Rob Bell is a fast rising star on the scene of the Emergent Church and is rapidly on his way to virtually becoming the “Elvis of Emergent.” In her post at Promise Keepers and Rob Bell at Slice of Laodicea Ingrid Schlueter shares some insights from a reader who had been to a PK meeting in Atlanta which “based the theme of the conference on one of Rob Bell’s ‘Nooma videos!’ ” Here we will be taking a closer look at a couple of aspects in this Christian “communicator’s” popular Emergent message.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Negative Discernment

When this kind of a pitiful example for a Christian pastor (that’s “communicator” in Emergentese) by Rob Bell which follows is actually being held up to the Church as a role model, then the level of discernment within the Body of Christ has now officially sunk so low that it is perhaps even into the negative. I must tell you that in some “Christian” circles Bell’s stature is already such than for one to write critically of him is seen as akin to actually having the audacity to speak out against “King” Joel Osteen in the amount of hate mail that immediately results. But after careful consideration and prayer I can truthfully say that I really couldn’t care less.

As a matter of fact, I personally don’t find Rob Bell all that interesting, but for those who do here is a little further information that sheds some further light on Bell’s background. He is:

the son of Justice Robert Holmes Bell, a federal judge nominated by Ronald Reagan. He grew up in a traditional Christian environment and was later sent to Wheaton College to pursue a business or law career. While at Wheaton, Bell, along with friends Dave Houk, Brian Erickson, Steve Huber, and Chris Fall formed [an] indie rock band…which was reminiscent of bands like R.E.M. and The Talking Heads. This later lead to a facination with music and worship. Wheaton College was also where Bell met his wife, Kristin, whom he married a few years later.

Some already may know that Rob Bell is a former punk rocker and frankly this is actually the way he comes across to me. And no, they don’t shock me, and no I’m not “against” them. I also work in a local secular high school and I see plenty of them every day, a rebellious sort of “young” man whose maturity is such that he is simply bent on doing things his way, and particularly when someone tells him not to do it. So for example I don’t find it surprising that one of his favorite authors is foul-mouthed “Christian” Anne Lamott. And to tell you the truth if Bell’s followers had just let this piece drop, I would have as well. But they didn’t.

Bell’s Disciples Ring Out

For example here’s a couple of “love” notes of “peace” that I receive almost daily from Emergents which speak very loudly concerning the “gospel” they have been receiving from Christian “communicator” Rob Bell:

Where is the grace? So many comments, so full of negative words – and maybe jealousy? Rob Bell is a sinner in need of grace, indeed, but where in The Way that Jesus lived do you find support for the comments offered here?

If Rob is not against us, then he is for us (Mark 9:40). But can the same be said of the comments on this site.

Rob Bell preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that people can hear and grow from. I hope for your congregations, you all do the same. Peace to you.

And then there’s this one:

I was just reading what you had to say about rob bell. I really respect your opinion. I just think, for a pastor, you come across as one of the most unloving people on this planet. Not just an unloving Christian, but an overall unloving, arrogant person. I know many, many non-christians who want nothing to do with Jesus because of the tone/attitude of people like you.

I want to make sure you know that I say this out of love and hope you will see it as one follower of Jesus calling another one to be more Christ-like. I struggle with the same stuff (the way I come across, tone, etc).

Yes, I can see that. For the interested reader I discuss this issue a bit further in A Different Perspective For Your Consideration. And so after calling in prayer support from my Reformed brethren, here we go with more on the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan Rob Bell. In an article entitled A Very Different Type of Communicator from Willow Creek Association’s website this Christian “communicator” tells us:

“I just finished reading Marilyn Manson’s autobiography,” he says. “I will read books on design and art, how things are arranged. I’ll go to Barnes & Noble and get a stack of 25 magazines–some that have nothing to do with what I care about…just inhale them. I’ll read books on stuff I don’t know anything about…”

“I’ll read a Yoga book, and realize, ‘Hey they are searching for something here! They are trying to get this experience. Why? Well, because God wired them that way…to seek Him.’ Try reading a book on Buddhism, and see if it doesn’t bring Scriptures to life. What are Buddhists looking for? Enlightenment. Ahh, Ephesians 1–enlightenment!” (emphasis added)

So God Created Pagan Religions?

Is he serious? If we’re reading this right, and based on the blurring of spiritual lines through Contemplative Spirituality I suspect that we may be, Bell would have now just made the Lord responsible for atheistic heathen striving to unleash their Kundalini serpent power and pagans seeking to go deep within themselves in an attempt to find their divine True Self. Oh, and wouldn’t the fact that what Rob Bell has just said is so open to this kind of misinterpretation refute the Emergent notion that he’s some great communicator of the Christian faith? He’s welcome to correct me if I’m wrong, but based on what I see, Bell should spend his time more wisely inhaling the Bible instead. And while he’s at it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Bell to scarf down a few books on how to preach the inerrant and infallible Word of the one true and living God contained within.

Next our “communicator” informs us of something that really isn’t too hard to imagine:

“I didn’t get very good grades in preaching class,” Rob Bell admits, “because most understandings of preaching/teaching have a whole bunch of fundamental assumptions about how it’s done. You are fitting truth into a prescribed format… And so the deepest truths of the universe then are going to need to get run through a very narrow funnel. For me, the issue is how do I most clearly communicate the truth of this text?”

But what Bell and other deceivers like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones are not telling you is that it’s “the truth of this text” through their own “very narrow” postmodern funnel. And according to postmodernism we’re not supposed to be able to know this “truth” with certainty anyway. Rob, let me communicate something to you. These “fundamental assumptions” just happen to be cardinal doctrines of the Christian Church e.g. the Bible as the Word of God and the Deity of Christ. Oh, and one you deny, His vicarious penal substitutionary atonement on the Cross.

Consider this from Patrick Hanley, a “Youth & College Pastor,” who is quite familiar with Bell’s “communicating” and offers us this bit of testimony at Perelandra while critiquing my work:

i have a hard time throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. i know that bell can be loose but i’ve read his book and listened to many of his sermons. i saw him speak this past weekend. it was entertaining but if there was a lost person there they probably would have remained lost.

i know he doesn’t make the way of salvation through the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross. but he does articulate the importance of biblical community probably better than anyone i know. so does mark driscoll. he has connected people to each other in genuine biblical community. (emphasis added)

So just what kind of Christianity are you “communicating” there Rob? You leave out the central element–the Cross of Jesus Christ. Also, as a pastor you should know that the “prescribed format” is your command to preach the word (see–2 Timothy 4:2, NASB). And that “very narrow funnel” is what Jesus, Whom you claim to follow, referred to as the way that is narrow in Matthew 7:14, peace. No, this is most certainly not the kind of “communicator” we need in the Church of Jesus Christ warping the minds of our young, and yet the highly influential Rob Bell is the exactly the type of “pastor” who has now been given a huge forum through the schismatic and highly divisive neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)

see also: