28 February 2011

More on the Intolerance of Overtolerance

by Phil Johnson


'm getting ready for another back surgery Tuesday, and I have neither the energy nor the clarity of mind to write a proper blogpost. So what follows is a radically abbreviated summary of my thoughts on this weekend's Rob Bell/ Justin Taylor controversy.

Also, be aware that after my surgery tomorrow, I plan (Lord willing) to take at least a month off from blogging whilst I recover completely. Unless my recovery goes much better than expected (or something totally unforeseen in the evangelical world compels me to take up my bed and write), you won't see me here until at least April.

In the meantime, check out this video, where Rob Bell is promoting his next book:

f you read many blogs, you must be aware by now that on Saturday Justin Taylor posted a link to that video and expressed his belief that Rob Bell's doctrine is rather seriously unorthodox. Justin's commenters' went crazy, racking up hundreds of comments before noon. Many of them angrily insisted that Justin's judgment about Bell is premature and uncharitable. One blogger said so in an open letter to Justin, and most of his commenters agreed, too.

On the other hand, The Bayly brothers thought Justin had failed to speak as strongly as he should.

Of course, we at TeamPyro have been saying for some time that Rob Bell is a dangerous false teacher. So it should come as no surprise that we share Justin's opinion that Rob Bell "is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity." We also share the Baylys' opinion that Justin could have been even more emphatic than he was.

Nevertheless, all the standard judge-not-lest-you-be-judged responses were quickly trotted out and set in array against Justin. The chorus of voices repeating the theme across the evangelical blogosphere over the weekend has been overwhelming. Justin's original post garnered about a thousand comments over the two-day weekend—an almost unheard-of volume in the Christian blogosphere. The topic swiftly trended on Twitter. Commenters seemed hyperactive on almost every blog where the subject was mentioned, and most of them were critical of Justin and defensive of Rob Bell.

Bell's latest heresy neither surprises nor interests me. What does intrigue me is the tragic drift of popular, mainstream evangelicalism. Here we see clearly why the evangelical movement is in grave trouble: The passions of today's self-styled evangelicals are easily aroused in defense of someone who makes a career dabbling around the edges of truth. Rob Bell likes to play with damnable heresies as if they were Lego bricks, and yet anyone who points out the glaring errors in Bell's teaching will be met with a wall of angry resistance from young, self-styled Christians who grew up in the evangelical mainstream.

Where is that much passion ever employed these days in defense of the truth?

I'm not looking for crass watchbloggers or anti-intellectual zealots for whom every disagreement is an excuse for insults and a shouting match. We are up to here with people like that. They are a tiny minority, I think, but a noisy one. They represent one extreme out there on the evangelical fringe: people who can't tolerate any difference of opinion.

But the other extreme seems to be a much larger, more pervasive problem (and this is the trend currently pushing the most evangelicals off the edge): people whose "tolerance" is bent in favor of distorted and unorthodox teachings. They despise unvarnished criticism. They especially hate it when a critic suggests this or that heresy is truly damnable. Evidently there is no doctrine so important that they are willing to fight for it—much less die for it.

Both our Lord and His apostles told us plainly that we would need to defend the faith against false prophets, vicious wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15), minions of Satan disguised as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14), and corrupters of doctrine who arise within the church (Acts 20:29). Why is it that the average Christian today flatly refuses to take those warnings seriously?

As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, American evangelicalism is clearly confused, fragmented, and frighteningly vulnerable to false teaching. Evangelicals are too worldly-minded and untaught to be able to recognize all the deadly errors that have made themselves at home within the movement. Evangelical leaders are far too tentative and timid in denouncing those errors—up to and including the damnable ones. Rank-and-file evangelicals won't stand for it if their leaders do point out false doctrines, especially when the error is being peddled by a slick celebrity.

These problems are serious. What we commonly refer to as "the evangelical movement" is actually no movement at all anymore. It has morphed and melted down into a variegated, muddled, incoherent swamp—without any meaningful boundaries. And we are sending to the world a message that is as garbled and bewildering as this ersatz movement.

Phil's signature


Paula Bolyard said...

Perhaps saddest of all is the fall-out that doesn't make it into the blogosphere- churches divided, families divided, children turning away from the faith of their fathers and mothers. I wonder if you can even find a church in this country that hasn't been touched in some way by these trends. Some churches are the cause and others are picking up the pieces from the lives damaged in the process.

Chuck said...

What irritates me is how everyone acts like Bell is so brilliant and articulate and engaging.

Really? I mean...really?

At least guys like Donald Miller (who is a great writer) and Derek Webb (who is a talented musician) have an appeal. I wish they'd use them in better and more productive ways, but at least I "get it."

Bell never struck as charasmatic or even cool. Heck, I can think of multiple guys I went to college with who are cooler, smarter, and more articulate; most of them aren't even gainfully employed as ministers!

Glad I don't share Gamaliel's theological method...

Anonymous said...

...and this is what I get for barely being online over the weekend. I have a lot to catch up on. And while I'm not surprised to hear any of this regarding Bell, that doesn't lessen my sorrow.

D.J. Cimino said...

Did anyone else almost vomit after his little condescending "really?" when talking about Gandhi being in hell?

Thomas Louw said...

Sorry to hear your back is causing you so much pain. I for one will be missing your posts which have been very helpful in the past.

Rob Bell has also amassed a great following here in South-Africa also.

Because many churches has slacked in their teaching, mostly because of the influence of the liberals and the charismatic groups who has the most influence here. In South Africa there is almost no University which is not liberal. Most other institutions who equip pastors are charismatic or seriously flawed.

Offhand I only know of a bout two possibly three places where you can get good theological training.

The voice of truth has become small and overshadowed by the crowd.

Should we be worried, in a sense yes but, “when we are weak He is strong.’

God has never worried much about numbers and so we must not.
We are called to be true to our calling and be ready to answer when we are called to do so.
Humanly speaking we could be worried and grieved because of the perceived collapsed church.
We must however remember Habakkuk, even if things don’t become better, maybe even worse it is God’s plan.

But we should not sit and do nothing, preach with more figures, pray with more intensity and praise God more fully.

For it is not our fight and it’s not our victory, it is our Father’s.

In defence of Justin Taylor.
It seems he hasn’t seen the whole book yet so he is just going on what he has. He also says he will do a full review until he gets the whole book.

The whole situation is very sad, some fringe guys is seeing this as the new talking point something to do, some interesting debate and “blogging’ theme.

It’s very serious some Christians are going to be shaked in their faith. Thank you to the perseverance of the saint all be turn out alright for the elect.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Johnson,

First, I hope and pray that all will go well with your upcoming surgery and that you will recover soon.

As for Mr Bell, there is an upside to his over-vocal heresy.

Thus far, he has been rather slippery. His elusive, vague, sugarcoated language made it generally difficult to point out exactly what was wrong (so wrong!) with his teaching. People would dismiss arguments as "a matter of preference".

Clearly, that is no longer a problem.



Barbara said...

If - and I do mean IF - Bell was always and consistently clear and orthodox in his teaching otherwise, then this video could easily be seen as a preliminary to a powerful apologetic for the gospel of Christ.

But he's not. It's not uncharitable to view the video through the lens of his public history, so...unless there's been a recent miraculous work of repentance and faith leading to a complete about-face in his methods and teachings, there's no reason to split hairs here and no reason to believe that his book is anything other than what his own patterns and words suggest it to be - a continued deconstruction of the truth by one who is publicly ashamed of the gospel.

DJP said...

Dead-center hit, Barbara.

It would be a totally different thing if some guy visited a church and took to his blog saying, "You know, I'm brand-new to Christianity, haven't read the Bible, have never even written on the subject, am totally unknown, and am in no position of leadership. Here are some questions I have...."

Anonymous said...

Well he sure laid out a good chunk of Biblical Christianity in that video. I thought he articulated it rather wall, in fact.

But of course he then proceeded to deny it all. As Dan and Barbara combined to say, it's one thing to say "I believe X about God", it entirely another to say "This is what the Bible teaches (and get it right)", I don't believe any of it.

I'm thankful, though, that, as JT said in his post, at least he's going McLaren and finally deciding to lay his cards on the table.

I thank God for my pastor. Especially when I see stuff like this.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Oh no, we are going to be without Phil for a while. That is bad news to my ears. Phil, may God bless you during your treatment and recovery.

Now, "Rob Bell is spouting heresies" really isn't news. I admit, the man sickens me so much that I haven't yet been able to bring myself to watch whatever it is that he's now saying, but it doesn't sound like it's an improvement. Unless of course it causes people who have been fooled by him up to now to finally realize that he has run the herd of pigs totally down the slope and into the ocean. Maybe that's how God will use it for good - hope so.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the average Christian today flatly refuses to take those warnings seriously?

Because the average Christian today is unsaved?

DJP said...

Strat - That is bad news to my ears


Anonymous said...

"...people whose "tolerance" is bent in favor of distorted and unorthodox teachings."

I've come to see that when many evangelicals in the blogosphere employ the word "grace" in relationship to our interactions with one another, they really mean "tolerance".

This issue is, as Phil pointed out, pandemic. Is it due to the lack of Gospel preaching coming from many pulpits? Are our churches filled with the unregenerate?

Nash Equilibrium said...

OK, I finally worked up the stomach to watch. It seems to me that if there is one place in the video where he makes the jump, slips in the big disconnect, or whatever phrase you want to use to describe it, it's when he says that "Jesus protects us from God." What an absurdity - Jesus protects us from our own failure and its consequences, right? Where ever did he come up with Jesus protects us from God, as though we were innocent and undeserving of any punishment?
Now I have to agree, if he wasn't totally off the deep end before, he is now. But it's so cleverly worded that I'm afraid a lot of people still won't see The Big Lie embedded within.

Kim said...

"Where is that much passion ever employed these days in defense of the truth?"

That is what I often wonder. If a well known evangelical personality is critiqued, his/her follows will slam the individual in a heartbeat, but where is that passion for the Word of God itself?

Barbara, you are exactly right. How can anyone have viewed Bell's video as vague in any way?

Robert said...

I wonder how these people would have reacted to Paul's letters to the churches in Galatia and to the church in Corinth? Or how about Jesus' letters to the churches through the pen of John in Revelation? And then in the OT where we see the false prophets addressed there is no soft handling of those guys.

We have to make a stand for the truth and then stand firm upon it. Why do you think that Jesus warned us to look out for false teachers? Why do you think Paul told the Ephesian elders that wolves would spring up from the church? Why did Paul write to the Galatians to dispute the false teachings of the Judaizers? And why did he call out the likes of Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus (1 Timothy 1:18-20, 2 Timothy 2:17-18)? If only more people hated sin and heresy in such a fashion! One could only imagine how much the church would grow (spiritually, that is) if that happened. As it is, I am glad that there are faithful people that defend the faith against the likes of Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, etc.

wordsmith said...

It strikes me that Bell's view of hell - whether he realizes it or not - cheapens the work of Christ on the cross. If he's saying that ultimately nobody will be in hell, then he must necessarily say that sin is no big deal and the wrath of God is no big deal, which in turn trivialize the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of Man, who came to give his life a ransom for many.

Rob said...

We will be praying for your back pain and your recovery.

Mike Riccardi said...

Isn't it funny -- and by funny I mean sick, twisted, and terribly sad -- that these professed sheep want to protect the wolves?

There was one commenter on JT's original thread that told Justin that what he had done against Bell was far worse than anything Bell had ever done. Really? Even if we stipulate that JTs post was slander, as this unhinged commenter accused (even though it wasn't), is slander worse than teaching out-and-out heresy?

The Tone Police have a special ops division: the Nice Police. And they were working around the clock this weekend at Between Two Worlds. I wonder what these people would say if Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians today.

Steve Drake said...

Wordsmith said,
'If he's saying that ultimately nobody will be in hell, then he must necessarily say that sin is no big deal...'

Bingo, baby. Man's fundamental problem is reduced to an 'oversight' on our part, a minor infraction that in the big picture doesn't offend God that much, because in the end 'Love Wins'.

The Squirrel said...

Everyday Mommy said...
"Is it due to the lack of Gospel preaching coming from many pulpits? Are our churches filled with the unregenerate?"

I think it is both. Remember, the thousands who fill Bell's "Mars Hill Bible Church" are there because that is where they get what it is that they're looking for. It isn't like there aren't any good churches in Grand Rapids that actually teach the Bible. I'm sure that there are, (and they're generally small, too.)

And, sadly, solid Biblical preaching has fallen by the wayside generally in the visible church. For every John MacArthur & Alistair Begg there are hundreds of Bell wannabe's who've bought into the weird mix that is church-growth theory combined with post-modern philosophy.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."

Our response needs to be the exact same response that Paul urged Timothy to follow, "preach the Word!"


Bill Honsberger said...

Sola sisters posted this video clip from Bell several months ago:
along with a rebuttal from someone who actually knows a bit about quantum theory - unlike Rob Bell. His statement is panentheistic. This is not subtle or provoking for the sake of "deep thought". The difference between him and the classic process thinkers (Whitehead, etc) is that he claims thats what the Biblical prophets taught! If his endorsement of Ken WIlbur (major New Age thinker) ten years ago wasn't enough - than what he says in the book probably won't be enough to move the defenders away from him anyway.
His defenders flail on that he does believe in the virgin birth, etc. Please - the most important thing in Velvet Elvis to understand Rob Bell is that the virgin birth DOESN"T matter. Point me to a doctrinal confession of his all you want - but if these things DON"T MATTER then what is the point?
His recent endorsement of world renowned scholar Huston Smith's view of the world religions just proves the larger point - Bell sees "god" present in all the religions because Bell see "god" present in everything! Thats why Hell falls off the map. "god" is so in love with itself that it will surely reclaim itself as the ocean reclaims all the separated drops. I have been witnessing at New Age Fairs/Parliament of World Religions and similar types of events for over twenty years and this is all standard stuff for Deepak Chopra, Robert Muller, Ken WIlbur, Marianne Williamson and so on. Its just that CT and other formerly evangelical institutions still want to pretend that Rob Bell is in some meaningful way still a Christian.
Flail on defenders - Bell's coming out party has been in process for ten years (good emergent word!) and like MacLaren and Padgitt there is an inevitable goal in sight.
Phil - our Bible study will be praying for a successful surgery and recovery.
Lord bless

Anonymous said...

