What’s Up with Rob Bell?

It seems that everyone in the little corner of the Christo-Twitterverse that I inhabit was talking about Rob Bell over the weekend.  Rob’s got a new book coming out at the end of March, and it deals with heaven and hell.  More significantly, I suppose, it allegedly flirts with Christian Universalism, a topic that I have been sporadically exploring this year.

Based on a few leaked chapters, a press release from the publisher, and a promotional video, the right-wing Calvinistas went on the attack.  Justin Taylor, John Piper, and Josh Harris, among others, condescendingly tweeted that they are praying for Rob.  They compared him to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and they used Bible verses to call him a false teacher.  You can read a nice compilation of the entire affair (so far) by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

I’m not going to weigh in on the content of the book.  I haven’t read it.  I only know about it what I’ve read on the blogs.

In fact, I don’t know Rob Bell.  I’ve spoken to him only once, briefly, in a hotel lobby at the National Youth Workers Convention.  It was probably in about 2002, and we spoke for about five minutes.  Rob never joined up with Emergent Village — in fact, he has publicly disavowed the term “emerging church” in various interviews.  But neither has he joined any other posse (Ecclesia, Origins, etc.).  He’s not, as far as I know, an adjunct prof at any seminary or on the editorial board of any magazine.  In other words, I don’t think he’s a “joiner” — I think he’s a lone ranger.

Rob Bell is aloof.  I do not mean that in a pejorative way.  I mean that in a descriptive way.  And Rob’s above-the-fray mentality is going to bug the hell out of the Calvinistas who are trying to bait him into a debate.  He won’t bite.  He won’t debate.

NT Wright will take Piper’s bait and pen responsive books.  I’ll take the bait.  Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt will take the bait.

Rob Bell will not take the bait.

Scot McKnight, in an email to Bailey, wrote,

Frankly, John Piper’s flippant dismissal of Rob Bell is unworthy of someone of Piper’s stature. The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call. Flippancy should have no part in judging a Christian leader’s theology, character or status.

But the problem here is that, from what I know of Rob Bell, he might not even take a call from John Piper.

Scot McKnight, John Piper, and I have something in common: we tend to think that we’re all basically on the same team, the team of leadership of the Protestant church in America.  That’s why we fight over stuff.  But I don’t get the impression that being a part of that “team” is how Rob Bell thinks of himself.  He’s gone rogue.  Rob Bell is the Jason Bourne of Christianity.

Meanwhile, Piper and the rest of his tribe have been waiting to pounce on Rob Bell.  I’ve been saying in private for several years that the Evangelical Intelligentsia is looking for a reason to turn on Rob.  This is their chance.  Rob is big and influential and, since they don’t agree with his theology, they want to turn him out.  They want their followers to stop buying his books.

But, to this point, Rob has been too slippery for the Calvinistas to pin down.  His books, videos, and live tours are provocations.  They are, IMHO, verbals works of art.  Rob is not a theologian, in the traditional sense, nor is he a biblical scholar.  He is a communicator — an artist, particularly of the spoken word.  So he doesn’t tend to say things that can be categorically criticized by writers in Christianity Today or bloggers at the Gospel Coalition.

Again, I don’t have any insider knowledge here.  I know that Zondervan broke their contract with Rob Bell last year; and I know that Moe Girkins was fired as the president of Zondervan last week.  But I have no idea if these news items are related.

I do know Shane Hipps, hired as co-teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church last year.  Shane has been a long-time friend, and I have enormous respect for him as an exegete and a preacher. But I don’t have any particular insight into Rob from Shane.  I just know Rob’s written and spoken work, and I’ve watched his career for years.

So, all that being said, here’s what I predict:

  • The Calvinistas will attack Rob as a universalist
  • Rob won’t care
  • Christianity Today will write a review that expresses some serious doubt and hesitation about Rob’s new book, but they won’t entirely throw him under the bus (yet)
  • Rob won’t care
  • Lots of people like me will blog about this
  • Rob won’t care
  • Some people will even leave Mars Hill Bible Church because they don’t like what’s in the book
  • Rob won’t care

It’s a special gift to be able to be a theological provocateur and to be so un-codependent that you can say whatever you like with no fear.  It seems to me that Rob Bell has that gift.

  • Ted

    I remember hearing one of Rob Bell’s sermons on ‘hell’ from the Jesus Wants to Save Christians series, and he went through every verse Jesus mentions (supposedly) it, explaining why he thought in no instance was he referring to the fate of people of other religions etc.

    Could it be that the Calvinists really don’t like Bell because he pays close attention to the biblical text but comes to different theological conclusions than they do? Therefore, rather than engage with his exegesis, it’s easier for the likes of Piper and co to dismiss him before even reading the book?

    • Zach

      Why does one man’s tweet serve to answer for any who agree with Piper theologically? I agree, flippancy has no place in the church. That is why instead of blogging about what we don’t know, all of us should go and read Kevin DeYoung’s review of Love Wins. He wasn’t flippant, but rather he read the book and then spoke. He pointed out very accurately how Rob did not pay close attention to the biblical text. But we don’t like to dig deep into the possiblities of how Rob Bell could be wrong. Instead, we’d rather sit on the surface and gossip about flippant comments, and people’s reactions.

  • http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com Bob Cornwall

    Tony,

    I just figured you and Rob were best friends. Who knew!

    Your post helps put Rob into perspective. I’ve found his books interesting and provocative. I’m not a real fan of “lone ranger” types, but perhaps in Rob’s case, this will be helpful. He can speak out and not be afraid of the “wolves” (I thought I’d throw that in since some of his critics think he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing!).

    All I can say is that I loved the video and am intrigued by the book’s possibilities. Moving from Zondervan to Harper One will give him a bigger audience — especially among more progressive types (like me) who will welcome him into the fraternity of post-evangelical heretics!

  • http://merechristianarchy.tumblr.com/ Jack the Heretic

    C.S. Lewis started it, N.T. Wright continued it, and now Rob Bell is going to package it up for a younger audience. Here come the inclusivists!

    Good! Because Calvinists are so mean…

  • nathan

    @Jack,

    Well, when you’re speaking about a community that is notorious for cherry picking the Bible, it’s no wonder they happily cherry pick Lewis who they hypocritically try to keep as “one of theirs”…

  • http://www.butnotyet.com JoelR

    I’ve read several of Rob’s books, watched a bunch of the NOOMA vids and listened to some of his sermons (well, excerpts anyway) and I’ve always liked what I heard. It’s not that he’s saying anything particularly new. We have been talking about this stuff for 2000 years after all. He may not particularly “deep”, either and that’s okay, too. Sometimes, I think theologians get carried away with all their knowledge and forget the simple stuff. I agree with you: Rob’s genius is in how he communicates his message. The fact that his message and the way gets it across pisses off the Calvinistas (I’m stealing that, btw) just makes it that much better.

  • Greg Wack

    If Rob Bell is making these people nervous, then I’m all for him. It’s time to do what Jesus did: shake us out of our traditions to look at His path for us and call on us.

  • Greg Wack

    Good blog and. Good for Rob Bell! We need more voices like his!

  • http://bengriffith.tumblr.com Ben Griffith

    Great insight.

    I’ve always wondered why Rob Bell is hated so much when, as you point out, he’s not really a “theologian”… or a professor or an official leader of any kind. He’s a pastor that is a damn good preacher and he writes quippy little books that engage with theology but are more about inspiration. He’s almost like a post-modern Max Lucado–inspirational books for hipsters.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Tony, it seems to me your take on Bell is spot on. I’m not sure where I stand in terms of theology, in part because it is slippery, as you say. But he is a great stylist who encourages thinking outside the box. I see him somewhat more of a Tom Yorke (Radiohead) than a Jason Bourne. He is brilliant, he produces, he gets criticized, he couldn’t care less.

  • Elane

    @Ben — yes, yes! along with Tony’s artist analogy. I took folks from my church to see him in San Francisco and was amazed at the round-the-block waiting in line. In SF. Right past a fetish footwear store, to which no one paid attention.

    @Tony — hope you’re right and that Bell won’t bite. Listen, yes. Bite, no.

  • Scot Miller

    Frankly, I think orthodoxy is highly overrated. Given our human condition, my hunch is we’ve all got things partly right and partly wrong, so it’s not very important whether anyone’s particular beliefs fall in line with what the leaders of Protestantism think. These leaders of Protestantism amount to nothing more than the bouncers of a club. They try to keep people out of their club in the first place if they don’t think the right way, and they kick them out if they start believing things the Management doesn’t like. I guess it’s not important to Rob Bell whether he’s allowed in particular clubs or not.

    What matters most is how we live, whether we do things right (orthopraxis), not whether we believe the right things (orthodoxy). I can’t believe that God saves someone and damns another because of some propositional belief they hold or not in their little pea brains. I think people who are quick to draw the line and exclude members from their club because they disagree with particular beliefs have more to fear than people who live like a follower of Christ. And it shouldn’t matter if someone acts like a follower of Christ is a Christian or an atheist or a Buddhist or a Jew…

    I’m not saying that we are “saved” by our good works. What I am saying is that Christians aren’t exclusively the ones who respond to God’s grace. As Jesus said in Matt. 7:21, ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” SAYING or BELIEVING the right thing isn’t as important as DOING.

    • Josiah

      Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

      John 6:28-29

    • http://Bezball18@gmail.com Ralph Starling

      Well said! Thanks!

  • http://www.godfearingheretic.org/ Skeptic Heretic

    I’m not familiar with Bell but I’m familiar with Piper and many of those of his persuasion and I what I notice is:

    “if you’re not with us, you must be against us!”

    An interesting idea/thought to me is, what if we compared warmongers (actual, historical leaders who started a military campaign) to some theologians?

    I think theology got turned into a battlefield many years ago and there are those personalities who feed on strife and violence who get their fix by debating/arguing theology.

    I bet if you took a personality profile of highly militant people and many theologians, you’d find a lot of similiarities.

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  • http://mrshields.com adam Shields

    I think the key to understanding Rob Bell is understanding him as ‘artist’. I think it is a better word than communicator. Lots of people communicate, but few do it as artists. Calvinists in particular, but many other types of Christians as well, are uncomfortable with artists and their work. Art is messy, it is experimenal, it can be beautiful, but sometimes it is not. There are other pastor/theologian artists, but not many. Euguene Peterson is the one I would most readily point to and there are many that still think he is a heritic for his Message bible.

  • http://www.yearofplenty.org Craig

    Tony,
    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention that Rob, like you, is a Fuller Seminary Grad. I remember Rob as the dude who got around the Fuller campus on his skateboard. I also don’t know Rob, but I’m guessing his time at Fuller is key to understanding his theological approach. I suspect his book will present a doctrine of annihilationism as an alternative to the eternal flames of hell imagined by others. This was a common view among some theology profs at Fuller. John Stott isn’t bad company to keep.

  • Jalo

    Insightful post, Tony! I’ve always liked Rob Bell. Now I understand why I’ve never been able to figure out exactly which theological camp he stands in. Looking forward to his new book. I also understand better why you, Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt “take the bait” in all these theological debates. I’ve sometimes wondered why you bother but at the same time really appreciate following the discussions/arguments. Always thought-provoking. Thanks!

  • Charles

    @Scot Miller — Once again you’ve succinctly captured the essence of the “argument.” Who knew Friends were so “enlightened.” Fanned!

  • http://ethanbeyer.com Ethan Beyer

    You may be right – who knows – but really, I do have serious doubts about a person’s theology who is simply a lone ranger. While I’m not a huge fan of Piper, there are at least people around him that challenge him and hold him accountable to Biblical truth.

    At this point, if Rob Bell has gone rogue, who’s to say that his exegesis has basis, except from a rationalist’s perspective?

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  • Charles

    “I do have serious doubts about a person’s theology who is simply a lone ranger.” “…if Rob Bell has gone rogue, who’s to say that his exegesis has basis, except from a rationalist’s perspective?”

    And what if the “lone ranger,” who “has gone rogue” is spot-on, a prophetic voice? I think Rob Bell is onto something!

  • http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com Bob Cornwall

    Ah, Craig #14, may be on to something. As a Fuller alum (mdiv/phd), I can say that even though it is evanglical, Fuller gave me the freedom to explore ideas and thoughts. It was at Fuller that I was truly introduced to Barth and Moltmann. I remember Colin Brown’s discussions of hell — finding them unpersuasive (he adopted, as I rembember, an anhilationist position). I may have moved to a more post-evangelical position, but Fuller may be a key to the conversation. So, Tony and Rob came after me, but seems like we’re part of a similar tradition of openness.

  • Lisa Domke

    Hey Tony: Nice post. Sounds about right. And I kinda love that Rob doesn’t react to the criticism. I can’t speculate about whether or not he cares. It may be that he just doesn’t choose to use his energy arguing with people who disagree.

  • Rob

    Be carefull,

    Piper will send out his attack dog from the western Mars Hill if we keep saying mean things about him. (he won’t read the book either)
    Tony, add this to your conversation list with Greg Boyd and you will have the makings of the best conference ever.

    Peace and Grace.

  • http://charlieschurchofchrist.wordpress.com Charlie’s Church of Christ

    I’m curious why Zondervan dropped Bell? For theology? Because certainly not the best financial decision, especially in light of this controversy (I’m about to hit the pre-order button for his book).

    I agree that Rob is an expert communicator and I’d agree even more that he seems (at least publicly) unaffected by all the name-calling and mud-drugging other people put him through.

  • http://apprising.org Ken Silva

    [Comment Deleted - Ken, you don't get to comment here until you allow comments on your sites.]

  • http://www.seekingthesacred.org Suzanne Castle

    As one who engages the fringed in our midst who could care less about publishing houses and denominations and figureheads who spout without reading first, I must say that I’m proud of your post, Tony.

    I’m the most excited though, that people might start discussing Heaven/Hell, the “so what-ness” of their faith in the context of next-ness and actually start reading scriptures. The same thing happened with his book on sex and his other writings. I’m, for one, glad for the opportunity to engage those in my community with which I’m called to serve with the various voices.

  • kyle

    The thing about Rob Bell that I’ve noticed is that he’s not interested in “going big.” The books he writes and the videos that are put out are simple artistic pieces that adds to the conversation about faith and God. What I respect so much about Bell is the fact that he’s concerned with being a father, husband, and pastor above everything else.

    His church, Mars Hill Bible Church, has around 10,000 attendees every weekend and yet there’s no plan to “expand.” Bell holds a high view of community in the body of Christ. There isn’t any multi, satellite, or video campuses. There isn’t any video podcast. The sermons that ARE podcast are only online twelve at a time.

