Rob Bell Deconstructs The Gospel (Again)

Here is Rob Bell’s latest deconstruction of the gospel.  Bible believing Christians need to continue to call these people out for what they are, false teachers who water down the gospel to a feel good message that offends few, but does no good in articulating the clear gospel of repentance.  Rob Bell is very dangerous, especially to youth, who watch many of his NOOMA videos.

Following are the opening comments of Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio (thanks Apprising Ministries), from his internet blog, Fighting For The Faith:

Something seriously wrong with this guy’s teaching. I’ve been smelling smoke for years from this guy; and now well, it’s erupted into fullblown fire… I’m going to play for you the audio from this video. I’m not going to interrrupt it; I’m going to let you hear the whole thing in context, and then we’re gonna circle back and we’re gonna pull this thing apart piece by piece.

Not only are there doctrinal errors in here; there are historical errors in here, and he’s engaging in something here called deconstructionism. This is a very, very dangerous “gospel” that he’s preaching. And I am not going to back off from my assessment; I’ll tell you ahead of time, this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not the Gospel that the Apostles preached. This is something completely different…

I am willing, at this point, to stand by my assessment; unless I hear otherwise from Rob Bell, which I seriously doubt, I’m going to basically make the charge this is not Christianity. This is a rehashed liberalism, if you would; kind of an interesting spin on liberalism, the liberal social gospel, if you would. This is seriously, seriously, dangerous and heretical stuff…

You can hear the entire dissection by Chris at his Fighting For The Faith blog.


22 responses to “Rob Bell Deconstructs The Gospel (Again)

  1. Hi Manny,

    Thanks for posting this video! It was the first time I have come across it online. I must admit that I am really sad to see your assessment, and while I appreciate your enthusiasm, I am not sure that your accusations are accurate. Most of his historical analysis is actually right on, he tends to takes some contemporary terms which may get in the way when it comes to more formal historical dialogue. However, to say that this is not Christianity is reaching at best. Perhaps it may be helpful to first define what the Gospel is. People tend to do a lot of defining what it is not and in doing so they tend to loose the point of Jesus’ message.

    Chris’ podcast was rather interesting too. He tends to read into and take out of context certain sound bites from Bell’s video and make them say something that was not originally intended. At the crux of it, it seems that most of the accusations both here and in Chris’ podcast are hollow without much hard data for support.

    There is a much larger question that looms over this kind of discussion, that is, is there nothing more valuable to discuss?


  2. In answering the question, there are any valuable things to discuss. You can find other topics at other blogs or websites, that are extremely valuable. My focus here is also valuable, and that is to:
    1. Sound the alarm about the emergent church threat to Christianity,
    2. Expose the false Christianity of contemplative mystical practices and New Age philosophy,
    3. Expose false teachers and teachings, such as that from Rob Bell.

    Rob Bell does not seem to realize that the real gospel is telling people that they are evil in their hearts, they are rebellious against God, that Christ died on the Cross for their sins; and that they must repent of their sins, and turn around from their wicked ways, and follow Christ in obedience.

    Do you ever hear that message from Rob Bell? Certainly not in this video.

  3. Hi Manny,

    I appreciate your perspective. I just fear that you may be sounding the alarm on something that may be more inline with what you think than you may know. Often times, the differences that I see between what is being said in “emergent” circles and what is being said in “conservative” circles is really a matter of semantics. That is, the main difference is language that is being used to communicate the same truth.

    For example, you mentioned that the Gospel is “telling people that they are evil in their hearts. I understand your point, which is (and correct me if I am wrong)…

    1. The world is in a fallen state and the ground is cursed.
    2. Humanity is in a state that is not the one in which God intended, it is very literally “broken.”
    3. Because of the broken state of Humanity there is a need for a Savior to redeem the “evil in their hearts.”
    a. The only Savior that is capable of bringing that redemption is the one who does not have “evil in His heart…” thus Jesus the only sinless human.

    In the clip that you have posted here, Rob Bell in his own words suggests that…

    “The good news is that God hasn’t given up on the world. [see point one and three above]

    Jesus saving me from my sins, my cynicism and my despair…the brokenness in the world that I see around me is true of my own soul. [see point two and three above]

    Starts deep inside each of us with our awareness that we need help, that we need saving, that we need rescuing…because we all fall short…” [see point one, two and three above]

    If I take Bell’s own words and put them into conservative language it may go something like this…

    1. God sent His Son to a lost and dying world.
    2. We live a in a fallen world filled with sinful, fallen people…I am a sinful, fallen person.
    3. The first step in Salvation is acknowledging that I have fallen short and need Saving.
    4. Jesus, God’s Son, is the answer to my fallen state and the fallen world.

