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March 22, 2011


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You made some really good points there. I checked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

גופי תאורה

Informative post. It displays ambiguity on this issue is a dangerous. Person who ask questions about the universalism and permission to believe is true.


Thanks Rob. And this generation for that matter. How we have misinterpreted Jesus for 2000 years just blows my mind. One book like this clears it up...again Rob to the B you are the best.

Aaron Stern

Sarah - Hope you are well. Thank you for the link to Jason's blog - excellent post and well worth the read. A kind, informed dialogue is so much more productive. I pray that we are able to see what has been in question for centuries and accept speculation as such. When I see a Bell video or read an article i hear what you described about your time at Denver Seminary. I find that we can have a difficult time "holding things in question". I am almost finished with the book and though I don't agree with several things I don't find anything heretical...primarily because he is states it at speculation.

Zach - good vid. Good for some people to hear this.

Daniel - lol. You caught me :)

A - thanks for that long post.


Great post Aaron. I so agree and appreciate you addressing the issue.

I am in the middle of the book and actually saw Rob Bell in Denver last week. What came most strongly across to me in his presentation was his desire to make the real love of God known to our world. He responded to questions about judgment, hell, justice by openly saying he holds some things in question, just doesn't know, but the thing all we Christians do know, and ought to be proclaiming, is the love of Christ.

This is the first Bell book I've read, and while I don't agree with everything I find, I really appreciate him asking the hard questions about hell and heaven. I hate seeing major Christian authors write off this book, because it feels like anyone who asks the same questions will also be dismissed.

Also, you might enjoy Jason Grey's post, "Love Loses," on the whole Christian response to Rob Bell: Good stuff.

Zachary Miller

Aaron, I feel I have come across a pretty good find.


I'm a little late on reading this post. I detect a hint of Wigintonian theology in the last highlighted sentence. ;)


Well the issue for most people is that Rob Bell is part of the Emergent Village/Movement. (This will be long, but please read as there is a larger point I'm getting at, but it takes a good bit of explaining).

Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, Mars Hill Church), Shaine Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution), Brian McLaren, Tony Compolo, etc. Are a part of it. And a few Google search would probably bring up a few more names. But I came across this complied list of beliefs awhile back and decided to save it. After doing some more digging, I found all of these points can easily be confirmed.

1. There is no hell. (Which is also the case with Rob Bell who, in his book refers to hell as a temporary state of "Pruning". Pages 91-92)
2. We should accept the “truths” of another religion and another can accept the truths of Christianity while staying in their own religion and by doing that, we will all go to Heaven.
3. The Bible is up for interpretation.
4. Virgin birth of Jesus was not necessary.
5. Cannot define when same sex marriage would be illegitimate.
6. People who believe in the second coming of Christ are distorted, deadly and terrible, blaming the Middle East conflict on those who believe in the second coming of Christ.
7. Fundamental Christians are harmful in the fact that they believe in the end of the world, and contribute to it’s destruction, thus bringing in a “self-fulfilling prophesy” when we “should” be trying to preserve the earth and nature.
8. God is a “chick”. Etc…
9. They teach that Islam and Christianity believe in the same God.
10. Their main focus is obviously, interfaith coupled with good works of men and purpose for living
apart from foundational truths found in The Bible.

A bigger issue is born through belief #9, which ties Islam and Christianity together, which brings us to a whole other topic that the Emergent church is liable to bring into America.

Rick Warren (Purpose driven life author) is starting 'services' with them and many more names are associated with the Emergent movement, along with NOOMA videos.
Sources: (Islamic) (Emergent)

Excerpts from Bill Warner's free book, “Sharia law for nonmuslims"

Here are current and historical events in America that are driven by Sharia law:

On September 11, 2001 jihadists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York. This atrocity was in compliance to the doctrine of jihad found in the Sharia law. The attack was a political action motivated by a religious mandate for endless jihad.

Textbooks in America must be approved by Islamic councils. This is in accordance with Sharia law.

American employers and schools are met with demands for time and space to do Islamic prayer. These demands are based on Sharia law.

The American banking system is becoming Islamicized with Sharia financing. Our banking system is becoming Sharia compliant in financial law, but is ignorant about the totality of Sharia law.

