Friday, February 4, 2011

Rob Bell In The Sky With Diamonds

I think I've finally figured out the difference between Rob Bell and Bill Clinton - Bell definitely inhaled!

In naming todays post I decided to jump on the modern evangelical bandwagon of relevance. For those of you who don't know what relevance is it means professing Christians trying to be cool by doing something that stopped being cool several decades ago and I figured an old Beatles song from their psychedelic era was right in that ball park. I would contend that I have a better chance of guessing what Rob Bell has been smoking than what he is actually talking about here. I don't think he had anything to say about the actual resurrection - but then my head is still spinning and my memory is totally hazy man!

The historical reality of Christ's bodily resurrection is way more thrilling than any emergent induced psychedelic trip.

There is enormous evidence for the resurrection. I’ll mention just five of them.

1. Jesus was seen by hundreds of witnesses. That is good enough in a court of law.
2. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost he testified to the resurrection in Jerusalem. Thousands were there and no one questioned him.
3. The Bible has never been proven wrong on anything. We have a document more trustworthy than any other book ever written.
4. That Christianity has survived for 2000 years.
5. The change in the disciples behavior. What else could explain how these cowards who fled when Jesus was crucified had suddenly become bold and fearless witnesses ready to preach endlessly and die willingly in His Name. (Read from Foxes book of Martyr’s)

There is no reason to deny the resurrection other than a desire to keep on sinning in the hope that you will not have to face the resurrected Lord on the day of judgment.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

Christ’s resurrection guarantees the resurrection of His church.

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

Adam’s one sin brought death on everyone. The ultimate statistic – one out of one people die. Adam’s sin brought the curse of death. In Christ’s resurrection shall all be made alive. Now – does this verse teach universalism that everyone will be saved? We know the Scripture cannot contradict itself and it clearly teaches that not everyone gets saved – that there are sheep and goats. So what is Paul saying here? It depends upon the link with the man. All who are in Adam – who are the descendants of Adam? We all are. All who are in Christ – who are the descendants of Christ? John 1:12 says "as many as believed in Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God."

The first all includes all who are in Adam by the common factor of . . . sin. The second all includes all who are in Christ by the common factor of . . . faith. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ live. Who are you in?

But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23-26)

Christ was raised bodily, glorified so that His human frame was perfectly suited for both heaven and earth. His body could be seen, and touched (Luke 24:39; John 20:27; 1 John 1:1). He ate food (Luke 24:42-43) and walked and talked as He had before the crucifixion. At this very moment, he sits on the Father's right hand in that same body—making intercession for the saints, including me.

More amazing than all of that, I will one day have a body like His: able to traverse heaven and earth, immortal, yet familiar in its physical form. In fact, it will be this very body, thoroughly healed of all its infirmities and imperfections. That amazes me and thrills me (Phil Johnson, online source).

Rob Bell may be interesting to those who don't care about Gospel truth and to those unregenerated by the resurrected Jesus. . . but to those redeemed, the reality and truth of Christ's bodily resurrection is absolutely thrilling and invigorating.


Jim W said...

Heard about you/your blog on Wretched Radio. I really like what you're about.
I think we can finally say that Rob Bell really doesn't believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. It seems that he sees the resurrection as metaphor, nothing more. How incredibly sad, that this man holds such sway over the masses. Dear God, save us.

Tim Haugen said...

I don't see a denial of the resurrection in this video - he's speaking to Christians, so he's assuming the audience knows that. He's stating that the resurrection makes everything different - that what seems devastating or destructive is not the end. Probably still some "reaching" on some points (especially the 3rd minute).

I don't necessarily agree with everything Rob Bell says. A lot "works" if you are already a well founded believer, and interpret what he says in that perspective. However, I'd agree that by leaving some things unsaid, he leaves a potential for confusion for those who are newer or less grounded in their walk. - However, I think some of the criticism of him stretches pretty far in trying to draw the worst possible conclusion or perspective on something he's said.

unkleE said...

I too think you have been unfair and judgmental, and I think you misunderstand.

1. A quick check shows that Rob Bell does believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Consider this from his church's doctrinal statement: "his path of suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection has brought hope to all creation." I think you may be confused by a non-standard presentation that doesn't use the key phrases you want to hear.

2. I think it is sad to see you so negative, concentrating on tearing someone down rather than building Jesus up - and disobeying Romans 14:4. And even more, to see you accusing Rob of taking illegal drugs - you may have been joking, but you have impugned him unnecessarily.

