John MacArthur: "Bell’s teaching gives no evidence of any real evangelical conviction"

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Joel Tetreau's picture

I still hear from time to time someone say something like, "Well....John MacArthur just isn't militant enough." I don't know what to say - Let me just encourage you to read this article and listen to a sermon or two.

Straight Ahead John......Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Hitchens and Chopra are wolves in wolf clothing, but Bell definitely qualifies IMO as a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Jay's picture

Did we really need anyone to tell us to avoid Rob Bell's teaching and that it's heretical? I mean, his quotes from the book and the video promo made it pretty obvious he's from the left side of the "emergent" theological disaster.

"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

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Jay C. wrote:
Did we really need anyone to tell us to avoid Rob Bell's teaching and that it's heretical? I mean, his quotes from the book and the video promo made it pretty obvious he's from the left side of the "emergent" theological disaster.

After having heard some comments (IRL) defending Bell from People Who Should Know Better, I'd say it needs to be explained in words of one syllable. With pictures.

Mike Durning's picture

The tragedy of Rod Rob Bell's departures is those he will drag with him. In Grand Rapids there are several schools of the softer evangelical stripe. At those schools, there are students who idolize Bell. I fear (and several students who attend those schools have told me that they fear as welll) that these folks have not been given the tools to discern truth from error (other than the Holy Spirit Himself). We need to pray for them to not be led astray.

Edit: corrected name.

Mike Harding's picture

Joel,

One of the great things about Mac has been his doctrinal Militancy and his willingness to publicly expose doctrinal heretics. On occasion he has made some statements on the Lordship issue that I think go too far. I know he has tried to correct those statements. However, essentially he is correct when he insists that submission to Christ and repentance are implicitly a part of trust, faith, belief. I am certain that there are some areas where we would disagree, particularly on ecclesiastical separation and some cultural issues. Nevertheless, many so called "fundamentalists" could learn a lot from JM about doctrinal militancy. I am ashamed of the kind of "fundamentalism" that is KJVO, Easy Believism, Vehemently Anti-Calvinistic, Endorses non-biblical preaching, and endorses various kinds of insane extremism as exemplified by Hyles-Anderson, Schaap, and others of their ilk.

Pastor Mike Harding

Joel Tetreau's picture

Mike,

Good post. I've always appreciated your appreciation for Dr. MacArthur. I've also appreciated your appreciation for my appreciation of Dr. MacArthur. Now Mike, my guess is this: if you were to interact a bit more with Mac & his leadership on some of those disagreements, you might be surprised at how those ecclesiastical and social differences would diminish. Hey man...why don't you come to California next year with our elders and deacons out to Shepherd's conference? You could ride with us from Phoenix to LA. I'm sure you could have "face to face" chats with a number of the leaders at Grace/Masters and you could discuss with them first hand why Biblically they do or don't do what they do or don't do? I would enjoy watching the back and forth. Mostly, I would enjoy your fellowship.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
The tragedy of Rod Rob Bell's departures is those he will drag with him. In Grand Rapids there are several schools of the softer evangelical stripe. At those schools, there are students who idolize Bell. I fear (and several students who attend those schools have told me that they fear as welll) that these folks have not been given the tools to discern truth from error (other than the Holy Spirit Himself). We need to pray for them to not be led astray.

When I taught urban ministry at my alma mater Cornerstone, about 25% of my class attended Rob Bell's church. Sometimes I'd have to refute certain things he'd say or other speakers that Mars Hill would invite to speak(Rob is contracted to only preach 24 times a year at Mars Hill, or at least that's what it used to be). Most of the profs at Cornerstone, for instance, are about teaching tools to discern. However, I believe there are even a few profs that attend Mars Hill, which I am curious to know what Cornerstone will do with them? After all, they are attending a church were the church does not hold to the same view as Cornerstone's statement of faith about final judgment.

Quote:
We believe in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection and final judgment of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost.

By the way, you wouldn't believe how many attenders of Rob Bell's church come from fundamental baptist and bible church backgrounds. Unfortunately, people turn to his church because it acts as a hospital for recovering fundamentalists.

Edit: corrected name... Rob Bell, not Rod Bell.

Shaynus's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

By the way, you wouldn't believe how many attenders of Rob Bell's church come from fundamental baptist and bible church backgrounds. Unfortunately, people turn to his church because it acts as a hospital for recovering fundamentalists.

Joel S reminds me of how many fundamentalists tend not to be aware of controversies happening in broader evangelicalism. The reasoning is "well that doesn't effect people in our circles." Well it could, but give it 5-10 years. This is the age of the internet. Pastors and colleges can't control the conversation like they used to, and nor can they shelter their flock from false teaching.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
By the way, you wouldn't believe how many attenders of Rob Bell's church come from fundamental baptist and bible church backgrounds. Unfortunately, people turn to his church because it acts as a hospital for recovering fundamentalists.
Joel, what do you think the relationship of 2 Tim 4:3-4 is to this?

Ron Bean's picture

John MacArthur has named a wolf. Meanwhile, two militant fundamentalist periodicals that I receive continue harp on the "dangers" of Mark Dever's membership in the SBC, on the compromising music of the WILDS and Soundforth, and the casual dress in church. :~

JM even spoke negatively of Radio Bible Class's referring to Bell as a brother.

Good for JM! A CE leads in the battle for truth.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
Joel, what do you think the relationship of 2 Tim 4:3-4 is to this?

I do believe that the itching ears does apply, but not necessarily because they are hurting from their experiences at fundy churches. Some people I know that attend Mars Hill went to fundamental Bible colleges but yet are enamored with his historical and cultural fabrications that back up some of his views. He uses obscure history that may or may not be true as a "Aha moment" to support his major point. Then then say, "wow! I never heard any of this before!" and they assume that because he has uncovered this ancient history which they never heard before in their previous religious experiences that he must be on to something that others preachers or scholars somehow overlook. Here is an example of his version of the gospel.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/GoodNewsTo/videos/12/3.269

In this video, Rob's historical research was sloppy and anachronistic, especially when it came to the Mithra Religion. The secret religion of Mithra did not enter into the Roman empire until the latter 1st century through some Roman garrisons that brought it back from engaging the Parthinians. Rob makes that Mithra was one of the most popular gods in the Roman Empire during the time that Christianity emerged which was around 30 A.D. That is about a 30-40 year gap at the earliest. Almost every reputable scholar, including Yamauchi, would even go as far to say that Mithra didn't get popular in the Roman empire until the 2nd century. Also, in Mithra there was no resurrection or no virgin birth. Mithra doesn't die, he just ascends into the heavens and he is born from a rock not an actual person.

Of course he is also quite quirky, artsyish, and creative as a communicator/preacher which attracts a large grouping of people. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Henry Ward Beecher from the 19th century. (Beechers) quirky, artsyish, and creative in his communication skills, his primary focus on the Love of God, his diminishing of the doctrine of hell and final judgment, his overall commitment to social issues (he was quite the abolitionist, utilizing dramatic illustrations such as a mock slave auction to motivate his congregation into action), his naive view of sin, his capitulation of Scripture to the changing culture, and his popularity. Of course there are differences between Beecher and Bell, such as Bell is more of a pacifist when it comes to war (Mars Hill used to sing a worship song called "bridges not bombs"), while Beecher raised money for guns for the abolitionists and publicly supported the North for the civil war. And Bell is good family man....faithful to his wife and a good father to his boys. While Beecher was involved in a highly scrutinized moral affair and did not take care of his family or his wife.

Anyway, living in the shadow of Rob Bell in Grand Rapids affords us the opportunity to analyze his theology, ministry, and lifestyle up close.

Mike Durning's picture

Right. I don't know why I typed it wrong. Rod Bell is a former president of the FBF. Rob Bell is a heretic. I did know the difference.

It is amusing to wonder if some people are confused and thought that ROD Bell was denying that the lost go to Hell. I'm no defender of Rod Bell's philosophy of ministry either, that would be a pretty drastic change of course for him.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I went ahead and edited the Rods to Robs.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

SamH's picture

This article from Mac essentially serves as an update of his warnings years ago in "Truth War"--I read it then and thought, well, welcome to the fight, I guess. I mean no disrespect in his direction, he is an intelligent man. But as to this somehow being the quell for concerns about describing him (or some other) as a militant separatist, well, it's not necessarily a meaningful part of the metric. I know of some men, (whether we were in the body or out of the body we do not know) who have been hammering his false teaching and trying to warn people away from it since before Velvet Elvis came out. I know of some men (whether we were in the body or out of the body we do not know) who sat over coffee with OPC pastors, IFB pastors, and even RCA pastors and pondered how to articulate the problems with Bell's goofy teachings. Even after VE came out, many evangelicals and even some CEs didn't want to question Bell's teaching too much.

My point: It doesn't take a "militant separatist" to "lead the way" to figure Bell out. Nor would it make one "militant" necessarily by figuring it out. Even left-leaning "broadly evangelical" types in the GR area have had concerns about Bell's teaching for years now. I am grateful Mac has written on the topic in such a manner that slow-minded fundies like me can understand--we like dem books with pitchers in em...Mebbe next time we'll be ahead of da curve...dunno...But I gotta go shorten my sideburns, practice "Honey in the Rock" with our IFB jugband (for Sunday) and then I have Koolot patrol at our church gatherin' tonight...heh...

SamH

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
I know of some men, (whether we were in the body or out of the body we do not know) who have been hammering his false teaching and trying to warn people away from it since before Velvet Elvis came out. I know of some men (whether we were in the body or out of the body we do not know) who sat over coffee with OPC pastors, IFB pastors, and even RCA pastors and pondered how to articulate the problems with Bell's goofy teachings. Even after VE came out, many evangelicals and even some CEs didn't want to question Bell's teaching too much.

Sam, you are right about Grand Rapids pastors and leaders being acutely aware of Rob's teaching for many years even a few years before Velvet Elvis. Whether Rob was adopting William Webb's trajectory as a justification for women elders (Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals) or being enamored with Holland Christian high school teacher and author of the video series, "That the World May Know" Randy Vanderlaan's amateurish historical/cultural studies of Judaism that seems not to be able to tell the difference between medieval Jewish rabbis and the context of teachers of early Judaism in Jesus day, Rob was showing signs of doctrinal error.

Although most CE's that I know after Velvet Elvis came out, discerned where Bell was going on his journey and parted ways with him.

I found the Time Magazine article in some ways quite amusing, especially his memories of his Christian Rock days with a band named Big Fil. He really thought that they would really make it as a band if only the bass guitar player hadn't gone to seminary or he hadn't come down with viral meningitis. I distinctly remember their band and they were awful. But he had the full backing of Ed Dobson from Calvary Church, which allowed him to get gigs at Cedarville, for example (Ed brought Big Fil and Rob with him when he spoke at Cedarville...) I also find it amusing that one of his songs from their first album is called, "Swing me Over Hell, on a Cornstalk." Maybe it is corn that becomes the bridge out of hell for people that have rejected Jesus :bigsmile: