02 October 2009

"Performance Artist"

by Phil Johnson

ee, this kind of stuff is why I keep saying the historic meaning of the word evangelical will probably never be recovered. (You might want to read The Boston Globe's religion section and then come back here. The rest of this post will be more relevant if you have the full context.)

I do agree with Rob Bell about one thing. (Quick. Somebody wash my mouth out with soap. Please.) He's <cough>right</cough> when he points out that the way the secular media usually employ the term evangelical—as a synonym for religious right-wing politicos—is a misnomer. Bell says, "For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context."

Well, yeah, OK. I suppose that's part of the problem. More precisely, the term evangelical has been systematically evacuated of any reference to its historic doctrinal roots. People today therefore feel free to assign it any meaning they fancy—religious or non-religious. Practically everyone in the world of popular religion now claims to be "evangelical" in one sense or another. That includes not only old-line Moral Majority types who think the Republican Party agenda is gospel truth; hip middle-class Willow Creekers who couldn't care less about either doctrine or politics but just want to be entertained; crypto-Socinians like Bell and McLaren; crass socialists like Jim Wallis and Sojourners; heavily politicized left-wing wingnuts who think Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Al Franken are all good medicine—or whatever.

In fact, listen to Bell's own cockamamie claim about what the term properly describes: "I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That's a beautiful sort of thing."

So is that what Bell considers "a spiritual context," or did he already forget what he had just been saying about how the term became politicized and corrupted in the first place? Hmmm.

An interviewer at The Boston Globe evidently wondered the same thing. He tells Bell, "I'm struck by the fact that I don't hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you."

Bell's answers to that question and others in a similar vein are instructive. Among other things, he admits, "I have as much in common with the performance artist, the standup comedian, the screenwriter, as I do with the theologian. I'm in an odd world where I make things and share them with people."

One thing is clear: Bell himself is no true evangelical in any historic sense of the term. The Boston Globe's headline ("Bell aims to restore true meaning of 'evangelical'") is exactly backward. Bell has no agenda to "restore the true meaning" of the term evangelical, much less encourage a revival of true evangelical belief. In fact, Bell has made a career of attacking historic evangelical convictions—laying siege to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God against sin, the authority and perspicuity of Scripture, the necessity of the virgin birth, the coherence of the biblical testimony about the Resurrection, the exclusivity of Christ, and whatever other historic Christian doctrines Bell finds politically incorrect.

In fact, if you have the stomach to read the complete version of The Boston Globe interview, don't miss Bell's arrogant skepticism about the sovereignty and omniscience of God: "For a lot of people, dominant questions center around, 'Why is this happening? Why me? Why now?' Unfortunately, the religious voice often enters into the discussion at an inappropriate time—'God just planned this.' Really? Your God planned this, not mine."

If any popular figure "in the evangelical movement" (or on its copious fringe) deserves the label "heretic," it is Rob Bell. The guardians of evangelical politeness don't like that kind of candor, but when a secular newspaper like The Boston Globe is publishing pieces implying that the best, most promising alternative to right-wing civil religion is a mish-mash of Open Theism and performance art—and that whatever "evangelicalism" is, it must be one or the other of those two abominations, it's time for people with historic evangelical convictions to speak up clearly and make the biblical message heard again.

Phil's signature


Bruce Mills said...

Thanks, Phil, for calling Bell what he is--a heretic. He is most certainly one of the savage wolves that Paul warned about in Acts 20:29.

Reformation said...

Most outstanding. "Hit em' hard, fast and often." (ADM Bull Halsey, WW2, PACFLT Commander, USN)

Anonymous said...

I agree fully with you Phil.

Recently we had a group of Michigan students come to work in our Homeland Missions ministry that were big Bell fans. I printed stuff out from his writings and work without a name and brought it into class on Wednesday night. My goal was to present popular, but nameless 'Christian' teachers own words so that we could discern the content of their message FIRST, without knowing who it was. I would then, after the biblical critique, give them the person, source/reference.

These young men were in amazement after properly critiquing a horrendous view of hell and punishment , to find out that it was indeed Bell.

He is leading many astray. I pray for his repentance and for other pastors to teach their flocks to discern through the insane maze of false teachers that lurk at every turn.

DJP said...

Eesh. Strong stomach also required for the Comments section on the full article.

Every time I hear these people string two sentences together, I marvel at the unconscious self-parody. Do these comments come from coin-operated cliché generators? Hokey smokes.

lawrence said...

What's incredible to me is that if Bell came into my philosophy classes at Central Florida (not exactly a school known for it's high standards of thought) and opined in as jargled, self-defeating and unstructured a way as he does in that article, he would get laughed out of the classroom.

Reading that makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a fork.

Jon said...

Exactly what I thought about the comments section too Dan. My mouth needs to be duct-taped shut when reading articles like this. I usually have to laugh out loud or I'll get to the point of actually wanting to hit something really hard.

My question for people like Bell and his "followers" is if they're right, then what are they all concerned about when it comes to us more conservative "God in a box" Christians? When we die and go to Heaven we're just gonna face-palm ourselves and wonder why we were so rigid in our understanding of God and Jesus. But if they are wrong, then it's not going to be a happy ending when they meet their Maker.

The whole philosophy of their Christianity sounds to me like, "...they suppress the truth in unrighteousness..."

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Some time ago, I forget how long, perhaps a year go, I was asked by an old friend what I thought of Rob Bell. My old friend has been an evangelical missionary to college students for most of his life, and suffers from a acute case of post fundamentalist syndrome, his parents were fundamentalist missionaries to Japan.

Anyway, having grownup in the far left wing of evangelicalism, I don't suffer from post fundamentalist syndrome since I was never part of that culture to begin with.

To make a long story short, I told my friend I don't even give people like Rob Bell the time it takes to find out what they are about. Life too short to always be checking out the latest reincarnation of Bishop James Albert Pike.

Anyway, my old friend and I came to blows over Mark Driscoll, not Rob Bell. I told him I couldn't see how blasphemy could ever be explained away as it has been by the defenders of the guy ballard.

My old friend told me he didn't want to hear any more criticism of Driscoll, and if was what I wanted to talk about he was not interested in talking. I told, so be it. And that was the end of the conversation.

I had been watching my old friend drift for years further and further into the left wing of the evangelical movement, he started a decade or two back sending me quotes from the president of Fuller. I kept telling him that Fuller was down the tube in 1962 or there about, after black Saturday, when Fuller Jr. came back from his study in europe under Karl Barth.

I am not really seperationist by temperament. I have no problem talking to left wing people, most of my old friends were far left, Marx and Jesus, nutty stuff like that. I talk to them about other stuff. But when someone else draws a line in the sand and tells me if you keep criticizing my hero, be it Rob Bell or Mark Driscoll, the our friendship is over. If someone draws that line, I will step over it.

donsands said...

"..or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity?"-Rob Bell

This guy is in trouble.

The angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner repents after hearing the Gospel, which is the only power to save his soul.

"We shall never have apostolic missions till this apostolic hope claims again its rightful place. Daily dying — so that in the body one bears the marks of the Lord Jesus — will be easy only to him who feels redemption drawing nigh, and who follows the Son of man in His humiliation, as one who is to sit with Him on the throne of His glory.

His expected appearing is His saints' avenging and rewarding. ... Then, however dark and dismal the failure of mission work, faithfulness and not success will be the standard and measure of reward. ..." Hudson Taylor

Lukecp said...

Amen! Thank you very much for your decision to call it as it is. I agree, evangelicals with even a hint of our historic past and theological convictions need to speak up. keep it up.

trogdor said...

Most people who claim to be Christians, and especially those who claim to be pastors, would be utterly terrified and ashamed to have someone say to them, "I don’t hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you". Rob Bell treats it as a badge of honor.

wordsmith said...

I kind of hope Bell keeps on saying stuff like that. The more he bloviates, the more the sheep's clothing continues to slip off.

Pierre Saikaley said...

"it's time for people with historic evangelical convictions to speak up clearly and make the biblical message heard again."

Yes, it is...namely to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching". 2 Timothy 4:2-3

The "time" Paul predicted would come IS here.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Is it just me, or does it seem that the Preciousness-meter is redlining whenever Bell or his ilk spout this dreck of pseudo-profundity? Why is it that his defenders seem so shrill?

Maybe we just don't understand: He's so sincere when he says it.

A couple of things struck me when I read both your and Jared Wilson's salient comments.

First, Boy, Bell must hate the Republicans in general and is embarrassed by the Conservative Evangelicals in general. Don't get me wrong: I think that the Evangelicals (whatever that means nowadays) made a dreadful mistake when they largely abandoned preaching the Word and instead operated as a quasi-Caucus. I think it was Cal Thomas who suggested that the church sold their birthright for a political bowl of lentils. No matter. Bell can hardly conceal his disdain for the Republicans and his despair at the results.

Next, it comes across that Romans 1:16 isn't applicable to Bell. Somehow the unbelievers, via penumbras and emanations will intuit the Gospel that's not preached, and will realize that they're sinners in need of a savior.

I've been struck by how the Po-mo moralism is simply the other side of the coin from the oldtime Fundy's legalism. In One case, these are things that you must or should , while in the latter case, there's a litany of things that you can't or shouldn't do. In neither case is it the Gospel.

Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Evangelical refers to the euangelion--the Gospel. Now what's the Gospel? Social reform? Environmentalism? Public morality?

None of the above. It is the Good News that though we were lost in sin, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man, took on Himself the whole penalty and guilt of our sin that we could have eternal life.

That is the Gospel, what the New Testament is about. All else is incidental. It is what Martin Luther called "the chief article of the Reformation" (Smalcald Articles II.I).

