Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.

Bell’s Inferno

Thursday, April 21, 2011
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that religion is a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5).


Rob BellNo one in all the Scriptures had more to say about hell than Jesus. No stern messenger of doom from the era of the Judges, no fiery Old Testament prophet, no writer of imprecatory psalms, and no impassioned apostle (including the Boanerges brothers)—not even all of them combined—mentioned hell more frequently or described it in more terrifying terms than Jesus.

And the hell Jesus spoke of was not merely some earthly ordeal, some sour state of mind, or some temporary purgatorial prison. Jesus described hell as a “place of torment” in the afterlife (Luke 16:28)—a place of “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (v. 48). It is a “place [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30)—a place of “eternal punishment” (v. 46).

Rob Bell is clearly unhappy with Jesus’ teaching about hell. He finds the very idea of hell morally repugnant and believes it is one of the main reasons “why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith.” He scoffs at the idea that divine justice requires endless punishment for unrepentant sinners. In direct opposition to what Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 25:46, Bell insinuates that it would be a gross, cosmic atrocity if the doom of the reprobate is everlasting in the same sense that heaven’s blessings for the redeemed are everlasting.

Bell’s notion of sin seems to be that its main evil consists in the hurt it causes to the sinner rather than the offense it causes to a righteous and almighty God. His concept of “justice” makes the punishment of sin wholly optional. His idea of mercy falsely holds forth a false promise of automatic leniency and a second chance after death to people already inclined to take divine clemency for granted anyway.

Rob Bell’s god is clearly no one to be feared.

That all stands in direct and deliberate contradiction to everything Jesus ever taught about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

By thus pitting his own ideas against Jesus’ message, Bell makes it inescapably clear that he “advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Timothy 6:3). He is wrong—seriously wrong—heretically wrong—to question the justice of God and to hold out false hope to unbelievers. He is, as we have seen from the start of this series, a textbook example of the false teacher who secretly introduces destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1).

That must be said plainly and emphatically.

Just how serious is Rob Bell’s heresy? It is not merely that he rejects what Jesus taught about hell; Bell rejects the God of Scripture. He deplores the idea of divine vengeance against sin (Romans 12:9). He cannot stand the plain meaning of texts like Hebrews 12:29: “Our God is a consuming fire.” He has no place in his thinking for the biblical description of Christ’s fiery return with armies of angels: “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Bell's whole message is a flat contradiction of Jesus' words in Luke 12:5: "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"

Bell will have none of that. He therefore tries to eliminate the authority and clarity of Scripture so that he can reinvent a god who is more to his liking. It is the sin of all sins; the sin of the serpent. Like Eve’s tempter, Bell is subtly but undeniably fomenting rebellion against the true God. He suggests that he is better—nicer, more kindly, more tolerant, more lenient—than the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. He therefore sets aside God’s revealed Word and makes his own musings the inviolable standard.

In effect he wants to assume the role of God for himself. That is not a minor evil; it is epic. It is the original sin of Lucifer.

As already shown, Rob Bell has been sowing doubt, confusion, and error in the church for years. His theological trajectory has been clear for at least a decade. The stance he takes in Love Wins is the predictable fruit of many other compromises and concessions to worldly opinion that were already well established in Bell’s teaching.

In fact, the most surprising thing about Love Wins is not the position Rob Bell takes, but the fact that so many people seem genuinely caught off guard and unaccountably confused by it. The record of Bell’s own words makes it clear that this latest book of his is little more than a distillation of things he has been saying all along. He abandoned Jesus’ teaching years ago in favor of a different religion—one more in keeping with his personal preferences. He is pointing people toward the broad way that leads to destruction.

The sad reality is that if Rob Bell does not confess the truth in this life, one day he will realize how wrong his understanding of hell really is. His view of hell will be painfully altered forever when he receives the more severe punishment reserved for those who with a Bible in their hands mock God and trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Hebrews 10:29; cf. 2 Peter 2:21).

My earnest prayer is for Rob Bell’s repentance. But I am even more deeply and urgently concerned for the many untaught and undiscerning people who are being led astray by his toxic teaching (Jude 22-23). It is time for faithful shepherds to speak up and warn the flock of the deadly peril posed by false teaching such as this.

It is also time for the people of God to proclaim the gospel more clearly and more carefully than ever, including the difficult parts of the message. For too long evangelicals have been prone to omit the full truth about sin, righteousness, and judgment—falling back instead on dumbed-down, dampened, defanged versions of the message. In all candor, that is one of the main reasons there is so much confusion over Rob Bell’s book among evangelicals today.

We have a sacred duty to preach what Jesus preached in the manner He preached it—without toning it down or adjusting it to make it more suitable to secular culture. Those who trim or alter the message to avoid the parts that are offensive are not faithful ambassadors of Christ. Whatever their motives and despite their best intentions, their tamed-and-toned-down versions of the gospel do not represent authentic Christianity. More often than not, the result is a different religion altogether.

We need to weigh that fact carefully, and seek God’s grace to remain faithful—to proclaim the true, unabridged, unadulterated gospel more clearly and more boldly than ever in a world that is growing less tolerant of the offense of the cross, more anesthetized against the fear of God, and increasingly hostile to Christ.

John MacArthur (Grace to You)

John MacArthur
Pastor-Teacher


Make a Comment    |     Comments (94)

Click here to subscribe to comments without commenting.

You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment.

*Note: All comments must be approved before being posted

Submit

#1  Posted by Robby Brown  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:47 AM

It seems to me it is now time for Brothers in Christ to go to him and confront him of his open sin. Does anyone know of any fellow Christ-followers going to Bell and confronting him on his heresy? I think Dr. MacArthur is surely qualified to be in or lead such a group. Perhaps some of the brethren from T4G?

Blessings,

RB

#2  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:59 AM

Robby,

It is faaaaaaaaar past that stage. Bell is not a brother in Christ, as John has been making clear in this series.

Bell has been rebuked openly for his overt false teaching many times over, and he persists. He is not a new-comer to the stage. He's been around for a number of years and has progressed further and further into false teaching.

What it's time for--and what this series has attempted to do--is to warn the sheep of this wolf.

#3  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:02 AM

Robby, just as I was about to post I see Gabriel, who I think is a moderator, beat me to it. Rob Bell is not a believer in Jesus Christ in the sense you use the term. His words and actions exhibit that while he supposedly acknowledges Jesus as Savior and God, he subverts so many core Biblical issues that it is hard to accept his testimony. So, there is no need to approach him as a sinning brother, but as a false teacher. To that end John MacArthur is warning the flock to run not walk from this guy and his own "gospel".

#4  Posted by Robby Brown  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:10 AM

Excuse me, I said "Brothers in Christ". Is Rob Bell a plural? NOWHERE did I refer to Bell as a "Brother". I was referring to "Brothers in Christ" as a mature group who should confront him. Please read before you post.

#5  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:10 AM

Today as I read in the news of the brutal murder of a teen by other teens, I wondered if those teens had ever been taught that they will one day face the sovereign God of the universe. Do they realize that they have taken a life created by God who will surely hold them accountable? Have they ever been taught to fear the One who can destroy their soul in hell?

If I understand what Rob Bell is teaching, he is saying that we can live as we want on earth now and can, after death, make our peace with God and choose heaven. If that is true, then there is really no incentive to submit ourselves to God’s authority while on earth. In one of John MacArthur’s radio broadcasts this week, he mentioned how heretical teaching results in the corruption of morals. It is easy to see how the teaching that we have no need to fear a just God can lead to a chaotic and evil society.

I don’t understand Rob Bell’s motives, but the result of his teaching leads to living for the here and now without much thought about eternity. This is the opposite of what scripture teaches. Colossians 3:1-2 tells us to seek the things which are above, and to set our minds on the things above and not on earth. We are told that God will not be mocked and that we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-8). From start to finish we are warned about the accounting we will one day have to give to God. Whether it is his intention or not, Rob Bell is spreading dangerous lies.

