Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rob Bell is a Master Deceiver: Yes a Wolf

I have taken a long break from reading Velvet Elvis , but now I am back in it again. As I read "movement" five: "Dust." I was struck by the fact that Rob Bell is a false teacher and as such must be clearly named as one. Jesus promised that there would be wolves (Matt. 7:15), Paul and Peter affirmed it (Acts 20:29; 2 Pet. 2:1)and they were there in the early church and they are here now. Rob Bell is one of them. How can I say that? Well in this movement Rob Bell very cleverly draws a person in by wowing them with Rabbinical backgrounds and then takes these thoughts and makes Jesus say exactly the opposite of what He actually says in scripture which is our only absolutely true source of information! Essentially he lays out the basics of how Jewish education works and how ones graduates to become a student of a Rabbi and then a Rabbi. He talks about how most Jews didn't make the cut. He says that because the Galilean disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John, were fisherman that it shows that they didn't make the cut. According to Bell, the way that a Rabbi would tell you that you had made the cut was to say "Follow Me." So he says that when Jesus said follow me to the disciples what he was saying was that they were good enough to make the cut. Bell says that Jesus believed that they could be like Him. He ends the chapter by saying this: "God has an incredibly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of doing amazing things. I have been told that I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I am learning is that Jesus believes in me. I have been told that I need to have faith in God. Which is a good thing. But what I am learning is that God has faith in me." What Bell has done here is to absolutely pervert the message of scripture. He forces his interpretation of Rabbinical backgrounds into the New Testament scripture and comes up with a fanciful interpretation of what Jesus is trying to do. Why not just let scripture speak for itself by dealing with Jesus' words in their context. Then the message of scripture would not be perverted. Jesus did not believe in the goodness of man, he believed in the goodness of God. He did not put His trust in men, He put His Spirit in them to turn them away from self trust and to trust in God. In the context of Christ's calling of the fishermen in Luke 5, Peter had to realize that He was unworthy to be in the presence of Christ because of his sinfulness(Luke 5:8). Self confidence was not what he needed to become a follower of Christ. He needed Christ confidence. This is why Christ had showed him by controlling the catch of fish that He was God and had power over all the universe. This is what we need today: God confidence and not self confidence. Here are some verses in the Bible that show that what we need is not to believe in ourselves but to believe in God.

John 15:5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.NASB95

Philippians 3:2-3Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,NASB95

2 Corinthians 12:9-10And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.NASB95

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.NASB95

Proverbs 28:26He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.NASB95


watchman said...

Confidence can be a great witness for people like me. I may never make the first cut on typical ministerial standards, but I can still serve with confidence.

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13 (NASB)

I think Rob was actually saying that God's choosing lowly people like us, can empower us to do great things. If I did not believe that, I would not be in the ministry.

I am uneducated
I am untalented
I am certainly unworthy

The only thing that keeps me going is Jesus - his invitation to follow him. I am only confident in myself, because Jesus has called me to follow him. Self-confidence, then, is a necessary and orthodox standard of faith. Self confidence is the belief that God is doing what he said he would do.

That, it seems to me, is a far cry from heresy and false teaching.

In addition, I would point out that Rob Bell did not conjure the Rabbinical standards. There is some very good source materiel behind that. In other words, we know that is how Rabbis chose their apprentices. It would seem very unwise to ignore the context that the gospel writers assumed we would be aware of.

Caleb Azure said...

Watchman, confidence is not a bad thing. The object our confidence is the key issue. We can be confident in our ministry as Peter and John were when we go forth with the message that Christ has given us as we are directed throuhg His Spirit and through His Word. Confidence in ourselves however is a bad thing. As indicated in my original post. Our resume is found in Romans 3:10-17. It is true that God chooses lowly individuals like me: 1 Cor. 1:26-30. But He does this not to maginfy us but to magnify His power. God has not unleashed raw potential, instead He has taken something worthless and made it of worth by filling a jar of clay with the light of the gospel of Christ. It is when we begin to think that the jar of clay was something that God saw as valuable in itself that we get into trouble. See 2Cor.4. I do not deny that rob Bell made some valid observations from Rabbinical standards. However, I believe that he is interjecting his conclusions based on Rabbinical backgrounds into the text and so is doing violence to the text. The context of scripture is the most important context. Rabbincal backgrounds can be helpful but only when gleaned from properly in the context of scripture. What Rob Bell said is heresy because it is the exact opposite of what scripture says. (Philippians 3:2; Is. 6:1-6; 2 Cor. 10:17-18; 2 Cor. 11)

Anonymous said...

Honestly I don't necessarily agree with all that Rob Bell believes. But I think that you are reading the end of that chapter in a completely wrong way. I do believe that Jesus believed in his disciples and had faith in them because after his ascension to heaven he left it to them being guided by the Holy Spirit to spread His message. That is what I got out of that ending as well as God believed in Noah and humanity enough to spare them from total destruction during the flood.

And honestly history does take a big part in scripture because there are many parts of scripture that we could never understand if we don't know the history behind it. Which is what I believe Rob Bell was talking about when referring to the (as you put it) Rabbinical background. Honestly most if not all of the disciples were not qualified to be disciples, which is so beautiful because it shows that Jesus accepts us all as his disciples, no matter what our quirks are.

But in closing I just want to say be careful because you are starting to have a strong judgmental heart towards Rob Bell.

Numbers 6:24-26

Caleb Azure said...

Jesus did not have faith in his disciples. He built faith in His disciples. He taught His disciples to have faith in Him. The Bible magnifies the grace of God, not the goodness of man. This is where I believe that Rob Bell has turned things on their head. See response to watchman.

I don't believe that I am being judgmental because I am not judging Bell's motives. I am judging His word which I am commanded to do. (Matt. 7:15-20)

Bible backgrounds are very helpful in understanding the scripture. However, one must be careful to not allow these insights to subvert the message of scripture rather than provide a greater understanding of what is clearly taught in scripture.

God bless you as you honor His word,


Anonymous said...


Sorry I am a little late to this thread as it's a few years old but I'm wondering something.

Whenever we look at Scripture, we must attempt to understand the Bible the way the original writer intended it to be communicated to its original hearers. Once we understand that, if we can with any clarity, then we can start to draw paralells to us in today's world. However, that doesn't change what the Bible means.

I'm not the biggest Rob Bell fan, perhaps more so since the whole 'Love Wins' thing came down, but I appreciate it when a guy can make me look at Scripture from a different angle and dig into studying a little deeper to see if what he says is true.

I'm with you ... my faith is in God and God alone. However, I do think God desires for us to do great things and that he must have at least some level of confidence in us that we can accomplish what he has commanded us to do in this life.

Caleb Azure said...

Rob Bell's book "Love Wins" now clarifies what I had suspected at the time I wrote this. He is not interested in the clear message of scripture, but instead wants to adapt scripture to make it fit his own postmodern views. The idea that God chooses us because he sees something in us and believes in what we can do is antithetical to scripture (Rom. 3:10; 1 Cor. 1:26-31). What is the purpose of digging deep: to rightly understand the word (2 Tim. 2:15). It is not so that we can find a way to subvert it to say what we want it to say.