Monday, December 7, 2009

My Inbox Runneth Over With Hate Mail From Rob Bell Groupies

There are definitely better things to talk about than a guru in the emergent church. But Rob Bell seems to be casting a long shadow of influence and I regularly get asked to write about him and his teaching. This series of posts has been an attempt to satisfy that curiosity. I said that Friday's post would be the last in the current series but I have been inundated with a tsunami of hate mail in response to my "Rob Bell Exposed" video on youtube. I thought it might be worthwhile to post one more time on this sad subject so that you, the reader, can at least get a taste of what is "the emergent conversation". Today, I have posted a sampling of these nastygrams by the defenders of Rob Bell. But, first of all, I thought I should give some background as to why I have such a strong interest in bringing to light Bell's false teachings.

Several years ago (before I moved to Denmark) I was an elder in a large church (by Australian standards). It had a large and vibrant youth culture and there was a real buzz going around about these cool new DVD's that everyone was watching called Nooma's.

I can remember sitting in a friend's apartment and being shown one for the first time. It was called "Luggage" and it seemed quite neutral and didn't leave an impression on me one way or the other . . . except it had a killer punch right at the end with a graphic car smash just as I was waiting for the credits to roll. I thought the crash was pretty cool and a sobering reminder to the brevity of life, but other than that I thought little about it.

But several weeks later I sat in on a youth meeting where another one of these "Noomas" was shown called "Dust". I can remember being creeped out by the dialogue as Rob bell dazzled everyone with his seeming knowledge of Jewish culture and rabbinical tradition, but I could not put my finger on what was wrong. But then the false teaching came oozing out. First of all by attributing Peter's sinking in the water to a loss of faith in himself. And then climaxing with Bell's assertion that God has faith in man - the reformation upside down if you like.

I started asking questions about Bell and the emergent movement but people seemed to be either disinterested in my questions or uncorncerned that the cornerstone Christian teaching of "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ ALONE" was being assaulted. I soon found out about another Nooma video called "Bullhorn Guy". In this one Bell makes an ugly caricature of open-air preachers and then slams them for preaching about sin, hell, judgment, repentance, mortality, and quoting Bible verses (yes things that are all true). What was his biblical basis? There was none! Instead he appealed to pragmatism (it doesn't work) and his own actor in the video who is unsocial, uncool, completely ignored, and shouts at people through a bullhorn. My blood was starting to boil.

To make matters worse the Dust video was in my home church's disciplship packs and youth were regularly quoting Bell's mantras like believe in yourself and God has faith in you. In an ego-centric, therapeutic culture that is in hot pursuit of higher self esteem I knew that this was the last teaching they needed to embrace if they were to live Christ centered lives based on dying to self, coming to him in repentant faith, and daily taking up their cross. As an elder I sensed a responsibility to respond to these goings on. I started to study Bell's teachings in more depth, listening to his sermons, and reading his book Velvet Elvis (in the hope that my concerns were unfounded). What I found was even more disturbing as I uncovered a long list of aberrant and often heretical teaching (heavily discussed in previous posts).

Eventually, I had the opportunity to make a ten minute apologetic presentation on something that seems right but isn't. I chose to critiqe Bell's video Dust. Many of you have already seen it, but for those that haven't - here it is . . .

I never could have imagined the massive response to this message when it was posted on youtube. It was unabashed plaudits mixed with hostile outrage - and little in between. It took well over a year for the hornets nest to settle down. But I have recently been inundated with a rash of venomous comments by "Rob Bell supporters" some of whom claim to attend his "church". It may well be that this video is circulating through congregants at the fellowship where Bell pastors. Please pray that it may cause some people to flee Bell's false teaching and find refuge in a sound biblical church. A lot of the comments give me great cause for concern for those who try to live by Bell's creed of "Love Wins" . . .

A Christian pastor bashing a Christian pastor? May God Curse you and your children for ages to come.

In the New Testament times, the way to know if someone was teaching a false doctrine was to know that person (or know someone who knew that person), and then decide if they're preaching falsely. Also, if they were corrected after preaching falsely and repented, then they were forgiven... Internet did not exist back then.... You have never met Rob Bell, and probably don't know anyone who has (I'm guessing?). I'm assuming you have never talked to him or asked him about his views, or have ever tried to show him that his views may be wrong. You're judging him based on what you have seen, not who he is.... You don't know him. You're spreading gossip about someone you don't know. You're causing disunity and are being a stumbling block for new believers. How dare you say God isn't using Rob Bell? Are you God?