#6  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:12 AM

Robby,

Sorry about the misunderstanding. I did see the plural noun, but I understood it to be inclusive of Rob Bell. After all, brothers confront brothers. Brothers don't confront unbelievers.

Thanks for the clarification.

#7  Posted by Miranda Kwon  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:23 AM

I thank the Lord that He has made available such a good teacher like you, John MacArthur, across the ocean, through the internet. I'm in Seoul, Korea, and even here, when I go to a bookstore, books of Rob Bell's sorts are flooding the religion section. So sad.

I'm thankful to our Lord also that you were my first ever Bible teacher (though an online teacher)--and have been my primary Bible teacher ever since--and that I still get to study the Bible with you everyday. Thank you that you made all your sermons and many other resources available on the internet for free.

May God bless you.

#8  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:41 AM

Actually, I have watched a good number of Rob Bell interviews since John MacArthur brought this up. I have even listened to a few of his talks (i.e. they aren't sermons)...He is prepared for opposition and actually looks forward to it. He sees people who thinks he is a heretic as people stuck in old religion, and don't have a true relationship with the "loving god" that he has in his mind. He thinks they misunderstand "god" and the bible (I intentionally use lower case here to).

He has preached several sermons over the years to his congregation instructing them how to handle people that confront them...

Simply talking to him isn't going to work.

#9  Posted by Flor Chavarria  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:44 AM

couldn't put it any better than John M. Himself, I will cuote him.

I do not understand how people ARE staying IN his church. They should be running from it.

"My earnest prayer is for Rob Bell’s repentance. But I am even more deeply and urgently concerned for the many untaught and undiscerning people who are being led astray by his toxic teaching (Jude 22-23). It is time for faithful shepherds to speak up and warn the flock of the deadly peril posed by false teaching such as this." (John M)

#10  Posted by Kyle Kues  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:49 AM

#5

"If I understand what Rob Bell is teaching, he is saying that we can live as we want on earth now and can, after death, make our peace with God and choose heaven. If that is true, then there is really no incentive to submit ourselves to God’s authority while on earth. In one of John MacArthur’s radio broadcasts this week, he mentioned how heretical teaching results in the corruption of morals. It is easy to see how the teaching that we have no need to fear a just God can lead to a chaotic and evil society."

You should read the book, he actually argues the exact opposite of this. He argues that since Heaven will be here someday, that there needs to be more of an urgency to make this world the kind of place God had in mind.

Jesus' teachings were all about how to have relationship with God now, how to be the kind of person God had in mind right here and right now. Jesus is deeply concerned with what the world is like today, and the role we have to play in it. Bell spends a lot time addressing that in Love Wins. In that respect, his opinion on the matter should get you, and all of us, pretty pumped up and ready to go make a difference!

#7

"I'm in Seoul, Korea, and even here, when I go to a bookstore, books of Rob Bell's sorts are flooding the religion section. So sad."

The people who are displeased with things tend to be much more vocal about what they hate than others about what they love. It is sad, but that is way the world works. You don't hear about how much people love companies or the services they provide, you hear about how greedy they are, or how they have cheated a customer. The world has become a place, in large part, where the bad are the only things that are discussed at times (see any news broadcast, anywhere). Those are things that get attention and bring in ratings/attention, whatever. It is true of society at large, anymore, as well.

Is it possible that his books flood the shelves (and are flying off of them) because, just maybe, he has some good things to say? Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it, and people respond to that?

I think one of the greatest faults of this blog is the blanket assumption that any of us who agree with his teaching fall under this category:

"But I am even more deeply and urgently concerned for the many untaught and undiscerning people who are being led astray by his toxic teaching (Jude 22-23)."

Lots of us are highly educated, in the secular and non-secular realms, and we are in with him. Maybe I misread his intention with the statement, but we are not all there, and we like Bell. Maybe there is something to that?

We all just disagree on theological points, that aren't as clear as McArthur would like to make them seem, and that is ok. To say he is going to hell now because of it? That is kind of weak of any Christian to do.

I will construct a better response to the blog later.

#11  Posted by Flor Chavarria  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:54 AM

the sheep must be warned, yes, but "we" believers are the ones reading this. What about the 'unsaved' or very new believers who really don't know any better and are falling for this false doctrine? How are they saved from Bell's heracy??????????????????

#12  Posted by Seth Callahan  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:02 PM

@10

Kyle, good word. Theological disagreements should not result in condemnation to hell. And if the only thing a person does is complain and talk about how bad things are, especially through sermons and blog posts, it might be worth asking what positive things they even stand for.

#13  Posted by Theresia Smith  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:03 PM

I also want to thank all GTY and especially Pastor MacArthur for making the truth your priority. You will never now, (this side of eternity) what a difference you make in our walk with the Lord. We live in a city where there is not one church where they exposit the scripture, and we are a city of 80000 people. We learn and grow in our Christian walk because of you, may you be blessed this Easter, as we remember He died and rose,that we may have eternal life.

( We are looking forward to the Truth Matters Conference, maybe Rob Bell should be encouraged to attend , as a pupil )

#14  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:03 PM

Kyle,

Regarding your response to #5, I understand that Bell isn't promoting hedonism, but that is the natural response to his teaching. From the unbeliever's perspective, there is no reason to live for God today if you can wait until after death to get right with God.

Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it, and people respond to that?

Of course the same argument could be made for Joel Osteen.

We all just disagree on theological points, that aren't as clear as McArthur would like to make them seem, and that is ok. To say he is going to hell now because of it?

I'm sure you would agree (maybe?) that the Muslim is going to hell because of his wrong theological beliefs. The same is true of Mormons and Jevohah's Witnesses.

The issue isn't "he disagrees with me, therefore he is going to hell." That is not what MacArthur is communicating. MacArthur has significant disagreements with men like Piper (on the gifts) and Sproul (infant baptism); but those disagreements are of a different kind. They agree on the doctrine of God, Scripture, and the gospel (as well any many other things).

What MacArthur has pointed out in this series, is Bell has gone far beyond disagreeing with the doctrine of hell. He has constructed a distinct view of God, the Bible, and the gospel. According to Paul, that is what qualifies as damnable.

Now obviously you disagree with that. I don't recall you commenting on the posts where John quotes Bell specifically. It would be better for you to respond to those points before responding to John's conclusions--which are agreed upon by other evangelical leaders.

#15  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:08 PM

#10

"We all just disagree on theological points, that aren't as clear as McArthur would like to make them seem, and that is ok. To say he is going to hell now because of it? That is kind of weak of any Christian to do. "

I am not sure what you are getting at. Here's 2 Peter 2 talking about false teachers:

"17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning."

Compare everything to scripture and so far Bell is to be rebuked because nearly everything he says is a lie or a half true with a huge lie.

It is sad because Rob Bell and his emergent church friends are trying to make Christianity fit this hideous world. It is a false gospel. If people don't know the destructive nature of their sins and the abominations they commit probably everyday against God, how can they be saved? It seems as those Bell is advocating a sort of religion compared to that of the Pharisees, where all sins are internalized and therefore you're not hurting anyone therefore, it is ok.

It's far from ok. It's horrible.

"Jesus' teachings were all about how to have relationship with God now, how to be the kind of person God had in mind right here and right now. Jesus is deeply concerned with what the world is like today, and the role we have to play in it. Bell spends a lot time addressing that in Love Wins. In that respect, his opinion on the matter should get you, and all of us, pretty pumped up and ready to go make a difference! "

Jesus was the Son of God, and the way to a relationship is obviously through him if we repent and have faith/trust in him. He died because we first and foremost sin against God and God's nature is holy. I can't say this enough because it is the entire basis for salvation which Bell does not advocate. The thing is that we are already going to hell, God does in a sense send us there, but we are ALREADY GOING.

"Is it possible that his books flood the shelves (and are flying off of them) because, just maybe, he has some good things to say? Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it, and people respond to that?"

Is it possible that the people buying the books are deceived?

#16  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:09 PM

Seth,

And if the only thing a person does is complain and talk about how bad things are, especially through sermons and blog posts, it might be worth asking what positive things they even stand for.

That statement betrays a woeful understanding of John's ministry. Am I right to assume this blog is the only resource you've checked out on this website?

For a man who has preached 2+ sermons a week for four decades and written dozens of books, the amount of time/print he spends pointing out false teachers is a tiny fraction of his otherwise "positive instruction" ministry.

#17  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:11 PM

@ seth

There is more than just replacement theology or some form of eschatology being discussed. It is a matter of heaven or hell, the study of salvation. It is quite clear in the scripture and from Jesus own mouth that there is one way to heaven, and he gives road markers on how to get there.

It is like driving down a highway and ignoring all the signs for a turn off to New York City and that is your destination.

#18  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:13 PM

#11 Flor

Gods children are chosen. They will come to Christ. And they will love Christ, AND they will obey Christ.

(I myself came out of a charismatic church many years ago, because of John MacArthur's teaching)

#19  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:14 PM

Let me also ask a question.

Are Jehovah's Witnesses true Christians?

In the same way Rob Bell is a true Christian.

#20  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:14 PM

#12 Seth

You have still not answered the question: Are Gods words absolutes?

#21  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:20 PM

Oh one more thing:

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

#22  Posted by Frank Bell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 12:29 PM

From what I've seen of Rob Bell's videos it cannot be argued with a straight face that he is preaching the Biblical Gospel. But he is preaching a gospel not found in the Bible, his own.

That being true, his teachings are apostate.

He's leading people away from the Biblical Gospel and into his own version of truth.

The people who follow him are being led astray. It's as simple as that.

Mr MacArthur is doing what all Believers should, exposing the deceptions of an apostate leader.

May God continue to bless him!

#23  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 1:24 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#24  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 2:03 PM

I'll quote Travis Allen (Director of Internet Ministry GTY), way back from this blog:

Removing the troublesome yoke of divine sovereignty liberates people to create and define their own realities. Morals and ethics become matters of individual preference or social convention — universal, transcendent authority is relegated to the unenlightened past.

The consequences of that are severe and brutal. Without a universally-binding, transcendent authority, there is no basis for justice.

And by the way - The same authority also guarantee the hope we have in Christ, that if we repent, He will forgive us. Isn’t that wonderful news?

#25  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 2:14 PM

#10 Kyle

You ask:

"Is it possible that his books flood the shelves (and are flying off of them) because, just maybe, he has some good things to say? Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it, and people respond to that?"

The simple answer to this question is no... That is not possible, I'll elaborate more in a sec

and then state: "We all just disagree on theological points, that aren't as clear as McArthur would like to make them seem, and that is ok. To say he is going to hell now because of it? That is kind of weak of any Christian to do."

Getting down to the root of Rob Bell's teachings has nothing to do with him having good things to say, or that he "has a goood version of the gospel with alot of truth in it" There is only one gospel.. not teachers with there own version of a gospel that sounds good. Bell's beliefs are not rooted in scripture, that is a fact that he has inadvertantly affirmed himself by making statements about how the Bible is not divine but is a human product. This is not about theological differences like you implied. Bell HAS stated he believes the Bible is a human product, everything else he states after that is just icing on the cake. If you don't believe in the Bible you are not saved. There is no gray area. The whole emergent church scene seems to have an incredibly low view of scripture. Bell has no business teaching the Bible. He is a false teacher and "his version of the gospel" that you mentioned is damning people to a real, eternal, Hell that does in fact exist. He wrote the book with an agenda and it was not to present the gospel to people. If I had to guess it has to do with making money. (total assumption so don't tear me apart to much for it) I pray for Bell, and his flock, and the people who follow his teachings. God bless

Micah

#26  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 2:14 PM

Pastor MacArthur,

Have you read Bell's book, Love Wins?

Thank you.

Jeff Wright

#27  Posted by Seth Callahan  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 2:33 PM

#25 Micah,

Humans wrote the Bible. It did not float down from heaven. It was not discovered on five gold plates, interpreted by an angel, and written down. It is inspired by God and written by man.

Secondly, to respond to your quote, "If you don't believe in the Bible you are not saved," check out John 5:39-40. Life isn't in the Bible, it's in Jesus.

#28  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 2:50 PM

#27 Seth

A common comment by Mr. Bell...that is irrelevant. Who did he know that goes around acting like the Bible is an idol, or a magical device that saves? The Bible is THE WAY we know about Jesus. Thus, we read it to discover the source of salvation, which is faith in Jesus Christ...

#29  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 3:10 PM

Seth,

Did humans write the Bible? Yes. Did God write the Bible? Yes.

All Scripture is God-breathed. It isn't inspired like a song artist is inspired. The very words of Scripture are the very words of God through the medium of human authors. Therefore when we read Paul we can truly say 'Thus says the Lord.'

#30  Posted by Don Laffere  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 3:17 PM

Answer him or anyone who is in conflict with Scripture present it this way: 1 Peter 3:15

"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"

And when you make your point and they don't listen: Mark 6:11

"And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them."

But know this after you have made your point: Proverbs 12:15

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,but a wise man listens to advice."

And finally do this: 1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

#31  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 3:28 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#32  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 3:43 PM

Seth,

I think you knew exactly what I meant by both my statements about the inspiration of the Bible and believing in the Bible and you have read enough of my posts to know I don't think the Bible just floated down from Heaven. Did you really think that is what I was saying??

If it makes you feel better then I can rephrase my setence about belief in the Bible, if you don't believe in what the Bible teaches then you are not a Christian, if you don't believe the Bible is divinely inspired by God then your not a Christain, if you think the Bible has errors in it then I would say your not a Christian.. I think that you knew exactly what I meant though. I think we have interacted enough over the last week to know that I was not endorsing mormonism or even implying anything of that nature whatever. Frankly I don't appreciate the sarcasm. I'll wrap it up by saying that if your a false teacher, a good example would be teaching everyone "gets" to go to Heaven, your also not a Christian. But like JM wrote in this blog, that is really just the icing on the cake for Bell's "theology"

Micah

#33  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 3:49 PM

# 10

"Is it possible that his books flood the shelves (and are flying off of them) because, just maybe, he has some good things to say? Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it, and people respond to that?"

Quantity and popularity are not good arguments. The same can be said of tons of wordly people, and so-called christian Mr. Osteen. Probably you haven't read in the gospels of the HUGE (not) popularity of Jesus.

Ya know, as the saying goes, only in America. Bell would not be claiming to be a christian leader if he was facing real persecution - you know, the kind that really takes you to death.

#34  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 4:22 PM

Well said, Elaine:

Note carefully Kyle's words. He said of Rob Bell:

Maybe his version of the gospel is good, and there is a lot of truth in it.

That's the problem. It's his version of the gospel. That's the very point John's been making in this series--Rob Bell's gospel is a different version than Christ's.

I wonder if Bell has his own version of Galatians 1:8? Paul says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed."

#35  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 4:32 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#36  Posted by Tammy Stortz  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 5:14 PM

i am lovin this. I have been frustrated for years about bells teachings and now God is shining a huge light on his heresy. Gods timing is perfect. When we attended marshill years ago i just Knew eventually he would be found out. i remember talking with him when a pastor from another church in grand rapids told me that bell belives God is neither a he or she, so needless to say i had to confront him and he said to me "well, God refers to himself like a hen gathering her chicks". wow i was amazed. i just know God has a plan for all of this light shedding and believe me this is huge. i love it when mockers are exposed. keep up the great work

#37  Posted by Sharon Kuhn  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 5:15 PM

Miranda,

God Bless you! I too have received such blessings from GTY. Having this resource is such a gift.