3. Rob is a great communicator. I have to say, honestly, I'd much rather watch his video than yours (or watch myself too!). Perhaps, instead of criticising, you could learn from him?

I don't know if I agree with everything Rob teaches, and I don't think I need to. Rob is God's unique gift to his church just as you and I are, and using the gift of his videos, learning from his ability to communicate and enthuse, and praying for him, all seem more appropriate responses than your blog.

I hope I haven't offended, I mean to be positive. I encourage you to do the same. Best wishes.

Cameron Buettel said...

Umm Tim and Unkle. . . did I ever say that he denies the resurrection? Who exactly is being judgmental here? Did I touch a sacred cow?

And by the way, do you guys care about the purity of the Gospel? Because Bell is a universalist - that's not Christianity last time I checked. Bell is certainly a gifted teacher which is why he has gotten away for so long with teaching so much heresy.

Do some homework on Bell's theology, compare it with biblical theology (and you'll find plenty of articles on this blog) and then try reporting back.

unkleE said...

G'day Cameron,

"did I ever say that he denies the resurrection?"
Well I thought you did when you said (though note that I didn't say you did!), in a discussion of Rob Bell's video: "There is no reason to deny the resurrection other than....." So if you tell me you meant something else by that comment than the obvious meaning, I will apologise. But what did you mean?

"Did I touch a sacred cow?"
Lol!! No mate, I'm not a follower of Bell. I've read one book of his (which I didn't think contained any heresy) and watched about 4 videos. My concern is not with Bell, but with you (and me!). Jesus prayed that we would be one, and I'm concerned at people who spend more time on heresy hunting than the great commission. Not saying you're doing that, but just commenting.

"do you guys care about the purity of the Gospel?"
I'm not sure what this means, but I would have thought our comments showed we are as concerned about truth as you are. After all, we are urging you to follow Romans 14:4, and you haven't commented on that.

"Bell is a universalist ..... he has gotten away for so long with teaching so much heresy"
Bell seems to be one of the most hated preachers in the US - by other christians, to our shame. I know nothing about his universalism (his doctrinal statement does not discuss the topic), I'm not a universalist myself, but there are Bible passages that can be interpreted that way. If the Bible contains such teachings, perhaps we should let Bell be, especially if your "remedy" is to criticise him in a way that contravenes clear scripture.

In the end, I am responsible for my behaviour and beliefs, you are responsible for yours, and he is responsible for his. I think more harm is done by yours and others' criticisms than by a few people watching Nooma videos.

Best wishes and peace,

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, so you care about Gospel purity but you don't think universalism is a big deal? Paul says in Galatians 1:8 that anyone who preaches any other Gospel is damned and he repeats the comment in verse 9. And two chapters after the verse you mention Paul tells us to "mark" those that teach false doctrine and avoid them (Romans 16:17). Paul again tells the Ephesians church not to tolerate evil but expose it (Ephesians 5:11). And Jude tells the church to "contend for the once for all delivered faith". The question is not whether I should expose a false teacher, it is whether my claims concerning his heresy are true. If they are true then I am doing my job as a shepherd. If they are false then you should expose me.

The only people breaking Romans 14:4 are those who make accusations concerning my motives and personal character. All my claims have been based on the clear content of Bell's teaching. That is not being judgmental - it is called accurate reporting.

unkleE said...


You didn't answer my question and I would be interested in your answer please. When you said: ""There is no reason to deny the resurrection other than....."", did you intend to say that Rob Bell denies the truth of the resurrection, or did you not?

Now you are suggesting another thing I didn't say when you ask: " you don't think universalism is a big deal?" I have already said I am not a universalist, and I have never said whether I think that Bell's views are a big deal or not, for I don't know what they are and I doubt it is my business to worry about it.

That's twice you have tried to put words in my mouth that I didn't say, and may I respectfully suggest that is not a good thing to be doing.

Let me say again, my concern is not with Bell but with you.

(1) Jesus gave us a great commission to make disciples. But of your "top ten posts", almost all are chasing heresies in other people - surely you don't think we have a commission from Jesus to put aside his last orders and take up battles against fellow believers (or apparent believers) that we disagree with?

(2) In Rom 14:4 Paul urged us not to judge others. He made no mention of "accurate reporting" , he simply told us to mind our own business and leave matters like that to God. So I ask you again, do you feel you have some personal command from God to lay aside Jesus' command to make disciples and Paul's command to leave these judgmental matters to God, and go heresy hunting?

