Rob Bell has been the focus of much discussion since the release of his book Love Wins in 2011. In the book, Bell famously questioned the existence of a literal hell along with the need to believe solely in Jesus Christ to avoid such fate. It was this book that led to Bell’s departure from Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan.
A recent article by Sarah Pulliam Bailey reveals that Bell has stepped out of the pulpit (and out of organized church all together), however, his books are still on the shelves. In addition, he is currently developing a show for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
A show on the OWN Network will inevitably reach an audience far larger than the 10,000 seats available in Mars Hill Bible Church … so I think it’s fair to ask what message Bell will be offering his viewers. When asked if he still considered himself an evangelical by Bailey, Bell offered the following response:
“If we mean Jesus’ message of God’s revolutionary love for every person, and we can surrender and give our life to acts to loving kindness, then man, sign me up.”
Bell’s response encapsulates the gospel message he believes in and teaches. The problem, however, is that this isn’t the gospel message Jesus Christ Himself taught and believed in. Bell’s statement does contain a kernel of truth. God’s love for each and every person is revolutionary. So much so that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins on the cross (John 3:16). However, we aren’t called to surrender and give our lives to acts of loving kindness, we are called to surrender and give our lives to Jesus Christ. Scripture records that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22). Our sin separates us from our perfectly Holy God (Isaiah 59:2) and only a belief in Jesus Christ will make us right with Him again (Romans 3:22, 10:10). As Christians, we give our lives to Christ for salvation and then the acts of loving kindness (that Bell references) follow. Acts of love (or works) follow from our faith and serve to demonstrate our faith as being real (James 2) … but they are not the object of our faith – that is reserved for Jesus Christ.
And with all apologies to Rob Bell, Scripture teaches that a failure to place one’s faith in Christ results in an eternal Hell where there will be a separation from God, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and the experience of fire and punishment that is eternal (see Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43, Revelation 14:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Revelation 20:10, along with others).
Rob Bell promotes a gospel message that falls short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in Scripture. There is no doubt many believers and unbelievers alike will fall prey to this false gospel (Matthew 24:11), but if you choose to watch his show – please go into it with your eyes wide open. Be aware that his gospel is not the Gospel of Christ.
There is much media in the world today that offers to distract us from the Word of God. Movies such as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings take nuggets of Biblical truth and wrap them in man-made fiction. In the same way, Bell’s gospel falls short of the real Gospel.
Christians, be careful in the world of media. Be careful not to quickly believe everything you see and hear. Test all things by Scripture (1 John 4:1).