MSNBC’s Martin Bashir on The Paul Edwards Program

Here’s the audio of my interview with MSNBC’s Martin Bashir on his interview with Emergent Universalist Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids. Martin discloses whether or not he is a committed Christian and if the blog rumors are true that he attends Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.


UPDATE: You can download the interview:


208 thoughts on “MSNBC’s Martin Bashir on The Paul Edwards Program

  1. 1. Who doesn’t go on American TV and expect it to somewhat adversarial. It is after all the culture that Rob Bell claims to be in and knows.

    2. Rob was on to a loser by not re-phrasing the initial comment about God and Japan by at least providing a pastoral alternative, also what he claims to be. Such a response might have been: God is all powerful and he works to bring good in the world through people, for example Moses. Exodus 3:8-10 clearly states that God decided to come down and save his people and in the next phrase said to Moses “so now go, I am sending you”!

  2. Paul-

    Thanks for taking the time to open the conversation and responding to our emerging spiritual minds. We need all the help we can get if we are going to have the rock solid faith of our predecessors! It shows you care for us a great deal.

  3. I think the bottom line is this…You believe in the Word of God completely or you don’t. Man has been trying to prevert or change God’s Word from the beginning to meet their standards or circumstances in life. There is a storm coming and you better get ready…Pro 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Pro 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

    Truth or lies…your choice…!

  4. I am shocked at how close-minded some of you are being. The article refers to Bell as a Emergent Universalist. Really? He has said he isn’t a Universalist. Also, he said he believes in hell. It may have a different meaning, but you guys that say he doesn’t believe in hell are misquoting his views.

  5. Bashir was a rude, ram-rod interviewer and asked Bell a questions and interrupted him before he had a chance to get two words out. And be careful when you quote Martin Luther since he became a horrible, Jew hater. And historical Christianity is NOT necessarily genuine Christianity. Which historic Christianity are you referring to? Just the same old mantra all the time. And I say this knowing full well that Bell’s theology is faulty.

  6. I have read the book, listened to the interviews, listened to Mr. Bell, and I believe him to be unorthodox. I believe this because his ideas of ultimate reconciliation (though he leaves the door open for those who could refuse it) is unbiblical. Appealing to Origen was not a good idea, btw…the ‘conversation’ within the Christian Church has almost universally regarded him as less than orthodox since his death. I find his inability to answer questions regarding his beliefs forthrightly to be, quite frankly, disturbing. Say what you want about the Bashir interview, Mr. Bell performed very poorly. He had plenty of opportunities to provide clear answers to straightforward questions and dodged them, very consistent with his other interviews. And lastly, Rob Bell displays the same distain and vitriole towards traditional, orthodox Christianity that most postmodern emergent types pose. He does not interact at all with the substantial works which have been written on these topics. He merely quotes stuff off of church websites, mocks it and declares victory for his own version (“the best story”) without actually giving a compelling defense. Well, if you find this method of argumentation compelling, I’m sorry. I don’t. Many godly men who have proven their worth through their piety and self sacrifice have written on these subjects and given extensive biblical exegesis in support of their conclusions and Mr. Bell gives very little evidence of having interacted with them at all. If this is the ‘dialogue’ that the emergent church is saying we need, you can keep it. Start producing some real, substantive scholarly work that actually takes orthodox scholarship seriously and we will take you seriously. So far, Rob Bell disappoints. He seems like a really nice guy, but I honestly get the impression that he got way in over his head on this one. The book is poorly written, poorly argued and presents a position that has never been part of the orthodox Christian tradition for the past 2,000 years. Whether you personally find his position appealing or not is completely irrelevant. This ‘conversation’ has been had before, Mr Bell is not the first person to raise these issues, and they have been answered quite soundly. On one level, I have to thank Mr Bell for writing this book. I have had many opportunities to present the Gospel of God’s sovereign grace to multiple people over the past several weeks because of the release of his book. Granted, I was contrasting what the Bible said with what Mr. Bell said, but that’s OK. Thanks Rob Bell!

  7. Okay Paul, let’s engage in “open dialogue.”

    What are you own thoughts about how Mr. Bashir conducted his interview with Mr. Bell, in terms of its objectivity?

