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Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Comments (63)
Rob Bell is reminiscent of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-27. He has a warped view of goodness. He talks as if his own standard of good is the norm, and Bell even suggests that God is not good if He sends people to hell.

Jesus’ reply to the young inquirer ("No one is good except God alone"—v. 18) says God himself alone is the standard of true good, not any creature—certainly not a fallen creature.

The Young Ruler was not saved, nor can any person be who thinks his or her own preferences determine what is truly good. That kind of arrogance reflects a damning egotism.

Rob BellIn his books, sermons, and videos, Rob Bell has consistently promoted views that are antithetical to biblical Christianity and hostile to historic evangelical principles.

For example, although he claims to “affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible” (Velvet Elvis, 26), Bell is clearly more interested in casting doubt on the fundamental truths of biblical Christianity than he is in defending them.

Consider what else Bell says on that very same page of Velvet Elvis:

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?

Bell compares the Christian faith to a large trampoline, with its cardinal doctrines (truths evangelicals have historically deemed essential) functioning like the springs that support the jumping platform. The individual springs aren’t absolutely essential, Bell says—including the virgin birth:

What if that spring [the virgin birth] were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart? . . . If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?” (26-27)

So on the one hand, in a single sentence, he professes to affirm the virgin birth. On the other hand (and on the very same page), he spends multiple paragraphs calling the truthfulness and importance of that doctrine into question.

That is Bell’s modus operandi. He labels himself an evangelical while simultaneously undermining the foundational tenets of evangelical conviction.

In light of this, Love Wins should not have been a surprise to anyone. The book is consistent with several things Bell has been teaching for some time. For example:

• He has frequently espoused a distorted understanding of hell—one in which hell is not a literal place where wicked souls are punished, but more of a self-induced state of mind pertaining mainly to this life.

Rob Bell, Ooze Interview (July 2007): “I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. [Why would you] want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side? Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.”

Rob Bell, Sex God, 21–22: “To the Jewish mind, heaven is not a fixed, unchanging geographical location somewhere other than this world. Heaven is the realm where things are as God intends them to be. . . . Now if there’s a realm where things are as God wants them to be, then there must be a realm where things are not as God wants them to be. Where things aren’t according to God’s will. Where people aren’t treated as fully human. It’s called hell.”

• His understanding of heaven is even more bizarre.

Rob Bell, Sex God, 168: “If sex is about connection, what happens when everybody is connected with everybody else? . . . Is sex in its greatest, purest, most joyful and honest expression a glimpse of forever? Are these brief moments of abandon and oneness and ecstasy just a couple of seconds or minutes of how things will be forever? Is sex a picture of heaven? In First Corinthians 12, Paul claimed to have seen a vision of heaven, and the phrase he used to describe it in Greek is translated ‘unwordable words.’ He wrote that he saw things man is ‘not permitted to tell.’ Maybe that’s why the Scriptures are so ambivalent about whether a person is married. About whether a person is having sex. Maybe Jesus knew what is coming and knew that whatever we experience here will pale compared with what awaits everyone. Do you long for that? Because that’s the center of Jesus’ message. An invitation.”

• Bell has also consistently promoted a form of universalism. For example:

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, 137: “So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. . . . Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.”

Rob Bell and Don Golden, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, 147: “Jesus is the representative of the entire human family. His blood covers the entire created door. Jesus is saving everyone and everything.”

Rob Bell, Ooze Interview (July 2007): [In response to the question, “Do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?”] “Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say ‘no I don’t want any part of this.’ My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win ordoes God’s love and grace win?”

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, 18: “God is bigger than any religion. God is bigger than any worldview. God is bigger than the Christian faith.”

So when he promotes Love Wins with the following words, why would we be surprised?

Rob Bell, Love Wins Promo Video: “And then there is the question behind the questions, the real question: What is God like? Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message—the center of the Gospel of Jesus—is that God is going to send you to hell, unless you believe in Jesus. And so, what gets, subtly, sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that; that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good; how could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news.”

Or when he suggests the possibility of post-mortem salvation, should we be shocked?

Rob Bell, Love Wins, p. 107: [There will be] “endless opportunities in an endless amount of time for people to say yes to God. At the heart of this perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence. The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most ‘depraved sinners’ will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God.”


In our next post in this series, we’ll look at more examples of Bell’s skepticism, heterodoxy, and twisted teaching, and I think you’ll see even more clearly why it is spiritually dangerous to question the Bible’s teaching on hell. When a person begins to question the justice of God in the punishment of the wicked, practically every point of gospel truth is suddenly put at risk.

And Rob Bell’s teaching provides vivid proof of that.

John MacArthur (Grace to You)

John MacArthur
Pastor-Teacher


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#1  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 4:45 PM

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#3  Posted by Aaron Schultz  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 6:42 PM

I am sincerely looking forward to the next post in this series. I must admit I had not heard of Rob Bell before this controversy, but I have seen the video mentioned here and found to be highly questionable. I suspected Universalism and this writing confirms my suspicions. Thank you Pastor MacArthur for continuing to shine light upon darkness!