    Now, obviously, Bell mentions some other things that are up for some debate (and debate is the right word here)…the date of Mithra and Attis etc. So as you can see, his message is in fact intrinsically Christian.

    The interesting thing is, that conservative Preachers are guilty of far more than using debatable historical analysis in their sermons. Some rely on outright fabrication to prove a point (we have all see the clip of that guy on youtube talking about how it is a God given right for men to stand up and urinate on a wall). If there is anything real to debate here, it isn’t whether or not this is a Christian message, but whether all of his historical points are true.

    Now, if these bloggers (Chris Rosenborough & Apprising Ministries), lump all of that historical data into what they consider the Gospel, there is a much bigger problem here. That is, they (Rosenborough and Apprising) have added much more to the Gospel than what Jesus did.

    If I had to pick between the two, I would much rather be accused of being wrong (if that is even the case) about a few historical points than be guilty of pigeon holing the Gospel into something that it is not. At the base of this, it still seems that there is very little hard data from the bloggers that this is indeed a “non-Christian” message.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this.


  4. Okay, this one point for now, on a short lunch break. Bell says around the 11 minute mark: “This group of people who by their compassion, their generosity, the grace that they extend to others, you find yourself believing when you’re around them, that God hasn’t given up on the world. That’s the gospel, that’s it. The gospel is the good news that God hasn’t up on the world.” Is it because of a group of people doing good things? Why, a group of Buddhists could be compassionate, generous, etc. Good works follows being saved, but first comes repentance!

    Where is the gospel message? That’s the gospel, that’s it? Where is sin mentioned, and that we need to repent of our sins? It is a very muddled message, and he is not clear on the gospel, and if some unbeliever heard this, they would not know what must they do to be saved? He mentions that Jesus is “saving me”, but how?
    Where is the cross? Where is the true message, without throwing in all this confusing stuff that he throws in?
    It is not a message of salvation that he is preaching here.

  5. Oh…. another other point here. As a responsible pastor of thousands of people, Rob Bell should have his facts a little more clear. The differences are subtle but make for different meanings. Jesus was NOT crucified by the Roman Empire, but truly by the Jews. Yes, the Roman soldiers carried the sentence out, but his implication here is almost to make him a political figure instead. Subtle, but that’s how he speaks often… subtle shades of difference that lead some people to the wrong conclusion. He has a responsibility to be more accurate than how he comes across.

  6. Hi Manny,

    While I appreciate Chris’ thoughts on that, I believe this discussion about whether or not it was Rome or the Jews who killled Jesus is a moot issue. As the story goes, one could not have worked without the other. While the Jews may have been the one to bring Jesus to the attention of the State, it was indeed the State that made the decision. See Mark 15

    “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified”

    If we get down to the nuts and bolts of it, Pilate is just as guilty as the Jews are because he had the authority to stop it but didn’t. So, guilt lies on both parts.

    This goes back to my previous thoughts on adding more to the Message of Jesus. It seems that when someone doesn’t agree with the bloggers on some of the periphery issues then they all of a sudden are no longer “Christian.” Does the heart of the Gospel really depend on who you “think” killed Jesus? Or is the message bigger than that?

  7. I would not argue that the gospel depends on who you “think” killed Jesus. That in and of itself does not cause extreme concern from me.

    But all the “facts” that Rob Bell speaks accumulates into a deceptive tale, and he is not preaching the true gospel! It is that he DOES NOT preach the straight true gospel of repentance. It is obvious, but I guess you can’t or won’t see that. It shows in the other videos he does as well, such as his erroneous point in another video, that Peter failed to walk on the water because Peter lost faith IN HIMSELF! Totally wrong! He should know better, and I think he does, he is just trying to re-invent the gospel according to his liking.

    Galatians 1:6-9 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

  8. Hi Manny,

    I guess a few questions may be in order…just to clarify terms. What is the “straight true gospel?” Honestly, I am not trying to be stubborn, but if I can’t see it, then it may not be as obvious as you think it is.

    Which specific “facts” is Bell wrong on exactly? And how do they lead to a “deceptive tale?” No offense, but these statements are the ones that lead me to think that most of the rationale behind all of the aggressive accusations at Bell really are hollow. There doesn’t seem to be any hard data to support it. It seems that there are two things that come into play here. The first is that those who are accusing can’t see that Bell is actually orthodox but that he uses a different dialect to present it. Secondly, that he is different in his overall presentation and change is not generally gladly accepted.

