Rob Bell: "I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man"

7636 reads

There are 29 Comments

MShep2's picture

Rob Bell jumped off the "Evangelical" ship quite a while ago and only now makes headlines because he is a darling of the MSM. What a surprise! ROB BELL SUPPORTS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE! 

NOT!

What is the next Rob Bell "surprise"? His support of polygamy?

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

TylerR's picture

Editor

Rob Bell is an idiot. He threw the Bible out a long time ago. Let's talk about something of substance.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

SamH's picture

Some might say this to be an un-Christian remark, no? I am certain MBBC's seminary has a manual on logical fallacies, including ad hominem?

TylerR wrote:

Rob Bell is an idiot. He threw the Bible out a long time ago. Let's talk about something of substance.

 

I pastor a small church in the shadow of the church Bell formerly pastored--his words still influence many, many (many!) people. They will soak up his thoughts like sponges (as they have in the past). He will likely get a full two page write up in the Grand Rapids Press (as before), and I will be arguing against his notions anew, as we meet people in our community--whether trying to relate with people about Christ, or meeting people who were formerly involved in church. People are enamored with him--young and old.

Conservative and fundamentalist pastors all over West Michigan and throughout the country have to provide carefully thought-out answers to Bell's ideas.

In fact, we have to offer ideas of substance, not invective. Invective is easy, but oddly not all that effective. Jus'sayin'sall...

SamH

jimfrank's picture

Rob Bell is this generation's George Templeton, except Templeton had the sense to walk away from the ministry when he fell into apostasy.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Bell was speaking to the Cathedral's Grace Forum in an appearance presented in partnership with his publisher, HarperCollins. 

Harper Collins is counting on the controversy that this will generate by the public outcry of evangelicals, which then created curiosity of evangelicals and everyone else so that it will sell his new book.   It worked with Love Wins.  They hare hoping it works with his new book.  Free marketing through controversy!!!!!!

TylerR's picture

Editor

Nobody is denying we have to stand up to those who seek to water down or outright deny what Scripture teaches. Your not so subtle rebuke that I am still in Seminary was cute, but ultimately meaningless. I served a decade in the military and am not a wide-eyed school child.

 I view SI as a forum where fundamentalists can candidly exchange ideas and thoughts with one another in an informal manner. If I'd realized I had to keep the wall of political correctness up among brethren on a blog forum, I wouldn't have bothered posting my comment. I could fashion a neutral essay and coldly discuss the matter in an academic fashion, but SI is a blog, not an academic journal.

I would also challenge whether you didn't privately mutter something along the same lines of "Rob Bell is an idiot" when you read the article in the comfort of your own home, office or car! I also doubt you'd hesitate to express this sentiment to a Christian friend over a cup of coffee. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I assumed SI operated in that precise sort of virtual context.

For the benefit of those who seek political correctness, here is v 2.0 of my post:

Rob Bell has repeatedly evidenced a lack of Biblical discernment; indeed, a lack of respect for Biblical authority as the rule of faith and life. He does not deserve to be taken seriously as a Christian leader and he does not legitimately speak for the Christian community at large. Christians should repudiate this man and his teachings as the opportunity arises, and encourage the flock to not be taken in by this false teacher. We must stand on God's Word, not man's opinion.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Linscott's picture

Like it or not, Rob Bell's message has had a definite appeal to those raised in American Evangelicalism. Bell's influence took root in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is a hotbed of anything and everything one can find in US Christianity. Sam is right in that, as tempting as it is to dismiss him as an idiot, that will accomplish little more than giving one a sense of smug superiority.

At the same time, I will also observe that countering Bell is not easily done through ration and ideas- though in the end, it is the only way. Bell articulates what people feel- it's a perfect example of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. It doesn't have to make sense or correspond with an authoritative source- it just generally seems consistent with what nice people would think and do- "don't rock the boat, man."