#4  Posted by Steve Mateuszow  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 7:14 PM

Rob Bell is a real danger to our youth who are not yet mature in the faith. He comes off as a sort of cool and hip pastor. Imagine writing that it doesn't matter whether or not Jesus had a biological father. This would not only make Christianity a sham, but Jesus would not and could not be the Saviour of humanity. He would have had to pay for His own sins if He would have had a biological father, which would mean He would have a sin nature just like us. This guy needs to be silenced, Thanks John for these articles. Blessings to you and your ministry.

#5  Posted by Tammy Stortz  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 7:23 PM

Cant wait to hear more of what john has to say about this subject. What satan intends for evil God intends for good. I think this exposure will lead alot of people to Christ. Praise God

#6  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 7:25 PM

Is Rob Bell plagiarizing? Why do I get the feeling that Rob has been listening to the "religion" of John Lennon's song "Imagine" over and over again? Look at the bottom of my comments at the lyrics. If Rob Bell doesn't sound like a knock off of John Lennon and this song, I don't know who or what does. Oh, the power of suggestion.

Additionally, it sounds to me like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes. Rob Bell is suggesting to an audience of Christians that those that cannot, do not connect with his ideas,can't....because they,we,just don't have his intellect. Rob Bell is suggestive that he's on a higher plain. How does he suggest that? By making the most outrageous,most unexpected claims by a "Christian".

If his ideas were shouted out in the town square, if the news reported this Christian lived in a one room shack alone with no electricity or running water, and wore the same clothes every day and hadn't bathed in months and combed his hair with a wagon wheel and was found to be stockpiling weapons in that ol' shack, most would avoid him. He would be considered an eccentric if not a crazy!

On the other hand, the same suggestions, same questions can be posed by an educated man who has authored several books and has hip clothes and a hip hair cut and glasses and people want to listen. Same craziness, different styles.

To me, there are two camps. One camp, people want the truth. They are OK with consistency, predictability. They must have the truth! The other camp wants new fresh ideas on an old story. They want the "new and improved", "as seen on TV" version. And that's the camp where Rob Bell is invited to tickle their ears.

See one wolf, you've seen 'em all! Below is Rob Bell's theme song?

Imagine there's no Heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will live as one

#7  Posted by Scott Graeff  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 7:54 PM

Mr. Bell has long been on my radar screen as someone not to be trusted, listened to, read, or taken as a credible authority on Scripture. Hank Hannegraaff (The Bible Answer Man) has long pointed out the errors of Bell's teaching; for anyone interested what the Christian Research Center (CRI)has uncovered, go check their website and plug in Rob Bell.

I have a lot of thoughts on stuff too, but I've learned over the years that it doesn't matter what I think, what matters is what God, through His sacred Scripture, says. I too find the notion of Hell hard at times, particularly with respect to those I know and love who do not believe the Gospel. Nevertheless, no one said more on the subject of Hell than Jesus Himself. So, rather than stake where I spend eternity, heaven or Hell, based on the notions of the mortal Rob Bell and his un-Scriptural opinions, I'll go with what the Living God says.

#8  Posted by Tammy Stortz  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 8:01 PM

you need to go to youtube and type in "rob bell defends himself part 1, 2 and 3" and listen to him try to decieve people and attack those like john macarther. He is also instructing people, in a very mind controlling way, on how to talk to the nay sayers. Please pray for the people who attend. I remember being one of those people who always laughed on cue when rob would say something funny, i know how people get sucked into his world. he,s like a rock star.

#10  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 8:17 PM

It's funny (in a sad way) that professed christians believe this man to be a "brother". If i didnt know who the writer of all the above quotations was, it would never cross my mind he was a christian! So why would people believe he is just because he claims to be? That's to show how deep the blindness and the love for sin is!

#11  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011at 8:18 PM

*Shauna Bryant logged in*

I've heard my own Pastor and Pastor MacArthur repeatedly encourage people to read their Bibles, to spend serious time with God's Word. Those who do that will discern when they're being led astray. Those who don't will stay and continue to defend what is clearly a false teacher.

John 10:2-5

2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

There are those who left false teachers like Rob Bell when they heard the strange voice that was NOT following Jesus Christ. They did flee. Those who sincerely desire God more than a man will likewise flee. Those who don't...... well, they are right where their fallen passions have led and entrapped them as the Word of God says.

As Christians we are able to acknowledge that there are many who will not listen, will not heed warning and will stubbornly refuse to leave 'their leader'.

Matthew 7:13-15

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus doesn't here say that the false prophets look like wolves? There are many wolves, they don't even try to disguise themselves. Instead He tells us that they will look like saved people, but in their hearts they are wolves. The wolves in sheep's clothing are IN the churches, leading the churches. That should always make people think.

The wolves in sheep's clothing act as a bridge - for the tares - to false doctrine and false ecumenical systems.

It is but by the Grace of God that I am saved.

#12  Posted by William Stinson  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 5:43 AM

Hi John B.

GBY, God is so good, and knows me so well, I was going to make a posting to join the discussion and share MY opinion and you stole my thunder. Humbeled once again, I could not have said it better. Rob Bell is a sign of the times. Come Jesus come.

#13  Posted by Mark Veit  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 5:48 AM

I don't know whether to condemn him, or pray for him. What this man teaches is evil.