    Let’s start with the first item he confronts Bell with: Is God all-powerful but does not care about the people of Japan, or does He care about them and is simply not all-powerful?

    I would like to give Mr. Bashir enough intellectual and scholarly credit to believe he knows this question cannot be answered in an authoratative way. Assuming he knows this, why ask the question? And how does Bell’s response to this question lead YOU to conclude that he was unprepared?

    Bashir later cuts down Bell’s theological credibility by accusing him of using one theologian’s opinion over that of another. Would you say that Bell’s use of Origin (who claims Christ as deity) over Arias (who Bashir states clearly does not recognize Christ as deity) proves his concepts to be historically indefensible and theologically untenable? What brings you to this conclusion?

    Lastly, how was Mr Bashir “right” in this interview, as you claim?

  8. Every time Rob Bell has been asked about hell in the media blitz around his new book, he offers some variation of the following: “Hell is the mess that people make of their lives here and now.” He adamantly refuses to answer direct questions about whether there is a place of eternal torment after death for those who reject Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he clearly states in his most recent interview with Paul W. Smith on WJR in Detroit: “…Jesus calls us to this fundamental gift of life that God has given us. And this God who created the world, who called the world good, is for us. This was Jesus’ announcement again and again. And people in his day, there were lots of popular ideas about how God is against us, God is angry with us, God is going to crush us, burn us, torch us, whatever. And Jesus said, ‘No! God is for you. Trust me on this.’”

    Bell’s denial of hell is in his ambiguity. Just answer the question. He can’t – because he knows his answer places him squarely on the outside of orthodox Christianity.

  9. I want to start out by saying I believe the Christian faith is strong enough to withstand some open dialogue about scriptures in the Bible. Bashing people that bring up new ideas or who provoke some thought shouldn’t be automatically thrown out because “this is the way it’s been taught for years”.

    With that said, I’ve read Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” and think it beautifully expresses God’s love for us. From what I got out of the book as the over-arching theme, is that Christians have intentionally or unintentionally skewed the way we view Heaven and Hell. In the past, Heaven has been made to sound like something we can only hope for, after this god-forsaken planet is destroyed… but it doesn’t have to be. We can experience a bit of Heaven here on earth, if we just let God in our lives and open ourselves up to the greatness of his love. In the same vein, we can make our lives Hell here on earth by denying God’s love.

    Rob brings up some interesting questions that I’m sure a lot of people have. Let’s be honest. There are a lot of grey areas in the Bible that can be left up to interpretation. But that doesn’t mean you abandon what’s in black and white in the process. I do wish Rob explained some of his points a bit more in the book. I feel like he left some concepts too open. Or maybe he just didn’t articulate them very well. I can’t say I totally buy into everything Rob brings up in the book on first pass, but he does raise some good questions and I plan on doing more research on the topics… which I believe everyone should do. I think anyone who just takes what any pastor says without researching it for yourself, is very unwise.

    I don’t view Rob as a Universalist after reading this book. He doesn’t say every religion leads to the same God. He just says that God is bigger than any one religion and He can find ways to each person’s heart, no matter what religious banner they hold. He still says Jesus is the way, and that’s it’s ultimately our choice to accept God or not. But if we let Jesus in, he will change our lives. Isn’t that what’s at the root of the Christian faith?

  10. Paul,

    Bell doesn’t believe in hell? I’m curious to see what you’re talking about. Do you have a list of links or books where he says this? I read his new book, and didn’t get that impression at all.

  11. Chris – my fear is NOT that my generation is becoming irrelevant. My fear is that your generation (the next generation) finds the clear teaching of Scripture irrelevant. I made no attempt defend Bell in my interview with Martin Bashir because Bell’s position is theological untenable and historically indefensible. In a word, Bashir is right and Bell is wrong.

  12. Martin Bashir did, by NO means, attempt to promote open dialogue in the spirit of getting at the truth, as he claims. This was more of an interrogation in which Bashir had an agenda to push on Bell regardless of Bell’s answers.

    If we think back to Bashir’s interview with Michael Jackson, one will recall an engaging demeanor from Bashir; almost reverent to the King of Pop. Question were phrased like, “Show me what you do.” “Talk about how you write a song.” In bold contrast, Bashir virtually told Rob Bell what his book was about without even allowing the author to give a statement. That’s not open dialogue!

    Subsequent to his stating what Bell’s book was about (in Bashir’s opinion) he launched into a question that ANY theologian, past or present (Paul Edwards included), would struggle with: the age-old conflict of pain and suffering at the hands of an all-loving/all-powerful God. This question, as off base as it was, set the pace for the assault that would follow. It was meant to put Bell on the defensive from the beginning.

    I’m not defending any of Bell’s precepts. I’m not familar with them. But don’t be fooled and be slow to discount Bell’s book too quickly; this was NOT a fair interview. What would have more appropriate (as Bashir suggested) would have been to tape an hour long conversttion between the two in which Martin patiently attempts to get to the truth of what Rob was saying, as opposed to stating his own conclusions, and then asking almost rhetorical questions like, “That’s what you’re doing here, isn’t it?” Imagine his interview with MJ, “You were feeding those children wine to get them drunk so you could take advantage of them. That’s was this was, Michael, wasn’t it!”

    As for Mr. Edwards, it’s unfortunate that he makes no attempt to stand up for Bell at any point during his conversation with Mr. Bashir. Yes, Bell seemed unprepared. But that’s because he was given the answers before given a chance to speak. It’s disappointing to witness the cliche Edwards becomes as he dismisses the younger generation’s opinion as being merely “pillow-fights” at a sleepover party. A classic example of old wineskin v. new wineskin. An older generation that is afraid they are becoming irrelevant–that all the time and money spent in seminary doesn’t quite do it for this next group of Christian leaders. Tell me what kind of father shuts up his kid as he attemts to formulate his own worldview in life.

    There plenty other complaints I have about Bashir’s interview tactics but it’s simply not worth it. Not on a post very few will read. Regardless, and irrespecitve of my personal beliefs on the subject of heaven and hell, I rather hope Mr. Bell continues with his pursuit and continues to pose different theories. The truth is, no one has it figured it out! But if the older generation of the Church thinks it important to settle the score on Ghandi’s precise eternal resting place, I suppose they can continue to waste their time and those they minister to…

  13. The whole problem began with Rob Bell not knowing what he was talking about. Therefore he was unable to back anything he said with the Scriptures. The Bible, however, does indeed teach the reconciliation of all humanity to God through Christ. in the ages to come. We have many, many proofs of this listed on our website, if anyone doubts it to be so. I would dearly like to get these writings into Martin’s hands, which will answer the questions Bell couldn’t.

  14. Two interesting points from the Bashir interview emerge one of which I noted in a CNN Belief blog on Rob Bell’s book on March 1st. Specifically, Bashir’s note of Bell’s tactic of asking questions. I commented on the CNN blog the question tactic has become the popular device in many issues and different faiths.

    Asking questions is not the problem. Rather, it is the desired effect these questions produce on the listeners, namely, that the questioneer must have vast knowledge and understanding of the subject and that the answers suggested by his questions must be true because his listeners are unable to answer his questions.

    The second point is that the older generation doesn’t get it and that the older generation is merely parroting what they were spoon fed as children. While there’s a lot of truth to the point about being spoon fed I see in Bell what I see in many, if not all, individuals like him who have fashioned a gospel message of their own for these modern times.

    Rob Bell was spoon fed too and like a lot of other people he no more understood what he was spoon fed anymore than what he understands about his own professed message as a departure from sound doctrine. Furthermore, his fans and followers no more understood what they were spoon fed as children anymore than the new universalist message they have taken up with Bell.

    They may play the superior-and-more-knowledgeable card while closing in ranks for reasurring comfort and security from those who “don’t get it”, but the absolute shallowness of their message will go from bad to worse when, as an example, their paths cross with Muslim or Hindu beliefs. Despite the universalist element of Bell’s messge it may take engagement with beliefs outside of the New Testament teachings for him and his followers to realize there is something at stake here and which the universalist doctrine cannot address.

  15. In response to Brad ( “Bashir is obviously a Christian who thinks differently than Bell, is close-minded to Bell’s concepts and tries to disguise it as journalism.”):

    Bashir actually seems to be quite open-minded, as long as what he’s researching/learning about is the truth. Like he said in his interview with Paul here, Christians and the church should be at the forefront of seeking and exposing truth. It seems to me that Bashir is seeking out what is true – here, specifically, according to Scripture, which most Christians take to be the inspired and/or infallible Word of God – and if it doesn’t line up, then it can’t be truth. Just because he finds that something doesn’t line up with the truth doesn’t mean he’s closed-minded.