Seth,

Concerning John 5:39-40 who was Jesus talking to? I'm no Bible scholar but it seems to me He's talking to the Jews who were persecuting Him for doing works on the Sabbath. They were quoting from the Law and telling Him He was blaspheming. How can you possibly twist that to prove your point?

Kyle and Seth,

I will pray for you both.

Slave of Christ

Sharon~

#38  Posted by Christopher Jackson  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 6:16 PM

The bible also states Pro 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

So he has been confronted on his own. I prayed for the LORD to break him like the LORD broke Paul. they were different in some ways but both really stubborn.

I shall pray for the LORD to open his eyes. All things in the LORD are possible.

#40  Posted by Samuel Thermidor  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 8:14 PM

It's either you believe the Bible or you don't. If you donot believe what the Bible says and that it was inspired by God then you are not a Christian. You have a false christ and you do not have salvation. All throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit warns that anyone not abiding in the doctrines of God is accursed. Under damnation and the penalty of Hell. When I hear people say ignorant things like "man wrote the bible", truly I am upset. If you are not in awe at the scientific precision and historical accuracy of a book written before these things were acknowledged by the scientific and historical community such as the shape of the earth and the destruction of Tyre, then truly what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is true about You. The natural man cannot accept the things of God. Do I worship the Bible, not the pages and the cover. But if you are not at awe and reverence that these are truly the words of God and are disrespectful to say that man wrote this, as if it came from the mind of a human being, then your penalty is well deserved friend. The bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the WORD OF GOD. Whoever rejects these words they rejected God himself.If you reject Him, He will reject you for all eternity. Ask yourself, do you consider yourself to be a good person. Have lied, stolen, used God's name in vain, committed sexual immorality? If so the Bible says you will have your part in the lake of FIRE for eternity. God did something to show that He does not want people to go to Hell. He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to bear the sins of all who would repent and put their trust in Him. That is why "Love Wins" is evil. It extinguishes the greatest form of love that God has ever shown. How? By elliminating God's justice you negate any need for a sacrifice. Jesus would have died for nothing. Not to save you. And if you don't need Jesus to save you, or believe you don't, you are not a Christian. Repent and believe in Jesus all those who reject God's word. You can be saved from your sins and blaspheming God's word that He upholds as high as His name. You can be spared for ridiculing His love and making it seem foolish. You do not have to suffer the wrath of God. Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

#41  Posted by Garrett Dulin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 9:32 PM

Let me just way in that I think Rob Bell is a heretic and chooses to teach heresy.

Having said that, I think there is a certain belief among alot of Christians that you must agree with our interpretation of the bible (orthodoxy or, what we've always believed). I agree with Rob Bell that the idea of eternal torment is repugnant. I will admit I have a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas.

I would also like to read his new book just to see where he is coming from. Does anyone agree with me? Am I a nut?

#42  Posted by Andrene Demontagnac  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 9:41 PM

There are many Bell's today who do claim the Christian faith. They say they are Christians but when moral, ethical, and other topics arise in coversation, the bible is not their authority, but even the mention of the bible is not in their favor, some become hostile and will insit that you not mention God in "every" conversation. This statement alone was very puzzling to me. I wondered if the person speaking to me knew what it meant to be a Christian, to follow Christ. I thank Pastor MacArthur for being a Faithfull man of christ. WE nee more pastors that will feed us truth alone, with boldness.

#43  Posted by Samuel Thermidor  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:18 PM

By the way it's just this simple. If people do not believe in Hell then they miss out on salvation at the first point. The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom. True wisdom is being poor in spirit and recognizing that we are in the direct path of the wrath of God. Removing the wrath of God removes fear. Fear is useful as it is a defense mechanism built by God to produce the knowledge that we are in danger. It is our conscience (with knowledge) that let's us know that we are in danger. When we react to the evidence of God in nature and truly acknowledge our conscience then we know that we have offended a holy and powerful God and that we are in big trouble for doing it. Humans naturally drown their consceince and suppress the knowledge of God that they are given. Then some clown comes along talking about love winning and noone going to Hell and the natural response of the decietful human heart is to cling to this as truth. Why? Because as fallen man we don't want there to be a hell because we don't wanna go there but we want our sin too at the same time. One problem with that though. DENYING STUFF DOESN'T MAKE IT GO AWAY. We can't act like children playing hide and go seek and close our eyes so that the seeker doesn't see us. Have we gone nuts? They are like oh you are not loving because you believe there is a Hell. No, Hell is real because Jesus says it is. He is loving by warning us and for the shedding of His blood on the cross to give us a way of escape. To keep people from that truth is to keep them from salvation. No Hell, No need for a savior, no need for salvation equals damnation. That is what Rob Bell and all those like him bring. Let's be serious about this. By the way the passage in John 5:39-40 is telling the pharisees that they should have seen Christ in the scriptures and come to Him. Just like the rich man in Hell was told that if his brothers did not believe the law and prophets (the old testament) then they would not believe even if someone came back from the dead. The knowledge of Christ is found in the scriptures. So to belittle the Bible by saying man wrote it, and I don't care what else you follow it by, is putting your irreverence for God's word on full display. You will be judged if you don't repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And there is no gospel without the wrath of God.

#44  Posted by Samuel Thermidor  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:24 PM

Excuse me Garrett why is it that you think Rob Bell is a heritic? Do you believe in salvation, and if so what is it that you think that we are saved from?

#45  Posted by Samuel Thermidor  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:42 PM

The reason that Hell seems so ridiculous to the world is because they don't love God and don't believe that rejecting Him and trangressing His law deserves any penalty. Men who curse God and mock the idea of His very existence should get off scott free because God indeed to them is worthy of no honor or respect. They lift man and bring God low. They cannot understand the cross because to them it is meaningless and an example for us to follow at best. Eternal judgement? WHY? It's not like we offended an infinitely worthy God. Be for real. The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom. Start there, FEAR GOD.

#46  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 10:52 PM

The few commenting on this blog in some support of Bell sound particularly desperate to me. To remark about negativity of others on this blog and yet to consistently read and comment here is such a contradiction. Does the fact that Jesus spoke more of Hell and damnation than anyone else make Him too negative?

And why do Bell's supporters come across so desperate? Maybe they desperately want and or need to believe Bell's "version". Waiting for the majority of us to be stumped so they might carry on supporting Bell in confidence....not in support of Jesus but supporting Bell's philosophy. Are Bell's supporters here on this blog trying to save us from...from...uh,from Hell....here on earth? Well, if that is so, say it! Tell us how and why and what you are trying to help us avoid. Because I think most of us here believe that Bell is a heretic and we truly aren't in this to simply win a debate. The real love of Christ places in us a desire that none should be lost. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16 That is God's desire. It must be our desire too!

Notice the support for Bell comes from people that are articulate in what they say, above intelligence I'd say. And yet, what appears simple, to simple minded me, they can't see. It's like they have spiritual cataracts. It's so clear, so obviously clear and yet they do not see.

All of us have within us a God given desire to worship...something bigger than ourselves. We look, maybe even unaware, for a place, a person, an object, ie, the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, anything to worship. We feel good, we feel better when we worship. We want that spiritual experience. We think as long as we are worshiping something, we are covered as much as the next person. Just worship.

That's a lie. Whom you worship is everything. It says everything about you. And how you describe the one you worship, his character, his nature, says everything about him. A resemblance is not the same. It's just a resemblance. Resemblance is not original and is not authentic. Like a gemologist who has a trained eye to know a real diamond or a fake, we too as Christians should know the Real Jesus! How can we know and anyone expect us to remain silent? That's not justice.