#15  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 7:11 AM

I haven't read the book but listening to his own words on youtube, regarding eternal hell, he questions,how "can that be good news?". And the idea that after this life we will have a chance to receive and acknowledge (paraphrasing here)Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and The God Man. Well, if that were true, I have my own question if Rob has not already answered it. And if he has, I'd like to know what his answer is? Why, why not come quickly NOW Jesus? What are we ....YOU waiting for? People need not repent now, right? Did I miss that? Why are we still here at the risk that another day goes by while a child starves to death or is sexually abused or murdered. What's the hold up. I mean, we can catch the train on the other side, right?

This so troubles me. God's love is so perfect. His grace is so....undeserving. And yet, He forgives. We struggle in our flesh to forgive one another.

But His love and grace is not a wash for His wrath that we do deserve!Rob Bell is complicating the righteousness of God to an unrighteous people that want God to make perfect sense in their corner of the world. Rob Bell knows where the struggle is, the vulnerability is and strikes it! He knows man wants God to reflect man's image....not for man to be made in God's image. He is tickling ears by giving some a reason to worship, a reason to be spiritual, a reason to not be concerned about our relationship with God. How is that different than what Joel Osteen does? Oh, that's right, different zip codes. Joel Osteen is probably so relieved right now that the pressure is off of him for the time being.

But Satan, too, knows where Rob Bell's vulnerability is, his weaknesses. And one is Rob Bell's loftiness. The idea that Rob Bell thinks he can come in and rewrite and change the interpretation of scriptures and be this trailblazer, is one of a delusional person, one that has a grandiose sense of self. And satan declares that is just what he needs. He's found a perfect go-fer. A person full of himself! As a Christian, I'm embarrassed for Rob Bell. Satan is doing back flips. He's "lovin'" Rob Bell. I'm not enjoying seeing Rob Bell walking this path with others to Hell. It does tug at my heart. There is,however,a wee bit of consolation. I'm not with him.

Final note: This is not a condemnation of Rob Bell. He's already condemned. None of us, no not one could possibly understand God's love and his righteous nor appreciate it without The Holy Spirit. Thank you, Sweet Holy Spirit.

#16  Posted by Lorraine Fuerst  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 7:29 AM

God bless you, John! My beloved sister read this and threw away her unread copy of "Velvet Elvis". The book had been recommended by her former church members, and just as the Lord lead her to fellowship elsewhere (due to heretical teaching), so has He given her the Truth concerning Mr. Bell, who is quite dangerous.

My sister normally donates books to a library, but she said she knew that particular book had to go right into the trash.

May the Lord Jesus be praised in this and all things!

#17  Posted by Brandon Davison  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 7:37 AM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur for exposing error and providing the truth for all to see. I hope you will be exposing the blatant heresies of Rick Warren soon as well. Blessings to you sir!

#18  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 7:44 AM

The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith.

#19  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 7:53 AM

Rob Bell is easy to spot as a false teacher. Its those who defend the false teachers, giving them a platform, defiantly defending them, pushing them at their conferences and on their websites and Twitter accounts, that ARE the problem. Gullible "Christians" trust one man's "judgement" rather than test everything by Scripture themselves. So if the pied piper says "He's doctrinally sound" when the facts prove he is not, they don't care; their paper pope approves of the wolf, so he MUST be ok. I believe this one way the false teachers "secretly sneak in among YOU."

#20  Posted by Alvie Perkins  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 8:20 AM

It is sad this man has taken the gospel and turn it into easybelievism. Whats even harder to understand it the amount of people following this daming theology.

#21  Posted by Nicky Bullimore  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 9:04 AM

He is a bit obvious isn't he. Makes you wonder why he has so many people listening to him, but just reminds me of 2 Tim 4:3

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

This guy with all his 'what if's'... what if hell is real and you are deceiving people into believing they can live their lives however they want and choose God after they have lived a life rejecting him... and what ifthey end up in hell because they believed your What if's?

Its like what if God didn't really mean you would die if you ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil... oops, Adam did eat from the tree and did die!...so much for what if's

#22  Posted by Tyron Wheeler  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 1:10 PM

Read this in the Word today and immediately thought of Mr Bell! Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.

My heart hurts for those this man confuses and lead astray.

#23  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 2:02 PM

Post number 19 and 20,

I think a major part of the problem with people following teachers like Bell is that people don't spend enough time prayerfully studying the Bible. What is truly shocking is not that people follow teachings like this, but that there are multitudes of proclaimed Christians in the world who don't even know what Christians truly believe. Bell is not even being subtle about it but being bold with this stuff! Thank you GTY for being so consisent and always standing for the truth.

#24  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 2:29 PM

Really? God said you would die? Really? Let's play what if. What if you ate from the forbidden tree and you didn't really die? That would make God a liar, right? What if you ate from that tree and you knew all that God knows? Hmm? What if? That would make you equal to God, right?