Whatever else, simply dismissing Bell and people like him as "an idiot" is certainly not going to give you an audience with those who are considering what he has to say. It will lead them to think that you're just another "Bullhorn Guy."  Like it or not, this is the climate we are called to proclaim in. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture

Editor

I agree Rob Bell must be countered. I never suggested I'd tell a teenager from my Youth Group, "Rob Bell is an idiot." I expressed that in this context, on this blog only.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Linscott's picture

TylerR, 

I know SamH personally, and have benefited from his ministry as my family and I looked to him as our pastor for a time. I also know that Sam knows from his own experience how easy it is to be, as you put it, "candid."

SI (and the internet in general) do offer a certain freedom of expression. At the same time, as a minister of the gospel,  what you give expression to in one setting will influence how you communicate in others. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 is best  applied consistently in our lives, including internet interaction.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler's comment has been addressed and he has responded. This thread isn't about Tyler. 

We could focus on how to counteract what looks to me like an evangelical Oprah. There's no doubt that Bell has a broad, feel good appeal. Sort of like Velveeta cheese, which of course isn't cheese, but a "Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product". <secretly hopes Jim will take the hint and do some creative photoshopping...>

Greg Linscott's picture

...but it does provide a good reminder that people who find Rob Bell appealing cannot be engaged in this way with any degree of effectiveness. This is a discussion accessible to anyone on the internet. Don't forget that. It may not be likely that Rob Bell himself will read this, but it is not at all unlikely that someone favorably inclined toward him might. It is a good thing, I would reason, that an audience reading this would not assume that all Fundamentalist types, at least, find it acceptable to refer to those with opposing views as "idiots," much less that it is consistent with Biblical guidelines.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Greg Linscott wrote:

...but it does provide a good reminder that people who find Rob Bell appealing cannot be engaged in this way with any degree of effectiveness. This is a discussion accessible to anyone on the internet. Don't forget that. It may not be likely that Rob Bell himself will read this, but it is not at all unlikely that someone favorably inclined toward him might. It is a good thing, I would reason, that an audience reading this would not assume that all Fundamentalist types, at least, find it acceptable to refer to those with opposing views as "idiots," much less that it is consistent with Biblical guidelines.

Consider us reminded. 

Mike Harding's picture

Farewell Rob Bell!

Pastor Mike Harding

SamH's picture

...not as a yawn,

not someone to express "bored"dom about,

nor as an idiot.

The "many" to whom I refer in my Subject line includes several serious, good men here in the WMich area who think that Bell's ideas are foolish and heretical, but none will treat him as described just above, because to do so will be to weaken their arguments with the Christians (or church attendees) to whom and with whom they minister. What is the value of having strong arguments against him with these ones? Because the eternal danger to people is real. Along with the lost who may stumble across this website (as they search for Rob Bell's name), many Christians and church attendees see hope in him personally, and his teachings. If we are arguing the substance of his errors, then they might be aided and not dismissive of what they see here. But, one of the things I run into is that conservative and fundamentalist Christians are seen as not being worth listening to (as regards Bell) because they are "haters."

Let's admit that many of these people will think that kind of thing anytime you disagree with someone like Bell (even if you do it without committing logical fallacies, and within the bounds of civil and/or Christian discourse). That is the sad but current state of logic in our culture (Christian or secular). How much more will I lose them if in my zeal and passion for truth I commit a Malchus's ear mistake and actually give them real ammo against me? The name, fame and cause of Christ are dirtied by this. (If you see my web presence here and there, I am guilty of many Malchusian (to coin a term) moments when I admittedly "acted like an idiot." (Greg Linscott is right re: my own candidness as it were [rueful, sorrowing smile].)) I have paid for these instances--sometimes with the lost, sometimes with Christians to whom and with whom I minister.

To Tyler: I mean no rebuke as to your age/being in seminary. Age/maturity and station of life have nothing to do with this. I did mean to point out what Greggie (he hates when I call him that) already stated well. Additionally, in the church I pastor, sometimes I see clear evidences of my cynicism, sarcasm and caustic-ism in them, and I mourn--having each time to go to them to point out that I was wrong to (as Bauder says) use "mustard" when I should have used something else. (Bauder notes that like mustard, cynicism and sarcasm have a place, but like mustard, one might not want to make a steady diet of them.) I am guessing that some of your teens with whom and to whom you minister for Christ's sake may see what is written here [though it looks like that church reference has been removed]. As to your seminary status, I too am in seminary currently (Th.M Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary).

