    Appeal to ego and vanity (you are going to be right about God, not everyone else)

  • He’s 44, so the age for that sort of thing, though, even in that age group, I think it’s usually the wife who files.The trophy wife he has now will have to put on more weight before she’s given her walking papers. Remember, the point of such transactions is to trade up.

  • Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people

    His successor claims 3,500 in attendance after about a quarter of the congregation left consequent to his 2011 book.

  • He’s actually wrestling with things and being honest about what he’s working through and why.

    He wrestling all the way to the bank, and having fun in the sun.

  • Honestly, his answers to the interview questions sound a lot like Jesus. He’s unconcerned with theological minutiae and proper terminology and more concerned with fully living the life he’s been called to. I think we’d all do better to stop focusing on who’s “right” and pay more attention to loving people. We can’t love like Christ if we are condemning those who don’t think like us. Also, many evangelicals only spend time with “unbelievers” in a formal outreach setting…can we stop that? Can we stop creating cliques we call community? Can we include outsiders in our circles so they are truly included, and listened to, and not always feeling like we have an ulterior motive in befriending them? Come on, Church.

  • Tim, I too am startled at the harshness of some of these comments. I prefer to think that Rob Bell has evolved and is not in need of such rigid theology.

  • Why exactly was Bell ever considered an Evangelical of any kind? Because he went to Wheaton and Fuller?

  • Way too complex of an explanation, Larry, when a simpler one is staring us in the face:

    Rob Bell is for Rob Bell.

    His loyalty is to Rob Bell. His goal is to advance the interests of Rob Bell.

    Every action of his is consistent with this premise.

  • Or, Larry, evangelical Christianity is an attempt by sola scriptura folks to flesh out the implications of that premise as best as they know how.

  • JohnM-Amen/very well said! That’s the problem today. People assume but
    know what the Bible says. Bible says that man shall perish because of their
    lack of knowledge and we see it everywhere today with people that claim to
    be Christian yet their life/lifestyle hasn’t changed one bit cause they are
    not reading the Bible/there are so many false teachers/preachers today.
    If people say that they love Jesus and then don’t follow the Bible/religion
    no Truth is in them! If people are still getting drunk,mean,gossips and/or
    sleeping around they need to be rebuked…Period! We must follow Him!
    People today seem to forget that Jesus said you are one if Mine only if
    you continue in My teachings and follow Me! We all must Repent/follow!

  • Anne, the reason you’re startled is that you’re not understanding how your premises differ from others and how differing premises lead to diverging conclusions.

  • Bree, you’re assuming we have to choose between truth and love…..One doesn’t have to be a Christian, or anything else in particular, to understand that you need both.

    It’s not always easy to have both, but neither should be surrendered for the other’s sake.

  • Correction in my comment above. People assume but don’t know what
    the Bible says is the point I was trying to make. Just cause someone
    says they are a Christian that doesn’t mean they are so that’s why
    it is so important to know what the Bible says. Luke 13 says we are
    known by our fruit and the fruit is Repentance not good works cause
    many non-believers do good works. People forget Jesus said many
    will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! We all must Repent!

  • Jack-Amen! We are to love people yes but in Truth! If someone is at church
    and they are still getting drunk,mean,gambling,a gossip and sleepin around
    they need to be rebuked just like it says in 1 Corinthians 5 the whole chapter.

  • Fran-Preaching all the Truth and Repentance/against sin is not judging.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!

  • Sounds like just about every Christian out there, Jack, no matter what they say they are doing.

    My sociology professor told me this 40 years ago. “You do things to other people. you do them for yourself.”

  • Reading the various comments aobut Bell and his going astray, or leading others astray, all based upon one’s limited understanding of god and/or scripture:

    you need only read the dialog between Fran and Karla to see where a sincere reading of what constitutes a Christian will get you.

  • Karla, repentance indeed is the key. To his credit, Billy Graham, who has preached a very simple and straightforward Gospel message for decades, always included within that message a call to repent. Faith and repentance are two sides to the same coin, as one means turning to God and the other means turning away from sin and sins. Since one logically implies the other, you’d think that a call to faith would be enough. But for whatever reason, the human heart needs repentance to be specified.

  • in need of such rigid theology.

    ‘Rigid theology’ as in one which incorporates understandings about reality and about the obligations people bear maneuvering about within that reality. Such a downer.

  • Can I encourage Rob Bell to move to Lansing, get a job selling insurance or some such, and stay out of the public eye? ( I think his wife’s OT license might still be good in Michigan).

  • I feel really sorry for Mr. Bell, he has really fallen off the wagon. I really and truly have to wonder if the man was ever really even saved. Nothing he says in his books or today, leaves one sure of his relationship to God…then again, I am sure he has NO relationship to the God of Creation, the God who one day will bring an end to all the nonsense of people like Bell and Oprah.

  • Sorry, that comment was not intended for you. How things thread at RNS seems to be a major mystery.

  • Jack-Amen/well said! Thanks for backing me up! You always stick to
    what the Bible says which is a very rare thing today! God bless.

  • Is there a pope of evangelicalism, or perhaps a governing body of evangelicalism? Because without that, all you have is a majority of evangelicals, not even a unanimity of them, that believe “X”. And that can change, and is changing.

  • @ Phillip.

    Maybe god has been leading Rob bell, because so many people have been getting it so wrong for so long..

    who are you to judge?

  • “I really and truly have to wonder if the man was ever really even saved.” What business, spiritual or otherwise, of yours is it to even begin to wonder about that? Specks and beams, sister.

    “Nothing he says in his books or today, leaves one sure of his relationship to God…”

    Exactly who are you that you are to be sure of anything that doesn’t concern you, or that God confides in the likes of you the status of his relationship with anyone else on the planet?

    This is the real issue here: spiritual arrogance of the worst sort. Especially when your savior specifically commanded you not to concern yourself with it

  • Why do all of you post without the fullness of your name? Why do we hide behind made up names when we claim to be talking about ‘truth’? Since we know Rob Bell’s name, why then can’t we know the name of everyone throwing around accusations?

  • The people attacking Rob Bell grieve the Holy Spirit.

    Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

  • Karla,

    Just a note to let you know that another “Fran” answered your post above and below… It was not me… So I have changed my name to Fran2 to avoid any confusion (yes, I am the same Fran who has been having “lengthy” conversations with you..:-D

  • Fran2-Thanks for clearing that up because there is someone else using my
    name as well on another forum so it must be the same person trying to trick
    us. Thanks for letting me know. This other Karla made some rude comments
    that were not from me. Even though we disagree on many things I appreciate
    all of our discussions. Thanks again for clearing all of that up. God bless.

  • Because the Bible tells me so. The Bible is the standard of Christian truth. If you truly think that God IS leading Rob Bell, then you should throw away your Bibles. You won’t need them anymore. If you don’t want to throw them away, read Jesus’ sermon on the mount. It is well within Jesus’ teachings to judge someone as a false teacher if they are in fact a false teacher.

  • Jay-Amen/very well said! Jesus rebuked people/told people to Repent
    and change! Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go sin no
    more! 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters really show how we
    are to rebuke anyone in the church who refuses to Repent/change.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!

  • Please understand — the “new” false gospel underway is a “New Age Gospel” — it is a crossless gospel, an obedience-less gospel, a nongospel and a surefire path to hell.

    But this “New Age” version of Christianity is underfoot. Pray to Jesus for protection, discernment, and the help of saints and angels. God spare us and keep us under the blood of Our Lord’s Crucifixion.

  • Complexities seem to draw ire from many of the Evangelical Christians commenting. They don’t seem to want to hear from someone who has different ideas about Christian faith than they do. Someone who seems to have put a great deal of thought into the subject.

    I would be surprised at the level of malice and bile directed towards Mr. Bell, since he is by all accounts a Christian. Someone who seems to have a genuine belief and faith.

    But its not like I haven’t seen it before.

    I don’t believe a word of what Mr. Bell believes, I have never, nor probably will ever read his books. But judging by the nastiness and pettiness of the comments against him, and who are the ones giving them, I can’t help but sympathize. Anyone who gets people like yourself so riled up must be doing something right. 🙂

  • Karla, Fran, get a room already!!!

    The passionate tension between you two is burning a hole in your screens. 🙂

  • Rigid theology makes you feel good. This way you can know for certain, you are right about God and everyone else is wrong. It appeals to the ego of people with over active index fingers.

  • Because not doing so is idiotic in an online discussion. Not for nothing but, people get doxed all the time when they use their real names in discussions. Luckily this is a fairly sedate board. More likely to bore you to death with eternal hellfire rather than flame wars.

  • 1 Jonn 4:17 and 1 John 2:8 both have the verbage stating as he is we are also and which is true in Him and in you. Is it so brazen a statement? Or are we just believing less than what we are called to be? thought Jesus was our example and he was the word, the Bible NT was written after His death. In Genesis 1 it tells of WORD being with God pre dirt also in John 1 it says that also. The Word there is referring to Jesus. The Bible is inspired but it is not God. Look to Jesus and he is not just an example for us but of us.

  • It might behoove you to study the Greek for I Cor 15 as well as the context and audience for that passage and it’s reference to rebuking leaders before you tell other people to study the Bible further.

  • Melissa-We have many people today that want to go to heaven but
    don’t want to Repent so 1 Corinthians 5 the whole chapter needs to
    be preached/is very clear and straight forward so read it again!

  • I always find it interesting when Christians get so mad about the possibility that perhaps God just might not be sending his children to eternal torment. I guess it never dawned on them how many times in the bible when Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders of the time about a certain scripture, Jesus would usually respond by saying, BUT I SAY…….think about it. Thank you Rob Bell, for showing what it means to be a true follower of Christ and not a pharrisee among the American Calvinists that claim to speak for Christ.

  • Hi Anne,

    When it comes to second and third tier doctrines of the Christian faith, some things are debatable, but when it comes to the majority of doctrine/theology there are things that are not debatable at all. The comments made about Rob Bell may not be the right way to respond, but the Bible does have a few things to say about false teachers too. Now I don’t say this in pride, but I think my story gives me a standing in this conversation. I grew up as a homosexual that turned to drugs, alcohol, self-hatred and a murderous anger towards my parents at times as well as at others. Now three years ago I put my faith in Jesus Christ and began to follow Him. I also have gone to a Bible college for over two years and from my studies in scripture and from what is obvious, homosexuality is definitely a sin, among so many other things as well. There many not be many verses about homosexuality, but when you study context and the passages about man and woman, and marriage, you see how undeniable it is. Now that does not mean we should shun them or anything! We are to love our neighbor no matter who it is or what they have done to us or anyone else. The Holy Spirit convicts, our job is to love and teach truth through God’s Word. And there are many disciples of Christ who are so loving toward everyone and they do have “rigid theology.” But a better term would be, “educated/solid theology.” But all in all, Rob Bell is a modern day heretic by comparing his words, with our ultimate authority – God’s Word (which does give certain permission within the realm of judging those in the church which is a whole other conversation).

  • Fran,

    You are taking Karla’s words out of context. She is talking about the certain kind of judgement of those in the church which is permissible from 1 Corinthians 5. A brief testimony from me, I had a past in homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, self-hatred and murderous anger against my parents and others, but then I recalled to mind what I learned about Jesus Christ and His salvation through the belief in my heart and the confession of my mouth of repentance of my sins. I am free from sin in death through Christ and I am walking away from that life to the glory of God. The peace the surpasses all understanding is indeed real, and salvation really is through Christ alone. I pray you will see that one day 🙂

  • Randy,

    I have my real name here. You’re even welcome to add me on facebook if you would like to continue conversations like this. I responded to a few people on this forum if you would like to see my comments. I am one who agrees that Rob Bell is a modern day heretic/false teacher. I have a past in homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, self-hatred and deep anger etc. But as a follower of Christ I am free from sin and death through the resurrection of Christ! I also attend Bible college which has been a Godsend, no pun intended where learning context and so many ins and outs of the Bible is accessible. Our study of the Word of God is what drives us to notice people who fall away from Biblical truth like Rob Bell. I don’t think all the comments on here are the right way to respond, but the Bible does have a few things to say about false teachers. It also gives some permission on types of judgement for those inside of the church.

  • Karla,

    Thanks for your comment; and even though we disagree on some topics, I know that you are a believer in God and his Word, the Bible. I enjoy our discussions as well, and may God bless you as well!

  • Since none of us can truly know KNOW whose beliefs are right and whose are wrong until after we are gone, Jesus’ plea to us to quit judging each other seems very wise. How about if we do what Jesus DID ask us to do, and love one another? We could all relax a lot of we would leave the judging to God in God’s own time.

  • That would be a good point, except that Jesus was always the one talking about hell, not the Pharisees (or the Saducees, who did not believe in afterlife at all). Reasonable minds may differ about whether hell is eternal or ends in annihilation, but it’s hard to find any suggestion of universal SALVATION in Jesus’ teachings.

  • The word “christian” has so much “baggage”, Rob doesn’t want to comment. Tell that to the 1st Century church. Being “christian” (Acts 11:26) was enough “baggage” to get many of those early Christ followers executed! I might say more but therein my opinion may impact the nobility of the title itself!

  • I’d like to see a list of those you have in mind who were thought heretics while alive, but “saints” after death.

  • So he’s chosen not to pastor a church anymore and is somewhere else in his journey. None of this seems to shout that he is trying to persuade or lead people a certain way. He is a writer and has chosen a new job with Oprah’s network. He’s changed his path in life. We all change our careers or our focus from time to time in life, and that doesn’t mean we’re trying to coerce or change other people around us.

  • I remember doing a bible study on Matthew with Rob Bell at Calvary church. He has gone a long way from then, Very Sad!

  • Jesus’ plea to us to quit judging each other seems very wise.

    You cannot go through life without making evaluative statements unless you’re a clinical idiot. No one here is proposing to stone Rob Bell to death or making categorical statements about the state of his soul. They are laughing at his guises and poses.

  • I don’t know Larry – when Jesus says in John 3:18 – Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God – it is an extremely exclusive statement. It seems pretty impossible to walk from that thinking it means exactly what it says. But as you said yourself about Mr. Bell – “In an effort to be honest with his own beliefs and ideas about Christianity” – he has his own ideas that not only contradict explicit scripture, but also all those that have come before him and agreed. That’s why he’s PO’ed, as you say, a group of people.

    And by the way, I’ve seen and heard enough video and audio interviews/discussions others have tried to have with Mr. Bell to actually find out what he really believes and he never answers the questions.

    If people read the Bible and call themselves Christian, then it’s pretty easy to determine whose really speaking the truth.

  • Correction –
    …it is an extremely exclusive statement. It seems pretty impossible to walk away from that thinking it means *something different than what is explicitly says.

  • Actually, without “right theology” (and that means theology that’s clearly supportable from the Bible text and context), you wind up having, well, whatever Larry has right now.

    That’s not flippancy or disrespect, by the way. Your current theology seriously appears to be “whatever Larry says that his theology happens to be right now.”

    And while it’s a free country and I’d defend your right to your beliefs, no evangelical congregation in their right mind would hire you as their pastor. Why? Because even if they are borderline evangelicals (like some Methodists or Lutherans I know) , they DO want something more biblical — even if it’s only slightly more biblical — than that kind of situation.

    (But don’t worry, the UU’s will easily hire you, they’re A-okay with atheist “pastors.” Also Oprah will take you in, but first you gotta convince her that you’ll bring in enough eyeballs to make advertisers happy.)

    I hope Rob Bell will come back to the Bible soon, his situation is a real mess, but for now, he belongs to Oprah.

  • Sorry @beninKC. Jesus ties himself to scripture like none other in Matt 5:17-20. If you follow the Jesus of the Nt he’ll lead you to stand under the word of God not apart from it.

  • It’s our duty to judge those in the church…

    “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” -1 Corinthians 5:12-13

  • “Is he a universalist — essentially, someone who believes that everyone will be saved because a loving God would never condemn anyone to hell — as many claimed? “I have no idea what people mean,” Bell said. “That just seems like stuff church people sit around and think about. Does God love everybody? Yeah.”

    …says the guy with degrees from Wheaton and Fuller?! Bell needs to start owning his theology rather than feigning confusion whenever he is accused of Christian heresy!

  • “God’s Word (which does give certain permission within the realm of judging those in the church which is a whole other conversation).”

    Jesus said no, but hey, we found a way to do it any way, because the bile is without error or contradiction.

  • If Rob Bell came from outside the tradition he does, he could get away with saying “I have no idea what people mean.” When all of his formal higher education has been at Wheaton and Fuller though, that sounds very insincere and cynically evasive. He chose to go to school at those places and applied years to learning what people in those traditions mean. Can’t just turn around and say you haven’t a clue now. Like it or not, he will always be in dialogue with his own past. That’s just a fact of human existence.

  • Karla,

    Just what is a false christian? You either believe in Jesus or you don’t. As for all this bible fodder being thrown around, people should look into the history of the bible and why it was written. Yes, the Bible may have been divinely inspired in it’s writing, but it is still just a collection of stories and analogies, written by people who were influenced by the culture of the time, used to illustrate the teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ teachings were rather simple, but difficult for most people to handle because of their prejudices and ignorance. Jesus never said that anyone was going to burn in hell if they didn’t say or do the proper rituals. The basis of his whole theology was that to follow him, all you had to do was respect everyone and love and treat all people as you would like to be loved and treated. In other words, talk is cheap, and to be a true christian takes action because we are all created in His image and therefore we need to treat every man, woman and child as if they were the embodiment of Jesus. And by the way, the rest of the filler in the bible was written, edited and used by the Roman emperor Constantine to facilitate the conversion of the Roman people to Christianity.

  • I read Bell’s Velvet Elvis when it came out years ago and determined then by his self proclaimed theology that he was anything but a born again Christian. When you have a low esteem of God you always have a high esteem of self. Beware of those who come in sheep’s clothing!

  • Complexities are spread broadly across the entire spectrum of humanity and human beliefs. My belief in the God of christianity and his word is no less complex than your belief in whatever it is you profess (I don’t want to pigeonhole you, not knowing you).

    Your description of what evangelicals are looking for in a leader is overly simplistic and neglects to take into account the complexities that you might want ascribed to “liberals” or “progressives” or “atheists” or whatever other group you might belong to.

    All I’m saying is that our leaders are held up to a standard in much the same way as you’d hold your leaders up to a standard – whatever standard you choose.

  • No. Again, you’re trying to make a huge group of people fit your narrow definition. You’d say we judge too much, but you’re doing the same thing. Fact is, everyone makes judgments.

  • Hi Ben,

    Have you even studied the Bible? I am asking honestly. And from where? Because the context of what Jesus said about judgement was different than the role of church function and those in the church body when it comes to judging. The things Rob Bell is siding on does not line up with God’s Word, plain and simple. And once you study the Bible it becomes even more clear.

  • As someone who has pastored churches for over 20 years, I must say I resonated with what Larry said about what evangelicals are looking for in their leaders. There are pastors out there challenging their members with ideas FAR less controversial than Rob Bell’s, but there is little stomach for it these days. I’ve seen a vast decline in the willingness for people to be challenged. No matter what biblical challenges I’ve offered, at the end of the day, I’ve been judged by how many sermons I’ve preached about “them” and criticized for sermons that get too close to home. “Confirmation, feeling good about themselves, to feel God is on their side.” Provide this well, and you’ll get a raise and a huge congregation.