Didn't we already go through that whole scenario once already? I have ten children. The oldest used to tell me knock knock jokes. When number ten got to the age of telling knock knock jokes, I had already heard them...multiple times. They just get recycled and I hear my grandchildren telling the same jokes. Isn't Rob Bell just using the same deceptions that satan has always used? Doesn't it, shouldn't it sound familiar to us? If we pay enough attention, it's the same ol', same ol'. Nothing new.

How do some translate "what if" into "it is"?

#25  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 5:04 PM

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#26  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 5:51 PM

Dan, to me, saying "what if" to scripture, to our Lord is like saying "what if I can jump the Grand Canyon?"! It's that much of a leap for me....pardon the pun. I am a person that doesn't accept what I read and see and hear very easily. I've gotta check and double check for myself. I think I am a skeptic. And yet,for some reason, I don't struggle like many folks with how can God do this and how can The Holy Spirit do that. I have struggles but they don't seem to be the norm.I struggled with the doctrine of election but mostly with how another "struggles" to explain it than my believing it is so. Sometimes I get lost in others attempts to explain.

But people seem to be so caught up in this matter of Hell and how it will be eternal. Like the doctrine of election, I don't know. I'm glad I don't know. I want God to be supernatural. I'm not supernatural and I need somebody to be. I'm a highly competitive person who naturally takes control. Problems are for fixing. But I like it that God's ways are higher than mine. I don't have a clue how He hung my arm on my body like He did. But it's there. I don't know how God stuffs all the makings of a giant oak tree into that tiny seed? I don't know how seeds can grow into the most delicate,colorful flowers? I believe that God is perfect and perfectly sovereign and perfectly just and fair. I believe that what I don't understand on this side of heaven, He will make it alright. He wants me to be alright and He will reveal to me what I need now and later to be alright. And I love Him for that!

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9.... Well, that settles it!

#27  Posted by Joanne Beange  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 6:07 PM

Rob Bell wants our theology to be stretchy like the springs on a trampoline. That way you can fit in all kinds of ideas and call them truth. However, I want my theology to be firm and unshakeable and that's the way it is when it is based on the firm foundation of the One who is Truth.

In the Psalm 119 Conference in Minneapolis recently, Todd Friel made a few interesting comments. He stated that when Bell asks questions one has to look as his "modus operandi" that is his mode of operating which Friel says is subversive. His questions are not asked rhetorically or to support his arguments but they are asked to undermine something. I can give an example of such a question. "Does John MacArthur really hate little children? I'm just asking."

With a question like this there is something up his sleeve so to say because the question is filled with insinuation. That's the what the emergent does - ask quesitons without ever coming to a conclusion. Friel also states that if people had watched his NOOMA videos and read "Velvet Elvis" they would not be surprised at what he says in his latest book "Love Wins." Bell openly stated in "VE" that he was repainting the Christian faith.

Bell is saying that everyone goes to heaven through Jesus, they just don't know him in this life, which of course Friel states is contrary to scripture. Finally Todd Friel states that that love has an element of justice but not in Rob Bell's version of the Bible.

Amen Todd!

#28  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 6:26 PM

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#30  Posted by William Heller  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 8:07 PM

Wow!!!!!!!! is all I can say after reading quotes from his books. This man needs Jesus we must pray for him. Thanks John again for defending Gods truth.

#31  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 8:15 PM

Yes, yes, Joanne. That's exactly what I'm saying. Rob Bell implies by simply asking the question. Crafty for sure but not new. It used to be called "the power of suggestion". It suggests to the hearer that the suggestion might not be just a suggestion but actually an option.

Your analogy is spot on. It could be stated this way as well...."Imagine for a moment that John MacArthur doesn't really like children." He is using the power of suggestion to plant....P L A N T the idea. And his desire is that it will take root and that others will run with it. Then Rob Bell can innocently say,"All I said was imagine. None of the rest came from me." He can get technical about it all.Suddenly he's an innocent bystander and not so scholarly. He plays both sides of the fence. Maybe raising ten kids helped me cause they tried to pull that with me time to time, ie,"I didn't say she was ugly. I asked her if she thought she was ugly?" Yeah, right. But you know, you realize that even 12 year olds know that psychology. So to me, Rob Bell, you are elementary, my dear, elementary.

Lucky you, Joanne, you got to go to the Psalm 119 conference. I so hope I can go when it comes to Texas. I love Christians that have guts!

By the way, if I was not a Christian and I believed in reincarnation, I'd think with all Rob Bell's "imagine" gobbly goop, that John Lennon had come back as Rob Bell! Imagine that. Imagine that Rob Bell is really John Lennon. Imagine that Rob Bell is obsessed with John Lennon and has all his music. And knows all the words. Just sayin'.....

#32  Posted by Anita Glass  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 8:43 PM

Thank you so much for your oh, so, Biblical response, John. My heart breaks for those who don't know the Word well enough to discern the error in Rob Bell's "nothing new under the sun" philosophy. To your God-given ministry of teaching the Word, let him who has ears to hear LISTEN and learn.

#33  Posted by Alex Kuhlow  |  Friday, April 15, 2011at 10:31 PM

Dear Mr. MacArthur,

Recently I saw on facebook some teens from our church discussing this book...or rather they were discussing whether or not they should read it together so they could talk about it. They seem to already believe this guy is a heretic, but want to know what to say to friends who talk about the book and actually believe or support it.