This debate is healthy. It stretches us all. We reach deep inside and pull out all we have learned and didn't realize was filed away for such a time as now. It's encouraging. And if for you it's less encouraging and more disturbing, examine yourselves as Paul said,"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" UNLESS?? Failed the test? If Rob Bell has failed the test, just when do we stand up and say so? Not now? When?

#47  Posted by Garrett Dulin  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:19 PM

Hi Samuel #44,

I think Rob Bell is a heretic because he teaches universalism. He is basically saying, whether he admits it or not, that one doesn't have to repent and believe. Actually, I just think it's glaring heresy of the highest order.

Samuel, I think we are saved from God. We are saved from the fierce wrath of God. I just don't believe the bible teaches eternal torment. I believe the bible teaches that the wicked are tormented in proportion to individual sin and guilt and then become extinct.

I've debated this before with tradionalists. Most people aren't going to change their minds after a debate. Like Rebecca #46 said, debate stretches us. I think I'm trying to stir the pot. I did say I have a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas.

#48  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, April 21, 2011at 11:48 PM

Garrett, will you explain what you mean by chip? What sort of chip?

Let me say this about Hell and God's wrath. I too would rather not think about it. But the hell you describe so well, in my opinion, would do little to deter a man and his desire for sin and independence from God. People already laugh, mock if you will about their own personal hell. It's like, "I'll become extinct? Oh, hurt me again. Party hardy!"

For generations we have become so numb that much evil disturbs us not or not nearly enough. We are saturated with evil and it's consequences and we often evaluate evil as good. That's because we compare evil not with what is holy but rather with what is more evil, ie,"I might be bad but at least I'm not as bad as he is." We have been conditioned by the evil one to lower our standard of what is good, what is Holy. We are so very far away from perfection that we have a hard time relating to an eternal torment as just, as right. Eternal lives matter, they matter very much. They just don't matter as much as a sovereign, Holy God.

#49  Posted by Garrett Dulin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:24 AM

Hi Rebecca #48,

Perhaps "chip" is the wrong word. Usually people who have a chip on their shoulder have a nasty attitude. I have a passion for hell and a total abhorrence to eternal torment. I know you are smart and read the bible, I just don't see it. Furthermore, I think eternal torment is extermely unjust. Death is what God always prescribes for sin (the flood,Sodom and Gomorrah sp) Romans 6:23. I disagree with you about extinction not being a viable deterent to repentance for two reasons. #1 I believe we should serve God out of love, not fear. #2 Most people are very afraid of death and extinction. Though, I think eternal torment would be worse.

You're right about how our consciences have been numbed over the years...comparing evil with evil. I think it will only get worse from here until Christ returns.

#50  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 1:12 AM

Garrett, I don't know if we can ever wrap our minds around it. I know every time I try to take what is attributed to God and His nature and His sovereignty and His Perfect Righteousness and Supreme Being, and try to relate to it, I fall short by way of my imperfect humanity. We can say, well, those people had a choice but in our weakness we just can't imagine cause there is little we can imagine about such Holiness. I think we have to get out of our minds God as some evil dictator that says,"Love me or else!" Real evil dictators say nothing about love. It's,"serve me or you die!" To reject God's perfect love is not the same as rejecting some tyrant. There is unjust punishment and righteous punishment. I guess suffering in an eternal hell tells me just how serious it is to reject God's grace and all encompassing love. A love like no other. It's the worse form of rejection. There's not a Hallmark card that suffices. How on earth do we describe a love like that? We can't. And that makes it so hard to understand Hell. To not understand His eternal love, his "I will never forsake you or leave you kind of love", is to also not understand eternal hell. The magnitude and level of His love is impossible to grasp. So how can we possibly understand eternal hell? Seems to me that the magnitude of punishment must match the magnitude of the love and grace rejected. That's justice.

The saying comes to mind,"Well, I tried but he rejected my help (love)and shot himself in the foot!" There's going to be a lot of people that realize they shot themselves in the foot!

#51  Posted by Renee-claude Tanguay  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 4:53 AM

Seth and Kyle,

How do you believe one is saved and what are we saved from?

#52  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 5:48 AM

Garrett,

You have mentioned that you find the idea of eternal torment unjust and repugnant. You have also stated that you don’t believe the Bible teaches it. As has been mentioned several times on previous blog threads, the Bible does say in Matthew 25:46 that our punishment is eternal. Do you feel that eternal torment is unjust because scripture teaches that it is unjust or could you be interpreting scripture through an emotional bias? God is the only one who is able to declare what is just and we must base our judgments on what He declares.

#53  Posted by Hal Moser  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 5:53 AM

Rob Bell articulated what all of us really believe; yes all of us. Unless of course, we are actively proclaiming the Gospel to every person God puts into our path with a desire to "save others by snatching them from the fire" (Jude 23), in practice we show that:

1. We believe that all people will be saved in the end, or;

2. We don't really believe in an afterlife, especially hell or;

3. We really don't care what happens to people.

Most of "believers" in the US (me included) spend enough time playing church to appease our conscience, but if you look at our priorities (what we spend our time doing, our possessions and how we spend our money) we show that we really don't believe what we claim to believe. Thus, we really believe that Rob Bell is right.

#55  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:13 AM

Mary (#52),

To be fair to Garrett, I don't think he said he doesn't believe what the Bible teaches. Rather, he's saying he doesn't think the Bible teaches eternal torment. That's an important distinction.

#56  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:17 AM

Dan (#35),

You said:

"Fear God whom can kill both the body and soul in hell. Rob Bell seems wants people to light up and not think God as a Righteousnees Judge.

Why read Rob's book. It's all man, not of God's revelations. I would throw Rob's book away if one gives it to me."

Why read the book? In order to see if "Rob Bell seems wants people to light up and not think God as a Righteousnees Judge," as you say. Do you believe your charge to be sound if it is based on hearsay?

Jeff Wright

#57  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:36 AM

As far as I can tell, Rob Bell is not disputing with what most have specifically charged him. He doesn't give direct answers that I can tell. The scripture ratio of what is written about hell on this blog and in scriptures vs what Rob Bell and his supporters believe about Rob Bell is what? Anyone have a guess as to a percentage of how many believe that scripture is inerrant and fully trustworthy when it comes to the subject of hell vs Jesus being the only way vs Rob Bell's ideas about hell and ways to get to heaven?

Mary, good point. I agree.

#58  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:44 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#59  Posted by Dave Stockhover  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:49 AM

Mr. Wright (#26),

Have you read any of Rob Bell's material? I will assume from this post that you have read "Love Wins". I have not read "Love Wins" but I really don't need to. I have my own copy of Velvit Elvis that I have poured over several times as well as heard Bell "preach" many times. I have also read interviews and articles he has done. What he teaches has nothing to do with the biblical gospel. It is man-centered foolishness.

If you have read his material and think it is biblically sound and able to lead a sinner to repentance and salvation, I will hold you up in prayer, because it will do no such thing.

#60  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:50 AM

Gabriel,

I think you misunderstood my comment. I wrote that he had stated that he doesn’t believe the Bible teaches “it,” as in eternal torment. I do appreciate that he believes scripture. I just wanted him to assess whether his interpretation of scripture’s teaching was based on his presumption that eternal torment would be unjust.

#62  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 7:54 AM

I marvel at how the difficult sayings of God (such as hell, limited atonement and others) have literally been the Bible’s anchor and staying power, and have withstood the onslaughts of the critics for many, many generations. That’s because they display God’s character, justice, and freedom of choice. And for us to open our Bibles and NOT see mercy AND justice, war AND peace, love AND hate, sin AND holiness, slave AND free, glory AND fury, and heaven AND HELL, we would have to be blind fools.