I sincerely think you are doing harm to the very gospel whose purity you are claiming to want to protect. I plead with you to shift your focus from alleged heresy to Jesus.

Best wishes.

David Ford said...

I too am completely gob smacked that any part of the real body of Jesus Christ could listen to Rob Bell's nonsense. Cameron, I was in complete suspension of disbelief when you testified a year or so ago that this material was making headway into the Australian Baptist Churches. Obviously I have lead too much of a sheltered life. The bottom line is clear - Wanna be reconciled to God and get saved? Don't listen to 98% of preachers in any denomination - its easier to listen to an audio bible (Not NIV) - preferably a non theologically biased translation starting with the KJV) - and you will, if you listen to it enough, know the complete and perfect will of God for your life!. The hearing of this preaching direct from the likes of Peter, Paul, & John will not only instruct you but will also regenerate and wash you as clean and white as snow. What an awesome word and spirit we have been given. Hallelujah!

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, to the best of my knowledge Rob Bell does not deny the resurrection. My comment was a general one because that was extracted from an earlier post. Bell is still problematic in this area as he backgrounds the foreground and foregrounds the background. He continually downplays the importance of the historical reality and emphasizes the subjective experience - ie is it real to you.

I am a missionary/evangelist/expository preacher and you will find almost all the videos You will find of me on youtube (except for one) involve sharing the Gospel with people. Also, check out my short 5 part video series posted near the top of the right hand column of this blog where I explain the Gospel for people with no prior knowledge. This IS the major focus of my life. My blog is an outlet which I use to discuss a wide variety of topics - ones which usually relate to the purity of the Gospel. If you read through the entire 600+ posts on my blog you will find that I also write many articles on good examples of true Christianity. I have no control over my top ten posts as they are sorted by blogger in order of most read. Based on the result it would seem that false teaching is a major problem. Based on the fact that you read one of Bell's books and did not notice it was heretical suggests that you may need to sharpen your discernment. In my old church when I lived in Australia, I had to go after Bell because his teaching was seriously harming people. It was giving distorted views of God and man, killing the great commission, and causing some to trust a false man centered gospel.

Scripture gives clear mandate for shepherds to fight against these false teachers as I pointed out in my previous comment. Many of the New Testament letters are devoted to this and Jesus had much to say as well. The oft quoted judge not lest ye be judged in Matthew 7 actually precedes extensive dialogue on detecting false teachers which goes to show that we are meant to judge the content of someone's teaching and the fruit of their lives but without passing judgment on the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Rob Bell has come in for very serious critique on this blog over a long period of time. His wacky theology has become so farcical that I took a satirical poke in this post. And yes, sarcasm is used in Scripture.

Unkle, I am of little consequence in all of this and you don't have to like me - you can take a number and stand in line. But I am more concerned with how you understand the Gospel yourself, particularly as you find little at fault with Bell's teaching. We are not called to ignore false teaching, we are called to turn on the light and expose the dark. So please, aim any further criticism at my theology rather than my methodology. The question is not whether false teaches should be exposed, but whether the claims are true. Please check out my series called "the Anatomy of the Gospel" and give me some feedback on that. You are also welcome to dig around and read my research on Rob Bell.

Jim W said...

It's interesting that several people can watch this video and come away with two utterly incompatible views-I watched and heard Bell turn resurrection into a metaphor, others watched and didn't reach that same conclusion. I believe that Bell believes in resurrection, but not the same way I do. I believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead, thereby demonstrating His mastery over all things, even death. I firmly believe that Bell sees Jesus' resurrection as symbolic only. No physical resurrection, just a metaphor for freeing us all to make the world a better place. And until Bell learns to actually communicate, instead of using fancy word pictures that allow for different meanings, he's going to be second-guessed at every turn.

Anonymous said...

Unklee I'm afraid that it is you sir who are taking Romans 14 out of context... in context, it IS referring to people's motives. As to your assertion that we are not to "call out" false teachers... Romans 16:17 says that we are to mark those who cause divisions.

Cameron has not once attacked Rob Bell personally. But it stands as a documented fact from Rob's own teachings that show him to be a heretic. It is not discerning believers (such as Cameron) who cause division in the true body of Christ it is Rob Bell and his ilk. Those who hold to sound doctrine are not the causers of division, but the bringers of peace... Jude 3 says we are to "contend earnestly for the faith"... the word 'contend' in Greek carries with it a very forceful, resolute posture... a fighting stance...