For myself, I can be misled when reading material that is written in error and try to be very careful what I read, always realizing I need to take everything to the word no matter who it's written by. But I like the example of the FBI only studying real money in order to know when a counterfeit bill comes along easily.

My question is, would you suggest that these high school students read this book and discuss it? I guess this goes for other material as well, that we know comes from a source that traditionally speaks against scripture.

I hope you can help me decide what's right here.

Thank you,

Chris Kuhow

#34  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 1:36 AM

#23 I think a major part of the problem with people following teachers like Bell is that people don't spend enough time prayerfully studying the Bible. What is truly shocking is not that people follow teachings like this, but that there are multitudes of proclaimed Christians in the world who don't even know what Christians truly believe. Bell is not even being subtle about it but being bold with this stuff! Thank you GTY for being so consisent and always standing for the truth.

QFT

And I think he’s just another blandiloquent liberal making things up as he goes along.

But what kind of God is that; that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good; how could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news.”

Isaiah 5:20

My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?”

I think he’s hinting at being justified by sin as many like him do, you know, grace will save everyone so don’t’ worry about it, ‘Don’t worry be happy’, was title of one sermon I seen out there on the Wild Wild Web Hebrews 10:26-27 but more to the point he’s dropping a subtext here where he’s reduced it all to a game; there is a winner and a loser. The word of God and the consequences of subverting it just go way beyond that.

#35  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 8:50 AM

You know, after I have read Rob Bell's questions that suggest he's trying to challenge our thinking, it sounds more like he is the one challenging God. Like, he came up with these personal questions, personal struggles which is OK. We all have them. But it's as if he's afraid to ask God and if he does, concerned he won't get an answer or be satisfied with His answer. So he's going through us.

Know how you can wonder about things and you think,"Is it just me? Does anyone else struggle with this?" He ought not ask us. He needs to be asking the Father, Our Lord. He needs to ask Him directly and not go through us. He needs to stand up and say to God, "What about it? Your love isn't powerful enough to keep some from going to hell?" He needs to ask the Holy Spirit for understanding.

Rob Bell is taking the cowardly route. I'm not trying to be cruel here. It is cowardly but a little clever. He wants answers without having to actually ask the question or even say directly he doesn't believe. He is cautious about taking a stand. So he's letting the rest run with it and maybe he hopes to get an answer he can live with? For some, they are Rob Bell's puppets, doing his dirty work.

When one of my sons was in his early teens, he had a real issue with cause and effect. Just didn't think it through. He was getting quite a reputation for being the guy that would do anything. He liked the attention even though it got him in quite a bit of trouble with his parents.

One day, walking through the neighborhood, he and his friends saw a car parked next to a curb with it's window down. One of the guys said,"Hey, I wonder what would happen if someone through this garbage inside the car?" Power of suggestion. Guess who stepped up to be that person? My son. And they knew he would. They knew all along.

I don't recall how I found out but I sat my son down and explained to him that though he might be unaware, he was being used by his friends. I explained how they knew all they had to do was suggest it and knew he'd do it, he'd be the one in trouble, not them. When I told him they were laughing behind his back...not with him...but laughing at how easy he was to manipulate him and that they cared none that he was the only one out of the "friends" to get in trouble....then, he cried...hard.

I pray that those running to Rob Bell's defense will realize that he's letting them do his dirty work. If anyone of us cannot go to our Lord and tell him our struggles and even tell Him we are angry and confused but rather feel we have to go through others to relay that, then we have a big big problem. Somebody is confused. Somebody is scared. Somebody is mad...as hell and about hell and seems to want to get even. When he stands before our Lord on Judgement Day, don't be surprised when God asks him why he lied about the scriptures and about Him ...don't be surprised to hear Rob Bell declare,"I didn't lie. I just imagined...out loud. It was those other people that lied."

#37  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 11:18 AM

There is nothing new to this story. The Apostles dealt with it in their letters to the churches. What must I do and what must I believe and so on. Church history reveals the same – what are orthodox sound doctrines? Is God really unable to communicate clearly? No, but if the heart is not truly regenerated, sinful man will grasp every opportunity to twist everything to accommodate his own purposes.

Is Jesus Lord, or is He not? That's the question.

#38  Posted by Jim Toms  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 11:26 AM

Mr. Bell, if "someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry..", then we are all still in our sins, my friend.

#39  Posted by Nicky Bullimore  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 11:54 AM

Great post Rebecca #35

You know, after I have read Rob Bell's questions that suggest he's trying to challenge our thinking, it sounds more like he is the one challenging God. Like, he came up with these personal questions, personal struggles which is OK. We all have them. But it's as if he's afraid to ask God and if he does, concerned he won't get an answer or be satisfied with His answer. So he's going through us.

This guy knows what he is doing.. he's a chip of the old block when it comes to using the same tactics as the devil did to Eve...he's just too obvious...and if he wasn't.. then what is he doing being a Pastor asking those kind of questions? Planting such thoughts which undermine truth?