'If he's saying that ultimately nobody will be in hell, then he must necessarily say that sin is no big deal...'

I don't know if that necessarily follows, provided he doesn't dump the cross.

Don't get me wrong, I think he's a heretic and his view on sin and hell is as far wrong as it could possibly be.
But I think (at least in his mind) he isn't reducing sin, but increasing the value of the cross.

Clearly he's wrong, because the Bible is clear about sin, the cross, salvation, the whole bit. I just think that statements like that one, leave one open to the charge that Bell has been misunderstood.

I don't see where he has been, but, as JT's comment thread clearly shows, that doesn't mean people won't say so...

Jeri Tanner said...

Thank you Phil, that's a very incisive, though sad, synopsis of the state of evangelicalism in our culture. What times we live in, and history we're part of.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Johnson,

Hello & good morning.

It can be so hard to communicate and perceive one another’s tone in this medium, so I want to be explicit about my intentions.

My hope is that we can have a civil dialogue as brothers in Christ. I’m really not the sort of guy who angrily and dogmatically defends my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. In fact, I’m always will to reevaluate my perspective as merited by new evidence and I truly don’t mind being shown to be wrong. I do so because I’m committed to worshiping God with my mind. All I ask is for all parties to proceed with love, grace, and humility–or behaving as Christians ought. Hopefully that spirit can mark this discourse. I love your comment that you’re “not looking for crass watchbloggers or anti-intellectual zealots for whom every disagreement is an excuse for insults and a shouting match.” Amen.

I’m the example you used of bloggers who are “angrily insisted” that Justin’s comment is premature. Honestly, I find that interesting because I’ve got a number of close, self-describing “Totally Reformed” friends who’ve read my post. None of them perceived me to be angry. One of ‘em–a “7 pt Calvinist” (his term, not mine)–even came to my defense, pointing out to an angry fellow that I wasn’t even defending Bell; my call was simply to withhold judgment till the book has been published and we’ve all had a chance to read it.

I have some more thoughts, particularly about the nature and status of American evangelicalism, but is probably enough for now.

Grace & Peace,


Unknown said...

This is a well said piece. I'm sorry to hear about your back, Phil. I hesitate to even ask because I might already know the answer, but is this going to affect you speaking at the Shepherd's Conference?

Unknown said...


Let's not line up those who saw your post as angry on one side and those who believe is wasn't angry on the other, stack up their degrees and see who wins. If you say it wasn't angry, then it wasn't angry. You authored it. No need for tone police.


My simple question for you: what in Rob Bell's teachings and writings leads you to believe that he is going in any other direction than some flavor of heretical universalism? This is not a question for what you feel about the issue, it is a question for the mind.

Anonymous said...


You said, "...my call was simply to withhold judgment till the book has been published and we’ve all had a chance to read it."

I understand your assertion, and I realize that to address/review any book intelligently requires reading it thoroughly. However, I genuinely wrestle with whether or not to fill my mind with the writings of individuals like Bell who have unequivocally demonstrated themselves to be false teachers.

Tim Bayly said...

Imagine the Apostle Paul waiting to read the Judaizers' next defense of the necessity of circumcision. Trouble is, no one today believes there's any heresy outside Islam, Roman Catholicism (and barely there), Salt Lake City, or the mainline denominations so ably opposed by our fearless warrior-father, Machen. (Still, maybe he was a bit over the top in "Christianity and Liberalism, don't you think?)

Bell oozes shipwreck of the faith and the utter ruin of our sheep--OUR sheep he's seducing for the sake of his precious royalties!

Godly pastors and elders should be blowing a clear note on their trumpets. We should be making you-know-whats of ourselves growling and snapping at him and barking in warning against his knock at our doors. But instead, too many of us are all in a tither about how we'll be perceived on the national scene if we start growling and biting and barking like a dog. So that concern trumps our concern for the souls under our care and we begin to mince our warnings and use hedge words and phrases. We get genteel because we know genteel plays in Peoria.

If Rob Bell has all the marks of a super-apostle (which he does), we should have all the marks--the snarls and curses and sarcasm and ad hominem attacks--of the Apostle Paul opposing them.

* * *

Dear Phil,

God give you healing for your back, and quickly restore your faithful shpherding to us.


Jaycen said...

Sorry your back is giving you fits. I'll be praying for your recovery. Also, thanks for being a voice of reason and source of courage built on Biblical truth.

Anonymous said...

David Platt posted this morning what I belive sums up Rob Bell's new book based on his video:

"When men talk of a little hell, it is because they think they have only a little sin, and believe in a little Savior." C.H. Spurgeon

Anonymous said...


I like your forthrightness and tone of respect. Thank you.

"simple question...: what in Rob Bell's teachings and writings leads you to believe that he is going in any other direction than some flavor of heretical universalism?"

Two thoughts.

1. Putting aside Love Wins for the moment, I've asked a *lot* of people what else Rob Bell has said in previous books, videos, or lectures that causes them to think he's rejecting historic orthodoxy and no one has given me an even remotely decent answer. I don't want this to sound combative. I just would like evidence.

2. Regarding Love Wins, it's a teaser video. Does it sound like he's headed toward Universalism? Yes. Would not the appropriate thing be to reserve judgment till the book has been published in its entirety, though? A lot of people say they’ll retract their posts/comments if the book proves that Bell isn’t a Universalist, but isn’t that a case of shooting first and asking questions later? I find that method troubling. It’s like saying, “Yes, I wrote a blog post accusing my pastor of adultery after I saw him in his office with a woman other than his wife. If it’s proven to me that he was only counseling her, then I’ll happily publish a retraction.” All I'm saying is let's exercise discernment--refrain from judging definitively till all the facts are in. I think that's reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Everyday Mom,

You wrote, "I understand your assertion, and I realize that to address/review any book intelligently requires reading it thoroughly. However, I genuinely wrestle with whether or not to fill my mind with the writings of individuals like Bell who have unequivocally demonstrated themselves to be false teachers."

I cannot argue against your conscience, so my comments aren't aimed are you personally. Yet as a general rule I encourage people to not only engage sources they agree with, but with whom they disagree. Worship God with our minds. Test and discern the spirits of the age.

Take Brian McLaren, for example. Let me be clear that I don't agree with him theologically. There's some really troubling things about some of the things he's written. So I'm not McLaren fan, right? OK. Yet his book 'Generous Orthodoxy' played a significant role in my spiritual development, helping me to understand the elements of truth, beauty, and goodness in all the various christian traditions. That is, though I disagree with him on some important--no, essential--stuff, God has still used him to help me grow in my faith. Even if Bell is a Universalist, I don't think most people should just say that they're not going to read him (unless their conscience won't allow it).

Also, as I asked Brent, putting aside Love Wins for a moment, I'm yet to have anyone show me evidence that he's departed from historic orthodoxy. I'm not saying he hasn't. I'm saying that I'm not branding him a "false teacher" until I get evidence demonstrating this. As one who's been wounded a great deal by false accusations of heresy, I'm sensitive to this. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a softy on upholding orthodoxy. There's a time and a place to call people out on heresy. But let's just be careful in not falsely leveling the H-bomb against people, thus inflicting wounds upon the Body of Christ as has been done to me. I hope you're hearing in these words my heart, mind, and soul's commitment to worshiping God.