If that is what you are about, you are evangelical; if it is not, you are not. There have been men who strayed on one or another point yet remained great evangelical scholars--Hengel and Stuhlmacher come to mind.

It's pretty sad when the Pope knows evangelical theology (even if he doesn't subscribe to it) better than many who call themselves evangelical. As he said back before he became Pope. "If the Lutherans do not take their confessions seriously, why should we do so? But then there is the Missouri Synod!"

Gilbert said...

Interesting. The first time he visited Willow Creek what must have been nearly a decade ago, he used a lot of Old Testament background and pictures of various sites proving his points. I thought it was good, but one of my friends there said something just wasn't quite right, but he couldn't figure out what it was.

The second time, his presentation was more mundane, but the third was actually good. His sermon, entitled "between the trees", I thought, was a solid exegesis of Scripture. I was a volunteer video director at the time there, and the video of his second time there and my video work on bith those sermons is now displayed on many "watchblogger" sites in utter disdain. I cringe when I see those videos, and what has happened to Rob, and how far off the cliff he's gone.

One of my friends, well versed in Scripture, better than me...couldn't pinpoint what he thought was wrong when he first came to Willow. He just knew something was not quite right. Others thought his sermons were solid, but we all know the truth now. I pray that Rob would repent and turn back to the TRUE Gospel, of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

I'll probably catch flack by saying it, but I'm not angry at Rob these days for spreading heresy, though I probably should be...I'm sad, that he would turn his back on the one true God like he did, and spread a false gospel to people who don't have the Spirit, or wisdom to discern the false teaching. I've seen his passion horribly misdirected, and putting himself and his hearers in a very dangerous place. I say it again: I pray for nothing more that Rob would repent, and turn (back?) to the true, one and only, saving Gospel.

Rachael Starke said...

I've read very little of Rob Bell and have never seen a picture of him. So when I saw that picture as the first thing in my RSS feed, I just thought -

"Oh Good Grief. What has Sinead O'Connor gone and done now."

Rachael Starke said...

And here in the Bay Area, where labelling yourself an evangelical does nothing but "out" you as an anti-gay marrriage "bigot", I abandoned that moniker years ago. I'm a Christian - a follower of Jesus. (That still gets me labelled a bigot, but as long as they know it's because I love Jesus, I'm fine with that.)

FX Turk said...


Phil's back.

Of course, this has been a big week for Phil's pet projects on the blog. The Bell article is out there and Tony Jones was off sneering at people who think God's demands on our sexuality are or the same seriousness as God's demands on our compassion.

I'm just glad I didn't have to blog again today.

Sir Brass said...

Gilbert, bless you! You're a far better man than I am. You stand for truth, but you still have a broken heartedness for those in rebellion. Me, he just gets me ticked off and angry, and when some of my friends who are his fans see it, it doesn't help things.

Phil, question (anyone else who knows the answer though, this is directed to you as well). I had to look up socinianism again, but I have to ask what you mean by crypto-socinian and how does Bell fit that bill. I'm just not familiar with the term is all. Thanks :).

James Scott Bell said...

Almost as disturbing is the Pulitzer Prize winnning Boston Globe religion writer not displaying any knowledge of historic evangelicalism, or caring to question Bell about it. Happy to see the ongoing growth of journalistic standards in our country's great newspapers.

Kim said...

But, but, but... he's so hip looking... isn't that what counts?

I found is reference to bringing in "piles" of dirt rather interesting.

FX Turk said...

FWIW: the clown graphic? Awesome.

donsands said...

"The more he bloviates, the more the sheep's clothing continues to slip off." wordsmith

You would think so, and hope so. I suppose it may set some free from his false teaching, but the greater portion of those who enjoy his way with words will simply follow him further and futher away from the Holy Truth of our Lord, which is the Word of God; the Holy Scriptures.

gospeldiet said...

I work in d'town Dallas and drive by the Nokia theatre where Bell is coming in November. For a while it was "Rob Bell - Nov 14"..."Curious George - Nov 18". I thought he would be moving on but I guess he was sticking around to do that show as well?

Aaron said...

I only read the first three questions I didnt realize there was more the ovatures to Open Theism are down right scarey all though I think he did have a good point about how sometimes being "relgious" can stop you from really dealing withanything negitive and it ends up just devolving into fatalism but that's how I took it.

John said...

John MacArthur painted an accurate picture of what is happening throughout Christianity today in his excellent book, "The Gospel According to Jesus"...

"The cheap grace and easy faith of a distorted gospel are ruining the purity of the church. The softening of the New Testament message has brought with it a putrefying inclusivism that in effect sees almost any kind of positive response to Jesus as tantamount to saving faith. Christians today are likely to accept anything other than utter rejection as authentic faith in Christ. Modern-day evangelicalism has developed a large and conspicuous fringe, embracing even those whose doctrine is suspect or whose behavior indicates a heart in rebellion against the things of God."

Whenever someone points out the blatant heresy of Rob Bell, his followers are quick to say, "But look at all the good he is doing and how many people are coming to church because of him."

Just because something appears to "work" does not necessarily make it true or right.

2 Timothy 4:3 indeed.


Larry Mayo said...

Right on Bro. Phil - I appreciate your post. Charles Mayo

SJ Austin said...

I'm not going to wade into the heretic/not a heretic waters. But evangelicalism has an astonishingly strong heritage of social justice, which is one of many truths obscured by the careless conflation of evangelicalism with fundamentalism. So I'm happy Rob Bell points that out.

Check out Donald Dayton's Discovering an Evangelical Heritage for more info.

DJP said...

"Happy" if Bell advocates robbing Peter to subsidize Bob, while shrugging off the issue of whether or not Bell's preaching a Dyspel that will send both him and them to Hell under God's wrath?

Screwy Priorities Alert.

Hayden said...

I just received a mailer from one of the local churches in our area promoting an event called the "U2charist". (google it if you must know)

Seems to me that stuff like this cannot be parodied anymore because literally they have 'become the parody'.

Phil, your PoMo posters are going to be their banners :--)

Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
puritanicoal said...

Re: "Discovering an Evangelical Heritage"

SJ, I suspect you wouldn't want to "wade into the waters of heretic/not a heretic" regarding Charles Finney either.

SJ Austin said...

I only meant to point out that he's not 100% wrong. If he were, this would be as easy as you're making it sound.

We absolutely cannot call ourselves the people of God or followers of the Bible or "messengers" (evangelists) of Jesus and ignore social justice. There is so much scripture to back this up it's ridiculous. Yet we evangelicals routinely do ignore justice.

If you want to call Rob Bell a heretic, that's your business. But every heretic in church history was right about something, which is why this is such a sticky business—the old bit about the baby and the bath water applies.

DJP said...

"He may have been a [insert heinous crime here]... but he had a lovely singing voice, and he was nice to his mother!"

SJ Austin said...

Puritanicoal: Yeah, let's not get started on Finney. :)

SJ Austin said...

DJP: I think you're missing my point. But you probably think I'm missing yours, and fair enough, so maybe we should call it a day.

Wamalo said...

Jer 2:13: "My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

DJP said...

...so maybe we should call it a day

You mean I can go to bed already!




puritanicoal said...

SJ, what areas of social justice are evangelicals ignoring today?

John said...

Heretics are seldom 100% wrong.

Anonymous said...

Genuine Question for Y'all:

How much influence is Rob Bell having today?

And, thank you Phil, for having the courage to use the word heretic.

Anonymous said...

What does Paul say about heretics not being 100% correct?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

Apparently he neither grades on a curve nor gives bonus points for getting some things correct.

Apparently demons don't get bonus points either: You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (James 2:19)

Nash Equilibrium said...

We absolutely cannot call ourselves the people of God or followers of the Bible or "messengers" (evangelists) of Jesus and ignore social justice.

So, you're in favor of stopping the taking of one person's earnings (through taxes) and giving it to those who didn't earn it, right? And in favor of sending violent criminals to jail or execution too, correct? These are justice. So you're in favor of them, I'm sure. Glad to hear it!

Nash Equilibrium said...

We left a church where we (and others) couldn't shake the feeling that something had changed and was terribly wrong, but we couldn't put our finger on what it was. After we left, we found out that the pastor was studying Bell because he was so good at bringing in the youth numbers.
Bell's influence is hard to detect, except on a very gut-level, for some reason. Most people there never have detected it, even still.

kpnitrl42 said...

While I don't agree with Rob Bell either, this review does nothing to help me believe that Phil Johnson is closely following the Bible either. Open, honest, and constructive critique is essential for growth and the development of wisdom, but lambasting and degradation (not to mention the photo-shopped picture) aren't good for any parties involved. We must be careful to not think of ourselves too highly lest we find ourselves in the same boat as those we are criticizing. I am all for open critiquing, but taking a shot for the sake of taking a shot doesn't help anyone.

Scottj said...

Is there a statistic somewhere that backs up the notion that "we evangelicals" (an ever-so-slippery concept, it appears) are IGNORING issues of social justice? Just wondering.

A further wonderment is this: is it possible that some evangelicals, in taking the Bible seriously, simply do not allow the idea of "social justice" to be framed by those who do not believe the Bible? I don't think socialists, liberals, et al, take social justice and social issues seriously enough.

DJP said...

Scott, perhaps it's that the Gospel compels us to give priority to Divine justice, and that isn't so trendy among the groups by which some yearn to be admired and accepted.

Hayden said...

Social justice = a cool buzzword that really makes me look like I am humble and care for people.

Most people that I have talked with do not really understand what this means when they use this term.

For all who use this term, what texts are you referring to that speak to social justice??

Kevin DeYoung put it this way in his book (and Ted Kluck's) "Why I Love the Church"

But there are dangers for the social justice crowd too. Most of their causes demand nothing of us as Christians except psychological guilt and advocacy... The problems are almost always far away and the solutions involve other people getting involved... but let's make sure as Christians that our missional concerns go farther than those shared by Brangelina and the United Way. (pgs 44-45)

rogER said...

@ kpnitrl42:
Thanks for this post. I don't know why so much time and energy is put into degrading one person, or anyone for that matter. It's no wonder that non-Christians look at us and want nothing to do with our God.
@ all:
I'm finding it both kind of intreguing and sad that there is so much faith being put in that Boston Globe interview, and media in general. Rob has already announced that half of what he said in the interview was omitted from the article. I believe that most of the haters out there have formed opinions based on misinformation and misquotes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I live in this "New Jerusalem"/"Bible belt", and have friends who attend Mars Hill.

I have been reflecting upon “the fear of the Lord”, and how I sense a void when the majestic becomes common. The world loved Diana, but something was missing.

When fear of the Lord is absent, man calls the shots. We have, e.g. in the name of "evangelical christianity” the Word of God becoming a human product (to be made sport of) and no longer a "product of divine fiat", Jesus with a biological father, and observation of the Ramadan fast - to name a few.

God’s ways are certainly not man’s ways. We need to know God in His Word, to know what pleases Him and what He abhors.

Anonymous said...

Very, very good. And greatly needed. Thanks.

Jon said...

rogER: Ummm... yeah... keep telling yourself that. It makes the heresy go down much better.

Unknown said...

I'm sure it's nice to have a lot of people agree with you but I disagree. I think Rob Bell is a credit to evangelists. I've attended his seminars and read his books and found that pretty much all he talks about is Jesus. With every communication he grasps at something that is understandable and definable by human standards and points it back to its origin which is Christ. I am astonished and angered that anyone would become so outrageously opposed to someone who preaches the Gospel in a way that you don't agree with. Paul himself said that he did not care that someone else was out preaching the Good News because the Gospel was preached. In every instance, on every occasion of hearing Rob Bell speak it has always lead to a deeper understanding of who Christ is and what He is doing here and now in our lives.
Delete this comment if you like but just know that there is someone who disagrees with your generalizations and misguided opinions.

Matt said...

"I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That's a beautiful sort of thing."

Wow! With that definition, Richard Dawkins is an evangelical. Someone better tell him.
Thanks for the post Phil. Keep calling them out. Somebody with a far-reaching voice needs to for the glory of Christ and His bride.

rogER said...

@ Jon:
Keep telling myself what?

@ Mark:
VERY well put!

Nash Equilibrium said...

roGER: 1) Phil is using a real-life person / celebrity as a teaching example of what we need to be cautious of. Deception such as what Bell teaches is, well... deceptive. That is, it needs to be illustrated, pointing out what is wrong with the message, lest some be sucked into it. The person teaching the false message is a sideline. Phil could have said "Rob Bell teaches heretical ideas," and you would have felt no better, right? So how do you propose we point out Biblical truth from error?
2) I don't think everyone is as turned off by the contrasting of sound teachers vs. unsound teachers, as you suppose, unless they've been siphoned off into the whole pomo "we should never criticize anyone for doing anything" schtick. And no real person runs their life consistent with that schtick, anyway - not even you.
3) "Haters"? Dude, there aren't enough analysts' couches in this land to unpack all the presuppositions you've just revealed floating around in your head. It isn't "hating" people to tell them the truth, and warn them of error that can send them to Hell. Quite the contrary actually.

wolf said...

Right on, brother. Preach it in season and out of season. Rob Bell is one example of why the Boston Globe may be going out of business, too!

John said...

Rob Bell is a heretic. Thanks for putting it so plain and simple. The sad thing is that people need to be told this. In a completely objective historical theology sort of way, this is a non-question. Rob's heresy is fact. But apart from that, come on. What kind of fruit-loop would actualy take this guy seriously? He looks like a muppet, and by golly he sounds like one. Not to totaly eschew Christian charity, but good grief.

Anonymous said...


Have you read any of Bell's books - e.g. Velvet Elvis? The flippant games that he plays are dangerous.

I personally know those who were charter members of Mars Hill and had to leave because Bell's course is that which is in opposition of orthodox Christianity.

Nash Equilibrium said...

The Latter Day Saints also talk about Jesus - so do the Jehovah's Witnesses. The question is, is what they are saying about Him accurate and Biblical? Or does it only sound accurate and Biblical?

It's not that he isn't good at what he does, it's that what he does, isn't good.

Mike Riccardi said...

It's no wonder that non-Christians look at us and want nothing to do with our God.

You mean because 1 Corinthians tells us that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually appraised?

Yeah. No wonder.

I'm finding it both kind of intreguing and sad that there is so much faith being put in that Boston Globe interview, and media in general. Rob has already announced that half of what he said in the interview was omitted from the article. I believe that most of the haters out there have formed opinions based on misinformation and misquotes.

Did he say what was written or not:

I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook.

No Evangel in evangelical, there, man. If he didn't say that, and the Boston Globe is just flat out lying, then I suppose we'd all retract our comments on that quote. If he said it, no matter how it was 'spun,' if he said it, then the criticism stands, and is justified.

D J E and M Huber said...

Of course, there is this from Bell's twitter stream just before this interview came out... and remember, it's a sound bite from a secular media that has no clue about theology in general.

@realrobbell: "Ever done an interview and then read it and realized they left out most of what you said? Maddening."


Obviously he was not impressed with the printed result. So, maybe there is more to this story than you would like to imagine.

But, of course, casting stones is your thing at this blog. So have at 'im. Be wry. Post clown pictures. Let your mouth (and typing fingers) make you unclean. I'm sure that the rest of the world will love to watch yet another useless battle between Christians.

Matt. 15:
"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"

Mike Riccardi said...

between Christians.

Matt. 15:"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them

Oh, the irony.

Anonymous said...

D J E and M Huber:
Do you have any idea what slander means?

Nash Equilibrium said...

WHY are the Bell-defenders acting as though, apart from the recent Globe interview, there have been no other writings or interviews by Bell?
I remember another interview from years ago where he said that the Bible is a man-made book. Just an example of the type of thing he says that denigrates belief in what the Bible says so that the hearer is more inclined to believe what Rob says; and this was said when he was swimming closer to shore than he now is.
There is a long, long record of Rob Bell saying things that the Bible doesn't support, most of it predictably in-line with current thinking from the political left. So please stop pretending that the Globe interview, redacted as it may have been, is the only thing that Phil has to stand on.

Unknown said...

"I consider myself a photosynthetic if, by that, you mean someone who breathes on a regular basis and likes coffee."

Yup, them's some killer qualifications right there. You betcha. Isn't it obvious? Mr. Bell is from the bizarro universe. Everything he says is exactly the opposite of truth.

"I believe in God if, by that, you mean a chap just like me who makes it up as he goes along."

Perhaps the ex-Coral Ridgers will hire Bell as their new pastor. Or would it spell the end of the universe when matter and anti-matter collide in Florida?

Anonymous said...

@ D J E and M Huber, rogER, Mark French, kpnitrl42

As you don't seem to approve of Phil Johnson's methods, how would you suggest those who teach heresy and lead people astray be addressed?

Anonymous said...

A response anchored in Scripture would be appreciated.

D J E and M Huber said...

Yes, I do. But, for the fun of it, let's consult a dictionary.


Main Entry: slan·der
Pronunciation: \ˈslan-dər\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): slan·dered; slan·der·ing \-d(ə-)riŋ\
Date: 13th century
: to utter slander against : defame
synonyms, see malign

Basically, much of what goes on at this blog in general. And, specifically, it's what has gone on in this Bell article.

The occasional time that I come here (mainly if linked by someone else... definitely not on my RSS feed), slander is about 75% of what I see.

That's unfortunate, because many of the issues that are raised are important issues. And the author(s) seem(s) to have the Biblical knowledge and intelligence to deal with those issues well.

Unfortunately, he/they instead choose(s) to speak and act with nothing but crass ridicule. Too bad, because a gentle approach - without venom and clown faces - would probably accomplish so much more and, if nothing else, would be a witness to the world that even when Christians disagree, they can do so in love.

I would love to come here to learn and to discuss, because the general idea of a site like this is a good one. But, because of the approach taken here, whenever I do show up, I just leave with the bad taste of ungraciousness in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

@ D J E and M Huber

I suppose it depends on how you define "Christian".

D J E and M Huber said...

Everydaymommy: There are plenty of examples on the web of folks who do that with grace. Mohler, Carson and Piper are three prominent ones.

With folks like those, I may not agree in every instance with what they say, but I can respect them because of the grace and love with which the approach an issue.

When I stumble here (or, very rarely, to a few other similar blogs), I may agree 100% with what is being said, but I completely disrespect the worldly manner in which it is said.

If, for instance, you were to step over to Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog, you'll find that he has a couple of posts up on this same issue. And, you'll also find that he has an issue with Bell's definition as printed in the newspaper. But his approach is one of love and gentleness. No clown faces involved.

Sir Brass said...

For those praising Bell, you surely have seen his "good news" video. Let me ask you this:

Where in that video did he present historical FACT, and where in that video did he present the actual Evangel?

This is not a rhetorical question except in the sense that the answers ought to be obvious.

For those of you who keep testifying to the "we felt something was wrong then but couldn't put our finger on it," I can tell you exactly what that was (and you'd agree with me too). That was the Holy Spirit warning you. John MacArthur, in this study on 1 John concerning the passage which says that we have the Holy Spirit and need no one to teach us, says that every believer is given a level of discernment by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A spiritual lie-detector.

So, that feeling that something was wrong, you just couldn't put your finger on it was the Holy Spirit warning you to danger. You couldn't tell what it was yet, but God in His providence was keeping you from error. Looking back at it, I think you'd agree with me here.

Bell is a heretic and b/c he is subtle and crafty he therefore is also even more dangerous. More dangerous the python around your neck that you don't see or hear than the hissing rattlesnake that you hear from several yards away.

Contrast Bell's gospel with something like Dr. James White's presentation from years ago on "Why I am a Christian," and you tell me whose presentation more accurately reflects the words and accomplished work of our precious risen Lord.

Bell isn't just wrong or has a different, but allowable viewpoint but we mock and lambast him b/c we disagree. No. We mock in order to point out his error because his error is DEADLY. He presents a gospel that is NOT the gospel but takes up space as a gospel. It is like cutting off someone's O2 and replacing it with CO: just one atom's difference, but that one change has deadly results.

Anonymous said...

@DJE and M Huber

Someone who denies doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God against sin, the authority and perspicuity of Scripture, the necessity of the virgin birth, the coherence of the biblical testimony about the Resurrection and the exclusivity of Christ is not a Christian.

Thus, disagreement with Rob Bell is not disagreement with a brother in Christ, but the Church taking up the Sword of the Spirit and storming the very gates of Hell.

Since when is a heretic due love and gentleness? A reading of Matthew 23 will certainly clarify.

D J E and M Huber said...

Beyond Mohler, Piper, Carson, and McKnight, we can add Tim Challies as another who approaches these issues of discernment with grace and love.

And, as a result, those are the blogs that I generally follow. Because, there I can learn and think... perhaps not always agree. But I can see examples of loving discernment being worked out in the world. That, in itself, is learning enough in some cases.


And, no, sorry. I have not seen that Bell video. Actually, I have never bothered to watch any of his videos. Maybe I should. But, I suspect that I have better things to do with my time.

Anonymous said...

@DJE and M Huber

Were you as offended by Bell's mutilation of the Word of God and his teaching and leading the bond servants astray as you are by Pastor Johnson's use of satirical clown photo.

Seems your displeasure is highly misplaced.

D J E and M Huber said...

everydaymommy: Well, take that up with the men that I mentioned. They each do discernment well. They are firm, but they do not resort to the worldly method of ridicule. They approach the issue with scripture, and they leave it at that.

And that I can respect.

That's my point, and I think that I've made it. I don't want to sound like a tape recorder... but, I'll read any response that you make. Thanks for your discussion. You, too, show grace and love.

Anonymous said...

@DJE and M Huber:

Seems you would have "issues" with our Lord Jesus Christ as He addressed the pharisees in Matthew 23.

Maybe you should take it up with Him.

donsands said...

"But, of course, casting stones is your thing at this blog."

No it's not. But perhaps you just threw a, well, never mind.

Rob Bell for all that i have heard says nothing really. Is he our brother in Christ? I don't know.

This kind of teaching says nothing to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHs4QBjHrgg&NR=1

Pierre Saikaley said...

Further to Johnny Dialectic's comment about the journalist having no discernment...That's not surprising given the Biblically illiterate culture you Americans and I, Canadian, live in. But at least the journalist recognized enough to see the lack of enough of "Jesus" in Bell's side show antics to know he's not traditional.

David Rudd said...

these add absolutely nothing:

"charter members of mars hill" (that made me chuckle)

"do you know what slander is?"

slander is spoken, when its in print it's libel

--lovely comment thread, though--

donsands said...

"If, for instance, you were to step over to Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog, you'll find that he has a couple of posts up on this same issue. And, you'll also find that he has an issue with Bell's definition as printed in the newspaper. But his approach is one of love and gentleness." DJE

Maybe. But he wouldn't post my comments. I thought that was less then loving, though he surely has the right to do what he wants.
He says I'm not willing to comment the way he wants.
Oh well. That's fine.

But he surely is a pot calling the kettle black when he speaks of those who would dialog isn't he?

And I like what he says, though I disagree, but he just doesn't like what I have to say.

D J E and M Huber said...

donsands: Interesting. I've never had that happen over there, even when I post in disagreement.

Why not post what you wrote there, here? I'd be interested to read it.

Sir Brass said...


So you would take issue with Jesus' scathing mockery of the scribes and pharisees in Matthew 23, in addition to Elijah's scathing rebuke, mock and EXECUTION of the prophets of Baal.

I mean, look at how "nasty" Elijah was in 1 Kings 18: "Hey, keep at it, guys! Maybe Baal is in the bathroom!"

Mike Riccardi said...

Everyday Mommy makes the point that the Bell-defenders / offended-by-Phil folks need to hear.

Bell isn't a Christian. The books, the videos, the interviews, the "sermons," they all overwhelmingly support that conclusion.

So, then, we have a religious leader in the realm of Christendom who is a false teacher. Take a stroll through the epistles to see what Paul, Peter, and John had to say about false teachers.

Then, read through the Gospels to see what Jesus had to say about them -- specifically, as EDM has been saying, Matthew 23. I bet you'll find Paul, Peter, and John tame in comparison to the Lord Jesus.

Seems like you guys might benefit from MacArthur's new book, The Jesus You Can't Ignore. See some posts over at the Pulpit Blog for a sample.

Hayden said...


If this blog offends you. Stop reading it. You have the right to do that. I stop reading blogs when the fail to interest me or when they offend. Vote with your feet.

PS I know Phil a bit from some years ago and I always found him to be a gracious brother. The only time his ire seems to get up is when he is pointing out some doctrinal inaccuracy. Bell's comments are beyond the pale, if you don't agree then feel free not to agree.

Anonymous said...

@ Sir Brass

And, how about Paul! Don't forget what he said to the Galatians...

"I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" Gal 5:12

Heavens! That wasn't very loving or gentle, do you think?

Rick Frueh said...

How far off the gospel reservation does one have to get before those claiming to be on it recognize he's gone? The 15 year escalation has been astounding. We have gone from a blurry and ambiguous message with a light spritz of gospel particles, and we now have arrived with an unambiguous message of Eastern mysticism doused with humanism and philosophy.

A message that cannot save is antichrist.

Sir Brass said...

Everyday Mommy,

As a male, I cringe in sympathetic revulsion with all other men when I think of that. It "offends" me, take it away =p.

(kidding, except that most men would silently groan in sympathetic pain at the thought that arises with that passage).

donsands said...

"Why not post what you wrote there, here? I'd be interested to read it."

Peradventure, I'd like to, but it wouldn't be right to post a whole different subject matter here, would it?.

Craig and Heather said...

Wow--busy comment section this morning.

Random thoughts: I have to admit I'm not really familiar with Rob Bell's stuff. Although, I do thank Stan McCullars for directing me to watch the Bell video "Bullhorn Guy". The way Mr. Bell almost sneered at the concept of people being sinners and how he downplayed the need for repentance was disturbing to my soul. And I got a very "wrong" feeling while watching him.

It certainly appears that he is preaching another gospel. His Jesus apparently had no reason to die because God loves everyone regardless of what we think of Him. We can be okay with God if we are willing to lay off of all the "judging" and "condemnation" and just listen to people, allow them to comfortably be themselves, and share our stuff with them.

I think, the thing that makes Rob Bell so dangerous is (as others have pointed out) precisely that he isn't totally wrong. He makes some good points but comes to wrong conclusions because he is groping around in the dark for answers rather than coming into the True Light of Christ.

And the problem is compounded because he is sharing his "revelations" which appeal to human emotion rather than Scriptural authority. His disciples are led astray from lack of discernment.

Satan quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus. That does not mean he was preaching a worthwhile sermon.

Jesus talked about false prophets and He didn't say "don't judge". He said "beware". And He also said we would recognize them by their fruit.

Then, in the same conversation:

Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.
Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works?
And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness! Matthew 7:21-23

It looks to me that just talking a lot about Jesus and the Bible or being devoted to "social justice" or "feeling other's pain" or whatever is missing the bulls-eye of the Gospel message.

Rob Bell is deceived and deceiving others. And, short of repentance on his part, there is only one possible (unenviable) outcome for him.

I agree with Gilbert:I say it again: I pray for nothing more that Rob would repent, and turn (back?) to the true, one and only, saving Gospel.


Reformation said...


Correct on LCMS. Not sure what to say about Reformed and Presbyterians, e.g. PCA?


James Joyce said...

I want a "I Can't Believe It's Not Biblical" coffee mug.

Rick Frueh said...

There will come a time when someone like Bell will teach a series on:

"I don't believe the Bible and I don't believe the Gospel"

and still he will have his defenders.

(I am not so sure his interview isn't far from that series)

Sir Brass said...

Rick, and if that won't bring back the use of the word "anathema", then I don't know what will.

Btw, I'm thinking of yoiking that "I can't believe it's not biblical" pic and using it as an fb avatar (proper attribution given, of course ;) ). It is just that funny. And not funny ha-ha, but funny "oh ouch, that hit the nail on the head" irony ;).

John said...

@ James Joyce

Me too!
How 'bout it, Pyros? You can claim fair use, I am sure...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Mike Riccardi: "Bell isn't a Christian."

Can't state an opinion much more succinctly than that.

puritanicoal said...


fyi: TRUTH is a defense to "slander" (and libel) in all 50 states, and Puerto Rico.

FX Turk said...


FX Turk said...

FWIW, Scot McKnight hates this blog because we have been saying for years that the Emerg* phenomenon is bankrupt and is headed down the same path as old-school liberalism. We've been saying that since before it was a trend, and before it was obvious.

However, to his credit, and in spite of his opinions of us and of me personally, credit where credit is due: in the last 2 weeks on the White Horse inn, Dr. McKnight came clean about the direction of the direction of the "Emergent" stream of the emerg* phenomenon, and basically admitted that everything all of us (especially Phil, btw) have been saying is exactly right, that the left-entrenched end of the movement has stepped out of orthodoxy, and that this is bad.

I have it on my iPod. I'll transcribe it and post it here -- becuase my jaw dropped when I heard him say this stuff. Kudos to him for being that transparent.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts on loving the heretics at my place. Don't want to muck up your thread.

Everyday Mommy

Victoria said...

It seems to me that most of the emergent leaders and especially ones like Bell are just Harry Emerson Fosdick dressed in jeans. Same old liberal apostasy no matter how cool you try to dress it up, or make it sound.

Rick Frueh said...

In 1942 a meeting was held in Wannsee, Germany. (near where my brother now lives). This meeting would hammer out the details for the Final Solution. One SS commander who attended, Rudolf Lange, had also studied law. When asked how his law studies aided his SS responsibilities, he replied that it made him distrust language. His comment reflected an uneasiness about using the word “evacuate” as a replacement for “murder” as it applied to the Latvian Jews.

Words must mean something or instead of words we end up with manipulated interpretations that are defended just be saying them. If the Biblical words, especially as it concerns the redemptive gospel, cannot be generally understood by a literal interpretation, then in essence they mean everything and nothing simultaneously.

FX Turk said...

[WHI, “The Question of Tolerance”, about 29:00 in]

Scot McKnight: I think the emerging movement is a protest against certain forms of present-day western (particularly) evangelicalism. And because different people offer different criticisms, it can all get added up into a massive list of things people have to gripe about. So I think that they are calling many of us as Evangelicals to listen a little bit more intently to the Gospel, and I’ve gone on-record to say this is a few places: I think at times the emerging movement is getting to be a little bit too politically-left. I think sometimes its theology is either not scripturally-based often enough, or it begins to wander into Protestant liberalism in ways that some in the emerging movement are not quite aware of – it’s dangerous.

But at the same time, I love the creation of a conversation about central questions that the young kids face. And because I teach college students, I hear these questions on a regular basis. And I often tell people in public that this is a generation that grew up with Mr. Rogers, not Mr. Greenjeans; that it grew up with Sesame Street rather than Leave it to Beaver. And the difference is diversity and tolerance, rather than what is right, what is wrong, what is black and what is white. And this has created an entire generation of students who are nervous about saying something’s wrong. That are afraid of rendering judgment on people in a moral sense. And while I appreciate deeply their sensitivity toward other people, the implication of rhetoric for divisiveness in the world and the church, I believe that this generation, while it has become hyper-sensitive to the world has lost some touch with holiness and the themes of judgment in the Bible.

So I see these as trends.

I think one of the great things about the emerging movement is its willingness to entertain the entire history of the church. These people might draw strength from Cappadocian’s, and the Patristics, and Aquinas, and Medieval thinkers that perhaps my generation eliminated because we pretty much believe that God vacated the church sometime around 100 AD and didn’t show up again until Luther, Calvin, etc.

Rick Frueh said...

Mr. McKnight, are you certain of that? :)

Craig and Heather said...

And the difference is diversity and tolerance, rather than what is right, what is wrong, what is black and what is white. And this has created an entire generation of students who are nervous about saying something’s wrong. That are afraid of rendering judgment on people in a moral sense.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Genesis 3:1 (KJV)

In order for the enemy to gain a foothold, he must destabilize the foundation of a person's faith--that being that God is the absolute and only source of Truth.

Question whether God is trustworthy. Plant a few doubts as to whether His plan is indeed "good". Soften up the prey before slicing it to pieces.


Solameanie said...

If anyone thinks Al Mohler is mealy-mouthed about heresy, you haven't read enough of Al Mohler. He is capable of wielding a stiff truncheon when the occasion requires, and I applaud him for doing so.

I'm getting a bit tired of all the whining about "tone." I'd take some of the whining more seriously if I'd see equal whining about false doctrine.

donsands said...

"And I often tell people in public that this is a generation that grew up with Mr. Rogers, not Mr. Greenjeans"

And grew up with MTV, not The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks for posting that Frank.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of Charles Templeton, a contemporary of Billy Graham from the 1940s? I can now appreciate that Templeton came forward and admitted that he was an atheist. It appears that today atheism would be embraced by those as "evanglical christianity".

Anonymous said...

@Rick - I can confirm that this was indeed Mr. McKnight.

matt woodard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


I have to thank Rob Bell as our impetuous for leaving the
Willow Creek (seeker stupid).

No more topical ramblings on self help- THANK GOD FOR THAT!!!!!!!!

Bill, put that in your “Reveal" pipe and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

Not entirely sure if it's germane, but it certainly seems so to me.

Andy Nasselli posted this discussion by D. A. Carson on the Gospel and Social Action.

Here are the money quotes:

"What is the gospel, and how do we find out about it? Is the gospel simply anything that you think is mandated by Scripture? How do you establish the pattern of biblical thought? If you think that anything is “biblical” provided you can attach a proof-text to it, then, of course, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, those who want to discount any attachment to social-justice issues, and those who want to pour all their eggs into the social-justice basket are “biblical.” The very meaning of “gospel” is news, great news, that must be proclaimed. It is good news about what God has done through Christ.
Many thoughtful theologians have rightly distinguished between the gospel and the effects of the gospel. Is transforming local public schools “gospel-ministry”? Not if you’re going to use “gospel” in the sense in which the NT does. But that’s different from distinguishing it as part of the effects of the gospel: we do good because we have been transformed and care for other people who are made in the image of God. But if you call this “gospel-ministry,” the long-term effect tends to be that we lose what the NT says is the gospel. The gospel gets so diluted that it becomes a Christianized moralism and nothing more.

"If you merely assume the gospel while being excited about implications of the gospel, then the next generation may not even assume the gospel. Keep central what is central.

"One way to preserve such a gospel-focus is to “preach hell”; that is a good test of whether you are interested in relieving suffering for time and eternity or whether your focus is on relieving suffering now. And if you preach on hell, those who are interested in only the social gospel won’t want to have anything to do with you.

"In terms of doing good, there can be some sort of transformation of culture.
But on the other hand, it is important to remember that that must not be set up as an absolute for Christians.
Unless you are a strong and dogmatic postmillennialist, the aim of the Christian is not the transformation of society."

Bell (and his fellow-travellers) would do well to heed these sage words.

Logan Paschke said...

Um, yeah you can tell when Phil comes back, all the people get all crazy for him putting...


on ROB BELL!!!



I'm really getting tired of people telling other people to "be more like Challies" or "be more like piper" or something to that effect.

I don't buy it.

Paul was willing to lay the smack-down on Peter for compromising the Christian liberty that was secured by Christ for the Gentiles.

So, get this.

Paul (an apostle) takes on Peter (another apostle) because he was screwing with Christian liberty (I could say other stuff and if others want to chime in on this, feel free).

How should we (Christians) take on Rob Bell (quasi-Christian, non-Christian, or religious leader) who literally is trying to replace THE gospel with HIS gospel?

What say ye?

I say we fight.

Anonymous said...


Got my sword, Brother. Lets do it.

Rick Frueh said...

Michelle - my attempt at humor centered on the word "certain". McKnight opines as if he knows for certain concerning what he is saying.

"He is certain that the emergent conversation is good when it is uncertain." - Rod Serling

donsands said...

"If you merely assume the gospel while being excited about implications of the gospel, then the next generation may not even assume the gospel." -DA Carson

Thanks for the Carson quote.

I watched some Bell videos, and they were brutally fluffy to watch. There's so much lovie fluff in these kinds of teachers.

And many are drawn to it. It makes me want to scream. I keep waiting for some good balance and substance from Bell, but it never arrives.

I thank the Lord for His true pastors, who feed us with the fullness, and richness, of the Gospel. And who deliver a balance of God's attributes. Not just God loves you, and you are beautiful to Him, but also God is holy, sovereign, self-existent, wrathful, and demands justice.

The TeamPyro three amigos do this. And Cent may not be a pastor, but he's still good.

NoLongerBlind said...

To all the Rob Bell defenders, like D J E and M Huber, rogER, Mark French, etc., can you help me out please?

Please explain your understanding of the Gospel that saves. Be as specific and succinct as possible.

Just curious.


The Pewter Pundit said...

I am still amazed that so many people buy into the Rob Bell's and Brian Mclaren's.

DJP said...

Nicely-played period.

John said...

In a sermon, er, excuse me, performance, that coincided with the release of his book Jesus Just Wants to Save Christians, Bell said that the Exodus is the central event in scripture (that is pretty much a direct quote).


Anyone else notice the "we're going to build the kingdom" eschatological track that this whole emergent movement seems to be on?

John Haller said...

Re that "Good News" video that Bell put out: if you can stand to watch it, you will also notice that he presents the story of Jesus as if Christians borrowed all sorts of things from other mythological and political figures. In fact, the historical sources from which these supposed borrowings occurred post-date the Bible. In other words, those mythological figures borrowed from the Christian story, not the other way around.

Bell messes up his history A LOT.

DJP said...

Oh, John; don't be so Hellenic!

John Haller said...


Bell's influence? I would say very influential. His stuff is everywhere I'm afraid.

John Haller said...

Are you really DJP, or is that you Doug Pagitt?

DJP said...

Now you're getting nasty.

John Haller said...

Back on topic. Has anyone else noticed that a lot of this stuff, like Bell, like Latter Rain, kingdom now, super apostles, church growth, and on and on, circle back to Fuller?

Coram Deo said...

At first I was really puzzled and troubled by the prominent pic of Sinead O'Connor displayed beneath the title of the post, but I was even more puzzled and troubled upon learning that it was actually a pic of an emaciated and androgynous Rob Bell.