    I also plan to read the book with an open mind. I’ve heard both sides – the Bell-bashing claims of heresy as well as the praise of his recognition of God’s abounding love. Without having read the book, I can say that there are points that speak to me from both sides. But the only way I will know for myself is to read it and “hold it up to the light” myself. It’s what I would encourage any Christian to do, or anyone interested at all.

  16. Brad wrote: I would like to see Bashir have a real dialogue with Bell for more than 5 minutes before passing judgement.

    No kidding, Brad, but judging and labeling is what Bashir does best. Good journalist, my ass.

  17. Psa 50
    16 But to the wicked God says:
    “What right have you to declare My statutes,
    Or take My covenant in your mouth,
    17 Seeing you hate instruction
    And cast My words behind you?
    18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
    And have been a partaker with adulterers.
    19 You give your mouth to evil,
    And your tongue frames deceit.
    20 You sit and speak against your brother;
    You slander your own mother’s son.
    21 These things you have done, and I kept silent;
    You thought that I was altogether like you;
    But I will rebuke you,
    And set them in order before your eyes.
    22 “Now consider this, you who forget God,
    Lest I tear you in pieces,
    And there be none to deliver

  18. Martin Bashir’s interview is devoid of real substance about the book… which was the point right? Do you really think the subject of heaven and hell can be summed up in a 5 minute interview? Bashir was just trying to play “gotcha”, and was not really interested in Bell’s answers. Bashir is obviously a Christian who thinks differently than Bell, is close-minded to Bell’s concepts and tries to disguise it as journalism.

    This is blatantly obvious when Bashir paints Bell as a disgruntled Christian raised by Evangelicals… who is hell bent on righting the wrongs of his upbringing.

    People have been debating and analyzing the Bible for thousands of years. I would like to see Bashir have a real dialogue with Bell for more than 5 minutes before passing judgement.

  19. And let me be clear. I’m not here to pick a fight. I’m not interested in going round and round with people. Honestly, I don’t have the time or energy. Just giving my perspective and also my impression of the interview and comments made.

  20. Paul,

    The venom being spewed toward other Christians (ie. The Emergent Church) from “traditional” churches just because they have different ideas/interpretation of the Bible and how to worship, is the exact reason a lot of people are turning away from the traditional church. I grew up in a Evangelical household, and if I didn’t act the “Chrsitian” part all the time (I was a teenager after-all) or had question about my faith… I was met with scorn and was questioned whether “I was really saved at all”.

    The flip-flops and popcorn statement is the perfect example. Does God really care what people look like when they go to church? Are we only in worship with God when we’re at church and in a suit? I thought it was about our hearts, not our attire? I’m sorry Paul, but you sound like the Pharisees.

    Bashir uses the example of questioning the history of Muhammad, and was told he would be damned to hell if he ever spoke those words again. That sounds very much like what is going on here when people raise questions about the Christian faith like the Emergent Church is doing. I’m going to read Bell’s book with an open mind, and draw my own conclusions… not listen to people who HAVEN’T read the book and are passing judgement based on pre-conceived notions.

    Bashir says he read the book. But did he have an open mind and really absorb what was being said when reading it? Or was he just finding ways to bash it, because it’s a different viewpoint than his?

  21. Paul,
    At church this morning, I wore dress slacks, not jeans. I am perturbed, however, by your misidentification of ‘seriously approaching God’ with ‘cultural paradigms’ of formality. In addressing the Corinthians, Paul addressed not the formality of their attire, but the gross impurity and disorder of the Corinthian church. Properly approaching God derives not from whether the individual comes wearing jeans or a tailored suit. It has to do with approaching God with a humble heart, ready to learn from and obey God’s self-revelation in scripture, and with whether the church comes in holiness or in self-seeking conflict.
    Approaching God in worship requires rigorous obedience and submission. It is not a casual matter. Nonetheless, confusing jeans with theological laxity or a lack of church discipline does only harm to the church of God.