    What do you think?

  9. I’ll gave you one clear fact again: Bell’s totally wrong view of Peter as having lost faith in HIMSELF, not Jesus.

    That is deceptive because it is completely wrong, and even a simple person with little education, can see that the passage on this teaches that Peter lost faith in JESUS! Why does Rob Bell miss that simple point? He is a pastor, is he not?

    And I don’t mind that he is “different in his overall presentation” as you said, but I do mind when he is different AND unclear in his presentation of the gospel.

    And perhaps you can tell me what is the straight true gospel message?

  10. Hi Manny,

    Let’s not forge the context of Peter loosing faith. According to Bell, it isn’t that Peter was loosing faith that he could walk on water by his own authority but that he was loosing faith that he could indeed be as Jesus was. Remember, the goal of the disciple was quite literally to walk in the footsteps of his master (or according to Bell his Rabbi). So, according to Bell, the issue isn’t Peter loosing faith in himself in the sense of “saving oneself” but that he lost faith in the ability to follow in Jesus footsteps and carry on his Jesus’ mission. It was in the same vein as Jesus’ thoughts on continuing the mission in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

    I am in no way suggesting that this is the ONLY interpretation of this passage, but based on the context of each of these pericopes I don’t see that it doesn’t fit. When you read these stories, what leads you to believe that this is not a possible interpretation for this passage? After all, there is nothing in this story that spells out the key to it as “keeping your eyes on Jesus.”

    There are plenty of bad interpretations out there…probably the most notable one is the slaying Giants theme that is often misinterpreted from the David and Goliath stories. And I have heard that a thousand times from all sorts of different pulpits…but no one is accusing them of being “non-christian.”

    Again, I am not sure that his presentation is unclear, I have yet to see or hear anything that leads me to believe that. He may not be using the same words to communicate, but I would suggest that he is certainly “preaching the Gospel.”

    As far as what the “straight true” gospel message is, I think I will leave that up for you to define. I simply believe in the gospel of Jesus…that is, the Good News of the King of Creation. The Gospel simply put, is that God has sent His Son to bring about the Restoration of all things.

    Now outside of what the “gospel” is, there are some central tenants that are foundational to Christianity. I don’t see Bell disagreeing with any of these.

    1. God Created and it was Good
    2. Our original parents (Adam and Eve) disobeyed (sinned) God which caused the great fall and allowed for the cursing of everything that is.
    3. Because of the great fall, all of humanity is effected to the core which makes you and I sinful people.
    4. Jesus is the resolution to the Fall. Through His Resurrection and death the world is offered redemption.

  11. I guess we will not agree on the clarity of Rob Bell’s presentations, or how he taught the lesson on Peter walking on water, etc.

    You said “gospel of Jesus:, and “Good News of the King of Creation”. Let me finsh what you started with this…

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is this: Salvation is by grace through faith (Rom. 6:23). Nothing else. Not works, not anything else, not baptism, nothing. FAITH ALONE, BY GOD’S GRACE ALONE.

    Restoration of all things? Not sure what that means…. it is an unclear statement. The gospel is that Jesus came and died for our sins, so that ” if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Rob Bell does not preach this type of gospel message, if he does, please send me a link to that message.

  12. Hi Manny,

    I am with you on Grace. But that is not actually the gospel…but the nature of the Gospel. The gospel message is literally a herald of the King that a new decree has been made. In this case, it is that the Kingdom is now available for everyone and everything. I agree with you that the purpose of Jesus was for the redemption of humanity and the forgiveness of sins…but this is where we may disagree. I believe that that is too narrow of an interpretation of the message of Jesus and the nature of the Gospel. I believe that through Jesus God will bring about the restoration of all things. If that is unclear, let me try to bring some clarity.

    In the beginning God created everything that is, and in God’s eye’s it was “very good.” In other words, it is the way that it was supposed to be. Through Adam and Eve sin enters into the picture and everything is affected…everything. Then there are a series of events that God tries to use to correct the course and return things to the way they were. Noah restarted everything with a clean palate. The intention of Abraham and the Hebrews was that a group of people would be priests to the rest of the world and that through them the world may return to “very good.” Jesus enters the scene at the climax of history to finally set things in motion that will redeem the world and bring it back to “very good” state. So, since the fall, all of history has been looking forward to when “Eden” will return. The point in which humanity and God will be fully connected again. John touches on this quite heavily in Revelation when he mentions the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth…it is the reuniting of God to humanity.