You are not a universalist because you have said so and I am in no place to judge you otherwise... but I am troubled, to say the least, that you are more concerned with attacking someone who is defending truth rather than linking arms with him...

Rob Bell, whether denying the resurrection or not, has abandoned the true Gospel handed down once for all. And in doing so he has qualified himself for Paul's pronouncement of such individuals in Galatians 1:6-10. Let him be anathema or let God draw Rob to repentance and faith.

Don't buy into the postmodern dribble that says there is no such thing as a Biblical judgment. That is simply not true. We are not called to judge someone's motives... I can't judge their heart... but I can inspect their fruits for sure and see if what they profess lines up with Biblical teachings.

I'm not talking about making distinctions amongst the brethren and say that this Christian is a better Christian than this one because he bears x amount of fruit.. I'm talking about looking at someone who us a professing believer in the True Jesus Christ and saying, 'Are they bearing BIBLICAL fruit?' 'Yes.' 'Then they are a true believer.' if they aren't bearing fruit of any kind or of a kind contrary to sound teaching... then I'm sorry but if they persist in that and practice that unrighteousness then they aren't a believer... so says the Word of God... check the ENTIRE book of 1 John..

Soli Deo Gloria,

unkleE said...


I will now close off this discussion lest I fall into the same error of diverting attention from Jesus to heresy hunting as I have warned you of.

"Unkle, to the best of my knowledge Rob Bell does not deny the resurrection."
Thank you for that clarification. I apologise for interpreting your statement wrongly (though you will notice that I didn't accuse you of anything).

"Unkle, I am of little consequence in all of this and you don't have to like me"
I would be sorry if you made this interpretation also. I hope I have been polite and respectful and treated you as a brother at all times - something I feel you haven't necessarily done towards Bell. I don't dislike you, I don't even know you, and I certainly refuse to see anyone as an enemy.

"I have no control over my top ten posts as they are sorted by blogger in order of most read. Based on the result it would seem that false teaching is a major problem."
I would draw the conclusion that heresy hunting is a major diversion, and you are feeding this. Dealing with what we regard as false teaching is always a difficult one, but I think the commands to not judge and to be in unity even with those who aren't of our 'party' are greater commands. If we are forced to deal with false teaching in our local community, then let's do so with compassion, sensitivity and as briefly as necessary to keep our brothers and sisters on track. But I fear you are inflaming the situation, bringing things to people's attention unnecessarily and making statements that are sometimes unjustified.

Romans 12:18: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
1 Corinthians 13:5: "[Love] keeps no record of wrongs."

Thanks for letting me put these ideas to you. I pray that you may yet see things differently, in a way (I believe) more consistent with the love of Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit in today's world.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Cameron, thank you for defining 'relevance'.

I get the same impression of this video as you - I really don't understand his message. Well, I understand what he's saying, that is refering to liberation theology rather than reformed theology: that he's speaking about the ressurection and so on. But I don't understand the context and what message the viewer is supposed to remember.

Judging from what i hear, Rob Bell certainly does not deny the bodily resurrection.

Judging from what I see - that might create another impression. An impression of Bell saying one thing with is words and something slightly different by the visual effect. Of course - it could be that I'm judgemental. But it is still my impression.

unkleE said...


I fear you are sadly looking for fault.

"I firmly believe that Bell sees Jesus' resurrection as symbolic only. No physical resurrection, just a metaphor for freeing us all to make the world a better place."
Where in that video did he give you reason to believe that?

"until Bell learns to actually communicate, instead of using fancy word pictures that allow for different meanings, he's going to be second-guessed at every turn."
No Jim, he's only being second-guessed (and worse) by those looking to find fault. My wife and I, both strong believers in the physical resurrection, watched that video, never thought to question his belief, and just enjoyed the imaginative treatment of something we never thought was under question. We were encouraged by it. Even if his belief is different to ours, we were both still nevertheless encouraged.

It's in the mindset. Look for fault and you'll find negativity. Look for blessing and you'll find it in all sorts of places. If sometime you are required to help a specific person who is troubled by a wrong teaching, then by all means explain it to them, but until then, I suggest your negative attitude is doing more harm to God's kingdom than good. Bell, on the other, seems to be doing good to people I know who have watched his videos.

Best wishes.

unkleE said...

G'day j,

"Unklee I'm afraid that it is you sir who are taking Romans 14 out of context... in context, it IS referring to people's motives.
In context, it says quite clearly to avoid judging because God will judge. That is a strong Biblical principle, to be balanced against others to be sure, but not to be explained away.

"As to your assertion that we are not to "call out" false teachers... Romans 16:17 says that we are to mark those who cause divisions.""
Exactly my friend. And in this case, Bell is causing no divisions, it is Cameron who is doing so. And notice Paul's remedy in that passage: "Keep away from them." He doesn't say keep obsessing about them, but keep away. Don't keep pointing people to them, but keep away. If Cameron was to follow that verse, he would not post about Bell; he would "not go there".

"I am troubled, to say the least, that you are more concerned with attacking someone who is defending truth rather than linking arms with him"
Mate, you have a strange way of looking at things. I have not attacked Cameron, I have treated him with respect and like a brother. And I am seeking to correct him in love because in trying to teach about an apparent problem, he is ignoring greater and clearer truths.

"Soli Deo Gloria"
I suggest to you that one of the things causing God's good name to not be glorified is bickering among christians. Jesus said they'd know us by our love, not our bickering and heresy hunting.

So thank you brother for your interest in my welfare - I hope you are willing to soften your stance for the sake of the kingdom. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

to those who think Rob bell is just way okay.

By Phil Johnson:
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.

Good Biblical guys like Cameron are saying the right thing about Rob bell so do listen to him and stop trying to say he is wrong.

Perhaps you should examine youself in light of scripture and see if you hold to what the scipture says if you say that Rob bell is way ok. I challenge you all to contact Phil Johnson about this or talk to cameron and they will straighten it out for you.

Perhaps some of you like Rob bell because your view on christianity lies up with his. But if have a biblical mindset and follow exactly to what Christ has taught you will see how heretical Rob bell is!

Here is a quote:
"We're rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life."-- Rob Bell, Teaching Pastor Mars Hill Bible Church from The Emergent Mystique,

He is also in the New age so stay away from him or you will be deceive!

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, Romans 16:17 says to mark or point out false teachers. Bell is causing a lot of division by questioning so many doctrines that Christians have historically united on.

He is not my brother, he is an enemy of the Gospel, and as such needs to be called to repentance, not to "unity". I am all for unity of Christians, but Bell is a universalist and lives on a different theological planet. Your attitude to just leave it alone and God will work it out is not found in Scripture. God continually calls on His church to expel the leaven out of the church and into the world where He will deal with them.

I would leave it alone if Bell had a different view of the end times or of speaking in tongues. But Bell is someone who continually attacks core doctrine and is an outright enemy of the Gospel. This pacifist attitude by so many pastors today is causing untold liberty for false teachers and damage to local churches.

unkleE said...

OK Cameron, I said I'd leave it there and I will. Thanks again for the discussion.

Jim W said...

unkleE, I'm afraid you're the mistaken one. You are the one allowing false teachers such as Bell to hold sway over the masses. Bell is utterly wrong in all he does. He is leading people away from the God of the Bible, he is one that Jesus said should have a millstone around his neck, rather than leading little ones into falsehoods.
As I said, it's amazing to me that two people could watch this video and come away with such different views.
I hope you will come to see the truth about people like Bell. Tony Jones is another false teacher, just like Bell-always using philosophical concepts to "explain" what the Bible really means, none of it bearing any grounding in historical fact.

unkleE said...

Jim, thanks for your concern for me. I don't wish to draw this discussion out to much, but I feel I must comment on a couple of things.

"You are the one allowing false teachers such as Bell to hold sway over the masses. "
This is really an amazing statement Jim. Exactly how am I "allowing" Bell to do anything, and if I wished to prevent him, exactly how could I do that?

"Bell is utterly wrong in all he does. He is leading people away from the God of the Bible, he is one that Jesus said should have a millstone around his neck, rather than leading little ones into falsehoods."
"Utterly wrong in all he does" is a big call! And so is the rest. I haven't read or seen anything by Bell for quite a while, but Cameron's post 'inspired' me to take a look. I read some of his book Velvet Elvis and found he discussed the resurrection as a real historical event without a hint of disbelief - you can read it for yourself by following the link, "looking inside" and searching for 'resurrection'). Then I listened to him describe his beliefs on radio and he said quite clearly "I affirm all that the Bible affirms". And I can report that he certainly hasn't led me away from the Bible, but encouraged me in my faith.

Perhaps Bell is not saying the exact words you want to hear rather than saying wrong things? In which case, your accusations may be way too strong, and certainly in contradiction to many New Testament teachings?

"I hope you will come to see the truth about people like Bell"
In the end, Jim, I am sorry that, like Cameron, you still don't seem to understand my point. I am not especially concerned about Rob Bell, I have little to do with him and he is one of thousands of pastors that I may or may not agree with.

I am not responsible for him, and I suggest neither are you or Cameron. Rom 14:4 says it is to God that he is responsible, and of course to the people who attend or supervise his church. My job, and yours, is to get on with serving Jesus and people, proclaiming him, making disciples, not heresy hunting about Rob Bell, Hillsong church, and I don't know who else.

I suggest all this heresy hunting is a massive diversion from your real task. Few people read this stuff except for those who already agree - and those unbelievers who look with glee at our petty squabbles and lack of grace, and quote the nasty and uncalled for things christians say to each other with great glee. I spend a certain amount of time on the internet seeking to present the truth of Jesus to unbelievers (part of the great commission) and I face these sorts of mocking claims from them quite often.

So if you feel you have to 'expose' things that you disagree with, I urge you to only do the minimum necessary to help people that you know are otherwise in danger, keep it private, and you do it with more careful research and kinder words. Otherwise I believe you and Cameron are harming the kingdom that you both wish to serve.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

In reply to unkleE.... I am far from the greatest apologist or theologian, but if I read the Gospels right, weren't there instances where Jesus himself called out heretics and was enraged with those in the synagogue. I get your peace and love approach, but isn't part of that love to provide correction to those who may be in error. I am called each week in church to test my Pastor's message against scripture, why can't we afford the same critique to someone like Rob Bell. I contend it is when we hold ourselves up to strong critique that we strengthen the church, not divide it. I would like to say that Cameron does not attack his character, but I feel some comments like the drug references may be a bit unnecessary. However I cannot hold it against Cameron for testing Bell's teaching against scripture. PS I enjoyed reading your comments. You should reply more - there is nothing harmful in debating topics. As long as we attack the ball and not the man, if you know what I mean.
Paul, Adelaide.

unkleE said...

G'day Paul, good thoughts and good questions.

I'm not sure Jesus or the gospel writers ever used the word "heretic", but, yes, there were occasions when Jesus opposed the Pharisees. But there were also occasions when he treated people with grace, not severe correction, and there were times when he chose not to oppose wrong thinking. And when his disciples wanted to "call out" people they disagreed with, on at least two occasions Jesus told them to cool down. It is too easy to justify wrong behaviour by selective quoting what Jesus did.

Of course the "peace and love" approach isn't my idea but clearly commanded in the New Testament. Again, this teaching is strong, yet it seems some are willing to put it aside in favour of pursuing people who they have no responsibility for, for not repeating certain doctrinal formulae It is especially worrying if clear Biblical principles are put aside to argue over doctrinal formulations that are not even specifically Biblical (e.g. the words Trinity, penal substitutionary and inerrant are not in the Bible).

" isn't part of that love to provide correction to those who may be in error. I am called each week in church to test my Pastor's message against scripture, why can't we afford the same critique to someone like Rob Bell"
Yes, I have never opposed speaking the truth. My points have been (1) We need to speak the truth in love, and I don't see much love in all this. (2) Correcting someone privately when they are part of our fellowship is very different to publicly pursuing and heresy-hunting people all around the world. (3) There is a danger of looking to find fault, even criticising what isn't said rather than what is said. Even Jesus would fail that test, because, when he dealt with different people he gave them different answers, not the same formula all the time. (4) We have better things to do than pursue heresy all over the place - namely get on and present a more united loving face to the world, love and serve people and share the good news with them.

Thanks otherwise for your encouragement. I agree that there is a place for loving debate, but it is also wise to know when it is counter-productive. Best wishes.

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, I have another question for you. What would you say to someone who is not a Christian and they have just minutes to live. They have lived a very bad sin filled life and want to know how they can be right with God and have eternal life. What would you say to someone with so little time? I am genuinely interested to know.

unkleE said...

G'day Cameron,

I said I felt it was time to give up the discussion, and I still feel that way, but since you say you are genuinely interested it would be impolite to ignore you. But first let me explain why I feel negative about continuing.