FX Turk said...

I'm willing to put out a 5-year moratorium on disussing this book if everyone will abide by it.

However, anyone wanting to issue a statement about this video? I say they have all they need to make a fair stab at what Mr. Bell intends to say about this subject.

Note to haters: if his book comes out with a clear and categorical endorsement of the real threat of hell for sinful men, I'll quit blogging altogether and take up some other hobby which will not waste any more of your time.

FX Turk said...


Have you watched the Nooma videos? Not some of them: all of them?

Anonymous said...


Please give me a specific doctrinal concern in the Nooma video.



The Squirrel said...

Frank Turk said...
"Note to haters: if his book comes out with a clear and categorical endorsement of the real threat of hell for sinful men, I'll quit blogging altogether and take up some other hobby which will not waste any more of your time."

I, for one, think you're perfectly safe on this one, Cent, and will be blogging for quite some time to come.


Anonymous said...


Grrrr. I replied to you in-depth. Where did it go?

DJP said...

Carson, is there a reason you can't give Frank a straight answer to his simple question before asking him another yourself?

FX Turk said...


To my knowledge, there are 24 videos in the Nooma series. have you watched them all?

Bill Honsberger said...

Carson - did you see the specific statements I made about Bell?
BTW - you know that Bell and his marketers/publishers are loving this weekend events. Doesn't this remind anyone of all the hubbub before Maclaren published ANKC? Same provocation, followed by tone police and can't judge without reading the book (sounds like LDS here doesn't it?) followed by way too many buying the trash and enriching the author/publisher. Carson - the difference between GO and ANKC was light years - but the trajectory was quite clear and with every new offering became ever so clear. Bell is the same. VE was bad, very bad but his delving into panentheism and forays into TM and other fun things have shown his direction.

Michael Hotard said...

Since the days of the Biblical prophets, and before then, most people do not want to hear the truth about anything. That is not only true in spiritual matters. The messenger of any truth is usually ostracized and belittle by the general population. In, the 1030s no one in England wanted to believe Churchill's warnings about Hitler. In both the spiritual and physical realms, most people prefer peace at any cost than to pay the cost of fight for truth.

donsands said...

Excellent article Phil. Thanks.

It's good Rob is getting a lot of attention, and some will never see the truth of his unskilled biblical teachings. Some will see, and may not totally call him a false teacher, but may at least say he is wrong in this and that.

To be honest, this guy when he does anything is creepy.

He really seems to push the Cross aside.

I wonder what His teaching of Galatians 6:14 would say. Would love to hear him teach from Galatians. Or, maybe not.

Lord bless the surgeons and bless Phil and his family. Amen.

Here's the one teaching of Bell I heard on a video that is false:

“[W]hat do we find frustrates him [Jesus] to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….it isn’t their failure that’s the problem. It’s their greatness. God has an amazingly high view of people….I’ve been told that 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.”-Rob Bell

Crocodilus said...

Dear Phil,

I pray your back surgery goes well and your recovery is speedy. I assume you suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease, as I do.

Unfortunately, if I were to get surgery, the neurologist said I would end up with a total spinal fusion within 10 years and be luck to look down and see my shoes. I have 3 bad discs in the lumbar, 1 in the thoracic and 2 in the cervical; so I am hoping to hold out till adult stem cell research catches up or the Lord returns.

I know your pain and my deepest sympathies are with you and your family. God bless you and may he use you sufeering to drawl you closer to Him..so let it be!

Mark Tanner, Independence, KY

Not Ashamed said...

"Ghandi's in hell? Someone knows that for sure?"
Yep Rob for sure...That "One Way" thing that seems to be so offensive to the masses Jesus did say. He didn't stutter or make excuses leaving wiggle room for the "liberal minded, don't rock the boat, can't we all just get along, God is love crowd."
And hell? Oh yeah it's real and it's hot which makes it real hot.

I hear in Mr Bells tone that sing song voice of compassion that drips the poison of works and self righteousness...and a God that loves all...sounds right, sprinkled with some tidbits of truth but in the end is death...
If you have any inkling of desire to follow or adhere to this mans teaching than do as you would with the beauty of seeing a tiger in the wild...."RUN"

philness said...

Barbara does indeed hit the bulls eye dead on.

The thing I notice is how so quick the crowd from all walks of life and death rises and applauds this false teaching. Clappers! As if it were always within them and finaly a man comes into the arena and wins the crowd with the destructive emotional half truths of love. What irony.

It is not that the non-clappers are stoic sages with perfect wisdom having already arrived, as if looking back upon the rest of the race with condescendence. No, but rather the non-clappers are struggling in their own emotions of how they will now begin to engage the wounded & entraped with true love and clarity.

Forget about the false teachers. They have already identified themselves as such, been scripture pleaded & reasoned with & prayed for and will continue praying for, but it's their victims that they have laid waste that we slaves of Christ must attend.

Yes the gospel is the power unto salvation. Yeah, well and good, we all know this well (Romans Uno). But once a person is saved the battle is on. The truth of God's word in the life of the believer is where the war is. The truth of how to live the Christian life and where this power comes from is the knowledge where by which we saints live or die.

Concentrate the efforts of the saints minds far away from the first 12 chapters of Romans and attack these doctrinal truths successfully with half truths and confusion and engage the wise & young men far away from discipleship and watch God abandon a nation.

Anonymous said...


I did give Brett straight answers. He inquired about Bell's the problems with teaching. I asked what problems he's referring to specifically. Straight answer. (Seems reasonable not to drop the H-bomb without evidence.) He asked why I think he's going anywhere but Universalism. I said that, from the video teaser, it does sound like Bell is doing that way BUT I'm withholding definitive judgment till the book comes out. Straight answer. (Seems reasonable to not stone a man until you've heard him out.) Let's not confuse simple with straightforward, shall we?


FX Turk said...

Carson --

Um, you haven't answered my question yet.

24 Nooma videos: you have watched them all, yes?

Anonymous said...


I've watched most the NOOMA videos. Not all. What essential doctrine, specifically, does Bell reject in those videos?



DJP said...

Carson: "Brett"?

Here's what I asked: Carson, is there a reason you can't give Frank a straight answer to his simple question before asking him another yourself?

Bill Honsberger said...

Carson - I will try and make it simple.
Bell is a panentheist. He thinks that the divine is in everything and everyone and more.
If god is in everything - then those who worshipped Baals were correct - as are those who worship the Baals today. That is why his statements about hell are so predictable.
I hope this is helpful

Anonymous said...


Read your post. Virgin birth and Velvet Elvis...

Direct quote from Bell in that section:

"I affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible and much more."

It isn't heresy to question an essential doctrine, but to reject it. Rob Bell doesn't reject the virgin birth. On that point alone, heresy charges against him are unfounded. Again, I'm more than happy to consider other evidence.



Anonymous said...



This morning you wrote, "...stack up their degrees and see who wins." I chuckled at this 'cuz I'd probably lose. I only have a Bachelor's.


Sir Brass said...

Carson, those words of Bell's are empty. If he truly did affirm those things then the glib, self-righteous anti-Christian filth which pours out of his articulate mouth wouldn't be there. It couldn't be there.