In Christ,


Main Entry: 1evan·gel·i·cal
Function: adjective
1 : of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels
2 : protestant
3 : emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual
Main Entry: 2evangelical
Function: noun
1: one holding evangelical principles or belonging to an evangelical party or church
Main Entry: her·e·tic
Function: noun
1 : a dissenter from established religious dogma; especially : a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who disavows a revealed truth
2 : one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine : nonconformist
Main Entry: he·ret·i·cal
Variant(s): also heretic
Function: adjective
1 : of, relating to, or characterized by heresy
2 : of, relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards : unorthodox.

Sir Brass said...

John Haller, sounds like you listened to the most recent White/Barker debate :). Barker was spouting the same "Christians copied pagan myths!" garbage before Bell was. It's just that Barker likes to use it to openly blaspheme, while Bell uses it to gain a power base for his gospel. Both end up doing the same thing though: finding an excuse to hate the God of the bible (one--barker--is just more honest about his intentions, though).

D J E and M Huber said...


"Be as specific and succinct as possible." Wow... sounds like a boring exam question.

Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God incarnate. Fully God. Fully man. He lived the sinless life as a man that the first Adam did not. He was unjustly accused and killed and, in the process, took our sins upon Himself (and, no, I'm not going to argue about substitution vs. ransom... whatever... elements of both). He then rose again on the third day, defeating death. His resurrection foreshadows ours. If we believe (insert Calvinist/Arminian leanings here) in Him (evidenced by our lives being lived our for our Lord and His Kingdom), we have this promise... someday He will return (I'm amill.. but the nub is, He will return) to complete His Kingdom. Heaven and the new earth will be one, and we will live, once more, in perfect relationship with our Creator.

Now, have fun picking it apart!

Sir Brass said...

DJE, quit with the trying to play nice to both the monergists and synergists is sickening. Please say what you believe, not what the rest of us understand as orthodox. If your understanding is orthodox, OKAY good. If it isn't, then have the guts to say so.

Trying to be essentially politically correct (don't offend either of the two major opposing views) when someone asks you what you think the gospel is, just sickens me.

To show you what we want to see, here's an example:

Man, who is dead in sin and trespass due to his willful rebellion against the only sovereign Lord and Creator, that is God is unable and unwilling to be reconciled to his all-Holy creator.

However, God, being no respecter of persons, in His love, sent Himself in the person of Jesus Christ into His own creation. Christ lived the law of God perfectly as fully man without ever being less than fully God.

As a propitiation for the sins of those who would believe, He was crucified by rebel men, died, and on the 3rd day rose again from the dead as it was prophesied from centuries past.

All those who have been awakened to their sin and rebellion and realize their desperate need of a savior lest they suffer righteous punishment in hell are called upon to put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness and remission of their sins, and to repent and turn from their formerly evil ways. No one who desires salvation will be turned away.

Christ WILL come again but now in judgement upon the earth, and all those who did not cry out to Christ will be judged and condemned to Hell for eternity as is just, for their willful sins against the Lord God Almighty, and all those sinners who came to Christ in faith will not be judged, as their sins were already judged when they were placed upon Christ on the cross.

See, no need for trying to put all those nuanced "yeah, but..." comments in parenthesis. None. Give me the gospel, not your nuanced, tailored to the crowd, "give 'em what they want to hear" response. What do you REALLY believe?

greglong said...

Sir Brass,

Although we might word it slightly differently, what DJE said is, in essense, the Gospel.

The question is...does Rob Bell preach and teach it?

I do not believe he does.

joshmac said...

Oh my....I couldn't even read the whole Boston Globe article.

Anonymous said...

@Sir Brass ... You can't ask them what they believe because they don't know what they believe. Everything is back on the table, nothing is absolute, Truth is unknowable.

CGrim said...

Frank, thanks for transcribing that Scot McKnight quote.

maunderings, thanks for linking to that D.A. Carson talk.

Note to self: Always read the meta.

D J E and M Huber said...

I believe what I wrote. How on earth do you know what I believe?

I have no clue what monergists and synergists are, and I don't care. Those who spend more time fussing about doctrine than actually living it out might care. I don't. I prefer to practice it rather than to sit and condemn anyone who doesn't have it word-for-word the way that I like it.

Finally, I was asked to be succinct. I was. You weren't.

Aaron said...

@ D J E and M Huber

Shades of "deeds not Creeds" theology matters the secondyou make a statemnt like "Jesus Is Lord" your makeing a theological statemnt you cant hide behind some idea of being too busy living the gospel out to care about what it's about that's the slow road to apostsy

David McAfee said...

Is that an altar Bell is sitting on?

Anonymous said...

The Sacred Sandwich has, again, nailed it.

Grin & Snare It

D J E and M Huber said...

Hmmm, of course, as seems to be common to this site and to its commenters, I never said that I don't pay attention to doctrine. But that was assumed. You know what happens when you assume.

Simply stated, having perfect doctrine would be great. But, having it and not living it out is condemnable.

And, there is a difference between perfect doctrine (which no one on this board has since I suspect you'd all find points of disagreement and you can't all be right) and sound doctrine. Strive for perfect doctrine, but be sure to live with sound doctrine.

And, finally, let Christ enable you to live it out.

And so ends my foray into the discussion at this blog. It's been a slice (no pun intended). Have fun eating each other alive!

Lorraine said...

I am so saddened by this sort of twisted, heretical crud - so sad that people are being led astray, that the Body of Christ is being portrayed as a psychological basket-case by creatures like Bell and his cohorts. These kinds of things should send us all to our knees for the Body, for the heretics and for the blind who follow them.

DJP said...

Exeunt Huber who, when asked to tell the Gospel, responded "sounds like a boring exam question."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

The following kinda blows me away.

While Rob Bell is a false teacher and has lead, is leading, and will lead many astray...

there will still probably be some sheep who will come to a saving knowledge and relationship of Jesus Christ through Rob Bell's ministry.

So while Rob Bell and his false teaching is a net negative (in a rough sense), there will be some genuine believers that will result in spite of and not because of Rob Bell's false teaching.

Funny, that. God works as He will.

D J E and M Huber said...

Good grief. Suck me back in.

Reading skills, please.

I did not say that explaining the gospel was like a boring exam question. I did say that the "Be as specific and succinct as possible" part was like a boring exam question.

And, so goes the story of this blog and its posters... lots and lots of assumptions, made to fit preconceived notions. Nice example of the problem around here.

donsands said...

"..preconceived notions."

I would think we all have done this before. Especially blogging, e-mailign and such.

But it's admitting it, and and then talking it out that reveals the grace of the Lord in our hearts, and the Spirit working on renewing our minds, don't you think.

bp said...

Speaking of being "specific and succinct", I've been in long conversations with people from the (so called) free grace camp and one thing I've noticed is how much they disliked my being specific and succinct about what Scripture says. False teachers thrive on ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

"Good grief. Suck me back in."

See...it's all your fault, DJP.

DJP said...

I get that a lot.

wordsmith said...

DJP: Exeunt Huber

"flounce" is a pretty cool word, too, though maybe not as cool as Latin.

DJP said...

Leave it to Wordsmith to one-up my Latin.

Craig and Heather said...

And, so goes the story of this blog and its posters... lots and lots of assumptions, made to fit preconceived notions. Nice example of the problem around here.

This is interesting to me.

I am a reader/poster to this blog and, to my knowledge have been careful to keep to myself "assumptions that were tailored to fit a preconceived notion".

I offer honest observation and it is my goal to humbly accept correction, if necessary.

Yet, in making such an all-encompassing statement, the commenter has made an assumption about my beliefs and motives.

Also, I am wondering if this statement also applies to the one who made it--as the commenter also happens to be posting?

It is always wrong to make blind assumptions about another person, regardless of who is doing so.

Even in the instance of Rob Bell (with his visible fruit), it is important for Christians who love Truth to be aware that (apart from God's merciful intervention), any one of us could be just as confused.


Rick Frueh said...

Anyone interested in a succinct gospel presentation from Pastor Bell, here it is.


DJP said...

Lots of hooey. Dude pretty clearly hasn't read this, for instance.

Well, to say nothing of this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or....

Well, a whole lot of things.


Rick Frueh said...

How about reading the Bible for a start? Bell is such a concoction of New Age, humanism, mysticism, astronomy, and whatever else seems to work.

I challenge anyone who listens to the video I suggested to give me the place where Bell addresses the cross, the blood, the atonement, sin, born again, justification by faith, or...well...you get the picture. I echo the words "hooey".

Bell seems to have started as an evangelical and has detoured significantly to the cheers of the masses. It is a journey that is becoming more travelled with each year.

Craig and Heather said...

Anyone interested in a succinct gospel presentation from Pastor Bell, here it is.

Sounds kind of like a Field of Dreams-ish "if we build it, He will come" sort of approach.

That's a little like having the tail wag the dog, isn't it?


Craig and Heather said...

Oh, wow, I posted before he was done...

"You are the good news....You are the Gospel."

I think that pretty much says it all.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the post. We are planting a church in MHBC's backyard. As we meet people influenced by Bell's repainted liberalism, and have tried to show them the gospel according to the Scriptures, we have gotten used to people mistaking a critique of his ideas as ad hominem. It's just the way people are looking at the world today. But, there are people who are looking for real Hope, and over time we find them, tell them, and trust the Spirit to draw them to the Father through His truth.
For His Cause and Glory Alone,
Sam Hendrickson

Sir Brass said...

Craig & Heather,

Please excuse me while I go lose my breakfast....

That quote of Bell's is so telling and so offensive, it's sickening.

Let me put this into context. I'd rather listen to a series of lectures by Dr. Grider (who is knowingly Arminian) than listen to one sermon by Rob Bell.

Nathanael said...

I have read a couple of Bell's books... I winced alot through Velvet Elvis, but I enjoyed much of Jesus Wants to Save Christians.

He is certainly evasive and has skewed theology, especially when it seems politically incorrect to hold to scripture.

