Dear Rob Bell: Have you read the bible?

By now, everyone has heard of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins.  Since I haven’t read the book, I can’t do a book review.  What I can rightly judge is the promotional video here:

Rob Bell promotional for Love Wins

Rob objects to someone putting a note on an art piece by Gandhi saying “Reality check.  He’s in hell.”  Just so we’re clear, Rob did not address the propriety of using an art show to make a theological point, nor the abruptness of the message as being unloving – rather he took offense at the notion of Gandhi being in hell.

Since my current bible reading is taking me through the book of Romans, I find myself almost every day crying out “Rob, have you read the bible?”  The answers to your questions are right there in black and white.  Paul addressed all your concerns about the righteousness of God and the “rightness” of His judgments.

Romans 2:2-8 ESV

2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 He will render to each one according to his works
: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Please Rob, please read the first three chapters of Romans carefully.  Paul answers your questions in depth and with amazing clarity.  God is love – yes – but He is also a righteous judge that will not be ignored or discussed into oblivion.  His love is revealed in the redemption He provided for us through His Son Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19


11 comments on “Dear Rob Bell: Have you read the bible?

  1. Many of the Christian blogs and podcasts I follow are spending a lot of time on the Rob Bell issue. I’m not worrying about it. Not because I’m not worried about truth. I’d just rather spend my time on it.

    • #1 – saying something right now about Rob Bell will get people to read your blog who otherwise wouldn’t.
      #2 – My real point was that God is just and righteous in His judgments – I simply used the Rob Bell video as a springboard.
      #3 – I’m trying to get back in the habit of blogging and I need to use whatever I’m fired up about to write.
      So, that’s why I did it – everyone I’ve talked to knows Rob Bell is 3 fries short of a happy meal.

  2. Jude 3 tells us to contend earnestly for the faith. Some may be called to expose false doctrine and its teachers, some may not. Either way we share in the work of the cross laid out before us.

    Rob Bell has clearly come in the name of Jesus but does not teach the bible. This is the warning in Matthew 24. And while we see what he is about, many others do not. They are the ones we contend for.

    Bell is a contemplative, emergent, universalist as is shown by his words…he is not a Christian. Jesus said we would know them by their fruits. Here’s Rob’s!

  3. Here are some thoughts I’ve had the last couple of years, and by all means feel free to ignore me.

    While we’re encouraged to “earnestly contend for the faith”, our “primary mission” is to go forth and make disciples. Personally, I’ve long since reached the point where I get zero spiritual growth from “speaking out” against people in the popular media. At some point, I have noticed “speaking out” crosses the line into gossip, where are followers of Jesus, we’re not growing or making disciples, but we’re sitting around talking about people who for many purposes are our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they are off on a weird tangent.

    I haven’t read Bell’s book. I don’t intend to. I have way too many other books to read.

    Java, remember how Trib Forces got around the time I resigned from the Board of Directors? All they did was fight over charismatic gifts and Calvinism and pre and post trib. Nobody was growing. It was a waste of time to participate. I quit and walked away, even though to this day I’ve never had a “charismatic” experience. So sure, let’s contend for the faith, but let’s also remember we need to make disciples.

  4. Actually I don’t remember because they had kicked me out long before that for not fitting in to their view of a subservient, dumb doormat woman.

    What about those who were martyred for their faith? For not compromising their stand on the gospel? Was it in vain? Should they have just tried “to get along?”

    The fight this time isn’t over minor doctrines like calvinism vs hypercalvinism or cessationism – it’s over the very fundamentals of the gospel like the authority of God’s word, heaven, hell, salvation by faith alone, etc. These are core values which are worth dying for not minor issues where we can agree to disagree with Christian brothers.

    Finally, I am working at my local church helping in the women’s ministry and teaching small groups. It’s not always “either or” it can be “both and.”

  5. I remembered that right after I posted. I couldn’t go back and edit.

    Discussions like this are so much easier in person. I’ve noticed while discussing things with Christians on the Internet, we seem to get into a “binary” mode, where if you bring up a point slightly off course from somebody else, it’s assumed your view is 180 out. Mine isn’t. You’ve known my long enough to know I’m with you on all of the essentials of the faith.

    The point I want to make is how effective are we really being for Messiah with all the attention directed at Rob Bell? I can guarantee the attention he’s getting is selling more of his books than his own marketing and that of his publisher. Lots of people like ourselves are buying his book to see what it’s about. If anything, the attention he’s getting is helping his cause more than hurting it. In the meantime, how many disciples are we making, and how many sheep are we feeding? That’s all I’m asking, and I’m willing to be wrong.

  6. I see your point Eric. I do know men like Albert Mohler have spoken out although I would like to see more. I think the church needs to see our elders stand up for doctrine and publicly reprove someone who is in error. It’s a living example to the flock to carefully examine whatever is taught – and to compare it thoroughly with the bible.

  7. This kind of discussion would be a lot easier in person. I’m getting really cynical about having this kind of discussion in a text-based format.

    I haven’t noticed any shortage of commentary on Rob Bell’s book. Albert Mohler has weighed in, James White, Greg Koukl, you name it. Everybody has weighed in. That’s why I wonder when we cross the line from “contending for the faith” into gossip. It keeps us busy talking about this kind of issue, but what are we really accomplishing? Rick Warren had an interesting tweet this evening: “It’s easier to fighter for truth than live it. It’s why there are more Defenders than Disciples.”

    I don’t want you to think I’m disagreeing with you. I’m just trying to add some perspective. This would be a lot easier in person over a cold drink, with much less chance for misunderstanding.

  8. I know why Rick Warren doesn’t like people who defend the truth of the bible – it gets in the way of his new age mysticism.
    Albert Mohler and the SBTS staff did a critique of the book and that is where it should be done – in a seminary with thinking students of the bible.
    What I wrote was just my thoughts on one aspect of his video – a righteous God whose judgments are fair and just. As I read through Romans 1-3, I thought – “hey, this would make a great blog post and might generate some discussion.” It did 🙂

  9. And I agree. God is fair and just in His judgments. Assuming the best of other people, I can understand having a heart to want to leave out the “bad parts”. I sure don’t like talking about them.

    I’m convinced our culture has a seriously misguided definition of what love really is. It’s treated as a feeling. It’s not. The Hebrew word for love literally means “I will give”. It’s a conscious act of will, not an ethereal feeling based on hormones and New Age music.

    As for Rick Warren, do you truly know he doesn’t like people defending the truth as it “gets in the way of his New Age mysticism”? His tweet, and 140 characters doesn’t leave much room, called for people to live truth, which is a lot harder. I’m not defending him. I think we have to be careful calling the character of other people into question. That, I believe, is a danger zone where we slide from defending truth into gossip and tale-bearing. I’ve certainly been guilty of it enough myself.

    Please know I do agree with you.And if you want a good laugh, look for “Robbed Hell” on YouTube.

  10. Seriously. We need to love him too though, and i pray someone would APPEAL to him, in grace and humbleness (as Paul did to the Corinthian church), and I pray his ears be open.

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