But out of the mouth the heart speaks. And Mr. Bell's heart speaks quite clearly.

And it speaks with the snarl of a wolf.

Anonymous said...


Not trying to be difficult, but I'm not seeing the pantheism. Everything is spiritual. Everything is divine/deity. Those are different propositions. Can you clarify?

You said you'll keep it simple. I'd rather you not, actually. I agree with Galileo: I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use." I'm not referencing that to show off or get a "Boo ya!" I have no such combative intentions. It's just one of my favorite quotes.


Anonymous said...

Sir Brass,

I'm not looking for a fight. Can we please maintain a spirit of love, humility, and grace (i.e. behave like Christians)?

I've always been taught that only God knows and can judge the content of another man's heart. I go by what I see and hear because that's all I can do. Are you basically condemning him on a hunch? What is your evidence?



Anonymous said...

Oh, regarding this idea that everything is spiritual, I'm reminded of Colossians 1:17, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Bill Honsberger said...

Carson - in the passage of VE he more than clearly states that the virgin birth is irrelevant to your Christian faith and practice. To paraphrase him - What if Jesus did have a human father - would it change our faith? I believe it but it really doesn't matter.
Such clarity - not on the event of the virgin birth - but rather on the lack of importance. Even though I am not a big fan of Driscoll - his rejoinder to Bell at this point is spot on. Does it matter whether Mary was a lying )((^$* or not? Seems rather telling doesn't it?
On the spirituality/divinity issue - are you just hiding because you don't want to admit the painfully obvious? He endorse Wilbur - he practices a version of TM and is cool with yoga and other fun things. We used to cal that "Hindu" and then in the 80s it became the New Age - but now to talk to anyone at the psychic fair it is to hear about being Spiritual. BTW - panentheism is a subtle shade of pantheism - but at the end they are both the same thing - all is god or "spiritual". You can watch that video a dozen times and there is no other way to hear him. Unless one is so hopelessly pomo that there is only interpretation and no possible right answer. I prefer to be honest with what Bell says himself - and this makes your defense somewhat empty.

FX Turk said...


Here's my theory: unless you have read every word he has written and observed every word he has said, you can't cast judgment on him. Your judgment that he might be orthodox is not any more or less ill-considered than Justin's extraordinarily-generous approach to saying the man is likely off the reservation.

It's funny how the call for informed moderation always errs on the side of ignorance rather than on the side of information.

To answer your re-directed question, I think the theology of the 24 videos is utterly evident, and one could write a systematic theology of what Rob Bell teaches from them -- if you assume, of course, that he means for them all to be related to what he believes and would teach. I think one utterly-possible interpretation of Rob Bell is that his objective is to entertain, not to instruct and disciple, so that we could take his videos up as a series of comic books and realize that there's no continuity between any of the pieces.

But that interpretation means that Rob Bell is not trying to be a pastor in these videos. He's trying to only be a showman. If you're willing to affirm that statement, it changes the discussion radically -- we can then merely talk about how tasteful or compelling each item is rather than whether they stand up together, and his orthodoxy doesn't have to be a question at all.

So before the question of orthodoxy is the question of intention: I think his intention is to teach us one vision for interpreting Scripture and therefore establishing the Christian faith. What do you think?

Bill Honsberger said...

onto your last comment - Col 1:17 does not and cannot mean that god is everything - something loved by the greek thinkers of the day. Paul chews that up and down all over Colossians. Jesus made all that is - both visible and invisible. In other words god cannot be everything because then it made itself???
That is why the Biblical God, Lord of the Universe, is not the same as the creation.

Scot said...

There's enough fluffy words in Bell's "talks" to start his own mattress business.

Thanks for speaking so clearly and decisively Phil. A quick prayer for back has said here.

Turretinfan said...


You wrote: "I've always been taught that only God knows and can judge the content of another man's heart."

You were taught wrong. The expression "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" is a direct quotation from Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45.


Anonymous said...


Several thoughts.

I'll have to read that section of Velvet Elvis again before commenting. I don't want to speak out of my butt.

Pomo? That’s the ad hominem logical fallacy. I’m just gonna act like you didn’t resort to that so we can continue this civil dialogue.

Who's defending Bell? I'm not. All I'm calling for is not condemning him till all the facts are in. Please keep in mind I'm not an Emergent Church guy, and neither am I Reformed. I don't have a dog in the fight. My concern is that our words, deeds, thoughts reflect our faith. Specifically, when performing the task of theology, tone is as important as content. Truth must be moored in love, grace, compassion, and humility or it is worthless. Orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right practice), right?

By the way, his "everything is spiritual" idea is very suggestive of a sacramental view of theology that is accepted in Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and certain Presbyterian sub-traditions.

As one brother in Christ to another, can you please dial down the vitriol? I feel like you're trying to rip off my head in your every word. Of course, my perception could be wrong. This isn't always a great medium for such discussions.

Grace & Peace,


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

A back surgery next week? Does that mean we won't be hearing Phil at Shepherds Conference?

Anonymous said...


Please, can we all settle down a smidge and treat one another as brothers in Christ ought? I'm really not appreciating the (seeming) caustic nature of these comments...

I'm genuinely confused. Bell is accused of rejecting the virgin birth. I quote Bell saying that he affirms it. Then I'm told you can't trust what comes out of his mouth. So I point out that only God can judge man's heart. Then you quote Matt 12:34 as saying "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." So you guys have judged the content of his heart by what he says, only you don't believe what he says represents the contents of his heart? Ummmm... circle reasoning?

Grace & Peace,


Anonymous said...


I agree. Col 1:17 "does not and cannot mean that god is everything." I could again point out that there is a difference between "everything is spiritual" and "everything is divine/deity," though. Seems to me there's an important distinction in there.

You wrote, "That is why the Biblical God, Lord of the Universe, is not the same as the creation." What about the incarnation? God became man, put on flesh, and became part of His Creation.

Grace & Peace,


Scott said...

Not completely related to the topic (other than NOOMA's), but anybody remember Phil's post about "Bullwhip guy"?


Bill Honsberger said...

I must have missed the vitriol. What exactly did I say that was vitriolic?
The comment on Pomo was vitriolic? My point was that you can listen and watch him on his big white board over and over (I have to my utter shame...) and there is no way he is not a panentheist. Calling everything spiritual instead of calling it god when that is exactly what he means. This is why he loves Wilbur so much. I don't recommend reading Wilbur as he is acid to a Christian soul - but as a missionary to people like Wilbur for some 20 years now the one thing I cannot do is to be dishonest about what Wilbur is and teaches. It is all god for him. There are steps up the ladder but in the end of the day it is all god.
When I first heard that some Wheaton grad was promoting Ken Wilbur to his church and readers I was stunned. Surely that was a mistake - maybe he was misquoted. But nope there it is and that was the beginning of his journey away from the Christian faith. I called a friend Doug Groothuis who was one of the leading experts in the country on the New Age and he was stunned as well.
My comment was not meant as an ad hominum (I also teach logic at a local community school so I am quite aware of those boundaries) and please reread what I said. I have intention of doing that to you in this discussion or with anyone in any discussion.
But words do have some meaning, contrary to Humpty, and Bell can't play the shell game without getting found out eventually.
BTW - I am familiar with the divinization claims in Orthodox thinking and sometimes in the RC church, but to the extent that any sinful person wants to claim to be divine in any way - Hinn, Copeland, Shirley Maclaine, Deepak Chopra, etc ad infinitum - then they are echoing the father of lies himself

Bill Honsberger said...

