The McLaren Moment: What John Piper meant by “Farewell Rob Bell.”

If you are any stripe of Evangelical Christian and have been online in the last few weeks you have no doubt come across numerous reviews and reams of chatter about a book called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived and interviews with its author, Rob Bell.

The response to Bell’s book and the appetite for information about it and its author has been astonishing. Justin Taylor initiated the frenzy on February 26th with a post called “Rob Bell: Universalist?” By that evening, “Rob Bell” was one of the top trending terms on Twitter. Within 48 hours, Justin Taylor’s original post had been viewed some 250,000 times and at present has been viewed close to 370,000 times, received over 1,500 comments and registered over 30,000 Facebook likes. (To give you some idea of the strength of the enduring controversy, a review posted by Tim Challies 11 days later received some 50,000 views the day it was posted, and now has over 200 comments and over 8,000 Facebook likes.) And those are just two of the, by now, dozens of reviews and posts about the same subject.

But for all the reviews of the book itself, one three-word Tweet has probably drawn more focus – and more fire – than any of the full reviews. Via Twitter, John Piper posted the words “Farewell Rob Bell” followed by a link to Justin Taylor’s post.

A tweet by John Piper, with a link to a blog post by Justin Taylor, set the Internet on fire about Rob Bell and his new book. And with that the book’s publisher, HarperOne, welcomed us all to social media marketing 101.

Rock Star of the Church World
The question, as TIME magazine put it in their 2007 profile on Bell “is whether he can sell his approach to the rest of Evangelicalism or whether, as Christianity Today editor Andy Crouch puts it, he will ‘remain more of a singular rock star in the church world.’”

Some may see the release of Love Wins and its surrounding controversy as Rob Bell’s brass ring moment, when he crosses over from “rock star in the church world” to an even more popular rock star of mainstream spirituality.

Instead, Love Wins may very well be Rob Bell’s “Dear John” (no Piper pun intended) letter to Evangelicalism. Here’s why I think that…

The McLaren Moment
About a year ago Brian McLaren released A New Kind Christianity to a similar, although significantly less colossal response by most of the same people who have taken issue with Love Wins. In addition to those voices, people who had long been on the sympathetic side of McLaren’s writings were now also saying he had finally gone too far.

Even Scot McKnight, who described himself in relation to McLaren as, “a friend and a chronicler for two decades,” began his review of A New Kind Christianity with what now seems a prophetic statement: “Brian McLaren has grown tired of evangelicalism. In turn, many evangelicals are wearied with Brian,” and ended with “Unfortunately, this book lacks the ‘generosity’ of genuine orthodoxy and, frankly, I find little space in it for orthodoxy itself.” Reviews and responses similar to McKnight’s appeared frequently at first, with many who had been on the fence finally stepping off, but onto the side opposite McLaren.

But the frenzy faded, the reviews dried up and since that time it seems that many Evangelicals, following the lead of early reviewers have stopped paying much attention. Case in point: Brian McLaren just released a new book (three days ago in fact and also, as it turns out, published by HarperOne) and we’ve hardly noticed. You can make the case that all eyes are on Rob Bell at the moment and that McLaren has flown under the radar on this one, but maybe there is a simpler answer – maybe most Evangelicals just don’t care anymore.

Love Wins is Rob Bell’s “McLaren Moment” and this is what I think Piper was getting at when he said “Farewell Rob Bell.”

The Resident Paradoxical Wildcard Threat of Evangelicalism
When the current Love Wins hype is over and the book completes its guaranteed run as a bestseller, Rob Bell will be able to release a book twice as controversial in the future and receive less than half the fanfare. HarperOne should enjoy the flood of free publicity from the power writers of the Evangelical blogosphere this time around. Next time out the bait will be a much tougher sell.

We have not seen the last of Rob Bell, to be sure. What we are seeing though is the end of his tenure as the resident paradoxical wildcard threat of Evangelicalism. Right or wrong, the current gatekeepers of Evangelicalism seem to have thrown him out of the deck and will now, along with their followers, consider him just another mainstream Liberal Protestant trying to sell himself and his books to the masses by offering a pleasant and palatable Jesus to people who are looking for… well, exactly that.


Other posts you might find interesting:

Book Review: Tim Challies – “The Next Story”
The New (global) Village Priests – An analysis of the John MacArthur/Darrin Patrick controversy
Tearing Down Our Idols – Hillsong, Chris Tomlin and the worship industry
A Different Kind of Fast

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  • Aaron Armstrong

    Excellent article, Michael.

  • Keith myer

    Well said! Off the deck and out of sight, for the good of the church and the glory of the gospel.

  • Reggie Stutzman

    Unfortunately the church, I’m speaking as a pastor, as walked away from it’s commission our Lord gave us. “While you’re going, make disciples…[of ME]…” Instead, many of the “rock stars” are making their own disciples. If Jesus was on Facebook I think his post would just be SMH – Shaking my head. What happened to the teachings of our TRUE master Jesus – something about a narrow road into a narrow gate. So many flock to the personalities of our Christian sub-culture and have neglected the Supreme being of GOD. May I remind any Christian who reads this – It’s about JESUS – not John (Piper), Rob, Dave, Sam, [fill in the blank]. Why is it that we want to know what’s on the New York Best Seller’s list more than we want to know what’s on Heaven’s Best Seller’s List? I’m following Jesus – how about you?

    • David Nelson

      Reggie, Very good reminder! I am so disinterested in much of Christian pop culture, which seems pretty much a mirror of secular pop culture. Much “sound and fury, signifying nothing”…self righteous pride and positioning. The past few years in this economy, my life has pretty much boiled down to focusing on hearing Christ’s leading in life, knowing God, being a witness for Him, and promoting that same to my wife and kids…oh..and scratching out a living. This struggle, by the way, has been the best thing to happen to our family. Years ago, got an MA in English (studying the system of publishing Evangelical Fiction), and originally wanted to publish a novel, make a name for myself, blah, blah, blah…now, I just want to follow God and lead my family well.

      • Kim McMillan

        Well said, David…I only regret that it’s taken me 56 years to learn this lesson.

    • jenna

      yeah, i was a little stunned that folks were analyzing piper’s tweet like it was scripture. WHAT DID HE MEAN BY “FAREWELL”??? i mean, it could be interpreted a few different ways I s’pose and then we move on. it’s not like his tweet was half as controversial as bell’s book. and, anyway, let’s get our focus on JESUS and *his* word.
      (of course i came here via piper’s tweet. i was all, “pretty close???” nice.)

      • jenna

        i should say that i really did like this post. and i agree with its point. farewell, shockstar bell. mystery solved.

    • Veronica

      I had no idea Heaven had a “best seller’s list.” Good to know.