    So, Jesus is at the center of it, because it is through his sacrifice that God not only redeems and forgives the sins of humans, it is also through the sacrifice of Jesus that the world as we know it will be redeemed. Is that a little more clear?

  13. As far as Rob Bell and Grace goes, I think that it was clear in his video that you posted here. He goes so far as to say that, “we are invited to be the hands and feet of Jesus JUST THE WAY WE ARE.” That is Grace up one side and down the other. That is the very nature of Billy Graham’s message during all of crusades…”Just as I am.”

    Again, this goes back to my earlier point…at the root of it, there is simply a disconnect in verbage. We are all saying the same thing…only different language is being use dot communicate it. Bell can communicate Grace without using the term “grace.”

  14. Rob Bell’s “Good News” is all bun – no beef. It looks like a hamburger but when you open it up the part that makes it a hamburger is missing. Where is the purpose of the event of the cross and where does judgment come in?

    “People tend to do a lot of defining what it is not and in doing so they tend to loose the point of Jesus’ message.” –cashworth

    So what was the point of Jesus’ message?

    “is there nothing more valuable to discuss?”

    There is nothing more valuable to discuss than the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the very Son of God, by whom all things were made, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, rose on the third day, presented himself alive by many convincing proofs for 40 days after his resurrection, ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father to make intercession for us from whence he will one day return to judge the living and the dead.

    Is this not what the video is about? Who Jesus is and what he taught? We are discussing what Rob Bell is teaching, aren’t we?

  15. On another note…you inspired me to create another blog today…

    Thanks for some motivating conversation!

  16. All I will say here is that is good, but the individual human cannot be “redeemed” unless he or she has repented and received forgiveness of sins. They are lost in their sins and are headed straight towards eternal punishment unless they repent.

  17. Hi Bearer,

    I appreciate your reply! Again, I am afraid that some of what you mention here only furthers my position that most accusations about Rob Bell and his teachings are hollow and lack any real data. As much discussion as there is on the subject, I am sure that there are some shortcomings, but I have yet to see any reason for concern. Unfortunately, I have not seen what “beef” is missing from Bell’s “bun.” What leads you to believe that his teaching/preaching is not orthodox or that it is not Christian?

    As far as the purpose of Jesus and what the gospel is, see my post above on July 28th, 2009 at 3:24 pm.

    I would agree with you that there is nothing more important to discuss than the person and teachings of Jesus, but that was not the context of my question there. I was asking about the validity of a discussion regarding a pastor who’s content actually seems pretty right on. Why is it that people tend to tear apart something because it is different? Please feel free to read above to see my position on why I believe there is so much friction there.

    It all boils down to two things…

    1. Rob Bell uses different language to communicate the same truth. Unfortunately, some Christians don’t understand his non-christianeze dialect.

    2. Bell presents the same message through a much different mode. Change is rarely accepted with joy…so the response is first fear, and second aggression.

    What do you think?

  18. I have watched this video in it’s entirety, three times thus far. First time through, my reaction was that this Rob Bell fellow is preaching heresy, he is arguing for a faith in goodness and kindness. His heresy is subtle but it is there, he advocates for Marxism, then attaches Jesus name to it. This leads people away from the actual Jesus and points them towards Mr. Bell’s fictional creation.

    Mr. Bell argues for a competitive belief system, he argues that one should believe according to what is most attractive. This is in direct opposition to God’s word, which exhorts us to believe in what is true.

    Mr. Bell argues that the resurrection is about renewing the earth to it’s former “good” state and that the Gospel is that God has not given up on the world? Say what? Before he comes to this conclusion, he first diminishes the reality of the resurrection, by comparing it with fictional stories.

    The truth is that the resurrection is the core proof of our salvation. If the resurrection didn’t happen then all of Christianity is a farce and it is sheer foolishness on our parts to have any part of it.

    The “Gospel” or good news is that the resurrection did happen. the one living true God of Israel sacrificed his only son, in order that we may be with him for eternity in heaven! Jesus death and resurrection, provides eternal life for all who will accept this sacrifice on their behalf.

    Despite phony resurrection stories attributed to others, Jesus did rise from the dead. He didn’t rise in a story, he rose in actuality. His death was sure, crucifixion, then pierced with a sword, then three days and three nights in a tomb. he rose from a known tomb, guarded by Roman centurions, then he appeared before witnesses. These witnesses were so sure that he rose that they chose to die rather than recent their testimony. Not only did they choose death, they did so individually and while alone.