Carson I certainly agree with the Incarnation - but must add that it was unique. Hindus have avatars all day long - but they are usually seen as manifestations of divine in temp human form. Not so with the Incarnation. How does that change what I said about Colossians?
Ok please tell me what you think the distinction between everything is spiritual and everything is divine? Maybe that will clear up somethings here.

Anonymous said...

Bell is just one more in the pathetic 6000 year history of some pagan or purported Christian to bite on the "did God really say" bandwagon.

Honestly and fairly, I don't find him appealing at all. Like a bad C movie, he doesn't even suspend belief. But I appear to be a minority.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that he is not a Christian as shown by what he passes as teaching, I would ask his legion of Justin bashers this:

Do you now defend Rob, or scripture?

If Mr. Bell's "love" is what wins, it is no love at all, just a mini-narrative designed to enslave an oppressed group already set free by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Bill Honsberger said...

Carson - on the comment about Bell and the virgin birth - I am not reading his heart - but I am reading his words.

Anonymous said...


You wrote, "Here's my theory: unless you have read every word he has written and observed every word he has said, you can't cast judgment on him." Please clarify this for me. So you're saying that we can condemn him without having knowledge of all his words, but we can't confirm the validity of his faith without knowledge of all his words? So here's guilty until proven innocent, only there's an unmovable burden or proof required to demonstrate his innocence? I'm not saying this in an aggressive manner. It's a sincere question. Am I understanding you rightly?

I didn't say he's orthodox or heretical. All I said is let's refrain from judgment till the book has been published.

You wrote, "It's funny how the call for informed moderation always errs on the side of ignorance rather than on the side of information." I err on the side of grace. I recommend Philip Yancey's 'What's So Amazing About Grace?', by the way.

You wrote, "So before the question of orthodoxy is the question of intention: I think his intention is to teach us one vision for interpreting Scripture and therefore establishing the Christian faith. What do you think?" Sorry, but I'm not following your question. Would you please rephrase?

joel said...

I noticed that Bell completely left out any mention of the Cross and Christ's atoning work from his list of reasons that evangelicals believe that God would accept them into heaven. Sadly, Bell's list with Christ's work being absent is probably a pretty accurate list of reasons that most evangelical Christians feel that they are going to heaven. As has been noted by others, it is probably highly unlikely that Bell is going to come out with a proper view of man's condition before God and Christ's loving work of reconciliation as a substitute for the for his hit list of common evangelical platitudes.

FX Turk said...

Carson --

I disagree with the specific application our commenters have made here. I agree with where they are going.

I don't think we have to judge to content of Rob Bell's heart. I think that's actually a fallacy foisted upon this conversation by the anti-anti-Bell side of the conversation. For the sake of the conversation, I would be willing to say that Rob Bell has a heart just like Gandhi's heart.

The problem is the content of his teaching, which either is or is not Christian -- it is either of the same substance as the NT, or it is of a difference substance than the NT.

Gandhi taught something very clever and politically-powerful (which, btw, did not save India: Gandhi religion did not rennovate the culture or hearts of the Indian people; this is a historical fact). What he taught was not Christian.

So that said, if I can demonstrate to you that there is at least one contra-Christian thread running through the Nooma videos, will you at least concede that if we find that thread in this promotional video we can assume Rob Bell is on the same pony riding in the same direction away from the Cross?

Anonymous said...


I'm got to run. Ran out of time. I hope you have a good day.

Grace & Peace,


Bverysharp said...

Hi Carson,
Rob wrote this,
"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."
- Velvet Elvis, p.146


Carson can you explain this to me?

Mr. Fosi said...


No need to quote Bell when you can hear him in context. Here's a link to Bell laying out his "gospel" as he held it back in July 2009: http://podcast.fightingforthefaith.com/fftf/F4F072109.mp3

There is an intro, a full airing of Bell's audio, followed by an analysis.

Mr. Fosi said...

Should be a ".mp3" at the end of that link...

Blue Collar Todd said...

Thanks for addressing this as well. It is troubling how many people are defending Rob Bell.

In a separate post, maybe Pyromaniacs could address what is going on at Rick Warren's church? His new Danial Plan should be raising some serious questions. Exposing your church to a Muslim who supports using mass hypnosis and meditation should be problematic to say the least. If Warren had Oprah teaching a series at Saddleback, would that not cause concern? Well, a male version of Oprah should be equally concerning.

Anonymous said...

I am utterly astonished that Rob Bell has gone so far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would love to be able to sit and talk with Rob and ask these questions: 1) Do you believe everything the Bible says? If his answer is, "No", then the discussion is over. If not, then, 2) How do you do interpret these scriptures? Psalm 19:17, Matthew 7:13-15, Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 25:30, Luke 13:28, Luke 16:19-31, John 3:3, II Peter 2, and Revelation 14:9-11.

I could give many, many more scriptures that warn of the dangers of Hell and how you escape. Then then last question, is this: 3) Why do you negate the very teaching of Jesus Christ that you must be born again? What are you THINKING???

Unknown said...

If we spent as much time making a real impact in the world as we do judging other Christians we would have heaven on earth today. I always felt God uses different messengers to reach different people. It is through our own relationship with God, developing our Christ mindedness and applying biblical wisdom in our faith journey where truth is discovered and lived. Anything else is false doctrine including critiquing other believers. One should consider one of Satan’s tool for attacking the kingdom “Discord.”

At this point in our nation’s history we’ve more important work to do.
Just saying. :)
Steve of Applied Faith Ministry

Bill Honsberger said...

Steve - who is guilty of spreading "discord"? The one who leaves the faith and throws rocks or the one who stays in the faith and defends it?

The Squirrel said...

Applied said...
"If we spent as much time making a real impact in the world as we do judging other Christians we would have heaven on earth today."

No Christians have been judged here today. The teachings of a non-Christian "pastor-dude" have been evaluated and the lack of discernment demonstrated by many people in the church (in direct contradiction of Scripture, which warns us to be on guard against false teachers) has been lamented.


donsands said...

"Justin's extraordinarily-generous approach to saying the man is likely off the reservation." -Frank

Love that. Actually loved the whole comment. Excellent.

"I feel like you're trying to rip off my head in your every word. Of course, my perception could be wrong."

It is wrong.

Anonymous said...

After watching this video, would you let your children be taught by Bell? Enough said…

Bverysharp said...

Applied, Steve whatever,
I guess you have shown yourself to be a dominionist?
Heavan on Earth?
Judging Christians? I guess you are judging us as judging?
"Just sayin".

Bverysharp said...

One more thing Steve, your shameless use of the 'Church', God's Bride for your CD sales will be judged.

The Squirrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Squirrel said...

Bverysharp nailed it! Applicable Steve is nothing but a self-help guru huckster dude.

"Start Your Faith Journey and Order Your Program Today. $49.05"

Guess what, Steve? People can come to my church and I'll teach 'em what the Bible says and how to apply it to their lives for free!

I know others will, too!

