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November 28, 2012


‘Love Wins’ raised hell for Rob Bell at Mars Hill

This is precisely what a good congregation does when their beloved pastor turns from the truth…send him packing.

Fallout from Rob Bell’s bestselling “Love Wins” book pushed him to leave the West Michigan megachurch he founded, according to The New Yorker. And the television show Bell went to work on in California has stalled, Kelefa Sanneh writes in the magazine’s Nov. 26 issue.

In a profile of Bell called “The Hell-Raiser,” Sanneh chronicles the former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor’s personal “search for a more forgiving faith,” and concludes that he might fit better on the beaches of southern California than in a West Michigan pulpit.

The article states that Bell’s controversial book about the existence of hell “put pressure on the people around Bell, who found themselves having to defend statements they might never have heard, let alone approved…more


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18 comments

Why is it that these guys get too big for their britches? I think it starts when people buy in to their own hype.

[1] Posted by Robert Lundy on 11-28-2012 at 11:00 AM · [top]

“But I told them, ‘Look, he can communicate. He really doesn’t know the Bible, but, if we can add the Bible to his communication skills, we’ll have a winner.’”

Perhaps the most telling comment for me, and true of many young evangelicals.  Certainly my faith and belief has developed as I have read deeper and had to work through what I thought on particular issues.  Some of them are still developing such as what I think of the massacre passages in the OT.  Fortunately I am not a pastor and called on to guide others.  I think the best thing we can all do is study scripture more deeply, and I pray that perhaps Rob Bell will spend this time in the wilderness as an opportunity, perhaps a God-given one, to go more deeply into the full picture of God, who is still the God of love, and just exquisitely good and beautiful in all ways.

[2] Posted by Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] on 11-28-2012 at 12:57 PM · [top]

“From his come-to-Jesus moment at age 10 to his writing of “Love Wins,” Bell is portrayed as evolving from a theological conservative to an ambiguous evangelical pastor who let worshippers “think that he was however evangelical they wanted him to be,” to a heretic worthy of scorn from orthodox churchmen.”

Hmmm, how often have we seen that before, I wonder?

What I find really encouraging in this story is that his church has apparently remained faithful.  Even if the messenger proves to be dodgy, if the message has taken hold in hearts, then its the message that remains.

[3] Posted by MichaelA on 11-28-2012 at 04:47 PM · [top]

“How can we distinguish the imaginary from the real in the spiritual realm?
  We must prefer real hell to an imaginary paradise.”

—Simone Weil

[4] Posted by The Plantagenets on 11-28-2012 at 05:52 PM · [top]

It’s the oldest conflict of all - trying to bend our will to God’s will - see through His eyes, understanding things with His heart, hear through His ears.  But our own will or desires get into the way - so we bend God’s Holy Word to our will.  God Bless his congregation for sending him packing…

[5] Posted by B. Hunter on 11-29-2012 at 09:06 AM · [top]

Unfortunately, Brian McLaren’s and Mark Driscoll’s congregations have not done likewise and Biblically disciplined their errant pastors.

McLaren has embraced Baal and Driscoll has elevated sex beyond what Scripture dictates.

[6] Posted by St. Nikao on 11-29-2012 at 10:40 AM · [top]

St. Nikao - I want to be sure that I understand you on Driscoll.  I’ve read his book on sex and he’s clearly placing it in lifelong union of man and woman.  Are you faulting him for the emphasis on pleasure apart from reproduction?  Or his allowance for variety of sex acts within marriage?

[7] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 11-29-2012 at 11:06 AM · [top]

Fr. Tim,  What I have stated is my opinion.  Others will have to judge/discern for themselves.

[8] Posted by St. Nikao on 11-29-2012 at 11:19 AM · [top]

St. Nikao, I’m just trying to hear your opinion and do it justice for purposes of this thread.  You might be opening up a fruitful discussion - but I’m not clear on the source of your opinion.

The reason I bring it up is that the Prayer Book’s description of marriage makes room for marital sex that is not reproductive, simply pleasurable for the couple:

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is
intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort
given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is
God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture
in the knowledge and love of the Lord.

[9] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 11-29-2012 at 11:24 AM · [top]

Was anyone else who read the whole article struck by the way successful young “talent” like Rob Bell was bankrolled and promoted as though this was the entertainment industry instead of the Church?  I mean, can you imagine the Apostle Paul commending Timothy the way Ed Dobson sold Rob Bell?

“But I told them, ‘Look, he can communicate. He really doesn’t know the Bible, but, if we can add the Bible to his communication skills, we’ll have a winner.’”

A winner?  A winner?  We’re not talking about choosing a replacement for David Letterman here.  Why did they even consider someone who doesn’t know the Bible for a position of pastoral leadership?  Who thinks like this?  I don’t even want to know these people.

[10] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 11-29-2012 at 06:04 PM · [top]

Good point, Robert+

[11] Posted by MichaelA on 11-29-2012 at 07:13 PM · [top]

#10 Yes

Perhaps this is another lesson on the dangers of charismatic leadership centered around the person rather than the message.  There have been so many examples, including the way the Lakeland revival bubble recently burst.

One of John Stott’s major features, and some would say his failings, was his diffidence and the way he would eschew personal praise, always redirecting the focus back to Jesus to whom praise is due.

When we decide that we have discovered some groundbreaking theological truth missed by two millenia of Christians, or go off message, perhaps by overemphasing one thing at the expense of another, vanity and pride overtake us, and we find ourselves heading for a fall sooner or later.  Servanthood both to one another, and to the Scriptures and their study should help to avoid this danger.

[12] Posted by Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] on 11-30-2012 at 08:45 AM · [top]

Fr. Tim,  Reading a book by Mark Driscoll or listening to another of his sermons is not something I ever plan to do.  The smattering of his writings and sermons posted here were sufficient to form my prior-stated opinion that he belongs in the company of Bell, McLaren and that pastor who put his marriage bed on the roof of his church.  Others are free to discern for themselves.

[13] Posted by St. Nikao on 12-1-2012 at 08:08 AM · [top]

St. Nikao really you have no idea what you are talking about if you think Driscoll and Bell are in the same universe.

[14] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-1-2012 at 08:39 AM · [top]

Matt,

While I agree that Driscoll and Bell are not in the same universe. The universe that Driscoll seems to be living in is one ‘that is quite unhelpful.

[15] Posted by Josh Bovis on 12-2-2012 at 06:43 PM · [top]

Rev. Kennedy+,  My perspective and discernment come from being several decades older than you and from having observed and survived many preaching/pastoral ‘styles’ and church ‘kerfluffles’.  While there may be theological differences and nuances between the them, the three men I mentioned are not a universe apart, but are both part of the sexualization of the church and culture.

[16] Posted by St. Nikao on 12-6-2012 at 08:23 AM · [top]

I think two key aspects to the Person of the Almighty are often lost: 1) His supreme, unfathomable perfection, holiness, and power 2) His absolute abhorrence of sin.

For a great example of one who understood them, observe the life of Ezra.

The first thing that one reads about him: “Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given…And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month…For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Ezra then rolled up his sleeves and did the hard work of ordering the worship of YHWH according to the dictates that YHWH had given. And most importantly, Ezra didn’t shrink from dealing with the real tough stuff: “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands…the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.”

The people had explicitly violated the law of Moses, and Ezra, in no uncertain terms, set about to right this transgression. In perhaps the most exquisite, heartfelt, and humbling example of true confession and repentance that Scripture has to offer, Ezra shows a heart yielded to God and His word - and most importantly, that he would have no part in brooking it’s commands.

And how is this germane? Ezra wasn’t interested in presenting the Almighty as a fuzzy, cuddly Carebear, nor was he concerned that taking a strong stand would make him seem ‘unpopular’ or ‘intolerant’ The only way to right this wrong was to have the guilty Israelites divorce and disown their wives, and in some cases, children! Ezra knew that Gods wrath at deliberate disobedience to His plainly revealed will was nothing to be toyed with; that the true God was so holy and perfect in righteousness that to think that one could presume upon Gods goodness while in flagrant sin was nothing less than dangerous folly.

One last thing (forgive my longwindedness): If you look at Ezras ministry, it was directed wholly towards educating Gods people in Gods word and ways. “Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding….Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday…and Ezra opened the book in the sight of the people and…[with the help of those mentioned in the text] caused the people to understand the law…they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.”

As a younger Christian, I thought Ezra and Nehemiah were rather dull and dry. Now I see just how perfectly foundational the precepts presented and demonstrated therein really are, especially in the post modern relativistic era we live in today - an era to which, sadly, the church has often fallen prey to by imbibing its influence instead of fearing the living God.

[17] Posted by GSP98 on 12-26-2012 at 02:16 PM · [top]

“In the historical context of a broader Christian dialogue about hell, Sanneh describes the development of Bell’s theology as emphasizing one side of an evangelical equation that conceives God “as both an intimate companion and a wrathful judge.”
Taking away Hell diminishes the Gospel.

[18] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-26-2012 at 04:34 PM · [top]

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