      Maybe people’s interest in what’s on the NY Times’ list is due to the fact that A: It actually exists, and B: it’s one way to try to interpret the pulse of culture and where the thoughts of the masses lie. If we’re to make disciples of all nations, we’re to be all things to all people and how better to do that than to understand them.

      • Chris

        (B: it’s one way to try to “interpret” the “pulse” of “culture” and where the “thoughts” of the “masses lie”. If we’re to make disciples of all nations, we’re to be “all things to all people” and how better to do that than to “understand them”.) end quote!

        Take only the “Quoted” words….and you will be WIDE awake to why the Holy Bible’s Truth & Consequences are implied to be “irrelevant” in the emergent movement and Seeker sensitive Coffee shops…….

        Church is where people seeking Christ, and to do his will….will be!

      • josh schatzle

        Honestly Veronica, do we really need to pay any attention at all to what culture thinks and where the thoughts of the masses are? All that culture tells us is what it values, what it cares about. And I don’t think it matters to God one bit what the masses care about and value. Culture tells us what people want; but the gospel is concerned with what people need, even if they don’t see the need.

    • josh schatzle

      Reggie, well put. I find myself more and more akin to Eugene Peterson, who said something along these lines: “at some point I began to listen less to my contemporaries and more to my predecessors in the faith.” That’s where I’ve arrived as well; I don’t find Luther or Calvin or Edwards primping for the GMA cameras; because there weren’t any! Better to seek the glory of God above all things than glory for yourself, and in a rock-star age, we all want to “look at the television and see me staring right back at me,” to borrow a line from Adam Duritz.

  • Caleb

    Well written, with a great perspective. This will all be over soon, and I think the predictions made here (based on McLaren’s downfall), are very accurate.

    • Jason

      Please clarify what you mean by “downfall”.

      Last I heard, Brian McLaren is still around (with a new book to boot!)

      He may not hang out with the orthodox elite…but, as they say, you can’t be a heretic without being a Christian first…

      So, I’m guessing that “downfall” refers to his fall to heresy?

      Ummm…like it or not, we are all in the same heretical boat (Piper and Bell and me and you alike) with a heretic at the helm (Jesus was a heretic, in case anyone forgot…)

      • Adam

        “Jesus was a heretic, in case anyone forgot”

        Ummm.. no, He wasn’t. Being accused of something doesn’t actually make you that. Just like He wasn’t ACTUALLY a drunkard, although accused of such. If He wasn’t sinless, then He wasn’t able to be the perfect sacrifice and we’re still in our sins. That’s kind of important.

        • Jason Postma

          Blasphemer..heretic…same thing

          In the eyes of the ruling Jewish religious authorities, Jesus was clearly a heretic/blasphemer (I’m not going to rattle off a bunch of proof texts; I’m sure you’re familiar with the stories I’m talking about).

          He died as a blasphemer (to be hung on a tree was the punishment of a blasphemer…Jesus’ crucifixion seems to fit the bill).

          And I’m sure that even if he wasn’t a drunkard like the local town drunk, the label probably fit to a certain extent, much to the chagrin of teetotalers. Jesus loved him a party.

          • Adam

            This is a different Adam than the previous post but I just wanted to show you where your history is wrong. To be hung on a tree wasn’t the sign of a blasphemer. Christ was crucified because that’s what the Romans did to make an example of criminals. Yes the ruling Jewish authority treated him as such but he was not a heretic or a blasphemer. We are not heretics because we follow Christ. I saw that your profile says you are a pastor and I truly hope that you are not teaching your congregation any of the things that you are posting on here.

          • Jason

            I had Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and Galatians 3:13 in mind. The main reason someone was hung on a tree was for blasphemy – misusing the divine name (YHWH).

            Adam #2 – thanks for the chastisement. As a pastor, I always enjoy when people tell me how wrong I am. Why wouldn’t I teach people what I’m saying here? I’ve not said anything outrageous or made any claims that haven’t been made by other theologians.

          • David

            Interesting conversation you are all having. Jason, you cannot wake people up to a reality they don’t want. Let it go, man.

            Adams… you guys need to put that Bible down before you hurt someone. You don’t know God like you think you do.

            Evernyone else… it’s a book! Wake up! Read it, think about it, put it on the shelf! Move on with your lives.

  • Kenny Martin

    Yeah, this is kind of how I feel. I used to be more on the sympathetic side of Rob Bell and thought he got a bad rap, but as you explained with McLaren, I think that Bell has indeed gone to far this time. I railed on the initial response from Piper and others, and despite what they actually meant, it was in poor taste and seemed like a preemptive strike. However, now that the book IS out and Bell is making the rounds with interviews, I am seeing a side of him that seems so divergent from how he presented himself in his book “Jesus What’s To Save Christians”.

  • Kenny Martin

    “Jesus Wants to Save Christians” is what I meant, obviously. Typo!!

  • Scott Fillmer

    well said indeed, but it’s really amazing who wins in all this, both time, it’s HarperOne. They are in the business of selling books to make money, and this time it worked, and we all helped them do it.

    The reason McLaren faded away, as will Love Wins at some point is just what you stated, because it’s not sound orthodoxy. Funny how those books with the soundest of theology have stuck around for years and year, decades, or centuries, without a highbrow publishing company, or all of us bloggers and social networking-ites to promote it. If it’s sound, look for it to be around 20 years from now, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Mike Prince

    Great post. Thanks for saying what many of us have been thinking. This is less a shift in Christian culture, and more an amazing marketing strategy. The insight on McLaren shows that the strategy may not be as good as they’re thinking though. Well done.

  • Mike Rollings

    I recommend the document prepared by Kevin DeYoung on the book by Rob Bell. Find it at Great!

  • Luke

    I assumed that in tweeting “Farewell Rob Bell,” Piper was obliquely referring to 1 John 4:19: “They [the antichrists] went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

    That isn’t inconsistent with what this post talks about, though.

    • Luke

      1 John 2:19, sorry.

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  • http://Facebook Jennifer

    Nice article, Wonderful perspective. I enjoyed reading it, you did not take a side you explained things very well and had no preference to try and persuade us to turn one way or another. Thank You, and as for the subject why must people follow others who are not Christ. Just be a disciple!

  • Mae

    I would hope that at least some people would consider what McLaren and Bell have to say and allow the Holy Spirit, rather than tradition, to lead them. Just because something is orthodox doesn’t mean it’s true.

    • Adam

      Just because something is orthodox doesn’t mean its true? If you’re a Christian it does.
      Orthodoxy means “Conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved.”
      If you’re going against something that is right and true then you are wrong and false.
      Also, people are considering what Bell and Mclaren have said. That’s where the problem started! If no one considered what they said there would be no discussion. People have listened to what Bell has to say and are saying he is unorthodox which instantly makes him a heretic. It isn’t like you’re calling someone ugly or fat you are saying you’re teaching is unorthodox so therefore you are a heretic.
      He is leading many people astray with his false teaching and that is way scarier than someone calling him a heretic. You should be worried about the people being taught bad theology instead of the people who are crying out against false teaching.