1. I accept you and love you as a brother, and I have no wish to hurt you, only help. I appreciate that you have remained polite to me and have allowed me to express my views on your blog. I have tried to respond in a similarly courteous manner.

2. But I fear the discussion will be inconclusive and would become adversarial. I fear you sadly and terribly misunderstand the core of the good news Jesus came to bring, but genuinely think you understand it. I fear you have reduced the grace of God to pedantic rules and doctrines, to interpretations of the Bible that you are confident you have right and no-one who differs substantially can possibly be correct. So I fear you are presently unable to consider alternative views unless they first tick your doctrinal boxes, not just in terms of substance but in wording as well. (I have used the word 'fear' here because I don't want to claim I fully and correctly understand you or have judged rightly, otherwise I fall into exactly the same error.)

3. The Bible is clearly an eclectic collection of books, with many different types of literature, and not a few difficult and confusing passages and teachings. There are some teachings that appear on first sight to contradict others.

There are three basic ways people try to resolve these dilemmas.

(i) The more liberal approach is to say truth is relative, or the scriptures are in error, or each passage is determined by its context, or to lessen the Bible's authority. While there may be some truth in some of those perspectives, I think it is ultimately a wrong way to look at it.

(ii) The more conservative approach is to say the Bible is inerrant, consistent in every way, and just needs to be interpreted correctly. Again, there is truth in this approach, but ultimately it requires someone to resolve the tensions and apparently opposing teachings by re-interpreting some passages and explaining them in ways that effectively explain them away. But unfortunately this leaves the people who do this in various doctrinal camps, based on which passages they explain away, and how they do it. And because such people crave certainty, each group convinces themselves they are the only ones who have got it right, and they get increasingly diverted from our task of witnessing in the world to lobbing hand grenades into each others' stockades.

They even start to criticise things which are not really wrong, just different (much of yours and others' criticisms of Rob Bell - including your comments on the resurrection video - seem to fall into this category), so they become seekers after the negative. That is the unfortunate place where I believe you have reached. Your blog categories are nearly all about people, predominantly people you disagree with, and there are none labelled 'Jesus' or 'God'.

(continued next comment)

unkleE said...


(iii) There is a third approach, midway between the other two. It is to accept that we don't have as much certainty as we'd like, remain humble, and proceed with both knowledge and faith. We hold strongly onto what we as a worldwide christian community see clearly and unambiguously taught in Scripture and by the Spirit, we form conclusions and beliefs about other things which are more arguable but remain open to new light, and we try to live at peace with those who have come to different conclusions, as we get onto the real task we have been given.

That is how I see things, and I would guess that is how many of the people you malign see things as well. I don't necessarily agree with everything Bell, or Warren, or Hillsong, or the many other people you have seen fit to criticise, but I afford them more grace. I don't regard them as my enemies nor as my responsibility to correct. I don't dismiss them as false brothers, and I get much blessing from them because they have some very useful insights.

Now I don't expect you to agree with all this, but I do hope you and your readers may pray about it and consider if God would have you change your attitude and aims.

Now as to your question. I would try to follow the example of Jesus and give them the answer that the Holy Spirit would want them to hear (Jesus gave different answers to different people). So I would quickly pray for wisdom. But then I suppose I would tell them much the same things that any other christian would tell them. Since they recognise their sin and want to know how to get right with God, I would think I would probably emphasise the grace of God. I would probably tell them the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet in the Pharisee's house, and the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Depending on their response, I would choose my next words.

So there's my rave and my answer. I am doubtful it will be worth continuing, but I will read whatever you say in response.

Best wishes.

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, you have already established your view of Scripture. I want to know your view of the Gospel. How would you explain it to someone who never heard it before? What aree the necessary parts of gospel proclamation?

Cameron Buettel said...

Also, what exactly are those things that are clear and unambiguous in Scripture? You keep mentioning the "importance" I place on the use of certain words. The problem is not when people like Rob Bell use different words, it is whether use the same words and define them differently - something he constantly does. Rob Bell can affirm the Bible all he likes when he interprets it with a hermeneutic of his own invention. When you say you would explain grace I want you to explain it to me because you may well define it completely contrary to Scripture. Again, explain the necessary part of the Christian message to someone who is completely ignorant. Go for it!

unkleE said...


I said I thought further discussion would be unproductive, and your two replies don't lead me to think any differently, I'm sorry. I have given you my honest answer to your question, and you will have to be content with that. So I will conclude here. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss.