What a deal!


donsands said...

"I always felt God uses different messengers to reach different people."

This is true. But the message has to always be the pure and simple truth of the Word; the Gospel.

And there are many who twist the Word, and we need to strive against these, and contend for the faith, especially pastors and leaders. God gives His shepherds to feed the sheep, tend the lambs, be examples to the flock, and also protect the sheep from dogs and wolves in sheep-clothing.

These same shepherds will of course be bold and humble, and speak the truth in love, and with compassion.
The three TeamPyro amigos are shepherds such as these my friend.

Pew Potato said...

What's interesting is that Rob Bell's website has a question while HarperCollins phrases it as a statement:


Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.


Rob Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever…?

Not sure if that is significant.

Matt Burke said...

Pew Potato, that is interesting, but I'm not sure its all that significant.

His questions are all leading in a specific direction. He frames the questions in a way that it's quite clear what he's advocating.

Further, how likely is it that the book publisher, who presumably has read the entire text, would state the central argument in a way that is 180 degrees off from what Bell actually tried to communicate? A publisher's blurb might lack nuance, perhaps, but could it really be that far off?

Eric said...


You said: "Anything else is false doctrine including critiquing other believers."

That makes your critique of the believers here to be false doctrine. Please repent.

naturgesetz said...

It seems to me that the most relevant thing to the suggestion that Rob Bell has fallen for universalism is this quote from Velvet Elvis, provided a while back by Bverysharp:

"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. …"

Not only does Rob Bell explicitly affirm that there are people in Hell, he explicitly affirms that Hell is full of people.

Folks, whatever that is, it is clearly not universalism. Maybe he has changed his belief since writing that, but he was not a universalist when he wrote those words.

What does he mean? I take those words to mean that he thinks there are many who have failed to accept the love and forgiveness that God offers to all through the cross of Jesus, and they are in Hell.

BTW, I hadn't been been aware of either Justin Taylor or Rob Bell until now, so I don't come at this with a side I'm predisposed to uphold. Until I saw the quote from Velvet Elvis, the video sounded as if he could be a universalist, but it was suggestive, rather than explicit.

TAR said...


Praying for your back

Tom Chantry said...


That is exactly what that quote sounds like. I suspect, though, that no one thought Bell was a universalist upon reading Velvet Elvis, else this would be old news. Taylor based his comments on Bell's promotional material for his upcoming book. The whole accusation is that his theology continues to move - and that's where it appears to be going.

It's important to remember, too, everyone, that Justin Taylor is not like the rest of us poor, slovenly bloggers in our mom's basements. He is a fairly well-connected editor with Crossway. I believe he talked about reading several chapters of the soon to be released book which were "sent to him." So lets not pretend that Justin is merely guessing in his post.

If I were to say Bell's a universalist it would be based on the rumors I've heard today; I've never read the guy. Justin has a bit more ground to stand on than I do - and more than any of his critics, as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me was Rob Bell featured in Newsweek magazine back in 08 maybe 09? I read an article back then about this new pastor out in Grand Rapids that was "so tuned in" to the youth. Just trying to figure out if this is him.

Mike Riccardi said...


If we spent as much time making a real impact in the world...

You make the false assumption that discussions about doctrine are impractical. If Bell is teaching heresy, and many souls are listening to him thinking that they'll get to heaven on his heresy, I can't imagine many things more practical than to demonstrate that his doctrine is damning.

I think we can dub this the "like ministry" fallacy.

...as we do judging other Christians...

I think it's a good point that other Christians were not judged. Rather, the teaching of someone who claims to be a Christian was judged. We're to test the spirits (1Jn 4:1). We're to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so (Ac 17:11). We're supposed to be on guard for the flock of God against the wolves that arise in her midst (Ac 20:28-31). We are to contend for the faith (Jude 3).

...we would have heaven on earth today.

I can't tell if this is bad eschatology or just postmodern, hand-holdey, let's-all-give-each other-a-great-big-hug drivel. No amount of Kumbaya choruses will bring the kingdom.

I always felt God uses different messengers to reach different people.

1. Don't tell us how you feel. Tell us what God's Word says.

2. That's the pragmatic fallacy. God will use everything -- sinful and non-sinful -- to accomplish His purposes. It doesn't mean that everything is fair game. "God can use it," is not an argument for, "We should do it."

It is through our own relationship with God, developing our Christ mindedness and applying biblical wisdom in our faith journey where truth is discovered and lived.

"I need an Altoid." - Phil Johnson.

Anything else is false doctrine including critiquing other believers.

You've just entered the post-modern twilight zone.

Anyone catch that? False doctrine is redefined as disagreeing. Applied, have you ever considered that most of what Paul wrote was about critiquing others who claimed to be believers?

One should consider one of Satan’s tool for attacking the kingdom “Discord.”

And another one should consider another of Satan's tools for attacking [ahem] the Church: Error.

At this point in our nation’s history we’ve more important work to do.

Again I ask you, what could be more important than snatching some brands from the burning (Jude 23) by earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 3)?

Anonymous said...

I am not a writer/blogger. So I apologize in advance for any punctuation/grammatical errors, (had to say that because everyone here just seems so smart). I gave my life to Christ in July of 2007. I said a little prayer, walked down an aisle, then was baptized. A year and a half went by and I was still the same old me. One day I was with a friend and in his backseat I noticed a c.d. pack with teachings by John Macarthur. I was working out of state so I was driving a lot and asked to borrow them. It changed my life. I had never heard “Truth” like that before. Suddenly I had an appetite for the word of God. My entire life changed and I thank God everyday for it. You may wonder why I told this story. Because, truth is sweet to the ear, when I watched Bell’s video ……well I will let you decide what you thought of the video. He stated that “Jesus saves us from God”. All I can think of is John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” None of us know what is in this man’s heart. But I sure didn’t care for what came out of his mouth. In closing I thank God for my new pastor and church and for all the men who stand for truth. God bless.


donsands said...

"None of us know what is in this man’s heart. But I sure didn’t care for what came out of his mouth."

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

But, unless God has changed, and quickened a sinners callous heart, the heart can have no goodness.

So, we can, at times, tell who is a Christian, and who isn't, can't we.
And we surely need to see the fruit over a season or so as well. Some may grow and seem like the heart is good, but thorns and no root will show the genuineness of the heart in time.
Have a blessed evening my friend. Gal. 6:14

Anonymous said...

I though his statement about how so many millions have learned, accidentally or otherwise, that we've been saved from God, really exposed him.

Who, I would ask Him, is angry with sin? Who has the power to cast us into hell at all? So then if we're not saved from God, then from whom? Or from what?

Scripture, I think, is clear. We've been saved from the wrath of God.

I'm thankful for His wrath. And I'm thankful that He saved my from it.

To God be all the glory.

Michael Lawmaster said...

Praying for you Phil and your family. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ raise you up stronger than before.

Sharon said...

In the ensuing discussion here, two commenters have asked the same question which went unanswered. So I shall pass along the unfortunate news that Phil's surgery will prevent him from participating in this year's Shepherds' Conference. We GCC staff are as disappointed as you attendees.

naturgesetz said...