We are all young in comparison to someone--I am surrounded by wiser older men (my profs) at PRTS, who (even while in casual conversation with me) correct me and teach me with their questions. (Be it said, in probably more elegant & cultured ways than what I have attempted with you.) It is humbling.

Finally, I did not mean my remarks to detract from the OP, because Bell's stock and trade includes the message that what he is presenting is a godly, biblical, and loving answer to the (real or perceived) errors of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism--including name-calling.

We need to teach everyone, from children, teens and adults to know and believe orthodoxy and to live and breathe orthopraxy. So the,n when they are in the world, around other Christians and the lost, they will be able to lovingly and carefully describe and argue for God’s viewpoint, and invite the other person to glorify Christ with them in whatever that issue is. With the lost especially, presenting a biblically taught understanding of God’s view of sexual sin (of all types, including same-sex sin) can be a path to showing them how to glorify God in trusting Christ. That confrontation in the realm of ideas will be confronting enough to them, their hackles will go up even higher if they sense an unloving invective in us. God help us all.

SamH

Mike Harding's picture

Biblical Sexual Ethics in Light of God’s Institution of Marriage
by
Pastor Mike Harding (B.A., M.A, M.Div., Th.M.)

 

Definition of Marriage:
 

Marriage is the exclusive God ordained institution between one man (husband) and one woman (wife) in a mutually consented “one-flesh” relationship, consisting of mutually supportive companionship and physical union (Gen 1:27; 2:24; 1 Cor 7:1-6; Rom 1:26-27).  As such marriage is a life-long, monogamous, heterosexual, covenant relationship between the man and the woman, publicly entered into before God as witness and enforcer (Prov 2:17; Mal 2:16; Matt 19:6) and recognized by God’s institution of human government (Deut 22:13-17; Gen 29:25-26; Rom 13:1; Matt 22:21).  The marriage covenant is authoritatively based on divine law and normally recognized by civil law.

The marital covenant with God as witness and enforcer involves certain obligatory responsibilities on the side of both husband and wife: (1) marital love including conjugal relations (Gen 2:23-24), (2) living together as a single household (Gen 2:24), (3) faithfulness to the marriage bed (Ex 20:14), (4) provision for the wife by the husband (Gen 30:30; Deut 22:13-29), (5) submission to the husband by the wife (Gen 3:16), (6) and the proper raising of any children born to the union (Ezra 9-10; Mal 2; Eph 5-6).  Thus, marriage is not a matter of mere social convention, but rather is a sacred bond between one man and one woman, defined by God alone, instituted by God and entered into before God.

 

Biblical Theology of Sexual Ethics:

Sexual relations do not alone constitute a genuine marriage (John 4:17-18) due to the fact that sexual activity and relations outside the marriage bond as defined above are always considered to be sinful (Hebrews 13:4; Matt 9:9). It is absolutely necessary in a militantly pagan culture to submit our sexual practice as believers to the Lordship of Christ which will result in God’s glory and our good.  Natural sexual desire is a gift of God and is to be placed in the service of God exclusively through marriage. God affirms the beauty of the one-flesh relationship exclusively within the confines of God-ordained marriage (Gen 2:24-26; Song of Solomon; Prov 5:15-19; Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 7:1-6).  

The initial purpose for the one-flesh relationship is procreational as the natural result of sexual union and fulfilling the dominion mandate (Gen 1:28; cf. Gen 9:1).  The second purpose of the one-flesh relationship is relational (Gen 2:18, 21-23), thereby alleviating man’s aloneness.  The third purpose of the one-flesh relationship is social.  Unrestrained sexual license greatly contributes to an undisciplined and disorderly society producing family breakdown, divorce, illegitimacy, disease, the welfare state, abuse, criminal behavior, bitterness, and slavery to sin (Matt 5:8; 5:28; Job 31:1; Ps 119:9; Gen 2:25; cf. Ps 51:10; Rom 1:18-32).  Without accepted norms based on biblical prescription there will not be sufficient public restraint to control acts of sexual impropriety and immodesty in society (Ezek 16:36; 23:18; Rom 13:1-6).  The final purpose of the one-flesh relationship in monogamous, heterosexual marriage is recreational.  Sexual pleasure is God’s gracious gift for his image bearers to be enjoyed exclusively in marriage without fear, shame, or guilt as the ultimate expression of marital love (Song of Solomon; Prov 5:15-19; Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 7).