Universities are asked to provide sexually segregated swimming pools and other athletic facilities for Muslim women.

Hospitals are being sued for not providing Sharia compliant treatment.

No course at the college level uses critical thinking regarding the history and doctrine of Islam. Under Sharia nothing about Islam may be criticized.

Muslim charities give money to jihadists (Islamic terrorists), as per Sharia law.

Muslim foot-baths are being installed in airport facilities, paid for by American tax dollars. This is in accordance with Sharia law.

American prisons are a stronghold of Islamic proselytizing.

Workplaces are being made Islamic worship sites through special rooms and time off to pray. This is in accordance to Sharia law.

Islamic refugees bring all of their wives for welfare and medical treatment to America. American authorities will not act—even when presented with evidence. Polygamy is pure Sharia.

We are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to implement constitutions whose first article is the supremacy of Sharia law.

Why do we need to know Sharia?

Islamic scholars claim: Islamic law is perfect, universal and eternal. The laws of the United States are temporary, limited and will pass away. It is the duty of every Muslim to obey the laws of Allah, the Sharia. US laws are man-made; while Sharia law is sacred and comes from the only legitimate god, Allah.

sharia: Sharia is based on the principles found in the Koran and other Islamic religious/political texts. There are no common principles between American law and Sharia.

Life Under Sharia law:
There is no freedom of religion
There is no freedom of speech
There is no freedom of thought
There is no freedom of artistic expression
There is no freedom of the press
There is no equality of peoples—a non-Muslim, a Kafir, is never equal to a Muslim
There is no equal protection under Sharia for different classes of people. Justice is dualistic, with one set of laws for Muslim males and different laws for women and non-Muslims.
There are no equal rights for women
Women can be beaten
A non-Muslim cannot bear arms
There is no democracy, since democracy means that a non-Muslim is equal to a Muslim
Our Constitution is a man-made document of ignorance, jahiliyah, that must submit to Sharia
Non-Muslims are dhimmis, third-class citizens
All governments must be ruled by Sharia law
Unlike common law, Sharia is not interpretive, nor can it be changed
There is no Golden Rule
Rape is prevalent part of their religion that in Sweden, they stopped collecting
Data of rape victims.

Briton’s traffic comes to a halt as Muslims acknowledge their
‘prayer’ time on the street and bow down.

Franklin Graham: World’s Christians in Grave Danger

Friday, 18 Mar 2011 05:33 PM

By Chris Gonsalves and Kathleen Walter

The Muslim Brotherhood, with the complicity of the Obama administration, has infiltrated the U.S. government at the highest levels and is influencing American policy that leaves the world’s Christians in grave danger, warns internationally known evangelist Franklin Graham

“The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country,” Graham tells Newsmax. “We have these people advising our military and State Department. We’ve brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries.

“It’s like a farmer asking a fox, ‘How do I protect my hen house?’"

That same Muslim Brotherhood is fomenting much of the rebellion and the deteriorating social order roiling the Middle East, forcing millions of Christians to flee for their lives, says Graham, son of beloved evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, and founder of The Samaritan’s Purse international charity.

“Under [Egypt’s Hosni] Mubarek and [Jordan’s] King Hussein and other moderate leaders, Christians had been protected,” Graham says. 11 million Christians live in Egypt and I ear for them, because if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, you’re going to see a great exodus of Christians. Same thing in Tunisia and Lebanon. I fear for the church because the Muslim Brotherhood is going to be a very terrible thing.”

The Rev. Franklin Graham predicts an exodus of Christians from the Mideast and North Africa if the Muslim Brotherhood rises to power there. The RADICAL group is shaping U.S. policy, the evangelist says in a Newsmax.TV video,
adding that it’s like a farmer asking a fox how to protect the hen house.

A new report from the Roman Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need supports Graham’s contention that the persecution of Christians world­wide has worsened exponentially in the past few years.

According to the report, Christians face increased suffering in 22 countries around the world, with Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Nigeria being among the worst countries to be a Christian in today.

The persecution has gotten markedly worse over the past two years according to the organization.

“The proportion of countries with a worsening track-record of anti-Christian violence and intimidation would be higher were it not for the fact that in many cases the situation could scarce­ly have been worse in the first place” the report’s authors wrote.

More than 75 percent of religious persecution in the world is currently being carried out against Christians, the report concludes.