A couple of people have quoted the line from the video, "Jesus saves us from God." As I heard him say those words, I thought he was putting that forward as something he does not believe. I thought he was saying that if it is true that that Father willfully creates people to condemn them, then we'd have to say that Jesus saves us from the Father, which would be absurd, because Jesus and the Father are one. I think he is saying that we must not imagine a damnation-desiring God the Father because it would mean that the Father and the Son are at cross purposes. Whereas in fact both are at Cross purposes. Both wish all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

In other words, Bell was using a reductio ad absurdum against the position he disagrees with. He's trying to say, "If you think God wants to send people to Hell, then you've got to believe that Jesus save us from God. So you can't believe that God wants to send people to Hell."

I'm not saying his logic is perfect. He may be confused and not thinking clearly, But he's saying it's other people who would have to say that Jesus saves us from God.

CR said...

Well when John MacArthur was resting after his surgery one of the things he did during recovery was watch TBN. He said that gave him more excruciating pain than recovering from his surgery.

Hope all goes well.

Thomas Louw said...

Tom Chantry
‘It's important to remember, too, everyone, that Justin Taylor is not like the rest of us poor, slovenly bloggers in our mom's basements.”

I dislike your tone how do you dare judge my mother’s basement. Have you seen my mother’s basement? Have you ever blogged in my mother’s basement.

Your judgement of my mother’s basement is very underground and unchristian

Tom Chantry said...

Thomas Louw,

I could never blog in my mother's basement! I just couldn't! (No internet down there.) I have done sermon prep in my mother's basement...

James S said...

I agree with Phil, Kevin DeYoung & Justin Taylor in all this. It's no hard thing to see that Bell is a wolf. He's not even wearing sheep's clothing, which makes it even more disheartening to see people actually defend him.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that God uses people like Bell to test his people. Also to judge in real-time his non-people. You have read in the bible that He will cause those who continually reject Him to "love a lie". That is judgement here and now.

Bell and his ilk fit right into the plan of God and are used whether knowingly or not.

My heart goes out to you Phil, myself having xperienced the pain of back troubles in the past. It is no picnic. Hope all goes well for you.

DJP said...

I want to know whether Chantry invited Louw's mother to coffee before taking off after her and her basement.

Tom Chantry said...

Don't worry, Dan, Louw's mother and my mother are sitting in a beautiful little tea-house right now working it all out.

Robert said...


Wouldn't it be more proper for Tom to actually bring the coffe to their basement. I mean, you have to consider home field advantage.

I can't really add much to this that hasn't been said already. Except that I am saddened and angered that there are so many people following false teaching. And even more angered that people twist Scripture in so many different ways. Although, I will share that my wife told me that a lady at our church was reading a book by Eckhart Tolle when she was lost, but just the name of Jesus in that book led her to go study and learn about the real Jesus and God used that to save her. So, yes, God does cause all things to work for the good of His elect (Romans 8:28). So God can even use the false teaching of Bell and others to bring people to the truith. That doesn't change our responsibility to defend our faith against these guys, but it is encouraging to hear/see how God works through it. Praise Yahweh!

Anonymous said...


In my comment, at least, the point of raising Bell's comment about people believing the Jesus saves us from God, was to say that he is there, correctly explaining the biblical view, only to repudiate it.

Jesus sacrifice does indeed save us from God.

It is His holy wrath, after all, that causes Him to cast the unrighteous into hell. The devil has nothing to do with that (except as one of the damned, I suppose)

Solameanie said...

As far as the Bells are concerned, the first warning that the Wicked Witch of the West had poisoned the poppy field should have been the statement in Christianity Astray that they (Rob Bell's wife) didn't know what most of the Bible meant. If I had a pastor and pastors' wife that didn't know what most of Scripture meant, I'd say it's time for dismissal.

On another note, I am getting a bit tired of the current trend of asking for "specifics" when discussing a general problem. Of course, specificity is necessary at times. But quite often these days, those who ask for specifics really don't care much what the specific is. They will argue, twist, niggle, obfuscate, challenge and split hairs endlessly to the point that the original bone of contention is lost or people are too worn out to bother going on with the argument. Sound like pomo tactics? Yep. I'd say so. And we're on to every one of them.

Yurie said...

Whenever I hear/read Emergents use terms like "God", "Bible", "Scripture", and "Love", this quote keeps coming to my mind, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I think that's how I tend to sum up the whole movement.

Unknown said...


Thanks for your response, but I really do not think you have read or seen much of Rob Bell from your responses. Mr. Bell colors so far outside the lines that there is no discernible picture left and the quotes of Mr. Bell you use are utterly stripped of their context.

May I suggest that you read every post that is tagged, WYWTWIWYWTT, on this blog? It may give you a little background on what many of the commentators fear in the Rob Bell's of this world...

Last, I am offended deeply that I was confused for Frank;)

DJP said...

Yurie, few situations cannot be addressed by an appropriate line from The Princess Bride.

Anonymous said...


DJP said...



Tom Chantry said...

HOUDs? You mean the Heretics Of Unusual Deviousness? I don't think they exist.

Aaron Snell said...

DJP: "Yurie, few situations cannot be addressed by an appropriate line from The Princess Bride."

Chantry: "HOUDs? You mean the Heretics Of Unusual Deviousness? I don't think they exist."

This is why I love this blog.

Elle said...

I echo what some of the first commenters said..its just more of the same. I have not read Bell's books, but I have heard him on YouTube and his latest promo video. It's just sad. I read another post about how his questions in that promo video were leading questions...how if he didn't actually believe those things, he was in the least being misleading. I think that's true. And how should one take that even if what Bell's book says is totally right on (which I highly doubt it will be).

On another note, I often find myself not riled up enough about these things. I think its because of the backlash other Christians have resorted too. They can't handle anyone talking badly or criticizing their earthly hero - Rob Bell. They act like the guy is Jesus himself. I pray my heart does not become so easily misled by people like Bell just because he's hip, well spoken, and gets me. So does my shrink, but I'm not gonna take up counseling....


donsands said...

I had to share one of my favs.

Jon said...

A friend thought that Bell might just be playing the Devil's advocate and posing questions to challenge us in a good way, and then affirm sound doctorine once he's into the meat of his book, but look at the facebook comments on the intro video to see the fruit of that.. universalists are rejoicing and people are being deceived

link to view comments:

Kyle said...

There's a Usenet mantra that goes "don't feed the trolls".

Rob Bell is a troll.

Take heed.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a job for...Wretched Radio! Which is about all what I know of Nooma, or Rob Bell. Todd Friel's video response to The Bullhorn Guy was dead on. We need you now more than ever.

Perhaps if Mr. Bell found someone he loved on the wrong end of a seared conscience, he would come to terms with his natural man's distaste for Hell. Maybe then he would understand better its absolute necessity. Maybe then he would even find himself praying imprecatory prayers, the way the Savior did.

Karen Butler

Anonymous said...


My Dad fell off a ladder 30 years ago, and woke up in excrutiating pain five years ago. He had a surgery, and steroids, and just finished a 30 day cruise through French Polynesia, and was just engaged to be married again.

I pray the same happy recovery to you!

Karen Butler

thomas4881 said...

I'm a Calvinist and a premillenialist and I believe Arminains and dominionist are heretics. Does that make me intolerant? Does that make me a demon possessed in the eyes of American Christians?