"Oh by the way, did you hear about Rob Bell's controversial book?", I heard someone say to me a couple of weeks back. At first I wasn't sure what it was about, and I didn't think that it would have sparked the flame within the Christian community because I've been a listener to Rob's DVDs for a couple of years and he seemed ok to me.
After finally going on YouTube to look for some interviews over his new book "Love wins", I was shocked over the way Rob responded to the interviewers and each time he would either give a rehearsed response to the problem in Japan or he would back-pedal over certain issues such as with the questions over God's wrath answering something a little different than written in the book or when asked about whether the crucifixion is the chief and main relevance to Christianity, he would side-step the question.
I would agree that this is a hard thing for me to take in. Like I said, I knew Rob from his Nooma series and it was very thought provoking and helpful, especially within small groups, etc. I read his book "Sex God" and watched his hour lecture on "Everything is spiritual" and based on what I heard, everything seemed clear and fine (based on what I understood ofcourse). To even think that Rob is a heretic was unthinkable. I thought it was just a misunderstanding of some sort (and in a way I think it can be) but I think the gap is too big to look past it.
The more I listened to his interviews the more he sounds different. It's as if he cannot find his own feet with those questions. Now, just to make something very clear, I haven't read his book.
I admit and I will try not to comment on his book but rather on the media around his book and the interviews that are freely available on the web.
Now I may sound like another blog writer giving my two cents worth on the web about a man who seems to have "lost his way" but what I want to get out of this post is not to discredit, tear down or bad mouth him, but rather create the awareness of how easy it can be for any preacher to preach a message that is just alongside the truth. No matter who the person is, no matter how wonderful his/her message seems like, we need to validate their message. Also, just because they've helped a lot of people and stand for worthy causes, doesn't make their wrong preaching right. I know that not everyone is perfect, I mean we might get something wrong during a preaching/teaching and we need to take the responsibility of admitting that we've been wrong when we discover that it is true and to correct it but I'm not talking about slight misunderstandings in scripture I'm talking about something that's a fundamental belief that could alter the way we live as Christians in our lives.
Take for instance the idea of the crucifixion. If I believe that Jesus died on the cross but didn't rise from death, then I won't be able to believe that my sins are forgiven and I would be having a lot of other false beliefs entering my idea of Jesus. That's what I'm talking about.
I can go on and on about Rob's statements but that's not the point of this article, I could have written about someone else entirely who also is close to my heart. For all I know Chip Ingram can also loose his way (and I sincerely hope he doesn't and that God protects him). The point is, this is how crafty the devil is and how vulnerable we are. Any one of us can fall victim to these shifts into wrong fundamental beliefs. Its just that the case with Rob (whether he is guilty or not of heresy) has opened my eyes to the reality that even the best or wonderful of teachers (except Jesus ofcourse) can fall victim to these headlines which we see in the case with Rob. I'm not saying that everyone of them will be victim of it, its just that its a warning to us all to be on the lookout in case it does happen.
So what I would propose is that we pray for people like Rob Bell, also our very own pastors and preachers that they wouldn't fall victim of Satan's attacks and that they (and we) would gain discernment from the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures correctly.