    The thing that anyone has to admit about Bell is his humility and willingness not to engage in the frivolous debate. He has better things to do. Like bringing Jesus’ kingdom on earth as it in heaven.

  • Mike L.

    Good for Rob Bell! Every generation has to unpack (demythologize?) the superstitions of previous generations. Flat earth, creationism, exorcisms, faith healing, inerrancy, divinely ordained slavery and misogyny, etc. Better scientific understanding about human consciousness will mean that Descartes’ substance dualism is next on the list to be debunked. I think Christianity will not only survive, but it could hit its stride once it drops the whole ball of superstitious wax.

    I think there is a fruitful place for Christianity after the end of our fascination with afterlife. You may call me naive, but I believe in life after superstition.

  • http://andrewsporch.wordpress.com Andrew Arndt

    Ha! Brilliant. Well-said Tony.

  • Mike

    Yes, Rob Bell went to Fuller, as did Tony.

    Of course, John Piper also went to Fuller Theological Seminary as well.

  • Carl

    Regarding Ken Silva’s deleted comment… does that mean Brian McLaren can also never comment on here until he allows comments on his site? Or is the real reason his comment was deleted is that Ken’s a bit of a jerk?

  • nathan

    @Carl,

    probably a little bit of both…and both are equally valid.

    as far as Brian is concerned, i don’t think he ever posts here so the question is moot. No?

  • http://www.yearofplenty.org Craig

    Mike,
    Piper’s Fuller link came to mind for me also. So let’s play out the Bourne metaphor. If Rob Bell is the Jason Bourne of American evangelicalism, then Fuller Seminary is the CIA, the neo-Calvinists are Operation Treadstone, John Piper is Ward Abbott, the CIA operative desperate to erase any challenge to his theological positions…

  • http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com Bob Cornwall

    Mike,

    It takes all kinds to have a seminary like Fuller. For every Rob Bell there’s a John Piper. Piper is, of course, from an earlier generation than Rob, Tony, or even me! He was there in the late 60s and studied with Dan Fuller. By the time I was at Fuller in the early/mid 80s, Dan Fuller was sort of an oddity. He had his fans, but most of us tried to figure out how to avoid his hermeneutics class.

  • http://www.tinycatpants.com Aunt B.

    Zondervan and HarperOne are both owned by HarperCollins, so I wouldn’t read too much into him switching from one imprint to another. HarperOne probably has a better marketing reach into non-religious markets. Makes sense to move him to the imprint that can do the best marketing job for his books.

  • http://www.blackcoffeereflections.com Tim

    Excellent post, was curious to what you thought of the weekend.

    But I’m surprised you went with Jason Bourne instead of The Dark Knight here (I suspect that this is your Oscar-backlash against Christian Bale ;-)

    Only, from listening to his sermons over the years (and that Poets, Prophets, Preacher conf.), I do think that Rob does care in some normal human way (even friggin’ Bourne cared!) but has to continue as if he is aloof. From where I sit, Rob has had to create these walls, decorate them, have us call it art, so he can do “his thing” and I’m grateful he’s in a position to do so. I think this and other conversations help create a stronger church.

  • Tyler

    What do you mean, “waiting” to pounce on Bell? Have they been silent over the past half-decade?

  • http://www.soapboxrevival.com Billy Reeder

    But the real question is which one of you started wearing those hipster glasses first? The Tony or the Rob? Not that Rob cares…

  • Mark

    Put out a preview video and a couple of chapters of the book highly hinting at some form of universalism. Then calvimists comment on it. Then people more sympathetic with Rob pounce on the calvimists. Who got goaded into the debate you say? I’d say you got the whole goading into debate things backwards here.

  • Hank Hilliard

    Years ago I attended a conference at Mars Hill. Rob was discussing some of the criticism he had received about his book Velvet Elvis. In the midst of this he broke down. It did not seem staged. To me it seemed like he thought the criticism didn’t hurt until he began talking about it. Then he realized it did. That is what bothers me about criticism. Most people don’t criticize a work or an artist, the just insult them. They intentionally try to hurt the other. Although I understand the point you are making, and thank you for your insight, I do believe Rob cares. He cares on the level than any human being would when others are attacking them and hurling hurtful things at them.
    I will read the book. Not because I am a Rob Bell”ite” but because I enjoy his writing. It makes me think. It makes me question. I like that. I wish more Christians did.

  • Michael

    Pleased as punch to know Rob incites this kind of reaction from the likes of, what’s his name? Piper? Who’s he? I’ve Pastored over 25 years, stayed close to the “primary document,” ahhhh Bible for these many years. What I’ve discovered in staying close to the Living Doc is that my own study and teaching agrees with guys like Bell, and with some other current “artists, communicators, and proclaimers” of God’s Word and voice. That the “living” that goes on around me verifies that, ‘by their fruit you’ll know them.’ I’m an Asbury Theological Seminary grad for what its worth. The Primary Document is a Creative Wonder-full piece of Genre that will not allow the Piper’s of the world lock it into paint by the numbers, or play by the numbers framework, thank God. Piper, who’s he?

  • http://michaeldanner.typepad.com michaeldanner

    I think it’s a mistake to say that Rob Bell is not a theologian. He is clearly a good communicator and his NOOMA videos were a creative way to teach and his writing is accessible. But he is teaching what he believes to be true about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the church, hell, heaven, sin, etc., etc. When I look at the table of contents in my Millard Erickson systematic theology book, Rob has something to say about the content of every chapter. Don’t confuse the fact that Rob hasn’t written a book of theology proper with the notion that he’s not a theologian. He is. And he’s a good one. One that, as Tony points out, doesn’t give a rip about those who have anointed themselves the defenders of the capital-T truth. They reason Piper and company are jumping on Rob Bell (beside the fact that God pre-ordained it to be so) is that they know he will communicate something that challenge their version of Christianity and they know that he will do it in a powerful way. I can smell their fear through their tweets and blog posts.

  • http://thegirlwiththeredballoon.wordpress.com Brianna B

    this warms my heart. just when i was starting to wonder if i had wandered too far off on my own….

    rob and i will be out here not caring if anyone should need us :)

  • http://solarcrash.com Lon

    Great post. Rob Bell doesn’t care and people love/hate him more.

    He doesn’t publicly let it show, but he’s human, i bet he does care.

  • Andrew

    It takes great courage and self sacrifice to go against the grain and come out with things that others won’t say. However, sometimes there is more pride and selfishness in not caring what others think, than having true humility and transparency. It’s easy to say I don’t care what others think and be yourself, but it can also be a different way to show pride and arrogance. It depends on the heart, but that is something only God knows.

  • Andy

    So I find a lot of what is being thrown around about this topic interesting. However, the thing I find even more interesting is this new version of blogging that I am seeing demonstrated by a number of people that are blogging about this topic, including this blog. This idea that once something has been “published” it can be changed as the situation changes is rather odd to me. I read this blog posting this morning, I came back to it this afternoon to post a comment about something you said only to find the post has been partially or almost completely rewritten and the part I was going to comment on is no longer even part of the blog entry. Ironically enough the part of your blog posting I was going to comment on was about John Piper editing his blog to change the ending, assuming because he was getting some negative feedback based on the harsh stand he took in the first closing he wrote to his post, so now I find myself making the same comment only not about Piper’s blog, but about yours!

    As a writer myself I don’t write things I don’t mean and when I write them I let them stand on their own. I might come back to a topic and post a clarifying comment or even a follow-up blog posting, but I would have never considered completely rewriting a blog posting on a topic as you apparently did, because if it wasn’t what I meant to say it would not have been posted to begin with… I just have to question the writing integrity of someone that feels their ideas and opinions cannot stand on their own with out historical revision.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Andy (46), I have not edited this post at all since I published it. I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

  • Andy

    Forgive me!! My bad!! I apparently got your post and the post by Sarah Pulliam Bailey confused. So my point still stands but it does actually apply to John Piper’s blog and not to yours… My deepest and most sincere apologies!!!

  • Kenton

    Great posts/comments/deletions :)

    So a FB friend posted (of all things) Piper’s sermon from yesterday. Are you ready to be overwhelmed with irony? It was on John 7 where the educated religious gatekeepers (Pharisees) cursed the laity for believing a message from a heretic (Jesus) that God’s grace extended beyond just those that had the proper religious identification (Jews) to those that didn’t (Greeks).

    Unfreakinbelievable.

    RB’s book is pre-ordered and will hit my nook in the wee hours of March 29. (Did I just write “will hit my nook in the wee hours”???)

  • Andy

    On the matter of the topic at hand, I have to say that Rob Bell was instrumental in my returning to Christ. I read his book the Velvet Elvis and it gave me a view of Christianity that I had not experienced in my youth. I believe that a number of the things that are currently being, or have historically been said about Rob Bell are similar to the things that were said about Jesus in his day as he challenged the “established church ideals” of the time. I think anyone that can bring people to Christ, can make people think and question, and can scare of few of the current Pharisees might just be in some good company when his days here are at an end. Thank you for your post and again my apologies for my own confusion… :)

  • James Coder

    This is especially interesting since Shane Hipps is also at Bell’s church – Shane Hipps wrote a book a year or two back called “Flickering Pixels” critiquing aspects of Christian use of the internet, largely inspired by Marshall McCluhan – Hipps having a background in advertising.

    John Dyer is also heavily inspired by McCluhan and has written a most excellent critique of the whole affair – which I think is likely that Bell set up explicitly, understanding how net media works – from a rather media-savvy position as a web developer with an MDiv – http://donteatthefruit.com/2011/02/love-wins-and-truth-prevails-but-speed-kills-%e2%80%98em-both/

    This tells me that the conclusion that “Rob Bell knew exactly what he was up to” is difficult to avoid.

    Also very weird that Hipps did not pull him back from the brink on this one. Hipps’s last church was Mennonite. Anabaptists are definitely not into using technology for the purpose of engendering divisive debates around matters where there’s little substantial content to be discussed.

    Bell here claims to “just wanna ask some questions” etc. etc.. while throwing up a lot of “straw men” which he associates with orthodoxy … it’s a lot like what Spong’s created his career out of. It most certainly gets attention, sells books, gets you on talk shows, etc. etc..

    My hope is that Shane Hipps is able to convince Bell that this was cheesy and sleazy, Bell does some soul-searching, and comes out with a very genuine apology that acknowledges that his approach to things did need critique – and that he’s not really in a place to criticize those who “jumped the gun,” as it were.

  • http://rich-twoedgedsword.blogspot.com bradford

    Forgive my ignorance, what is a Calvinista?

  • Lisa LeMasters

    It seems to me that these legalistic Christians are a lot like the Pharisees of Jesus’ days. Jesus brought a message of love and grace yet the Pharisees wanted nothing to do with him and even wanted him killed. Rob Bell preaches about the love and grace of Jesus, yet the Christians of today want to condemn him for it, and they even go so far as to call him a heretic. Hmmmmm sounds a lot like Pharisees to me. I have long since been turned off by legalistic Christians who would rather judge than love. My question to them is what would Jesus do?

  • toddh

    Well, I hope all those questions he asks weren’t just straw men. They sound a lot like questions I ask myself every day.

  • Korey

    Mark (37) – Tony may have been goaded, as he himself concedes, but I take it that Rob has not. So Tony’s point still stands.

    James (49) – If Bell responds to this controversy it will invalidate Tony’s post. It will show that Rob does care.

  • Matthew

    I completely agree with this article and your perspective on Rob Bell’s stance with one key exception: I don’t believe for one second that “Rob won’t care”. Quite the contrary. He cares very much. I’m sure he very intentionally wrote what he did to inspire this debate. And, he is very excited to see where others take it. He just doesn’t care to be a part of the debate or defend his stance. There’s no reason to. The more time spent debating theology, the less time doing ministry. His goal is just to get people using their brains a little bit here and here.

  • Jim

    I have a question for you Tony, though it will likely get buried in the vast number of comments here.

    Rob Bell called John Piper’s theology an “endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies,” to which John Piper responded by saying, “Farewell.”

    What exactly is it here that makes Piper “condescending” and “flippant?” Why is it wrong for Piper to tweet about Bell’s errors, but right for Bell to make movies about Piper’s? Is it because Bell is an artist? Because he looks really sincere when he says it? I’m having real trouble finding the ethical distinction you’re making.

  • carla jo

    Jim,

    It seems to me the difference is that Rob doesn’t call John Piper out by name. He is talking about a theological perspective, not a person. Lots of people hold and teach that perspective–John Piper doesn’t own it. But Piper names Rob Bell, making his statement one that condemns a person, not a theology.

  • http://mjkimpan.wordpress.com mkimpan

    a few brief thoughts:
    • tony, AWFUL pic you chose of rob bell. but an EXCELLENT post.

    • re: john piper; i think he mispelled his tweet, which has stirred a bit of controversy. i believe he meant to declare himself in an eerie voice as ‘FALWELL, rob bell.’ from beyond the grave he speaks.

    finally, it amazes me how quickly and how upset people can get when we start challenging an obese census in hell. it’s as if the hint of universalism has taken away the ‘secret weapon’ of evangelical theology, the Hell Card.

    for a related post and discussion, see ‘ambassadors of reconciliation.’ http://tinyurl.com/4qxqzll

  • http://www.decapolislabs.com michael

    Hi, interesting topic.

  • Sean Rice

    On some level, I feel defeated for having let myself comment here – what I mean is that I wish I had the self control to stay out of this thread when I know the people here won’t bother to hear me in the first place. But it really seems as if we are criticizing the Calvinists for disagreeing with Rob Bell, for believing in Hell, and for thinking it important enough to take issue with Bell’s book in public (assuming that some things ARE important to respond to publicly, Hell ranks up there – it’s even in the Nicene Creed). You might not care about whether or not an eternal place of torment exists, but that doesn’t mean we have to call everyone else to that same level of indifference.

    2 more questions…

    1) When our issue is the tone of the Calvinists, is it really useful to descend to name calling (“right-wing Calvinistas”)? They haven’t been calling Rob Bell a “left-wing pinko commie.” It seems like we shouldn’t call them on their tone and then sink to a lower level of discourse than them.

    2) Are we praising Rob Bell for being indifferent, for (probably) being unwilling to take a call from a concerned brother in Christ? The whole post seems to be saying “Rob Bell doesn’t care about anything and probably wouldn’t take the time to listen to anyone – that’s awesome!” That’s disturbing.

