I really do believe that there are far better things to talk about than emergent guru extraordinairre Rob Bell. I just don't understand why he is the sacred cow that postmodern groupies defend to the hilt, and the prominent teacher I get more questions about than everybody else put together. Perhaps it is his contagious and captivating style of communication. Perhaps it is all the smoke and mirrors that comes with the theology he conveys. Perhaps it is his Yoda like ponderings that sound so deep and profound even though we don't quite know what he's talking about. Whatever it is, by persistent questioning (from both sides) and my continual frustration with the confusing world of postmodernism (where wrong is right and right is left), I have been persuaded that further discussion is warranted.
But could Bell really be as bad as his critics suggest? How could a man accused of so much false teaching and heresy sneak under the radar of the wider Christian public? I have certainly been very forthright in my criticism of Rob Bell on this blog. You'd think enough has been said but this week I really got pushed over the edge by the madness that is postmodernism. In the good old days a debate involved contention over opposing views. But in the mad world of postmodernism it seems that the greater problem than disagreement is when the postmodernist agrees with two conflicting views that logically contradict each other.
There were two straws that broke this camel's back in the last week. Firstly, I was made aware of some recent correspondence of a friend of mine concerning Rob Bell. My friend, David, who I treasure as a brother, is an academically trained pastor with a sharp apologetic brain. But to my absolute amazement he wrote these two statements:
1. Bell has, however, “baptized certain prevailing cultural values and call[ed] them good” in silencing the Bible’s challenge to aberrant sexual expression, claiming that God is not angry over our sin, suggesting that Christ’s atonement was only subjectively necessary, and advocating a form of universalism in which all are forgiven though some simply fail to live accordingly.
2. . . . the vast majority of his teaching is orthodox, and it isn't becoming of Christians to malign a brother . . .
Can someone please join the dots on that for me? How exactly does "suggesting that Christ’s atonement was only subjectively necessary and advocating a form of universalism in which all are forgiven" make someone a Christian "brother". If you are a pastor, elder, youth leader, or any other form of active Christian voice - PLEASE, I BEG YOU, PROTECT YOUR SHEEP. Shepherds are called to feed sheep and protect them from wolves. Both of these are violated when the sheep are fed on the doctrine of wolves. The idea of eating the fish and spitting out the bones just doesn't cut it with an undiscerning flock. I don't teach my two year old son how to handle snakes - I teach him to avoid them at all costs. The same should apply to your congregation.
The other straw that broke this camel's back was my "dialogue" with a man called Ron Dawson - a defender of Rob Bell. I will give a more extensive response to Ron in later posts but, for now, my concern lies with his self contradictory statements concerning the Gospel.
I have a video on youtube called Rob Bell Exposed where I respond to some of Bell's false teaching on one of his Nooma videos called Dust. In the comments section for this video Ron wrote:
I think the problem is that you cannot deny Rob's very positive influence on the growth of God's church. Thousands have come to know and love Christ b/c of Noomas. I don't doubt there are holes or mistakes in some of Rob's [theology]. But, when you look at the body of his work. When you look at the fruit of his labor, what do you see? I think the fruit of his work suggests that his is someone who earnestly wants to preach the love and redeeming power of Christ . . . I seriously doubt the thousands of people converted b/c of Nooma are all following some false messiah. Let's be real here. :-)
Since Ron thinks that people can come to Christ by virtue of Bell's gospel I asked him to define the Christian Gospel in his own words. Ron wrote:
God loved us immensely. Came to earth in form of a man (still wholly God, but wholly man), and died a terrible death as a price for all sin. By His power he defeated death and rose again. He offers all who would repent and believe on Him and His resurrection an everlasting life. ~ Also, that He calls us to love Him with mind, heart, body, and soul, and our neighbors as ourselves.
This explanation does have some shortcomings and an element of works (I will elaborate on that in a later post). But what is clear is that Ron and Rob have a fundamental difference concerning the need to repent. Earlier, we heard David concede that Bell is a universalist which explains Bell's failure to preach repentance. Ron, on the other hand, says repentance is necessary.
I then pointed out to Ron that he and Bell clearly preach/believe different gospels and the Apostle Paul says that:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).
But since then, Ron has continued in his persistant defence of Bell failing to see that his claims of thousands coming to Christ through Bell's teaching is a self refutation of his own understanding of the Gospel. They believe different gospels on the fundamental point of repentance and Bell's universalist view, that everybody is saved.
Ron Ron Ron, please come out of the postmodern fog and stand for something. If Bell is leading thousands to Christ then renounce your own version of the gospel. Or, conversely, if you have a right understanding then Rob Bell must be a heretic. Which one is it? No hazy postmodern answers allowed.
I also asked Ron to back his assertion that Bell is leading people to Christ by finding one solitary orthodox presentation of the Christian Gospel by Rob Bell in writing, audio, or video. As with all the other Rob Bell defenders that I have requested this information from for the last two years - NOTHING has been forthcoming, not from any of his books, teaching, or sermon archives.
Please hear my plea if you are reading this. This is not small talk here. This concerns the very Gospel by which men must be saved. We cannot afford to get it wrong. Please stay away from anyone who preaches a false gospel - even if they have some good ideas. After all, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.
Go On To Part 2
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