Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, created a major stir among Christians with the release of his seventh book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Bell speaks and writes with a form of elegance and charisma which is difficult to surpass. However, he is heretical in doctrine, errant in beliefs, and stereotypical in his assumptions.
First of all, Rob Bell questions everything. I would venture to say that the majority of the sentences in the book end with a question mark. He asks a lot of questions, but does not actually come out and answer them. He asks leading questions and wants the reader to draw their own conclusions regarding the answer. This is typical of post-modernist and relativist philosophy. Relativists question everything, including historic Christianity. They have a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. In relativism, there is no absolute truth. I will try to focus on the book review and save the arguments against relativism for another time.
Secondly, Bell has an errant view of theology. He views Christ's death as one which is universal in nature. He argues that since Christ died for everyone, everyone will enjoy eternal life with Him. Bell shudders at the thought of a limited atonement. Also, Bell translates verses referring to eternal punishment, such as Matthew 25, to mean "a period of pruning" or "a time of trimming". Typical of a post-modernist, he totally ignores the true meaning of these passages and creates his own meaning.
Bell assumes universalism. He never actually comes out and says that he is a universalist, but makes hints many times throughout the book. If he did not believe this way, he would never make it look as though he does. Also, he claims that universalism was at the center of historic Christianity. He says, "At the center of the Christian tradition, since the first church, have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God" (p.109). There were not "a number" who claimed universalism in history. There were a few who believed in universalism and they were viewed then as Bell is today: a heretic. Universalism has never been at the center of TRUE Christianity. Christ is at the center of Christianity and Christ died so that His elect may enjoy salvation and life.
Bell also stereotypes Christians, claiming at times that Christians have been responsible for violence against those of other religions. There have been people in history who have fought against others in the name of Christianity, such as the crusaders. However, we all know that the Crusades were more about money and land than about religion. Also, Catholics have been responsible for violence as well, but most of it has come against Christians. He also stereotypes all Christians as espousing bigotry, legalism, and ignorance. He claims to be a Christian, yet tries to place himself on the outside of the window of Christianity.
Finally, one of the most disturbing phrases in the book is when Bell writes that he and his wife desire for their children to be able to "unlearn" as much as possible when they are older. It is the father and the mother's responsibility to raise their children in the "training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Apparently, this must be one of the verses which Bell chose to disregard.
Rob Bell is not a biblical scholar, as this book proves. He is not an authority on Scriptures, and should not be looked upon as such. If he holds to universalism, he is merely writing about his thoughts and beliefs; If he is not a universalist, he is just a man trying to sell a book, a goal which according to sales numbers, has been achieved. People will read this book and be deceived. But I guess this is what was prophesied in II Timothy 4:3: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions".
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
This is a typical view of the fallen man. Man views his imperfections as unique and good, while God views our imperfections as evil and worthy of death (Rom 3:10; 6:23). On our own, we can never become perfect physically, mentally, or spiritually. It is Christ, through His eternal sacrifice, who makes us perfect forever (Heb 10:14).