Saturday, October 3, 2009

Foxes Book Of Emergents With Hurt Feelings - Rob Bell (Part 10)

Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs has writen an article on the emergent sacred cow otherwise known as Rob Bell. It is such a great and insightful read that I have posted it here as well. If ever there was a barometer of the lack of discernment among professing Christians, Rob Bell´s popularity certainly makes it very obvious. The guy is a seductive speaker and innovative story teller but if you don´t get a lot of red flags every time you hear this guy speak you need to give your biblical literacy a serious boost. In this article on the Pyromaniacs blog, Phil Johnson responds to an interview Bell did with a Boston newspaper which has a link below. Johnson is a truly exceptional Christian thinker of the modern era and I encourage you, the reader, to take the time to digest Phil´s words . . .

See, this kind of stuff is why I keep saying the historic meaning of the word evangelical will probably never be recovered. (You might want to read The Boston Globe's religion section and then come back here. The rest of this post will be more relevant if you have the full context.)

I do agree with Rob Bell about one thing. (Quick. Somebody wash my mouth out with soap. Please.) He's right when he points out that the way the secular media usually employ the term evangelical—as a synonym for religious right-wing politicos—is a misnomer. Bell says, "For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context."

Well, yeah, OK. I suppose that's part of the problem. More precisely, the term evangelical has been systematically evacuated of any reference to its historic doctrinal roots. People today therefore feel free to assign it any meaning they fancy—religious or non-religious. Practically everyone in the world of popular religion now claims to be "evangelical" in one sense or another. That includes not only old-line Moral Majority types who think the Republican Party agenda is gospel truth; hip middle-class Willow Creekers who couldn't care less about either doctrine or politics but just want to be entertained; crypto-Socinians like Bell and McLaren; crass socialists like Jim Wallis and Sojourners; heavily politicized left-wing wingnuts who think Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Al Franken are all good medicine—or whatever.

In fact, listen to Bell's own cockamamie claim about what the term properly describes: "I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That's a beautiful sort of thing."

So is that what Bell considers "a spiritual context," or did he already forget what he had just been saying about how the term became politicized and corrupted in the first place? Hmmm.

An interviewer at The Boston Globe evidently wondered the same thing. He tells Bell, "I'm struck by the fact that I don't hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you."

Bell's answers to that question and others in a similar vein are instructive. Among other things, he admits, "I have as much in common with the performance artist, the standup comedian, the screenwriter, as I do with the theologian. I'm in an odd world where I make things and share them with people."

One thing is clear: Bell himself is no true evangelical in any historic sense of the term. The Boston Globe's headline ("Bell aims to restore true meaning of 'evangelical'") is exactly backward. Bell has no agenda to "restore the true meaning" of the term evangelical, much less encourage a revival of true evangelical belief. In fact, Bell has made a career of attacking historic evangelical convictions—laying siege to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God against sin, the authority and perspicuity of Scripture, the necessity of the virgin birth, the coherence of the biblical testimony about the Resurrection, the exclusivity of Christ, and whatever other historic Christian doctrines Bell finds politically incorrect.

In fact, if you have the stomach to read the complete version of The Boston Globe interview, don't miss Bell's arrogant skepticism about the sovereignty and omniscience of God: "For a lot of people, dominant questions center around, 'Why is this happening? Why me? Why now?' Unfortunately, the religious voice often enters into the discussion at an inappropriate time—'God just planned this.' Really? Your God planned this, not mine."

If any popular figure "in the evangelical movement" (or on its copious fringe) deserves the label "heretic," it is Rob Bell. The guardians of evangelical politeness don't like that kind of candor, but when a secular newspaper like The Boston Globe is publishing pieces implying that the best, most promising alternative to right-wing civil religion is a mish-mash of Open Theism and performance art—and that whatever "evangelicalism" is, it must be one or the other of those two abominations, it's time for people with historic evangelical convictions to speak up clearly and make the biblical message heard again.

Go Back To Part 9
Go Back To Part 1


Anonymous said...


Your title, "Foxes Book Of Emergents With Hurt Feelings - Rob Bell (Part 10)" simply says it all.

Well done.

Jules a/k/a EM

Solameanie said...

Well said, Cameron.

You should Google Rob Bell's interview with Christianity Today a couple of years back, where his wife (and co-teacher) says that she has no idea what most of Scripture means.

That should have set the klaxons off loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad that I saw a sermon by you teaching about another man's video. According to his rebutal, his beliefs coincide with scripture. Why don't you give him a call to discuss your opposition rather than doing the opposite of what God commands us to do with one another, that's called encouraging one another in love and good deeds, not bashing them in sermons and blogs. Let him rebutal and then argue views.

Cameron Buettel said...

Anonymous, I think it's sad that you condemn me for not contacting Rob Bell without first giving me a call to find out whether I have or not.

I also think it's sad that you accuse me of violating what God commands when he commands us to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (that's Romans 16:17 in that Book that God wrote).

The Bible also clearly teaches that "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. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9).

I have made the case that Rob Bell preaches another Gospel and also given biblical and extrabiblical support to my claims. The question is not whether I should be exposing a false teacher, the question is whether I am telling the truth. So if you want to criticize me then could you at least extend me the courtesy that I extended Rob Bell by testing the content of my message against the timeless truth of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Why is it whenever someone writes a critique of Rob Bell, a Bell fanboy shows up to rebuke us that we need to personally contact Bell with our rebuttal?

I remember Bell writing something in the Grand Rapids Press that was critical of George Bush. Did Mr. Bell contact President Bush first before publishing his opinions? Did Mr. Anonymous berate Mr. Bell for this unbiblical behavior?

Aymee said...

Many people who follow heretical teaching and teachers like Rob Bell are very ignorant of the Bible. Instead of studying for themselves, as we're all commanded by Scripture, they "no longer put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Tim 4:3) I heard a minister say once: "We verify the temperature of our bath water before getting in, but don't verify what we're being taught from the pulpit with the Word of God".

amazingbiscuit said...

I think one of the critical issues we face today is that most people seem to have a theology without knowing how it comes about. Its also the era of memory verses where instant one liners are often used to back up ideas forming theology.

So for example when a Christian comes to church.. he would probably learn worship from the things he observes in the church without itself knowing what it means. or stuff like Jesus loves me, without realising that its not because I am good...

Anonymous said...

I will do to you what you are doing to Rob Bell:

You said:
"See, this kind of stuff is why I keep saying the historic meaning of the word evangelical will probably never be recovered."

It seems that you "have an arrogant skepticism about the sovereignty and omniscience of God."- the very thing you accused Bell of. I believe that God is more than capable of restoring the old definition, should that serve Him best. (I suspect you believe that as well- but when I choose to, I can attack you in my erroneous interpretation of your words).

Bell is not perfect, but he wants to help create personal relationships with Christ. I have NO DOUBT in that. He is being very successful to that end.
As a believer of 30 years, I find his style and delivery different, but not sinful. His content is VERY reworded, and therefore at risk, but I find little he says in error (unless, like some, I choose to interpret everything through that lens). I will give this brother a morsel of Grace, and assume his intentions are for God and by God, until I have better proof than criticism.

In His Grip,

PS- I apologize in advance for taking your quote and misinterpreting it. I do believe your root intentions are praise worthy.