Friday, April 24, 2009

Rob Bell tries to define the Gospel

When asked by Christianity Today how he would present the gospel on Twitter Rob Bell said that the Gospel is too big to present on Twitter's limited character space. But Bell then offers this definition of the Gospel:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

Not a word about Christ or His cross. Not a word about sin or repentance. There is a cryptic reference to an empty tomb but absolutely nothing to explain it. I'm not quite sure what Rob Bell is describing here but it most certainly is not what Paul described as the "matter of first importance" (1 Corinthians 15).

For a better explanation of the Gospel see Greg Gilbert's series of posts over at Church Matters.

Friends, it matters what we do with the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news of what God has accomplished through the doing, dying, and rising of Christ Jesus. Our task is to gratefully receive this good news and proclaim it as it is, not as we might reimagine it. Why would we want to change this best of all good news? When did preachers start believing that they had a better gospel than the one given to us by God in the Scriptures?


Pete Morris said...

Christ, the Son of God, died in our place -
became our substitute
to pay the price for all our sins
and to accomplish perfect righteousness
and to endure and remove all of God’s wrath
and rise from the dead triumphant over death for
our eternal life and joy in His presence
and all of this offered freely through faith alone
in Jesus Christ alone.

It is big.

Todd Pruitt said...


Good to hear from you.

Yes. The Gospel is the biggest and best news in the universe. What is the more, the Bible clearly tells us what the Gospel is, what it means, and what are its implications. It is amazing then to consider that the cool kids over at emergent feel the need to redefine or re-imagine it.

Pete Morris said...

We could discuss with them the new birth.

case.jess said...


Can you tweet the gospel for us? I mean, just post in 140 characters or less the answer to the question, "What is the gospel?"

Rob couldn't do it. I think Paul's "first importance" passage is somewhere in the 280 characters range. Just curious.

Mike said...

not sure why the empty tomb reference was considered cryptic...If you read the statement as a whole it is the turning point of the statement...if by crytic you mean that he did not explicitly state that empty tomb implied all of the things that Pete said in his response then I can agree...but then again Rob Bell is not trying to explain the gospel to people with robust understanding of doctrine.

Todd Pruitt said...


It is cryptic because it has no context. And your statement that he is trying to explain the gospel to people with no doctrinal background makes it all the more important for him to explain what the empty tomb means.

Whose tomb? Why was it empty? Why was there someone in it to begin with?

If I had never heard the gospel before I would still have no idea what the good news is based upon Bell's description.