On Monday I posted the letter I sent to the innapropriately named fellowship Rob Bell pastors (Mars Hill Bible Church). The response was disappointing to say the least. In fairness to them they probably get a lot of questions and may be short on time. But the following response seems like a fairly standard response that ignores the reason for the questions that I asked. They pointed me to the "narrative theology" when the lack of answers therein was the reason I wrote the e-mail.
Thank you for contacting us. We hope you'll find this response helpful, although it might not answer all your questions or concerns. With the high volume of questions and comments we receive, we hope you understand it's difficult for us to reply specifically in each instance.
We care deeply how Scripture is interpreted and how to discern living the way of Jesus, and in encountering differing viewpoints it is our aim to agree or disagree in love, keeping central a shared desire to know God and serve Jesus Christ. Regarding your comments or questions, we'd like to direct you to our mission, Narrative Theology, Directions [shared values], and serving focus, available at marshill.org. You might also find our recent audio teachings and archived series as well as Rob Bell's recommended reading list to be beneficial.
More compelling than anything we might say is the power of Christ displayed when we love well.
Grace + Peace
Michelle Garvelink | Mars Hill Communications
Pay close attention to this sentence "We care deeply how Scripture is interpreted and how to discern living the way of Jesus, and in encountering differing viewpoints it is our aim to agree or disagree in love, keeping central a shared desire to know God and serve Jesus Christ."
This is spin doctoring that I'm sure Barack Obama would love to add to his campaign. They care more deeply about interpreting Scripture (ie imposing their own liberal ideas on the text) than what Scripture actually says.
Here are some examples:
On the authority of Scripture:
"The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—"discovering the Bible as a human product," as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. "The Bible is still in the center for us," Rob says, "but it's a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it." (Christianity Today November 2004).
In contrast to Bell's iterpretation we'll let Scripture speak for itself - IITimothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
(from Rob Bell's "the god's aren't angry" speaking tour):
Bell mangled the definition of repentance, stating that repentance is not turning from sin. Rather, he says it is a “celebration” of life in Christ. He further stated that anyone who tells you that you need to repent is not talking about Christianity. If he is right, then John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), Peter (Acts 3:19), Paul (Acts 20:21) and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 4:17; 9:13) weren’t preaching Christianity. In order to come to this conclusion, Bell has to ignore all of the Old and New Testament evidence that repentance is turning from sin and turning to Christ alone in faith. He has to ignore the Jewish conception of repentance (which was not lost on the Jewish believers of the early church) which was turning from sin to turn to God (Ezekiel 18). (comment courtesy Jon Speed who attended one of the meetings)
Rob Bell On Hell:
“Now if there is a life in heaven, and we can choose it, then there’s also another way. A way of living out of sync with how God created us to live. The word for this is hell: a way, a place, a realm absent of how God desires things to be. We can bring heaven to earth; we can bring hell to earth. For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. Ways of living we can enter into here and now. He talked very little of the life beyond this one because he understood that the life beyond this one is a continuation of the kinds of choices we make here and now" (Velvet Elvis p147)
Jesus on Hell:
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)
How about a verse like John 14:6 where Jesus says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." You would think that leaves no room for reinterpretation. Not with Rob Bell, listen to the number he does on John 14:6, "“Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life’. Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth” (Velvet Elvis p.21). Bell continues on "“I don’t follow Christianity because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me’, he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence” (p. 83).
Contrast that with Acts 4:11-12 "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
A basic grasp of the biblical text shows Rob Bell to be heretical. It is a scary inditement on biblical literacy among church goers that Rob Bell gains wide acceptance and Christian bookstores are willing to stock his material.
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