All other forms of sexual activity outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage are forbidden in Scripture, including fornication (“any sexual activity outside of marriage” 1 Cor 7:2; 1 Thess 4:3), adultery (“with someone other than one’s own spouse” Ex 20:14; Matt 5:28), palingamy (“remarriage to a formerly divorced spouse after an intervening marriage” Deut 24:1-4), homosexuality (“any same-sex sexual activity” Gen 19:5-7; Lev 18:22; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7), incest (“sexual activity with family members or relatives” Lev 20:11-21; 1 Cor 5:1), obscenity (Eph 5:3-4), pornography (Matt 5:28; Mark 7:21-22; Gal 5:26; 1 Thess 4:5; Rev 18:9), prostitution (Prov 5:1-23; 7:4-27; 1 Cor 6:18), transvestitism (Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11), criminal sexual behavior (rape, molestation, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, pederasty, etc. Rom 13:1-6; Lev 18-22), and impurity (“moral filth in one’s heart and thoughts” (James 1:21; Rev 22:11; Rom 1:24; 2 Pet 2:10).

Sexual activity is not to be worshiped or idolized as is so commonly done in modern society.  All people, including Christians in particular, are obligated by their creaturely existence to enjoy God’s gracious gifts while gratefully acknowledging the Creator’s purposes and parameters for those gifts, particularly the gift of sexuality (Rom 1:18-32).  All sexual sin is ultimately a violation of the covenantal relationship God has established with the first man and woman as representatives of the human race to whom God directly gave the gift of human sexuality within the exclusive confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.  Those who violate God’s design for sexual activity and marriage do so at their own peril and ultimately dehumanize and degrade a person into sinful bondage and sexual slavery (Job 36:14).

 

Biblical View of Homosexuality:

Homosexuality consists of both same-sex erotic attraction and sexual activity.  A homosexual is one who nurtures an on-going erotic, romantic desire for a person of the same gender culminating in sexual involvement.  Homosexuality, then, is the result of a sinful cultivation and conditioning in contrast to a natural, biological orientation.  Homosexuality is not a civil right protected in the US Constitution.  This equates a desired act with a constitutional right and assumes that homosexuality is an inherent part of one’s biological nature.  Such reasoning would eventually be used to justify other unlawful desires such as pedophilia, incest, polygamy, bestiality, necrophilia or molestation.

Homosexuality is a clear violation of the created order of God.  It violates the heterosexual nature of marriage between one man and one woman (Gen 2:24), the complementarian nature of marriage where the woman is the exclusively suitable answer to man’s aloneness in marital love and physical union (Gen 2:18-20; 3:16-19; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Pet 3:1-7), and homosexuality violates the fulfillment of the dominion mandate necessitating procreation (Gen 1:28). 
 

The first instance of homosexual behavior in the Bible is answered by severe judgment (Gen 19:4-11).  The term “know” in this context clearly refers to sexual activity between members of the same sex (Gen 19:5, 8; cf. Gen 4:1, 17, 25; 24:16; 38:26).  Jude 6-8 and 2 Peter 2:4-10 clarify that those particular cities were characterized by unnatural sexual desires.  Judges 19:22-25 parallels the situation in Sodom where the men are aggressively seeking same-sex involvement.  Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 label homosexual behavior as an abomination along with other sexual sins.  These sins violate the created order, the holy attributes of God’s nature and character, and are repeatedly mentioned again in the NT as sinful, abominable, and contrary to the will of God. Homosexuality particularly was a constant threat to the holiness of Israel from the surrounding Canaanite nations (Gen 9:20-27; Deut 23:17-18; Judges 19:22-25; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 2 Kings 22:46; 23:7; Ezek 16:50; 18:12; 33:26).

