John MacArthur-Rob Bell: “Evangelical and orthodox to the bone?” Hardly.

Rob Bell is reminiscent of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-27. He has a warped view of goodness. He talks as if his own standard of good is the norm, and Bell even suggests that God is not good if He sends people to hell.

Jesus’ reply to the young inquirer (“No one is good except God alone”—v. 18) says God himself alone is the standard of true good, not any creature—certainly not a fallen creature.

The Young Ruler was not saved, nor can any person be who thinks his or her own preferences determine what is truly good. That kind of arrogance reflects a damning egotism.

Rob BellIn his books, sermons, and videos, Rob Bell has consistently promoted views that are antithetical to biblical Christianity and hostile to historic evangelical principles.

For example, although he claims to “affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible” (Velvet Elvis, 26), Bell is clearly more interested in casting doubt on the fundamental truths of biblical Christianity than he is in defending them.

Consider what else Bell says on that very same page of Velvet Elvis:

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?

Bell compares the Christian faith to a large trampoline, with its cardinal doctrines (truths evangelicals have historically deemed essential) functioning like the springs that support the jumping platform. The individual springs aren’t absolutely essential, Bell says—including the virgin birth:

What if that spring [the virgin birth] were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart? . . . If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?” (26-27)

So on the one hand, in a single sentence, he professes to affirm the virgin birth. On the other hand (and on the very same page), he spends multiple paragraphs calling thetruthfulness and importance of that doctrine into question.

That is Bell’s modus operandi. He labels himself an evangelical while simultaneously undermining the foundational tenets of evangelical conviction.

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Rob Bell: a Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

Dr. John MacArthur offers some insight on Rob Bell in this article at Grace to You blog.

Given those facts, you might think any true evangelical would reject Bell and his teaching outright. But evidently many in the American evangelical movement think they are obliged simply to accept at face value Bell’s claim of orthodoxy. No less than Mart DeHaan, voice of Radio Bible Class, decried Bell’s critics, portraying them as the divisive ones for pointing out the unsoundness of Bell’s teaching. DeHaan wrote,

I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy? [emphasis added]

The biblical answer to DeHaan’s question is clear and fairly simple: The best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy is to “[hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching . . . to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers . . . who must be silenced” (Titus 1:9-11).

We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies. It won’t do to sit by idly while someone who denies the danger of hell mass-produces sons of hell (cf. Matthew 23:15).

In a series of posts this week, we will demonstrate from Rob Bell’s own published works that he has long been hostile to virtually every vital gospel truth; we will consider some of the questions he has raised about what the Bible has to say about hell; and we will compare and contrast what Bell is saying about hell with what Jesus said about it.

Buckle in and get ready to be challenged. These are admittedly some of the hardest truths in the New Testament, but there’s no reason anyone holding authentic evangelical convictions should find the subject confusing or controversial.

 

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