  22. The soda pop and jeans is a metaphor, Jay, for the disrespect shown by Emergents for tradition and liturgy. Please show me in scripture where a relaxed, laid back atmosphere is encouraged when approaching God in worship. Paul wrote an entire letter to the Corinthians rebuking them for their casual approach to God in worship. This has nothing to do with “cultural paradigms.” It has everything to do with the sacredness and seriousness of approaching God which is demanded in Scripture.

  23. Soda pop and Jeans is a little unfair and there are plenty of young pastors and layperson’s who are committed the accuracy of scripture and its historicity who may wear jeans as they worship God. Just saying careful that in your efforts to challenge false teaching that we also don’t bring into it our cultural paradigms that may not have anything to do with truth.

  24. I think there is a case of missing the point on why many younger-generation Christians are frustrated with contemporary Christianity. Rob Bell is not trying to make Christianity more palatable in such a way that the Christian message is diminished, though it may appears to be this way. What I feel is happening is, many young people intuitively sense something wrong with Reformed/Neo-Reformed Protestant interpretation of scripture, but because they’re sensing it primarily intuitively, they aren’t always expressing it well intellectually.

    But they ARE right to intuit a fault with this Reformed/Neo-Reformed Protestant interpretation of Christianity.

    The problem with contemporary Christianity is that it’s difficult to accept for the wrong reasons, not the right reasons. It’s a stumbling block primarily because of contemporary man’s interpretations of the Bible, not because the cross itself is a stumbling block.

    It’s difficult to accept Christianity (or any religion) when it makes you intellectually assent to certain statements about truth with the threat that if you don’t, you could die tonight and spend an afterlife in everlasting conscious torment and no hope for rescue. We usually only accept this kind of thing on the basis of fear; further, such a view of hell can be a powerful weapon in securing power and control over our circumstances and other people, and such a thing is incredibly pride-driven, i.e., not of God’s Spirit.

    This notion of hell turns Christianity into a religion of works, and many young Christians intuit this, and this is why this particular notion is being questioned. The work is that we must intellectually assent to certain things before we can receive God’s ‘free’ grace and participate in his salvation. In other words, you can’t participate in God’s salvation UNLESS YOU FIRST INTELLECTUALLY ASSENT TO CERTAIN CHRISTIAN STATEMENTS TO BE TRUE.

    How is that grace?

    Christianity is supposed to be difficult because it requires you to have faith that in this present moment, God is actively working for your favor and is presently providing for you everything you need, the end result being that we embody him in his creation, our creation. This requires us to love ALL people, including our enemies, which in this sinful world means to act mercifully and forgive when we suffer ANY wrong.

    It must be stressed that we can only honestly do this if we are first and foremost honest with ourselves, choose to remain open and vulnerable in love to all human beings and the nourishing, informing Spirit, refuse to be something we’re not or hide behind a mask, refuse to hide in the shadows. In a word, we must repent.

    Repentance is not an exchange of these wrong beliefs for those right ones; it’s a turn away from seeking to ground the meaning of our existence on anything other than God’s will, which for human beings is human nature. Repentance is a refusal to continue violating human nature, to instead be fully human, and this is the only way to follow God’s will, because…HE MADE US HUMAN. And what is a human being’s purpose? To incarnate God in God’s creation.

    We can only do this by faith, faith in God’s plan for human nature. Only by faith can we open ourselves up to God’s Spirit and let him fill us and shape us. Consider that Peter only knew Jesus to be the Christ because his Father in heaven revealed it to him, not because anyone of flesh and blood told him it was so. His belief came AFTER faith, not before.

    And right there is the crux of the issue: we’re being told that we must assent to certain statements of belief before we can have the faith that produces salvation.

  25. Rob Bell does not represent an “emerging” truth but the original perversion of truth:
    1. Rob Bell says, “love wins” (i.e. no eternal wrath). — The Serpent said: “You shall not surely die” (i.e. no eternal wrath).
    2. Rob Bell contradicts the simple statements of wrath in God’s Word. — The Serpent contradicted the truth of God’s simple statement of wrath. Both Rob and the Serpent say we should believe their pronouncements of “wisdom”, and not God’s pronouncements.

    “Nothing new under the sun.”

  26. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed…Galatians 1:8
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
    Be blessed….

  27. Thank you for being a good journalist, Martin. It’s true that any honest reading of the ideas put forth by the disgruntled emergents can find the holes and see that they are simply upset Christians with no theological leg to stand on. Example: my English class at a large, secular, public university read a book by an author from the emergent church, and we were able to tear it apart. Everyone in my class (freshmen and sophomore undergraduates, mostly) saw that the ideas put forth had no grounding in reality, let alone historical Christianity. It’s worthless garbage, and as Martin says, historically and theologically dishonest.

  28. “Wow, this is how Christians discuss and debate among themselves? If this is how Christians “love one another,” and disagree with one another it’s a wonder anyone would be compelled to become one.”

    No, “real” Christians will usually flash a “thumb’s up” and slap high fives when someone comes along and, in effect, tells lost people “hey, whatever you’re doing now – it’s cool. If you don’t get it right in this life, God will evenutually get you in the next one”. What a compelling message!

    I can just see Rob Bell in Japan 2 hours before the Tsunami hits: “Don’t worry about getting in the vans to safety now; that’s just ‘scare tactics’. If a Tsunami does hit, the Government will come by and get you afterwards.” Boy, I bet that would have been a welcome message of comfort to the 10 thousand who ultimately lost their lives.

    Good teaching matters.

  29. Jesus says, in John 17:17:

    “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

    The gentleman wrote: Truth is a person, not an idea – God alone is truth.

    Please tell us what a “person” is?

    Please tell us who Jesus is?

    Please tell us who God is?

    No, no, no! You must answer WITHOUT using any propositions, abstract or not.

    We’re waiting ….

  30. The gentleman wrote: Truth is a person, not an idea – God alone is truth.

    Please tell us what a “person” is?

    Please tell us who Jesus is?

    Please tell us who God is?

    No, no, no! You must answer WITHOUT using any propositions, abstract or not.

    We’re waiting ….


  31. Jesus says, in John 17:17:

    “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

    Recommend you read your Bible before you make blanket statements that have no basis in … truth!


  32. Actually Christ makes my point – words can be true – words cannot be “the truth.”

  33. Christ would disagree with you “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” These words are true Christ says.

  34. Let me say it this way. It is possible to speak truthfully, but words are not “truth,” only Jesus is. Do you deny Jesus is the truth? If you make your human doctrines the truth, you’ve made them your God.

    When Paul says “speak the truth in love” in Ephesians, it is part of a larger discourse on the unity of the body… that’s ironic.

  35. So truth cannot be conveyed in words? Why do you bother using words then? Ands when you say cannot speak truth, you contradict God’s word when Paul says, “Speak the truth in love.”

  36. Rev 21:5
    Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

    Gal 4:16
    Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

  37. Paul,
    I have not read Love Wins yet but have been fasinated with what it is doing in the Chistain community. For instance I listened to your interveiw with Martin Bashir because someone posted it on FB. I have a ton of respect for Rob Bell and think he has done a ton of good for Gods kingdom, I also know that he is human (as with any of us) and therefore is in his own battle aganst sin just like the rest of us. I am happy that quetions are being asked around this book and around the subject matter, however, I am very disapointed in a large amount (and after listening to your interveiw, you) of chistian leaders that are allowing their personal issues (just as you were suggesting Bell is doing in the book) drive their reactions to the book. The interveiw of yours did bring up a lot of very valid points, however, one thing that came across very strong was your personal issues with culture changes within the body of Christ. Please be careful how and why you cast judgement as you yourself are only human and can’t fully understand how, where, and in what way the Holy Spirit is at work. Please, you are a leader. Please pray for Rob and for Mars Hill the same way you would want others in the body to pray for your church. Please show your support (not in a judgemental way) but pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct the path of those at Mars and for the leaders (Rob included). I don’t care if Rob has it all wrong, I know that right now he is in a position of influance and needs prayer.

  38. Truth is a person (I am the way, the truth, and the life – Jn 14:6) – not an abstract proposition. The truth we bear witness to is Christ. The very moment you give ontological status to any truth claims outside of Jesus, you have unseated Jesus, made a God of your truth, and entered the realm of enlightenment epistemology. That’ s fine to do for doctrinal discussions, as long as you are intellectually honest about what you are doing by recognizing that such words are always provisional in light of the reality of Jesus as truth. Truth is a person, not an idea – God alone is truth.

