“Farewell Rob Bell?”

March 7, 2011

If you follow the Christian culture at all, I am sure you have seen this video or read something similar to this (a blog post which has made the insinuation that author and pastor, Rob Bell, has come out of the universalist closet and claimed there is no such thing as hell).  Several people have asked me my thoughts, here are a few of them:

  1. He is trying to sell a book – Rob Bell is a superior marketer.  I am pretty sure that at least some of this is ginned up controversy to sell more books (he is currently number 13 on Amazon and his book is not even out yet).  I will reserve my full judgment until I read it.
  2. God is bigger – God is bigger than anyone’s bad theology.  Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God; I know that I have built some of my boxes to put God in too small.  God is bigger than Rob Bell and I trust God’s influence in this world over Rob Bell’s.
  3. God is indescribable – Bell is doing what any of us can do.  He is trying to put words to an indescribable God.  Of course his words are gonna fall short.  When people start worshipping their words about God and not God, that is when they get into trouble.
  4. True victims – The true victims of this book teaser (remember, the actual book has not come out yet) are not the unsuspecting non-Christians who have read the pieces or seen this video.  Whatever Rob Bell writes, it is a shame what this book teaser has made some other Christian leaders say about a man who simply has opinions.



3 Responses to ““Farewell Rob Bell?””

  1. “Farewell Rob Bell?” « Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. Lynette Cowper said

    I think it’s important to remember that the Bible tells us what happens to people who have 1) heard the Good News and believed it and entered into a servant relationship with Jesus Christ and 2) heard the Good News and either not believed it or rejected its message and have refused to enter into a servant relationship with Jesus Christ. If you’ve read the Bible, then you are in the group that the Bible is speaking to and you have a responsibility to act on what you have learned. It doesn’t really tell us precisely how God will judge those outside those parameters– those who lived before Christ, those in areas where the gospel has yet to be preached, or those within areas where the gospel has reached some but they, personally, have never heard it (which is increasingly true in the US). Those who bring up that objection are often doing so as a distraction and excuse from their own decision. That they can debate the question means it doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, they need not worry about it.

    I don’t know whether Ghandi was ever truly given the gospel message. He knew enough about Christ and Christianity to say, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.” That doesn’t really mean he’d ever been given the true gospel message, the one that takes Christ out of the Western cultural context that so many early European and American missionaries put him in and makes him India’s Christ and Pakistan’s Christ and Israel’s Christ and Egypt’s Christ and Saudi Arabia’s Christ and Japan’s Christ and China’s Christ and Indonesia’s Christ and Haiti’s Christ and, indeed, EVERYONE’s Christ. Maybe Ghandi did hear the gospel and maybe his rejection came in the form of rejecting Christ as not being relevant to himself or to India. Maybe he didn’t.

    The answer to how God will judge Ghandi is out of our hands and in the hands of God, who will do what is right and just and loving and perfect, by His perfect standards and not by our human concepts of ‘fair’. In truth, none of us deserves heaven. ALL of us deserve Hell. That is the destination for each and every one of us, chosen every time we sin. That God through Christ took that ticket and tore it up and gave us a new one to Heaven is a gift, freely given and completely undeserved. If some heirless dying millionaire randomly selects my neighbour to give his millions to before he passes on, I can be jealous, but I can hardly argue that I *deserve* a multimillion-dollar inheritance as well. It was a gift. I have no right to expect a gift of any kind. I can only expect that which I have earned, which is Hell. The gift of heaven is wondrous and completely undeserved. Unlike the millionaire scenario, however, God’s grace is limitless. We don’t lose out by passing it on. So instead of debating whether this “good”-but-non-Christian person is going to be in Heaven, we should be sharing the news with those around us so that God’s grace might abound even more.

  3. Brian Nall said

    Bell is looking at sin from a human viewpoint and not as how God sees it. Romans 3:23 reminds us that judging merit from a worldly standard is futile. Gandhi, like millions of others, may have done some admirable things, but without the blood of Jesus he does not measure up to what God wants. I will say that while the writer of the note may have a good point, he or she crosses the line in playing a judging role that belongs only to Jesus. We may likely know the path that a given individual has taken and make assumptions based on fruit that they produce. However, we should not presume to know without a doubt a person’s eternal destiny.

    Bell also makes the comments that Jesus saves us from God (himself). As a law enforcement official, I often hear people asked me when I arrest them, “Why are you doing this to me?” Of course, I am not doing anything to them. It is they that have placed themselves in such an unfortunate situation. Likewise, Jesus did not die on the cross to save us from God. He died to save us from our sin. I am not familiar with Bell’s previous work; however, as someone who seems to know the Bible, he seems to be surprised at the Gospel message. To many, the thought of being separate from God absent the blood of Christ may be disturbing. And the question is asked why a loving God would condemn. Isn’t it equally disturbing to think that a holy, blameless God who deserves no punishment would subject Himself (his son) to the agonizing punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8). Only a loving God does that!

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