They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. (1 John 4:5)

Many Are Just Now Coming Under The Spell of Bell

In pieces like Something Seems Off At Mars Hill Bible Church and Could Rob Bell Be Wrong? here at Apprising Ministries I’ve been keeping you updated on issues related to the controversy surrounding the toxic teachings of the Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell in his Love Wins mythology; not only is this affecting the broader evangelical community, but also his own church community at MHBC.

You may be wondering why I refer to his teaching as mythology; well  I’ll tell you, it’s because a clearer example of the below would be hard to find:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

You really do need to know that there are many, many new people each day who are just discovering the work of Rob Bell; this situation is far from over; and your financial support is vital in allowing me, for now, to be here covering this and ministering to people right inside MHBC itself. Today Phil Dawson, with ABC affiliate WZZM 13 News in Grand Rapids, filed this report called Pastor defends views on Heaven and Hell, which contains the video below.  In it Dawson talks personally with Rob Bell himself as well as with Jeremy Bouma, who is currently planting a church in Grand Rapids.

You might recall I first mentioned Bouma in Did Rob Bell Forget The Cross? when he was live blogging for Zondervan the Poets, Prophets, Peachers (PPP) conference put on a couple of years ago by Rob Bell, and which featured his friends Peter Rollins and Shane Hipps, now co-teaching pastor with him at MHBC. This was before Bouma’s break with the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church and its spiritually bankrupt “big tent” Progressive Christianity aka Emergence Christianity, which he discusses in Goodbye Emergent: Why I’m Taking The Theology of the Emerging Church To Task.

Once known as “Emergent Jeremy” in the seminary he was attending, in his PPP post Bouma noted something quite revealing during a talk there by Rob Bell:

I also am curious why The Story that Rob was encouraging us pastors to tell was missing the Event of the Cross,… While he also emphasized the resurrection as key to the New Creation, I am confused HOW even the resurrection is made possible or actually does something for US without the Event of the Cross. I would have like for him to unpack his understanding of the Life and Death of Jesus along side the Resurrection to explain how Rescue is made possible, and HOW God is restoring creation back to the way he originally intended it to be. This wasn’t exactly clear…

I was also struck with the absence of judgement in this Story. He seemed to allude that recreation, renewal, and restoration was for “all things”…was universal. (Online source)

Having had the pleasure of getting to know Jeremy since then, keep in mind here, that at the time he writes this Bouma was still tracking with Bell and the EC; so much so, that when I quoted him in an article Bouma emailed me and said he’d take legal action against me for using the quote. My point being, even this primary source sympathetic to Bell et al while at PPP noticed that Christ and Him crucified is not a focal point of Bell’s mythology. As another Grand Rapids pastor, Kevin DeYoung, points out in God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins”:

According to Bell, salvation is realizing you’re already saved. We are all forgiven. We are all loved, equally and fully by God who has made peace with everyone… Bell is saying God has already forgiven us whether we ask for it or not, whether we repent and believe or not, whether we are born again or not… Bell categorically rejects any notion of penal substitution. It simply does not work in his system or with his view of God… (Online source)

DeYoung is dead on target; but 1) this is not the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins, salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross of Christ alone, and 2) it’s also happens to be what Rob Bell has always taught:

So this is reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth, to God.” All things, everywhere.

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.[1]

If you just take what I underlined above you’ll see that it’s actually very close to a form of Christian Universalism (CU): Forgiveness, reconciliation, is for everybody and all things; this is already true. For many who hold CU, as with Rob Bell, there is an “opt out” clause where people who don’t want to be in God’s grace are free to choose to live apart from it. Such as these will receive some remedial punishment in hell after they die; however, God continues to woo them while they’re in what amounts to the Purgatory of apostate Roman Catholicism, and eventually these CU dreamers envision hell being emptied.

You do need to realize that Rob Bell has become a neo-Gnostic who is now growing more deluded through his longtime practice of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) and the crown jewel of this spurious CSM, which is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer. As such, he is now just as off spiritually as the original Gnostics who were being roundly rebuked by the authors of the New Testament. Now you have the proper backdrop against which to see more clearly what Bell  muses in Pastor defends views on Heaven and Hell.

Reporter Phil Dawson tells us:

In “Love Wins” Pastor Bell says he doesn’t think heaven is reserved just for Christians. “If I am a Christian do I have to consign all Buddhists to hell,” he asks. “No, you don’t. You don’t at all.”

Pastor Bell doesn’t believe a loving God would condemn people to endless suffering in Hell. “Is God like that?, he asks. “Is that the kind of God Jesus talked about? That view has a lot of answering to do. A lot of answering.” (Online source)

No Rob Bell, those of us who defend the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and faithfully preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ don’t have any answering to do; but instead, you do. And with a Master’s from Fuller Theological Seminary Bell has no excuse for not knowing that e.g. the practicing Buddhist, whether they worship a pantheistic god or just themselves, violates the first Commandment — “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The absolute truth is, Holy Scripture is clear that because of our sinful nature human beings are born already condemned to hell (cf. John 3:18, 36); and apart from Christ, are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

So Rob Bell, you ask, “Is God like that? Is that the kind of God Jesus talked about?” The answer is, yes; and don’t forget that Christ Jesus of Nazareth is God Himself in human flesh. Instead of rehashing questions already asked by the original Cult of Liberalism, why not bow down before the Lord in humble gratitude that He took the just punishment of our sins upon Himself and condescended to even save anyone at all. Further, Jesus Himself was quoted by His Apostle John in his eyewitness deposition as saying — “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

This being born again i.e. regeneration is not simply some change in the way one thinks; a so-called living “the Jesus way,” rather it is a creative act of God — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is to be understood literally, a new creation; a dead spirit made alive by God the Holy Spirit. As Dr. John MacArthur points out in Born to Holiness:

the purpose of regeneration was to give birth into life, to create us to do good not evil, to give us power over sin as a part of a new creation… And when God touches your life, it is to produce life not death, to produce righteousness not sin, to make a new creation not exercise the old one. (Online source)

We don’t have freedom to disagree over this tenet concerning the Gospel itself; and regeneration, salvation through faith, doesn’t come about through some kind of mystical osmosis where some Buddhist idolator magically begins following Jesus, but just doesn’t know it yet. As it is written:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

Rob Bell appears to be a very sincere man who has no excuse for lying to people by telling them they’re already saved, and/or they can choose God after death. Instead I say, shame on Rob Bell for wasting the huge forum he’s been given and advancing a quasi-Christian Universalism that will never save anybody.


[1] Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Rethinking the Christian Faith, [Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2005], 146, emphasis mine.

See also: