THE EVOLUTION OF ROB BELL
Rob Bell, a one-time evangelical pastor, continues to write provocative books even though he is no longer a pastor. His first bestseller in 2005 was entitled, Velvet Elvis. It contained the epistemological seeds that eventually gave way to his drift from biblical authority. I remember reading this book and feeling very uneasy at Bell’s caviler approach to truth and doctrine. I was especially concerned because I was pastoring a church in Michigan at the time, and college students from our church were attending Bell’s church in Grand Rapids.
Since that time I have read several more of Bell’s books including his 2011 bestseller, Love Wins. I’ve written a long, critical review of this book, which openly endorses universalism. For a book about Heaven, Hell, and the fate of all people, Bell says almost nothing about sin or salvation. This is very disturbing. In 2013 Bell released his book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. His evolution is once again on display. Bell’s methodology in this book brings up memories of the famous liberal New Testament scholar Rudolph Bultmann.
It was Bultmann who attempted to strip the myth out of the gospels, in a famous essay entitled, Jesus Christ and Mythology. For Bultmann, the New Testament was filled with myths and miraculous elements that no modern person could accept. So in an effort to salvage Christianity, he attempted to strip it of all its supernatural elements. He didn’t want the concept of God to become out of date. In his attempt to rescue God, Bultmann ended up dismantling the gospels and stripping them of their historical accuracy and authority. Sadly, Rob Bell and Rudolph Bultmann increasingly have much in common.
Bell has another book coming out, What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything. His publisher writes of his new book, “Rob takes us deep into actual passages to reveal the humanity behind the Scriptures…Rob goes beyond the one-dimensional question of, ‘Is it true?’ to reveal the Bible’s authentic transformative power.” This is quite simply dangerous talk. It is the next step away from biblical authority in Rob Bell’s trajectory. The last time I saw Rob Bell with Oprah, he and his wife defended same-sex marriage.
Bell was asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex marriage, to which Bell responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.” Rob then added that, “When our only argument against same-sex marriage are some letters from 2,000 years ago, we need to adjust.” Those letters from 2,000 years ago happen to be Holy Scripture written by the Apostle Paul. I sat stunned as I watched Rob Bell simply toss aside the Bible like an old dust rag. How sad. How tragic. How dangerous.
Sadly, Rob Bell continues to drift from his biblical moorings. May the Lord give us eager hearts and minds to embrace His Word as fully authoritative, and not to dismiss it as yesterday’s news.
Psalm 119:89, “Your eternal word, O LORD, stands firm in Heaven.”
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor