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Well, my ruminations got the best of me. I think there is something more to say about the Rob Bell brouhaha. Yes, even before the book comes out.

Actually two somethings. Consider this an effort to clear the underbrush so we might see the forest and trees.

Good Verse, Wrong Time

One, it needs to be stated again that this is not a Matthew 18 issue. No one is obligated to respond in private to a promotional video that has been put out in public. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15). Rob Bell has not sinned against Justin Taylor or John Piper. This is not a personal offense or an interpersonal squabble that should have been left in private. The general rule of thumb, supported by Matthew 18 and sanctified common sense, is we should not make a matter more public than it has to be. But by definition, YouTube videos and Vimeo clips and books and blogs are meant to be public. That’s the whole point. The Love Wins trailer was not a private email correspondence intercepted by the Reformed Gestapo. It was deliberately made public and can be commented on in public.

Look at how the apostles handled false teaching in the New Testament. There’s nothing to suggest Paul sat down to talk with Demas (2 Tim. 4:20), Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 3:17), or Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20). And even when Paul opposed Peter “to his face” he made a point to do it “before them all” (Gal. 2:11, 14). No one is required to talk to me before they criticize my books, and no one was required to call up Rob Bell before commenting on his Love Wins video.

Not Might, But Did

Two, the bigger complaint is that Justin Taylor or I or any number of bloggers and tweeters have completely jumped the gun in criticizing Bell for a yet to be released book. This would be a fair critique had we attempted to write a book review for a book we hadn’t read. But our deep dismay and the reason for issuing an urgent warning is not based on what he might say in the book. It’s based on what he did say in the video.

Here’s what Bell says after the story about Gandhi and the piece of art:

Will only a few select people make it to heaven? And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell? And if that’s the case, how do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe or what you say or what you do or who you know or something that happens in your heart? Or do you need to be initiated or take a class or converted or being born again? How does one become one of these few?

Then there is the question behind the questions. The real question [is], “What is God like?”, because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus, is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. And so what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that, that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?

This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith. They see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies and they say, why would I ever want to be a part of that? See what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like. What you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, beautiful, that whatever we have been told and been taught, the good news is actually better than that, better than we could ever imagine.

The good news is that love wins.

This is not back cover copy from the publisher. This is not a promo blurb written by an intern at HarperCollins. This not what Brian McLaren gave for an endorsement. This is what Rob Bell said.

And he is saying something. Don’t think for a second the questions don’t communicate something. These are not “let’s explore together and see what the Bible says about these hard issues” kind of questions. Everyone agrees Bell is a remarkable communicator. He is not unaware of the effect of these three minutes. Words mean something and words do something. Whether the sentences end in question marks or not, the force of these sentences is to undermine—nay, to ridicule—the reality of eternal conscious punishment, the wrath of the God, and penal substitutionary atonement.

Imagine I do a video like this:

Will God save everyone? Does everyone go to heaven no matter how bad they were and no matter what they believed? Is Hitler there next to Bonhoeffer enjoying the same eternal bliss? What kind of God would that be? How would we make sense of Jesus’ strong language about hell or the chilling scenes in Revelation? Would that God still be holy and just?

And what would that do to our understanding of the gospel? Would Jesus’ death still be necessary? Would faith in him really be that important? Why would we still send out missionaries and evangelists? What would be so good about the good news if, in the end, there is no bad news? And if there is no hell, or we can’t really be sure anyone is there, why have almost all Christians in all of history believed there was such a place of eternal suffering? Have we found something that historic orthodoxy has missed all these centuries?

What if the things you’ve heard recently are not the truth about Christianity? What if the warnings in Scripture are real warnings? What if God is purer than we thought, we’re worse than we imagined, and hell is as real as the nose on your face? What if the “only way” means the only way? What if God is glorified in salvation and judgment? What if the God of love and the Father of mercies is also a righteous Judge, a holy Sovereign, and a conquering King?

Nothing but questions. Not a single indicative proposition. Yet who could think for a moment that I am not teaching something? This is not mere provocation. It is not an expression of searching inquiry or humble wrestling. My questions pack a rhetorical punch. They tell you what I think is foolish and what is wise. They suggest that some beliefs are noble and others are not. They tell you what God is like and what you should believe about him. My questions teach. And only a teacher with stunning naivete or remarkable cowardice would suggest they didn’t.

Please note, that last sentence is not about Bell. He has not stepped back from the questions saying they were only questions (maybe he does in the book, I don’t know). But some folks claim that the video cannot be critiqued because he’s only asking questions. Maybe he’s just trying to sell books? Maybe he’s just messing with us and in the book he will sound much more orthodox?

As to the former question, it doesn’t matter if it’s meant to be promotional, devotional, or confrontational, the fact is he’s teaching. And false teaching of this depth and breadth needs to be addressed. This is not a conflict of personalities or an intramural turf war. This is about the gospel–what it means, what it accomplished, and what’s at stake if we do not believe its good news.

I know many young evangelicals barely have any stomach for controversy, let alone strong words about a serious topic. But if there is no way to be simultaneously bold and humble; if there is no way to be a gentle, caring person while still speaking in clear tones about hurtful error; if there is no way to correct those who oppose sound doctrine without being a moral monster; if there’s no way to love truth and grace at the same time, then there’s no way to be a biblical Christian. Judgmentalism is a sin and Calvinists can be jerks. But not every judgment is sinful and not every truth is cruel just because Reformed people teach it.

And as to the latter question, if Bell ends up espousing a traditional view of hell, the wrath of God, and penal substitution, that would mean McLaren’s blurb was misleading, the publisher’s description was misleading, and Bell’s video was misleading. Love Wins can be the second coming of Jonathan Edwards and it still doesn’t change that what was communicated in the video was untrue to the Scriptures, inconsistent with historic orthodoxy, belittling of the cross, deceiving to unbelievers, and a tragic distortion of God’s character.

Chasing After the Wind, But Maybe Not

I realize this post will not make universalists, inclusivists, and non-Christians change their minds. But perhaps there are some Rob Bell fans who have enjoyed the Noomas and learned from the books and you aren’t quite sure what the fuss is all about. Why is everyone ragging on your favorite preacher? My exhortation is to watch the video again. Read through the words and see if they line up with the hymns you sing. See if the questions sound right next to Isaiah 53, John 3, and Revelation 20-22. Look into Gandhi’s Hinduism and see if that seems compatible with Christianity. Explore the giants of church history (e.g., Augustine, Luther, Calvin) and see what mainstream Christians have believed through the centuries. Read through some of the confessions or catechisms you may have grown up reading. Above all, search the Scriptures and see what God says. You may just conclude your old Sunday school teachers knew a thing or two.

Rob Bell is right about one thing: what you believe about heaven and hell says a lot about what you believe about God. That’s why theological error of this magnitude cannot go unchecked. The God of the Vimeo clip is not a God of wrath, not a God of eternal recompense, not a God who showed us love in sending his Son to be a propitiation for our wretched sins, not a God whose will it was to crush the Suffering Servant in an exercise of divine justice and free grace. Indeed, says Bell—even if he says it with a question—such a God could not be good.

We don’t have to guess if Bell will say something dreadfully, horribly, disgracefully wrong.

He already has.


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Comments:


533 thoughts on “Two Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha”

  1. Michael says:

    Kevin, my thoughts exactly on the Matt. 18 defense, which is trumpeted out every time someone critiques a book. MacArthur’s book critique being a recent example.

    It’s pretty clear from Bell’s tone in the video what he is saying. But in a day of postmodernistic tolerance, even many Christians don’t want to believe there are false teachings out there.

  2. Brian Metz says:

    Brilliant. I have cast my lot with the “spiteful, angry, Calvinists”.

  3. Eric says:

    Thanks Kevin. We are praying the book doesn’t say what the video has already said.

  4. Brian Metz says:

    That is to say, The post is “Brilliant” and I am glad to be with DeYoung, Taylor and Piper on this issue.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Rev. DeYoung: “Whether the sentences end in question marks or not, these force of these sentences is to undermine—nay, to ridicule—the reality of eternal conscious punishment, the wrath of the God, and penal substitutionary atonement.”

    Yes. Quite right.

    “We don’t have to guess if Bell will say something dreadfully, horribly, disgracefully wrong.

    He already has.”

    I agree. Also, I hope no one regards you as having the distinguishing marks of a “quarrelsome” person based upon this post.

  6. Zeb says:

    These are some VERY important observations given the situation. Public sin requires public rebuke (and hopefully public repentance and restoration). Bell has been publicly pushing universalism lite for the last decade, and now it seems that he’s switched over to universalism stout (I’m so Reformed, I make beer metaphors!).

  7. Wesley says:

    Very well written and very true. I’m glad you are not afraid of the right controversies. May God give you grace to fight for all truth the right way.

  8. Trevor Peck says:

    Great article! One thing though – Romans 20-22????

  9. Kevin, being both residents of Michigan (you in East Lansing, me in Ann Arbor) this will be a very, very interesting book and controversey in the Mitten. I have to imagine there are going to be some heated discussions about this in the GR. I’ve already started to think about opportunities for book discussion groups around this book that might give people openings to hear the real gospel.

  10. Matt says:

    Sorry, Kevin, I disagree with you. The questions Rob Bell raised are good and legitimate and they need to be addressed. You assume they are leading questions. Maybe, maybe not. At this point you don’t know how Rob Bell would answer those questions. It sounds like you assume that you know, just as I could assume that I know how you would answer your imaginary questions. Honestly, I don’t know how you or Rob Bell would answer your thought-provoking questions. But both of you sure have my interest and I’d like to know your answers. And the world needs to know what believers think of both sets of questions.

    Kevin, you’re too trigger-happy. You see a shadow moving in the dark. It looks like he’s entering the church as a burglar. You want to defend the church so you load, aim and fire. Bam! Kill the intruder! But was he really a burglar? Were you right? Maybe, maybe not. But, my brother, please don’t shoot–don’t even load your gun and aim–until you know for sure.

  11. Wow, wow, wow. Such gifted critique of the entire situation — or brouhaha, if you wish. Thank you for the careful, thoughtful and sound commentary.

  12. Aaron Britton says:

    Everyone needs to remember that Justin Taylor received and read a portion of the book (as did Denny Burk). As Kevin said, there’s not alot of assuming going on here. Bell is being pretty clear. . . It’s not just the video.

  13. Kevin LeRoy says:

    While I appreciate the fact you want to caution people to have discernment re: Mr. Bell, I can’t help but feel that you’ve done a great disservice in not criticizing John Stott for his strikingly similar views on Hell.

    “Emotionally, I find the concept [of eternal conscious torment in hell] intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain. But our emotions are a fluctuating, unreliable guide to truth and must not be exalted to the place of supreme authority in determining it . . . my question must be — and is — not what does my heart tell me, but what does God’s word say? (Evangelical Essentials, pp. 315-16)”

    Mr. Bell has some very strange doctrinal views for sure. However, I think we would all do well to withhold our judgement on saying he’s a universalist until his book comes out and he specifically says he is such.

  14. Jamin Dunn says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. You’re exactly right. As a pastor, Bell’s rhetoric in the video alone demands correction and confrontation. He’s teaching. Plain and simple. The content of the book is beside the point.

  15. David says:

    Thank you sir. Your blog is always edifying and encouraging.

  16. donsands says:

    “What you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, beautiful, that whatever we have been told and been taught, the good news is Actually better than that, better than we could ever imagine.”-Rob

    The Gospel is better than the Gospel?

    This guy is weird. The more I hear from him, the more I’m leaving him far behind me. Too many good pastors and teachers in the Body of Christ to even consider this shallow and mysterious fellow.

  17. Josh D. says:

    Kevin-

    it is interesting you would use Isaiah 53 as a reference for your defense. Verse 6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Doesn’t this give you the slightest nagging of doubt about your absolute correct interpretation of the Gospel? As far as I can tell ‘ALL WE’ includes you and I and Rob Bell and yes, Mr. DeYoung, Ghandi.
    Look, I am not a Rob Bell fan, or a Universalist, or a Calvinist or Armenian, I am but a simple Christian that knows he is a sinner in need of God’s grace. Therefore, I find it hard to believe the brouhaha as you call it over all of this. It seems to me that the reaction is one of anger that Rob Bell would assert that those at the end of their admittedly unChristian lives would be saved by God, when all of us were chosen and we’re trying to live good lives down here. Wait, this sounds familiar…yes, yes, that sounds like a parable I once heard…in the Bible…as told by Christ himself. Matthew 20 verses 1-16:

    For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

    May this parable convict us in our intolerance toward new beliefs, and a stagnate Gospel.
    Do I know that Ghandi is in Heaven? I have no earthly idea. Do I think unbelievers make it into Heaven? If I believe in the grace of God without my own works, I might. Who cares if Ghandi is in heaven? I hope for his sake, he is, and all the others that were not Christians.

    In closing, Paul, at the end of his life called himself ‘the chief of all sinners’. Can we say that we are the chiefs of all sinners? If we cant, we may want to go back to the drawing board.

  18. Kenneth says:

    Thanks for writing this Kevin!

  19. Dan Stringer says:

    Brother Kevin,

    I have great respect for you on many things, but I’m disappointed by your lack of restraint here. The brouhaha over this book release ramp-up is already out of control with Bell and Harper Collins laughing all the way to the bank.

    Rare is the fruit hangs lower than a juicy opportunity to react to others’ reactions. Add motive and baggage and you’ve got yourself a powder keg.

    While predictable in many ways, I am nevertheless saddened by this whole situation and the intensified intra-evangelical polarization that will likely ensue.

    I guess this was too much for you to resist.

  20. Eric says:

    Here are some other questions from a blurb for a different book:

    “Isn’t the Bible a myth? Hasn’t Science disproved Christianity? How can you say there is only One Way to God? What about other religions? What gives you the right to tell me how to live my life? Why are there so many rules? Why does god allow suffering? Why is there so much evil in the world? Why is the church responsible for so much injustice? Why are christians such hypocrites? How can God be full of Love and Wrath at the same time? How can God send good people to Hell?”

    –From the back cover of The Reason For God (Discussion Guide) by Timothy Keller.

    Several conclusions might be drawn here. Some of them would be dreadfully, horribly, disgracefully wrong.

  21. Larry Sittig says:

    Kevin, you’re a pastor. Get off your battle steed, close your computer, and go help real people, and come back when the fever has subsided. I fear that you are mistaking the theological tempests in the Internet teapot for your mission field. Yes, you must contend earnestly for the faith once delivered. This is not that. You are trumping up an issue out of a two-minute video and insisting we arrive at final judgment. Either you can work on a very, very soundly reasoned, patient, personal and charitable response to this issue, or you can preach ever more forcefully to a dwindling, equally narrow audience. The form of Reformed evangelicalism your coalition promised avoids the arrogance and failures to listen that often has flowed from earlier representatives. Rise to the challenge, please.

  22. Phil says:

    I don’t know Bell or what he believes. I’ve never read his books or other writings. I’ve heard of him but haven’t been interested enough to find out what he stands for and teaches. My impression is that he might be a bit of a renegade.

    The questions he raises in the video, however, ARE the questions many nonbelievers ask and they are phrased as they would ask them. Bell is right about how important the answers to them are. Then he says, “What you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, beautiful, that whatever we have been told and been taught, the good news is actually better than that, better than we could ever imagine. The good news is that love wins.” So far so good…I’m very curious about his answers to the questions now too.

    But it’s not unheard of for a clever teacher to state the questions of his critics just as they might themselves in order to establish his credibility on the topic, lull them into dropping their guard, and stimulating their continued interest. If that is all that he’s done there is no foul here.

    From my uninformed Bell-vantagepoint, the video doesn’t give any answers to the questions yet, no matter how vehemently you insist they are implied by the asking, so I’m thinking either he’s really a clever misguided renegade, even possibly a heretic on the subject at hand, or you’ve really been had. Even if you’re proven correct in your assesment, you should have held your fire.

  23. Thomas Newell says:

    @ Dan Stringer

    So Paul should have never responded or “reacted” to false teaching because it would be polarizing? I am confused by your logic Dan. All Kevin has done is say that Rob’s words in the video don’t mesh with the Bible and are troubling for Christians to believe.

    I feel like this is deja-vu from when McLaren released his book and so many were very willing to critique the critics but not the content of McLaren’s book.

    Thanks Kevin for having the courage and humility to write this. I am afraid though that for many they will not be able to heed your wise counsel because emotionally they are more interested in defending Rob Bell than orthodoxy.