    To think, I used to think you (Tony) and Bell were the pictures of humility. I’ve got both of your guys’ books on my shelf. Had I known that years later you would turn out to be indifferent (Bell), name-calling (Jones) jerks, I probably would have stuck with Donald Miller and C.S. Lewis.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Sean (64), While I can’t respond to all of the many comments in this thread, I will respond to your pointed critique. I think you’re reading between the lines, and thus you have not read my post fairly. While I have been critical of the Calvinistas (a tongue-in-cheek phrase that has also been picked up by the Out of Ur blog at Christianity Today) in the past, that’s not what this post is about. I don’t criticize the right-wing Reformers. Nor do I praise Rob Bell, as you indicate.

      In this post, I am not passing judgment on either party. I am, instead, trying to make an observation from where I sit. The bottom line of that observation is that Rob Bell doesn’t give a shit what John Piper thinks of him. I think that’s pretty clear. Sorry you couldn’t see that.

  • Jim

    carla jo, thanks for responding! I thought about that distinction, and it just won’t do. You’re saying that the ethical difference between Piper and Bell here “is that Rob doesn’t call John Piper out by name… But Piper names Rob Bell, making his statement one that condemns a person, not a theology.”

    But that can’t be the distinction, unless both you and Tony are rank hypocrites (and I don’t think you are). Because, you see, both you and Tony call John Piper out by name, condemning a person, not a theology. You’d be doing the very thing you’re criticizing Piper for doing. I don’t think either of you are that blind, so this can’t be the real ethical distinction. So I’ll ask again: if Rob Bell calls John Piper’s theology an “endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies,” and John Piper answers, “Farewell,” Why is Piper the condescending and flippant one?

    (You’ll notice Scot McKnight falls into this trap. Tony quotes him saying, “The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call.” The fact that McKnight is saying this, not in a private letter or phone call to Piper, but on a blog post is an irony almost too obvious to state. He’s on the internet criticizing someone for criticizing someone on the internet.)

  • brother r

    The real question is does Rob care that you think he does not care? Not responding to every critic, accuser and questioner DOES NOT =NOT CARING. It =wisdom to not allow his writing to be discredited by engaging in all the wrangling most “christians” seem to relish. Can a man who writes a book called “Love Wins” really “not care”? Since you admitted in the beginning of your post that you don’t know Rob personally at all why are you making so many assumptions and statements about him or how he feels about all this rucus.

  • carla jo

    Jim (#60)

    “both you and Tony call John Piper out by name, condemning a person, not a theology. You’d be doing the very thing you’re criticizing Piper for doing.”

    Did I do that? You asked what the distinction might be, I gave you a suggestion. You can accept it or not, but I didn’t condemn John Piper. I’m saying the difference between his approach and that of Rob Bell is that Bell doesn’t call out other pastors by name and criticize them. Piper does. You asked a question, I responded to it and now my answer is a condemnation? That makes me think you weren’t really looking for an answer to your question.

  • brother r

    Tony

    Are you quoting Rob on this whole “doesn’t give a shit” thing. I think it is unwise to put in bold type and in such strong language what you think someone you don’t even really know thinks.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Brother R (66) – it’s obvious that my previous comment is not a quote of Rob Bell.

  • Jim

    carla jo (62) – I can see how I wasn’t clear. I actually don’t think your answer is a condemnation at all. That’s actually my point. Your answer is polite and sensible (though, I think, wrong), while at the same time naming names. That just goes to show that naming names can’t be what distinguishes a condescending or flippant response from one more acceptable, like yours is. Naming names doesn’t make your post a condemnation, nor does it make Piper’s. So what, I’m asking, is the real difference?

    Tony – I see your point here (in response to Sean). Your post is meant as descriptive analysis, not judgment. But you must admit that when you refer to Reformed Christians as “Calvinistas,” “condescending,” Piper’s “tribe,” who want to “bait” Rob Bell and then “turn him out,” while Bell himself is an “artist” with a “special gift,” it certainly sounds, to a layman’s ear, like judgment. I believe you when you say you’re just “trying to make an observation from where I sit,” but your thinking is too sophisticated to pretend that where you sit is neutral. Nothing’s neutral, not even the “descriptive” terminology in this post.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    When you have a message that requires no ownership over people or their wallets, then you can freely share what you believe without worrying about critics. Those who try to control people, silence others, and threaten their congregations not to read books, are insecure in what they believe.

  • carla jo

    Jim (65)

    Fair enough. I’ll try to be clearer as well. I think it is condescending and flippant to tweet a “farewell” aimed at a specific individual, a tweet I take to mean the tweeter is suggesting the subject of that farewell is being somehow cast out of Christian fellowship or maybe just being cut off from having a relationship with the tweeter. I don’t think it’s condescending or flippant to make a broad theological point in a book meant to be read and thought about and discussed and argued about by any and all comers. One is a personal attack, the other is a philosophical attack.

  • CitG

    We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. No, John Piper is probably not a bigot. No, Rob Bell is probably not a heretic. But we’re all sinful, yes, and we all continue to make mistakes, but thank God, He’s working on us. Let us not glorify in our divisions, let us not celebrate when one pastor we like sticks it to another pastor we dislike. Why are so quick to assume the worst about Rob Bell? About John Piper? Dismaying… :/

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  • Greg Graham

    Tony, I hope you’re wrong about Rob Bell. I hope that Bell responds like John Wimber responded to his numerous critics. He sought them out, adjusted his teaching and practice in response to what they were saying (while sticking to his convictioins when necessary), and never gave up being in fellowship with them. And these were guys (like John Macarthur) who were BLASTING Wimber.

    Wimber’s humility emulated Christ – “Rob won’t care” is just being a smartass

  • http://www.aldoyle.com Al Doyle

    Tony:

    Nice take on the flap.

    Like your post.

    Love Rob Bell’s courage.

    Alas,

    Rob won’t care.

    And Rob won’t scare.

  • Mike

    Here’s the issue. If Rob Bell is teaching any form of universalism in his book, he is teaching heresy. Universalism impugns the character of God. It downplays His holiness. Man’s sin is not as bad as we thought when God’s holiness is degraded. This is a gospel issue, and therefore of utmost importance. I’m not in the business of seeking out heresies or heretics, but if the shoe fits, he must wear it.

  • http://mrshields.com Adam Shields

    Mike, saying what God must or must not do in order to be God seems to limit God a lot more than what I think Bell is likely going to do. There are a wide range of what some will call Universalism that has been a part of the church throughout Christian history. That is the whole problem with the conversation. There are some that are drawing a very sharp line where historically there has not been a sharp line. People want to call out CS Lewis and Tim Keller and John Stott for their variations but the fact that there are so many people with variations that are generally considered orthodox Christians is just a good example of why the discussion is not as big of a deal to the integrity of the gospel as some want it to be. Still we don’t know where Bell is coming down. So calling heresy even if it ends up being heresy later is still too early. Why is that not clear?

  • Charles

    “Universalism impugns the character of God.” @Mike, are you sure!?! Really!?! I am amazed when someone is sooo sure they know the character of God. I guess it makes life easier, living in a world where everything is black or white.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Universalism has just as many flavors as Baptists do. It is unfair to label the term Universalism as a blanket statement of heresy. Let’s not forget how the Catholics called the Reformer’s heretics as well. Do you also call Catholics heretics? Each person is on a journey to understanding all these theological details. A person need not believe in hell to be reconciled to God. Jesus is the way to God, not hell. Jesus + nothing. It’s not Jesus+hell, Jesus+the Eucharist, or Jesus + baptism. It’s just Jesus. Allow people room to breathe while they are on their journey.

  • http://www.ecksermonator.com/?p=1402 Jason Hess

    If Rob chose not to care would that really matter? That may very well be the best approach.

    After all you can’t win everybody.

  • Mike

    @Sisterlisa

    Do I call Catholics heretics? I believe Catholicism to be heresy, but I believe there are many true believers within the Catholic church who have yet to see the errors of Catholicism, just as was the case with Martin Luther.

    To your point about a person not needing to believe in hell to be reconciled to God…I will agree that Jesus is the way to God…the only way. But, what is it that Jesus has saved people from? Scripture indicates that Christ has saved His people from the wrath of God. Jesus taught that hell was a real place–a real place of real torment. What does it mean to believe in Christ? Does it mean that we simply acknowledge His historical existence and then BOOM! we’re ‘saved’?

    Any journey that does not lead to repentance (a turning away from sin) and faith in Jesus the Christ for salvation is a journey that leads to damnation. The call of the gospel is one of urgency. People are on their way to a real hell. There is a real judgment awaiting them. The Scripture is clear concerning this. So, if I’m considered mean, or not allowing people room to breathe, so be it.

  • Charles

    “Any journey that does not lead to repentance (a turning away from sin) and faith in Jesus the Christ for salvation is a journey that leads to damnation.”

    OK… Any journey that promises you a better life after you die is robbing you of your life here and now.

  • Mike

    Charles,

    I think that is a misconception about the Christian journey/life. I am not robbed of a good life here and now. In fact, because of fellowship with God, my joy may be full (see 1 John 1). Peace with God is far greater than anything this world could offer. I enjoy my life as a believer. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Charles

    Mike,
    Perhaps I do misconstrue your meaning, but I don’t think so. As a recovering evangelical I think I know what you were referring to. I spent decades in your world… now I feel free, and yes, the truth set me free.

  • http://www.alexgamble.blogspot.com Alex

    The Rob moves in mysterious ways.

  • http://www.andrewgrant.me Andrew

    It won’t just be Rob who won’t care. Neither will I. This culture of trading books on theological positions is just getting tired and counter-productive. Aren’t there souls to be saved in the West?

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Interesting.. I thought Jesus saved us from death and the grave. ;)

  • http://sites.google.com/site/holyhugs/ Jim Fisher

    It amazes me that people can respond with such authority without every having cracked open the book. Here is a link to someone who has actually read the book. You are all in for a surprise. And the marketing department wins. This actually makes me laugh.

    http://being-the-body.blogspot.com/2011/02/love-wins.html

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  • Mike

    Sisterlisa,

    Jesus certainly did save those who repent and believe from death and the grave. I will not argue against that. But, what does death and the grave entail? It is merely that we stop living and are placed in the ground to be food for the earth? To explain away hell requires ignoring much of Scripture. In fact, it requires that we ignore Jesus’ own warnings against hell. If we deny the reality of hell we call God a liar.

  • Mike

    Charles,

    I understand what you are saying, but you are sorely mistaken if you believe you are now set free by the truth. I sincerely pray that you repent and believe the true gospel of Christ. Take care, sir.

  • Charles

    Mike,
    Your reality is not mine. You take care as well. Peace.

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  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    That’s interesting..when I look at the 8 instances where some of the English translations say “hell”..I’m quite surprised..because in the Greek, Jesus never said hell. He spoke of Gehenna..which was a literal place..and in context he was warning people how NOT to end up there..being burned by those who don’t want them preaching the Gospel. He strongly cautioned them to obey HIM or they would end up there..but he never said HE was sending them there. And he also spoke of the grave because the grave meant death and Jesus came to raise from the grave. So if you want to examine passages of destruction(for ex: the passages of judgment when the destruction was to come)..then look at those in context, but don’t get those other passages confused with the so called “hell” passages that Jesus supposedly spoke of. Gehenna and the grave were specific. Gehenna’s practice began in the OT in the Valley of the son of Hinnom..pagan worship and sacrifices. The grave has always been an issue since Adam. Follow the passages from the beginning of the Bible all the way through. God’s pattern of prophesies and symbolisms do not change. They remain constant.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Other than Bell’s February 13th article on the CNN page, I have not had the opportunity to read his work.

    I am not a Protestant/Evangelical/Non-denominational/etc. guy, but every once in awhile I will delve into what’s going on in all the sexy gossip about the sexiest Evangelical figures, as what appears to be the case with Rob Bell. As you suggested, he strikes me as nothing much more than an artist, and really no less. I would imagine him having a similar response (or lack thereof) to the one you predicted. However, on either end, I really do not see much success coming from any of this (and perhaps I will be proven drastically wrong about that). John Piper, if he continues this road, will only fuel his own fury and the fury of his readership. He’s protecting a religious identity that stands or falls on the conservation of its vocabulary. And that’s understandable, but this is a religion, with, oddly enough, no church hierarchy to legitimize the RIGHT vocabulary. Rob Bell is, obviously, testing that identity via the re-configuring and transforming of that vocabulary. Of course, that’s what a good artist does. Right? I would think even conservatives like T.S. Eliot had a lot of revolutionary spit and vinegar in their blood. Whether by a stroke of pen or brush, an artist seeks and promotes a sub-culture of image and image relations that inspirit another facet of the high culture. I think that’s all this guy really seeks to do, or perhaps my lack of Rob-Bell-information attests to the contrary.

    John Piper is fighting with the wrong pen. Or, you’re right, maybe he shouldn’t be fighting with a pen at all. Bell carries all the traits and characteristics of a dodgy artist. And he will, at least, fill a temporary artistic hole in an American Protestantism that is trying to recover from an obnoxiously cheap imitation of various cultures surrounding it. I’ve found that some people within Protestantism are craving this artistic outlet, and others are simply sticking to a conservation of language, lambasting the former with what the latter takes to be the correct interpretation of those images (often labeled “heresy” or what-have-you). I’m reminded of the iconoclasts of almost every religion. Neither side really touches on a dialogue with the other, and they won’t until they recognize they have fundamentally different voices. Bells and pipes make different sounds. Both will have to acknowledge that. On a dialogical plane, they are two entirely different scripts, with entirely different styles, contexts, aims, and settings. Perhaps, first, they need to recognize their need of a dialogical plane to understand each other.

    And that seems to be the problem. The former (Bell’s readership) just isn’t dialoguing at all, while ironically insisting that dialogue and conversation is the key to a unified growth. The latter (Piper’s readership) attempts to force the Bell’s into a position they are stubbornly unwilling to admit if they spot any sign of what they often call “petty disagreement”. In some sense, I don’t blame either side.

    But, for starters, both need to develop a stronger sense of self-identity, or, as it appears, nothing will come of their personal goals. That’s how dialogue between nations work. That’s how dialogue within and without religions work. I hope both come to recognize exactly what it is they’re aiming for and what they are about in a more articulate, specific, and refined way. If that doesn’t happen, sense both are seeking the preservation of a religious identity, their messages will fade into nothing more than passé sales pitches. Good luck to American Evangelicalism. I hope for the best.

  • Sam Hendrickson

    It does not matter if Rob Bell doesn’t “care”. As I look at what careful writers have written, their arguments attack Bell’s ideas. In more wise, civil times, even saying “Farewell, Rob Bell” by one such as Piper, would have been construed as an attack on ideas, not persons. Piper, as several writers have already noted, is in the habit of attacking ideas, not people. But eventually, you have to say something needs to be done about the person who is doing the false teaching. Paul, James, Peter, and John have much to say on this–as does our Lord.

    But, this is the Tyra-ized, Oprah-ized, world we live in–if you attack and idea, you are a “hater.” Come ON–this is what stupid children do on their Facebook sites. Rob Bell has shook his fist in the face of orthodoxy with his writings from early on–he lampooned those who look at fundamental doctrines as foundational as adhering to “brickianity” not Christianity. He proclaimed that what he was espousing, and would espouse made him essentially the next Luther–what hubris! I spoke with a man recently who is a member where Bell is pastor–when I pointed out that Bell’s “trampoline” view of Christianity was clearly a statement that fundamental Christian doctrines could bend or be missing, and we could still call it Christianity, he agreed that it was troubling. But, he excused it away.

    When all is said and done, up to this point, Bell is promoting a new-liberalism, which doesn’t save souls, it damns them. It’s like the old Mainline Protestant Liberalism, but with cooler media, and relativism as its driving force, rather than Modernism. A basic, high-level reading of the Gospels and the Epistles shows this. If the initial hints are what they are, and are simply more of the same, then I hope Bell takes the warning from good men, and recants and confesses Christian doctrine rather than warmed over liberalism. And I pray that people will not be misled by his past and current message, and rather will embrace a Gospel with power to save (1 Cor 2:1 – 5).

    For His Cause and Glory Alone….

  • Sam Hendrickson

    @Andrew,
    from what are these souls to be saved? And by means? And why “Saved?”

  • Charles

    Brad – I think you under estimate Bell’s theological depth and influence. As for Piper, well, I bid him farewell quite some time ago.

    Sam – “Bell is promoting a new-liberalism, which doesn’t save souls, it damns them.” ..and you know this how? I tend not to listen to absolutists. Is there any room for dialog within your dogma?

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    I really don’t see this guy promoting a “liberalism” of any threatening weight to Protestants. Protestantism breeds a liberalism that is fundamentally rooted within its beginning points. Protestantism decided on a stopping point of “orthodoxy”, based on its ideas of new doctrines apparently contradicting older ones. And that was informed by its own INDIVIDUAL reading of history. There were plenty of church fathers and theologians of the counter-reformation who saw things QUITE differently. = I’m pretty sure that’s the case with Mr. Bell, and I’m afraid it’s not unjustified for a Protestant, or whatever he calls himself. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. The man’s reforming. That is, if what you argued is correct (taking on the position of Luther), he’s arguing that the character of the “Reformed” now is not quite matching up to the “Reformed” then. That seems logical enough for me.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Charles – I very well might be. I’m not very familiar with his work or readership. Perhaps that is something I should crack. Any suggestions?

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Good points, Brad.

    If we go all the way back to the Luther reformation, he was questioning a lot of theology the Catholic Church taught and still teaches today. If we respected Luther’s inquisition of the Catholic Church then why can’t others question Luther and still be respected? Who’s to say Luther was right 100%? Maybe Luther was wrong on some things and maybe the Catholic Church is wrong on some things, but you won’t know unless you question and I am pretty sure God isn’t as insecure with our questions as many of the popular Reformer’s are. This isn’t the Dark Ages. Let Bell speak and let people have the freedom to believe what they want. Insisting we have God all neatly package into our denominational boxes, isn’t doing God any favors. God is perfectly capable of leading people into all Truth on his own. If we can’t trust the Spirit of God to lead us to truth then how can we trust him to save our souls?

  • Sandra Duncan

    Good for him then! It is about time that Christians grow up and get a back bone. Thanks for the unbiased, non-judgmental attitude, refreshing!

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Well Sisterlisa, there’s the dialogical spirit I would expect from Protestants :)

    Sam, I hope you’re not planning on burning anyone at the stake.

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  • Anderson67

    Lisa,
    If you think that Jesus’ message just about love and peace then I suggest that you go back and read the Gospels. If you think the Pharisees were the legalists I suggest you back and read the Gospels. Certainly the unconditional love of God is at the core of Jesus’ message, but it is a love shaped by God’s law. When Jesus comes announcing the Kingdom of God what does He say?? He says “Repent for the Kingdom of God has come near!!” He doesn’t say “Hey live however you want to live because God loves you anyway.” as people like Bell and Jones would have us believe. If the Pharisees were the legalists then why was it Jesus Who cranked up the law when He confronted them such as when He told them that if they even had a lustful thought they were guilty of adultery. The Pharisees were trying to dull and reduce the law to something they could control. The reason why they didn’t like Jesus was because He was exposing them for the theological and scriptural frauds that they were. And how was Jesus exposing them?? With God’s law!!! The truth is people like Jones and Bell with their distortion of God’s Word are far more like the Pharises than people like Piper and McCarthur who are simply trying to uphold God’s Word.

  • Anderson67

    SisterLisa,
    Who is saying Bell can’t question assumptions? Of course he can. And people who disagree with him are free to challenge his assertions, are they not?

    And comaring Bell to Luther is absurd. Luther’s reforms were born out of his realization that the Romanists had departed from what scripture actually taught and what the first century church was teaching. He was fighting new doctrine not condoning it.

    And yes Bell claims that what he says is in line with the original intent of the biblical authors. But Bell is completely unable to provide any basis to support that claim from the scriptures or the church fathers. Luther can and does.

    This is the guy who said that if someone found inconclusive proof that Jesus was born of a man named Larry and not begotten of the Father, Christianity would not be affected. Such an assertion is ridiculous. Since it’s inception the church has always confessed Jesus to be the only begotten son of the Father. The fact that I realize this and point it out and call Bell on it, does not make me a narrow-minded legalist trying to put God into a denominational box. It just means I have a brain.

  • Anderson67

    Ooops, I mean he said that if someone found conclusive proof that Jesus had a father named Larry and not begotten of the father…

  • Charles

    Anderson67,
    And where is your open forum so we can discuss your rants, errrr postings. Your understanding of God’s intent and Jesus’ message/teaching, your theology, is not mine. Go get a beer and chill before you blow a gasket — really!

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  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    “And comaring Bell to Luther is absurd. Luther’s reforms were born out of his realization that the Romanists had departed from what scripture actually taught and what the first century church was teaching. He was fighting new doctrine not condoning it.”

    I don’t know if it’s really all that absurd, to be quite honest. Luther’s ideas of the “1st century church” were widely contested and considered pretty damn unorthodox by very credible authorities, scholars, saints, and theologian.
    If you want to pull the “orthodox” card or “church doctrine card”, read the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch (dated anywhere from 50-150 AD), a bishop ordained by Peter himself. I don’t know how else to put it, but his epistles aren’t very Luther/Calvin friendly, which makes it unsurprising that Calvin labelled them “trash.” Hell, Luther was one step away from ripping St. James’ epistle right out of the canon. I think he should have. It would have made it easier on Calvinists. And, well, he did decide that 6 Old Testament books didn’t belong there… And that DID make it easier for Protestants to be Protestants. His denial of the Petrine succession is obvious, and, well, St. Augustine’s not a friend to him on that one (and an endless amount of other things).

    I see a lot of Sola Scriptura Protestants (Sola Scriptura already labeled a heresy in the 11th century) on here trying to get other Sola Scriptura Christians to ostracize their rivals (e.g. Rob Bell and that evil Tony Jones) as “heretics”. That just sounds downright silly to me. Well, maybe, I guess it depends on how Luther re-defined a heretic, and he did re-define it. Theologians don’t monopolize on an understanding of a text, and then dish out the verdict. The Roman Catholic magisterium, as an already recognized and visible institution, excommunicated Luther, not a bunch of random theologians that decided they have the “true orthodox interpretation of Scripture.” They were an already established institution that reared Luther into who he was. Luther was the one who decided that this just isn’t the way to go, based off of his OWN interpretation of Scripture and his OWN interpretation of certain early church fathers. And sense we’re speaking in de facto language, St. Augustine was not within a galaxy close to Luther’s doctrine of Sola Scriptura. He explicitly defended the authority of Rome via the Petrine Succession ; Melanchton and Luther could not even agree on justification by faith and works or faith alone; and good luck finding any early or later Patristic father who comes even close to spelling out sola fide for you. I don’t know. Luther’s looking like a “liberal” already.

    My point is not to push Catholicism, Protestantism, Lutheranism, or Bellism. My point is that many of you are talking as if you’ve got a Protestant fact book floating above everyone else’s heads, as the ground for the only accurate way of “following God’s Word.” Tell me, exactly, what’s even the one “Protestant” way of reading Scripture? Because the moment that good ol’ Westminster Confession came out, shit hit the fan again. Protestant groups started accusing the other of being “unorthodox” or “heretical.” “What scripture actually taught”…. what’s that? Well… welcome to religion, my friend. Good luck trying to pound out that “right interpretation.”

    I have no problem with people claiming other people to have the wrong interpretation of a text. I do that all the time as a Philosophy student. But I’d be a little more hesitant with your words. The two-thousand year old text that YOU call Scripture (opposed to Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic canons) isn’t really all that clear and plain as day.

  • angie

    So you might have to eat your words a little!
    Rob Bell is speaking in NYC!
    http://lovewins.eventbrite.com/
    and livestreaming!

    And I couldn’t be more excited about it!

  • http://matybigfro.blogspot.com matybigfro

    I’m pretty sure Piper doesn’t class himself as being on the same team as you and Doug.

    I fancy that Rob does probably class himself as on the same team as you, Doug, Brian and even the Harris’s, Driscol and Piper (folks trying to work out the message of Jesus in the 2011).

    So far not taking the bait has worked for him and he’s reverd like a Rock Star. I kinda figure’s he’s doing what Brian tried to do at the start but cos He has less famous (and less opinionated {apart from Pete Rolins}) freinds he hasn’t had to jump into defend his freinds/patners like Brian found himself doing allot.

  • JJ

    It’s funny that those who judge others for seemingly been judgmental are just as judgmental. Perhaps the miscommunication, in this case between Piper via Justin Taylor and Rob Bell is not the one who may have misinterpreted it, but on Rob Bell. OR both if they cared, can fess up.

    This reminds me of some sort of bad marriage on who’s fault it is. It takes two to communicate and I doubt it’s all Piper’s fault. On first glance and with Justin Tayler, the video can give the impression that Rob Bell is advocating universalism.

    No one seems to frame this in the eyes of Piper. To a man (who’s not perfect) like John Piper, the perceived message of universalism is horrible news cuz he really believes in hell (the depiction of hell that most think of when asked about it). How horrible will it be if there was a hell with eternal torment and then someone says, ‘don’t worry about it. God’s grace covers it.’ To someone like Piper, he’ll obviously be alarmed.

    I think we have to really evaluate our own motivations as well in all of this. Like, it’s so hard to believe where this deep resentment for Piper has come from?

  • Charles

    Another very interesting read on the topic. I think it address JJ’s point, at least from one perspective.
    tinyurl.com/4kp9tys

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  • Jim

    carla jo (way back in 68)

    Thanks for your response, I’m glad we understand each other better. I suppose I’ll just have to disagree. The word “Farewell,” strikes me as rather grave and, if anything, pretentious rather than flippant. It seems to acknowledge the serious departure of Rob Bell from Piper’s theology, a departure Bell himself points out in the video. I can’t find anything flippant about it.

    I guess this is what I want to say. Justin Taylor says to pray for Rob Bell, and Tony calls him a condescending Calvinista. John Piper intones “Farewell, Rob Bell,” and Scot McKnight calls him flippant (and Tony calls him a Calvinista). The prayer and gravity here is all on the side of the Calvinists, and the name-calling is all on the side of the Emergents.

    This doesn’t at all mean that the Calvinists are right. I’m not try to say that at all. I’m just pointing out that if they’re wrong, they’re gravely, prayerfully, wrong. And if the Emergents are right they’re name-callingly, judgmentally right.

  • Charles

    Greg Boyd has weighed in….

    http://gregboyd.org/blog/

  • Becky Memmelaar

    A few years ago, I heard Rob Bell speak and I think your wrong Tony I think he does care what others think–he just believes the message is more important. He recognizes that being a prophet doesn’t make you popular, it puts a target on your back. Again he believes that the message too important, too important to contain.

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  • Michaela

    Hear Rob Bell regularly and that’s not enough for me. He is a magnificent teacher. Our call to eminate Christ is personified in Rob. I smile to hear all the old Bible faith preservers alive and well and waiting to crucify.
    Rob’s approach to the Bible is intelligent, honest, pondering a way to make it’s wisdom applicable to our times. I cannot wait to read his book.

  • andy

    Those who label the new calvinist as “right wing” are either deceitful or ignorant (I am not sure which is worse). It is a lazy smear that is quickly accepted by the emergent and angry atheist types. Any one who follows Piper, Driscoll, Keller, DeYoung and etc would know how far they shy away from “right wing” politics. It is my observation (disclaimer: this observation dates from over 10 years ago) that Rob Bell does act as if he does not care, because he has a creative, but inflexible mind and would not do well in a serious debate. When we get to heaven (at least until the existence of heaven is questioned) will we get to hang out with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and etc). For the good people that are not christians like Ghandhi that apparently will end up there, what is the standard that must be reached. I sure hope that the masses have enough good works to get to heaven as “good people” since Grace is now out with cool hip emergents.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    …and thick black rimmed glasses?

  • Charles

    @Brad, I’ll try and stay civilized – but it will be difficult.

    I find it quite amazing (maybe even amusing) that the bronze age concept of a stratified universe (up is heaven, mid is earth, down is hell) keeps being perpetuated within conservative Christianity. A slightly more enlightened concept (sarcasm on) is heaven (God’s Kingdom) is living as God designed you to live, going about seeking the divine presence of God as we live day-to-day, For me, being a disciple of Jesus is the here and now (intentional presence), and hell is rejecting all that and being separated from God, no Spirit of God in your life. (Hell is not an actual place.)

    All this is to say, that conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity, should do a little out of the box thinking. It will not damn you to hell.

    There, I feel better….

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Charles, do you mean to be responding to “andy”?

  • Charles

    Oops! Yes, indeed…. passion fogs the fingers and sense of immediacy. Thanks!

  • andy

    Why follow Jesus rather than another moralist?
    What purpose did Jesus’s death and ressurection serve?
    My for being such an enlightened postmodern are we not being a little judgemental? Again throwing around a bunch of labels (Bronze age thinking, fundamentalist) is a simplistic way of trying to put everyone that questions you into a box. The world is a tad more complex than that.

  • Al

    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1. KJV).

