I used to be a huge Rob Bell fan. In fact, he was my “pastor from a distance” for a while. A few years ago, I was working at a church and not feeling very spiritually fed on Sundays, so I would listen to one or two Rob Bell messages each week. It was great. I really enjoy his style. And I feel like I was challenged and grew spiritually.
When his first book, Velvet Elvis, came out- I LOVED it. I still think it’s a great book. Over time though, it seemed like Bell was pushing the boundaries of Christian Orthodoxy. Finally, when his book Love Wins came out- I knew that I could no longer be a fan.
In that book, Bell challenges orthodox teachings on a literal, eternal hell and the exclusivity of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. He also spreads the idea that people will get a second chance after they die to choose Jesus- something that is explicitly denied in Scripture.
There are many great Christian leaders that I admire and respect but don’t agree with everything they say. Guys like Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and N.T. Wright. However- there are other leaders who go places where I just can’t follow. Guys like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Greg Boyd, and now Rob Bell.
Bell, the former pastor and founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, made the comment from above during a guest appearance this past Sunday at The Forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to discuss his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God.
Bell went on and defended his comments on marriage by stating: “The powerful revolutionary thing about Jesus’ message is he says ‘what do you do with the people who aren’t like you? What do you do with the other? What do you do with the person who is hardest to love…?'” Bell responded. “That’s the measure of a good religion. You can love the people who are like you, that’s kind of easy. What Jesus does is take the question and talks about fruit, he’s interested in what you actually produce and that’s a different discussion.” You can read more about Bell’s interview HERE.
I am saddened by Rob Bell. I know I don’t have all the answers and don’t ever want to be so arrogant that I think I know all about God, but I really think that Bell has now gone outside the boundaries of Christian Orthodoxy- those beliefs that believers have agreed on for 2,000 years.