Regarding him asking such a question "If Jesus had a dad called Larry".. - thats verging on mocking God - You don't expect someone who is supposedly someone who knows scripture to come out with such nonsense...if he needs to ask a question like that, then he needs to step away from the pulpit and go back to school. (He shouldn't be in the pulpit anyway).

#40  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 11:58 AM

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#41  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 1:16 PM

# 35 - Rebecca, I read all your comments. Very good analogies.

It is true that Bell's goal is not to reach any conclusion about anything. The more he talks the more you can clearly tell that his primary agenda is to question ANYTHING. He plants the questions in his hearers/readers heads and his work is done. He is comfortable in the "in between", sort of on the fence in all issues. He is a typical post-modern person, and like a true post-modernist, all his views are subjective.

That's very dangerous when it comes to the Word of God. For someone to call himself Christian and at the same time question the very Word he claims to believe... that does not make sense. But that's what the world wants right now, and it's the reason for Bells popularity. Are all his followers unsaved? I'd say that most of them are unsaved. They are not seeking for God, they are seeking for religion, and it's interesting how post-modernism can be religion: the belief that there are no certainties (this statement is not philosophically coherent though).

"Bell insists he is only raising the possibility that theological rigidity - and thus a faith of exclusion - is a dangerous thing. He believes in Jesus' atonement; he says he is just unclear on whether the redemption promised in Christian tradition is limited to those who meet the tests of the church. It is a case for living with mystery rather than demanding certitude."

(recent Time interview)

Consider Bell's choice of words - rigidity, exclusion, tradition, church, mystery, etc, etc. He is saying a lot in the above paragraph, more than the words he used. He purposely states that exclusion is only tradition, and not something taught in the Bible. He says he believes in Jesus' atonement? I ask, who is this Jesus he is talking about, and what atonement? It's not the biblical Jesus.

I can't help but be amazed that his followers, people who claim to be Christians, will read his books, his interviews statements, and not see the plain and clear deceit. Then I remind myself that Bell only has a plataform because there are people who willingly follow deceivers. Yes, Bell's words are dangerous. But Bell's agenda is not new.

#43  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 1:55 PM

Elaine, what surprises me is that I am in the group that "gets it". I could be where Rob Bell's followers are. And somehow, someway, for some reason, Jesus picked me. I am so honored, so touched to be in the family of our Lord. And for me to understand and accept scripture and not be in denial is a miracle. Just a miracle.

So, I'm not so much surprised by those going on that wide path of destruction as I am that I'm not walking with them. I am overwhelmed that I get to walk with you all on that narrow path that leads to salvation and ever lasting sweet life in Heaven with Jesus. That blows my mind! And all I had to do was repent, believe and follow. I guess I'm not intellectual enough for Rob Bell.

#44  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 2:07 PM

Post #34- Jeremy

Hi Jeremy, forgive me but I don't know what QFT stands for. Can you humor me and elaborate? Thanks, God Bless

Micah

#45  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 2:20 PM

Micah, I checked the "urban dictionary". It says it means "quoted for truth". Goes on to say,"Is used after a quote. States that you agree with this person." So you agree with the person you just quoted.

I had no idea what it meant, either.

#46  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 2:41 PM

#43 - Rebecca, exactly the way i feel. Many times i have to remind myself of who i used to be. Isnt it amazing that God would choose us? I dont even ask why anymore, i am perfectly content to receive His grace.

#47  Posted by Andre Wr  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 3:25 PM

In reading the post and many of these comments, i get the feeling that as Christians we can never ask questions about our faith

#48  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 3:43 PM

There's nothing wrong with asking questions, Andrew--so long as you're after the biblical answer. Asking questions about our faith is entirely different than questioning our faith. See the difference?

Rob Bell engages in the latter, and as you'll continually see in these posts, he has a sinister agenda. False teachers always do.

#49  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 3:45 PM

#44 Hi there Micah, yes Rebecca had it right I just use QFT from time to time when I agree with what someone has said or, what they have said has been closely inline with my own thoughts on the matter.

#50  Posted by Andre Wr  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 3:53 PM

i have a hard time thinking someone has a "sinister agenda" with regards to the christian faith when they continually state that Jesus is their savior and that him and him alone can save.

i am not a bell hater (like some or many here) and i am not a bell supporter, but the language used to call him out is scary because i dont think as a equally sinful human being one can say another is "damned to hell" or not saved, isnt that God and God alones decision?

I am all for pointing out errors in theology, but remember that every Christian thinker, pastor writer is imperfect and has errors...

I wonder if the original church ever intended for Christian books to be written, our faith is so much more relational and not stuck in a book, i feel conversations like this is much better then writing a book (that was a bit of a tangent)

#51  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 4:19 PM

# 47 - Andrew. Exactly what Tommy says.

Ask yourself: what is the purpose of a "pastor" in questioning the virgin birth? Bell does not refute his own hypothesis with biblical support, he clearly leaves his "what if" hanging in the air. He knows planting the doubt is better than to offer a definitive conclusion. He won't say he doubts the virgin birth (does he?), he wants everyone to doubt it. People like bell are very comfortable living with uncertainties. They are not looking for answers.

