Sorry for my absence lately. Things have been busy around here! Check out this interview of Rob Bell by Martin Bashir on MSNBC. I don’t know if Bashir is a Christian, but he lays it on thick–and good. I’ve really never seen Bell so uncomfortable before. Ever.
“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.” (Al Gore)
- I love this note from Desiring God about not making Piper a substitute for your own church: “While we encourage you to join us for the sermon, we encourage you even more to give primary attention to the preaching in your local church. In other words, we do not intend for John Piper’s sermon to replace the preaching of the Word from your pastor in your local church.”
- I listened to the Rob Bell sermon I mentioned a couple days ago entitled “Love Wins.” It has nothing to do with universalism or hell. Honestly, it’s a poor sermon on the effects and implications of the cross.
- Greg Boyd blogs on Bell’s book Love Wins and says it’s not a defense of Universalism. I don’t trust Boyd with a lot of theology (he’s an open theist), but that’s besides the point. In this post, he writes, “Rob is first and foremost a poet/artist/dramatist who has a fantastic gift for communicating in ways that inspire creativity and provoke thought. Rob is far more comfortable (and far better at) questioning established beliefs and creatively hinting atpossible answers than he is at constructing a logically rigorous case defending a definitive conclusion.” I have one thing to say to that: if this is the case, he shouldn’t be shepherding any kind of congregation that represents the name of Jesus Christ.
- It’s good to hear that Boyd says the book doesn’t espouse Universalism. But the problem guys like Taylor, Piper, and DeYoung (and I) have is not what Bell’s book is going to say, it’s what is promo material has already said. I will read Bell’s book, but consider again this quip from the publisher: “Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now.” Whatever Bell says cannot undo this statement.
- College basketball’s conference tournaments start on Thursday, concluding with the Big Dance selection show on Sunday. If I were a betting man, my four #1 seeds would be: Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and Pittsburgh. Kansas will be #1 overall. My Huskers will probably go one-and-done in Kansas City. How do I know? There is nothing new under the sun.
- Charlie Sheen has been on Twitter for about a week. He has almost two million followers. I am not one of them. Each day, Sheen is quickly becoming more like his character Ricky Vaughn in Major League.
Simply searching for and reading all the material that has been written about this in the past week about Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins, could be a full-time job. Unfortunately, the pay would be awful.
I didn’t get paid to read all of this, but still enjoyed it thoroughly. For your enjoyment and benefit, here are some more links to blogs and articles about Bell:
- The Tenth Leper, a seminary student in Dallas, has somehow obtained an advance-reader copy of the book and will be reviewing it in a series of posts.
- Christianity Today puts Rob Bell in context.
- Trevin Wax writes about Rob Bell and the Judgmentless “Gospel”
- Justin Taylor has a follow-up post on some questions J.I. Packer asks to those who believe that once in hell, God ultimately will restore all people.
- Jarrod McKenna explores the battle between Bell and the Neo-Calvinists.
And finally, drum roll please…
- A sermon from Bell entitled “Love Wins.” I have not listened to this message yet, but hope to before the weekend is over. Perhaps it gives us insight into what the book is about. (To save to your computer, right click and click on “save link as”.)
Read the links I posted on Wednesday.
If you follow blogs and Twitter (and you probably do since you are on this blog), then you are probably not unaware of what is going on with Rob Bell. If you are unaware, then you either 1) fasted Twitter the past week or 2) are in denial of what your tweeting eyes see.
Full disclosure: I used to like Rob Bell’s teaching. Then I read Velvet Elvis. I made no secret here what I thought about Bell after reading that book. He has been particularly ambiguous over the past few years with key biblical doctrines.
This past Saturday, Rob Bell blew up the Internet, specifically, Twitter, with the release of some promo material, including a video, for his new book Love Wins which will go on sale this month. In the promos, Bell appears to align himself with universalism — the belief that everyone goes to heaven. He was mentioned so much on Twitter that he was “trending,” which means that even tweeters in Egypt were hearing about Rob Bell. Who had the biggest beef with Bell? It was the Reformed theologians and bloggers, of course. They were (in my opinion) being discerning, honest, biblical, and faithful to the gospel.
Here’s a timeline of some things that went down:
- HarperCollins (Bell’s publisher) releases a blurb about his new book and a video promo featuring Bell. (You can watch the video below.)
- Justin Taylor blogs his thoughts about the promo material and Bell.
- John Piper tweets, “Farewell Rob Bell. http://dsr.gd/fZqmd8.”
- Josh Harris tweets, “There’s nothing loving about preaching a false gospel. This breaks my heart. Praying for Rob Bell. http://bit.ly/gsE4Gl.”
- Harris follows up his tweet with a blog about why he hopes he’s wrong, including thoughts from Denny Burke, dean of Southern Seminary.
- Kevin DeYoung presents eight reasons why believing in God’s wrath and hell is important.
- Tony Jones writes that the Reformed bloggers have been waiting to pounce on Bell.
- Kevin DeYoung shares two more thoughts on the brouhaha.
- Beliefnet blogger, Jason Boyett, questions the tweetings of Piper and Taylor
- Albert Mohler weighs in on Rob Bell’s suggestive theology.
- CNN writes an article about all of this, interviewing Taylor.
Stay tuned. I’ll do my very best to continue to link to helpful posts and tweets. And when the time is right, I will share some of my own thoughts, though I can’t possibly top DeYoung’s and Burke’s.
Bell’s promo video:
Christianity Today (CT) recently interviewed Rob Bell about his book Jesus Wants to Save Christians. And at the end of the interview, Galli asked Bell how he would present the gospel on Twitter. Bell said:
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.
That’s the gospel? Really? That is not anywhere close to the gospel. What Bell said had nothing to do about Jesus Christ’s person and work. His gospel is not saving. It is not God-centered or biblical. If you had to Twitter the gospel, keep it short and sweet, how about this:
I would remind you of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1, 3-4).
Mark Galli, the interviewer, wrote at the beginning of the article that his book is “nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation — written, paradoxically, in Bell’s typical sentence-fragment style.”
That might even be more concerning to me given that CT calls themselves a magazine of “evangelical distinction.” If Bell’s gospel is “evangelical,” then please, don’t call me that.