  24. Jenny Anne says:

    Kevin –

    I find it disappointing that you reference the value of church orthodoxy above the truth of life and liberty and love found throughout the pages of the Scriptures. It is naive and ultimately childish to say that the doctrine of universalism makes the cross of no effect – indeed the reverse is true, since the Cross – the power of God unto salvation – will defeat the last enemy: death itself. You have only 2 choices in orthodox doctrine on the issue of hell: 1) you believe that God is all-loving but not all-powerful, or 2) you believe that God is all-powerful but not all-loving. You ignore the Scriptures that promise a day of reconciliation when God will be all in all, when he will reconcile all things to himself through the work of the cross, when he will swallow up death in victory and wipe away tears from ALL faces. To what end would God predestine most of His creation to a hell that is eternal? Isn’t it possible that our understanding of eternal hell is limited, finite, and riddled with sin? Isn’t it just as possible that hell is meant to serve some remedial purpose from the hand of a just and loving and merciful creator and father who is LOVE and whose desire is that none should perish? Is God impotent?

    I am thrilled that Rob Bell’s book is creating such a controversy – honestly this is long overdue throughout the arrogant, stagnant, self-satisfied community of traditional reformed thinking. If we are afraid to ask these difficult questions about the God who elected such a precious few (oh yes, based solely on his grace and not our merit, but still, there are just a few of us), we are monsters who are content with our own salvation and are indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. I submit that Jesus came to make captivity captive and to reconcile all things to Himself. Is he powerless to do this?

  25. Ryan says:

    Wow Jenny that is quite a list of adjectives you use to describe Reformed people.

    Please try and be more kind toward those you disagree with and not think they are “afraid” of asking questions and just being “childish.” I could only imagine having an argument with my wife and talking down to her this way; needless to say it would be anything but fruitful.

  26. James says:

    I can’t wait to read the book. It would be interesting to see a swift rebuke come across Calvin’s American Christendom if Bell is even remotely orthodox regarding Hell in this book.

    Either way, I think Josh D.’s comments are salt and light in a perpetual reformed back patting criticism party.

  27. J, Abelene says:

    Why is Penal Substitution part of your litmus test? It’s a newer theory and would make every pre-reformation christian a heretic about the atonement.

  28. Matt says:

    Kevin,
    I entirely agree with the thrust of your post, that we should evaluate Rob Bell’s theology based on what has been said and not on what that theology indicates he may or may not say in the yet-to-be-released book. And yes, questions, especially of a rhetorical nature, have intense power to communicate and teach. But at the same time, it seems that Bell may have left his questions intentionally vague. For example, Bell says, “…millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus, is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. And so what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But would kind of God is that, that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?” I am quite certain that any Reformed person would respond to Bell’s questions by saying, “IF that is the true God, He wouldn’t be good, he wouldn’t be able to be trusted, it wouldn’t be good news.” Assuming for a moment that Bell is not promoting universalism in these statements, perhaps he is keying in to the predominant way the gospel has been presented in the last century or so: that Jesus is essentially a “get out of hell free” ticket to heaven; in other words, maybe he’s trying to correct the motivational factor of fear in evangelism. One could only hope that this is the case, because to answer these questions in this way would present a more biblically balanced understanding of the gospel.

    Additionally, Bell says, “Will only a few select people make it to heaven? And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell? And if that’s the case, how do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe or what you say or what you do or who you know or something that happens in your heart? Or do you need to be initiated or take a class or converted or being born again? How does one become one of these few?” The way I see it, this question could be answered in one of two ways: the most obvious–the one we hope Bell doesn’t respond with is universalism; the other, which we all would love to hear, is a Reformed perspective. See, I think the universalist and the Reformed would both answer Bell’s first question, ‘No’. The universalist would say, “No, many people will make it to heaven” and the Reformed would add, “but only those who are regenerated/elect people”. The rest of Bell’s rhetorical questions in this statement focus on the means of salvation: what must I do to be saved? Again, the universalist and the Reformed answer is the same: Nothing. The universalist says, ‘Nothing, because everyone will make it there in the end regardless of what you believe.’ The Reformed says ‘Nothing, because there is nothing you can do to get yourself to heaven, it is God who does the work of electing, calling, regenerating, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying.”

    Ultimately the point I am trying to make is similar to Adam Parker’s on his blog. I think the wisest thing to do would be to withhold final arbitration one month (I know its very difficult though!) until Bell reveals the answers to these questions for himself. Given his history of wishy-washy theology, prior comments on universalism, and association with the Emergent/emerging church, it should come as no surprise to any of us if he takes a universalist bent. One can only hope and pray, though, that he takes the much more biblical approach to these questions by giving Reformed responses to these rhetorical questions. At the very least, regardless of his final stance on this issue, he has accomplished what he probably set out to: generate controversy in order to sell books.