#52  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 4:53 PM

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#53  Posted by Andre Wr  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 4:59 PM

#51, i agree as a pastor his style is not the best and that as a pastor he should be much more definitely and more elaborate/detailed in his own theology, but i think you are making assumptions by saying that he wants everyone to doubt the virgin birth. In an interview about love wins, he explains that the purpose of his books is to get the reader to go back and examine his/her own faith and see where the truly stand. I for one, as a christian that has been blessed with a firm foundation, like that idea b/c the cookie cutter books arent for me, but i completely understand the issue with something like this with a newer christian or non christian...

btw, i had another post that seem to have been deleted, does someone control what is and is not posted?

#54  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 5:21 PM

Hi Andrew,

Yes, the comments here are moderated. We approve them as often as we can.

I get what you're saying that it is good for people to confirm what they believe and not necessarily accept all they are taught just because someone teaches it. We're supposed to be like the Bereans and compare what we hear with Scripture. I get that. But that's not what Rob Bell is trying to get you to do. Or if he is, he give faulty historical information to mislead people (like saying we didn't get our Bible as it is until 300AD).

What John MacArthur is doing in this series is exactly what Paul did and has commanded church leaders to do. When you read 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, Galatians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and others you can't help but see how important it is for true shepherds to guard the flock and point out the wolves. Paul used strong language in dealing with false teachers in his Corinthian letters and says those who teach a different gospel are damned.

Rob Bell teaches a different gospel. Not only in Love Wins but in previous published media. If you ask him what is the gospel, he'll give you a very different answer than the historical and biblical gospel.

The only way to think Bell is a true evangelical Christian is to hear a couple clips and ignore his primary published works (books and videos). In his interviews on Love Wins he refused to make any definitive statements affirming the biblical doctrines of hell and the gospel. That is very revealing!

#55  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 5:31 PM

@ #50 i have a hard time thinking someone has a "sinister agenda" with regards to the christian faith when they continually state that Jesus is their savior and that him and him alone can save.

Matthew 7:22-23

#56  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 5:49 PM

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#57  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 7:03 PM

Andrew:

Just something to think about: A Mormon would happily affirm the litmus test of orthodoxy you mentioned earlier--as they attempt to proselytize you on your front porch. Just ask them (or the other cults) this question, Do you believe Jesus is your Savior and that He and He alone can save?

Something else to consider. You mentioned how you completely understand the danger level of a newer Christian or non-Christian reading Bell's book. Who do you think will be the primary readers of his new book? Bingo. Bell may be a false teacher, but he's not stupid.

#58  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 8:29 PM

Not only the mormons: the other day i found a religious booklet at my door. The front cover had a drawing of a man wearing a long sleeved tunic, he had a bear and long hair. The words on it said: Jesus died for our sins. I flipped to see who left it at my door: Jehovah Witnesses. I laughed and my husband asked what was funny and i answered "they dont even believe He is God but will use Him as bait."

#59  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, April 16, 2011at 10:37 PM

OK, am I reading that some here think that Rob Bell is trying to get us back to God, back into the scriptures, back to Orthodox Christianity by using reverse psychology? Rob Bell asks an off the wall, anything but Orthodox Christianity "what if" questions to get us riled up so that we get into God's word, so we learn scripture for all it's worth in order to defend Jesus and Hell and anything controversial? So this is a learning curve, an exercise to get us fired up? So this is a good thing Rob Bell is doing? Rob Bell is saying,"Gotcha!"? So this questioning by Rob Bell is a hoax and we all have been part of it? He went so far as to publish a book to fool us?

Or maybe, Rob Bell really is deceiving and manipulating God's Word and maybe God is using what was meant for evil and using it for good? How about that one?

About questions: It is so good for Christians to ask questions. Do believe that John MacArthur often has a Q & A to help those of us that are students of the word, for those of us that are not shepherding an entire flock as pastors are called to do....unless it's a Q & A at Grace's Shepherd's Conference.

Rob Bell is a learned pastor. This is his day job. He has been taught scripture. He understands but he may be in a rut? Maybe he's lost his way? But I do think if he can give interviews, he must still have his senses about himself and can question 'til the cows come home with a team of pastors/mentors. He doesn't need to get an army of Christians to get on board with him and his dilemma with scriptural truths and go public. His doubts are serious and will have serious consequences if he draws others into the sink hole with him.

Sure, Christians can and should ask questions. But if a pastor is struggling with belief, he needs to step down, step away and receive counsel privately.

Now if some will be wolves and come packaged as sheep, just who are these bogus ones? Might they profess their belief in Jesus as their Savior? Well, that might be a curve ball. Or maybe they will profess all Scripture is the infallible word of God? Another curve ball.I mean, just what would the profile of an impostor look like? Might he look like you and me? Might he blend in for a while,until...until you or I hardly notice he is becoming different? Do we really expect him to come in with bells and whistles on with neon lights flashing, "wolf in sheep's clothing right here"? Who should we really keep an eye on....the more obvious, stand up comic preachers? Come on, they're a no brainer. Better watch out for the one that slithers like a snake!

But I said it before. I'm not wanting to be cruel to Rob Bell. My issue is really not with him. My issue is with The Lie. Rob Bell is being deceived as well. I'm almost embarrassed for him.

#60  Posted by Nicky Bullimore  |  Sunday, April 17, 2011at 12:39 AM

Hi Andrew...re your post #50 -I think it's a bit strong to accuse people of being Bell haters...people are just calling him out on what he is doing/saying.

This is how I see this guy, if the acceptable car to buy was a green one and everyone who was on the right path drove a green car, he would probably say he too drove a green car, but when you saw him driving around, he would be in a red car. Then he would probably ask the question "what if you woke up in the morning and found out your car was actually red?", "what if the red car was the right one to buy"..."what if your car was actually a pushbike?"

For those who have a firm foundation in Christ, that really is what Bell looks like...for those who might be a new Christian, or someone seeking the Lord or someone who is not yet a mature Christian, the fruit of his questions would either be confusion or to lead people down the wrong path...chasing the White rabbit...there is nothing wrong with questions at all and there is nothing wrong with people encouraging each other to examine themselves when it comes to biblical truths...but that isn't what bell is doing...if he was, then he would answer his own questions inline with what scripture teaches...he doesn't do that, he is placing a big fat doubt on biblical truths and teaches a person nothing except to doubt the Gospel.

DID GOD REALLY SAY? Does hell really exist? Is Jesus really who he said he is? Can a loving God really send people to hell?

The Gospel is the good news about Jesus making the way back to God....it is how someone moves from death to live...bell is like the fella standing at the door to salvation asking people "what if this is the wrong way?".

#61  Posted by Renata Mileske  |  Sunday, April 17, 2011at 8:46 AM

What was the first thing that Satan did in the garden with Eve?

He got her to doubt the Word of God and His authority...clearly this is the mission of Rob Bell with the younger generation who know nothing of God and His Word.....

#62  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Sunday, April 17, 2011at 8:59 AM

At Andrew:

I certainly hope you are not being lead astray. False teachers are rarely if ever less than subtle about their teachings, they drape it in terms we are all familiar with until it is too late.

Rob Bell is trying to have anyone he can get put their hope and faith in a false Jesus, one whose sole message was in his teachings? I don't necessarily disagree, but that was not HIS SOLE reason, for it was to die to save us from our sins which would lead us to Hell.

Unfortunately, he thinks that Jesus was to save us from God? This could not be more wrong. AS God is holy so is HIS nature and therefore hates sin, and the penalty for sin is death. Rob Bell needs to taught the Bible all over again and it did not help coming from Fuller which bashes the Bible and almost always has, seeing as how Wayne Grudem went there for one year despising every minute of it until he could escape to Westminster.

God Bless

#63  Posted by Jeremy K  |  Sunday, April 17, 2011at 4:18 PM

You know one tactic conmen and criminals use to rip others off in the street/life is the 4 D's, and this situation is no different.

Dialogue, Deception, Distraction and finally Destruction.

They need your mind elsewhere so they can do their business unhindered.

#64  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, April 18, 2011at 5:19 AM

In an earlier blog I remembered someone I did not agree with, using the expression "Together for the Gospel".

The Apostle Paul said something like that from the prison, whatever the motive, the gospel is preached.

But this is not the gospel. Let us keep the gospel clear.

Christ, the only hope for sinners.

#65  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Monday, April 18, 2011at 7:04 AM

Rudi, could you be more specific when you use the word "this" as in "But THIS is not the gospel"? Also, could use please use quotes so I can better understand if you are quoting Paul...when the quote begins and when it ends.Thanks~

#66  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, April 18, 2011at 11:17 AM

During the "Battle for the beginning" series, we were faced with the reality, that there seems to be some who believe the earth is billions of years old, and God is using evolution. From here came the quote. This guy said we are preaching the same Gospel. Maybe it’s just me, but I see it very different. How can it be the same, when someone is so much at odds with Gods word? The problem is inconsistency. If you do not fully agree with all God says, the whole picture shatters, and you will find yourself without firm foundation. And as someone used to say in previous blogs, "wrong doctrine = wrong living". When looking at the Gospel as understood by many, you could easily get the idea that it is a minimum requirement for salvation, a formula, and all is done. But Jesus makes it clear; it will cost you all, so count the costs. You must die to self and put on obedience. Love for Jesus is the requirement. John MacArthur has spent much time on explaining this. I will leave the teaching to him. But as we have looked at previously, even the Gospel must be seen in a context to get the full picture and to be consistent. With "this" I meant Robs understanding of the Gospel.

#67  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Monday, April 18, 2011at 11:30 AM

Rudi, gotcha! Thanks and Amen.

#68  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, April 18, 2011at 5:12 PM

I was read Paul's letter in 2 Corth. that it said For if someone comes to you and preach a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the oneyou accepted, you put up wih it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those super apostles.

Another shows us to discern between the good and bad. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of cChrist. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of liht. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerad as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

I was once fooled by some were teaching a gospel different than what

God's word said. When I read the bible and it helps me to discern

between true believers and the false.

#69  Posted by Joanne Beange  |  Tuesday, April 19, 2011at 3:06 PM

Rebecca - actuallly I didn't get go to the conference but my son did and he recorded the interview where Todd said these things. Both he and his wife said it was great and they took copious amounts of notes.