    Rob Bell is a false teacher and his rebellion against God is just like the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). I have seen the video clip to his new book “Love Wins.” Most likely it is going to be trash, but if anyone who is reading this comment, please, I beg you to not buy that book. If you are a Christian, you will obey the Bible and separate yourself (Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18) from this heretic Rob Bell, who is not a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. He denies the Bible, has a false gospel, and his god and the jesus that he talks about is different:

    For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (2 Corinthians 11:4. KJV).

    So please do not be deceived by Rob Bell, Tony Jones or any of these emergent church heretics. They are headed for destruction as the Bible teaches, and those who follow after them will be destroyed too (2 Peter 2:19-21). So please, anyone who has ears to hear, let them hear that Rob Bell and Tony Jones are heretics and they are leading you all to Hell with them. Turn from your wicked ways and turn to Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15). For those who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to what I wrote, then your destruction is imminent:

    For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Revelation 22:15. KJV).

    So if anyone of you who loves a lie, like the lies of Rob Bell, Tony Jones or any of the emergent church heathens, you will burn in Hell with those who make a lie. You have been warned.

  • Melody

    @Al: Using your style of “argument”: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
    No thank you, I’ll choose not to be deceived by a Pharisee like you. Thanks for playing, don’t try again.

  • Charles

    I was going to respond to Andy’s post (maybe I still will), but then our brother, Al, weighed in and made my point perfectly — from the other side of the wall. If you can’t cut through the haze to have a semblance of a dialog with those who think otherly what’s the point.

  • Scot Miller

    Al — What a hoot! Best laugh I’ve had this morning. Your parody of an utterly contingent, finite, fallible, historically conditioned human mind that can grasp without distortion the eternal, infinite, transcendent mind of God is a bit “over the top,” but that’s what makes it so funny! Thanks!

  • Mike L.

    Al,

    “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (2 Corinthians 11:4. KJV)”

    Which Jesus did the author of that statement preach? What gospel story did Paul have at his disposal during his life time? I hope you do realize that the various stories about Jesus in our modern Bible were not written when Paul wrote that statement. So what gospel is “the Gospel” for Paul and what gospel was “accepted” by the Paul’s audience in Corinth?

    Aren’t all Christians who preach from any of the four Gospels in the Bible actually preaching a different gospel than Paul? For that matter, all four of them present different messages and different images of Jesus.

    The bible doesn’t have one view of God. The New Testament doesn’t have one view of Jesus. Only a liar would presents the bible as a singular view on God and a single unified testament on the life of Jesus. We are given the paradox of multiple views. I don’t know you or your whole story, but if you are presenting a false overly simplistic view of the bible, then be careful who you call a liar. But don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll go to hell for your false teaching. I believe that love wins, even in the lives of heretics and false teachers. I believe that love can trump even the most fundamentalist teachings that often create hell in the lives of many innocent people. I can think of at least four versions of a great story that point us toward a different way, a different spirit, beyond exclusivity and divisive witch hunts. I believe love wins.

  • Al

    Wow! You people are lost.

  • Melody

    Wow! Best non-argument I’ve ever seen.

  • Al

    Melody,

    @Al: Using your style of “argument”: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
    No thank you, I’ll choose not to be deceived by a Pharisee like you. Thanks for playing, don’t try again.

    Thanks for playing? I can see that you’re a rebellious woman who shouldn’t even be speaking (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Melody, I am not playing, I am serious, and you people are lost. You need to get saved. A Pharisee? Do Pharisees obey the Bible, Melody? No they do not. Any true Christian that believes what the Bible says and obeys it is not considered a Pharisee. Melody, I can see that you are biblically illiterate and you will perish for your lack of knowledge:

    My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (Hosea 4:6. KJV).

    Matthew 7:1, is referring to hypocritical judgments not the righteous judgments that Jesus mentioned that a person can make in John 7:24:

    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

    Again Melody, you are biblically illiterate and you need to get into the Scriptures. Stop listening to these pimps and listen to sound true Gospel preaching ministers, so that you will be saved! And no Melody, I am not trying to deceive any one. Apparently, Jones, Bell, Pagitt, etc, are doing a great job in prostituting you and those who buy into this emergent church trash, which come straight out of Hell. You need to repent and trust in Christ. Stop rebelling against God or else you will lose.

  • Al

    Scot Miller,

    What a hoot? Apparently, I seem to amuse you, but I guess the Scriptures are right regarding heathens such as yourself:

    Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour (Proverbs 14:9. KJV).

  • Melody

    No, I will not be silent. I am a human being and will not fall prey to your misogynistic teachings. Who are you to decide whether I’m in rebellion? You are not a man of God who knows people’s hearts. You’re just a man. And a pitiful one, I might add, based on the evidence. People like you are the reason Christians are hated, because you perpetuate hate and prejudice. May God have mercy on your soul.

  • Al

    Mike L.,

    There is only one Gospel (Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Mike, your problem is that you are not a born again Christian. My hope is that by God’s grace, you become born again (John 3:3) and see that you are a lost sinner condemned to Hell. Only Jesus can wash away your sins.

  • Al

    Melody,

    No, I will not be silent. I am a human being and will not fall prey to your misogynistic teachings. Who are you to decide whether I’m in rebellion? You are not a man of God who knows people’s hearts. You’re just a man. And a pitiful one, I might add, based on the evidence. People like you are the reason Christians are hated, because you perpetuate hate and prejudice. May God have mercy on your soul.

    Yes, you will be silent, but being that you’re not a Christian, I guess you will continue to run your mouth. According to the Word of God, you are rebellious, and I am rightfully judging you because you have a deceitful and desperately wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9), and you need to be born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). Misogynistic teachings? Melody, is God a misogynist? You may want to look at these verses:

    Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1 Timothy 2:11-12. KJV).

    According to this passage, the woman is to be silent, so your problem is with God, not me. Melody, I’m just going to give you my last warning, I’m not even going to argue with you because you’re a spiritual jezebel, and you’re on your way to Hell. I am saying this with love. You’re sitting under false teachers (Tony Jones, Rob Bell, and other emergent heretics) who do not care anything about your soul. The only thing they want is for you to feel good and not worry about the wrath of God that abideth on you (John 3:36). You need to turn to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) in order for you to be saved, and depart from these wolves. God already had mercy on my soul. I was a lost sinner at one time, deceived by the traditions of men which you are under. But God saved me, and I hope he saves you too.

    Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16. KJV).

  • http://mrshields.com Adam Shields

    I think it is time to either close comments to ban a few commenters. Personally attacking people does not make an argument or rise to the level of scriptural rebuke. I think the topic has been discussed and now that the book is actually out we might be better served by actually discussing the book.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Melody and Al, I’m with Adam. This is your only warning. Tone down your rhetoric significantly or you will be permanently banned from commenting here.

  • Scot Miller

    Sounds like somebody’s off his medication….

  • Charles

    In an attempt to get back to a bit more rational discussion, Andy, here you go:

    “Why follow Jesus rather than another moralist?”
    In Jesus we see the human face of God. In Jesus we get a glimpse of God’s hope for humanity.

    “What purpose did Jesus’s death and resurrection serve?”
    Atonement theology within Christianity is an interesting study. Are you asking me which metaphor works for me? I’m not comfortable with any one in particular. They are all man-made explanations that attempt to explain God’s plan. I don’t think man can come close to thinking like God.

    “My, for being such an enlightened postmodern are we not being a little judgmental?”
    Enlightened postmodern?? Just because I comment on this blog doesn’t mean I embrace the post modern position on Christianity. What I DO like about it is the discussion, the dialog, which was one of the original stated intents of the emergent folk. When doctrine and orthodoxy start to be established I get nervous. The mystery of God is far more fascinating to me than dogma. I seek a glimpse of God. I come closest, but not close, in contemplative practice and studying some of the writings of its practitioners. Try read Merton, Bourgeault, or Rohr, sometime. You might find it interesting – even enlightening. I promise you won’t go to hell.

    “Again, throwing around a bunch of labels (Bronze Age thinking, fundamentalist) is a simplistic way of trying to put everyone that questions you into a box. The world is a tad more complex than that.”
    Indeed, the world is complex. I couldn’t agree more – and theology just as complex. All I was trying to do (poorly, I admit) was challenge certainty. The 35 years I spent in the evangelical church now feels like I was treading water — damn near drown.

  • Scot Miller

    Of course, Al could be a finalist in the “21st century Pharisee” contest. Good luck with that, Al!

    Sorry you lost your sense of humor in order to compete…

  • Al

    [This post has been removed by the Grand Overlord]

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Tony’s blog, Tony’s comment guidelines, respect the blog owner.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Do you see how, since the Catholic Church, that “hell” is used to silence people and put them in fear? Perfect love casts out all fear.

    Try checking the Psalms in Hebrew and see that it doesn’t say “hell” it says Sheol, which is the grave. Dead and buried in the dirt. And it also symbolizes your heart condition. But it never says “literal fire torture of your flesh and soul”

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  • Mike L.

    Al,

    It’s interesting that in order to make a case for “only one gospel” you needed to connect verses from 3 different documents written by at least 2 different people, spanning several decades (maybe as many as 40 years), none of which existed when Jesus was alive. None of which actually articulated it the way you do. I’m more interested in locating the gospel that was around before people in your particular strain of Christianity pieced them together in that particular way. I suspect that particular gospel would be much closer to the “good news” that Paul was talking about.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Is this when we call over the bouncer, tab out, and go home?

  • Andy

    Charles a much more gracious response, thank you. basically I see three possible “big picture heaven scenarios”
    1) good works or salvation by karma; following a bunch of rules (different for every group : no movies or alcohol (for some fundamentalist, despite token support for praying a simple formula); recycle and eat vegetarian (for others), pray 5 times a day towards mecca, make a pilgrimage and etc (for muslims) and the list goes on and on. The problem is whose list to follow? and also humans wreck everything; we destroy our earth and each other. every group sees the sins of others, but not their own. If we are honest do we really think our nature is good?
    2) no hell: this basically seems to regress to a naturalist world view in which this life is all that there is. The problem: 1) how depressing (I would take Pascal’s wager over this any day) 2) our universe is not eternal. Lemaitre’s “day without a yesterday” supported by Hubble’s red shifts, Peniasos’s background cosmic radiation and Perlmutters 1a supernovas drove a stake through the heart of the “naturalistic world is all there is” craze of a century ago.
    3) Grace/ atonement via Jesus’s death and resurection: explained much better than I could by Bono and/or Tim Keller (search engine: “bono grace over karma” or youtube tim keller talking at google headquarters.

    Rob Bells sphere of influence overwhelmingly seems gravitate more towards 1 or 2. I will be curious what happens with his new book (I wish Bell well and some limited interaction long ago, however the whole provocative thing gets old over time). I really do not get into blogging, so I wish all of you well. I might stop back some time in the future.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Urban Dictionary Definitions of “al”:

    1. “Short for alcohol. Also has a connotation of referring to someone.
    Everything was fine until Al decided to show up. After that, the whole night was a blur.”

    2. “What you can call Paul Simon.
    ‘If you’ll be my bodyguard
    I can be your long lost pal
    I can call you Betty
    And Betty, when you call me
    You can call me Al’”

    3. Arabic – “the”

    “If u were wonderin, that’s why so many Arab names of objects and organizations start with Al-this, Al-that. Like how many things of ours are called “The (whatever)”
    Al Qaeda = The Base

    Al Sadr = The breast

    Al Jazeera = The island”

    4. “A real bastard.
    Oh my god he’s a real Al him!”

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Alright, I’m in trouble.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    ok Al, if that’s the view you have of your god. Mine however is my soul lover and loves me as I am and I love Him as he is. Nothing you can say will change how I view God as magnificent in all His ways.

    and perhaps you’re right.. in the way you view being a “Christian” I am definitely not that kind of “Christian”.

    My God is living and breathing and very much alive today and LOVES you and me and everyone else. If your god hates people then it’s no wonder that manifests in you. And even though you continue to follow your puny god who you think has you set as teacher’s pet above me that’s ok too. Because My God still loves you and will save you no matter what you believe about Him or me.

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  • Al

    Sisterlisa,

    ok Al, if that’s the view you have of your god. Mine however is my soul lover and loves me as I am and I love Him as he is. Nothing you can say will change how I view God as magnificent in all His ways.

    Here is my reply: My God? Sisterlisa that is the God of the Bible. Your god does not love your darken soul because he does not exist. This god that you believe and worship is a false god:

    Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3. KJV).

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

    Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

    And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6. KJV).

    The God of the Bible is a jealous God, and you Sisterlisa are in spiritual fornication with a demon and you are unmindful of the Rock which has formed you:

    They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee (Deuteronomy 32:16-18. KJV).

    That is why you love your god/demon because he is just like you, dead. I know that I cannot change your reprobate thinking, but the Lord of glory can. God can make you a new creature in Christ Jesus.

    and perhaps you’re right.. in the way you view being a “Christian” I am definitely not that kind of “Christian”.

    Here is my rely: There is only one kind of Christian and that is the one who believes and obeys the Bible. Sisterlisa if you are not doing this things then you are not a Christian! You are a child of the devil (John 8:44).

    My God is living and breathing and very much alive today and LOVES you and me and everyone else. If your god hates people then it’s no wonder that manifests in you. And even though you continue to follow your puny god who you think has you set as teacher’s pet above me that’s ok too. Because My God still loves you and will save you no matter what you believe about Him or me.

    Here is my reply: Sisterlisa, I know that my comment is going to be deleted by this fool (Tony Jones) but I want you to know that if you continue in this path of sin that walking on, you will die in your sins and you will go straight to Hell. And I am not talking about the grave. Your false god does not love anyone or anything. Like I said before and I am going to say it again it does not exist. The Bible teaches that God loves His own that repents of their sins and trust in His one and only begotten Son Jesus Christ. But God hates all workers of iniquity:

    For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man (Psalm 5:4-6. KJV).

    The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: [this shall be] the portion of their cup (Psalm 11:5-6. KJV).

    As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Romans 9:13. KJV).

    God commands everyone to repent Sisterlisa including you (Acts 17:30). Just as God hates the sin and the sinner, I do too. It is a mark of holiness, that true Christians possess.

  • Michaela

    Dear Al,

    1 John 4:16-18

  • Scot Miller

    I’m certainly thankful that Al isn’t God and can’t speak for God. If he could, then God would be one messed-up puppy to bring sentient human beings into existence only to send them to an eternal hell. Ouch.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Sisterlisa and Al, just thought I’d throw my two cents in, partially for the sake of a clearer understanding on my end, and partially for clarity between both of you. I see a lot of equivocations and emotional pleas flying around like crazy, which is understandable, given a discussion about your soul’s potentially rotting in a supernatural stove. All things considered, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, maybe you could clarify your positions. And maybe I missed something in the long train of comments and commenters. That could very well be the case.

