The Continued Crucifying Of Rob Bell, And What It Says About The State Of Modern Christianity

I wanted to share this because I believe that Rob Bell has indeed asked important questions and has inspired us to also ask important questions. Faith should not and cannot be blind; faith comes through seeking, struggle, and questioning. Rob’s courage can help us all develop a deeper, truer faith – not by giving us all the answers, but by helping us learn to ask the right questions while letting God bring the answers.

john pavlovitz


RobBell

It’s often been said that we Christians eat our own.

This unsettling expression is all-too true, and apparently Rob Bell is on the menu yet again.

For a people whose go-to ideas are love for God and love for others, we Jesus folk are often pretty horrible toward one another, especially to those of us who attain any sort of position in the larger culture.

Oh sure, we’ll root like crazy for them to reach the masses on their way up, but once they do, we’ll as willingly and passionately go about the work of ripping them from their lofty positions; discrediting them, ridiculing them, shaming and shunning them in the process.

In the Church, as in so many other spheres of life, we love to love you when your star is rising, and few in modern times have risen faster or higher.

A decade ago, Rob Bell was a flat-out Christian Rock Star.

He was

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10 Comments

  1. Jude 1:3 AMP

    Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God].

    What do you make of what Rob Bell is saying and the body’s subsequent reaction in light of the above verse from Jude?

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    1. Tony,
      What I hear from Jude is that the faithful are to fight to preserve “that sum of the Christian belief…” The issue that I think Bell raises, as well as others in the church, is that we still must approach Scripture with a seeker’s heart. I believe the Bible is a “living document” that breathes life and brings light to every generation that reads and studies it. What makes it alive is that its message is fresh and inspiring to each new generation, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. This leaves much open to discussion in terms of how we live as people who love and follow Christ. How do we take Jesus’ message to “Love God” and “Love neighbor” and then exclude specific peoples and groups with whom we disagree? Jesus did not reject or exclude; he included, helped, healed, and nurtured.

      What I think Bell challenges us to do is be willing to ask questions and listen for God’s answers to our questions. This does not mean that we reject Scripture and the teachings of the church “out-of-hand”; it means that we have the courage to recognize when God is speaking into our time in a new and different way than God may have spoken into an ancient time and to ancient people.

      When I think of Scripture as being alive, I think of it as being able to speak into all times and all generations in ways that are meaningful and appropriate to those times. This does not mean that we lose the core teaching of Scripture, but it does mean that things change in the way in which we apply those truths.

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      1. So what is the criteria for making it to heaven, a sinners prayer? What is the criteria that sends a person to hell? You are correct that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, however, he did say that it was His word that would judge those that did not accept the offer of salvation. Wouldn’t you agree that those who are and who will burn in an eternal hell are in fact segregated from those in heaven?

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        1. Reading both of your posts, let me clarify. I preach a gospel that clearly states the Jesus is Lord and that we must deny our selves, our selfishness, our sinfulness and follow Christ’s example to love and serve others. For me, the term “seeker” refers to someone who is truly looking for – seeking – the true Jesus and what it means to follow him. I believe that my own posts on this blog bear this viewpoint. I do not water down the gospel for my congregation and I preach sin, repentance, and redemption in Jesus only. However, I think that we can engage Scripture with our questions. I don’t believe that God wants us to blindly follow; I believe God wants us to be informed to follow.

          Salvation comes to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Is the “sinner’s prayer” enough? No, our lives, our behavior must be transformed by our faith. Simply to say words without the follow-up of transformed behavior is naive. As far as determining/knowing who is condemned – That is not our job, that is God’s job. Our job is to give witness to the truth of Christ in our own lives and let God do the work in other people’s lives. We cannot and should not judge others; we are called to love them, show Christ to them, and pray that God will transform them.
          Does that help?

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          1. Isa_42:19 Who is blind but My servant, Or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, Or so blind as the servant of the LORD?
            Faith is blind in that it challenges us to believe in what we do not see and do not understand.
            As far as questioning God regarding His word. I have questioned for a deeper understanding when I do not know the context or meaning of a word or verse of scripture. Faith, by all that I have read is blind. We believe in a God we cannot see. We pray to a God we Cannot see. We tust an invisible God for our salvation. God is indeed requiring us to have blind faith and without such faith it is impossible to please him.