Maybe they should write about you that you are the next Billy Graham...
I don't see a point in putting a video and waving to the world as a Christian against another Christian that someone else is wrong.. We don't always agree with each other but we do need to respect each other.. and what you do isn't fair.
Not nice.. really.. not very Christian.

who preaches a sermon against another pastor... ever? Show me where that's Biblical
why would you splice a video mid section and act like that is all he said? Watch his whole video start to finish and if you still feel that Rob Bell is in any way taking away from the message of Jesus than you must not have any regard for the Holy Spirit. Rob Bell has an unparalleled understanding of the Word, clearly unlike this cocky skeptic

Do you really believe God's means of getting us to be in love would stop at someone like Rob Bell? God will use any means necessary, he made the israelites wonder the desert for 40 years, he made zacariah dumb, he raised people from the dead, SO REALLY IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE?, what i meant fully is that he will use anything towards his good purpose, which potentially is any means!!! Who are you to decide whether Rob bell is wrong? For all you know God could be using him more that he is using you

we cant make theologies that arent in the Bible, or rather that God doesnt want us to make, Like th pharisees did in Jesus' time, I dont think he wants us to go back there again. What im saying is that we really dont fully understand how God works, and to say someone that could potentially be guided God is a heretic is wrong and very dumb.

This video does exactly what every cult/sect has done: they take one or two statements that someone says and they come up with an enormous argument to discredit that person (in the case of cults, they take one verse from the Bible and base their theology on that one verse). Clearly no one is perfect. I think Jesus would definitely be against holding a meeting just to discredit someone... The preacher in this video probably has never met Rob Bell

Well what do you live for? it seems you spend much of your energy posting videos against another person that you probably never even met or had a deep conversation with about his heart and belief.

I wouldn't be focusing on Rob Bell. I would be focusing on spreading the word of God. Never, ever call people out. Jesus and God does that.... Be very very careful sir.

God didn't give the Holy Spirit to animals. He has faith in us. If you don't think God has faith in you to follow him then you are deceived. Yes, we need the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was the deciding factor for God's faith could then God give the Holy Spirit to any creature on the earth and people would be saved? H11:1 deals with what faith is to US.

All you have to do from your argument to undermine Jesus's words is ask if he was implying something that he wasn't and then manipulate that point, which you did. You care about the truth of the gospel? When was the last time you raised someone from the dead? Healed someone from cancer or saw someone's limbs grow back? (with Jesus's power of course

There are countless other comments but I'll exercise mercy and stop right there. We've all heard enough of the "emergent conversation" and it's time for me to talk about something else on my next post.


confusinglady said...

Wow, I found your video on youtube a few days ago. Earlier in the fall I watched The Gods Aren't Angry, by Rob Bell, and it was then that I started to question what he was saying. Some of what he said was right, but like you said, I just couldn't place my finger on what was wrong.

When I re-watched the whole Bullhorn guy episode, I started to more fully understand how his preaching, while it seemed biblical at first, was missing some important points. I remembered the confusion I felt when I first watched the video, about how street evangelism was pointed out as being wrong by Bell, when I know that it can be very effective at reaching people who wouldn't otherwise hear about God.

I've become more and more wary concerning Bell and his preaching, since they very clearly preach that you don't need to repent, and have met people who have said "I really liked this video [the gods aren't angry] because it tells me I don't have to repent." Which really made me realize the danger of his preachings.

I'm so sorry that you have to receive so much hate mail from people. If someone doesn't agree with what you tell them, they should engage you in a biblical based debate, not hurl insults at you, or accuse you unjustly.

Thank you for sharing your views with us, even when some people give you a hard time about it.


Heath The Blogless said...

I see your temptation Cam to keep coming back to the “Rob Bell / Emergent Issue”. With the arguments and unorthodox theology that the people in the emails have shown, I feel tempted myself to answer every one of them. But I feel I would be just slamming my head against a wall.
Resist the temptation Cam don’t post on the Emergent church again, at least until they say something really stupid and unscriptural again.
You shouldn’t have to long to wait.

tobekiwi said...

Thank you for earnestly contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It doesn't make one popular with the masses who are on the broad road (goats), but I have to believe there are true sheep out there who have wandered and don't really have a shepherd guarding the flock that they are in. Sheep aren't very smart and they need a good shepherd to keep them safe and out of the hands of the wolves. Good biblical preaching is getting harder and harder to find in these last days, and I thank the Lord and praise Him, for the ones He has sent. Thank you again, and remember what Jesus said "You will have trouble in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world."
Grace and peace to you,

Randa said...