      • Craig Falvo

        So I take it you hold Mary as the Theotokos?

      • keith

        The term Orthodox is being used a lot in this thread, but i wonder if most people on here understand what it is that makes one Orthodox as a Christian. The scary thing to consider is that in the history of Christianity, many actions motivated by “Orthodox” have led to some seriously questionable acts against humanity -The Crusades [ and if you believe the Crusades to be noble at least the Children’s Crusade], inquisitions, witch trials, etc.

  • Michael Krahn

    Thanks for all the comments folks. I will try to take some time to respond in a few days.

    For now, it’s time for sermon prep!

  • Jodie

    Mae: The Holy Spirit has given me checks in my spirit all the way along since I first heard about these guys!

    Doing something for tradition’s sake is not always good but changing the Gospel to tickle the ears of those who are less than educated in the Word of Our Holy Father is not right either. Bell and McLaren are teaching a different Gospel. I think it is tragic, in the least, what is happening in the evangelical churches of late.

    I have seen this stuff being taught to our youth, and the head pastors embracing it to some degree and/or treating it like it is no big deal. Well, it’s a BIG DEAL!

    I see it this way, with the Social Justice rubbish being substituted for God’s Justice, New Age Mysticism/Spirituality substituted for true Holy Spirit sanctification, and the Gospel of Universalism being exchanged for the Gospel of Salvation according to God’s Word more than just a question of who’s traditions are better. It is false-teachings being embraced instead of excoriated.

    These emergent authors are tied in with the Social Justice Guru’s such as Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s Magazine ( and they are tied in with our President’s Faith Based Coalition. I see it as a good way for the One World Religion to fall into place.

    I will stick with Sola Scriptura and let the New Traditions that these dudes want us to follow be what they are False Doctrines to be refuted.

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  • Mae


    I can very much relate to what you’re saying – I used to feel much the same way. I thought people like McLaren were heretics and was outraged at the false teachings they were promulgating. I thought mediation was dangerous and opened up the mind to evil spirits. I believed many more things that I had been taught to think were according to Scripture, and was not willing to consider anything to the contrary.

    BUT, the Holy Spirit would not leave me in that place, and kept drawing me up to some of the things people like McLaren and Bell are talking about. I thought I was crazy at first, and would run back to the safety of doctrinal security. Gradually – after many years and a very scary journey! – I had no choice but to realize I had consumed a lot of tradition along with Scripture…

    Anyway, enough about me. I would just ask in a friendly way, have you actually read any of their books? Have you looked at an unbiased source on the history of hell? The truth will always stand up to scrutiny, so there’s nothing to fear.

    Be blessed!

  • Joel

    One question for everyone: Have you read the book? I’m half-way through and I don’t get the backlash. So far I’d consider it a passionate appeal to live as Christ lived. A palatable Jesus? Bell outright states that there is hell. He goes on to describe hell on earth, but also touches on future judgement. He describes sin so painful that cries out for justice. Sins, if ignored, would be wishy-washy universalism. But whatever hell is, it is doubtful that there are literal flames with a spike-tailed devil with a pitchfork. Bell is calling Christians to a more difficult walk than I’ve heard at most evangelical churches – beyond intellectual assent to a creed to participating in God’s kingdom now. Reminds me a bit of NT Wright. Maybe Bell is reaching out to people like me – people tired of church and a faith that doesn’t count for much.

  • Jodie

    Mae: I am really confused by what you are saying traditions are? The Gospel is very clearly stated in the Bible and how one is saved is also clearly stated. Sola Scriptura is the Word of God, it means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of Christians. In the Bible it states that it is God-breathed, inerrant, and authoritative. God does not change His mind or contradict Himself.
    The essence of Sola Scriptura is basing your spiritual life on the Bible alone and rejecting any traditions or teachings that do not align with the Word of God.

    Second Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” In reading God’s Word, it is clear that many church traditions which have developed over the centuries are in fact contradictory to the Word of God.

    I was raised Roman Catholic and I know what happens when additional knowledge (enlightenment) is added to the Bible. It gets away from the true meanings of what is being conveyed. I will not look at Traditions as always being good, many times they are unbiblical. The ones that are biblically based are fine but to add new traditions to the bible implying that they are somehow now a part of the Word of God is wrong. The RCC added Indulgences, Purgatory, praying to Mary, Immaculate Conception (Mary, Jesus’ mother being born without sin), Infant Baptism, the Pope’s Authority, Transubstantiation (Eucharist), Salvation thru the Sacraments and Good Works. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that these TRADITIONS are true. They were added on by men. The Spirituality from mainline protestant, Roman Catholic or new age practices that the Emergent teachers are pushing (Contemplative Prayer/Mysticism, Lectio Divina, Taize, Labyrinths, Yoga, Monasticism) are not in the Bible.

    There may be some small bit of Truth in Bell and McLaren’s Opinion filled books but the majority of what they are saying is wrong. Sort of makes me think of “how much pee needs to be in the pool before one is disgusted by it or it becomes a hazard to our health?”.

    I have read their books and saw enough to know that what they are pushing is not the Word of God in the way I read it and have learned it.

    • David

      Where does it say in the Bible that the Bible is inerrant? I missed that.

    • Rick

      I am not trying to be contrary… I am genuinely interested in an answer to this question- when a reference is made to the “word of God, word of Truth, etc.” how can it be referring to the Bible if the Bible wasn’t cannonized until 160-200 years after Christ. What “word of Truth” was Paul advising Timothy to handle carefully?
      What is it that was, at that time considered to be God-breathed, inerrant and authoritative?
      I know it’s there, but are we absolutely 100% sure he was talking about this Bible that was to come? So it may have been old testament…but that would pose some serious questions as well.

  • Robert Young

    • I find this quote to be evidence that the speaker(Rob bell and those who quote him) has very little knowledge of the subject he presents… “We can’t let 20th Century Finneyesque revivalism be the only voice of evangelicalism in light of thousands of years of diverse church history.” To set the sides opposing each other as the early church fathers and traditions against the voice of Charles Finney, tells me that this person does not know what the Mainstream thought of the early fathers was and he definitely does know Finney. Finney was a great evangelist but had diverse theology which denied almost all conservative thought including Calvinism. The early church fathers repudiated all such attempts to degrade the gospel with a view of temporary punishment. It is also important to know that the belief in universalism was NOT widespread at all in the early church, nor has it ever been a widely held belief .Tertullian in responding to Jesus’ words, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, an…d after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12:4b, 5 NASB), wrote: If, therefore, any one shall violently suppose that the destruction of the soul and the flesh in hell amounts to a final annihilation of the two substances, and not to their penal treatment (as if they were to be consumed, not punished), let him recollect that the fire of hell is eternal — expressly announced as an everlasting penalty; and let him admit that it is from this circumstance that this never-ending “killing” is more formidable than a merely human murder,— On the Resurrection of the Flesh Chapter 35…. Believe Him who will give to all that believe the reward of eternal life. Believe Him who will call down on them that believe not, eternal punishments in the fires of Gehenna. …An ever-burning Gehenna will burn up the condemned, and a pun…ishment devouring with living flames; nor will there be any source whence at any time they may have either respite or end to their torments. Souls with their bodies will be reserved in infinite tortures for suffering. … The pain of punishment will be without the fruit of penitence; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late they will believe in eternal punishment who would not believe in eternal life. … When you have once departed thither, there is no longer any place for repentance, and no possibility of making satisfaction. Here, life is either lost or saved…. — Cyprian, Treatise 5, Sections 23,24,25.. So The lie that part of the mainstream Christian faith,( as central to their belief,) was found the argument that hell was temporary and that the destiny of man was speculative, has found its way once again on the tongues of those who would subvert the truth. The fact that these theologies existed is of course defensible, to say they were mainstream and acceptable is a lie. This why i have labeled Bell not a Universalist but a blasphemer.
    2Pe 2:2
    And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

    • Jodie

      True concern is only warranted if you are truly a Believer -commitied Christ Follower.


      If this is all just a blanket-salvation belief than they don’t worry because they figure that the others are covered under the Almighty Universalism Salvation that they think covers them.

      Good follow up!

  • Joel

    How exactly can you read the Bible without lending your own presuppositions to it? There is no such thing as Sola Scriptura. This realization has for many been the root of the problem. As Phyllis Tickle asked, “Where now is the authority?”

    I don’t believe Christianity as practiced in the 16th century was perfect. Why should we believe that was the final word? Perhaps the Reformers, while emphasizing some good things, inadvertently left some other worthwhile things behind.

  • Jodie

    Well, if you are quoting Phyllis Tickle then it must be right! In your moral relativism christianity I guess it works that way – No to Sola Scriptura. But on the otherside of your coin toss where does it say adding to the bible is o.k.?

    King James Bible
    All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    I know this is intended for the prophecy of Revelations but I wouldn’t want to test Him on it with the rest of the Word of God either. Remember in the OT anyone who prophecied in His Name that didn’t make an accuate (true) prophecy was stoned to death.
    “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” Deuteronomy 18:20.

    Just sayin’

    New International Version (©1984)
    And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book

  • Jodie

    Resubitting as my prvious message got jumbled up—-

    Well, if you are quoting Phyllis Tickle then it must be right! In your moral relativism christianity I guess it works that way – No to Sola Scriptura. But on the otherside of your coin toss where does it say adding to the bible is o.k.?

    New International Version (©1984)
    And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    I know this is intended for the prophecy of Revelations but I wouldn’t want to test Him on it with the rest of the Word of God either.

    Remember in the OT anyone who prophecied in His Name that didn’t make an accuate (true) prophecy was stoned to death.

    “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” Deuteronomy 18:20.

    Remember it also says this in the Bible:

    All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…King James Bible

    Just sayin’

  • Robert Young

    Since it is the holy Spirt not man (Holy men of God wrote as the Spirit gavem utterence) is the true auther of scripture then it can not be anything else but Sola Scriptura where in the wordl would you think otherwise. All else pales in comparison and all else is only mans thoughts… Remember this thought.. doctrine is what God has said.. Theology is what man thinks God said.

  • Joel

    Hey Jodie – peace. I am not a moral relativist. Just because I disagree with you there’s no need to make assumptions about my character.

    Sure – let’s say the Bible is inerrant, infallible, whatever adjective you want to use. We are all still fallible and errant. So no matter what you thing of the Bible, it still has to be read. It still has to be interpreted. Also translated from an ancient language from a culture alien to our own. If it was “clear”, there wouldn’t be the staggering amount of denominations that exist today. So in practice, there is no Sola Scriptura. There is always a lens that we read from. Ignoring the fact that say Paul wrote letters to real people asking real questions that related to their present situation is treating the Bible as something that it is not.

    I’m not sure where you think I’m “adding” to scripture, but we definitely take away. Unless you’re in the market for a hard-working Canadian:

    “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.” Leviticus 25:44

    Robert – Where in Scripture does it say the Holy Spirit dictated the Bible? I believe it says of itself, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

    Useful for teaching. God-breathed. Of course, the New Testament doesn’t exist at this point so I assume Paul is referring to the OT. See above. I sure hope that’s not inerrant.

  • Jason Postma

    Regardless of what Piper “really meant”, my concern is the flippant tone with which he made his remark.

    Yes, I know Twitter limits the amount of characters one can use, which limits the ability to expound, which Piper has not done, either in an interview or in person. Michael has done us a service by clarifying what Piper meant (with an endorsement from the head cheese himself; Piper that is). And what Piper meant shouldn’t be a shock to anyone – did anyone have serious doubts as to what Piper meant in the Tweet?

    So, we have the theological leader of a large number of North American Evangelicals acting similar to a member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, making pronouncements about who is “in” and who is “out”. By whose authority?

    And if anyone answers God – just take a moment to think about the implications of that answer (historically and theologically – it means that the majority of Christians throughout time are heretics).

    This is not to imply that I doubt Piper’s faith in Christ or to suggest that I want to play the role of orthodox border guard. It is to raise the issue of a respected and trusted Christian leader stooping to a level of rhetoric that is unbecoming of the one he follows.

    This is not to say there isn’t a place for critique and debate – there certainly is.

    But it must stop playing the game of anti-thetical critique where everyone gets stung in the end.

    • Adam

      If you look at Bell’s teaching as a whole, not just this book, his teaching has always raised some evangelical “eyebrows.” He makes a lot of comments that give the impression that he has a very low opinion of Scripture. If you have a low opinion of Scripture it is a slippery slope that eventually can lead to things such as Universalism. When you focus on God’s love it is hard to believe in eternal condemnation. So to say that Piper was flippant in his tweet then I would say that you do not know the history of Bell’s viewpoints. He has been been critiqued heavily for a long time and I believe that Piper would say he has finally gone to far. If we cannot trust our Christian brothers to guard the truth of Scripture and let everyone say what they want about the Gospel then we are lost.

  • Jason Postma

    To clarify the question “by whose authority” I am not specifically referring to the question of universalism (obviously that is the “minority report” within the history of Christianity”).

    Rather, I am referring to problem of theological differences. When one group points the finger at another, another finger is automatically pointed back, with each group claiming to be operating with God’s authority and within the bounds of orthodoxy.

    This kind of game solves nothing because each group claims the authority of God and imposes its own set of rules and dogmas to bolster that claim.

    • Adam

      Your argument to say that when one side points a finger there is a finger pointing back is ridiculous. That means we can never refute anything anyone says and that is unbiblical. We are called in Scripture to speak out against false teaching. If we don’t then we are sinning just as the person who is teaching falsely. Scripture is what we must use to critique teaching and it is sad that you would call it a “game.”

  • Mae

    An Amen! to Joel: “How exactly can you read the Bible without lending your own presuppositions to it? There is no such thing as Sola Scriptura.” Resonate with you, bro!

    Jodie: Just saying there is no “clear” reading of Scripture. The Bible does contradict itself (I know, I know, I never would’ve believed that before, either), that’s why we’ve had so many on-going religious arguments throughout history. If there were such a thing as a clear reading, there wouldn’t be so many different denominations. Whatever the denomination, there is always a mixture of Scripture and that denomination’s interpretation of Scripture, which becomes their “tradition.” And I believe the doctrine of hell as it is understood today is tradition, like many of the practices of the Catholic church that you mentioned. Like I said, examine it yourself with an open mind (much like you must have done to be able to see through some of the teachings of the Catholic church).

    We’ve all got it right in some instances, and wrong in some others. The bottom line has got to be to love one another in spite of our differences, rather than label those who don’t agree with us as heretics. Scripture does say that *above all* we are to have fervent love for one another.

    • Philip Crouse

      The Bible contradicts itself? Yikes.

      • Mae

        Adam, you said, “Paul was talking about Scripture as a whole. He was referring to anything inspired by God which would include the New Testament even though the canon had not been completed.” I’m sorry, that’s a pre-supposition that I’m not willing to make.

      • Mae

        Yes, the Bible contradicts itself.

        • Adam

          If you think the Bible contradicts itself and isn’t the inspired inerrant word of God then this discussion takes a whole different turn. I would say that even Rob Bell would strongly disagree with you. I would also say that if you feel that way than don’t use Scripture in your arguments because anyone can simply refute you by saying they don’t agree with how you are interpreting it. I can easily argue that God doesn’t care about love. Why do you think he does? You think he does because of what we’re taught in Scripture but you just demonstrated that you don’t really believe in Scripture so…do you see where this is going? You are using Scripture, which you don’t believe is inerrant, to make your case for love and that doesn’t work.

        • Chris

          Wowwwww, Mae & Others…..
          God is Sovereign, and I am not!!

          Dear LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, Have mercy on them for they know ” NOT” what they do….

          Luke 23:34 (King James Version)

          34.Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

          John 3 (New International Version 1984, ©1984)

          John 3
          Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
          1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

          3 (In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.)[a]”

          4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

          5 (Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’) 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

          9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

          10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]

          16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.[g] 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h]

          Daniel 7:27 (King James Version)

          27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

          LORD Please forgive our arrogance and humble us before you

        • Chris

          I present these in the Love of Christ …

          Please watch this for those that have questions about the bible excellent!!

          Then this on the “Brokenness ”

    • Jodie

      Hi All, Jodie here. I’m back from hiatus for a bit of time.

      Mae: You are using circular reasoning in your arguments. You say the Bible isn’t clear. Then you turn around and use it as a part of your rebuttal. In the New Living Translation (©2007) (reworded in a different translation from earlier) it say this: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. The problem you might be having in thinking that the Bible isn’t clear might be that you haven’t studied the Bible as a whole, how the Old Testament is directing us towards Christ and his fulfilled prophecies in the New Testament.The Old Testaments shows us how we cannot save ourselves by living in the law. It points us to the Savior. In Hebrew 13:8 Jesus, the Messiah, is the same yesterday and today—and forever! There is all the legal preparation, processes and precedents revealed by the Lord over thousands of years shown for one purpose – the legal redemption of mankind – paid for by the shed blood of the very one that did the preparation, created all the processes and set all the precedents.

      If one is saved by faith in Christ then they have the Holy Spirit that has been deposited in them that teaches them to keep them from going astray from how they were first saved. It is Man who can be in error in interpreting the Bible and that is why we have all the differing denominations. God’s Word is never changing.

      1 John 2 :18-27 New International Version

      18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.d 21I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. 28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
      If one changes the way one is saved then it is denying who Jesus is.

      You said: “And I believe the doctrine of hell as it is understood today is tradition,..” but you did not give an example how you come to this conclusion. Hell is talked about all over the place in the Bible and I don’t see how it is allegorical or not real, can you show me where you get that from?

      Last thing, you keep saying that if one is in Christ they have love. I get the idea that your definition of love is an “intense affection” kind of love. One of God’s qualities of love is stated as a gift in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”. This is a sacrificial love that we have the choice to accept or reject. In Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth (exhibits or shows his love in a remarkable or unusual way) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is his unconditional love for us. It tells us in this verse that we can come to him as we are that we don’t have to be cleaned up(without any sin) in our lives first and then come to him. To understand what His true love is and to be able to love others in truth, we must intimately know God, and we can do this with a personal relationship with Him. We can have a close relationship with God by putting our faith in His son, Jesus Christ, who was God’s sacrificial and unconditional of love for us.

      Next you say we got to “love one another in spite of our differences, rather than label those who don’t agree with us as heretics”. In light of the above verses, if I am guided by the Holy Spirit because I have put my faith in Him as my Lord and Savior, I can love others the way He loved us. It wouldn’t be loving of me towards those who are preaching or believing another Gospel if I didn’t point them towards Christ and his redemptive love for us by telling them how to become a Christ follower. If I know a pending peril is coming and I don’t tell you how to avoid and say, “Oh well, they can go there own way and they will find out it is wrong.”in by being engulfed in that peril, am being loving towards that person if I let them go to that horrific end without warning and trying to show them the right way? If Hell is not real it probably doesn’t warrant the same kind of action. As a parent, I am constantly training my children and sometimes I even have to be a bit harsh in my tone and actions to get their attention so that they correct themselves before they hurt themselves. Take driving as an example, if I didn’t warn my daughter to not drive fast on a certain road because she could lose control of her vehicle and be killed by going down a deep ravine (and I knew this could happen) would my not telling her make it a more loving way because she didn’t want to hear it? Love is sometimes being “up in someone’s grill” and telling them they are wrong. Love is a verb that requires actions at times and not just tolerance for all different kinds of beliefs.

      Rob Bell’s approach in his books is an evasive reasoning that can lead one down the wrong road and away from Christ and not to Him. There is no where in the Bible that says one can attain salvation even after death. That is false teaching!

      • David

        Jodie, you’re quoting Paul about scripture. Which scripture was he talking about? Was he talking about the letters he was writing at the moment? Do you even think he planned on having those letters be considered “inerrant” scripture, Holy Word of God? There are even times when he says, “This is me saying this, not God.” What about that? Was Paul inerrant?

        Did you consider that none of the Apostles had the use of the New Testament? Or that Abraham didn’t even have the Old Testament? How did Abraham form a covenant with the Creator of the Universe without the Bible as his guide?