One day the Lord will return, and it will be open season on those who mocked Him and His Word. The wicked will have their feet knocked out from underneath them, and their joints and muscles will be rendered useless, like a limp rag doll, and they will no longer muster up enough strength and courage to point their accusing little fingers at the Almighty and Most High God, or utter a cursing word in rebellion, because they are “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction (Rom 9:22)”, whose mouths WILL be stopped. God will NOT be mocked. His justice will be swift and without mercy.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecc 3:1). “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work (Ecc 3:17).” “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with EVERLASTING destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2 Thes 1-().” “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels (Mat 25:41).”

Now, what is so hard to understand about that, Rob Bell? Are you blind?

Thank the dear Lord in heaven for “men” such as John MacArthur, and may he spend an eternity basking in the “glory” of our precious Lord and Savior. One day His master will say to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master (Mat 25:21).”

And for those wicked and rebellious ones, who will not hear such comforting words, well, how does “well done” sound to you?

#63  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:02 AM

#41 Garret

You asked "Am I a nut?"

Perhaps a walnut, or a pecan...its hard to tell from this far away.

;-)

#65  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:14 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#66  Posted by Gregory Moyer  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:36 AM

I am concerned about this statement - "The sad reality is that if Rob Bell does not confess the truth in this life, one day he will realize how wrong his understanding of hell really is. His view of hell will be painfully altered forever when he receives the more severe punishment reserved for those who with a Bible in their hands mock God and trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Hebrews 10:29; cf. 2 Peter 2:21)." Are you judging Robe Bell's profession of faith, that he is saved by the grace of God? It sounds like it. Yes, his teachings are false but judging his salvation is wrong. Only God can make that judgment.

#67  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:39 AM

To those who 'somehow' agree with Bell to even a slightest degree like Garrett, I suggest read the Bible and specifically the gospels so you can get the whole picture.

There are many things Jesus talked about, including hell, from HIS own mouth.

We all die, but are resurrected in glory at the rapture, remember 1 Corinthians 15? Plus Paul in Romans 6:23 i am sure is talking about the second death as well which is eternal separation from God which comes after the Great White Throne of judgement.

Like I said I can not keep saying this enough, it is not enough just to go by Jesus' sayings, but what he actually died for. It was to satisfy God and His own holy nature.

#68  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:42 AM

@ 66

Wouldn't you think if he was born again he would not be leading people astray?

Is he born again to a false God? Perhaps so, if he doesn't realize his sins are first and foremost against God and believes that everyone goes to heaven, on earth, eventually.

#69  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:44 AM

@ Dan

what did you mean by 'light up' in your previous phrase? That also had me a little thrown off too, yet I still could understand that you were against Bell.

#70  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:50 AM

Gregory # 66:

To answer your question, yes, we are judging Rob Bell’s profession of faith--just as our Lord told us in Matthew 7 when he said, "You will know them [false teachers] by their fruit."

In your comment, you admitted Rob Bell is a false teacher (also a judgment, wouldn't you say?). However, here are a few excerpts from God’s Word on the fate of false teachers:

They will bring swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Pet. 1:1

their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Pet. 1:3

But these [false teachers]…will also be destroyed. 2 Pet. 1:12

For it would be better for them [false teachers] not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 2 Pet. 1:21

That’s just one chapter. You can read the book of Jude as well and find similar conclusions. We’re safe to stand on what God has already said about false teachers. In fact, it’s our responsibility to warn them and their followers.

I'm not seeing any biblical basis for your "concern."

#71  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:53 AM

Gregory,

Yes, his teachings are false but judging his salvation is wrong. Only God can make that judgment.

John MacArthur is not consigning Rob Bell to hell in a final or authoritative way. He is doing what Scripture calls for--examining fruit.

We are not to make definitive judgments as if God is looking for our thumbs up or down before He decides where to send someone. But God does call us to be discerning and if it looks like a banana, smells like a banana, and tastes like a banana, then we call it a banana--who knows maybe God in the end will show us it was a plantain.

God ultimately knows Bell's heart, and if Bell is just a really poor communicator and doesn't mean what he says, then perhaps we're wrong. But we are to be fruit inspectors and make decisions based on what we see (Matt 7:15-19; Luke 6:43-45). This serves the purpose of warning Bell and anyone who would be tempted to be deceived by his false teaching.

#72  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 8:54 AM

Gabriel, @55, it was you not Mary with whom I was in a agreement. Sorry, Mary...unless I misunderstood you too.

#62 Posted by Mary Elizabeth Tyler, just beautiful. Very well said!

#65, Dan, not sure who you mean? I know you are definitely not a Bell supporter!

#73  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 9:00 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#74  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 9:02 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#76  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 9:55 AM

$71 Gabriel, if Bell is simply a poor communicator, then somebody with some mercy needs to yank the man down from his podium before he makes a bigger mess of things. Like your banana/plantain analogy.

Another point about judging sin vs the person. This comment is to no one in particular. As already stated by you and others, Jesus warned us about false teachers. Warned as in gave us an alarm. It wasn't "Oh, by the way...". Now if we be discerning and recognize a false doctrine, a false teacher and neglect to tell others or call out the false teacher and his false doctrine, of what might we be guilty? Do we just say,"Stay away from that man, that teacher" and when asked,"Why", reply with,"I can't tell you."? "Why, can't you tell me?" "Because for one that would be gossip and two, it would be judging."

Now that would be foolishness and there's much said about foolishness in the book of Proverbs. I know I don't want to be a legalist but I know I surely don't want to be a fool either!

#77  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 10:02 AM

#74 Dan. He believes that any of us who don't read Bell's books can't make a fair assessment about them or him. That may be true in some cases but I think don't think I have to read the entire Quaran to know it teaches a false God. But Muslims think I do.

I don't think he's mad...maybe annoyed...at most of us, I'm sure. Jesus said He did not come to bring peace and this topic is certainly rocking the peace of many. We don't set out to annoy others but if this topic didn't rock boats, I'd be very concerned about that.

#78  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 10:33 AM

Rebecca Schwem:

You rock, and not just the boat. The Lord not only needs quarter backs and defensive ends, but also cheerleaders to complete His team. We all, men and women alike, are called to defend the faith. And I proudly announce you as the "captain" of the cheerleading squad. Rock on Rebecca!!! Hold that line!

#79  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 10:33 AM

@ dan

It's alright!

Anyway, I believe it would be a fair assessment from all that we have seen from his excerpts that he is a false teacher. Clearly, his God is false and nearly everything in the book or at least the excerpt is a God that HE BELIEVES our God should be, not that He is. He's calling our God out and our God will always win.

#80  Posted by Sharon Kuhn  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 10:43 AM

Rebecca,

I agree with Mary, you rock! Thank you for all your wonderful words and also for pointing out the "Dangers of False Teaching" sermon from the other post. I downloaded it last night and listened to it on my way to work today. What an incredible teacher John MacArthur is!

Mary,

You also rock! "Well done"... makes ya think don't it!

Sharon ~

#81  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 11:37 AM

#78 Mary and #80 Sharon, thanks but it is truly the Lord. I rattle all this stuff off and then went to bed last night and fell asleep asking,"Was that You Lord? Were those Your words?" I have to stop from time to time and ask that He help me with the right words and understanding for His glory. It just won't come out wrong if we depend on Him to speak truths into the lives of others. What a relief I don't have to count on me!

My prayer is that I, we don't get so caught up in the debate that we forget what is central here. Rob Bell is more right than he realizes. Love does win. The authentic righteous perfect love of Christ will win. The perfect love of Christ will give the perfect justice. There will be victory. The victory will be HIS....not Rob Bells. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."(Mark 8:35)Blessings to you both.

@79 Trent, you're a nice guy! Happy Easter!