PS I haven't given you my view of scripture, but rather how I think different people resolve difficult and apparently contradictory passages, a very different thing. Best wishes.

Cameron Buettel said...

Unkle, your unwillingness to talk about the most important issue of all is a MAJOR disappointment and only serves to elevate my fears that you do not know or understand the true Christian Gospel. It is only a matter of time before you are confronted with the need to share eternal words with dying men. This concerns me greatly. You should be earnestly desiring to talk about the Gospel - not reluctant.

As for your view of Scripture, yes you have given it loud and clear throughout your dialogue, both in your handling of the text, and your response to the many texts that people have brought to your attention.

Anonymous said...

Let the mud-slinging and the name calling start.

I step in and out of this blog on occasion and mostly leave feeling sad and confused.

Cameron, why is it that you feel that you have the exalted position to call other Christians out like you do?

I am not an apologist for Rob Bell, but I also do not see the edification of God displayed in criticizing him and calling him a heretic. Can't he just be wrong in his viewpoint and not open opposed to the scriptures?

Do you have the ability to look into his soul and divine his motivations? Much of what I read on your blog seems to state that you know the true motivations of these people who you criticize and I think that is a heavy judgment you bear upon these people.

When non-Christians look in at this sort of in-fighting it's no wonder they don't want be a part of us.

Why I come by this site is beyond me. Maybe it's morbid curiosity, I don't know. I wish I could resist and stop and pray for someone's soul because that would so much more productive, but I'm weak.

I apologize for the slant of message. It's all so frustrating and I can't take my own advice.

Cameron Buettel said...

Dear Anonymous. The only mud slinging I've seen so far is your reckless comments. I'll respond to your comment point by point.

1. What is the name calling going on? If I called the pope a catholic or Ghandi a Hindu would that also qualify as mudslinging and name calling. Rob Bell is a universalist and he lays it out in Velvet Elvis. Universalism is heretical if you hold to Scripture. Calling Rob Bell a heretic is not name calling, it is just stating a plain fact. If you want to refute this then you would be better served trying to prove that Bell is not a universalist - good luck on that one.

2. When have I ever exalted myself? If anything I'm saying "this is so obvious even I can figure it out". If you believe that the Bible is authoritative then Bell is heretical and I am exalting the clear testimony of Scripture over Bell's postmodern ambiguity. Who exactly is being judgmental here?

3. If Bell was just wrong about a minor point then I wouldn't say anything. But Bell is doing serious violence to the Gospel in his assaults on the atonement, the authority of Scripture, the exclusivity of Jesus, his denial of hell, his failure to preach repentance etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

4. Where have I ever pretended to know the motivations of Rob Bell's heart? Where? If you want to accuse me of that then you need to back it up. This post was a satire because Bell's getting just plain ridiculous these days. But all of my critique I have made of Bell has always been on the content of his message. It would be nice if you extended me the same courtesy.

5. Please stop using the words us. Rob Bell is an enemy of the Gospel and an imposter in the church. He needs to be exposed and removed. That will help unity and a better representation for non-Christians. Read Romans 16:17

All in all I feel very judged and hurt.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's me anonymous and let me say from the bottom of my heart how sorry I am if I offended you. I truly, truly mean that.

You ever have a bad day? A day when everything you said and did came out wrong?

99 times out of 100, I would never wrote what I wrote and 99 times out of 100 I would never post it. It seemed like a perfectly bad storm in my life at that moment.

I have no place to judge you. I have no right to hurt you. In my insensitivity I have done what I abhor.

Again, please take my sincere apology and I hope you find peace the rest of the days of your life.

Grace and Peace,
Anonymous and Remoresful

Cameron Buettel said...

Anonymous, my last comment about feeling judged and hurt was not serious. I said it because of the irony of the number of people who accuse me of judging by judging me themselves.

You are welcome to post critical comments. But don't be like all these emergent cry babies who lve to hurl accusations without ever backing them up. If evermake a serious criticism or accusation, it is only because I have the facts to prove it.

Andrew said...

I didn't read the rest of these comments... for that matter I didn't even watch the whole video.

I started screaming at around 30 seconds and then my colleague stopped the video at around 1.5 mins...

Anonymous said...

"All my claims have been based on the clear content of Bell's teaching."

So your claim in the post about Rob Bell being high on drugs or smoking something is based clearly on the content of his teaching?