NT Tuesday: The False Gospel According to Rob Bell

“We need to affirm people wherever they are.” ~Rob Bell

“You must be born again.” ~Jesus Christ

If you have been following recent events concerning Christianity over the last few years you, no doubt, have heard of Rob Bell. In fact Rob Bell has been difficult to ignore- in 2011 Time Magazine listed Rob Bell as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has authored numerous books including two New York Times best sellers.

Presently Rob Bell is back in the limelight as he, probably for the first time, stated publicly that he is not opposed to legalizing same sex marriage. This, really, comes as no surprise– however, I am not interested in commenting on his stance regarding this particular issue. Rather, I would like to comment on something else that he said in support of his position on marriage.

Rob stated: “I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” Italics mine, see link to the entire audio recording below.

What exactly does it mean to “affirm people wherever they are”? Unfortunately, I’m not so sure I understand what Rob is trying to say. However, we should be able to gain some understanding of what he means by looking the definitions of the words he uses. :::On the outside chance that Rob might actually be reading this… I invite you to explain what this means in either a comment below or in a guest post.:::

According to dictionary.com the word affirm is a verb that means to state or assert positively; maintain as true, or to express agreement with; uphold; support. The word wherever is a conjunction that means in, at, or to whatever place; in any case or condition. And, finally, are is the ‘present indicative plural and 2nd person singular of be.’

So, putting it all together, when I hear Rob Bell say “we need to affirm people wherever they are” this is what I think he means: “We must express agreement with, and maintain as true whatever place or condition someone is in.”

Really? Is this what we are to do? Is this what our Lord Jesus Christ did? Did He “affirm people wherever they [were]”? Is this what our Lord Jesus Christ told us to do? To express agreement with everyone? Of course not!

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ taught EXACTLY the opposite of this. Jesus taught everyone is actually in the wrong place! That everyone must be radically changed by God Himself… Jesus said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” John 3:7.

Clearly Jesus Christ is not affirming people wherever they are. Jesus Christ not only taught that everyone IS in the wrong place, but that everyone is also heading in the wrong direction. “I tell you… unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5. The Greek word translated repent (Strong’s G3340) means to think differently.

In other words, Jesus Christ did not ‘affirm’ whatever people thought… rather He taught that they must change what they are thinking! That they must repent… meaning they must change from what they think to what God thinks. We must affirm God not each other!

The gospel according to Rob Bell is a false gospel. It is not what the Lord Jesus Christ taught. It is NOT possible to appease society with politically correct platitudes, nor is it possible to win over a culture by assimilating into that culture. Rather we who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must proclaim the exact same Gospel as He did.

2,000 years ago the Gospel was not a popular message… in fact they crucified the messenger! The Gospel is STILL wildly unpopular… those who stand up for and preach the true Gospel today should not expect to be treated any better then He was treated 2,000 years ago.

 

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Sources:
Rob Bell Entire audio of his recent comments.
Denny Burk Blog post critical of Rob Bell.
Greg Carey Blog post supportive of Rob Bell.
Wikipedia entry for Rob Bell.

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Postscript: If given the chance this is what I would say to Rob Bell: “When I compare your teachings with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ I find there is a great difference between the two and I must follow what He taught. I also believe that I have the responsibility to warn others about your false teachings. I do not hate you, I simply disagree with you. If somehow our paths cross one day, I would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and explore these things together.”

 

4 comments

  1. David Sommer

    Paul is very clear to the Galatians that whoever preaches another gospel, let him be accursed! Rob Bell or whoever needs to know that they are accursed by God for preaching another gospel. The apostle John tells us that if anyone goes astray and does not continue in the doctrine of Jesus Christ that person is not of God. If anyone comes to a believer presenting a false christ do not receive him into your house nor welcome him because if you do you are a partaker of his evil deeds. This kind of action is looked down upon these days but that is what God says.

  2. I had the opportunity to meet Rob Bell here in Grand Rapids, he is a really nice guy, but that is not a criterion for orthodoxy. What bothers me most about Bell is that he still pretends to be evangelical.

    • Very interesting that you had the chance to meet Rob. I have never met him, but I’m sure he is very personable as you describe. He comes across as a very like-able guy in his videos. However, as you correctly point out, a great personality is no substitute orthodoxy. The phase “wolves in sheep’s clothing comes to mind.” Mathew 7:15.