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Rob Bell Tells How 'Love Wins' Led to Mars Hill Departure
Christian Post ^ | December 3, 2012 | Katherine Weber

Posted on 12/10/2012 2:26:36 AM PST by Gamecock

Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., recently shared how his 2011 book, Love Wins, led to a fallout with the congregation and forced him on a "search for a more forgiving faith."

Bell details this search in a recent interview with The New Yorker, and discusses his invitation to Christians interested in a different kind of church, "one that can keep pace with the rising 'waterline of culture.'"

"Bell is now loosely aligned with a cohort of pastors worldwide who are searching for ways to move beyond old-fashioned worship," Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker wrote in an in-depth, Nov. 26 feature on Bell, entitled "Hell Raiser."

The main issue discussed in Bell's recent interview regards Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, in which the former pastor questioned the existence of hell and the evangelical teaching that only those who believe in Jesus Christ go to heaven.

Bell received a vast amount of criticism for his book and even lost members of his Mars Hill Bible Church congregation. The New Yorker writes that "word went out that a prominent megachurch leader had rejected Hell, thereby embracing heresy."

Critics accused Bell of being a heretic, a political liberal, and a Universalist, among other labels.

Bell told The New Yorker that the publication of his book resulted in a 3,000-person decrease in membership at Mars Hill Bible Church, which he founded in 1999.

"The book put pressure on the people around Bell, who found themselves having to defend statements they might never have heard, let alone approved," The New Yorker writes.

"Congregants reported that friends and family members were asking why they were allowing themselves to be led by a false teacher," the magazine continues.

Wife of the megachurch pastor, Kristen Bell, remembers staying home from service for some weeks because she could not stand the criticism her husband was receiving for his book.

"There was a cost," Bell told The New Yorker.

"And part of the cost was, we couldn't keep doing what we were doing at Mars Hill," she added.

The Evangelical Alliance issued a review of the controversial book, saying that although Bell displays "brilliant communication skills" in Love Wins, he also communicates only part of the truth regarding hell, which can be "disturbing to those who believe in the other half of the truth."

Others, however, argued that those accusing Love Wins of being a book about simply heaven and hell were missing the bigger picture and message conveyed by Bell.

"[Love Wins] is a book that invites people to remember the life God is offering them and that encourages them to thrive as they joyously participate in that life," wrote Julie Clawson, a Christian blogger for the site OneHandClapping.

Bell, however, argued that he never meant to be controversial with his book.

"My interest is in what's true and where is the life and where is the heart and what inspires. And if that happens to stir up a few things, that's something I accept," Bell said at the time of his book's release, as previously reported by The Christian Post.

Ultimately, Bell and his wife chose to leave their West Michigan church and seek a new way of life in California, where Bell and Carlton Cuse, producer of the hit TV series "Lost", are teaming up to work on a "faith-inflected talk show."

Bell also holds retreats with fellow pastors near his Orange County home, and enjoys surfing. He is also working on a new book.

As The New Yorker points out, although many viewed Bell's Love Wins as a form of evangelical dissension, others view Bell as "a reassuring figure: proof that it's possible to challenge certain articles of faith without leaving behind faith itself."

"Before, he was a dissenter in evangelical West Michigan," Sanneh writes for the magazine. "Now he is a lifelong believer in secular Southern California. And, in that world, his faith may seem more distinctive – and more important – than his doubts."

Along with Love Wins, Bell is the author of The New York Times bestseller Velvet Elvis. In 2011, Time magazine named Bell one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Teaching Pastor Shane Hipps temporarily took over Bell's position at Mars Hill from Dec. 2011 until June 2012, when he announced that he would be stepping down from his position as lead pastor.

Mars Hill Bible Church is now led by Pastor Kent Dobson, son of well-known megachurch Pastor Ed Dobson.


TOPICS: Current Events
KEYWORDS: grandville; marshill; michigan; robbell; universalism; ybpdln

1 posted on 12/10/2012 2:26:40 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: DocRock; del4hope; Alex Murphy; Gamecock; Dr. Eckleburg; jude24; Ottofire; fishtank; ...
The YBPDLNPL is generally published infrequently, but based on the exploits of the megachurch pastors posts can spike for a period of time. If you would like on or off of this list please FReepmail me.