    Therefore you cannot – strictly speaking – “speak truth.” You can only speak about the one “who is the truth,” (1 Jn. 5:20), as he has been revealed through Christ and through scripture. We do this by using the words we’ve been taught, and we recognize that they are not the thing itself (truth), but merely bear witness to the truth (Jesus), in provisional and fallible ways. Moreover, you can relate to the truth through a relationship with Jesus and with the body of Christ the church.

    What we cannot do is claim we own the truth and kill those who disagree. We cannot do this because we do not have a monopoly on truth in any single tradition – not even the reformed tradition. Your words, Paul, are fallible. Your propositional truth claims are fallible. Your interpretation of scriptures is fallible and many who are inside orthodox Christianity have different views. When you call Rob Bell a heretic, you stand firmly in the tradition of the Pharisees.

  39. Getting very weary of the appeal to love over against propositional truth claims. It isn’t an either/or but a both/and. After telling Timothy to “command,” “teach,” and “urge” the believers and to not tolerate the false teachers among them he said, ‘the end (goal) of the commandment is love.” The most loving thing a person can do is speak the truth in love. Sounds like what is being asked is that we ignore the truth and just love Rob Bell. Not happening.

  40. This is what John Wesley wrote to his theological “enemies”:
    “Nay, perhaps, if you are angry, so shall I be too; and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth. . . For God’s sake, if it be possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle, in each other this fire of hell; much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love! We may die without the knowledge of many truths, and yet be carried into Abraham’s bosom. But if we die without love, what will knowledge avail? Just as much as it avails the devil and his angels!” May it be so and may it ever be so.
    Though I am in the middle of my own blog-dialogue about Love Wins in which I take thoroughgoing exception to Bell’s writings (, and have for years (family members have pastored and some still serve in leadership at Mars Hill) I will say that the one thing I have learned from Emergents (like Bell) is (generally) respecting the other with whom you disagree. After all, Jesus did say that our primary apologetic to the world is not orthodox propositional truth claims but love. (It worked for the Early Church–“behold how they love each other” was the world’s amazed response.) In that context, it really is love that wins.
    Not being an apostle myself I do not believe I have the permission to express my wish that heretics emasculate themselves. As a low-level follower of Jesus, with those who disagree with me I believe I am under divine orders to not let any unwholsome word come out of my mouth but only that which is helpful for building others up according to their need, that it may benefit (all) those who are listening in–on the conversation.

  41. Was Paul encouraging Timothy to throw stones at his neighbor when he warned him to mark Alexander and Hymenaeus as heretics? Was John throwing stones when he called out Diotrephes, accusing him of spreading “wicked nonsense”?

    If Bell can’t say for certain what happens when we die, he doesn’t understand scripture, which clearly gives certainty about what happens when we die (1 Corinthians 15). Bell clearly says that hell is what we create here on earth. He told Joe Scarborough that when Jesus spoke of hell, He was speaking of a literal garbage dump, not a place of eternal torment. I’ll say it one more time very s-l-o-w-l-y: Rob Bell is a heretic and he should be isolated from the Christian community.

  42. I’ve given my life to a study of the word, I read it every day and preach it every weekend. I also have advanced degrees in theology and have served in ministry for over 22 years. Just because someone reads the scripture differently than you do does not make them wrong, Paul. You do not have a monopoly on truth!

    When you call someone like Bell – or anyone who preaches every week that Jesus is Lord & the only way to God – a heretic, you do damage to the body of Christ, the bride of Christ which is meant to be beautiful.

    Please be fair with what Bell says. He does not say hell isn’t real, nor that it’s not forever. He merely says that it is his hope that, in the end, love wins & the love of God wins over everyone who is so committed to evil. He doesn’t even say it happens, he actually says that we cannot know exactly how it works, since it is all left in the hands of Jesus who is the way, truth, and life. He just says that it is possible that this is part of God’s plan & it is his hope that in the end the love of God will win every heart the way it has won ours.

    By the way, I don’t even agree with Bell. I go more along the lines of C.S. Lewis in the great divorce – or perhaps John Stott. But that’s not the point. The point is that Jesus prohibits us from picking up the first stone to throw at our neighbor.

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