The Vatican formed a special committee late last year to address the flight of Christians and the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East. In his New Year’s message, Pope Benedict XVI said Christians suffer more than any other religious group because of their faith

Asked if President Barack Obama was doing enough to protect Christians at home and abroad, Graham says, “No. If anything it’s the opposite.”

“Muslims are protected more in this country than Christians,” he says. “The president has made many statements but he doesn’t back them up. We have to do more to protect the Christians in the Muslim world. Their lives are in danger.”

In recent weeks, Obama administration officials have stepped up the defense of their inclusive stance toward Muslims in their ranks. Deputy national security advisor, Denis McDonough, said last week that President Obama is actually trying to prevent terrorism by "dispelling the myths that have developed over the years, including misperceptions about our fellow Americans who are Muslim."

"When it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, you're part of the solution," McDonough said at an interfaith forum in Sterling, Va.

Graham, however says what Obama is really doing is "giving Islam a pass" rather than speaking openly about the "horrific" treatment women and minorities receive.

"We certainly love the Muslim people," Graham said in an earlier interview with Newsmax. "But that is not the faith of this country. And that is not the religion that built this nation. The people of the Christian faith and the Jewish faith are the ones who built America, and it is not Islam."

This is by the Ph.D. former professor at the prestigious Muslim university in Cairo, Egypt where he taught exclusively on Islamic history.

Former lecturer of ISLAMIC HISTORY at AL-AZHAR university, CAIRO, EGYPT

Read what he says about MANDATORY lying,
for Muslims, commanded by the prophet himself,
while in a foreign country and are a say they are Christians, to curse the prophet, to deny their religion for the advancement of their beliefs, only to... buy time to slaughter every male and female young and old who do not believe as they do.


Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976,
allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

Aaron Stern

Bruce - sometimes.

Nicole - Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that Bell does push against conservative theology and is trying to put a fresh spin on things. And most of what I have heard from Rob in regard to Jewish historical context is right from my Jewish study. I am amazed at how quickly we can dismiss someone because they say things that ruffle our feathers. I hope we can all pause long enough to evaluate if the feather-ruffling was legit. Seems like a more humble way to my humble opinion :).

Nicole Volesky

Thank you for posting! I am reading Love Wins right now and I haven't found much I disagree with. I think to provoke thought Rob Bell likes to push the boundaries in the way he portrays stuff, but really his teaching is not much more than a fresh perspective on rather conservative theology. I can also say from study I know that Rob is VERY contextual, he knows his stuff, what the Jewish customs of Jesus day were and exactly what Jesus was referencing when he said some things that don't make much sense to us today, and that is what I love about Rob, he shows you what Jesus was saying IN CONTEXT and says it in a way easy to understand. I think people are just afraid of him because he's different, I like it though, he puts an amazing spin on things, gets you thinking. And he's also pretty legit if you actually look at the context of the scripture.


Great stuff Aaron. The only thing I want to clear up is that I am not appalled at his method. I love his method of asking questions and provoking thought. I just think where the leading questions lead in his teaching can sometimes be considered questionable at best.

Aaron Stern


Jeff - I didn't hear at all what you heard in the teaser video. I believe that God, out of self-giving love, launched a rescue plan (Genesis 12) to save mankind and the world from evil and sin. This plan found completion in Jesus' death and resurrection. So when Bell says Jesus coming isn't about saving us from God's wrath (paraphrase) I agree...God sent Jesus out of love, not merely to satisfy His wrath. Wrath (destruction) is one end of justice but not who God is. (For a more thorough unpacking of this meta-narrative of Scripture read "Simply Christian" by N.T. Wright)

I think Bell may be over reaching in some of his metaphors but I also think he is more of an artist than a theologian, more of a provocateur than a pastor.

I understand what you are saying and agree with some of your overall ideas but would like for us all to realize that our biblical interpretations are often very conservative and someone like Bell's is liberal, all the while both can still fall within the lines of evangelicalism. There can be significant differences and strong disagreement, but to call someone a heretic is too strong, in my opinion.