2 posted on 12/10/2012 2:28:48 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock

Seems to be a rather nepotistic little group.


3 posted on 12/10/2012 2:35:19 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: Gamecock
Gee Rob, there's always the United Church of Christ (aka Communist Party USA), the Presbyterian Church USA (aka Havana North) or the UUs (aka the Synagogue of Satan).

Since these "churches" have no standards, as a heretic, you'll fit right in.

4 posted on 12/10/2012 3:54:02 AM PST by Dr. Thorne ("How long, O Lord, holy and true?" - Rev. 6:10)
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To: Gamecock
The guy is an author, not a pastor.

To be an NYTlistze author about religion, you have to 'apologize' (not, as it were, to be a classic apologist, say, in the form of CS Lewis).

Warren believes he can 'apologize' for hell, but more meta, for the teaching of hell.

In doing so, he has become another garden-variety troll -- hardly a heretic, he's just not that good -- and trolls deserve to wander under bridges without a flock to tend.

5 posted on 12/10/2012 4:39:13 AM PST by StAnDeliver (Own It.)
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To: Gamecock

The independent mega-churches that are inherited father-to-son don’t stand the test of time. It’s a family business model that doesn’t survive well.

As for Bell’s novel re-writing of God’s Word, the final word is given in Revelation 22:18, 19: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Believers believe. They do not freelance to fit in with the world’s rotten culture.


6 posted on 12/10/2012 4:53:13 AM PST by txrefugee
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To: Gamecock

WOW! I didn’t realize his church fired him over that book.

God bless the people for not falling for having a “celebrity” pastor, loved by the world while eschewing the Word...the theology he apparently espoused in that writing is unbiblical, not comporting with true Christian doctrine.


7 posted on 12/10/2012 5:12:29 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: All

Has anyone actually read his book? Has he really claimed that there is no hell?


8 posted on 12/10/2012 5:40:59 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Gamecock
a cohort of pastors worldwide who are searching for ways to move beyond old-fashioned worship

I expect they say that with a straight face, too.

9 posted on 12/10/2012 5:47:28 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: Cronos
Has anyone actually read his book? Has he really claimed that there is no hell?

Yes. And no, he didn't.

10 posted on 12/10/2012 6:13:06 AM PST by newheart (The greatest trick the left ever pulled was convincing the world it was not a religion.)
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To: Gamecock
[Rob Bell] told The New Yorker that the publication of his book resulted in a 3,000-person decrease in membership at Mars Hill Bible Church, which he founded in 1999. "The book put pressure on the people around Bell, who found themselves having to defend statements they might never have heard, let alone approved," The New Yorker writes.

That's what happens when you fail to publish a thorough "statement of faith" for your church, Rob. People find out what you really believe, and then it all goes south.

11 posted on 12/10/2012 6:27:02 AM PST by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Gamecock
Bell details this search in a recent interview with The New Yorker, and discusses his invitation to Christians interested in a different kind of church, "one that can keep pace with the rising 'waterline of culture.'"

Waterboarding?

12 posted on 12/10/2012 7:13:26 AM PST by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Gamecock
The YBPDLNPL is generally published infrequently

Definition, plz?

13 posted on 12/10/2012 8:06:48 AM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can't redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: Albion Wilde

The YBPDLN PL can go weeks, even months, without any activity. But then over the course of a week there many be one, two or even three pings per day. Then things quiet down.


14 posted on 12/10/2012 9:34:35 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Albion Wilde
The YBPDLNPL is generally published infrequently

Definition, plz?

Your Best Purpose Driven Life, something something something.

Antics of the televangelists, church as circus, church as mall, church as business, & all the stuff that appalls in the American church world as we see it now.

15 posted on 12/10/2012 9:42:45 AM PST by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Gamecock

Apostasy has its costs. But I think Rob will be happier as a Hollyword TV new-age spiritual guru than he ever was a Christian impersonator.


