Apprising Ministries has long been covering the drift of Rob Bell, the rock star Elvis of the Emerging Church with its new version of Progressive Christianity aka Emergence Christianity. And in pieces like Through Rob Bell “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness and Rob Bell And Shane Hipps Teaching Mysticism I’ve clearly documented his fall into a new type of Gnosticism through his open embrace of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM). So even though Bell and his new co-teaching pastor Shane Hipps are considered evangelical, they are certainly not all in line with evangelicalism.

You need to understand that Rob Bell’s teachings are actually consistent with the new form of “big tent” Christianity—Liberalism 2.0—which Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren has begun laying out in his book A New Kind of Christianity. It’s important to keep this in mind as you listen to Rob Bell and his spoken word presentation in the video Resurrection below. And the reason that Bell never puts “the” in front of the word resurrection is because of his effort to placate his friends e.g. Living Spiritual Teacher and Progessive Christian Dr. Marcus Borg who don’t believe in the Bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For these “Christians,” and possibly Bell himself, resurrection becomes a metaphor as a symbol of hope. Essentially it’s the spirit of love, compassion, and healing in Jesus that they’d see crossing every social and religious boundary. Whether He was literally raised from the dead, or not, is irrelevant because this spirit certainly lives on and that’s what makes Him worth following. Now for the progressive/liberal Christian, and remember Rob Bell is making a tent big enough for them to come in, the focus concerns the oppressed people who’re struggling for freedom from the evil empires who enslave them.

In other words, they are looking to advance the justice of God in His Kingdom here on earth right now; hence all the talk about their being “social justice Christians.” This is what Bell’s talking about below in lyrics/statements like this:

greed and violence and abuse they are not right, and they cannot last;
they belong to death and death does not belong.
resurrection says that what we do with our lives matters, in this body.

About resurrection, the progressive Christian would say something along the lines of, the Judaism of Christ’s time held the hope that some day there would be a bodily resurrection when the faithful would be vidicated by God. The progressive feels they’ve been freed not to have to take this literally; so to say, “He is risen” is saying that, even though the evil empire of Rome crucified Jesus, God still vindicated Him. And so here supposedly we see God’s will to enter into human suffering because He saw that the justice and compassion, i.e. “the way” of Jesus as incarnated in Him, would end up causing Him to be crucified.

Progressive/liberal Christianity would talk about the resurrection of Christ as showing us that death didn’t end the Jesus story at all because, even if His resurrection wasn’t literal, still his followers themselves are raised up to be his new body; and therefore His spirit lives on. Resurrection of the dead then would then mean that, no matter what happens to a given person, new life is always possible; like when Bell says:

resurrection announces that God has not given up on the world,
because this world matters… Jesus invites us to trust resurrection,
that every glimmer of good, every hint of hope;
every impulse that elevates the soul,
is a sign, a taste, a glimpse of how things actually are,
and how things will ultimately be 

The bottom line for this new progressive “Christian” theology is resurrection would convey the way of Jesus; it is a symbol of the human possibility of transformation which begins in our hearts and minds and attitudes, as in the way would find in Him the courage to live according to the patterns of His life. Again, please keep in mind here that I’m merely helping you understand basically, the very wrong way, the progressive/liberal is understanding in resurrection; I’m not arguing for these views. The following in Jesus: ‘The Way, the Truth, the Life’ from the aforementioned Marcus Borg is also helpful in this regard: 

If we look at the gospel [of John] as a whole, we see that from the beginning, Jesus’ way leads to his death. This death is also, for John, his glorification. The way is the path of death and resurrection. In short, for John, the way or path of Jesus is the path of death and resurrection understood as a metaphor for the religious life. That way–the path of dying to an old way of being and being born into a new way of being–is the only way to God. (Online source)

You see, for the progressive/liberal, death is the way of Jesus as we die to an old way of thinking and living with resurrection then the metaphor for transformation into the new God way of living. For them, the Logos in already present in all of mankind, as well as creation itself [1]; and, as I showed you in article For Brian McLaren And Marcus Borg Being “Born Again” Is Reaching “Enlightenment”, Borg even teaches that Buddha himself reached transformation and was born again.” What’s missing is the biblical doctrine of regeneration; and so, what we end up with is a “mental” Christianity, which is no really Christianity at all.

Marcus Borg now continues with his myth:

The way of Jesus is thus not a set of beliefs about Jesus. That people ever thought it was is strange, when we think about it–as if one entered new life by believing certain things to be true, or as if the only people who can be saved are those who know the word “Jesus.” Thinking that way virtually amounts to salvation by syllables.

Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection–the path of transition and transformation from an old way of being to a new way of being. To use the language of incarnation that is so central to John, Jesus incarnates the way. Incarnation means embodiment. Jesus is what the way embodied in a human life looks like. (Online source)

No doubt you’ve been hearing this kind of attack on beliefs, i.e. proper doctrine, more and more even within mainstream evangelicalism; well, now you know it initially comes from liberalism by way of progressives like Marcus Borg. Under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation neo-Gnostics like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard have introduced into the mainstream of evangelicalism the practice of spurious CSM, which is simply a romanticized Roman Catholic mysticism. And through Contemplative/Centering Prayer, the primary vehicle of CSM, the practioner will eventually end up shutting off their higher critical reasoning skills.

And this is absolutely vital for the spread of this new form of progressive Christian theology; because no one reading the Bible at its face value would ever come to believe the elaborate mythology that Marcus Borg elucidates above. For the progressive/liberal Christian, whose beliefs Bell is making sure to include in his video, resurrection also describes how the inner person i.e. the spiritual body will have eternal life even though the outer body of flesh will die. In other words, while denying a literal bodily resurrection from the dead, many of these progressive/liberals would, at least, acknowledge that Jesus was raised in a spiritual sense.

At this point, essentially we have Christian Halloween; complete with resurrected ghosts. However, we’re also left with a real problem. You see, if the resurrection of Jesus is merely His spirit living on past death, then it just makes Him the same as everyone else. Everyone’s spirit also lives on after death anyway; and so, Christ loses His uniqueness. But for the genuine Christian, the Bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a non-negotiable doctrine which is rooted in historic eyewitness accounts of people who literally saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion; it’s proof that He conquered death, and it also shows our justfication because God the Father had accepted His sacrifice.
Rob Bell’s resurrection isn’t Christianity; no, it’s the new liberalism with a progressive alt-rock groove.



1. see—Delwin Brown, What Does a Progressive Christian Believe? [New York: Seabury Books, 2008], 38.

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

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