#82  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 11:41 AM

#80, Sharon, I forgot. Yes, wasn't that a great lesson? Glad you enjoyed it. I think he vacuum packs his lessons. So much good information in such a little amount of time. Nothing is wasted. It's all good meat!

#83  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 11:46 AM

Dan Wilson:

Please do not delete your comments, you have done nothing wrong. We all love you here. :) We understand that you are not on Rob Bell's side.

Sharon:

It is so nice to see YOU and so many other sisters in Christ stand up for God's truth, and as of yet, I have not heard that dreaded word that I heard for years leveled against me for defending the faith: unloving. But I am sure it will happen sooner or later, all to the glory of the Lord.

Also, to Miranda Kwon, from Seoul, Korea, how awesome it is to see you here. I agree with you, the bookstore I frequent took down an entire shelf devoted to John Mac’s books. Yet, when you walk into the bookstore, your meet and greet is the ever effervescent, smiling evangelist, Joel Osteen, just waiting to shake your wallet and lead you into the promised land of no return. Then over to the left of the bookstore, (notice I said left), you’ll find the likes of T.J. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Kenneth Copeland, who he claims we are all little gods. When you ask to order books such as The Potters Freedom or Slave or anything of the Reformed flavor, you get a blank look, like, what planet is this person on. I am so thankful that you were spared the health, wealth and prosperity gospel that is so prevalent overseas. Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy!

God bless all the sisters in Christ that are here. AWESOME!

Mary

#84  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 11:49 AM

OK---I went and purchased "Love Wins". I don't recommend you do...I simply wanted to read it given the importance of this issue.

I have read (more like scanned at times) to page 52.

Analysis: First, writing style. It is annoying. Many one sentence paragraphs. I could go one but I really don't want to...

Substance so far--Well, the guy has serious issues theologically in my opinion. Basically, Bell is a heavily a Social Gospel guy. He thinks a BIG part of Christianity is the need for the church to be involved in improving life on earth. That is, eliminating poverty, clean water in Africa, helping AIDS patients, etc. That's OK, but he pushes it hard. He thinks "traditional" Christianity is failing on this issue, and this is a big part of the motivation for writing this book. The idea being the 40 "hicks" in Alabama going to their little white-painted church on Sunday thinking they are saved, telling the people who go to the local bar that they need to get saved to escape hell, are wrong...They need to instead being working at an AIDS clinic. He has a real chip on his shoulder about the perceived smugness of traditional Christianity in the US.

A major flaw is he has no perception of the difference between the Millennium and eternity. He refers to a lot of O.T. and N.T. scriptures that refer to the Millennium. (Curiously he refers to Scripture by chapter and book only. He doesn't give the verse number) He interprets them to be about "heaven". So, talk of peace, plenty of food, etc, are all here on earth. He then argues that heaven is where God's will is done. God wants peace, plenty of food, etc, so by the Lord's Prayer (Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven) we should be trying to achieve that here on earth. Thus his Social Gospel slant.

He also focuses a lot on "traditional" Christianity thinking heaven is "over there" instead of "here on earth". Focusing on heaven being somewhere else leads, in his opinion, to judgmentalism and lack of social concern.

Where he is ultimately heading is the observation from Revelation 21 that after a New heaven and Earth are created by God, God comes down from heaven to live with man...He twists that into a need for a contemporary social gospel. Very curious...

One last issue. He analyzes several of Jesus' parables briefly and often incorrectly. For example, Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. They go to Temple to pray. Jesus gives the thumbs up to the tax collector, not the Pharisee. Bell says "it's the 'sinner', the 'unrighteous man', who goes home justified, while the faithful, observant religious man is harshly judged." The problem is the Pharisee WAS NOT faithful and observant, but he certainly was religious. Also, the sinner repented and asked for mercy...Just a flavor of Love Wins.

#85  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:03 PM

By the way---the local Christian bookstore refused to carry any of Rob Bell's books. So, I went to Barnes and Noble to get it...

#86  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:04 PM

Dan and Rebecca,

If you have something to say to me, please say it to me. It's hard to keep up if you're going to say something about me to someone else and then delete it.

Here are the only two statements I've made here in these comments:

1) "Pastor MacArthur, Have you read Bell's book, Love Wins? Thank you. Jeff Wright"

2) "Why read the book? In order to see if 'Rob Bell seems wants people to light up and not think God as a Righteousnees Judge,' as you say. Do you believe your charge to be sound if it is based on hearsay?"

Has MacArthur read Love Wins? I don't know. Nothing in his posts this week indicates to me that he has.

So we have a possible scenario where someone who possibly hasn't read the book writes a blog post which is commented on by others who have not read the book in order to denounce the book. Dan asked why read the book to which I replied to avoid basing your charges on hearsay. Dan and Rebecca were somehow able to discern anger and annoyance on my part.

Here's where I'm coming from. Acts 17:11 says, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." In 1 Cor. 1 Paul warns against Christians being "of Apollos," etc.

So with these two passages in mind I examine teachings (such as this series of blog posts) to see if what MacArthur claims is so. And I will not act as if I am "of MacArthur" or any other Christian leader by blindly taking their word for it.

Therefore I asked a simple question, has MacArthur read Love Wins? If he has a warning for me about the contents of the book I'd like to know if he has read the book. Make sense?

Jeff Wright

#87  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:15 PM

Jeff,

In some ways, it is irrelevent whether MacArthur has read Love Wins. Why? Two reasons:

1) The reviews of Love Wins have been consistent starting with those who only saw the book trailer to those who read the book. Bell hasn't denied any charges put before him. So for MacArthur to go along with the reviews and Bell's silent agreement shouldn't be a problem.

2) MacArthur is not writing a review of the book or critiquing the book. This series is not about Love Wins, but about Rob Bell's doctrine. Once you realize that, I think you'll see it doesn't matter whether MacArthur has himself read Love Wins.

MacArthur isn't just telling people "don't read the book." He's saying, "Stay away from that man."

Hope that helps clarify.

#88  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:36 PM

Rob Bell (or his views, at least) is on the cover of TIME mag because of Love Wins. He's on CNN, MSNBC, etc. because of Love Wins. All of this attention is because of Love Wins. Its my opinion that if you are a "Christian leader" with a sizeable following and you're going to jump into the current fray regarding Love Wins without having read Love Wins, that is highly irresponsible. We should expect more.

If someone says to me this weekend that the Bible's account of Jesus's death and resurrection is highly suspect, of course I'm going to ask them if they have read the Bible's account of Jesus's death and resurrection.

Rob Bell's supporters have every right to ask if his detractors have read the book. Its reasonable for them to lose respect for those who criticize the book without having read the book.

If MacArthur is merely re-hashing things from Velvet Elvis rather than Love Wins, I would ask why? That would make very little sense since, as I said, all of the discussion right now is due to Love Wins.

Jeff Wright

#89  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:37 PM

#86, Jeff, I didn't delete it. Please check my post @ #77 and let me know just what you find offensive there? You haven't seen myself and others misunderstood here? We correct when that happens and I don't mind doing so...unless that person is being vile. Then I might be less sensitive to their lack of understanding. I think if you review what I said and what Dan said you'll find nothing vile. It was all perception. You have as much opportunity as the rest of us to clear it up. I tried to tell him I did not think you were mad but maybe annoyed. If I misrepresented your concerns, then tell me and show me where I failed?

Like I said and now Gabriel has as well, Bell has been silent about all the accusations. That's odd to some of us. He has his supporters running with it.

#90  Posted by Andre Wr  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 12:53 PM

what, to me is disappointing is among all of these discussions about hell and Bell's book is that for many it seems that the reason they are saved is to escape hell, not to be in relationship with our savior and creator. I dont know about you all, but I choose to follow christ because of the amazing grace and relationship we get to have, not just for the reward of heaven or escaping of hell....