But my heart breaks when I see so much criticism and personal attacks within any Christian community, a local church, small group, or internet community.

How many of us pray for Rob Bell? How many of us have sent him an e-mail or even visited his church in Michigan. It is easy to criticize.

But if I'm honest, when I look at Bell, I see a guy who cares deeply about Jesus, and cares deeply about people... but unfortunately has bought into the lie that he needs to make Jesus relevant to todays culture... when the truth is the bible and the message of Jesus is timeless and does not need to be tampered with.

Instead of responding to this post... why don't you take 3 minutes to pray for Rob Bell and that God would prompt a guy like Piper, Stott or Storm to get a coffee with him.

FX Turk said...


Let me say without any reservations that I know every single post I have made at TeamPyro has had its content and the subject of the post as a subject of prayer.


Rick Frueh said...

I have personally contacted Pastor Bell with no response. All of us should pray for him. He is a father, a son, a husband, and a pastor. This has never been about him.

It is and must always been about his teachings.

Craig and Heather said...

Instead of responding to this post... why don't you take 3 minutes to pray for Rob Bell...

Are you sure that no-one here is praying for him?

You are right. It is wrong to unjustly criticize Rob Bell.

However, he is apparently a well-known and influential teacher. If he is giving thousands of young people a false concept of salvation and what it means to be Christian, is it wrong to try to determine exactly where he has gone wrong?

He says some good things--but comes to some very wrong conclusions.

Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are true Christians, they teach moral standards and have a concept of Jesus.

Is it wrong to become familiar with the errors in their theology in order to be able to better recognize and guard against those false teachings? Does the pinpointing of the error require that I not be praying for the souls of those who are trapped by it?

On the contrary, the realization should prompt me to plead with God that He opens their eyes--even while I warn others to stay away from the harmful teachings.

I can't speak for anyone else here, but I can assure you I'm not doing a happy little victory dance upon hearing what Rob Bell is teaching.


thepaperthinhymn said...

if you go to chris rosebrough's fightingforthefaith website, you'll see that he reviewed two of shane hipps sermons on september 23, where mr hipps straight up and flat out advocates universalism, that everyone is saved. why is this relevant? because rob bell hosted a conference with just him and shane hipps called the prophets, poets and preachers conference, and as well has had shane hipps preach at his church and deliver several messages.

food for thought

Anonymous said...

How about praying for the souls of those who are being eternally ravaged by Bell's heretical teachings?

Anonymous said...

Of the comments here, I really relate to Gilbert (11PM 10/1) and his assessment of Bell. My first exposure was also some of those early teachings at Willow (albeit on CD audio) and I still consider a couple of them among the finest examples of preaching in my collection.

But the Boston Globe interview -- as well as other interviews Bell has done with mainstream media -- along with the new Drops Like Stars book leave me aware that somewhere along the line, something has changed, or is changing.

We attended Mars Hill Michigan a few weeks ago. It was a communion service and Rob spoke on forgiveness. There are a number of good things happening there.

And I think that is the problem that many of us face with this discussion. It's not that those of us who've been around the church for awhile are theologically conflicted with Bell. No, we know enough Bible to be grounded as to the core doctrines, and we've heard enough sermons that got off on some weird tangents.

Rather, I think we're emotionally conflicted. We've heard Bell speak and it's been new and it's been different and it's been refreshing and it left us with the same feeling you get when you attend a great concert or watch a truly amazing film. It's made us think, it's made us emote, it may have even spurred us to action. We kinda want Bell's innovative style and creative reading of scripture to succeed and be fully orthodox at the same time.

But obviously that's not sufficient. ("In the last days, many will say, 'Lord, Lord, did we not feel really good when we went to church?'")

Frankly, what I'd like to see here is a comment from Rob himself. The remarks here are from some fairly theologically aware and level-headed people. What would he say in response?

Then again, I'd settle for a defense of the first three answers in the Boston Globe article.

Craig and Heather said...

Rather, I think we're emotionally conflicted...We kinda want Bell's innovative style and creative reading of scripture to succeed and be fully orthodox at the same time.

That is an interesting observation. Personally, I see how the emotional pull of his approach could really be appealing to those who are weary of soulless, ingrown and legalistic religion.

I've been fascinated by the recent exposure to RB's videos because I have been contemplating what it means to be a "Kingdom citizen" while sojourning in this world.

Bell's focus seems to be that of social justice and service to fellow man. While I know that is an "overflow" effect, I don't see that the Bible supports that this as the whole point of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

At the risk of veering off-topic, I would love to hear or be directed to a Scripturally accurate, concise answer to the perspective that teaches we are to "change the world" for Jesus.


Rick Frueh said...

"There are a number of good things happening there."

I saw a nickle in a spittoon once too.

Let us be frank, here. Bell's teachings are not just slightly to the left sprinkled with some compromise. His teachings are thoroughly and profoundly unchristian and void of any redemptive value. His teachings are New Age, suggesting God is changing the world for the better and that should be our message.

Not only is that diametrically opposed to the gospel, that misrepresents the horror of God's coming judgment upon this world. While avoiding personal attacks, we cannot, we dare not, compromise in any way with these emergent heresies. We must see them for what they are - systematic strategies, spawned from the pit of hell, that are designed to deceive sinners with eternal implications.

Dialogue is futile, and in fact, is a component of the evil strategy.

FX Turk said...

You'll never see a comment from Rob Bell about criticisms of himself.

About 3 years ago I was at a CBA event/luncheon, and Zondervan was the sponser, foisting tNIV on the crowd. The presenter, via video, was Rob Bell himself.

At the end of the video, he recognized that tNIV had detractors and critics -- and hiw response was, in words to this effect, "the critics have never changed anything," implying that those who have a contrary opinion to his are simply not worth the time.

If you ever see a substantive response from him regarding criticism of him, e-mail me. I'd love to read it.

NoLongerBlind said...

"A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool."

"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."

Paula said...

After 2 days, I've made it through the entire 170-comment meta...whew!

donsands said I would think we all have done this before. Especially blogging, e-mailign and such.

NEW WORD ALERT: e-mailign

tr.v. e·mail·ign·ed, e·mail·ign·ing, e·mail·igns
To make evil, harmful, and often untrue statements about via e-mail; write evil of via e-mail.

Craig and Heather said...

I apologize for being a comment hog here today.

Still trying to sort through all of the peripheral "wrongness" (there is a lot and I tend to get bogged down in details) of Rob Bell's stuff.

Rick Frueh said of Bell: His teachings are New Age, suggesting God is changing the world for the better and that should be our message.

My husband and I were discussing and he made a similar statement that at the core, Rob Bell's teaching is focused on somehow tapping into and nurturing the supposed "good" that is in man, so as to effect a positive change in the world.

Oh, and if we work hard enough at it, there is a strange, mystical element involved that draws Jesus into the scene.

So, would it be appropriate to say that the central failure of Rob Bell's theology is that he has elevated our duty to humanity to a place of divine prominence-while simultaneously remodeling the person of Christ into a sort of trendy fashion accessory that all the 'in' kids want to wear?


CR said...

D J E and M Huber:I have no clue what monergists and synergists are, and I don't care.

You should care because it's important. When God speaks in the Bible of those who repent He is not saying they are repenting because they have the ability to repent. Repentance (and faith) is descriptive of those who are redeemed. So, what is in view here, is a monergistic act. So, i.e., repentance is not something that is resident or humanly intrinsic in people that did repent, that distinguishes themselves from those who didn't repent. Repentance is descriptive of those who are redeemed.

In other words, when God redeems people, He is not first looking for action in people. Repentance is a reaction He caused within those whom He redeems. It's monergistic and when God redeems people it creates a response. The redeemed embrace it and appropriate it, but it's monergistic and it's not emphasizing any synergistic response.

Also, I'm not sure you understand the effect that false teaching has on believers. Take for example, what happened to the Galatians. Paul details the Galatians' joy when Paul had first met and preached to them. Paul had some trouble with his eyes and the Galatians when they first met and heard Paul preach, Paul describes, the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes to help Paul.

The Galatians rejoiced in the wonderful gospel they had heard from Paul when he first preached to them. But after the Judaizers had come and preached a different gospel, they were no longer joyful and in fact some of them probably became depressed and that's why Paul is able to ask Galatians directly, where was the blessedness they once felt? They were unhappy, depressed and some began to turn against Paul.

Do you understand the huge negative effects that false teaching has even to those for whom Christ died for. It certainly anguished Paul so much that he said he was in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in them?

You may not appreciate the harsh rebuke and sarcasm that is used here, but if I were to use the harsh rebuke and hyperbole that Paul used against the Judaizers in Galatia in today's vernacular on this blog I would probably find myself banned or given a harsh rebuke myself.

Bell's heresy is dangerous because it represents itself as Christian but denies some of the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, like the atonement, like the necessity of virgin birth and the exclusitivity of Christ.

So, Huber, I hope you can really put things in perspective and see the danger of false teaching for what it really and we are not "fussing" about doctrine. Certainly the apostle Paul was not fussing about doctrine.

Sir Brass said...

What's wrong with fussing about doctrine when the doctrine being "fussed" over is critical to the gospel?

Doctrine is correct beliefs about God. How is that NOT important? How offensive is it to God when we have His revealed Word to us, and then claim and believe things He never actually said about Himself, or repudiates what He says about Himself.

Paul saw the importance when he told Timothy to teach sound doctrine and to not suffer false doctrine and distracting speculations from other men.

Or, as an apologist friend & elder of mine is fond of saying: Theology Matters

Anonymous said...

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Tim. 4:16

Brad said...

"...it's time for people with historic evangelical convictions to speak up clearly and make the biblical message heard again."