Homosexuality is repeatedly condemned by God in the NT.  Romans 1:26-32 condemns the practice of homosexuality by men or women and further condemns the condoning of such sinful activity (vv. 31-32).  1 Corinthians 6:9 condemns both partners in the homosexual encounter.  “Effeminate” (malakoi) and “homosexuals” (‘arsenoikoitoi) refer to the passive and active sides of the homosexual relationship respectively.  The “effeminate” are those who willingly allow themselves to be sodomized; whereas the “homosexuals” are those who actively engage in sodomizing the effeminate. 1 Timothy 1:10 mentions the violation of the seventh commandment to include both “immoral men and homosexuals,” citing the same Greek term used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and the Greek translation (LXX) of  the Hebrew term in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.  Finally, 2 Peter 2:6 and Judges 7 reference the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah for indulging in gross immorality and going after strange flesh---that is men with men.

 

God’s Will for Sinners:

It is the clear will of God for all human beings made in the image of God to abstain from immorality.  This is especially true for professing believers in Christ (1 Thess 4:1-8).  His image-bearers must abstain from immorality and refrain from approving immoral behavior (Rom 1:31-32).  Those who practice these sins and give approval of such will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Eph 5:3-5; cf. Gal 5 and 1 Cor 6).

Thankfully, God in His grace offers His gospel to all sinners. All human beings are sinners (Romans 3:23). He promises to wash, sanctify, and justify any sinner who comes to Him with repentant faith in the Person and Cross-work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Though sexual sin carries severe consequences in this life and eternal judgment in the life to come, all sin, including sexual sin, can be forgiven via the grace of God available on account of Christ’s infinite atonement for sin applied to those who repent of their sin and place their unreserved trust in Jesus Christ alone for their eternal salvation (1 Cor 6:9-11; Acts 17:30; 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:1-7).  Because of human depravity, it is possible for any man to commit any sin at any time.  Therefore, we must humbly take every opportunity to help others by introducing them to Jesus Christ, the only Savior of man from sin.  In addition, we must help any professing Christian who is battling with sexual sin.  We do so by accurately calling sin what it is and second by encouraging genuine repentance in order to restore fellowship with Christ and the joy of one’s salvation (Ps 51).  Christ did not die to save us from an orientation; He died to save us from our sin.  Jesus Christ is love incarnate (1 John 4:8) and therefore by “reason of his much love” sacrificed his life on the cross in order save us, regenerate us, justify us, and sanctify us.  In this way we bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:1-6).
 

Pastor Mike Harding

SamH's picture

can help us realize is that we need a consistent biblical approach to all and any form of sexual sin. Every church has men and women who are lusting by means of their eyes, yet never following through with an actual act of adultery or fornication. Yet, our Lord views either one as being in a sense equally sinful. Is this type of sin being confronted when found, preached and taught on otherwise? For a young single to engage in physical sexual acts outside of marriage (with either of the genders) is fornication. For those married to engage in physical sexual acts (with either gender) outside of their marriage is adultery. If the physical sins are known in the church among professed believers, all the requisite work of discipleship needs to be done so as to uphold Christ's glory in the church and to accomplish sanctification in the professed believer. Is our handling of these matters consistent with biblical teaching whether we are dealing with same-gender or different-gender sins? I will leave it at these high levels of description--I understand the need for greater detail and nuance. 

Even when espousing views which were in line with orthodoxy, Bell, like other people involved with/influenced by the emergent-thingie tends to throw the baby out with the bathwater. He seems to have done so in response to what he saw as extremes within mainstream evangelicalism and fundamentalism. His clear revulsion made him, I think, swing wide--wider than Scripture. In the earlier days he expressed questions and doubts on the adiaphora, but more recently he has shown his hand and essentially wants a thoroughly renovated Christianity. Perhaps he held these views for a long time before now.