Mike - that is an option...not a bad one either! :)


I was going to read the book to get a better understanding, but then realized I didn't understand a word he was saying in any of his interviews :)


Aaron, I did read your links. Thanks for providing them, in the promo video he says that the view of Jesus saving us from God's wrath is a horribly mistaken view of God. The New Testament is full of references that directly contradict him. ex. Romans 2:5

In the video he also says, using a question of course, that it is mistaken to think that the majority of people will not enter into heaven. This is also directly opposed to Matthew 7, where Jesus was teaching that the way to hell and destruction is broad but that few people find heaven.

When asked about Matthew 7, Rob said that it is about this life now and about us making choices to 'live the life that God intends here'. He goes on to use marriage as an example as something these verses were teaching about, saying this, 'it takes intentionality to have a good marriage and most people don't choose the narrow road of being intentional enough to keep their marriage relationship in a good condition.

Anyone at all interested in understanding the Bible in context knows that Jesus was not at all in fact teaching about this life and/or the broad and narrow ways of having a marriage relationship.

Rob has to destroy the meaning of so many scriptures in order to hold his views. This is not a small thing. There is a large difference between a person who is seeking God and mistaken on some theology and the person who is a leader and intentionally distorting scripture to make it appealing to itching ears.

I'm not at all interested in sounding like I love hell, or the fact that Jesus said few people will find heaven, but I do know the importance of Truth in people's lives. Without the truth of the Gospel we all have no where to stand.

Brooke Mikulas


Aaron Stern

Bruce - thanks for the link. I think it is interesting that the comments afterward talk about Rob only telling stories and asking a lot of questions. Not that I agree with everything that Rob said, but we shouldn't be so quick to call that method out as appalling...Jesus sure did a lot of this.

As for this being a discussion that should be reserved for the scholars and kept away from the hermeneutically uninformed masses for fear of confusing them...I would like to think that discussions like this will motivate people to learn how to study the Bible and find out what it really says. That seems like a good outcome to me.

It is true that Bell's M.O. seems to be stirring the pot with a controversial question or statement and then not necessarily filling in all the details (maybe because they aren't as certain as we would like to believe). I am ok with what he does. I enjoy the conversations it starts. I wonder if that isn't his intention all along!

Jeff - I am not sure that I agree with you about the book promo video being enough evidence to condemn Bell as a false teacher. What makes you say that? I am not trying to defend Bell, but find it interesting that we are pretty quick to hand out "false teacher" labels. Did you read the links I connected to in the blog post? There are several perspectives worth considering that might differ with your opinion but are still in the bounds of orthodoxy and not heretical.


Aaron thanks for your response. I think Rob's 'questions' in the promo video for 'Love Wins', and in the book itself, speak clearly and loudly enough for we as believers to regard him as a false teacher.

While he may want to eloquently redefine the faith so that it is more suitable for the world's itching ears, he only exposes himself, as in the Newsweek interview below, as someone who not only takes scripture out of context, but willingly twists and distorts it to suit his predisposed conceptions.

As Paul and Jesus warned, this is not to be taken lightly.


The one thing I would add to the discussion below the general public the right place to have these discussions that could be very confusing for many followers of Christ who are not as biblically knowledgeable as pastors and scholarly types in context, hermeneutics, and exegesis? The reason I bring this up is because while Rob does have some good insights here and there I have often heard Rob Bell's hermeneutics described as questionable.

Often times Bell only gives leading and ambiguos questions leaving you to fill in the blanks even on orthodox subjects that have very solid non negotiable answers.

For example in Velvet Elvis he says he believes in the virgin birth but then ask if the virgin birth "really matters", and never really answers the question except to say what he believes. THe virgin birth however is not a spring that can just be removed from Christianity but a claim of the Bible itself. If the bible is wrong on Jesus I would say were all in trouble.


LInk to Rob in his own words on the book....

Interview with Newsweek reporter uncut. This definitely will clear up some of what he is saying in the book before we are all able to read the whole thing.
the into takes about 10 min or so but then its all Bell.

Check it out, and decide for yourself.

Aaron Stern

Zach - you're welcome!

Alex - Thanks for the comment. I look forward to an ongoing conversation. Let me know when you read it.

Jeff - I appreciate your comments here. I am not disagreeing with you but I am not sure that Rob Bell would believe that we don't need repentance. I may want Rob to say things more definitively but I don't think he becomes a heretic if he doesn't. Read the links on my post that go to other orthodox perspectives and see if you can't see how we maybe have become too narrow in our view of orthodoxy.