To what end, Phil? So that we can get on the cover of The Globe or Time? Why on earth should we care what the world thinks anyway?

With saddening frequency the world is amassing piles of evangelical fodder to point to when they level the charge of evangelical hypocrisy. Why? Largely because we're asking those with "historical evangelical convictions" to speak up about instead of live out the Gospel. Besides it would be one thing if The Globe was getting all hot and bothered about the Gospel being preached rather than the fading, fad movement Bell has attached himself to. It would be significant if the media was getting all lathered up about a Driscoll (and other guys you generally disapprove of) being noticed for actually doing the things the Gospel commands them to do.

But most of your post is just more of the same. Anyone who has read PM for any length knows your heart and mind here: Bell-Bad, MacArthur-Good. You yourself rightly pointed to the press' mischaracterizations of the modern abuse of the evangelical label, so what's this obsession of yours all about when your lament and hope to reclaim a label that's been used, washed, rinsed and hung out to dry is really just the world's problem? Frankly, I don't care what word the world labels me or my brothers and sisters in Jesus with. What I do care about is whether I and my brothers and sisters are continually progressing in a quest to grow more obsessively happy in and satisfied with Jesus. THAT, however, is something the Pyros often overlook though it lurks in the room far larger than the collective "evangelical ills" that are daily obsessed about here: after all if we are the true salt light of the world....


P.S. Frank's threat of or execution to delete this post in 3...2...1....

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Happy Calvinist: "Anyone who has read PM for any length knows your heart and mind here: Bell-Bad, MacArthur-Good."

You say that as if it's a bad thing.

"Frank's threat of or execution to delete this post in 3...2...1...."

Is this Frank's reputation?

DJP said...

For the public: the drama-queen countdown lament of Frank's imminent threat has been posted twice, 31 minutes apart. Still no Frank. Probably in church, or doing something else.

Like ministry.

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone claims to be a regular reader, then lobs charges an actual (and attentive) regular reader would scoff into darkness.

I can answer for Phil. If I get him wrong, he should kick me to the curb.

To what end? So the Gospel can be proclaimed in its saving power.

Why? Because the Gospel is a message about Jesus. The Gospel isn't us (pace Bell). It is a specific message that God uses to save sinners(Romans 1:16; 10:8-21).

Why care? Because we are friends to sinners, we love people, and people will only be saved by God through the Gospel — not through heresy, through trendy mishmash, through tree-hugging feel-good socialism, nor (for that matter) through Constitutional American conservatism.

The rest is just as easily swatted aside, but those are (I think) the central sillinesses.


donsands said...

"..to speak up about instead of live out the Gospel."

It's both isn't it? I mean we need to tell people they are sinners and under God's wrath. they need to have every one of their sins forgiven, or they will have to give an account to a Holy God, who hates sin, all sin.

Jesus Christ is the only name, the only Mediator between God and man, because He is the God-man.

Why can't Bell proclaim the good news like this?

I don't believe he believes it like this. Not from the videos i struggled through.

Is bell a brother in christ? I don't know.
Could he be a false disciple? Yes he could be.

The False teachers will come and deceive even God's chosen, if possible.

Rick Frueh said...

Bell and his protaginists present a false dichotomy. They present kindness and compassion and feeding the poor as if we disagree with those things. Everyone should strive to do such things in Jesus name, however, and in bold doctrinal letters, those deeds have nothing to do with the gospel.

Only one work is inherrant in the gospel message and that was completed by Someone else. If a believer ministers for 20 years to a dying leper in India and never shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with that person, he cannot be saved just by appreciating such good treatment.

He will die in his sins. Bell has elevated good works into redemptive status.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Rick.

A false gospel, no matter how lovingly presented, is still a false gospel. My love will never save anyone.

FX Turk said...


If that's all I have a reputation for, I could do far worse.

Why ban someone like this when it's so funny? He didn't slander someone not present (which is why I have banned people in the past -- slandering GCC and Dr. MacArthur is simply beyond the limit), and his opinions are frankly uninformed enough to be as funny as the mispronunciations of a toddler.

Play on.

bp said...

In listening/reading Bell's words, I'm struck by how cleverly truth is mixed in with the lies. As soon as I think he is so out there, that no christian could be fooled by what he's saying, he messes it up by adding truth to the mix. Satan is amazingly crafty.

Anyway, 6 quotes by Rob Bell that prove he is a false teacher (all from Velvet Elvis):

1. "...it wasn't until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the ‘Bible'. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that "Scripture alone" is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God's word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books."

2. "...to be able to quote these prophets & poets, Paul obviously had to read them. And study them. And analyze them. And, I'm sure he came across all sorts of things in their writings that he didn't agree with. So he sifts & sorts & separates the light from the dark, and then claims & quotes the parts that are true." P.87

3. "Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God's." p.146

4. "I don't follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, 'No one comes to the Father except through me', he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence. For Jesus then, the point of religion is to help us connect with ultimate reality, God." p. 83

5. “So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making." p. 146

6. “Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end?
When his disciples lose faith in themselves..... Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem, it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of....God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me....God has faith in me.” pp. 133-134

Brad said...

"For the public: the drama-queen countdown lament of Frank's imminent threat..."


Be sure to remind the good folks that the last time Frank responded to a comment of mine the thrust of his remarks were:

"Hasn't Brad been banned yet?"

Anyway, the questions were to Phil, and since you missed the point of my questions and given your natural propensity to be offended at the "rustling of a leaf" I'll happily await his (if it all) response.

Best wishes on the book Dan.


Sir Brass said...

"Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God's." ~ Rob Bell

In that case, as Paul said of the Judaizers, I think I'm perfectly right in saying this about bell for what he has taught (especially here):

Let him be anathema!

I don't think I've read or heard something THAT offensive and that ANTI-gospel from him before.

When you say that there are people undergoing eternal seperation and punishment FROM GOD, yet Christ did die for them and forgave them, then you make a MOCKERY of the cross and you are preaching another gospel.

And let them be accursed they who preach another gospel!

John said...

Building on Rick and BP:
Yes, Bell is teaching a false gospel. Thanks Phil for being so clear. But that is not the only lie spawned by this man. He proposes a hip 'social justice' and 'compassion' that is grounded in a false wordlview. It is a lie, and is harming, not helping people. Bell is neither teaching nor practicing nor living the gospel.

Phil Johnson said...

Happy Calvinist: "I'll happily await his (if it all) response."

"Happily," huh? I sure hope you never get annoyed. :)

The reasons I didn't answer yet is 1) I'm on vacation, and not following the comment-thread very closely. 2) I usually stop reading anyway after the 50th comment or so, because everything after that tends to get petty and sophomoric. 3) I know you know me better than to make such a lame accusation, suggesting that I'm interested in "get[ting] on the cover of The Globe or Time," or that I'm concerned with worldly opinion. 4) I've had this very same discussion about "tone" and whatnot with you repeatedly, and I've answered your objections many times before. (Read this post and its comment-thread, for example, and perhaps you'll also discover why Frank had a vague recollection that you were banned.)

My own vague recollection is that you have dusted off your feet at least twice and ceremoniously declared that you would not be back to comment on our blog again.

You are certainly welcome to come back, and I'm happy to get your comments. But you have been making essentially the same basic complaint against me and our commenters several years. If the dialogue continues for more than a day or two, it usually comes round to your frustration with my cessationist convictions. I understand your position, and I also get it that you don't like to be disagreed with unless the disagreement is de-fanged with qualifications and concessions to your point of view. I DO try to accommodate you as much as my conscience will allow.

But between you and me, your comments might get more traction if you added some fresh criticisms and maybe an occasional biblical or theological argument to your repertoire.

Craig and Heather said...

I usually stop reading anyway after the 50th comment or so, because everything after that tends to get petty and sophomoric.

I suppose I must be one of the petty and sophomoric offenders...

...but I appreciate those whose input has helped me get a more clear understanding on the main problem with Bell's stuff.

So, the root of Bell's belief is in "works salvation" and "the golden rule"--and avoids the need for brokenness before a Holy and just God?

I suppose any message that could be easily adopted by a New Ager or agnostic should be considered suspect.



Phil Johnson said...

Having read this thread and the Twitter traffic, I have to say:

1. I'm amazed that so many people who would never raise a peep of protest about Rob Bell's abominable teaching would be so outraged at the photoshopping of a clown nose onto his smirking publicity photo.

Bell himself describes his schtick as "performance art," and he has consistently demeaned preaching (open-air preaching in particular). "Clown" was one of the milder descriptions that occurred to me.

For the record, I do fully realize that the implication of that photo is no less than saying Rob Bell is a fool. I stand by that implication, and I do so with full awareness of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:22 about our attitude toward fellow believers--but also taking into account our Lord's subsequent words about the Pharisees and their false teaching in Matthew 23:17.

Do the math.

2. I'm also gobsmacked by the high number of people whose facile "defense" of Bell is that he was quoted out of context (or only partially) by a reporter, and therefore the entire article is irrelevant. Most who commented in that vein implied that I attacked Bell based solely on one badly-written media account of something he said.

But read my post again. I expressly gave a number of reasons for concluding that Bell is a heretic and no evangelical, and not one of them has anything whatsoever to do with anything that was reported in the Globe article. See the third-from-the-last paragraph for the reasons I cited.

Phil Johnson said...

Incidentally, tickets to an upcoming Rob Bell "performance" start at $184.

Bello Nock works cheaper than that. He's a much better "performance artist," too.

Anonymous said...


Great post! Wouldn't you agree that Bell is only a logical conclusion to Fundy-Pietistic 'rationalism' . . . the same kind that gave us 'Schleiermacher's' Liberal Theology?

Phil Johnson said...

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm closing comments on this post, because blogger chokes if we get more than 200 comments.

Please continue this discussion under Monday's post.