    Between now and March 29th, let us (myself included) spend more time praying for Rob Bell than criticizing him.

  29. Joshua B says:

    You had me interested until you wrote, “(maybe he does in the book, I don’t know).”
    Just like Justin Taylor.

    It’s too bad that The Gospel Coalition continues down this road without even reading the book.

  30. Chris says:

    Well said. Sound and articulate. Thanks for bringing a measured and Biblical response to this issue.

  31. the popular jesus votes democrat says:

    My bet is Bell will handle exactly as his stance on homosexual relationships…

    That is, he won’t say either way.

  32. Jeff says:

    Completely agree Kevin. Thanks

  33. the popular jesus votes democrat says:

    If Ghandi is saved…will Glenn Beck also be in Heaven?

  34. JM says:

    @Kevin LeRoy,
    That was EXACTLY the question I was going to ask! Why does John Stott get a pass for raising the same objections? Is it because he’s older and not as hip as Bell (and therefore not in danger of leading impressionable young souls away from Reformed orthodoxy)?

    Inclusivism and Annihilationism are nothing new, nor are they non-evangelical or heretical. From John Stott to C.S. Lewis, there have always been Christians who asked the questions Bell asks in the video and who reject the characterization of God commonly put forth by some (not all) from within the Reformed tradition.

  35. the popular jesus votes democrat says:

    John Stott and CS Lewis have books coming out next March? Books on universalism? Where are the video previews of these new books JN is talking about?

  36. People seem to forget that Rob Bell is not just an author, but a pastor. A pastor should never, I repeat never, intentionally say things that could be controversial without immediately providing clarity. A shepherd would not lead his flock near to a ditch and at the last minute move them away any more than a pastor should tease his flock, or any other people, without offering a full explanation. Don’t forget that pastors are held to a higher standard Hebrews 13:17

  37. Greg Collins says:

    Excellent article. I’ve been wondering about Bell for a while now. It appears he has been slipping the way of the other emergent guys. One thing that I noticed that wasn’t mentioned, I don’t think anyway, is about the assertion Bell makes about God being good. His questions intimate that he believes that God can’t be good if anyone goes to hell. If that is what he has determined, then he has set himself up as the judge of what is and isn’t “good”. As well as judging God. That would be serious and severe error indeed.

  38. Josh D. says:

    Ryan-in response to Jenny Anne- what the hell(pun intended) are you talking about? Relating misogyny to theological disputes? It takes a Reformer to know one, man. Unless you can say you are the chief of all sinners, as Paul states at the end of his life(see my comment) please restrain your comments.

  39. JM says:

    @the popular,

    So if someone writes a book that hints at a position that has been embraced by key evangelical thinkers, pastors and theologians of the 20th century, they are denounced, while the view’s most famous proponents are completely ignored? How does that make any sense??

    At the VERY LEAST, the Gospel Coalition crowd could include in their criticisms of Bell the fact that his (supposed) position is not new, nor is it outside the umbrella of evangelical Christianity and has even been held by such esteemed thinkers as Stott, Lewis and many others. That would at least be a consistent and fair criticism.

  40. Ryan Wilson says:

    Both John Piper and Justin Taylor were wrong in how they approached Rob Bells video.
    And, I disagree with you conclusion.

  41. Ryan Wilson says:

    your

  42. Solmidog says:

    Am I going to Hell? It sounds as though there are people on this earth who get to make that decision…Check your list, and get back to me…

  43. Ryan says:

    I don’t know what your talking about Josh, might want to slow down on the blog posting…might be causing your a little to much consternation.

  44. Jonah Van Tuyl says:

    I agree with the guy that said Bell is a weirdo.

    I say let God decide if He will forgive all or not. We are His creation, after all. He can do whatever seems right to Him. Let Him tell us who He is, not the other way around.

    The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

  45. Rigel S. says:

    Thank you for saying this SO WELL! Amen.

  46. Tim Bayly says:

    Bravo, Pastor DeYoung! You’ve done what’s necessary and we’re in your debt. Thank you, dear brother.

    Love,

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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