Trey - I would like to think that we would do a lot more work before we determine someone a heretic. That is a big deal!

Stephanie - I am ok to disagree and appreciate the fact that we can respect and love one another. I am not so sure that Rob's book is "contradictory to Scripture". Have you read the articles linked on my post that highlight other respectable and viable perspectives on the afterlife that still fall within orthodoxy? That being said I am not convinced Rob isn't a Universalist but I'm also not convinced he is. In the meantime let's be thoughtful, prayerful and humble.

Keith - thanks for the thoughts and Scripture on repentance.


Keith I wasn't by any means attempting to endorse or defend 'living by the law' to attain enough righteousness to please God. I'm sorry if it sounded that way.

That said, there is clearly examples of false teaching, as Jesus warned about in Matthew 7, and as Paul did numerous times including Galatians 1. Jesus said we need to 'take heed to not be led astray'.

According to Jesus and Paul then, we need to be careful. It is not 'living by the law' to live according to the true gospel and expose when people preach a false gospel.


@ Jeff Repentance means to Look Back at the things from above. Like "pent" in the word "penthouse". Go back to God's prospective. If you think after the spirit you will live after the Spirit. What you believe you will act out. If I believe We are to encourage, exsort, and edify people after who they are in Christ. Paul wanted to know nothing among people except after who they were in Christ! Ephesians 1 Talks about Christ reconsiling ALL things to Himself. The Just shall live by Faith! Whatever is not of Faith is sin. We have been Justified. Our good or bad works have nothing to do with what Jesus Christ did for us. We Live Holy BECAUSE of Who we are. Hebrews 10:10-14 is AMAZING!

Galatians 2:20 (The Message)

19-21What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The Truth is We are seated in Heavenly places in and with Christ. The Truth is We are a New Creation. The Truth is We are Holy and are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The Truth is We are Complete. Colossians 2:10. The Truth is We are the Pure and Spotless and Blamless Perfect Bride of Christ. The Truth is our Old Sinful nature has been Crusified and Buried with and in Christ. The Truth is We have Risen with and in Christ. The Truth is the Old nature is Gone. The Truth is we live by Faith. The Truth is we are the light of the world. The Truth is it is no longer us who lives but Christ who lives in us and we live this life by Faith in the Son of God. We believe the Truth is what God has to say to us in Christ. The Truth is you have Perfect Unity with God in everyway because of Jesus Christ uniting you with God. GOD ALREADY DELT WITH SIN!!!! JESUS BECAME SIN!!! What sin did Jesus Christ not become??? We identify ourselves with Christ in EVERY WAY!!!! We Believe in Jesus Christ Completetion FOR us!!!! The only thing that is growing more is our revelation of our unity with and in Christ and the benifits of everything in Christ Jesus!!!!


Normally I'm defintiely on the same page as you Aaron but I finally reached a point where we differ in opinions slightly. Totally agree that we should not be chastising Bell but helping him as a fallen sheep but from what has come out of his own mouth about his book, we know that it's contradictory to scripture. Isn't that enough? If I handed you a book and said this whole book is about how God didn't create the earth but how evolution happened and then Christ came to an evolved earth, would you really want to read the entire thing to if this priciple had truth to it? Our primary source of learning is scripture, not others, and his book is contradictory to scripture. With that said, let's attempt to restore him with love and not humiliation.

Trey C. Peterson

Aaron, Thanks for not assuming and working to protect another Man of God! I sure hope Rob Bell hasn't gotten lost!


Rob Bell's 'gospel' is completely void of repentance and remission of sins by God's grace, but full of a mystical figure sort of Jesus, who never preached judgement upon sinners and knew only the shallowest form of love.

Discernment and correction is not misguided and irrational anger. It comes from recognizing the danger of false teachers as shown in the Bible.

This is a false gospel according to the Bible. In Galatians, Paul said this: 'But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.' Galatians 1

He was very emphatic about the seriousness of Christian leaders who lead the masses astray in a sort of feel good spirituality, where there is no God of judgment and wrath.

The God of the Bible is completely just and completely love. Thus the cross. Bell and others would like to rob God's character of bein just. This is wrong.

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