There are many who obviously are having a problem understanding how Rob Bell severely downplays and all but completely obscures the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ. So let’s see if we can make this article a bit more direct. Here’s Rob Bell in his book Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith (VE):

Humans are guilty because of our sin, and God is the judge who has to deal with our sin because he is holy and and any act of sin goes against his core nature. He has to deal with it. Enter Jesus, who dies on the cross in our place. Jesus gets what we deserve; we get what Jesus deserved (107).

Here Bell is speaking of “humans”; as in mankind in general. Then he later goes on to say, “All has been forgiven” (108). Not so fast Rob, you left out this Biblical truth that prior to forgiveness there must first be – Godly sorrow [which] brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Right in lockstep with other sections of the seeker sensitive movement Bell’s partial message of everything having already “been forgiven” could never produce the kind of “godly sorrow” spoken of above.

A little further on in VE Bell makes another misstatement of fact when he says, “This forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody” (146, emphasis mine). No, it isn’t. It is only offered to those who believe in Christ and genuinely repent of their sin. O, I know it’s not as exciting as some nifty saying by some ancient unregenerate Rabbi but nonetheless the Greek word pisteuo means “to totally commit to.”

So you should now be able to see that yet again pastor Bell is absolutely wrong when he says:

This reality then isn’t something we make come true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making (ibid, emphasis mine).

As you can see, there’s no talk of believing, of godly sorrow here, and there’s no mention of repentance involved. So if there’s nothing we need do, then everyone would already be forgiven, thus they would already be saved. And Bell does not make any distinction that these are people would be regenerate believers here, in fact, it’s just the opposite. And as I just showed you from Scripture one must repent of their sin and ask to be forgiven by God. So Bell is not telling the truth when he says this is “already true.”

Now turning from one’s sin is not a work one must do to be saved; it’s what the truly regenerated do because they have been saved, and given a new nature. However, at ther same time, it is a necessary “doing something,” which is completely consistent with the spiritual principle being taught in James 2:20 – faith without deeds is useless. Then, as we follow Bell’s mystical musings all the way through to their logical conclusion in VE he says:

The fact that we are loved and accepted and forgiven in spite of everything we have done is simply too good to be true (ibid).

Yes, it is. As a matter of fact this lie is so “good” it isn’t even true. But then just to make sure it’s understood that by “we” above Bell is not just speaking of Christians–the Body of Christ–he will go on to say:

And this reality extends beyond this life. Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust.
(ibid, emphasis mine)

Men and women, this should actually make the true Christian quite angry. Let’s stop pawing at Emergent Hollow Men like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren with kid gloves. First of all, if “Hell is full of forgiven people” then Bell has just told you that all of mankind, regardless of repentance, was already forgiven at the Cross. This would be consistent with universalism…oops–well, except obviously there are bad people in the world and Jesus did say the road was “narrow” so now Bell and the Emerging Church are going to have to account for that.

Ah, I know; we’ll say that some of these people choose on their own not to accept this forgiveness. Yeah, there we go–they “opt out” of God’s grace. So now Bell has just told us that Christ’s atonement was not actually sufficient to save those whom the Father had given Him and for whom He died. Can’t you see what Tozer called “the glory of fallen man” here? We choose whether or not we will accept a forgiveness that we are supposedly offered without even so much as having to repent?

A pretty good deal for man there, don’t you think? And if God has already forgiven everyone already then why would they even need to go to Hell at all? Remember also that Jesus told us – the eternal fire [of Hell was] prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Man only ends up in Hell, which is eternal separation from God, because of the sin that separates him from a holy Creator God Who cannot dwell with sin.

But wait a minute here. If, in Rob Bell’s Emergent all-ee in free…almost…fairytale, where everyone can simply “choose” to live in a “new reality” because they are already forgiven of their sin, then there would no longer be any more reason for anyone to even be separated from God. In other words, there wouldn’t be any need for man to go to Hell because on the Cross the Lord would have canceled their debt of sin and according to Bell they’re already forgiven.

One brother pastor really summed up very well just how far this kind of Emerging Church nonsense has penetrated into the Body of Christ when he wrote me and said:

It’s interesting to see where mixed-up half-way arminian theology takes us. This idea of “hell filled with forgiven people” is the same idea that folks like Elmer Towns of Liberty University believe. I know that these folks believe that Jesus has died to forgive all from their sins, so no sin sends anyone to hell.

They believe that only not choosing Jesus sends someone to hell. I say all of that to say this, the emergent movement is the logical end to man centered theology. This is why folks in the SBC aren’t crying “foul” over some of their stuff. It’s not all too different than what they already teach themselves.

Sad, but true. While he and I were discussing this particular article my friend and fellow pastor Bob DeWaay, who also does a fine work in Christ called Critical Issues Commentary, made the following insightful observations:

Rob Bell at least admits there is a hell which is more than Brian McLaren does. Bell and others object by saying no one speaks for all Emergent pastors, McLaren claims that he and Doug Pagitt invented the terminology “Emergent.” If Bell doesn’t like what they teach, he should either exit the movement or write his own book rebuking them.

By the way, the “choosing the version of reality” terminology puts him right in with McLaren and Pagitt. Since no one can know the truth and reality is a socially constructed “paradigm” all you possibly can do is choose a version to believe because the TRUE reality that God created cannot be known. Pagitt and McLaren do not believe there will be a future final judgment. If Bell does he is not in sync with his leaders.

Well, at least ol’ Rob did manage to get one thing right above. You will have to decide which “version of reality” you are going to trust. The wrong version of Rob Bell; or the true version of what the Bible says, and what the historic orthodox Christian Church has always taught. Just keep in mind that time is slipping away like sand through an hourglass, the stakes are eternity, and your decision is final. Please remember Jesus has said – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”