I was recently made aware of this statement by Rob Bell posted to YouTube. This is in response to the hubbub about his recent book Love Wins, which I have not read and upon which I cannot comment. I did previously make some comments about an interview that Rob did with Martin Bashir. My post containing the comments can be found at http://wp.me/pSrkv-43.
Here is the “confession” of Rob Bell:
A friend requested that I comment on what Rob says. So to make sure that my comments are accurate, I first thought I would transcribe what he says. By my count, he makes 16 statements as to what he believes. Here is what he says:
- In Jesus
- Jesus is the way
- in Heaven
- in Hell
- the Bible is God’s word
- I’m not a universalist because I believe God’s love is so great he lets you decide
- in the communion of the saints
- the church is the fullness
- in the New Heaven and the New Earth
- in Healing
- in miracles
- in salvation
- in the power of prayer
- that God is alive and working
- that there has been a resurrection and there is a whole new creation bursting forth right here in the midst of this one
- it is best to only discuss books you’ve actually read
Comment 16 is unfair because the critiques that I read were in response to sections of the book and statements by Rob Bell that were released prior to publication to drum up interest in the book. Each of the critiques stated the source of the material they were criticizing and each critic allowed that the final version of the book might have rendered their critique moot.
I don’t have any issue with the rest of the statements as far as they go. None of these statements are in direct disagreement with Scripture. These statements are the theological equivalent of “motherhood and apple pie” statements in politics. There is nothing to take issue with.
The problem is, depending on how the terms are defined, cults could be in agreement with these statements due to their generic nature. I am not saying that any of these statements cause me to believe that Rob Bell is in error. I am saying that further definition of each of these items would have to be made to have a better understanding of what he really believes.
For example, Rob states that he believes in Hell. Does he believe in an eternal place of torment to which those who reject Jesus will inhabit? Is that what he means by Hell? It could be, but his statement provides insufficient evidence as to his understanding of Hell (which was the point in question in the critiques).
Being vague may be a valuable skill in politics, but it should not be the method followed in Christian ministry. I am willing to give Mr. Bell the benefit of the doubt, but I do wish he would be more precise in his statements and spend a little more energy in articulating a cohesive set of beliefs with Scriptural support for each belief.