Of the people I meet here who are drawn to him, many see his views as being more loving and thus more Christlike. Most of them have phenomenally amorphous views of what the church is, what the Scriptures are, of whom Christ is, and thus of whom God and His salvation is. I am unsure of whether they held those views before their encounter with Bell, or after. Some seem to hold these views because they said that something drastic had happened to them or theirs in a local church context, and now they were done with church--they "simply wanted to follow Christ." In trying to follow him, they found Bell, and his teachings resonated with them. There are others who do not cite some church-trauma in their background, yet hold poorly delineated Christian views, for whatever reason. Perhaps they were poorly taught in some fundy, CE, or otherwise evangelical church, whatever. Perhaps it was due to no fault whatsoever on a local church's part. They found Bell and clicked with him.

This coming out on the same-gender sex issue is in a sense no surprise. I will wait to see if and how he further defines what he means by his initial words. But, as we continue to turn the microscope on Bell as a false teacher, there must needs be a looking at ourselves in the mirror, and determining if we are being consistent with Christ's teachings or are we responding due to tradition from the past. God helping us, we will treat all types of sexual sin with an evenhandedness in love and truth which will edify and build up the church.

SamH

MShep2's picture

Michael Brown has written a very informative column about this:

..............

Remarkably, on Sunday, “When the Very Rev. Jane Shaw attempted to get Bell to take a firm position as to whether Christians ‘know’ the truth in some ultimate sense, Bell veered in a different direction.”

But that is the very heart of the problem. Bell’s celebration of ambiguity has become a dogmatism of uncertainty, and it is because of his lack of spiritual absolutes that he has wandered off the path, leading a generation in his wake.

The truth is that 100 years from now, either in this world or the world to come, history will record that those who conformed their beliefs to the culture were nothing more than a passing curiosity, while those who refused to compromise truth will be regarded as the spiritual heroes and torchbearers.

In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity.”

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Jay's picture

Trying to pin down Rob Bell on any significant theological stand is probably like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall (and probably just as productive).  He's a theological jellyfish.

He's actually a perfect illustration of 1 John:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

SamH's picture

Hi Mike,

Mike, what I do mean in this, and apparently I am unclear: the lost and Christians are flocking to Bell, et. al. because of real or perceived wrongs or extremes done to them by evangelicals. I would mean then instead of throwing out biblical theology & praxis when we see ministerial extremes, we must seek biblical balance. I would see this as a warning to our younger men. Our own traditions can be sometimes be so unbiblical as to be as damaging to people as Bell’s departures are. Our own responses or lack of responses to ministerial extremes can be as dangerous to people as Bell’s departures are. I would see this as speaking to me and older men who might be holding onto traditions or who take a blind eye to ministerial errors/extremes.

Bell himself in this—his teachings, then have no value to me, but the fact that his teachings are so sought after, makes me realize that it is possible, just possible that I might be doing things which are unbiblical and hurting people, and I need to rebuke myself, or be rebuked to swallow my pride and change.

SamH

TylerR's picture

Editor

Has anybody here read or reviewed Love Wins? I skimmed through it at a bookstore a while back. I got that he believes a "just" God would never allow eternal damnation and that everybody will eventually be saved. He is the poster child for the "emerging church," along with Brian MacLaren.

Is this "emerging church" movement still gaining traction? Bell doesn't even have a church anymore, after all. Is this more media hype without any real substance? Has the emerging church concept faded away at all recently?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Joel Shaffer's picture

As someone that has lived in Grand Rapids even before Rob Bell started Mars Hill Bible, I think I may understand what Sam is getting at.  For years, Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville was like a giant hospital to ex-fundamentalists, ex-moral majority evangelicals, and ex-strict confessional reformed folks.  If I had a nickel for every person from Mars Hill that I met that had stories of abuse from these type of churches, I'd probably be able to use them to take my wife out for a nice dinner.........

And because these folks experienced love and grace at Mars Hill, they were more inclined to be suspicious of those that attacked Rob's theology.   They likened the spiritual abuse they experienced from their past churches with abuse that they felt was being unfairly heaped on Rob.

