Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Foxes Book of Emergents With Hurt Feelings - Rob Bell (Part 3)

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.

On repentance:
(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.

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

10 comments:

Erica said...

Cameron,
I am compelled to respond to you even though I am unsure of your motives. Do you really care about my church? Do you plan on coming to Mars Hill? Even though I am unsure of your motives I am going to answer your questions and challenge some of your statements.

“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."

I am not sure how you can pick a part or disagree with this sentence. Do you not agree that it is very important how you read the bible and interpret its teachings? Mars Hill believes the bible is the inspired word of God. In fact each week we teach the kids over and over again that the bible is God’s word and everything in it is true. Do you really think they would put this in their curriculum each week if it was not true? My problem is everyone takes a phrase Rob says and blows it out of proportion. A lot of people read the bible and read it for what they can get out of it, or what it means to them, or how they interpret it. It is imperative that you read the bible and while you are reading that you understand the history, culture, and grammar in which it was original written. Otherwise we would be gouging out eye balls like in Matthew, or we would all choice to be single like Paul recommends in I Corinthians, women would attend church with their head covered but they don’t anymore. Why? Because it is imperative that you understand the culture in which they lived. The bible is a human product. All Rob means that is the copies we have been written by humans and interrupted from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. When interrupting different languages it is hard to find a word for word match but the bible in fact is inspired. What I appreciate about Rob is you can tell he takes a lot of time studying the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew to bring us (The mars hill members) the most accurate interpretation. We have, on staff at Mars Hill, bible scholars. They are not like the Ken Silva’s of the world who have given themselves the title. They in fact, have studies abroad and our very educated and our in fact considered scholars. They each take the bible very seriously. You can not deny that many people interrupt the scriptures differently. Some believe in speaking in tongues while others think it is heretical, some believe in miracles others don’t. At Mars we believe that this does not have to be an argument. We are all brothers in sisters in Christ Jesus much like I Corinthians one points out. You can not get around it in scripture that we are called to love above all else. I am sorry you disagree with us on this. That is a great example as to how you and interrupt scripture differently then us.

Where is your source for this statement? “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.”
I am curious because I have heard Rob talk about sin from the pulpit. No we don’t focus on our old lives and all the horrible mistakes we have made. Jesus says He came that we might have life and have it to the fullest. When Jesus died on the cross he took upon my sin paying a debt that He did not owe. He did this because He loved me and wanted to give me life and hope for the future. Everyone knows they dirty rotten sinners in need of Savior. Most people know their lives our in shambles. Jesus came so we can turn from our sins and live our life in Him. I know Rob teaches this because I have heard it. Or maybe it is again, that you and I interpret scripture differently. Romans even talks about our new life in Christ and put our life aside. Maybe it is simply what you choose to focus on. I what to focus on my new life in Christ not the fact I was a dirty rotten sinner. You are write you will find through out the epistles the need to repent and Paul did in fact teach that but I no one would disagree with you at Mars Hill so I am not sure your point? We simply choice to focus on fact that Jesus came to give us life!

Mars Hill does not deny that there could be a Hell. They simple don’t know. They believe, (because I have asked) that if you spend your life without Christ you will spend eternity without Jesus. If you give your life to Jesus you will spend eternity with Jesus. Let me ask you a question; did Jesus really come to save us from Hell? I don’t think He did. He came to give us lifeOne of my biggest pet peeves is that we share Christ to save people from destruction ignoring the real reason Jesus Died on the cross. He died because He loves us and He wants to give us life. He wants us to spend eternity loving Him and worshipping him. To me that is enough. That is the Gospel message that Jesus loves you so much He died for you. If you choose to follow Him, Hell becomes irrelevant. And yes I believe that you can have a glimpse of heaven and hell on earth.
“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”
I am confused as to why you disagree with this. I am not sure how you miss what he is saying. He is simply saying Jesus is the way the truth and the life. It is not the denomination we choice to follow, it is not any of that. Rob is saying he believe that life is about Jesus not who I identify with. “No one comes to Father except through me” God is telling us He is why we exist. He is it. How would you interrupt that verse since you believe Rob interrupted it wrong? From the original language that it is from not what you simply read.
Here is what I see, correct me if I am wrong. You took the letter they sent you, you did not like it. So you took pieces of his writing from various different books to draw your conclusion. Is that true? I believe that Christians can be the scariest people out there. Why, because we focus so much of our time on trying to destroy each other. I know Jesus has a lot to say about that. Jesus says we can tell who follows Him by our love for one another. I truly hope you come and visit Mars Hill some day. It is a great place and I would love to show you around. Grace and Peace to this day!
One more thought, Rob did not send me and he would rather us not waste our time trying to defend him because people simple believe what they want to believe. I came here not to defend Rob but in hopes to clear up some of your misconceptions about our church. It truly is a great place to service and worship Jesus.

Jason said...

Hi,
I'm curious if you have actually read in entirety the things you are quoting? I'm not saying that you have not, I am simply asking if you have.
Thanks

Pastorboy said...

Amen Cameron...

Rob Bell does not believe in the Biblical Hell. It is very clear. Observe the Wittenburg Door interview:

"DOOR: Sometimes the issue of the poor gets lost in all the left vs. the right crap in this country. How do you cut through that? Serving the poor is not a new message.

BELL: The issue is not saving the poor—it's saving us. When Jesus uses the word hell, He does not use the word with people who are not believers or not believing the right things. It is a warning to religious people that they are in danger of hell because of their indifference to the suffering of the world. So the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is not what heaven and hell are like. It's a parable to rich people warning them that their apathy has them in danger. Heaven and hell are present realities that extend into the future."

So hell is for apathetic rich people? It is a reality now on this earth? Give me a break.

Preston N said...

Erika

When you stand before God on Judgement Day (and yes there will be a Judgement Day) God will ask you what YOU did with His Word, and not Rob Bell. Sadly, you sound very lazy in the sense that it is not you who is doing the searching of scriptures, but you are relying heavily on one man to bring you his proclaimed version of the truth. God will not allow you to bring along Rob to say "Well Rob said this or Rob said that". God has given his word to everyone and everyone can read and interpret the Word if they use sound hermeneutics. Read the Word for yourself!

Erica said...

Preston
I appreciate your concern; however I simply go to Mars Hill bible church and I can speak better then anyone else as to what my church believes and what Rob teaches.
I don't think I will ever stand before God one day for Him to ask me what I did with his word. Can you show me where that is in the bible please?
Just so you know, unlike Cameron, I have no problem telling you my background in religion.I would never go to a doctor who I did not believe was credible and knowledgeable I take the bible far more serious then my health so I hope the person that is talking knows what he or she is talking about. I I have been a student of the bible my whole life. I took years and went to bible college and studied God's word plus I am daily in God's word studying it so it is insulting to me for you to say I simple believe what Rob does. I do believe Rob is a very well educated man and I respect him greatly. My concern for most people that write these posts is they are no different then what they accuse me of. They have studied the bible and sat under someone's teachings that they respect, therefore they believe what they say. I have done a lot of research in my life and still have a lot to learn I realize that but I serve one God. No one else is my God. But I am curious as to where it says in the bible that I will stand before God and He will ask me what I did with his word. Please show me...

Anonymous said...

Pay no attention to "Erica". She is a professional Bell defender. Go to any web site where Rob Bell is being questioned, and you will find "Erica" defending him. She trolls around looking for any reference to Bell on the internet, and if the reference is negative, she jumps to his defense. There are a couple of others named "Chris L" and "Joe Martino" that do the same. Just ignore them.

Erica said...

Wow anonymous, I can feel the love the godly love coming from you. Really I can. It must be nice being able to ignore half the bible and only focus on the part you choose.
Grace and Peace to you as well.
BTW, at least speak truth, Google Robs name and go to the blogs that write about him and find my name and comments. It will be a fun little truth exercise for you.

Jesse said...

"It must be nice being able to ignore half the bible and only focus on the part you choose."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The only person ignoring Scripture in these comments is you.

Jason said...

Ahh, a brave person to hide behind anonymous. Shame on all of you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jason,
If you really want to know, my name is Joe. And now you know as much about me as I do about you. Ahhhh, I feel so much braver now that I've revealed my first name to the world. Thanks for helping me find my courage. The reason I chose to comment under "anonymous" is because I don't have a blog site and so I'm not a member of this group. I'm just a reader. But go ahead and demean that if you feel you must. Name-calling is so much easier than trying to muster up a strong argument.

Hello Erica,
I am not an ear-tickler like your pastor, and so my accurate description of you might hurt your feelings. If you don't want to be labeled as a troll, then you should stop being one. As it is, it is very easy to see that you and your husband and "Chris L." are exactly that. And yes, I've already seen many of your comments on other sites that were critical of your pastor. That is why I was able to accurately describe your activities in my post above. But this is a free country. And so, if you still feel you must troll, then by all means troll away!