        What you are professing here is called “Bibliolatry.” You worship the Bible like it is a magic book and because of it, your “faith” is nothing more than a logical agreement that this book is magic. It’s silly. Put it away and try having a relationship with the Creator like Abraham did… it works. It’s wonderful.

  • Jason

    Just to stir things up a bit more:

    Let’s think about the prophets. Their role was to reveal God’s truth to the masses.

    Typically, the masses didn’t like what was said, leaving the prophets often ignored, chastised and ridiculed due to the incredulity of the people who couldn’t wrap their heads around the possibility of God doing “a new thing” – of extending his covenant beyond the chosen people to name but one “impossible possibility” prophesy (which, thank God, has been coming to fruition since Paul).

    Speaking of Paul, let’s think about the Pharisees. They were the guardians of orthodoxy and religious order – very pious and God-fearing men all of them. They knew their doctrine inside and out. Purity and piety were the name of their game. The yoke of the Pharisees may have been heavy, but they certainly had the respect of folks who couldn’t imagine that kind of religious commitment.

    Think about Jesus – he comes to fulfill many prophecies, which, as we’ve noted, are revolutionary and inconceivable. In doing so, he challenges the authority of the Pharisees based on a new interpretation of Scripture (let’s be clear – both Jesus and the Pharisees new their “Bible”).

    God has a history of making the impossible possible.

    If we were to cast roles in making this whole Rob Bell thing into a movie – in what role would we cast Rob Bell? John Piper?

    • Adam

      Since revelation is complete you cannot compare someone bringing up “different” teaching as the same thing as the prophets. God has given us Scripture to reveal Himself to us. So the Prophets were revealing God’s will for His people and bringing conviction against them. You should be very wary of someone who bring “new” or “different” teaching.
      The Pharisees were not believers. The ones who truly believed in God converted to Christianity i.e. Paul. So you cannot compare John Piper to the Pharisees because he is speaking against Rob Bell’s apparent turn towards Universalism. And I say apparent because Rob Bell never makes any definitive statements. He tiptoes around his views without saying anything. He does circular arguing and if you watch his interview with Martin Bashur on MSNBC you see what I am referring to.
      You say it is wrong for Piper to toss aside Bell as a Heretic but then you imply that he is a Pharisee?!

      • Jason

        Nope – I’ve done no such thing. At most I’ve implied that Piper’s remarks (particularly their tone) border on the Pharisaical. And it’s a thought exercise, so let’s not read into too much.

  • Robert Young

    “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;
    All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    The Spirit.. Holy Spirit.. moved men to speak to write to inspire… do we need to get into a discussion of the trinity.. the Holy spirit is God Yahweh is His name 3 yet 1

    • Jason

      “All Scripture…”
      You do realize that Paul was not talking about the Bible (the canon had not yet been closed…it would be another 300 years to settle that debate; and it wasn’t really settled until the Reformation).
      He was talking about the Hebrew Scriptures (which, at the time, did not include all the books that we know as the Old Testament; moreover, during Paul’s time, beyond the Torah, there was no universal Jewish canon either).
      So, unless you’re willing to use disparate elements of the “Old Testament”, including, of course, the tradition of mishnah and targum, proof-texting Paul on Scripture doesn’t do much to settle the debate…

      • Adam

        Jason please don’t take this the wrong way because my comments are not meant to be cruel or demeaning but I have read all of your posts and you are constantly and consistently taking Scripture out of context and mis-representing history. I would refute the things that you have said but I honestly do not have the time.
        The Church has always spoke out against false teaching and that is what is happening now. It is unloving to allow someone to lead people astray from the truth of Scripture.
        Everyone is constantly bringing up “love” like it is the supreme attribute of God. However, if God is truly the perfect and holy creator of everything than all of his attributes are equal.

        • Jason


          How am I supposed to take it?
          You’ve just gave me my own Piperesque “Farewell”.
          Shouldn’t you take the time to refute me out of Christian love if I am so obviously wrong? Wouldn’t that be the best way to show me love? I’d like to know where I’m wrong so that I can at least have the chance to respond to the accusations because I am a bit mystified. Perhaps, like most things in these kinds of debates, it is a matter of differing interpretations; however, I don’t want to play the game of retrenchment and finger pointing. So, please, let me know where I am so obviously wrong.

          Thanks also for reminding me that God is not merely love…he is also wrath, and vengeance and an endorser of the Canaanite genocide among other things…

          • Chris

            Adam, Simply let it suffice to say, GOD’s word is TRUTH, Represented in the Bible’s 66 books, Made flesh thru his SON ,Our LORD and Savior JESUS Christ.
            It is TRUTH regardless of what a sinful wrench like me thinks about it ,( Praise JESUS ,not any longer)

            “Just as I am….without one plea…but that “thy” blood …was shed for ME …and that thou bidst me come to thee….oh lamb (JESUS) of GOD I come ,I come !!……..Thank You JESUS

        • Joel

          If by “The Church” do you mean a narrow subset of evangelical churches? Because The Church holds many differing views. What you call false teaching, another would call orthodoxy and vice versa.

          While I haven’t finished reading Rob Bell’s book just yet, it seems that there is a lot of caricature based on what is assumed to be in his text. Love Wins, but sometimes that means judgement and painful correction by God on those who sin. Let me see… From the book:

          “There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.”

          I don’t think Rob Bell has it perfect. I don’t think anyone does. But he is not a heretic. His opinion may not align with some evangelical churches, but it is based on scripture and is similar to what has been espoused by many in the Church (Origen, CS Lewis). It is nothing new.

      • Adam

        Paul was talking about Scripture as a whole. He was referring to anything inspired by God which would include the New Testament even though the canon had not been completed. So when he said “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousnes”he was referring to the New Testament. If you do not believe that then I would say that you have a very low view of Scripture.

        • Jason

          I have a low view of scripture because I know the history of canonization? How does that work. I know the Bible’s history precisely because I hold it in high regard. Am I saying that you don’t have a high view of scripture just because you don’t have an identical view of mine? Nope. So why is the inverse apparently true?

          • Adam

            Jason – You said that Paul was not referring to the New Testament in regard to his verse on all Scripture being profitable. I will quote you “You do realize that Paul was not talking about the Bible (the canon had not yet been closed…it would be another 300 years to settle that debate; and it wasn’t really settled until the Reformation).” But Paul was speaking about the canon. My reason for saying you have a low view of Scripture is for comments such as this one. I know the history of the canon but I also know that my Bible is the inerrant inspired word of God. Saying that Paul’s work can’t settle the debate also makes you have a low view of Scripture. It has nothing to do with whether you agree with “my” view which quite frankly you don’t even know what my view is. All I know is based on your comments everyone reading them can imply that you have a very low and distorted view of Scripture.