    1. Does Rob Bell tell the same truth, no not even close. Rob Bell exhorts Marxism with different language.

    2. Since #1 is not true, then #2 is based upon a false premise and has no merit.

  19. On the second and third passes I started to notice more and more errors in Mr. Bells presentation.

    Was Christianity a copy cat religion based upon popular Roman God’s existing at the time? very doubtful since the Old Testament spells out much about Jesus and his life and death. This predates these others that Mr. Bell speaks of. Even the year of Jesus birth was fortold.

    Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, [that] from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince [shall be] seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

    Was there a 12 day celebration called the advent of caesar. yes it appears that way, however Mr. bell is turning this around. Eventually the Roman Empire embraced Christianity and many Roman inventions were incorporated into christian holidays. this is not a reflection upon true Christianity which is based upon truth.

    Did Caesar actually say “there is no other name under heaven” ? The only references I could find were on various blogs parroting Mr. Bell.

    Christianity’s claims “weren’t that unique”? Really how so? Other claims came from stories and fables from the past, while Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, were all happening in their present time, in public and under close supervision. That makes it quite unique, wouldn’t you agree?

    Mr. Bell contends that Jewish tradition teaches that the world is broken and in desperate need of repair. This simply isn’t true. neither Jewish or Christian teaching advocates this view. It is Man that is broken, not the world.

    “God was going to put it all back together.”?

    2Pe 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

    2Pe 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

    This view that God would restore the world put them in direct conflict with the Roman Empire? I think not, the conflict arose because Christians refused to worship Caesar, pure and simple. Mr. Bell embellishes the story much the same as a Chicagoan would embellish a hot dog!

    “EUANGELION” means “good news” No surprise here, good news is good news. Is it euangelion, that Christ died to save our souls? You bet it is. Is it also euangelion, that you have won the lottery? Yep it sure is. Mr. Bell makes much ado about nothing to bolster his claims. “Empire propaganda term”?

    “especially those on the underside of the empire” This sound like class warfare to me. Paul was certainly not on the “underside” of the empire was he? Salvation does not depend upon ones status in society, Caesar himself was eligible for this gift, and in fact one Caesar received the gift.

    “The way of Jesus was totally opposed to the way of Rome.”? No not really.

    Mar 12:17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

    Act 25:8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

    Phl 4:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

    Mr. Bell makes much of the accounts of communal living, yet he ignores that this was not for all Christians, in fact these communists required support from others.

    1Cr 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

    There are also exhortation that aid should be denied in certain circumstances.

    1Ti 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

    2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

    :”ekklesia”? The name for Caesar worshipping cities? This word means literally “out called ones” seems like a funny name for a city, and Rob Bells only source for this is one out of print book. He then goes on to say that this word means “church” when in fact it does not. The word “church” is a derivative of the greek “κυριακον” meaning “the Lord’s”. These words are similar but not synonymous. He then goes on to say that this was an “empire propaganda term”.

    This doesn’t quite cover the entire video, but at some point I must give up and say enough.

    I can’t be sure where this Rob Bell fellow is coming from, but it doesn’t appear to me that he is a follower of Christ. just my opinion of course.

  20. Jim and Sword Bearer,
    Thanks for the great comments. As you said Jim, at some point, “I must give up”. I have had that pain already, so that’s why I welcome others to comment! I’ve gotten tired of this many times, and it is painful to try to go through every point Rob Bell makes in his “sermons”.
    Rob Bell preaches every Sunday to a church of 10,000 or so, and it is frightening that so many are being misled by his version of the gospel, which is another gospel, and not the true one.

  21. Hello Manny,

    I have to say that Rob Bell is deceiving others again by this video clip I just reviewed. One part I kept hearing was how Christians are to serve the World and make the World a better place.

    If as Christians we are to store up our treasures in Heaven, how can this task be done while serving the World?

    I can contribute more later, but I just thought I’d bring out this part of misleading language being used by Rob Bell.

  22. Manny,

    I wanted to update you about a local Nazarene church (Nashville area) that was using some Rob Bell products for it’s teaching resources. I’ve just come from their website and the products are no longer listed. I know it doesn’t mean that they have stopped using them, but at least it is not advertised. Maybe the young pastor has been informed through your efforts at the most recent G.A. meeting. (We can only pray he has.)

    Currently, my wife and I have enjoyed this Baptist church (Fundamental Baptist) which teaches straight from the Word of God. It is ashame that we had to leave the Nazarene denomination to find a Bible teaching church though.

    Let me know if I can be of any help in this pursit to stand for the faith.


    Your brother in Christ

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