In past years, one of my children was exposed to the teaching of Rob Bell by means of at least one of his Nooma videos played in my former church’s youth group, and presumably in some ways through his influence on the teacher of that class. Knowing his interest in Bell’s teaching, and being singularly interested in keeping up with who’s teaching what, I urged him a number of times that Bell’s teaching is not good for an orthodox church. The rest of the time I would tease him in a good-natured, but persistent way, that “Rob Bellion” is as the sin of witchcraft! This is my own personal play on the KJV’s translation of Samuel’s words to Saul when he refused to obey the Lord’s commands regarding the spoils of his fight with Amalek, whom he was to wipe out entirely as God’s appointed means of judgment against them for the way they attacked the children of Israel at Rephidim while they were still lead by Moses and the pillar of cloud and fire (1 Samuel 15:23; cf. Ex. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-19). Notice from the parallel line of 1 Samuel 15:23, that Saul’s “rebellion” is tantamount to a rejection of the word of the LORD regarding his plans to judge and destroy his enemies (see the whole passage, 1 Samuel 15:1-35). Such is the heresy of the universalist Rob Bell.
Justin Taylor at “Between Two Worlds,” a Gospel Coalition blog, shows Bell’s promotional material related to his latest book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, surely not to help sell his book, but to raise our awareness of how Bell’s trajectory towards theological liberalism is becoming more and more apparent in his growing trend of teaching the heresy of universalism. This is the doctrine that, in eternity, regardless of one’s reception or rejection of Christ during his lifetime, everyone will be forgiven and reconciled to God, and none will justly spend eternity hell. It’s funny how so many people who break the law wind up complaining about the fact that they had to suffer the consequences of their crime. This is analogous to the fact that unbelievers find the doctrine of eternal conscious torment in hell so unattractive. Hell, condemnation and the righteous judgment of an infinite, eternal and holy God is bad public relations for Christianity, if you listen to Rob Bell. But compare the concept of universalism with what the Lord Jesus said in John 3:16-21:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Here, Christ clearly states that the condition for escaping condemnation is faith in him. Reader, be clear: if you do not trust the Christ of the Scriptures, not the Christ of any cult’s misinterpretation or “reimagining” of him, not the Christ of the Gnostic gospels, but the Jesus Christ of historic, apostolic, catholic, orthodox, evangelical Protestant Christianity, then you are already under the condemnation of God. If you persist in this unbelief, you will not be saved in the end. Your end will be the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Confess that you are indeed a sinner, repent by turning from your sins and cling to Christ (Acts 26:18) who suffered for sinners in every nation, sinners like you (1 John 1:8-10). Reject your false gods and goddesses (you know who you are!), and run to Christ, who lives to justify the wicked who repent and believe.
With Rob Bell, on the issue of universalism, finding the error in his teaching is no longer a matter of reading between the lines. Watch the video below and you will see Bell himself explain how we need to deny the Biblical doctrine of eternal, conscious torment in Hell because it makes people reject Christianity. Apparently, what the world thinks about Christianity is more important to Bell than what God reveals in his Word. Read Taylor’s post, “Rob Bell: Universalist?”
If you find that your church has been, or is being exposed to the teachings of Rob Bell, I would suggest that you present the facts regarding Bell to your pastor and patiently, but persistently, help them see that he is not just an emerging evangelical postmodern hipster, but a theological liberal of the first order whose materials ought to be avoided by every church and Christian that loves the Word of God. This is a process I had the regretful duty of engaging in myself back then.
This article by former co-founder of Brian McLaren’s Emergent Village, Mark Driscoll (who later separated from them when they began showing signs of postmodern liberalism) navigate what he calls “The Emerging Church Highway.” It would also behoove you to read D. A. Carson’s book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and It’s Implications (2005, Zondervan).
An Open Letter to Justin Taylor Regarding His Condemnation of Rob Bell
One reason to not buy the book even while criticizing Bell is because that’s exactly what Bell and his publishers want. His trajectory toward heresy has been plain for years, and it will only continue unabated. Barring a miracle of God’s grace, he will one day unquestionably side with liberalism without apology, and some of us will not be the least bit surprised.
I am disappointed in your untrue statements in this post.
“If you find that your church has been, or is being exposed to the teachings of Rob Bell, I would suggest that you present the facts regarding Bell to your pastor and patiently, but persistently, help them see that he is not just an emerging evangelical postmodern hipster, but a theological liberal of the first order whose materials ought to be avoided by every church and Christian that loves the Word of God. This is a process I had the regretful duty of engaging in myself back then.”
“Persistently?” When you broached the subjects regarding Rob Bell – immediately all (and there had only been one) contacts with Bell’s materials were abandoned.
His teachings and materials have never been a part of your “former Church.” Shame on you.
It was not the official position of the church leadership as a whole, just the idiosyncrisy of the individual teacher, who was hired having already been turned on to Bell. Early on in his time there, he discussed Bell with me, and I began repeatedly urging him to drop Bell, much to his annoyance, and I also shared material early on with the pastor, which was obviously forgotten about. It wasn’t until I was told of Bell’s video being shown in class to the kids, that my second appeal to look into it, along with info on Bell’s teachings, that it didn’t fall through the cracks, and was to the church’s credit, swiftly and favorably resolved. The only contact with Bell’s material that has yet to be abandoned is the mind of the man that has been influenced in who knows how many ways, who is still in leadership over the teens. I find it hard to believe that there has been a complete theological overhaul, effectively removing all effect of Bell’s teachings on his own. I simply don’t see that, and believe Bell’s influence subtly works its way through, if only unintentionally.
I’m sorry for seeming to misrepresent the situation as you see it. This is how I see it. The persistence of which I speak was specifically my ongoing conversation with the teacher in question himself, which proved unfruitful until my second attempt to draw the pastor’s attention to the situation.
I just took another look at the post, and the only “persistence” I portray myself as having engaged in was in teasing the teacher with my little slogan, “Rob Bellion” is as the sin of witchcraft. The paragraph you cite is more of a recommendation to my readers of how to deal with Rob Bellion in their own churches. I in know way intended to convey the perception that I had to repeatedly or persistently deal with the leadership of the church. I agree, two reports over an extended period of time does not persistence make.
To be truthful, I selected that wording having in mind the advice of Mark Davis on his talk show when he encourages citizens to attempt to effect change with the two p-words, “patience,” and “persistence.”
Again, I was in no way intending to overdo my portrayal of the situation.
John can u be specific as to what influence Bell has had on the youth teacher, when he began being influenced & what heresy that teacher has been propagating? What teachings, specifically, have been unbiblical or off base?
Fortunately, I never got any indication of the trend toward theological liberal ideas from my ongoing monitoring of what my son was learning, but I had a number of conversations with the teacher which indicated he was thinking through some of the liberal social justice issues which are at the heart of Bell’s false gospel, and I recall watching the youth room become the spitting image of a typical Emergent church type arrangement–all couches and candles, and paintings done during class. These were indicative to me of some small nod toward the whole contemplatvie/mystical tendency among that movement, as well.
I thankfully received no indication that essential doctrines were denied in class, nor the actual minimizing of the fundamental status of those essential doctrines, but that which I did see was enough to know that the camel’s nose was in the tent.
For the record, I contacted both the pastor and this teacher with a link to this post, so that I would not be guilty of doing this behind their backs, and so they could keep me accountable, which they are doing. I should have made those intentions more clear in the email I sent, but it was the intention. I recognize that my post as written may have been more heavy-handed than was necessary–the primary point in using my personal experience with this particular class was intended to provide background for the origin of my silly “Rob Bellion” slogan, not a hateful diatribe against the teacher or the church. Any hurtfulness conveyed by this presentation is regretted, and I pledge to learn from this experience by making sure future such posts include more generous portions of graciousness in the recipe. I have a very strong affection with both the church and the ministers in question, and value their friendship. The church in question does believe and preach the biblical gospel of the biblical Jesus Christ, and is fiercely committed to biblical, active love between the brethren. The experience relative to Rob Bell, and my reaction to it are fundamentally an expression of such love that I hope will not be misinterpreted, and I fall on the mercy of Christ whose active obedience is my only righteousness, and whose blood shed for me washes away the sinfulness with which my imperfect expression of biblical love is offered.
It’s been a slow creep to universalism for Bell. A reviewer of his book, called it optimistic. I guess any idea of hell being done away with could be called optimistic. But what is so strange is how evangelicals latch on to this guy. In his new book he does away with hell according to Harper Collins, his own publisher, for crying out loud. I’m sure there will be appeals for calm, and that he probably didn’t mean to get rid of hell, maybe he is just teaching annihilationism. Sad. The only logic I can surmise as to why evangelicals listen to him at all is only to say, that the Evangelical Church is the “Church of What’s Happening Now.”
Can you share a link to that review?
On behalf of our “pastor” (who doesn’t “blog”)let me say “thanks” for the clarification. Your brilliance in all things regarding “Church” is sometimes overwhelming. We shall end this here – with the acknowledgement that you are lloved both by our Father and by the Staff at your “former Church.”
Keep up the “good” work!
Here you go JC.
One other thing I thought was interesting. Brian McLaren, Bell’s “Father in the faith”, said on a podcast…From the podcast on bleedingpurple:
McLaren: “This is, one of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of the this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.”
It’s just the next thing in his progression following McLaren. There are droves of “evangelicals” eating this stuff up.
No doubt, Gage. It’s just a matter of time.
When I weigh it all I find it rather equivocal of both God and me to believe what Moses recorded and then swallow the logic of Bell:
Num 16:31 And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart.
Num 16:32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.
Num 16:33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
Num 16:34 And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!”
Num 16:35 And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.
So, using Bell’s or anyone’s universalism logic, my question then becomes, those 250 folks were just historically unfortunate and are waiting it out until at the end of the world they will be transformed and their stay in that “purgatory” will be no more?
I am not so sure I follow that logic!
It doesn’t make much sense in light of these verses from Isaiah and the book of the Revelation to John:
Isa 11:3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
Isa 11:4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Long time no talk…I would venture to say that Bell or MaClaren either one, would probably say one of three things: 1. That story is a myth or 2. it is somehow a judgment reserved for the Old Covenant, or most probably, 3. it was temporal judgment, not eternal, therefore would have no bearing on the issue of hell. I’m just guessing, but the last one is probably the most logical in their system of logic and theology.
yeah, good to see you posting again.
I haven’t been on your website for awhile, since you closed the comment section.
Listened to all your dad’s teachings though!
Is he preaching still?
Go back a few days to the post called, “Full Confidence Conference Photo Gallery,” and you’ll find a recent picture of Tom.
Yea, not blogging now, but Dad is teaching through the Book of John now, going over the chiastic structure of John etc…preaches occasionally. He’s part time.
So, he’s a full-time Christian school teacher, and part-time Assistant Pastor of Grace Community Presbyterian Church in Ft. Worth.
Wow, this guy Bell has got it RIGHT!!!! Thanks Captain. I need to go and get the book. Yes some of us “Know who we are” (smile).Maybe there is some hope for Christians yet.
[…] Remember, students, “Rob Bellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” […]