  • My beliefs are not too complex. Simple even. 🙂

    One can have something infinitely elaborate and complex yet not an inch of depth to it. Some ideas are simple yet cut deep into the core of one’s being.

    The negative comments speak for themselves. They bespeak a fairly simplistic view of belief and anger over not engaging in the behavior one has come to expect of Evangelical Christian leaders. The “standards” Bell is being held to are really nothing more than expectations and essentially a script to follow. They want someone to confirm their beliefs. To tell them they are doing the right thing.

    They attack Bell for departing from their scriptural “comfort zone”. Calling him everything from a huckster to a heretic because they disagree with what amounts to be personal interpretations and expressions of his faith. He isn’t making them feel good enough about themselves as Christians.

    A major character flaw devout religious believers, Christians especially, tend to suffer from is the notion that they must always think of themselves as the foremost authority on their religion and scripture. Too often, “you’re wrong” really amounts to “I disagree with you”. Mistaking fact for opinion.

  • Ben, you’re the first person I’ve read in a long time who quotes a sociology professor for wisdom….as opposed to comic relief.

  • Not at all. What you consider contradicting scripture is merely an opinion of the weight and importance of a given section of the text.

    I would hazard to guess that Bell probably ascribes more importance to Mark 12:31″‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    The contradiction is the text itself, one can either harmonize it by claiming that thy neighbor is only those who accept Jesus, or by saying that being condemned in the eyes of God as you say is the province of God. That it doesn’t absolve one of the duty to love thy neighbor. if you chose to make it so.

    You bring up a key point of my prior comments. You are dissatisfied with Bell because he doesn’t give the answer you are looking for or gives one you do not want. He is not confirming your belief or even how you chose to look at the scripture

    The problem with questions such as yours and many others when it comes to religious belief is the subjective quality of their importance. What some people consider a problem when it comes to religious belief, others ignore, work around or leave as open questions requiring personal exploration. There is far too much, “he’s wrong” and not enough, “your mileage may vary”

  • Larry, I have enough criticisms of modern-day evangelicalism to keep anyone busy for awhile. I just think that Rob Bell is part of the problem, rather than the solution. I think he’s too shallow, too facile, too predictable in his conforming to the Zeitgeist, and exactly the opposite of his bold pose. If he were bold, he would challenge the spirit of the age. If he were truly prophetic, he would manage to get both the church and the outside world annoyed with him. But he doesn’t because he wants acceptance from the larger world, since that’s where the money and the fame lie. If his goal is self-protection, self-preservation, and self-aggrandizement, it fits with every move he has made thus far.

  • You are making excuses for behavior which is plain as day in this article alone. Those narrow definitions as you call them are simply descriptions of fairly common behavior and rhetoric. Much of it fairly obvious here.

    “You’d say we judge too much”

    But I said nothing about judgment. You are arguing something not at issue.

    I would say that you are more comfortable being defensive against those outside your belief than you are in being observant of what transpires within it.

  • It’s an interesting challenge theoretically, Ben, ie evangelicalism having no magisterium. But in practice, as CS Lewis once noted, the real division on Christianity is between two main currents — traditionalist and modernist. This division cuts across communions and denominations. Thus a traditionalist Presbyterian will have a lot more in common with a traditionalist Catholic than either will have with their fellow Presbyterians or Catholics who are modernist. (I mean “modern” in the theological sense, ie in believing that Christianity should be reinterpreted to fit the peculiar, time-bound prejudices of 20th century philosophy.)

  • I have no theology at all. I simply have a low opinion of mistaking subjective belief with factual assertions. “He’s believing it wrong” really amounts to “he’s doing it differently from me”.

    You want to think you are being “Biblical”, when in reality it is just your subjective way to feel good about your beliefs and provide an excuse to attack others who don’t agree. Every Evangelical Christian thinks they have a monopoly on scriptural interpretation. Its nothing but an expression of ego.

    “no evangelical congregation in their right mind would hire you as their pastor”

    Of course!! I am thankful for that!!! I don’t believe in any of that stuff nor can really feign it well enough in public. I am not a big enough liar. 🙂

    As I said before and you have confirmed, they want something where they can feel good about themselves and claim to be “tight with God”. Confirmation and validation. To tell them what they want to hear, that their beliefs are just fine.

  • Then again, maybe God has not been leading Rob Bell. Maybe conforming to the norms of politically correct society is what is leading Rob Bell.

    That pesky old Occam’s Razor rears its head again… going with the most straightforward and economical explanation…..

  • Actually, Larry, calling someone’s theology “rigid” is what makes you feel good. It becomes an excuse for your inability to get theologically grounded people to agree with you. They’re just too…..rigid.

    Of course, you’re not rigid in your thinking. Perish the thought.

  • You consider it a downward spiral, while many many others would consider it an upward spiral of truer spirituality set free from all the man-made dictums that have kept people chained in a state of unconscious obedience to someone who has told them how they should believe in god — and themselves. Been there, done that. From your comments, it’s no wonder you have a hard-and-fast rule by which you judge others’ beliefs — trying to explain the path they are on would be like trying to explain what an orange tastes like to one who has only tasted rice.

  • Thank you, Bec, from bringing some gentle goodness to the fore in this sad, sad discussion. The image I get when I scan most of these comments, comments filled with judgmentalism, fury, sloppy thinking, and self-righteous pablum, the image for me is of Jesus weeping. We live in a world where 3/4 of us are persecuted for the faiths we practice, and where over a billion souls go hungry yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And you spend your time sending Rob Bell to your literal hell!?!? Hey folks, you are creating hell for yourselves right here, right now – and the challenge of faith is being a loving activist to all, including those you disagree with, and including the disinherited of the Earth. It’s all that Jesus asked.

  • Larry, you should realize by now that rummaging through people’s motives for believing something won’t help you refute what they’re believing. Even if you locate motives that are less than noble, that doesn’t take you a single step closer to refuting the content of their convictions.

    Rather than playing amateur shrink, it would be far better to deal directly and honestly with the actual beliefs. You claim you have, but you really have not. If you were up against even a first-year apologetics student at a mediocre seminary, you would find yourself staggering off the stage like a punch-drunk boxer.

    That’s no dig against your intellect…..because I’ve seen you’re not bad when you talk about subjects of which you have actual knowledge. But when it comes to issues of the Bible and textual analysis and criticism, you really can’t bluff your way through. You know as much about this as I do about quantum mechanics or advanced astrophysics.

  • I read the whole article, and I am pretty familiar with Rob Bell’s story. Without going into whatever detail, I believe the following addresses it all:

    A Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is by the Grace of God ALONE through Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

    Now, whatever the Christian observes from the Law is up to him/her AND IS NOT required to be a Christian, AND IS NOT required to be saved. To some, it is even a ‘fall form Grace’ to seek or associate the works of the Law and own merits for redemption.

    Now, whatever good the Christian believer does in general, and not for seeking self-redemption, is but the fruit of Faith by the Power of the Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit baptizes and indwells the Christian believer upon acceptance of/belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

    Jesus Christ’s “Ultimate Sacrifice” is BUT ONE AND FOR ALL.

    There is one thing the Christian believer can pursue, however, that is the rewards that are granted at the “Judgment Seat of Christ.” It is imperative to discern that those rewards are NOT related to Salvation. Salvation is but a “Free Gift,” an “Unmerited Favor.”

  • Not so, Ben….It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand most of the Bible….and the common-sense rule of interpreting is no mystery at all:

    We interpret it in the same way we would interpret any other communication, written or verbal. We interpret it plainly and straightforwardly, with the intent of the communicator(s) first and foremost in mind. Anything less is unethical, because the writers aren’t around to defend themselves if we play cute little games with their words.

  • No, Ben, the simple issue is whether Bell is correctly interpreting the writings of other people who wrote the Bible. Since they’re not around to tell us what they meant, we have an ethical obligation not to twist their meaning to fit our time and its own biases, but to use every tool we have to discern their intent of their words when they wrote them.

  • Bad idea, Randy. If people wish to surrender their anonymity, that’s their choice. But I would not condemn anyone for not doing so. People have a right to protect their identities and their persons from anyone who might be up to no good. It is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Byron, it’s the old tradeoff between truth and love. You seem to be proposing that we throw out any discussion of truth for the sake of love. Both are necessary, and I guess most of us, yourself included, tend to err by stressing one over the other, when we need both.

  • Good point, Shawnie. I have yet to meet a Christian who is happy with the existence of hell. But the difference between Bell and most Christians is that Bell is believing what he wants the Scriptures to say, rather than what they actually do say, about the subject.

    The question most of us have for Bell and others like him is this:

    If you don’t like what’s in Scripture, and believe that your opinions are more compelling, why not be honest, walk away, and be done with it?

  • Rob Bell is where he is in marriage because most of the church still doesn’t get the fact that God defined marriage to be a 3 way street: God, man & woman.

    I came across this new book where the author lays out the strongest argument for traditional marriage that I’ve ever heard.

    The book was “Gospel love, marriage and divorce: legacies of God’s Romance”. Amazon has it, but everybody should stop and listen to what this guy Lamb has to say about marriage.

  • “And by the way, the rest of the filler in the bible was written, edited and used by the Roman emperor Constantine to facilitate the conversion of the Roman people to Christianity.”

    Constantine wrote and edited nothing. The canon of the NT as we know it today was virtually complete by the middle of the second century AD, long before Constantine was ever born.

  • The great challenge is to hold fast to Scripture and to assess those human traditions which are often a direct reflection of God’s own initiative and nature (feasts, festivals, liturgies). God does not love everyone (research the word hate in scripture). He loves those who submit themselves to God’s will. Bell’s videos are powerful and insightful. It’s so sad that Bell has allowed culture to taint his understanding of truth rather than apply truth to culture. As Samuel, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said sadly in the book of Judges … “and each man did what was right IN HIS OWN eyes”

  • Muskokashep, apparently you failed to consider that everything you just wrote has been influenced by the culture of YOUR time.

    As to its content, your summary of the Bible is way too simplistic. It contains dozens of books, written by different people in different places, for different purposes, over a period of at least a millennium. It even includes different kinds of literature and styles of writing– from history and poetry to laws and teachings, from practical letters to philosophy and spiritual wrestling.

    Thus it’s not, as you claim, “just a collection of stories and analogies.”

    Nor was any of the Bible written, as you claim by the Roman emperor Constantine. The entire Old Testament was written long before Jesus was born. AS for the New Testament, the evidence is overwhelming that every book was written in the first century, with even John’s Gospel and Revelation written before the second century. (Hint re John’s Gospel — we have a manuscript fragment of it dated around 110 AD, meaning the original was easily written and circulated at least a decade earlier.

    Constantine wasn’t even born then…..He was a 4rth century Roman emperor.

  • Indeed, Jack. As I’ve said many, many times — we are completely free to repudiate the scriptures, but not to rewrite them.

  • Muskokashep-Read Luke 13 the whole chapter. A Christian is known
    by their fruit/we must follow the Bible/Jesus! If people say they love
    Jesus then still get drunk,are mean,gossip,gamble,sleep around and
    don’t follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in them! Jesus said that many
    will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven/you are one of Mine
    only if you continue in My teaching/follow Me! We must Repent/follow!
    Good works don’t save because many non-believers do good works
    so we must Repent/believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven because only one Repented/had a change of heart about sin.
    Bible says Repent/believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!

  • In this case, it sounds more like a wolf in wolf’s clothing…..but more like the wolf in the ad for the asthma medication who can’t blow the proverbial house down. Such a wolf is more to be pitied than feared.

  • Vic-Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!
    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 his/their sin.
    Read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters. We all must Repent! Jesus
    said you are one of Mine only if continue in My teachings/follow Me! Read
    Luke 13 the whole chapter. We all must bear good fruit and that fruit is of
    Repentance not good works cause non-believers do good works so if the
    people are still mean,gettin drunk,sleeping around/promoting sin that is not
    good fruit and Luke 13 the whole chapter deals with this. We must Repent!

  • “Rigid theology” were Anne’s and Art Deco’s words, not mine. I merely ran with it.

    Jack, you are hardly a complex enigma of motivations and emotions. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why people are reacting the way they do. The reactions and comments speak for themselves. Doc Anthony even confirmed what I was saying, as did you in prior comments. The malice, arrogance and contempt in your reactions is all too obvious.

    “If you were up against even a first-year apologetics student at a mediocre seminary,”

    In what? A contest for who can spin the most creative nonsense to justify their beliefs? I have no doubt the Apologetics and seminarians will win there. Apologetics only go through the motions of rational discussion and thought without actually doing so. Their whole goal is to pretend a level of objectivity which is entirely fictitious. Much like what you and some other commenters have done.

    When it comes to the Bible EVERYONE is bluffing their way through. Its just Evangelical Christians don’t admit that in public.

    “Theologically grounded” “scripturally correct” amounts to nothing more than your opinion and possibly those of another who you seek out for confirmation/validation. The thing about religion, especially one which lacks any kind of unified recognized authority is that there is nothing objective about it. Its all throwing stuff against a wall to see if it sticks. Your ego can’t seem to handle the notion of “your mileage may vary”. If it isn’t your way, it can’t possibly be Christianity.

    You and others want to pretend your beliefs are the only way this stuff is interpreted. 500+ Christian sects and counting tell any honest, rational person that can’t possibly be true.

  • Larry,

    I am a former evangelical, and every time I read smug, self-righteous comments like some of the above, I stay former. Thanks for making sense of it. I wanted you to know you brought peace to my day.

  • What an arrogant response.

    Your first sentence might as well have been “some people disagree.” We know that; this article is about two of those people.

    We’re “chained in a state of unconscious obedience” to Jesus Christ, and not our feelings. He was the one who told us how we “should believe in God—and ourselves.” That “hard and fast rule” by which we judge others is called the Bible.

    The reason we’re unhappy with Rob Bell is because, like joining the Army for exercise, he only takes the parts of Jesus he wants to hear and ignores the difficult things, like “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Your last claim is almost too condescending to be worthy of a response. Forgive us, for we are but ignorant Neanderthals; maybe one day we’ll rise to your level of supreme enlightenment.

  • I’m sure many are reading this article and I dearly hope that we are all reading it with hearts full of grace and love. I know writers often aim to stir controversy but I hope that we all come to topics like this with a desperate hope to see the scriptures made known. Jesus is clear that His deep desire for the church is unity and love for one another. I would love to call the church (which includes myself) to find better ways to disagree with one another so that no-one may every say of church: ‘God can’t be real – look how you speak about each other’.

    There is absolutely space to disagree and wrestle together with the scriptures but never at the expense of unity and love of one another.

  • Larry, the point was that locating motives for opinions is not the same as refuting those opinions. Believing otherwise is a common logical fallacy which you should know by now.

    My point about first-year apologetics students winning a debate with you is that when it comes to issues surrounding the Bible and its veracity, you are ill-informed and aren’t very good at hiding it. But you’re certainly not alone. There are hordes of skeptics drunk with overconfidence who converse mostly with each other and thus find themselves embarrassingly unprepared for a genuine discussion with those who disagree with them.

    “Theologically grounded” refers to people who have taken the time and study to understand what the Bible is actually saying, as one would do with any other book or set of books, including the basic themes and threads running through it. Words have meaning, and writers of words are obviously intending to say something, and so trying to discern the intent of the writers of the Bible is a worthwhile endeavor — and on the whole, a bit easier than my trying to discern the intent of the meanderings of your last post.

    As for the “500+ Christian sects,” nice try, but again, the major contemporary division within Christendom is not among the various groups, but between traditional and modernist interpretations. By modernist I mean attempts to make Christianity fit with 20th century philosophy, rather than let it speak for itself as it has always done. Thus, as noted in a prior post, traditionalists of all stripes, across sects, denominations, and communions, have far more in common with each other on beliefs and practices than they have with modernists sharing the same sect, denomination, or communion.

  • Ben is playing what are called gotcha games with the text. One scripture says one thing, another appears to say something a bit different, and Ben immediately asserts a contradiction.

    Picture having a conversation with someone playing gotcha games with your words. The conversation wouldn’t last very long. It would grind to a halt quickly.

    The normal way to converse is to make good-faith attempts to resolve possible contradictions in the other person’s words rather than seizing upon them and waving them over one’s head like a bloody trophy.

    It’s no different when it comes to written communication. Whenever we see a possible contradiction within a written communication, fair play requires that we try to resolve it before concluding it is unresolvable.

  • Not to mention that He explicitly said that we have to make discerning judgments about those who presume to teach us. When asked by His disciples for instructions for the future, the first thing He told them was “Watch out that no one deceive you.”

  • That’s perfectly fine if that’s what he wants, but it is simply NOT Christianity, and Rob Bell is a deceiver for claiming that it is.

  • sorry but this man has turned to the devil. He needs Jesus. Oprah is the new gospel. why would you follow her she cannot give her eternal life or take away our sins. Only Jesus is the way. Oprah is going to have to answer to Jesus and he will call her on leading others down the wrong path of life.

  • Karla, Tim said he left evangelicism. He did not say he left Jesus or even the church, which has a very wide spectrum of beliefs and traditions. I’ve left evangelicism behind long ago, part of the reason being exactly this type of narrow minded judgemental attitude. But I haven’t left Jesus, or I should say He hasn’t left me.
    You also mentioned that ‘we need to know the Bible’. Its only been comparatively recently that people even had an opportunity to read the Bible and yet there have been multitudes of people grounded in the faith from the beginning. This is because Jesus is the Word of God, and it is He that we need to know.

  • Your only business, if you really were a Christian, would be to love everybody, even your enemies! Doesn’t that ring a bell? 😉 And, btw, stop proof-texting like that because, if you paid attention, you’d notice it’s not exactly what Paul is trying to do in this passage of Corinthians. Jesus and the Spirit try so hard to bring down the walls, to get rid of differences and barriers and you literal readers and proof-texting fundamentalists manage to recreate differences and walls where Jesus has set us free. That’s too bad, really!

  • Annieoly-Amen! In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with
    God and the Word was God then the Word/Jesus Christ became flesh.
    We need to Repent/follow Christ/know Him! Repentance and faith is
    what the Bible teaches. If people still get drunk,sleep around,are mean,
    gossip/don’t change and they say that they know Jesus they lie and
    the Truth is not in them! If people say they love Jesus then they don’t
    follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in them! We must Repent/follow!

  • Geez ya bunch of haters. Oprah has a passion for spiritual advisors of all types. Seems the one’s she enjoy’s most don’t teach division but inclusion. Rob Bell must of touched her profoundly to give him his own show. I saw him thankfully because of Oprah, my sister taped it and Rob Bell was very impressive in his practical and kind advice I saw him give those who came to him with problems. I thought he was great. Keep hating and judging; Rob Bell keep on lovin.

  • The problem with your biblical hermeneutic Larry is that it is completely relativistic, i.e. ‘I take from the gospel what appeals to me.’ The proper response of faith is to understand and interpret Scripture as an organic whole. Thus ‘love thy neighbor’ must be reconciled to Jesus’ teachings about sexual purity and God’s purposes in creation in having made us ‘male and female.’ As the prosperity gospel of the right is a fraud because of its denial of the cross, so is the free love gospel of the left, which denies that Christ and the Apostles ever taught sexual purity among the other virtues such as compassion and faith and prayer as ingredient to the sanctification of the spirit. Christ did not teach that man was the measure of all things, but rather that He Himself was ‘the way, the truth and the life,’ who urged that celibacy was preferable even to the married life, much less sodomy, which He said He would judge harshly in the age to come (Mt 11:15). How can someone like Rob Bell call Jesus Christ the Lord if he openly criticizes Christ’s own commandments? Let him simply affirm openly that he does not believe that Christ is the Lord, but merely a good spiritual teacher, as many modern day liberals have long since done. For as Jesus said, it is the Father in heaven which reveals Christ to the soul as the Son of God, and this revelation becomes the rock of faith (Mt 16:17-18). Without that belief, one is not truly a Christian, i.e. one who believes that Christ is Lord of all creation, which belief is said in the Scriptures to be a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). Faith in Christ has far deeper ontological dimensions than you seem willing to entertain, it is conversion of the soul away from the things of this world, oriented toward an eternal purpose and a heavenly kingdom, not the kingdom of this world, which Scripture teaches is the kingdom of Satan (2 Cor 4:4).

  • Have you read/heard Oprah’s testimony of why she left the Baptist Church when she was about 28?
    She was in Church one Sunday and the pastor quoted a passage of Scripture that made a very exclusive statement. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
    Oprah was dumbfounded at this statement. She said Christ couldn’t possibly be the only way!
    If I understand Bell, I think he would agree with Oprah’s sentiment.
    If you believe that God is leading Rob Bell, tell me how that wouldn’t be a direct contradiction to the passage. If you think I am misusing the passage please enlighten me how I am doing so.
    By the way, although I am human and at times are subject to pride when I am not careful; I also believe that it is only my job to proclaim truth. I must not try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Doing so shows just how far I need to grow in that area.
    I care enough about people to tell them the truth; yet that care is confirmed when I trust the Holy Spirit to take over. After that the best I can do is pray and be there for the person should God lead in that manner.

  • Your love comment is not the issue and makes no sense at all. Just because someone does not agree with you or Rob Bell doesn’t mean they don’t love. Your judging everyone that does not agree with you. How loving is that?

    Hating sin, such as, gay marriage does not mean that homosexuals are hated. I am a Christian and I love homosexuals that’s why I warn them about what the Bible says about their lifestyle. I warn them because I don’t want them to go to hell.

    Your comments about Jesus are proof that you do not know what the Bible says and you definitely have a false idea of who Jesus is and what he taught. Here are some of the things Jesus had to say:

    “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51

    “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against one another, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:49-53)

    We are not free to sin.

    Jesus also had much to say about homosexuality and what would happen to those people who refused to repent of that sin. He said they would go to Hell. So much for Bell’s teaching.

    There’s nothing worse than to misrepresent Jesus and what the Bible actually says.

  • Dear Amandria. Christianity is not inclusive, it’s exclusive. Here are Jesus owns words:

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    John 14:6

    Oprah has stated on her own show that Jesus is not the only way to heaven so who is correct to you Jesus or Oprah. Ron Bell wrote a book denying the truth of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus himself.

    That’s fine if you do not believe in Jesus or what the Bible says. However, the Bible says that Christians are to judge other Christians and that’s what many of the Christians here are doing, rightfully judging Rob Bell.

  • Who told you that Christianity is inclusive. It’s exclusive, you have to believe in Jesus and the Bible. You’re correct, those young Christians who do not like to call themselves Christians don’t believe what Jesus or the Bible says because they don’t agree with it. So they are not Christians.

  • Your comment reflects your apparent hatred of Christianity and your total lack of knowledge of the subject

    Definition of evangelist:

    a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching.

    Rob Bell can no longer be called an evangelist since he no longer believes the teaching of God, Jesus or the Bible. The Bible also teaches us that teachers of the Bible will be held to a higher standard and judged accordingly.

  • Although I have heard this view about Constantine before, I have checked out the information you gave before and found it was a series of half truths.
    However, saying all that it is my experience from debates of this nature that the bottom line is, if you believe those things you and I are too far apart because you look at the Bible as “subjective” and I look at it as “objective”.
    If there is one thing I know about myself, is I usually start out wanting to give God glory in my conversation. Yet, when I am not careful my pride enters in and before I know it glorifying God becomes secondary. That doesn’t prove that you are wrong in yours views. However, I am not as concerned with winning an argument as I am in glorifying the Lord and sharing His love.
    You and I can agree with a few things however, everyone is created in the image of God and therefore we must treat them that way.
    I also agree with you that talk is cheap, we can be absolutely correct in what we believe, but betray what we believe by how we act.
    However, love is not always displayed by words that are inoffensive. In fact if we care and love others what we say is going to cause them to be offended at times. Yet, if they are offended let it be the offense of the Gospel, not me that is offensive.
    Balancing this truth; is easier said than done.

  • To Bec. You love Bell but Christians love Jesus Christ and we will defend him and his word. Bell’s so called God talk is a lie and that’s the point the Christians are trying to make which is fair game because Bell calls himself a Christian and his book is about relates to Christianity.

  • He wrote a book falsifying what the Bible really says. He contradicts Jesus teaching and Christians have a right and will defend Jesus and their faith from heretics and lies.

  • What’s with all these comments like yours that make no sense at all.

    Dear Donovan:

    A true follower of Christ believes in Jesus regardless of our own personal problems with some of his teaching. It is Jesus himself who talks about Hell many times in the Bible and he clearly teaches why and who will go there. Hell and the reasons you go there were not invented by Christians but Jesus/God himself.

    You own words are proof that you have no idea what you are talking about. Your should read the Bible before you comment.

  • Lionel-Yes…do you? Read 1 Corinthians 5/6 the whole chapters and
    Luke 13/whole chapter.Bible says Repent or perish! We must Repent!
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went
    to heaven! Why? Only one guy Repented/had a change of heart
    about his sin. Bible says to Repent or perish! We all must Repent!

  • Dear Muskokashep:

    It’s amazing how you and all these nonchristians, who do not know the Bible, lecture us Christians on what the Bible says. This is a joke.

    Does it make any sense that God would inspire the writing of the Bible and allow errors and human mistakes to dilute his Word to us. You are obviously not a believer and you have no faith that God is powerful enough to make sure his Word to us is perfect without error.
    You are a hypocrite and have made a judgement yourself when you call others ignorant when your own words are proof that you do not know what you are talking about.

    The Bible teaches that:

    All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training
    2 Timothy 3:16

    This totally contradicts what you and many others say how Christians are suppose to act.

    The “judgement” verse in the Bible is the most misunderstood and taken out of context verse in the entire Bible. This is the judgement verse in the Bible:

    When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are … For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. … since you, the judge, practice the very same things. NET Bible Therefore you are without … No matter who you are, if you judge anyone, you have no excuse.
    Romans 2:1

  • After perusing the comments, I believe an unbiased reader would come away with a very low view of the anti-Bell crowd. Their comments are typical of what I experienced for years inside a literalist evangelical church. I have no doubt that they are very loving people on the whole, but my experience is that they tend to check their brains at the door before opening their Bibles. The very notion that their interpretation of scripture could be challenged strikes them with fear and they act out in anger. Do they worship God or the Bible? Do they seek truth, or have their minds already been closed by that particular printed word? Is God so weak and prideful in their minds that He will not tolerate questions or challenges from those who earnestly seek Him? Do they really think they can lure people to God with fear of damnation? I am saddened and disgusted that my experience with evangelicals continues to be so negative.

  • After perusing the comments, I believe an unbiased reader would come away with a very low view of the anti-Bell crowd. Their comments are typical of what I experienced for years inside a literalist evangelical church. I have no doubt that they are very loving people on the whole, but my experience is that they tend to check their brains at the door before opening their Bibles. The very notion that their interpretation of scripture could be challenged strikes them with fear and they act out in anger. Do they worship God or the Bible? Do they seek truth, or have their minds already been closed by that particular printed word? Is God so weak and prideful in their minds that He will not tolerate questions or challenges from those who earnestly seek Him? Do they really think they can lure people to God with fear of damnation? I am saddened and disgusted that my experience with evangelicals continues to be so negative…

  • So thankful that Rob has a bigger platform than ever before to share the good news of Jesus with people who may never even step foot into a church. It’s funny how people keep judging him yet God still continues to give him a bigger and bigger platform. I remember the Pharisees back in the day had a HUGE problem with the message of Jesus because it didn’t fit in their nice little box. Interesting how we haven’t learned our lesson and we do the same thing to the Good News today.

  • Do you feel better calling another person a “mighty heretic”!? How does that make God look any better? How does that make you look any better?

  • So what about the parts of the bible where it says not to eat shellfish, what about the parts where “God” instructed people to go into other villages and murder people including mothers and children, what about the parts where woman were told to we’re head coverings and if they didn’t they were to be shamed? Who about those parts. If we are called to stay true to every word the bible says I am assuming it means to everything right?

  • My problem with Rob Bell is not that he has gone off the reservation. My problem is he seems dumb. His arguments are so schlocky, so off the top of the head, I just can’t take him seriously. His teaming with Oprah is a match made in … I was about to say hell but Bell has assured me it doesn’t exist. So I’ll just say a match made in bubble gum.

  • Well, the thing is the Greek word means “think differently”, “change your mind” and it has no connection to sin whatsoever. What Jesus does is open our eyes to the religious systems of his time and of ours. He is not interested in sin, at least not in the restricted criminal sense you refer to, because his death and resurrection destroyed it. And the way you define sin is a way to found faith on fear and not on love, “repent or you’ll go to hell” sort of thinking. Jesus is not about fear, Jesus is about destroying fear so that we can freely repent, freely change our view of God who is not a schizophrenic, angry, retributive god who is sometimes nice and forgiving, but a loving and only loving God, who loves you and wants what’s best for you always.

  • Hmm. The Bible, especially the New Testament is pretty clear on NOT JUDGING ANYONE. Seriously.
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37) and” Forgive, and you will be forgiven . . . (Matt. 7:1-5).
    Perhaps you are thinking about the instruction to “admonish” :
    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God (Col. 3-16) or
    And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them (1 Thes.5:14)
    . . . speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Eph. 4:14)
    which is always done with tenderness, love and grace:
    . . .and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32)

    But please, don’t confuse that with a command to judge. That never brings change, just anger and conflict.

  • Is it God who gives him a bigger platform to share false theology or is it Satan?? Bell is simply taking a ride on the Oprah train…one that he’ll eventually get off. Though it will probably be way too late.

  • Yeah, exactly–He has come to bring division between those like you who think that God is a merchant, that you have to do things for Him before he gets to love you, and people like me, like Rob Bell, who say what Jesus says–that God has always been ONLY about love, and not about “Do this and then I can love you; if you don’t do this, I hate you!”
    And you say you love gay people–really? So why bother telling them to change what they are. Do you think God asks us to change who we are, because if we don’t he can’t love us? No, he asks us to change the way we see, the way we look at things, at people and at systems–that’s what “repent” is about. And how can you be 100% sure that gay people are going to hell? Does Jesus say so? Is your God the Bible or Jesus? Does Jesus say “I AM the Way” or does he say “The Bible is the way?” You really think that Jesus agrees with everything the Old Testament says? Why would he say things like “You have heard it said… but I say to you…”, if he agreed with everything. Why do you think it took the Church Fathers centuries to decide what was to be kept in the canon and what wasn’t? Why do you think nobody can agree even after 2000 years about what Revelation really means? The problem with people like you is that you are unable to discuss texts because you take them for granted, and you don’t want to ask questions about them because you want only certainty. But all the ministry of Jesus was about questioning the texts. He kept stirring the status quo. And to conclude, do you think Jesus would have given us the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete if everything we need was in Scripture? He said it himself to the disciples–“I can’t tell you everything now because you’re not ready, so I give you the Holy Ghost” and he also said that the disciples would do greater things than Him? Why, do you think? Because the world we live in is changing, because our perspective on the world is changing and God is not against change, far from it. Now, are you?

  • Hmm…I do believe that the Pharisees had a large platform as well. Did God give them that so they could purposefully guide people away from believing in Christ as the ONLY and REAL Messiah. Right now, I see more similarities between Bell and the Pharisees than I do Him and Christ.

  • RDH-Read Luke 13 the whole chapter also 1 Corinthians 5 and 6
    the whole chapters. Preaching the Truth/against sin is not judging!
    Bible says to Repent or perish! We all need to and must Repent!

  • Hey RDH, you might want to read the verses that follow the one you quoted about judging. It might help you out a bit.

  • Lionel-You obviously didn’t read Luke 13 the whole chapter. Read
    all of the Bible not just part of it. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole
    chapters are a great start to read as well. God bless.

  • The blanket way some people condemn judgment in total is absurd and ridiculous.
    Every time we vote we pass judgment on someone.
    Every juror is called to pass judgment
    And I could go on and on
    In fact our whole judicial and elective systems rely on honest and truthful judgments being made.
    But when it comes to religion we like to be our own pope or our own Bible. We are like the Cheshire cat to whom truth means virtually nothing

  • I bet that really told him! It’s fascinating that the ones who are most assured of what is the only right belief are fundamental Christians and fundamental Muslims. For anyone else, insisting that your holy scriptures must be accepted as truth is arrogance of the highest degree, and, yes, as he says in his final statement, your response shows that you just don’t and won’t be able to ever understand another’s personal pilgrimage and relationship to the Creator. Someone like that has been both where you are and has chosen to interact with the Creator from outside your rule book. Arrogance indeed.

  • Jason,
    Could not agree more. It disturbs me a great deal when I consider that Jesus’ very harshest words of outright condemnation were reserved for the religious elite who were convinced they had ‘God’s truth’ boxed up, bundled tight and wrapped with an exclusivity ‘bow’ that resembled absolutely nothing that Jesus spoke of. I am convinced the Institutional Church and modern evangelicalism is as guilty today as were the Pharisees of a previous day.

  • Dave,
    Jesus also repeatedly declared, ‘You have heard is said, BUT I say unto you….’
    He also clearly indicated that he would send another ‘who will guide you in all truth’.

  • Lionel,
    Good point – I am so freaking weary of fundamentalist, out-of-context twisted scripture abuse disguised as ‘clearly stating obvious proof’ by those who want to end conversations with scripture grenades, rather than enlarge conversations with rational, reasonable, adult engagement, dialogue and love-wrapped conversation. I swear, some appear to worship the Bible rather than the God who is revealed therein.
    The harsh judgement practiced by those who claim to be Jesus followers saddens me, and I suspect it saddens him as well.

  • Bree,
    That was particularly well stated. Jesus was never concerned with what the religious elite thought of him, did not find a need to get the religious T’s crossed or the I’s dotted, evidenced most clearly by his constant response to a ‘trap’ question’, with yet another question.

  • Hey nakedpastor,
    Thanks for weighing in and giving this discussion some diversion. Damned if I can figure out why people are so effing cock sure of themselves and take themselves way way to seriously! It is staggering to me the number of evangelical fundamentalists who are certain that their ‘opinions’ are ‘clearly’ supported somewhere in the bible.

  • Jack,

    As you just stated yourself, the books of the Bible were written by different people at different times. Therefore it is by definition a collection of stories, and not a single work by one person. And thank you for correcting me as I made a simple grammatical mistake. The Bible was not written by the emperor Constantine, but it was compiled and put together by him. There are several dozen works by apostles and other religious figures of the time that were not included in the Bible because Constantine either didn’t like the message/content or it did not further his purpose for creating the Bible. If it were not for him converting the Roman Empire, there would be no Bible, but a large collection of individual writings, as you said, from different people at different times. And yes you made another great point. As my interpretation of events is influenced by the culture of my time, so was every book written in the Bible influenced by the culture and traditions of each person who wrote them.

  • Karla,

    You are correct in saying that a Christian is known by their fruits. You cannot be a Christian and go out and get drunk and fight and cheat etc. But once you chose to become a Christian and commit to following the teachings of Jesus and asked that your sins be forgiven, there is no longer any need to continue to repent. And as for the the people doing good works not being saved because they haven’t repented? That is just the stupidest thing I have ever heard. By doing good works, they are doing the work of Jesus whether they belong to a church or christian group with a name and a list if things that they must follow in order to belong or not. You need to be very careful quoting the bible because it contradicts itself constantly and Jesus never said that you must repent to follow me and do good towards your fellow man. You may want to go and do some more research into Luke 13, and find out who is making the statements, who he is talking to and the context in which the conversation is taking place. That is why you can’t just take every passage a face value and why scholars have been studying the bible for hundreds of years. If people claim to be christians and a follower of Jesus, a yet they cannot do the most basic thing that Jesus asked us to do, which is to love everyone as we want to be loved, then they are not the kind of Christian that I want to be. And Jesus made no qualifications on who to love, whether they were Christians, Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic or an atheist, gay or straight we are to love them all, and it is he who decides who is worthy to get into heaven, not us.

  • “The Bible was not written by the emperor Constantine, but it was compiled and put together by him.”

    Still wrong. Constantine compiled nothing. Constantine called the Council of Nicea to decide the question of Arianism, not to compile a Bible. And to decide the Arianism question, the bishiops of Nicea used the NT texts which were universally accepted as scriptural at that time (and for at least 150 years before that, too). The earliest known canon of NT scripture came not from Nicea but from the Muratonian Fragment, dated at about the middle of the 2nd century AD. It is identical to the NT as we know it today except that it does not mention Hebrews, 1 adn 2 Peter, and James. The fragment even tells us WHY other works, some extremely popular among Christians of the time, were not regarded as on par with scripture — because they were written AFTER the times of the apostles.

    The problem, it seems, with all this confusion about Constantine and Nicea is that people have read The DaVinci Code and thought it was history, and have passed that “history” on to others who don’t know any better than to buy it.

  • Christ, in so many ways, was considered a heretic and a blasphemer, and that’s precisely why he was crucified… 😉

  • You’re absolutely right–“Christianity” is exclusive! Because it’s a religion, it’s a system, it is part of Principalities and Powers, it is a country club. But Jesus, the Living Logos of God is not! He is inclusive, God is inclusive, always has been, because every human being on the planet is his/her son/daughter. And through Christ he reconciled us ALL to Himself–2 Corinthians 5:14-19

  • “…and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Mt 16:18) Jesus said to Peter alluding to the church. Well, seemingly the gates of Hades now have overcome Rob Bell – and this is a serious warning. Repentance comes from God and man himself isn’t able to yield it (Rom 7:18). Once you have rejected the gospel there isn’t left any hope for you any longer. These are not my words, this is Hebrews 6:4-8. Without faith however, it is impossible to come to God.

    Repentance is a decision, including a subsequent process of purification and includes setbacks, too. God knows that. But if you do not want get purified there is only one thing left for you: God will take you and cast you into fire (John 15:6).

  • The apostle Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Paul’s words harmonize with those of Jesus, who said in prayer to God: “Your word is truth.” Today, we know that Word as the Holy Bible, and we are wise to check that our beliefs and standards measure up to it.—John 17:17.
    We must be on guard against falsehoods. Concerning professed Christians, Paul wrote: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth.”—2 Timothy 4:3, 4.
    Religious leaders tickle people’s ears by condoning practices that appeal to wrong desires, such as sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and drunkenness. The Bible clearly states that those who approve of such things and those who practice them “will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Romans 1:24-32.