So the question is, how do you have conversations with people with such an emotional connection with Rob because of their pasts?  The best way to influence them was to aggressively question his ideas and how he comes up with his ideas rather than attack him as a person.   I remember having a conversation with some friends about what Rob Bell had to say about the gospel and resurrection. They were eating up Rob's assertion that all the pagans during the 1st century at that time believed in some sort of resurrection from the God's that they believed in so really Christ's physical resurrection really didn't mean much.  (Because everyone had a God that was resurrected)  He then talked about social justice issues as living life as resurrection as the main point of the resurrection. That's what got everyone's attention in the first century as it should now.  I had to debunk his anachronistic historical tendencies that led him to this conclusion, which was based on sloppy liberal scholarship that hardly anyone had believed (except for die-hard liberals) for the past 50 years.   After doing this several times on several other topics (such as Love Wins), some of them realized that maybe Rob Bell's preaching/teaching couldn't be trusted, which then broke the emotional connection that they had with him.  Basically rather than initially calling him apostate, I had to take them through several steps to show that his teachings were either on their way to apostasy or apostate already.    

Interestingly enough, in the inner-city of Grand Rapids, I hardly ever find anyone that takes Rob Bell seriously or they don't even know who he is.  Several Christians in the hood' would ask, Rob Who?  T.J. Jakes is another story........ 

 

Joel Shaffer's picture

Is this "emerging church" movement still gaining traction? Bell doesn't even have a church anymore, after all. Is this more media hype without any real substance? Has the emerging church concept faded away at all recently?

The emergent church has been proved to be a small blip on the radar within the evangelical spectrum.  Somehow, through some ingenious marketing from emergents such as Doug Paggit and Tony Jones, they were able to get some 50 books into publications from known Christian publishers.  Yet according to Bolger and Gibbs (wrote Emerging Churches) only 150 emergent churches exist in the United States and many of them no longer exist today.  So yeah.  And many within the emergent movement have bemoaned that the movement really wasn't a movement to begin with.  By the way, as long as I can remember, Rob Bell always tried to distance himself from the emergent church, which frustrated Paggit and Jones.

As for Rob Bell's Love Wins, the best review in my opinion was a book by Dr. Michael Wittmer called Christ Alone. Trevin Wax did a review of Christ Alone, which is a critical response to love wins.  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2011/05/04/christ-alone-mike-wittmers-response-to-love-wins/

Jay's picture

TylerR wrote:

Has anybody here read or reviewed Love Wins? I skimmed through it at a bookstore a while back. I got that he believes a "just" God would never allow eternal damnation and that everybody will eventually be saved. He is the poster child for the "emerging church," along with Brian MacLaren.

Is this "emerging church" movement still gaining traction? Bell doesn't even have a church anymore, after all. Is this more media hype without any real substance? Has the emerging church concept faded away at all recently?

Hey Tyler-

There's quite a few threads (more than I was expecting!) on Rob Bell on SharperIron, and there's one thread in particular that discusses his book - jimfrank wrote a brief review of it.

Just as an FYI - if you click on the 'tag' names at the top of a thread (the tags for this thread are 'Rob Bell' and 'Same Sex Marriage'), you can quickly search on all the things that the site has done on that specific topic.  It's a pretty handy feature that I think most people don't know about.

-edit-

As for the emerging movement - well, I think it kind of just imploded when people realized that there was no real substance to it other than "God loves and accepts everyone as they are" (which is blatantly untrue).  PyroManiacs covered that topic fairly well...the two tags they used "emerg*" and "emergent" should give you an idea of what they said.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

No, I didn't think to search the tags . . .!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

SamH's picture

as a "movement" (they would never want to say it was that--think Occupy movement...)is apparently in disarray, disorder, dis________. But, the zeitgeist is certainly amenable to what they were selling, and just in my area. To hear Doug Wilson and others tell it, when it comes to postmodernism and academia, the bloom is off the rose. And I think he is right, but, the mushy soupiness of it has softened the brains of a lot of people in our society--and in Christendom. As long as that is true, countering sin in our culture and specifically in the church will have to include a willingness and ability to meet Bell, et.al's ideas head on--as Joel commented; asking questions meant to shake the pillars of presuppositions that people are standing on, and pointing them to glorify Christ.

SamH