#91  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 1:00 PM

*Shauna Bryant Writing*

Post #86 Jeff

Acts 17 is for READING SCRIPTURE to see if the things being proclaimed are true. Scripture is what we are to read - we are not to diligently study heresy to see if it is heresy. Rob Bell has provided ample examples verbally & in print of what he is teaching. We are to look to scripture to see if what he is proclaiming is true. We don't have to further investigate claims by Rob Bell (such as going out and reading all his books) - we have either heard or read his claims and we are to look to scripture. JM is showing us from scripture how heretical Bell's notions are. Scripture proves Rob Bell is a deceiver. Perhaps if some people spent more time - like the Bereans - in knowing what is in God's Word they wouldn't be so confounded by the deceitful likes of the Rob Bell's of this world. The best false teachers use many good and seemingly right things in their writing all the while sprinkling heresy throughout so it goes unnoticed by the undiscerned. RB passed the sprinkling stage long ago - now he is more upfront about it. Of course, some time ago he planted his evil seeds, which are now sprouting like genetically enhanced weeds, when he set out to destroy the authority and inspiration of scripture. That was the groundwork, he's now enjoying the fruit of his deception and must be glorying in all the confusion he's wrought. Those who are confused about RB have a much larger problem in that they aren't grounded in scripture enough to recognize a false teacher. Indeed a wolf.

The passage in Corinthians you mentioned is about not being 'of Paul, Apollos, etc' - as in following the man (style, delivery, etc) instead of simply following the faithfully preached Word, as the man is not what's important - it's the Word of God that he preaches which is important. Paul then says to follow him as he follows Christ. JM has done sermons on this - in fact a recent one about Paul's philosophy of Ministry, which I heartily recommend for your edification.

It's interesting you mentioned blindness. I don't see a bunch of posts blindly following JM's thoughts on this. No, what I see - for the most part - is those who are agreeing with a man (JM) who is faithfully following God's Word as each has gone to scripture. What JM proclaims from scripture regarding the teachings of a man like RB are true and what RB proclaims is a lie. It really is that simple - and a diligent study of God's Word will bear that out to those who are His. I pray you will have eyes to see and ears to hear.

#92  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 1:10 PM

Jeff,

Have you listening to Bell's erroneous sermons on his church website? Tell me when you do.

#93  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 1:20 PM

Jeff,

If MacArthur is merely re-hashing things from Velvet Elvis rather than Love Wins, I would ask why? That would make very little sense since, as I said, all of the discussion right now is due to Love Wins.

There is actually a good answer for that. The reason is because there are a lot of prominent figures calling Rob Bell a "brother" when everything indicates otherwise.

MacArthur is actually commenting on the chatter surrounding Love Wins. MacArthur is saying, "stop referring to this guy as a brother in Christ and trying to treat him that way." There are evangelicals calling for a softer tone and biblical confrontation when such is inappropriate for someone outside the faith.

#94  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:01 PM

I don't need to read Love Wins. I know its heresy, Rob Bell is a heretic, he is not a Christian!

If you think this is a credible position then obviously nothing I can say will convince you otherwise. I was assuming that we actually care about being persuasive and convincing with those who disagree with us. If all we care about is preaching to the choir and patting each other on the butt with a "good game," then by all means don't read the book you're arguing against. We've basically rejected any respectable apologetic approach at that point.

I'm telling you, if someone tried to convince us that one of MacArthur's books was filled with heresy and we knew they didn't read the book, we would rightfully howl in protest.

It is fundamentally unfair to criticize the teachings of a book that one has not read. In 'Rob Bell: A Brother to Embrace, or Wolf to Avoid?' one commenter (#168) wrote, "I haven't read any of Rob Bell's books, but I know he's a universalist." Really? Again, if all we care about is preaching to the choir then I guess we can make statements like that but its simply not a respectable position to offer to someone we're hoping to persuade.

#95  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:09 PM

And as a point of clarification, I don't believe that every last person who wants to comment on a blog post has to have read Love Wins. I'm primarily concerned with a leader publishing a blog post about the teachings of book they have not read. This is why I asked if he had read the book.

#97  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:23 PM

*Shauna Bryant Writing*

Jeff,

Your being awfully patronizing with the whole 'if all you want to do is preach to the choir and pat each other...' It's a very postmodern attitude that suggests we are to read all heresy/religions/false teachings to better understand them so we can speak against them. Our understanding of heresy will speak to no one. Our right understanding of God's Word and proclaiming that is what's needed. The answer we are to have ready for questions - is the Word of God. We don't need to add anything else to it by attempting to understand heresy.

Sometimes, I think we can have the attitude that we must enter into a dialogue with people about error. No, rather we point error out with scripture.

JM has a great series called How to Treat False Teachers (Teachings) and it pertains perfectly to your suppositions. You will greatly benefit from this teaching from God's Word. It is excellent and shows we are to NOT engage in this vain babbling about error/philosophies, but respond to heresy/fables/etc.... with scripture. The Bible is very clear about engaging in dialogue with false philosophies, heresies, teachings, etc.

2 Timothy 2:16-17

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17And their word will eat as doth a canker:

and

Verse 23:But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

and

2 Timothy 3:14-17

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

God's Word is clear Jeff - all we need to know for reproof & correction is God's Word.

#98  Posted by Jeff Wright  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:32 PM

"God's Word is clear Jeff - all we need to know for reproof & correction is God's Word."

No, you need 1) God's Word and (apparently) 2) someone else to read a book and then tell you what's in that book and then you can "point error out with scripture." Otherwise just ignore people like Bell. If we're all following your example and reading God's Word only we'll be blissfully unaware of the errors out there.

#100  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:38 PM

Jeff, is your issue that we believe Bell to be a false teacher and you believe he isn't or is the issue that he might be a false teacher but we're going about this wrongly? Do you think there is not enough evidence without reading the book? Is it an evidence issue with you? Is there anyone you trust, you have found credible that could relay any story, any book/excerpts to you without you having read it? See, I haven't studied under you. So it would be foolish of me to accept what you say to be right. I haven't even studied your character over time to know you are or are not a man of integrity. I haven't watched you for eight years from afar know if you stand firm on the truth, to see if you have any skeletons in your closet.

There are those in my life, albeit few and far between that I trust to protect me. I trust their wisdom. I trust their sincerity,their knowledge. They had to gain my trust. And I theirs. So I find them helpful when they cut through the chase for me and provide me their research results. I count on those people to be a reliable resource to me. Still my eyes and my ears remain open for consistency.It's that part where we are told to be alert. In 1Peter 5:8, the first part of that scripture tells us,"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert."

I think you can see that it is not as much of an issue to have a reliable source as it might be with you. I need not read the book out of a duty or sense of fairness.....although the competitive side of me says, I might. That's a weakness I'm still working on. I love that I have learned to surround myself with others that qualify. For so long it was just me, about me and I didn't trust others to be as thorough. Maybe I didn't really trust myself that I'd know how to pick 'em?

If someone attacked John MacArthur, I'd listen. I mean, I'd have to listen. I'd have to see who the messenger is. You know, like check the source of this one bearing bad news? I'd review what I have learned about John MacArthur and review all I know about his accuser. I'd have to weigh it. I've thought about this carefully and I don't think my point of contention would be that the accuser had not read the book. My issue would be what the accuser is saying and see if there is any validity to the claim. There is something far bigger happening than the Love Wins book.

If anyone should boast that such a book is a good thing in how it has created this blog, I tell you, the good thing is that the Bible, God's perfect Holy Word has been defended, God's sovereignty and justice has been defended.

#101  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, April 22, 2011at 2:48 PM

Folks,

It's time for this thread to close so we can all focus on celebrating what our Lord has done for us. Thank you all for your participation.

Next week we'll be starting a another topic (other than Rob Bell), so make sure to check back.

Have a blessed Good Friday, and a Christ-exalting Resurrection Sunday!