Wow...I too am shocked by the response you have received. I have always enjoyed Rob Bell's video's in the past (at the same time I take most things I'm not sure about with a grain of salt). Now, I will absolutely be on my guard- I completely agree with you on your response to the "Dust" Nooma. I had never seen that one...and it blew me away to see him say that.
I'm disappointed in myself, actually, for not noticing the, now obvious, dangers of his teachings.
Thank you for standing strong and making sure we are sticking to what the Bible DOES say...not what it sort of say or could say. May God give you peace and assurance that you are speaking the TRUTH and that you need not feel as others would have you feel with their hateful comments.

Randa, Ohio

Anonymous said...

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Jesse said...

Something that I've consistently noticed is that Rob Bell's followers will defend his words more vociferously than they will defend Scripture. That should tell you all you need to know about what Bell teaches.

gandalf said...

Maybe it is interesting in this context, I have seen a video containing a worship song led by Darlene Zschech from Hillsong where she prays in between, stating "we thank you Father that you trusted us so far..."

The vid is here:

OK, it's not exactly like saying "that you had faith in us so far..." but I think it goes in the same direction.

I have been thinking for some time that the recent developments in some of the pentecostal and evangelical megachurches as well as developments in the post-evangelical and post-liberal "emergent" circles are like twin brothers.

Both soak from the same cultural, post-modern sources exalting the self and regarding nicely told speculations or spectacular and professional shows more precious than truth (I would prefer truth even if the telling may be somewhat poor or dry).

Both are approaching from very different perspectives, the megachurches are the capiutalistic feel-good version and the emergent crowd is the socialist activist non-violent peace-love-harmony version.
Both lack any sensible explanation for the harsh realities in the world and since both deny or are silent over the biblical reason for this reality (namely the fall and the resulting curse) and redefine God's solution for this mess they offer no credible and realistic solution.

Dawesi said...

If God doesn't put trust in us then you should simply find another job - simply put, God doesn't trust you to spread his word, to heal the sick and look after the poor, after all that's not in the Bible now is it? I guess he was wrong when he put "go into the world and preach the gospel", nup no trust there.

From what I read and watch of your life, I think you live and breath the law, and by little, if no grace. I'm surprised your not catholic or jewish to be honest. I don't believe YOUR theology is sound. Just as the pharasisies did you create rules for you to get around the standards that apply to everyone else and I see little to no love in your self aborbed teachings.

You say you're justified because their wrong, which doesn't make them Christians. Do you think the diciples where Christians EVER in that case? Back to Bible 101 for you.(wow surprise your the only one with the revelation - oh wait go see Joseph Smith, he had the same idea) Why are you the ONLY one teaching this critisim-based theology? Can't you teach love, and transformation?

I think you've completely missed the point of the Nooma series and you seem to be against MOST of the Theological scholars your so despirately trying to be one of. While Rob Bell isn't as perfect as you, Nooma isn't an anal retentive blow by blow boring look at the Bible and how you have to live up to it. It's an overview to allow understanding. It's a tool, it's not a replacement of the Bible, nor all your imaginary rules. There is NOTHING anti-Biblical (from a conservative background) about any of the concepts in the Nooma series. Billy Graham endorses the series? So is he an idiot, or is small town bob the idiot? Rob Bell was trained by Fuller Theological Seminary, and he's endorsed by both the Fuller minstries and Billy Graham, so I'm confused to why you seem to be the only Bull-Horn (excuse pun) left on the pulpit. Rob Bell has stood up to questions and satisfied many wise people, have you?

Just a note: The fear, hate and justification in a lot of the articles of yours on this blog I've read makes me wonder if you have peer review from outside your church. It's as if you're stuck in the 80's when the church 'owned' the thoughts of their congregation and made them scared of having differing views. Your congregation is now on my prayer list, as I worry for their discipleship under suuch a harsh pharasee.

Anonymous said...

Dawesi said "There is NOTHING anti-Biblical" in the concepts of Nooma. I can only guess he hasn't actually watched them or he would be blown away by the unbiblical teaching (mostly through omission.We shouldn't be testing something on whether Billy Graham or anyone else endorses it, the only way is the Berean way, Check the scriptures, if it doesn't line up with Gods word discard the teaching. Nooma is rampant in the AOG in Australia. AOG are creating biblically illiterate "christians" by the 1000's, it is extremely sad, but more sad is the ignorance and not wanting to know any better for yourself. I would'nt leave something as important as my eternal destiny to a particular preacher or churches teaching. We really are living in the end times where people will be lovers of self.