  • Well, maybe it’s both — Rob Bell has gone off the reservation and he also is as dumb as a rock. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  • @Jason

    A Bible scholar you’re not.

    And you’re not likely to become one if you get all your material from atheist sites.

    That’s about as useful as getting medical training from a barber shop.

    Hint: On the shellfish issue, you’re quoting from the Torah, which God gave the Jews at Mt. Sinai. Unless you’re Jewish, it’s a complete non-issue for you.

  • If we are too judge then we can say that Rob Bell and Oprah are true christians, whereas you are merely a religious conservative of the same ilk that had jesus put to death and flew planes into the world trade center. If anyone is going to hell, it is right wing religionists like you. Don’t judge me for judging you, you asked me to, and now you stand judged.

  • Affirming the truth of scripture is the opposite of arrogance. Our claim is not that we have found the truth, or reasoned it out in our own minds, quite the opposite! It has been given to us as a free gift of grace that we do not and cannot possibly deserve. This is the Good News! Salvation has come, and it is a free! I alone could not have found God, but He found me. I am small, and therefore I humble and accepting of truth from God who is big. In contrast, if a person believes so highly in their own mind and their own reason that they find they cannot believe in God or the Bible, that is the true arrogance.

  • No one should judge Rob himself, just what he is preaching…..test it against the Bible. I think you basically hit the nail on the head.

  • Sad.. i went to fuller with Rob.. his heart was to reach out to people but he has gone off the edge to compromise.. seeing himself as an innovator sadly he is just given over to the world and therefore unable to help anyone.. gifted guy.. i pray he returns to Christ.

  • I am so glad I ditched religion. Religiholics are the biggest bunch of nasty, hate filled, self righteousness, judgmental arseholes I have ever had the displeasure in being associated with.

    I couldn’t care less which one you follow, most of the origins are the same.

    Atheists’ perform righteous deeds because it’s the right thing to do not because they is a promise of reward in a made up after life just to help their fellow man no matter of race, creed, colour, sexuality or gender.

    Any book that says beating, raping or killing another human being is ok (despite commandments to the contrary – except rape, that’s not part of the 10) has no right in being considered ‘the good book’. Let’s be honest, they had to re-write the bloody thing to make God less ‘smitey’. In the original he’s quite the angry butt plug!

    I was 12 when I realised it was impossible for the first two sons of Adam to travel to the next town to find wives (err… What town? You’re the 1st burn sons of the 1st human beings). Also, realising you can’t drown fish in a flood. Oh, and birds can fly, they would have been all over that ark… Imagine the mess. Yuk!

    Anyway, fir a bunch of people that preach about loving your fellow man you sure don’t know how to go about it!

  • Every person commenting on here is pathetic. Swindled by religion. Last I checked it was 2014, get out of the Dark Ages, you nuts.

  • Wow, look at all that Christian love for their fellow man. You guys never disappoint. Welcome to the fold, Rob. We’re glad to have you.

  • My background is that of an evangelical missionary who does his best to lead people in my sphere of influence to God’s truth. I believe that believing in Jesus is the only way into Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven. Similar to many immigrant problems in the world today you do not let culturally dissimilar and rebellious people into your country and then expect it to be heaven-like. However, the most important verses in the Bible are those that tell us God is love. Jesus had no problem relating to the drunks and harlots and seemed to prefer that company. Religious people crucified Him. As for eternal hellfire. You make up your own mind. In some places like Mark 9:44 it tells us ‘their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched’. However if you read Revelation chapters 21 and 22 it tells you who has their ‘portion in the lake of fire’ and then in chapter 22 it tells you that those same classes of people are living outside the New Jerusalem on the new earth where there is no curse and where the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. So. Scripture leads me to believe that God is love, His Grace continues eternally, God’s plan is to rehabilitate even those who land in the lake of fire, and you ‘eternal-hell-fire-for-all-those-who-don’t-believe-like-I-do’ promoters are exactly who Jesus talked about when he told the Pharisees they don’t enter into the Kingdom of Heaven themselves and they prevent others from entering as well. Your repugnant interpretation of God as a monster drives many truth seekers away. You misrepresent God’s love and that is a crime.

  • Hi again Karla,

    Sorry if it took me so long to come back to you…
    I just wanted to share a journal I read some time ago. There is an very interesting article about 1 Corinthians 5 and following. It shows how Paul doesn’t really say what most translators want him to say.
    You’ll find it here–
    the article starts page 161 (or 165)
    Enjoy the reading! It’s really thought-provoking!

  • Exactly, perfect answer. I was also intrigued by how ready he was to judge by his own inflexible/eternal standarts.

  • I have never felt so validated in my atheism than after having just read the comments written by Christians in response to this article. Observing how lost, confused, and devisive the majority of your community is would be sad if it weren’t so comical.

  • I actually know Rob Bell from his days where he really wasn’t in the spotlight. He just use to play and speak at different churches in and around the Pasadena area. He spoke at my high school and I use to hang at his apartment in Arcadia with the other kids that grew fond of his good nature and “cool” persona. He was easy to like as a musician and self professed man of God. However as someone who at the time needed to find understanding of the mysterious of the Lord, I found Rob Bell as a hollow voice and bad example of what we should expect from our religious leaders. Rob doesn’t really care about teaching or being a minister of God. Rob Bell is making a name, feasting on the publicity and accelerating his position. He is a poor example and an insincere person. He belongs in Hollywood, it totally suits him.

  • Jesus said that if we love him, we will do what he tells us to do. He tells us to love each other the same way he did. Love is patient and kind and al that those words mean. If we are not patient and kind, we are not loving, not doing what Jesus told us to do, not loving Jesus, not loving God. That’s it!

  • Conservative Christians flew planes into the World Trade Center…?

    You posted that a few months ago. Are you off the drugs yet?

  • What I read in another article says more about him than any assessment here can. Rob said “if your best argument is letters from 2000 years ago then you will run the risk of making the church irrelevant”. So in Robs own words he tells all Christians that using the Bible, the word of God makes you irrelevant. He does not quote the bible more than three times in his new book cause he has invented his own view of God, and the lack of scripture only points to how it does not jive with scripture….this the lack of it. You can love people and tell them the truth. You don’t tell a child that hitting people is ok and that God made them that way. You teach them the truth…..and the people who will not tell the truth and love people, LIKE JESUS DID, are denying God as Peter did. I have been guilty of that, so don’t go preaching about throwing stones. Just understand that a preacher who does not use scripture to back up his sermons probably can’t find any.

  • He is a hireling. There are those who make a career out of “being a pastor”. They see it as any other job they might take. He never knew Jesus and was not called by God to preach the gospel.

    1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

  • you do realize that Christians are just people.people who make mistakes and sin and have many flaws just like everybody else. being a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect. It means that you are forgiven. and Christians are allowed to have opinions that disagree with other Christians.I think it’s pretty lame that you are using the responses of this article to justify your anger against God. the church was never meant to be a club for the Saints,it really is a hospital for sinners, of which I am.

  • It’s so sad about Rob. I would’ve thought his hermeneutics and understanding of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture would have prevented him from committing what seems to me to be scholarly and intellectual suicide if he actually believes what he’s been communicating. The apostle Paul’s warning to the younger Pastor Timothy is relevant to Rob’s situation: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭1-3, 5-8‬ NIV).” Did Rob ever HAVE the faith that Paul “kept?” Only God knows for sure. Yet we can pray for him especially in light of Jesus’ warnings about being deceived and/or deceiving others whether one realizes it or not (Matthew 7:15-23). Rob would do well to remember that God’s Word and God’s thoughts are above his (Isaiah 55:8) and that Jesus calls us to love others enough to share with them what they NEED to hear whether or not it’s what they WANT to hear, in a way that’s convicting but not condemning, firm but gentle, as well as productive and not destructive (truthful yet graceful-like Jesus as mentioned in John 1:14 and seen in John 8:1-11), especially in regard to Jesus mentioning that marriage is between one man and one woman only (Matthew 19:4) and that we can call sin what it is, sin, as it will eventually destroy the sinner if we enable it rather than empower them to break free from it as many have broken free from the deathstyle (word of a former lesbian friend of mine) through refusing to conform to the (politically correct or culturally convenient) ways of this world but being transformed by the renewing of their minds (see Matthew 19:26, 1 Corinthians 6:11, and Romans 12:2 through which many former homosexuals and lesbians and all those who had been trapped in any kind of sin rejoice). I pray for Rob to wake up, caring more about God’s kingdom than his own, and learning what TRUE LOVE (“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” 1 Corinthians 13) is so that he might one day help set people free from the lies of the world through the truth of God’s Word (John 8:32) rather than unlovingly trapping them in the deception of the devil as “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”-if his intentions are actually good (about which I’m not sure). In God’s definition of love, Andy

  • John,

    Grayson shares an important point and he is right. The only thing he doesn’t understand is what’s discussed here is only amongst nominal Christians, not true believers.

    You say:”being a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect. ”

    What does Jesus Christ say?
    Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
    Matthew 5:48 KJV

    You continue:
    “Christians are allowed to have opinions that disagree with other Christians”

    No, true Christians know their opinion does not matter. What matters is the Truth.


    “the church was never meant to be a club for the Saints,it really is a hospital for sinners, of which I am.”

    While The Lord came for sinners, He did not come to leave them that way nor make a club for them.

    Revelation 22:14-15 KJV
    (14) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    (15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

  • Grayson, As I shared with John in his response to you, what you are viewing is false Christianity. Those in it ARE lost, confused and devisive. Do you fare any better? It appears so, being able to see that, but is that good enough? Apparently it’s taking you viewing the lost, confused and devisive to be better convinced of your own position. That doesn’t sound very promising, now does it?

  • This man has the anatomical indications of being homosexual or bi-sexual. I am surprised that no one can see that.

  • I have done many sinful things in my past and at the same time believed in Jesus and called myself a Christian. I came to the web-site by accident while looking for some view on culture. As I read the New Testament in the past and compare to what is being revealed through New Testament Scripture to me as an individual I can breath fully. Jesus loved me so much, a love I could not understand, that He freely gave His life for me. Before He was crucified, He told the disciples to share the gospel of salvation. After many years of hurting as a result of doing what I felt like which truly lead to depression, pain and hurting others, I now am free from all of that. Jesus also said to love and that is everybody, including our enemies and yes pray for them. I do not know where I would be if while I was an enemy of people that I caused pain too if they had not prayed for me. Also, as I continue reading and asking The Holy Spirit to guide me, my prayers now include healing for not only victims of any kind of abuse or neglect, but for the perpetrators as well. I don’t have to have a feeling of love to show love by doing what Jesus said…Love everyone and am I as well as you looking after widows, homeless and orphans? So no matter who you are or what you have done, thought or acted upon the same salvation extends to you as it did to me. My life has never been the same and now I know what it is to have joy in the midst of pain. So to all of you that have posted any comments, Jesus loves you and I pray that you will embrace that love and share it with someone you don’t know, even if they believe differently than you…love covers a multitude of sins.

  • I’m not sure what point Ian Lee is trying to make in quoting John 16:13. It seems to me that he is suggesting that Rob Lee may be the one who will “guide you in all truth.” If so, this shows how someone can take a single verse out of context and support any agenda.
    Here are verses 7-15:

    Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    Jesus said that the one to come will convict the world of “sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Anyone who clearly states that there is no Hell, as Rob Bell has, certainly is not out to do this.

    Jesus also said that the one to come will glorify Him. Again, in his teaching of inclusivity, Bell does not glorify Christ. The one to come that Jesus was referring to is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity.

  • Jesus died on a cross for the sins of the world. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus was the final sacrifice and he frequently talked about being the truth and the light and he also talked frequently about Hell. The bible was written in rather simple language and it has been stated that a 6th grader could understand the words being spoken. Its true that GOD does love the lost but its very clear who will be allowed into heaven and who won’t. God also pointed out the great falling away before the second coming of Christ, detailing the many grievous sins that would multiply in the end times and that also constantly parade before us in the midst of our “Christian” halls of fellowship. Narrow is the path that leadeth unto salvation and there are FEW who find it. I choose to follow Jesus and believe his words and follow him because he first loved me and when I am in error, GOD rebukes me and I repent. I was raised up in the way I should go and now that I am middle aged I have not departed. Knowing HOW to follow GOD is fairly easy, as I said earlier a sixth grader could understand it, its amazing at how many so called “experts” and “theologians” can not.

  • Amen. We should pray for him though, because he’ll take people to hell with him now that he has a massive platform.

  • Your post is hate filled and you do exactly what you condemn Christians for. you put atheists on a pedestal and come across as ‘holier than thou’.

  • you are so sure there is a hell after death! answer this:

    is god evil, that he punishes his creatures with eternal punishment for temporal sins?

    or: is god a loving god? or, is god just?

    is god’s own holiness so important to himself that he eternally torments EVERYONE who does not confess jesus as son of god?

    THE MORAL: when you twist scriptures to conform with your prejudices, you get false conclusions.

    p.s. “JUDGE not by appearances, but JUDGE righteous judgement.” (sound familiar?)

    p.s.s. jesus said, “many who call ‘lord, lord’ will not be saved, but he who does the will of my father will be saved.”

  • how does “word” (logos) get translated as “Son”?

    this is the main reference fundamentalists use to prove jesus preexisted with the father.

    it is nonsense!

    the word “logos” is translated simply, “word”.

  • So true!! You said everything that needed to be said. In the bible it says, friend with the world is an enemy of God. You can not follow what the world is doing and believe God to accept you as you are as a sinner, you must repent and follow Jesus. Which means following his ways, reading your bible daily and praying everyday to keep your relationship with him. People now days are so bonded in their sin and blind cause they are following the world. Wake up people!!!! We are turning into soddam and gamorah! God will judge us and this false prophet and Oprah are leading so many straight to hell….

  • Is Bell “saved” or not? (Titus 2) Let us approach our “principles” with biblical humility, “am I willing to believe I could be wrong about…?” This is how we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. (2nd Peter)

  • RDH,

    But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ESV

  • In John 14:1-3 it says that, I go and prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I am coming back so that where I am there you can be also. So the Chrisitian is asleep until Jesus comes with his return. Only when Christ returns he will be reunited with his people.

  • From what I have seen and read of Mr Bell, he is guided by that rule book…. He just understands it better than many. He (I think) realises the limits of scripture and the need to live by faith now.
    Where he stands now I do not know, but all the previous criticisms I have listened to never matched up to what I heard him say or write.
    Obviously the only clear and true judge is God.
    King David would have received much lambasting today because he saw the Spirit and not the Rule of faith

  • In what way is he a heretic??
    I am not up to date with him, but up to a few years ago nothing he said was heretical, just not mainstream.
    So please list his heresy so I can assess.

    In the past I have watched or read many things by Mr Bell and listened to the outcry and noticed that the outcry was against what was perceived as his point, not his point. People claiming that he misinterpreted the bible misinterpreting him.
    I have never heard him say Hell does not exist, but heard him try to avoid the Middle Ages wrong image of Hell that still prevails.
    His point seems to be that Jesus and the early church did not hold that Western European image of the Fires of Hell. Neither does the Eastern European church hold that view now (I am told).
    If this is all true then Mr Bell is right to try to unwrite a wrong perception.

  • Josephus told a brigand leader during the Jewish rebellion against the Romans to ‘repent and follow me’ when he arrived on the scene to lead the people rebelling in that area.

  • Right judgement is needed. Something many churches struggle with… Very sad but true

  • Judge rightly and carefully. Has he not been married for a long time already?????

  • Larry.

    I agree with your later points. Your first point about not meeting peoples expectations I think should be adjusted to meet other church leaders expectations.


    People out for themselves generally try to
    Fit in.

  • “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭18‬ KJV) It is we who condemn ourselves, not God.

  • It is sad that Rob started well but now he is following doctrines taught by demons and has wondered a way from faith I prayer that the Holy Spirit will convict him of sin because of the coming Judgement 1 Tim 4:1 He has become what Jesus cautioned about wolf in sheep skin trying to deceive if possible the elect. Mathew 7:15. Come back to the fold brother before it is too late and for your information hell is real and one day you will I hope you repent before it happens.

  • In one of his books Rob Bell wrote something like: Jesus spoke and the rest is just commentary. I like this because ever since Acts, Christians (or followers of The Way) have argued and wrestled over the meaning and interpretation of the bible. I note though that when Jesus was explaining his interpretation of the Bible he never needed to resort to abusive or demeaning comments even to his detractors. It is sad to hear how some of you guys speak to each other, cause it really seems like nothing has changed. For me, I can’t see Jesus coming down on the side of cold hearted inflexible people who put their religious beliefs ahead of people. It also says in the bible ‘God is love’. What does that say about our comments and actions that are bereft of love I wonder?

  • Everyone thinks they have the truth and there’s nothing worse for the world than people being close minded about alternate views. You may be all wrong about your views. Its easy to say you should not be open minded (‘because the bible tells you so’), but I’m sure open minded is exactly what you want people fron other faiths to be when you knock on their door to sell your truth claims to them. Very hypocritical!!

  • Concentrating on the last bit where Jesus says go and sin no more is not a complete reading of this passage. If we read the whole passage we see that Jesus refuses to stand in judgement on the woman. He stands with her against the crowd so willing and ready to hate and judge. He challenges them and in the end refuses to stand in judgement on the woman. ” “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    Jesus loves and stands up for the week and those unable to defend themselves.

  • It is SAD to hear how so many “Christians” argue more for their belief systems and interpretations than for the actual PERSON of Christ. It is as if there is a war over a brand rather than a common desire to see all people come to experience and know the life of God. I myself did not come to know Christ through theology ( the study OF AND ABOUT God), but through the very pursuit of His heart and looking for HIM when I read the scriptures and not myself. Its such selfie-christianity to instinctively look for ourselves in the photograph without first reading the scripture through the filter of who Christ is. He said himself that all of the scriptures testify about HIM – not about US. IF we are truly seeking first the Kingdom of God instead of chasing moral values and codes of conduct and rules for man, then it is no wonder that we totally miss Him. It is such a shame that our self-centeredness has blocked so many from even attempting to seek Jesus the CHRIST- THE LIVING way

  • Yes. The picture shows it all. He has, like so many others, set himself up, or been set up, as an idol.

    Catholics have the pope, evangelicals/pentecostals/reformed have preachers. The more eloquent and entertaining the better.


    John the baptist–But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts

    Moses–And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue

    Would either of these two get a look in today? Who would listen to them preach?

  • An excellent article! Very informative. I wish the comments allowed up and down votes! I like to encourage people who say wise, helpful, or insightful things.

  • Actually, Jesus had problems with the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They would expound on scripture instead of adhering to the sound doctrine of scripture. God’s word is clear, we are not to preach another gospel which Bell and many from the emergent church are doing. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what He means.

  • Congrats to Katie Ledecky but might I ask why it has to be about a Catholic faith, rather than over all faith in the Lord Jesus Christ “if” we are in fact worshipping and serving “the same Savior”? I ask because after all these years I still Don’t’get it’, and some friends who’ve come out of the Catholic faith said that Christians are bein deceived by ALL things Catholic. Well, when I did my research I found out those whom the Lord brought out of that system ARE correct. Now when will the rest of the world (mainly Christians) wake up to this fact as well??? God help them to do it SOON. Thanks for letting me write to you and God Bless.

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