            I am glad to see that you preach a full gospel and do not play with or whitewash sin as so many preachers do in order to keep people from leaving. I do not agree with you in the manner of questioning scripture. When God called Abraham, All He was told was to go to a place that He would show him. That to me is blind faith. To obey without any further details except God’s command to go is definitely blind faith.

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            1. I see what you are saying and I do not disagree. When I talk about “questioning” I do not intend that to mean that we question God’s teaching or judgement. What I mean is that we do all that we can to know and understand God’s Word. That involves questioning, study, discovery, and conversation with other believers. I mean that we should not be afraid to ask God: “What do you mean by (this) or (that)? How does (this) or (that) apply to me in my context and my generation? Asking questions is not the same thing as questioning God’s authority. When I talk about “blind faith” I am talking about faith that is uninformed by true faith. “Blind faith” for me is about the kind of follower that goes after David Koresh instead of God…That is “blind”. Believing in a God we cannot see is true faith because THAT God is revealed to us in the life of Jesus, not Koresh. I don’t think that you and I disagree on much; I think we simply need to clarify our terminology. That is part of good conversation – taking the time to understand what each person means when they use a certain word or phrase.

              With all of that said, I believe that – too often – rigidity in “interpretation” leads us to be judgemental and intolerant of people with whom we disagree. ALL persons, regardless of any other factor, are created by God and for God. That means that God loves ALL and seeks to reconcile with them. Our job is to model the Christ-like behavior we believe points people toward God. Then God has the power and the desire to lead those people to transformation. In the meantime, our differences do not entitle us, as Christians, to not-love or to reject others who have not yet come to know Christ. We must continue to model right behavior and continue to love those people and leave the door open to God. We are not responsible for their transformation – that power is beyond us and i reserved only to God.

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            2. Tony, I really enjoyed our conversation. I was just working on an upcoming message and a thought occurred to me. When I was talking about questioning Scripture, here is an example of a place where one might want to ask questions. In Matthew’s gospel, 2:1-12, we hear the story of the Magi. The story begins “In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem…” History tells us that King Herod (Herod the Great) died in the year 4 B.C. – 4 years before Jesus was supposed to have been born. (The Herod of Jesus’ adulthood is a different guy; he is King Herod’s son who was not a king. Rather, he was Tetrarch of Galilee; is older half brother inherited the bulk of the kingdom.) This discrepancy alone causes one to ask questions. There are other elements of the traditional story that do not make sense, nor do they match the gospel account. This is the type of questioning that i am talking about that leads us to a fuller and deeper understanding of the truth of Scripture as opposed to the pop-culture myth that often passes for Scripture in the modern church. I try hard to teach the truth of these kinds of stories without getting hung up on the details – many of which do not make sense. I believe that God is teaching us TRUTH, not FACTS. There is a difference between these two things. Truth is true for all people in all time. “Facts” are often colored by the version being told by a particular eye witness or group of witnesses. Often, the facts get in the way of the truth and we must strip them away. We have to be free to question things that do not make sense so we can get at the truth God wants us to know. Does that make sense?

              I sometimes say that it is like a traffic accident with three ye witnesses. Each witness will give conflicting versions of the facts, like colors of cars, who was driving, who entered the intersection first, and so forth. While the facts may get muddy, the truth is that there was indeed a traffic accident. That truth cannot be disputed, while the way the the facts are re-told can be. Make sense?

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            3. I understand what you’re trying to say . I might do a little digging but that’s about it. Case in point, the book of Hebrews authorship is disputed by some scholars as to whether or not the epistle was written by Paul. That does not bother me because the book itself is inspired by the Holy Spirit. What does bother me is someone taking a single passage of Scripture and twisting it to suit their own perverted means rather than use it to support the truth of God’s word. I am very wary of people who write books that do this sort of thing. The Lord has shown me in dreams that He’s given me the coming deception. It is imperative that we stay in the “ark”, if you will, of His word to stay protected.

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      2. Correct me if I’m wrong but when i hear the term “seeker” that talks of a watered down gospel that is geared so as not to offend anyone. Is this the kind of gospel you preach. No mention of the cross and the crucifying of the flesh? You say that Jesus did not exclude anybody. If that is so then what do you make of the following : Matthew 16:24 NKJV Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Luke 14:27 NKJV And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Sounds to me that this is excluding people dont you think?

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