          • Jason

            I realize that Paul was speaking about the canon; the Jewish canon, which, at this time, was very fluid with a high degree of variance. If you want to argue that Paul’s words in 1 Timothy are referring to a future canon (and even then, Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians all use different cannons), you have to agree that he is referring to the Old Testament.
            I know your position on the Bible – you are an inerrantist (which is fine:) I am not. But that hardly means that you have a higher or better view of scripture.

  • Ἰωήλ


  • Mark Warszawski

    I have only one question to all the criticism. Did John Piper and the author of this article actually read Rob Bell’s book before they pronounced doom for heresy?

    • Adam

      They did not pronounce any doom. This is a long standing issue with Rob Bell. This book is not his first run-in with orthodoxy. He has taught many things that have made many Christians nervous. You should go back and watch his videos and read articles that are easily found on line that show where his theology has been wrong. The sad thing is even if Piper does read his book it wouldn’t change any of your minds. It’s just any easy way for people to try and toss aside the issue at hand. Which, is Bell’s apparent low view of Scripture and misinterpretation there of.

      • Joel

        A low view of Scripture is treating it as something it is not nor claims to be.

        Why is it sad that not everyone shares your evangelical point of view? The Reformation was not perfect nor the final word. You believe things that are false. I believe things that are false. We see now as in a mirror, dimly lit.

        More important than whether Rob Bell or any of us have all our theological ducks in a row, are we living our lives as followers of Jesus?

        • Mae

          Well said. Love remains the litmus test. Jesus said that we would be known as his disciples if we have love for one another.

          • Adam

            Love is NOT the litmus test. That is ignorant to think that love is the way to tell if someone is a follower of Christ. Will love be a part of it? Yes. But is that it?! NO. There are a lot of “nice” people in the world that demonstrate what the world deems as “love.” To ignore someone who is spreading false teaching is unloving. You think that standing up against them is unloving because it may hurt some peoples feelings and I think that is ridiculous. The Apostle Paul had no problems standing up against false teaching and he definitely was nice about it. I have love for all my brothers and sisters in Christ and that is why I am angry when someone is teaching things that are unbiblical and you should be too. If you truly love one another!

        • Adam

          Everyone can’t be right?! I’m sorry that you think I can have my view and you can have your view. That isn’t how it works. That is how the world tells you it works but the world is wrong. If someone is teaching something that is unbiblical it isn’t enough to say “oh well that’s what they believe” or “to each his own.” That is extremely unbiblical. You can say that Christians have made mistakes throughout history and I would totally agree with you but Scripture has been the same and will remain the same.
          And it isn’t an issue of “if we have all our theological ducks in a row.” If this was an issue of whether or not Bell believed something differently that could be argued Scripturally than I would be ok with not agreeing. Some people believe in baptizing infants. I don’t think it is necessary but they do and I am ok with that. But when someone starts teaching things outside of Scripture that are leading people astray than Christians must stand up and say NO this is wrong. I am sorry that you think I can’t disagree with him and still be living my life as a follower of Christ

          • Mae

            Of course any one of us can disagree with another. But in my opinion, when disagreement devolves into labeling and name-calling then it begins to violate Jesus’ calling to walk in love.

          • Joel


            Again, have you read Bell’s book? He *does* argue from Scripture. So does NT Wright. Definitely Andrew Perriman (try wading through Re:Mission and say it’s not based on Scripture). The point is, some people truly disagree what Scripture is truly saying! Their is no such thing as a Biblical view (Sola Scriptura). The Bible does not interpret itself. We have a view of the Bible with imperfect eyes.

            I don’t believe the point of the gospel was that we might have perfect theology. The important thing is how that transforms our lives as followers of Jesus.

          • Jodie

            Did Jesus Call Unbelievers Bad Names Personally ?

            You bet he did. Here are some examples.

            John 8:44—-Child of the devil

            John 8:44—father of lies

            Unbelievers in the bible called vipers.

            Unbelievers in the bible called wolves in sheep clothing.

            Unbelievers in the bible called infidels and healthen.

            Unbelievers in the bible called tares and not wheat.

            Unbelievers in the bible called blind people spiritually.

            Unbelievers in the bible called swine and dogs.

            Unbelievers in the bible called strangers and not sheep—-John 10.

            Unbelievers in the bible called lost people—-2 Cor. 4:3.

            Unbelievers in the bible called the antichrist.

            Unbelievers in the bible called deceivers.

            Unbelievers in the bible called scorners and mockers.

            Unbelievers in the bible called despisers.

            Unbelievers in the bible with the wisdom of man.

            Unbelievers in the bible with the doctrine of devils.

            Unbelievers in the bible with heresies.

            Unbelievers in the bible with gifts and callings—-Romans 11:29.

            Unbelievers in the bible trying to be smarter then God—Matthew 5:17.

            Unbelievers in the bible with a false christ or false spirit.

            Unbelievers in the bible with false prophets.

            Likewise Jesus was called a lier and blasphemer.

            Likewise Jesus was called a law breaker when he’s a law maker.

            Called a friend of sinners breaking the law.

            Called a rebellious man against a king and government of man.

          • David

            Jodie, did you read Bell’s book? You should really read it before you rant like this. It’s unintelligent. And I promise, no demons will come flying out of the book if you read it. Then you can make sound judgement.

          • Adam

            Joel – There is truth and that is it. You can say that people disagree on Scripture and I would agree but what Bell is accused of doing is disagreeing with fundamental truths in the Bible. The idea of Hell and eternal damnation is not a piece of Scripture that we are interpreting in different ways. It is an entire theology that he is accused of tossing aside and he is changing the very core of the Gospel. You say the core of the Gospel is to transform our lives. What does that mean? Does that mean we can all think the Bible says whatever we want as long as we say Christ is transforming us? That is very post modern of you.
            I didn’t say that he wasn’t using Scripture. I am saying that he is wrong in his use of Scripture, and history for that matter. I don’t need to read his book, which I am by the way, but I don’t need to because I can base it off of everything else he has written and posted online.
            I have never posted that the point of the gospel is so that we would have perfect theology but when someone is teaching something that you believe to be unbiblical it is your job as a believer to stand up for truth and I’m sorry that you don’t feel that way.

          • Joel

            Jodie – I fail to see your point. Jesus also had some harsh words for those who thought they had their theology all figured out. I figure we’re all closer to Pharisees than we would like to believe, myself especially included.

            I don’t really appreciate the condescending tone. Besides, I believe it’s very *postmodern* of me.

            No, I don’t feel the need to stand up for a narrow view of hell.

            1. The concept of hell is not a foundational belief
            2. Jesus used several different words we translate as “hell”. There certainly is room for interpretation.
            2. The beliefs of the Church regarding hell have varied through the ages. From church fathers to C.S. Lewis to Billy Graham, you will find many who will hold to beliefs other than the standard turn or burn line.

