Friday, February 27, 2015

A Flawed Perspective and A Missed Opportunity: Rob Bell on Oprah

My, oh my. Rob Bell has been busy. Books. Opinions. Oprah. Attempting to undermine the authority of the Bible....

Yeah. That's a thing.

I'll preface this post by saying I don't usually do this. I'm not one to "soap box" it up, but there are some things that I can't let by without a healthy dose of thought, which eventually comes out in words that land on Thinking Thoughts. The inerrancy of the Bible is one of them. Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if that means rocking the boat.

In my post about true love and Fifty Shades of Grey, I said the following:

Without His example of love and self-sacrifice, we wouldn't have a picture of what true love is.
I was talking about Christ here and I stand by that declaration. I fully believe that Jesus, the Son of God, was and is the living example of true and perfect love. That's not a notion I made up, I found it in the Bible. That is, God's word. His authority on the topic of...well, life.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day I came across a video of Rob Bell on Oprah. As they discussed his new book, The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage(no, I won't be talking about this book), he made some...interesting claims. These claims reached way beyond promotion for this book, though I'll admit I'm not surprised he made them. I remember Mr. Bell in his Nooma videos. At the time I though, Wow, this guy is cool and takes a different approach to life. Awesome.

But he's changed. Or maybe who he was the whole time has surfaced? I'm not sure, but I'm saddened by the fact he has such a large platform and he's using it to spread lies.

Yep. I just said it. Lies.
Flickr by Jim Forest

Take his quote he made about the Bible to Oprah: "...And the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense." (quoted from

Um, "best defense"? Back up. The Bible isn't a defense. It's the reason. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I decided to dig a little deeper and found a treatise by Bell titled, "What is the Bible?" There was a lot there, it was a looong post (followed up by several more) but I was unhappy with what I found. In essence, he made the point that, in his eyes, the Bible is human. That is to say, written by humans and therefore human in its flaws.

He says, "If you let go of the divine nature of the Bible on the front end and immerse yourself in the humanity of it, you find the divine in unexpected ways, ways that can actually transform your heart." (Rob Bells tumbler)

I'm sorry, but when you "let go" of the divine nature of the Bible in any way, shape, or form, there are no longer any standards. You start to believe a version of God that doesn't fully represent Him. You can suddenly pick and choose the attributes of God you like (ie: love and gentleness), instead of seeing the full image of Him. Both just and loving. Both wrathful and forgiving. Both humble and divine.

When the Bible simply becomes a story, it's no longer truth

This is dangerous because it undermines a standard. Christ set the example for us. The Bible relays that standard in writing inspired by God. The minute the Bible is found to be inaccurate is the minute we get to decide. Decide what to accept and what not to . Decide what to think about God and what we'll throw out. You don't like the idea that there is punishment for sins? Well, if the Bible is just human--just a great story--then we don't have to believe in punishment.

Flickr by Adam Dimmick
This is flawed. There is a lot of info written by far wiser people than me on why the Bible is inerrant (you can see writings by John Piper, The Gospel Coalition, John MacArthur, Tim Challies, and even listen to one of my favorite speakers, Matt Chandler on the topic). There are also historical reasons, but there are spiritual ones too.

We can't pick and choose what God says. Any discount of scripture is against scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
It reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite authors and theologians, C.S. Lewis. It speaks to the reality of who we believe Christ is and what He said about himself and I believe it is the same with the Bible.

C.S. Lewis
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

God gave us--breathed out--His word to equip us. More than that:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (emphasis mine)
Words that are living and active are not out of date. They are not a defense against the reality of life, but rather a guide in dealing with, handling, and living out a Christ-like example in this life. Can something human made "discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart"? No.

Rob Bell had an opportunity. Sitting there, only a few feet away from one of the most influential women in this modern age, he could have shared the beauty of the gospel to everyone watching. The reality of who Christ is. The hope found in the realization that we've all sinned (Ro. 3:23) and deserve death (Ro. 6:23) BUT that God created a way for us to be made right with Him (Ro. 5:8, 10:10, 10:13).

But he missed it.

No comments:

Post a Comment