16 posted on 12/10/2012 10:20:38 AM PST by circlecity
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To: newheart
If he didn't say that there was no Hell, what did he say and why did he get dumped by Mars Hill?

The fact he said a few things that deeply disturbed the people of his congregation (who quite clearly once loved his teaching) enough to get rid of him implies it must have been pretty far from or contradictory of the New Testament teaching.

17 posted on 12/10/2012 10:30:51 AM PST by Lakeshark (!)
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To: Lakeshark

It is not clear that he was dumped. And while I am certain that there were people in his church that wanted him fired, the board of elders did not say he was fired.

Below is a pretty good analysis of the issues in his book. Yes it is controversial and goes beyond what many people believe about Hell, but he continues to deny that he ever said there was no Hell.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/marchweb-only/rob-bell-universalism.html?start=1


18 posted on 12/10/2012 11:50:39 AM PST by newheart (The greatest trick the left ever pulled was convincing the world it was not a religion.)
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To: SoFloFreeper
WOW! I didn’t realize his church fired him over that book.

They didn't. He is still referred to on their website as the founding pastor and the links to his website are still up.

19 posted on 12/10/2012 11:57:25 AM PST by newheart (The greatest trick the left ever pulled was convincing the world it was not a religion.)
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To: newheart
It is not clear that he was dumped. And while I am certain that there were people in his church that wanted him fired, the board of elders did not say he was fired.

The article here makes it pretty clear there was a huge division, 3,000 people leaving means it was a pretty big problem. The quote from Bell's wife saying they could no longer be there confirms it was a pretty big problem.

I have seen similar situations where someone was fired, yet it was not stated as such by a church board; what I am reading is he was likely asked to leave and it's not being reported as such. No biggie, it happens sometimes.

Thanks for the link, I'll go take a look. I have appreciated at least one of his books in the past, but suspected he was heading towards a wrong (meaning untruthful) direction for a long time. I guess if we wait long enough, this will play out and we'll know. The idea of a TV show with the director of "Lost" is truly an odd one........

20 posted on 12/10/2012 12:07:11 PM PST by Lakeshark (!)
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To: newheart

So what is the article talking about? :(


21 posted on 12/10/2012 1:22:06 PM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: Lee N. Field; Gamecock
Your Best Purpose Driven Life, something something something.

Thanks!

22 posted on 12/10/2012 1:33:00 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can't redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: Gamecock
Ultimately, Bell and his wife chose to leave their West Michigan church and seek a new way of life in California, where Bell and Carlton Cuse, producer of the hit TV series "Lost", are teaming up to work on a "faith-inflected talk show."

Oh boy.

23 posted on 12/10/2012 1:38:41 PM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: Lakeshark
"If he didn't say that there was no Hell, what did he say and why did he get dumped by Mars Hill?"

Essentially what he said was that everybody makes it to Heaven. That even after one dies God continues to shower his love on them to such an extent that even the hardest, most evid heart eventually succombs to such love and finally embraces God, thus saving them. Universalism.

24 posted on 12/11/2012 4:05:10 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Gamecock

So, what we have is a very bright, inquisitive, ambitious man with a flair for both teaching and attracting people. This bit of information from the Wiki article on him helps explain what got him started:

“Bell received his bachelor’s degree in 1992 from Wheaton and taught water skiing in the summers at Wheaton College’s Honey Rock Camp, making about thirty dollars a week. During this time, Bell offered to teach a Christian message to the camp counselors after no pastor could be found. He taught a message about rest. Bell was later approached by several people, each of them telling him that he should pursue teaching as a career.”

Just because one can do something - whether rightly or not - does not mean that one should do something. “Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead My people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:32)

Doctrinal oversight, while strongly affirmed in the Scriptures, is virtually non-existent in many American denominations. God has a way of doing things that in both timing and manner are at complete variance with the way of man. We short circuit it to our and others’ peril.

Sadly, Rob Bell is nothing more or less than a false prophet, talented, yes, and false. I would assume the same could be said of many in Jeremiah’s day.


25 posted on 12/11/2012 9:45:37 PM PST by Belteshazzar (We are not justified by our works but by faith - De Jacob et vita beata 2 +Ambrose of Milan)
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