            I hold that the gospel of Jesus was more than just about what happens when we die. I believe he was as much about saving us from our sin here and now. Saving us from pain and from inflicting pain on others. Jesus declared the kingdom of God is here, now. As followers of Jesus we begin the work of God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

            Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

            Frankly, having been brought up in a conservative evangelical denomination, I believe that many of my beliefs missed the point. But I’m not about to question the faith of my conservative evangelical brothers and sisters that hold beliefs I now consider wrong. Yes, there is truth – but we see dimly.

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    • Adam

      Labeling? If someone is doing something…such as being a heretic they have labeled themselves. I have not called Bell that nor will I until I read his book and find out for myself. But he has had many mistakes in his theology that need to be addressed. I haven’t heard anyone on here calling him names. I think that you associate disagreement with being wrong. You say I can have my own opinion as long as it doesn’t devolve into labeling. Unfortunately that’s not true. If I say that Rob Bell is unorthodox that automatically “labels” him a heretic. I haven’t done that but I’m trying to show you where your logic falls apart. You keep bringing up love and I wish you would use Scripture to show me where I should not be standing up against false teaching. But I have already noticed in previous posts that you don’t believe in Scripture so…I can’t really have an honest debate with you.

      • Mae

        Sorry…I’m not much into debating.

      • David

        Adam, you won’t read the book? What are you doing discussing it then? How can you address his theology then? Based on what others are saying? That makes no sense.

  • Kevin

    Paul leaving the church in Ephesus gives warning to the elders of the church…..Acts 20:28-31 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with this own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert….”

    what’s the charge here?………pay attention to doctrine

    Paul’s last letter to his son in the faith Timothy in 2Tim1:13-14 “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you”

    what’s the charge here?……pay attention to the word of God.

    2Tim 4:1-2: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

    what’s the charge here?….preach the word


    2Tim4:3-4 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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

    …this is why you attack heresy…and hopefully you will also attack it because you absolutely love the word of God.

    • Jason Postma

      I think we have to admit it’s a bit ironic that contemporary Protestants treat doctrine as a static form of tradition, when it was precisely this understanding of tradition which the Reformers were criticizing during the Reformation. What ever happened to the Reformation tradition of reading the Bible without being a slave to tradition on the one hand or a conformist to culture on the other? It seems that we have betrayed our Protestant roots in elevating doctrine to something that not even John Calvin would accept.

  • Ken

    Um – is anyone really able to get inside the mind of John Piper and determine what he meant when he wrote his three word tweet? Perhaps the best way to find out what he meant is to ask him. Sheesh.

    • Jason Postma


      Do you think Piper was being coy or evasive? That isn’t really his preferred M.O.

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  • Ken

    I have no idea. Maybe. Maybe not. It just seems odd to me to talk about what he meant when all it takes to know is to ask him.

    • Michael Krahn

      FYI Ken, Piper somehow found his way this post, read it and tweeted “Pretty close” along with a link back here.

      So what I wrote in the post about what he meant is “pretty close”.


  • Mae

    Joel: You make some really good points. However, (and nothing against them!) I don’t think our fellow travelers in this comment thread will be able to appreciate your points at their current stage in the journey. You may already be aware of the stages of faith or spiritual growth, but here is a really good article if you’re interested:
    I also understand that stages of spiritual growth is the subject of Brian McLaren’s new book, Naked Spirituality. Be blessed!

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  • Tammi Paulson- Potts

    Well written and oh so true. All I can say is God’s will be done. In the end…Rob Bell will stand before the Lord and give an account for leading so many astray. I am just thankful for the many who see this work for what it is and will not be shaken. Keep on writing Michael, to God be the glory!

    • David

      Tammi, did you read the book? I did… it really doesn’t lead anyone astray. It really, really doesn’t. You should read it before you make comments like that.

  • Sola Ratione

    If you’re interested in a non-Christian response to Rob Bell’s work, please click here:

  • Pam Thompson

    I think that Rob Bell is very much being led by the Holy Spirit, who is alive and well and still working in us. I resonate with his position. God is love, pure love. We shouldn’t be so arrogant to assume that we can know His mind. The interpretation of the Bible has been changing for a long time, and will continue to do so, perhaps because God cannot give us everything at one time. i.e. the position of women, slavery, etc. Thank you, Rob, for giving us another reason to think, discuss, and struggle with our faith.

  • Sam45

    I came to similar conclusions as Rob Bell years ago and was dubbed a heretic who was bound for Hell by my own family. Sadly, many Christians love the idea of Hell more than Heaven. While believing Jesus came to save the world they limit his power by believing, no hoping, that most of his children will be eternally tortured

    • David

      I’m sorry to hear that, man. I, too, have been coming around to this for a while. I’m a missionary kid, grew up in the church, but it always seemed like a cruel joke, that at death, all the truth is finally revealed to us but only then, we don’t get to choose then. Only now, when there are thousands of competing religions and denominations, etc.

      You are not a heretic, bro. I hope your life is full of joy and hope. God is good and his grace is sufficient for us.

      • Sam45

        Thanks for those kind words. I have become so used to judgement, arrogance and condescension that I was not prepared for this. My son has rejected his Christian faith and joined a non Christian church. According to evangelicals I need to believe he is sentenced to eternal torture but I should love and worship the one who has pronounced this sentence. If my child were abducted, tortured and killed by a man who said he had it coming to him how would I feel about that man? So how could I love a God who would do far worse to my precious son? The Christian response is typically to shrug and say he had it coming to him for not believing. What a monster this God would be

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  • Brett Mackey

    I personally find this review rather lacking.  McClaren, Bell, and other emergent voices have anticipated that the Evangelical old guard would dismiss them, as they have dismissed most everything outside of their fundamentalist folds since the neo-con movement somehow seemed to combine with Jesus (although it never really did). The Church is failing in Europe and and America, and the developing world struggles with an often-times toxic Christianity of hate and judgement that our Western missionaries have delivered to ‘save’ them. This new emergent movement is not going anywhere (but up), and I pray that a reconciliation will occur in my lifetime between these various Jesus movements that will allow us to gain relevancy and spread the ‘good news’ to the creation that is desperate for it.

    • Sola Ratione

      Hi Brett,

      I think you’re dead right to suggest that the Evangelical doctrine of eternal hell is “toxic” – full of “hate and judgement”.

      But I’m afraid that, as an atheist, I find Rob Bell’s universalism no more “relevant”, convincing or likely to count as ‘good news’.

      To give just one problem: universalism is by far the minority view in Christian thought across the ages. Hence, universalism entails that God has communicated His “plan of salvation” to humanity in such an ambiguous, unclear and uncertain manner that it has, as a result, been seriously misunderstood by the vast majority of those who have believed in Him (as well as those who have not).

      How likely is that?

      Sola Ratione

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