Friday, February 25, 2011

The Propriety of Public Rebuke

In a recent interview by the Dean at Point Looma Nazarene College Rob Bell responded to Mark Driscoll's pronouncement that Bell is a heretic:

Nelson: Time Magazine, a year or two ago, called you the next Billy Graham. And then you’ve got a pastor at another Mars Hill church calling you a heretic.

Bell: Well, uh, if I were to read the gospels for the first time, and I was stuck in a motel room, and I opened up a Bible and I read the story of Jesus for the first time, and then somebody asked me, “Well, what’s this story about?” One of the things I might say is, “Huh, seems like the sinners and the tax collectors and the prostitutes loved this guy, but it seems like the religious establishment was scared to death of him.” (laughter) So, uh, that’s what I think about that. (laughter and applause). I don’t know what, um, ok, let me give you concrete answers: In the Sermon on the Mount…no, in Matthew 18 actually, Jesus says if you have a problem with your brother or sister you go to them.

Rob's call for private meetings from those who speak up against his errors is a fundamental misunderstanding of Matthew 18. Those of us who publicly challenge Rob Bell are not responding to a personal offense but to this man's very public ministry. There have been people within Bell's church who have made known their grave concerns about his errors. Nevertheless, Bell has pressed on. Prominent evangelical pastors and theologians have called upon Bell to repent of his false teachings but still he persists. He preaches, writes books, and travels the world on speaking tours. He dismisses biblical orthodoxy with a wave of his postmodern hand and is then surprised when someone objects? His protests are disingenuous at best.

Rob Bell preaches another Gospel. This is a serious charge, I know. But Bell proclaims that salvation has nothing to do with sinners being saved from the just wrath of God. Of course, this puts him at odds with Jesus himself who warned about the coming wrath. The New Testament clearly proclaims that Jesus is our propitiation; one who took upon himself the wrath we deserved that we might have peace with God. Rob Bell, on the other hand, says that there is no wrath from which we must be saved. Jesus proclaimed that the way of salvation is narrow and few will find it. Rob Bells says this is not true. He denies that we are justified before God through faith in Christ claiming that all people regardless of faith will be saved. This once again puts him squarely at odds with the Lord Jesus who proclaimed, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18).

This is why I say that Rob Bell proclaims another Gospel. And in case you were wondering whether or not this is a big deal:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).


Nathan Duvall said...

Hey Todd - I don't know a lot about Rob Bell other than having seen a few of his Nooma videos. I'm curious though, when you said the below - did he say this in a message he preached or one of his books? I haven't been exposed to much of Bell's stuff lately, but didn't see anything like this in some of his earlier Nooma videos or books. Just curious, because I'd really like to know.

"[Rob Bell] denies that we are justified before God through faith in Christ claiming that all people regardless of faith will be saved."

Thanks Todd - and thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

Todd Pruitt said...


Good to hear from you.

Rob's theology has been drifting away from biblical orthodoxy for some time. In Velvet Elvis he claims that Christ need not be raised. While personally believing in the resurrection he writes that if Jesus' bones were discovered it would not change his faith at all. Of course this pits him against the apostle Paul.

Rob denies that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. He believes that people of all faiths will be ushered into heaven. In teh video for his new book he clearly holds that Ghandi is in heaven (for his good works I presume). He also calls Jesus a liar by denying that the way to life is narrow and few find it.

In the Nooma videos he holds his cards a bit closer to his chest. But his writings are a little more clear. With the release of his new book he is making his universalism plain. His idea is that Jesus saves everyone regardless of faith which of course contradicts both Jesus and the apostles.

Denny Burk said...

Great post!