This is Part 2 of my response to a recent interview with Rob Bell + front page article from the Grand Rapids Press on Rob’s views of gay marriage. Please (click here to) read Part 1 prior to reading this post, as it will give you the much needed context, as well as context for the newspaper article and podcast of the original interview. Now, Part 2:
First off, some things Rob does not say in Love Wins. He does not say there is no hell. He does not say all will be saved (therefore he is not a universalist). I get annoyed when I read that he says these things in the book, because he doesn’t.
The issue I have with the Love Wins book is that Rob makes authoritative claims that we get a 2nd chance to accept Jesus as our Savior after we die. There is no solid biblical backing behind this. I’ve read Love Wins and Rob’s biblical argument for this point is speculative at best. The Scriptural gymnastics bend so far that they eventually break. This simply is not something the Bible teaches. It is outside of the umbrella of biblical theology. In fact, the Bible tells us the opposite, so it’s actually a contradiction of the Bible. Don’t take my word for it, read Dr. Michael E Wittmer‘s book Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response to Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”, if you want the nitty gritty Bible passage details.
What Rob espouses is actually a Mormon belief; did you know that? I learned this from a Mormon elder who I invited into my house (and blogged about). After he told me that people go to heaven because they believe Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins, I asked him if I was going to hell because I’m a Christian who believes this, but I’m not a Mormon (Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon says I am going to hell because I’m not Mormon). The Mormon elder said technically I will get a 2nd chance when I die to see the real Mormon Jesus and put my faith in him at that point. I told him I was relieved to hear this, and that I’d wait until then to convert to Mormonism, just in case Joseph Smith was having an off day the day he wrote the Book of Mormon and that his claims aren’t actually true.
It is 100% fine for Christians, and for Rob Bell, and for me, and for you, to wish and hope that people get a 2nd chance to accept Christ after they die. But you can’t teach this authoritatively. You can’t count on it happening. You can’t tell people the Bible says this.
It doesn’t say this.
It actually says that people do not get a 2nd chance.
A wish or a hope is not an accusation that the Bible is lying, it’s simply wishing and hoping that maybe God will reveal something further someday, but I have zero ground to stand on that this will actually happen, and I’d better not make any plans, or teach others to make any plans, that it will actually happen. Because as far as God has told me, this isn’t going to happen. And if I say I believe the Bible as God’s Word, then I need to accept this belief as well.
I can’t reject this part of Scripture, but then say I still affirm Scripture as God’s Word, and continue to use other parts of Scripture authoritatively.
(The other part of the interview that saddened me was Rob’s view on homosexual acts. I will do a separate blog on this in two more posts. As it relates to my current point, Rob completely dismisses what the Bible says about homosexuality and instead caters to what culture wants. He doesn’t give a biblical argument for gay marriage or civil unions, he gives complete acceptance of any type of monogamous sexual relationship we choose, and states that the Church (Bible) is simply out of touch with reality. Again…I like this part of the Bible, but not this part. Stay tuned for more on that.)
One of the things that made me the most nuts when I listened to the interview with Rob is how he talks about the criticism he received for writing Love Wins. Famous Christian Pastor (who claims to believe all of the Bible as God’s authoritative Word) says something in a published book that blatantly contradicts the Bible. What do you think is going to happen next????
So instead of humbly listening to these legitimate questions and giving a biblically sound theological response, or maybe admitting he’d pushed his hopes and wishes a little too loudly, he instead turns himself into the victim and changes the subject. Rob, quoted from the podcast: “By the time Love Wins came out, I was, this is, apparently for people who are really riled up, this is apparently not a book for you. Do you know what I mean? Like I don’t have strong opinions about the latest Mariah Carey album because it’s probably not for me so I just didn’t understand why, I don’t get it. 800 million people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. One of the stats I read recently said that a million people committed suicide last year. We have rather large problems on our hands, are you with me? So when a Christian wakes up in the morning and the best exercise of their God-given energies is shredding another Christian who is trying to do something about these issues, I begin to think that some Christians need to be saved.” (applause)
A professing Bible-believing super-famous Christian pastor writes a book that has a significant claim in it that contradicts the Bible. And when asked about it, Rob begins by labeling those asking the question as “people who are really riled up” and that this book isn’t for them. He then equates their concerns with his concerns about the latest Mariah Carey album. He then dismisses their question altogether by talking about people who don’t have clean drinking water and people committing suicide instead.
“Noah, you didn’t do the dishes like you said you would…”
“Jen! What is wrong with you? Why do you get riled up so easily? Do you not realize that there are 800 million people who don’t have clean drinking water right now in the world? And did you know that a million people committed suicide last year? These are the things I care about! How can you even ask me about the dishes until these things are solved? How can you shred me when I’m trying to do something about these rather large problems? You need to be saved…”
I wonder how that would go over?
What a complete dodge of legitimate questions. What a classic case of apples and oranges. And in my opinion, what a classic case of stubborn pride and arrogance. And maybe even cowardice. Cowardice of the possible need to actually admit you may be wrong on this one, and maybe these “riled” up people have a reason to be riled up (it’s only the Bible, the entire foundation of our faith, after all) and that maybe they are right, or at least are presenting a very sound and respected biblical argument that needs to be heard, respected, and affirmed as valid.
Pretty sure I can uphold what the Bible says about hell and help people have clean drinking water and stop committing suicide.
It would have been a lot easier on Rob, and on Mars Hill Church, and on those who were curious about Rob’s views of Scripture, if Rob had just come out with a disclaimer saying something like: I no longer believe all of the Bible as God’s Word. Please don’t look to me as a Bible teacher anymore, but look at me like a philosopher. I’m wrestling with my view of Scripture’s authority and Truth claims. While I’m wrestling with these things, I will no longer teach on the Bible as if it’s God’s Word, because I’m not sure I believe that it is. I’ll keep you all posted. Meanwhile, here are some provocative thoughts I came up with…
But instead Rob continues to argue his point by using the parts of Scripture he likes and also by trying to make Scripture say things it doesn’t.
My claim that Rob has dismissed the Bible as authoritative is not simply from this one occasion in Love Wins, it is also the homosexual acts example I’ll blog about two posts from now, as well as another quote from the interview about where we will find the “Message” in the Future Church, which I’ll blog about in my next post.
Rob is going to find a new fan base of people who also don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word and/or wrestle with these things, but in doing this, he is also going to lose his fan base of people who do believe it’s God’s Word. He has to realize that’s only a natural falling of the dominoes and stop wondering what people are so “riled up” about, in addition for judging them/us for being riled up about it.
And those of us who leave the Rob-Bell-As-Bible-Teacher Fan Club need to do so with love, understanding, and grace. There’s no need to rip on Rob Bell as a person, but there is a need to stop listening to him with the same authority we used to.
Let’s be honest about what he now is and what he isn’t, as well as give him grace for the personal path he’s on to figure that out for himself.
All of the posts in this series:
- How Did Rob Bell Become So Arrogant?
- How Rob Bell contradicts the Bible in “Love Wins” & where that led
- Rob Bell offers a Bibleless Jesus and Bibleless Christianity
- I love Rob Bell, and am going to stop blogging about him (Replaced “How my support of civil unions is 100% different than Rob Bell’s support of gay marriage”)