    Al, I’m sure Sisterlisa realizes the potential danger she puts herself in by rejecting your concept of God (which may or may not exist… let’s just begin with a consideration of that). So, given the etiquette typically demanded in a theoretical forum, can we avoid evangelizing for a little bit? Just for the sake of understanding where, exactly, you’re coming from? And where you see her going? Besides Hell. After that, I’m sure you can deliver some good ol’ gospel truth. Now, you obviously believe in Hell. You might even be the next Jonathan Edwards, given your style. (1) Is that a real “place”? Is it a condition? Is it what? Secondly, you seem pretty damn sure the whole lot of us will be there. So, no offense taken, (2) does that mean heresy gets you there? (2a) What are the fundamental conditions for keeping me out of there? and, (2b) most importantly, why?
    Now, I don’t take any of this personally, so don’t take this as an attack on you. I’m okay with people telling me I’m going to Hell. I’m a Catholic living in the Bible belt. I get it all the time. I also respect it. As a matter of fact, I’ll let you evangelize to me after you clarify your remarks on the above questions, if Tony’s okay with that. And, yeah, I would respect his decisions, given that you’re a visitor on his blog. He seems like a pretty nice guy anyway.

    Siserlisa, well, I’m just confused as to where you stand altogether. I’m actually confused as to where most of the people siding with you (ostensibly) stand. And maybe that just means you’re open to the questions and not set on any one answer, just yet in your life. Great. If that’s the case. If I wasn’t Catholic, that’s probably where I would be. I sometimes wish I wasn’t, because of that. Anyway, (1) do you believe in Hell? (1a) Is there a possibility anyone’s going there if you do?

    Thanks kiddos

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Al has greatly misunderstood who I am and his opinion of me doesn’t shake my faith in Christ. It doesn’t bother me one bit that he thinks I’m going to hell. I don’t fear hell.

    Perfect love casts out all fear

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Brad,
    I appreciate the kind questioning of my faith from you. People with opposing views don’t threaten my faith in Christ. My husband and I are missionaries and minister to people of all sorts of religions including Atheists and various denominations of Christianity. There are indeed some things I hold firmly to and other things I hold loosely, because God hasn’t cemented some things in my mind yet. With the ministry God placed in our path, we have had to study what people really believe in order to understand them. For one simple reason, so we could put those disagreements aside so we could love them. If we know where a person is in their journey, we can avoid those things which divide and focus on the one thing that unites, love.

    It’s been quite a ministry and some pastors in our neighborhood know of our ministry and support us, even though we don’t hold to their creeds. They have blessed our ministry and say that it is a vital ministry. It’s an area that most churches can’t minister in because of those divisions. But it’s so necessary.

    Jesus clearly said that the only way to the Father is through himself. He also said no one can come unless the Father draw them to Christ. How God chooses to do that is in His area of expertise, not ours. While some preachers might choose to preach hell for unbelievers(Atheists), that’s like trying to gather bees with vinegar. They don’t buy it. But is the Gospel = “convince Atheists of hell” or “love them” because it is the kindness of God that draws people to repent? Romans 2:4

    God chose to smite Saul(Paul) with blindness in order to draw him to Christ and be reconciled to Father. Paul had obeyed the Torah vehemently to the point of killing those who didn’t follow it. By the Jewish standards, Paul was “doing right”, but Christ clearly said, “Why do you kick against the goads?” Jesus wanted Paul to love people, to stop persecuting them, and go preach reconciliation to the Gentiles. Paul’s messages to the Gentiles was not quite like Peter’s messages to the circumcised.

    John Piper believes he is called of God to preach to a specific people. Not only his assembly, but to any who will listen to him. Maybe God in all His sovereignty WANTS some people to hear some of what John Piper has to say. However, John Piper is not the ONLY preacher in the world. Tim Challies believes he has a message to share to his assembly and any who will listen. Who are we to say HE has it “wrong” for ALL people or that he has it “right” for ALL people? Then you have Rob Bell, who believes he is called to find a way to teach HOW to love the unloveable. Maybe Rob Bell is a ‘Gentile’ preacher and Piper and Challies are of the ‘circumcision’.

    We are not Jews and Gentiles anymore. “there is neither Jew nor Gentile” We are all ONE in Christ. Today we are “Calvinists, Baptists, Non-denominationalists (whatever that means) and Universalists” but really.. we all believe in Christ.. we are One in Him. God told Peter, “Do not call them unclean, for I have cleansed them.”

    By today’s description of the church in Corinth, many might say they were ‘out of control pentecostals’… but to Paul.. they were brethren and under grace, deeply loved by God. 1 Cor 1:2-4

    Maybe all the arguing going on in Corinth is why Paul wisely said, 1 Cor 2: 2 “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

    May we all be more attentive to loving one another and accepting that we all still claim Christ and him crucified.

    Let each one have their journey to understanding God, but may it begin with love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    So, judging by your implications, you’re agnostic about hell, altogether?

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Brad, you asked me these questions specifically.. ” (1) do you believe in Hell? (1a) Is there a possibility anyone’s going there if you do?”

    I don’t want to get into a detailed in depth study on this in a comment section, but I do study patterns of prophecy and teachings in the Bible beginning Genesis 1 to the end of Revelation (in chronological order) and I see “hell” a bit differently than tradition teaches. I am writing out my research and will present it publicly on my blog for any who wishes to hack away at it. I don’t fear being questioned, I just ask for it to be respectful. I believe there are several types of judgments described in the Bible. For ex: The Flood is a different type of judgment than God told Israel that they were going to get. The type of judgment the Sanhedrin court inflicted on people (Matthew 5) is different than the type of judgment Jesus warned his disciples about in Matthew 25. I do not believe that the ‘flood type’ of judgment will happen again like that. God promised no more floods like that. But do nations still suffer floods? Yes! So as you can see, the word ‘judgment’ is not always the same. I DO believe there are judgments still. I think it’s obvious by watching the news, don’t you?

    So I have to base my answer of your second question based only on my own understanding of what “hell” is, fair? And you may not understand this entirely until I publish, and you read, my research.

    I believe firmly that there are judgments, for different nations and in different eras. I believe God still sends preachers to warn people and those who don’t listen and don’t believe will suffer the consequences that come in those judgments. Just the same as was prophesied throughout the ages to all sorts of nations.

    As far as the afterlife goes, I, personally, leave that in God’s hands..for the simple fact that so many denominations have varying beliefs about that. Some believe in such wild imaginations about heaven and hell that their behavior puts people into a panic of fear and harsh judgmentalism. Even when Jesus spoke of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, he said “fear not”. All those things needed to come to pass. I believe Jesus was very much interested in teaching us how to live out the Kingdom life NOW, and I don’t see a whole lot of that kind of teaching be shared among Believers. Or maybe it’s just looking like that in my side of the world anyway. What I saw happen in Rwanda, sadly reminds me of a lot of this hype in Christianity today. The Hutu spread fear and panic about the Tutsi to the point of radio announcements calling them cockroaches and what wretched cockroaches they are. (consider Westboro Baptist Church) When the people listened to the Hutu and began believing what they were saying about the Tutsi, they began their genocide to eliminate all Tutsi from Rwanda. Do we really want to see Christianity become like that? “Those Universalists are from the DEVIL!!! Stop them from speaking and writing books, STOP THEM!!” golly, where is Christianity headed anyway? Back to Rwanda?

  • Scot Miller

    Brad– Since the topic of Tony’s original post was about Rob Bell, and since Rob Bell has been accused/suspected of “universalism,” and since people are taking off on this rather vague notion of “universalism” from their various (sometimes confused) starting points, I think it’s a good idea to ask where people are coming from, and what they mean.

    While it would be good to actually hear how Al would address your questions, I don’t think it would be unfair to say that he accepts traditional dogmatic orthodoxy: hell is an ontologically real condition of eternal torment and separation from God, heaven is the reward for salvation from sin, salvation is only possible through the gracious substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, which we must accept by faith (salvation by grace through faith), and the default direction for human beings is hellbound (with the exception of the few who accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior).

    I would suspect that Sisterlisa’s explanation about where she and the people who side with her stand is still not so clear, even after her exposition: everyone is saved/reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, who is love. Of course, the problem is that using the passive voice, “everyone is saved” is ambiguous: does it mean that every human being without exception is saved, or that every human being who is saved is saved through Jesus Christ, who is love, but not everyone is saved? It’s also not so clear how she understands “hell,” whether she rejects the ontological reality of the condition or understands “hell” in some metaphorical sense. And because she avoided affirming or denying “hell” in any sense, she couldn’t answer whether anybody will end up there permanently or even temporarily.

    Since you say you are a Catholic, and since you apparently don’t have the freedom to seriously question Catholic doctrine (since you wish you could just be open to questions and not hold a final answer, but you can’t), I would assume that you believe that salvation is possible through Jesus Christ and participation in the sacraments of the Church, but Hell can be interpreted differently (literally, figuratively, etc. My hunch is you don’t believe that hell is a place where unsaved souls rot in a “supernatural stove.”)

    The question for you then becomes, are people outside the Church saved, and if so, how extensive is salvation outside the Church? If I remember correctly, Karl Rahner argued that everyone is saved through Christ, but not everyone calls Christ by the same name. To the extent that someone responds to the grace of God in their lives, whatever the religious context, that person is “saved.” They are “secret Christians.”

    I think the problem is that “universalism” can be understood in different ways. At its most basic, I think it’s the idea that everyone winds up in the same condition in the afterlife (e.g., we all wind up in heaven, we all wind up in purgatory, we all wind up in hell, or we all just die and cease to be). To be honest, I think some kind of purgatory seems plausible, especially since justice seems to demand that people get what they deserve, but nobody deserves an eternal punishment for a temporally finite amount of evil they do in their lifetimes (and here I include Hitler, Pol Pot, Judas, and Rush Limbaugh). Then people can get what they deserve, but not more than they deserve. (I also find it implausible that God would be interested in sending someone to hell simply because they didn’t accept certain propositions to be true in their heads, like “Jesus died for my sins” or “I accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior,” etc. I would hope God is more interested in how we live and treat each other than what we believe in our little pea brains.)

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Gotcha. I hope I engage you on this one. I’m only trying to capture the big picture of what’s going on, so hopefully this addresses, in a roundabout way, your beliefs.

    It seems you’re really taking a pragmatic angle with all of this, and it seems to be the case with many of Bell’s readers. And maybe that’s the gist of the gap between the Pipers and the Bells. That seems to be most of it, anyway. However, what seems to be harmless pragmatism to you is seen by many people within your religious culture as an objective negation of the world they thought they shared with you.

    I have to be honest. I really don’t see too many scholars or public evangelists frightening people with the concept of Hell these days. Which is why I am not all too sure why Bell’s topic was such a pressing issue for so many people. I am more familiar with what goes on in right-wing Protestant circles (“right-wing” is not meant to be a pejorative term) than I am with more progressive circles. Even in the former circles (e.g. Al Mohler, Piper, J.I. Packer, etc.), I find terms like “heretics” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, thrown around excessively, but hardly ever, if ever, do I find them condemning people to hell (with the exception of guys like “Al”). That may be the way it feels to many people, but I think it’s meant to be more of an attack on “ideas” than persons, as one gentleman already mentioned here.

    What I think is confusing most people, and even themselves, is that they talk as if they have an institution they are physically removing and banning people from. The only problem is, they don’t, which is why it sounds awkward, silly, and off-set, especially to non-Evangelical Christians.

    However, I have to be honest, I respect their pleas, on some level. Anyone having an understanding of their own religion and culture will naturally treat “dissenters” within that culture more bitterly than outsiders. It is one thing to be an anthropologist, for instance, and make observatory judgments on what is going on within a particular culture, while utilizing an outside language to evaluate it. But when a member of that culture attempts to re-write the script with contradictory language, she poses a threat to the cultural identity of those, within the lay culture especially, trying to define themselves by the script they’re traditionally given. That given, I don’t blame Piper. He is trying to preserve and defend an identity of some shape or form. Of course, the question is who has the actual script and if there is one, right?

    In that case, I would think Bell would want to pose the questionability of that identity, and whether or not it exists in the first place. If that is what Bell is doing, it will be a valuable contribution to what is going in Protestant America right now, which, to my understanding, is steeped in a severe identity crisis. If he’s just trying to get people to “love people” more, well, positing a contradictory notion just to make people more engaged in certain behaviors and practices isn’t the way to go. You’re only going to enrage the more theoretically minded who recognize the importance of preserving certain doctrines and normative marking points within their religion, and rightly so.

    Here’s a little tid-bit from my side of the fence. Maybe this will help. As a Catholic, I don’t deal with the question of whether or not someone is “saved.” That terminology doesn’t make sense to me, because I have no right to make an eternal declaration over my soul and neither does the Pope or anyone in my Church. Although, some, such as the Pope, do reserve the right to excommunicate me from the Church, and I am okay with that. Catholics believe in Hell, but we have no clue whether it’s empty or full. We don’t try to know. But we do have a list of heretics. One is an eternal mystery, and the other is a temporal declaration over those who have hindered the path we have chosen as Mother Church. The two are worlds apart. We leave the eternal mysteries up to God, but we believe we have a dire need to continue writing the script for the temporal order of our existence. It helps us remain unified and recognizable as Catholics. It helps us understand ourselves, so that we can live more meaningful lives.

    As for fear of Hell, every time I confess my sins to a priest, I say it, on some level, out of fear of Hell. But that fear doesn’t make me love God any less or frightened of Him anymore. Hell helps me realize that I am meant to be in eternal communion with God, and not in eternal separation from Him, which is all “Hell” means. Given that, Hell is a descriptive tool for helping me understand that my natural habitat and pleasure is the Eternal Presence. It is unnatural and necessarily painful for me to choose the negation of that. There is nothing unorthodox about what I said, either. It is the “traditional” concept of Hell for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Even Dante realized this. Hence, his realized need to present a fiction for us to relate to in our grand narrative of Catholic Christianity.

    This is all easily understandable for me, however, because I am part of a definitively physical and visible culture or, more specifically, cult. We go through rites of initiation, and we recognize these rites to be part of the package-deal. When we defy our fathers and mothers and Catholic norms, we defy our own identity as Catholics, hence, we have chosen something else.

    I think that’s where the confusion lies, however. Piper is using language that doesn’t really fit the role he plays. He’s using the language of a “father”, when no one has ever called him “father Piper.” In a culture where people DID call him “father Piper”, that would be more easily accepted. Hence, that’s why I see much of this coming down to a confusion about identity. It seems the Bell-types don’t even recognize Christianity (or Christ-following) as a religion, and, hence, don’t see the need or legitimacy of calling anything “heresy”. I guess the bigger question is “what does it really mean for one to be a Christ-follower?” Are there religious strings attached, or are there not? I don’t know, am I hitting the right note?

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Oops, and my last comment was a response to Sisterlisa.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    “The question for you then becomes, are people outside the Church saved, and if so, how extensive is salvation outside the Church? If I remember correctly, Karl Rahner argued that everyone is saved through Christ, but not everyone calls Christ by the same name. To the extent that someone responds to the grace of God in their lives, whatever the religious context, that person is “saved.” They are “secret Christians.’”

    Scot, even though I was initially responding to Sisterlisa, did I answer this question clearly enough?

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    I didn’t know much about Bell until the others guys started bashing him. I think I remember watching a couple of his short videos about love and saw people criticizing… love..which I thought was odd, I thought Christians believed in loving others. I’m not out to find fault in Bell or the other guys, I just wish they would allow Bell and others (no matter what their denomination is) the freedom to study and present their research without getting abused. I found the term Soul Liberty to be where I fit best, thus my blog Soul Liberty Faith. My two greatest statements (creeds) Love God and love others.

    If there were no “hell” would people still choose Jesus? or is that the only reason they follow Christianity?

    How do we engage today’s culture with Agape? By throwing hell around? Ya that oughtta get their attention about LOVE. {sarcasm} ;)

    I appreciate the intellectual discussion, Brad. I think I’m understanding the desire people have with preserving their culture of Christianity, but not all Christians embrace the same traditions. And just because one group of Christ-followers doesn’t believe in hell, or speaking in tongues, etc..should not threaten the existence of another group’s religious culture. If people WANT to remain with them, they are free to do so. And if people choose to depart from them, they have that freedom also. Just because someone leaves Calvinism to fellowship and worship with Pentecostals or Universalists doesn’t make them lose their salvation. Is our salvation anchored in the gifts of tongues, hell, or head coverings for women? I thought our salvation is anchored in Christ. Let each group of Christians have their culture and interpretations. God sorts everything out for each person in His timing. He never asked us to be wolf hunters, he said “be fishers of men”. In their day fishing was not done with a ‘lure’ and ‘hook’ to ‘snare’ the fish. So why does religion do it that way? Back then they simply tossed a net out and by faith, the fish were caught up in the net and pulled into the ship. The fish didn’t “choose” the net, it was thrown out over them and ‘caught’ them.

    I am certainly trying to be careful how I express my views here. And is it any wonder why I do with the kind of abusive responses I’ve gotten? I mean really… in “spiritual fornication with a demon” ?? If I was an unbeliever, there’s no way I would choose that kind of “Christianity”.

    and right too.. it’s a good thing Al isn’t God.

  • Melody

    Very well said, Sisterlisa. You have a way of expressing what so desire to, but too often I let my passion get the better of me. I figure I’ve been so exasperated by all the hoopla surrounding Rob Bell, that Al was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, and I didn’t respond well. It really got me to thinking about how I represent Christianity as well. And you’re right: we get caught up in these heated theological “discussions,” and forget the most important thing: love. I hope to be as generous and patient as you have been, especially in response to people like Al.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Thanks, Melody. Trust me, I bit my tongue a few times before responding to our “passionate” brother, Al. ;)

  • Al

    Sisterlisa and Melody,

    Since you claim to be Christians, what is the Gospel?

  • Al

    Michaela,

    1 John 4:16-18? That is a great passage of Scripture, but it applies to real Christians. Are you a Christian?

  • Al

    Brad,

    Al, I’m sure Sisterlisa realizes the potential danger she puts herself in by rejecting your concept of God (which may or may not exist… let’s just begin with a consideration of that). So, given the etiquette typically demanded in a theoretical forum, can we avoid evangelizing for a little bit? Just for the sake of understanding where, exactly, you’re coming from? And where you see her going? Besides Hell. After that, I’m sure you can deliver some good ol’ gospel truth. Now, you obviously believe in Hell. You might even be the next Jonathan Edwards, given your style. (1) Is that a real “place”? Is it a condition? Is it what? Secondly, you seem pretty damn sure the whole lot of us will be there. So, no offense taken, (2) does that mean heresy gets you there? (2a) What are the fundamental conditions for keeping me out of there? and, (2b) most importantly, why?

    Here is my reply: Well Brad, with the previous comments that Sisterlisa has made, she does not realize the potential danger that faces her when she stands face to face with the true God of the Bible. Why? Because she knows not God and his son Jesus Christ. It is not my own concept of God, I’m just proclaiming the God that’s talked about in Scripture. Brad, the real God does exist, whether you want to believe in him or not. You have to face him one day because you are guilty of sin. Yes, I do believe in Hell, and it is a real place. But according to your world view Brad, I am assuming it is not a real place to you or it doesn’t matter. But I will respond to the questions that you have asked me.

    23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

    24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

    25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

    26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

    27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

    28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

  • Al

    Brad,

    Al, I’m sure Sisterlisa realizes the potential danger she puts herself in by rejecting your concept of God (which may or may not exist… let’s just begin with a consideration of that). So, given the etiquette typically demanded in a theoretical forum, can we avoid evangelizing for a little bit? Just for the sake of understanding where, exactly, you’re coming from? And where you see her going? Besides Hell. After that, I’m sure you can deliver some good ol’ gospel truth. Now, you obviously believe in Hell. You might even be the next Jonathan Edwards, given your style. (1) Is that a real “place”? Is it a condition? Is it what? Secondly, you seem pretty damn sure the whole lot of us will be there. So, no offense taken, (2) does that mean heresy gets you there? (2a) What are the fundamental conditions for keeping me out of there? and, (2b) most importantly, why?

    Here is my reply: Well Brad, with the previous comments that Sisterlisa has made, she does not realize the potential danger that faces her when she stands face to face with the true God of the Bible. Why? Because she knows not God and his son Jesus Christ. It is not my own concept of God, I’m just proclaiming the God that’s talked about in Scripture. Brad, the real God does exist, whether you want to believe in him or not. You have to face him one day because you are guilty of sin. Yes, I do believe in Hell, and it is a real place. But according to your world view Brad, I am assuming it is not a real place to you or it doesn’t matter. But I will respond to the questions that you have asked me.

    23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

    24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

    25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

    26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

    27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

    28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment
    (Luke 16:23-28. KJV).

    To respond to your third question, the answer is yes, a lot of you will end up in Hell. That’s what the Bible clearly teaches:

    13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (Matthew 7:13. KJV).

    18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation…
    19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners… (Romans 5:18-19. KJV).

    The answer to your fourth question is yes, heresy does get you there (Hell), as well as other sins too.

    19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21. KJV).

    With heresy, meaning false teachings that are contrary to what the Bible teaches (such as Universalism, Praying to Mary, Entering Heaven by good works, belief that all religions will give access into Heaven, deny Jesus Christ as God Almighty in the flesh and the only way to Heaven, etc).

    To answer your fifth questions, one must be born again (not going to Church or being baptized by water) by the Spirit of God:

    3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3. KJV).

    The effect of this new birth is obvious because a person will hate his life, this world, mother, father, brothers, sisters, wife, children, and anything that gets in the way of God, one will and must hate:

    26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26. KJV).

    13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13. KJV).

    A person will have godly sorrow that leads to repentance (turning away from sin).

    17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psalm 51:17. KJV).

    This will lead a person to call out to Jesus so He can have mercy on the soul.

    13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13. KJV).

    Brad, you must believe the Gospel in order to be saved:

    31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31. KJV).

    You must believe these things because it is the only message that God has ordained in order for the sinner (such as yourself) to be saved from sin, God’s wrath, and Hell.

    12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12. KJV).

    So Brad, I know that these are probably not the answers you are looking for based on your world views, but I know of no other way to answer. I am not here to give popular opinion to satisfy anyone. I am here just to proclaim God’s truth, hoping that it will set the sinner free (John 8:32).

  • Al

    To everyone that are offended at my comments, all I have to say is:

    Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16. KJV).

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Never said you were an enemy, Al. So that verse doesn’t apply. And just because you weave your passages in a manner out of context doesn’t make it truth.

    I have no need to fear, because I DO know the Living God. You do not question my salvation because of who I am or what I believe, you question my salvation ..because you question Christ’s ability to save me.

    Belief in hell doesn’t save a person.
    Disbelief in hell doesn’t cause one to lose their salvation.

    The Gospel is CHRIST!

    And that’s all I’ll be saying to you any further. Peace.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Well Al, thanks for the response. It looks like I’ve got at least a couple of heresies to shake off while I’m on the highway to Hell:

    I prayed a whole Rosary yesterday, so that’s like praying to Mary at least 50 times in one day. I did some good works yesterday (not many, but a few), as well. I’m also drinking a gin and tonic right now (I don’t know if that matters). Alright, well it’s Lent, so I have to go purposely avoid eating meat and perform a few penitential acts.

  • Scot Miller

    I think I pretty accurately characterized Al,and I didn’t have to take as much space too say it as he did.

    Al, I disagree with your interpretation of scripture. Quoting more scripture won’t be more convincing, because you haven’t really convinced anyone of your interpretation. (When I said you were a hoot, I was trying to use humor to draw attention to the fact that you think that your understanding of scripture is identical to God’s mind, which is funny. How can a finite, temporal being understand the infinite, eternal reality of God except in finite, temporal, and historically conditioned ways.)

    And yes, Al, I think I take the Bible far more seriously than you do. It is not the words of scripture, but that to Whom the words of scripture testify, that matter. I will not let you or anyone else control the interpretation of scripture, because the Bible can become the living word of God in the community of believers. Neither you nor I have God in our pockets, and no one can control how God acts or speaks. I am a Christian because I affirm that God’s saving grace was mediated to me through the Bible, which became the word of God in my experience.

    Brad–Your approach to the dispute about eternal destiny is refreshing. I wish more Protestants (and especially Evangelicals) would pay attention to a Catholic approach.

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  • Al

    Sisterlisa,

    Never said you were an enemy, Al. So that verse doesn’t apply. And just because you weave your passages in a manner out of context doesn’t make it truth.

    Here is my reply: Then why are you offended at the truth? If it does not apply to you, then why respond? I believe it does apply to you Lisa and others, such as Brad, Scot Miller, Tony Jones, Melody, and others who are enemies of God. It is easy for you to say that I am taking these passages out of context, but how am I doing that? Sisterlisa, you are an enemy of God, plain and simple:

    Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4. KJV).

    I have no need to fear, because I DO know the Living God. You do not question my salvation because of who I am or what I believe, you question my salvation ..because you question Christ’s ability to save me.

    Here is my reply: You do need to fear God, because it is the beginning of wisdom. But you are a fool who despises wisdom and you will be destroyed for it:

    The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7. KJV).

    You do not know God, because you are self deceived:

    The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9. KJV).

    Lisa, Melody, Scot, Tony, and others who want to foolishly think that you are Christians, this is what’s going to happen to you:

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23. KJV).

    You may be fooling yourselves and others, but you will not fool God, who knows the hearts of men:

    Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast [day], many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all [men], And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man (John 2:23-25. KJV).

    You see Sisterlisa, you, Brad, Scot, Melody, and others will be destroyed! Because you despise the word of the Lord:

    Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed… (Proverbs 13:13. KJV).

    Belief in hell doesn’t save a person.
    Disbelief in hell doesn’t cause one to lose their salvation.

    Here is my reply: I do not believe in that, so I do not know who you are referring to.

    The Gospel is CHRIST!

    Here is my reply: Be more specific please. Again, what is the Gospel? CHRIST? Dear, you have a different Christ. Your Christ is inclusive. You see, Jesus in the Bible is exclusive, meaning that He is the only way to get to heaven. The Scriptures commands separation from people like Tony Jones, Rob Bell, and all of these emergent church foxes. These people are wolves and abominable. I see that Melody won’t answer, do I guess she does not know. True Christians know the Gospel.

    And that’s all I’ll be saying to you any further. Peace.

    Here is my reply: That is because you do not know the Gospel. You do not have to be ashamed to admit it. Sisterlisa, you do not believe in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know this by your fruit:

    Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:16. KJV).

    You will be held accountable for every idle word that comes out of your unclean lips:

    Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:5. KJV).

    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36. KJV).

  • Al

    Brad,

    It is sad that you have chosen to continue down the path of your own destruction.

    And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. KJV).

  • Al

    Scot Miller,

    It is not my interpretation, I just quoted Scripture. You stated that you take the Bible seriously? I don’t think so because if you did, then you would not have disagreed with me who is speaking truth, and align yourself with those who speak falsehood. The proof is that you foolishly praised Brad who is a hater of God regarding his approach about eternal destiny. Fear God and repent.

  • Melody

    No Al, I won’t answer because I’ve decided that there is far better use of my time than wasting it trying to reason with you. No matter what I say, you’ll continue to slam me with your inflammatory rhetoric. And since I’m a woman, that automatically makes me a second-class citizen in your eyes. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’ve decided to pick my battles from now on, and I won’t be picking fights from someone with whom I disagree. God bless you.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    “Again, what is the Gospel? CHRIST? Dear, you have a different Christ. Your Christ is inclusive. You see, Jesus in the Bible is exclusive, meaning that He is the only way to get to heaven. The Scriptures commands separation from people like Tony Jones, Rob Bell, and all of these emergent church foxes”

    Now, I did some word searches, and I had trouble finding “Tony Jones, Rob Bell” and “the emergent church foxes” in there. I also had trouble finding the words “Jesus in the Bible is exclusive, meaning that He is the only way to get to heaven”. Maybe they’re in the index in the back…

    Hey, you know the KJV was a translation authorized by the evil, wicked, abominable Church of England, right? You know… those guys that would burn incense, wear robes, and pray to saints?

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    oops, “trouble finding” them “in there” as in “in the Bible”***

  • Scot Miller

    Al– Have you stopped to consider the possibility that you yourself might just possibly be the one who is wrong? You quote Matthew 7:21-23, but you obviously didn’t read it or understand it. It does not say that you believe something (“Lord, Lord,” = orthodoxy), but do the right thing (“doeth the will of the Father…” = orthopraxis) to be a genuine follower of Jesus. You are so concerned with thinking the right things that you wind up acting in ways that seem not so Christlike.

    Like I said, you are not God, nor do you speak for God, nor does your Bible quoting make you right, especially since you don’t seem to really comprehend the scripture that you gleefully cut-and-paste. (You don’t really have to read it that way, I guess.) My trust is in the Lord, not in you, or your arrogant assumption that you can speak on behalf of God. You and I are created, finite, incomplete, temporal, and only understand scripture in created, finite, incomplete, and temporal ways (“now we see through a glass, darkly… now we know in part…”). I wish you could admit that, and maybe acquire a bit more humility, so then you’d start addressing fellow believers in more Christlike and respectful and loving ways. Frankly, you’re sounding mean-spirited, and seem to enjoy asserting that fellow believers who don’t believe exactly as you do are all doomed to eternal hell. Your approach isn’t particularly convincing… in fact, it assures me that I must be on the right track, since it seems to tick you off so much.

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  • Al

    Melody,

    No Al, I won’t answer because I’ve decided that there is far better use of my time than wasting it trying to reason with you. No matter what I say, you’ll continue to slam me with your inflammatory rhetoric. And since I’m a woman, that automatically makes me a second-class citizen in your eyes. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’ve decided to pick my battles from now on, and I won’t be picking fights from someone with whom I disagree. God bless you.

    Here is my reply: Melody, not only are you are Gospel ignorant, but you are Gospel hardened. No, I do not think that women are second class citizens, but the Bible does clearly teach for the woman to be silent and learn (1 Timothy 2:11). You are the one who came off on me by calling me a “Pharisee” which shows me that you are a rebellious woman and a unconverted one at that. Apparently you are an enemy of God and His word, and your damnation is near. That is why you need to repent and believe in the true risen Christ. Not some fake lovey dovey jesus, who is giving back rubs to heathens such as yourself, Sisterlisa, Scot, Tony Jones, Rob Bell, and others who are in bondage to the devil. But that is fine if you do not respond Melody, but I will leave you with this warning:

    The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. KJV).

    Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33. KJV).

    Repent or Hell awaits you.

  • Al

    Scot,

    Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations. Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself (Ezekiel 22:1-3. KJV).

    Scot, I am judging you for your abominations. You are an idolater and you will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Can you get that through your thick skull? Just like I suspected, you have the forehead of a whore:

    Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed (Jeremiah 3:3. KJV).

    You are a spiritual fornicator and there is no shame in you, Scot. That is why you are going to die in your sins:

    I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24. KJV).

    How can you be a Christian and not side with truth? Instead you are going to side with Brad, who is spiritually filthy and a child of Hell. That goes to show me that you are a child of Hell too. You’re a false convert, just another goat who wants his best life now. Your trust is in the lord alright, the lord of the flies: Beelzebub, who is Satan.

  • Al

    Brad,

    Not only are you ignorant about the Bible, but you are also ignorant about history. The KJV was authorized by King James, who did not write the Bible. But anyway, you still need to repent or you will die in your sins.

  • Charles

    My Lord, such venom coming from a man of the gospel! Al, what happened to love your enemies? …love your neighbor as yourself?

    “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Luke 6:35.

    See, Al, anyone can cut and paste scripture to make a point. Is there a person nearby with your meds? Perhaps you should go find that person now…

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    … And what was King James’ church? …

  • Scot Miller

    Al — You must really have bad arguments, since the best you seem to do is mount ad hominems (and since I doubt you’re clever enough to know what that means, all you can seem to mount is personal attacks): “idolater,” “Can you get that through your thick skull? Just like I suspected, you have the forehead of a whore,” “You are a spiritual fornicator,” “you are a child of Hell”… and these are the personal attacks you level just at me!

    What I find fascinating is that if you had the truth on your side, you could easily respond to the argument I made, in which I agree with Paul when he said, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now we know in part…” Either that is true or it is not true. I believe it is true, and for that reason I KNOW you are wrong, insofar as you equate your words and your mind with the mind of God Almighty. You, my friend, are not God. You, beloved child of God, are not treating other people in a way that is worthy of your call. That is a shame. You are shameful because you have no shame.

    Al, you are wrong, but you are not going to hell… you may be living there already, since you can’t seem to appreciate the extent of the Love of God. Remember the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son? It sounds like you are right there with him, outside of the party, ticked off that the Father’s love extends to the prodigal son. You are one ticked off elder son. Come to the party! Jesus is already there!

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    Wait, I do have a question for you Al. I have 15 minutes before I hit-up a Rosary and then the gym to purge myself from my sins – I’ll try to make it snappy.

    My dilemma:

    I got a secret e-mail from one of these commenters that said “repent, for your damnation is near” (the same thing YOU said!), finishing with quoting John 8: 24. However, they told me that I don’t have to believe everything YOU have said to be true, such as when you said “then you would not have disagreed with me who is speaking truth” (which was another one I tried looking up in the Bible but couldn’t find).

    The problem solving question:

    Now I’m in a pickle. I thought I was supposed to believe everything you said, but now this other person wants me to believe everything THEY said. They also quoted 26 scripture passages, which was one more than what you quoted. They explained some passages differently than you. How do I know you explained them the right way?

    2 hours to respond. Go!

  • Michael

    Al,

    I agree with much of which you have said, but not in the way which you have presented it.

    Paul warned Timothy against false teachers, which was right to do. In verse 5 of 1 Timothy, Paul says that the aim the apostles’ charge, or the goal of the instruction is love, from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. He says that those who have veered away from the truth that was taught by the apostles, these men have swerved or “turned aside” to fruitless discussions. They desire to be teachers but have no understanding as to what they are actually saying or the things they are making confident assertions about.

    While these things may be true, remember that the aim of our charge is love. We must warn those of the dangers they are in, but there’s a way to go about it. If people hate you for the truth, so be it. If they hate you because you’re a jerk, that’s not good.

    Al, the aim of my charge is love toward you brother. Please consider bowing out of this conversation. You’ve said what you wanted to say. Let the chips fall where they may.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Al,

    Would you mind.. sharing your most amazing moment of grace from Christ with us? You know..that moment..when you knew..grace was covering you and lovingly bringing you under the awareness of God’s forgiveness toward you. I would love to hear about it.

  • http://www.nurse2thought.wordpress.com Brad

    I’ll bow out. I’m being a bit of an antagonizer.

  • Al

    Charles,

    My Lord, such venom coming from a man of the gospel! Al, what happened to love your enemies? …love your neighbor as yourself?

    Here is my reply: Tell that to Jesus and the apostles when they were mocking and ridiculing the religious hypocrites such as yourselves on this blog. Charles, was Jesus spewing venom or was He telling these hypocrites the truth? He had love for His enemies, but also hatred for those who hated God, His word, and His people. And that is the same righteous hatred I have for you all who hate and blaspheme God. I do have love, and that is why I am telling you all the truth: Repent or Perish!

    “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Luke 6:35.

    Here is my reply: Charles, you are just like the other heathens who take God’s word out of context. That passage has nothing to do with speaking truth to the rebel heathen who shakes his fist at God. My question again to you is when Jesus and the apostles mocked and ridiculed the children of the devil, such as yourself, did He violate His own word?

    See, Al, anyone can cut and paste scripture to make a point. Is there a person nearby with your meds? Perhaps you should go find that person
    now…

    Here is my reply: Anyone can cut and paste Scripture to make a point. Okay, what is your point? Charles, do you care that if today you took your last breath, you will absolutely go to Hell? Is all well with your soul, Charles? You may mock and ridicule what I have to say, but think about it, God, who made the heavens and the earth is your enemy and you are His.

  • http://chosenrebel.wordpress.com Marty Schoenleber

    Haven’t read the thread. I just ant to make a brief note or two related to the post proper.
    1. Piper, et al have not been “waiting” to throw Rob Bell under the bus. Such a notion is absurd and can only be the musings of idle time.
    2. Rob Bell does care. If you have read any of Rob’s books or heard some of his pleadings with his own church when some of the blow back comes his way over the years from things he has written and or said, that much is obvious.
    3. Rob is a gifted, no, brilliant, genius of a communicator. But that in no way makes him not liable for theological content of his words. If we aren’t accountable to a larger body of believers, where is the body of Christ?
    4. The more any writer or speaker speaks in defense of his thoughts or makes money as a result of his work, the harder it is for said writer (whether it is Rob Bell, you, me, or John Piper) the harder it is to re-evaluate, recant or amend. Entrenchment rather than enlightenment may come for critics but rarely to the the inventors.

    This is reason to be extremely cautious about what we put in print and to submit it to others who have gone before, before it enters the arena where we will be forced to defend it. That is something that all of us need to take note of.

  • http://irmgardebrown.com Irmgarde Brown

    Thanks for you comments Tony Jones. Well thought out and right on the money. Personally, I think Rob Bell is part of the shaking . . . not unlike Phyllis Tickle’s predictions for this time in Christian History in her book, The Great Emergence.

  • Tim Brim

    Hell is real. I’ve been there.

    • Karyn

      I’ve been “there” too.
      Hell is the “neighbor” who can endure – even promote and assert “proof” via a Book or Hierarchy or Tradition! – the concept that many of their neighbors will spend eternity in inescapable, limitless torture. Neighbors with whom we share a pathetic ant-like existence, with our own blindness and idiocy, our inescapable bondage to culture and circumstance, enslaved by time, instinct and unconscious impulses, constrained by relentless necessity with bodily hungers & indignities, minds & hearts deeply scarred by experience, seared by endless forms of delusion (often claiming infallible “validation” with painfully limited “reasoning powers”), our mindless greed, and bottomless aloneness, our appalling cruelty, our excuses for oppression & poverty & war, our ephemeral hopes, our repeated failures, our weak ability to love, to barely see beauty, our compulsion to sift through the endless dross to find the needle of meaning only to argue how many angels we see dancing on it! – how dare anyone claim clarity of vision to assert such a “truth” is any part of Reality. Hell mirrors OUR reality a bit too closely.

      Even as we draw some understanding from whatever authority we prefer, we can barely see past our own shadows, and hardly see the next hill on the horizon, let alone understand what “insults” the Holiness of God. *sigh* G-d, who is allegedly beyond our conception, though we like to give God the attributes of Zeus. Why shouldG-d rage on ants, except that G-d actually notices their ant-sorrows? We should be grateful if we can gain faith that G-d notices, if G-d is present, and if G-d has compassion. THAT is enough beyond our understanding and we should LET IT GO AT THAT. We can never understand One who weeps for ants. We can’t begin to imagine what God intends. Perhaps we should really refrain from Ultimate Pronouncements (no matter what the Book SEEMS to say).

      Because the truth is that WE really like to inflict pain. If we ants do inexplicably image G-d, perhaps our lust for rage & violence is a horrible distortion we mistake for G-d’s image in our understanding.

      But perhaps G-d is so loving that perhaps G-d will make allowances for those whose conception of justice must include balancing evil with an endless agonizing hell. Maybe such people will spend their heaven being vindicated & heartened with that illusion, watching the wicked justly punished. I don’t know how they could stand it. Me, I’m following the poets and artists, chasing Unicorns over the hill, because if G-d bothers with ants, anything is possible. Because THAT Impossibility, that Reality IS Inexplicable Beauty & Goodness, is the only thing that makes this hell meaningful.
      Good for Bell; he shouldn’t care what people say. Follow the Impossible; that is where we long to be .

  • Sam Hendrickson

    @Charles

    “…I tend not to listen to absolutists. Is there any room for dialog within your dogma?”

    Only Siths deal in absolutes…

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Bell has destroyed hell.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesisstillwell James Stillwell

    “Rob Bell has that gift.” Rob Bell is a gift. To the church. To the world. A gift of love, an example of “being” as more important than “saying.”

  • http://www.thechristiannetwork.com Jack Jones

    Well Rob Bell tells others there is no hell, I will do all God can use me for to save them from it.

    I suppose we will all find out when we die, though God did give me a very clear vision of Hell once (when I was backslinding I might add). Not many will listen to me though as I am not as uplifted and Mr Bell (yet anyway). Hell is a reality and you can not jsut justify it away by stating God made it up to scare us.

    As I often preach, we have jails on earth. Would you like me to open their doors (every jail on earth) and every criminal (incuding those that eat people or rape children or enjoy sadistic behaviour) out? And they can all come and live next to your mother maybe? Most with a sane rational mind readily agree it is probably not the best idea. Thus jails (sadly) are required to contain evil.

    Hell is the same – it just exists for the Universe and is eternal. All the best when you lot try and debate with God that you didn’t really thik it was real or not real or you saw a further implication of its non reality when your saviour Rob Bell came about. Spurgeon, Graham and Moody got it wrong God – Bell got it right.

    all the best with that one indeed!

    http://www.thechristiannetwork.com
    God Bless

  • Maryann

    My Mother, a Pastors wife for over 40yrs was diagnosed with terminal cancer and we watched her deteriate and finally the last week of her life she went into a coma. We were told she would die within the week. The day before her death she awoke from the coma and was so aggitated and insisted we all gather in the room ‘she had a Message from the Lord for us’ and so we did

    This is the message:

    ‘There is only the Truth and the Lie. God’s Truth is True, Satan’s Lie is a Lie, believe theTruth found only in God’s Word it will set you free. The Truth sets Free.
    The Truth leads to Eternal Life The Lie leads to Eternal Death, believe the Truth, walk in the Light of God’s Word, the Lord is coming soon.

    at that point she began to choke and said.
    ‘Satan is trying to stop me from delivering this message but I will give it to you’.
    then she said:
    I am going to cross the Jordan now but before I go I want you to know I told the Lord about each of my Grandchildren by name and also how much I love them.’
    Then she closed her eyes and went back into the coma.

    It was an incredibly simple message but so profound, the pastor that was with us said this was a common occurance in times passed. but due to modern medicine we don’t see or hear of this happening anymore. It made sense to us as my mother had said from the beginning of the diagnosis, her one request was she did not want any pain medication administered to her when the end came, as she wanted to leave this earth ‘in her right mind”

    My reason for writing is after that experience I cannot stay silent as I feel responsible we were given a gift. And I want to share it. There is an Eternal Heaven and there is an Eternal Hell

    God Bless You

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-McAlpine/726502236 Stephen McAlpine

    I guess a slightly detached aloofness is an option for writers of theology, except for the fact that we will be answerable not simply to each other for what we write “on God’s behalf”, but also to God himself on the last day. Oh, wait a minute! That’s right! We won’t! (love) wins all round really!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wscott.womer W Scott Womer

    You sure are right about mealy-mouthed Christianity Today, but I disagree that it is good not to care.

  • GarySweeten

    Why do we seem to fall for the bait of every person who deliberately writes a book or blog designed to get “banned in Boston”? Rob makes an outrageous claim and Piper pies in and each sells more books to their camp and the anti camp so the heated and meaningless debates go on.

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