In addition to the biblical contradiction Rob teaches in Love Wins, as well as his direct dismissal of the Bible’s teaching against homosexual acts as being culturally irrelevant (will blog on that tomorrow), there was a third biblical contradiction I picked up on in the interview with Rob.
When asked about the future of the Church, Rob’s response was: We will always as human beings long to gather in a room and talk about the things that matter most and take the bread and the wine and be reminded of the holiness of all of life. There are basic human longings that have always been there. There will always be churches, I think the question is what kind of churches and I think you’ll endlessly be seeing people reclaiming things that were lost along the way that need to be reclaimed and things that we’ve picked up along the way that we thought were central to the message but aren’t that need to be left behind, but I’m very hopeful.
Do you notice something significant missing from this answer?
Where is the Bible in the future of the Church?
I’m not saying just because he doesn’t mention the word “Bible” that that’s what he meant; but when I read between the lines, this is the subtle message that is presented. Consider:
- What authority determines what is holy (in “the holiness of all of life”) and what isn’t?
- Who determines what “the message” is? It sure sounds like the community itself determines this. As if every local church gathering is its own Council of Hippo, affirming which books of the Bible are in, and which ones are out. Affirming what makes up the message, and what doesn’t. By what authority are these decisions made?
- If “the message” is left in the hands of a church to determine for themselves, what comes of Jesus? Who determines who he is? Who determines what salvation is? Where do we learn about these things if not from the Bible?
Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) and Muhammad (founder of Islam) did their own unique jobs of figuring out what “the message” was for them. These two, along with the well known “scary” cults that we hear about in the news like David Koresh or Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid, all share something in common. They did not look to the Bible as their authority, they looked to some other “revelation” from God, revelations which contradict the Bible, and revelations they saw as higher in authority than the Bible. As soon as you remove the Bible as your authority, and you put that authority in the hands of a leader, or in the hands of a local church community, you open yourself up to anything.
As I listen to Rob, I feel like he is promoting a Bibleless Jesus.
Can you have Jesus without the whole Bible?
Can you promote and evangelize Jesus while no longer believing the Bible is authoritatively God’s word?
Who gets to tell us who Jesus is, if not the Bible?
Are Jesus’ quotations respected history, while the rest of the Bible is bunk?
Can you evangelize Jesus, a member of the Trinity, while dismissing the rest of God’s word? Can you evangelize Jesus while disagreeing that Jesus’ words (the Bible’s words) are true?
It seems like Rob Bell is looking to find out.
I think Rob is offering a Bibleless Jesus and a Bibleless Christianity.
When you listen to Rob talk, even in the podcast interview, he is still quoting Scripture left and right. But how can you quote part of Scripture but then blatantly disagree with and contradict other parts of it?
I like what God says here, but not here, so I’ll just talk about the first part, and ignore the second part.
I know a lot of “regular people” do this, but Rob has been a Christian pastor a long time and has presented himself as one who upholds all of the Bible as God’s Word and one to look up to on these issues. And the fact that a lot of “regular people” do this does not make it right. It just shows the lack of solid hermeneutics (standard tools for how we interpret the Bible) in the Church. But Rob knows his hermeneutics and thus is very conscious of what he’s doing.
Now the authority is no longer in God’s Word, but in Rob’s words. This is ok if you are a philosopher, but not okay if you want to continue being a relevant leading voice in the Bible-believing Christian community.
Rob says in the interview he was driving into church on a Sunday and was really wrestling with “I don’t know if I really believe this.” I appreciate his honesty here, but am not sure he realizes the implications of this on his vocation as a Bible-teacher and theologian, especially since so many still look to him as a Bible-teacher. As Rob enters this new world of openly doubting the Bible, he is going to have to realize he cannot maintain his old audience, as well as his new one. He cannot change the modern English definition of what “Evangelical” means. Being Evangelical means you have a high view of Scripture. I’m not saying Rob isn’t a Christian because he’s doubting the Bible and/or because he has a low view of Scripture, I’m saying I wish he was honest about how where he is now changes the “category” he falls under. He used to be Evangelical, he is no longer.
I think if he was honest about where he is now (low view of Scripture) and how that is different than where he used to be (high view of Scripture), a lot of the emotions would dissipate. People wouldn’t be as upset by his unbiblical claims because they’d say, “Well he’s in the low view of Scripture camp, so what he just said is consistent with that.” But as it is, it seems like he wants the best of both worlds. He openly contradicts the Bible and is okay with those contradictions, but then continues to use the Bible to support his other claims. Plus he is trying to stretch the word “Evangelical” to still include him; hanging on to his old world, while consciously stepping into a new one.
As I said in my first post, I’ve always admired Rob’s passion to see people come to know Jesus, and his passion to remove the barriers that keep people from Jesus. I have this exact same passion. In fact, it is my calling. But I think his passion for reaching people for Jesus became too strong, to the point where he dismisses the Bible to get people to like Jesus.
God doesn’t need people to “like” him. He’s not insecure. Nor is he unemployed and looking for work. He is who He is (and His Word is what it is) and we as pastors and theologians need to do our best to simply present God as who He is, and let his Spirit take care of the rest.
If we’re not standing on the Bible, and calling people to the Bible, who and what are we calling them to?
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”)
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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