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March 19th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Rob Bell punches back against claims of heresy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

New York (CNN) - For two weeks while controversy swirled around him, Pastor Rob Bell stayed silent. His critics said he was playing fast and loose with heaven and hell, salvation and damnation. The eternity of souls was on the line, they said.

All this was over Bell’s new book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Critics tore into it before the book even hit store shelves on Tuesday, some going so far as to label Bell a heretic. The controversy pushed the book into the third spot on Amazon’s sales ranking, virtually assuring the book a place on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

On Monday night, dressed in black and sporting his trademark black-rimmed glasses, Bell strolled quietly into the auditorium of the New York Ethical Culture Society. This was his chance to hit back.

“I never set out to be controversial,” Bell told CNN before the event. “I don’t think it’s a goal that God honors. I don’t think it’s a noble goal.

“What’s interesting to me is what’s true. And what’s interesting to me is what’s inspiring. And what’s interesting to me is where’s the life? Where’s the inspiration? That’s what I’m interested in. If that happens to stir things up, that was never my intent, but I’ll accept that.”

Bell said he was surprised by the controversy around his book. Critics said he was preaching universalism, a theology that suggests everyone goes to heaven and hell is empty.

“I’m not a universalist. So that’s just not true.” He reiterated that again in the event that evening where he expounded on that idea and said that he didn’t believe God reaches down and sweeps everyone to heaven.

'Good environment for dialogue'

After a budding career as a rock star was derailed by a freak illness, Bell set his sights on the seminary. Now, at 40, he has risen to become America’s hipster pastor and one of the most influential preachers in the country.

He is quick-witted, non-denominational, and he unabashedly loves Jesus. He preaches to 10,000 people at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, the church he founded. His first four books sold nearly a million copies combined, and his short film series, Nooma, has sold more than 2 million DVDs.

He will tell you he again and again he is a pastor, not a theologian or a biblical scholar.

But for a guy who dresses in black, Bell has made his mark examining the gray areas of Christianity. His questioning of traditional approaches without always giving answers has brought him fans and made his critics gnash their teeth.

“It’s very appealing because he brings lots of facts and lots of information into it and lots of historical context into whatever discussion he has,” said Kristi Berderon, a 25-year-old Bell fan who drove an hour from New Jersey for the event. “He leaves it open-ended. He lets you think and draw your own conclusions for yourself instead of spoon-feeding what he grew up hearing or what he was taught in seminary.”

She and her friend Tommy Hayes are a lot like the others in the crowd tonight: wearing skinny jeans and dark-rimmed glasses - and openly exploring their faith. Berderon’s parents are Southern Baptists; she was home schooled and raised in the church. Today she attends a non-denominational church and self-identifies as a “Christ follower” but bristles at being called a Christian.

Danielle Miller and Maryalice Spencer took a two-hour train ride from Walden, New York, to hear Bell speak. They walked 25 blocks and stood in line in the cold to get in. Miller uses Bell’s short films as a discussion starter in her church. “I think it’s always good to ask those hard questions, and I think that’s what he’s doing, and it creates a good environment for dialogue,” Miller said.

Bell was in New York City to sit down with Newsweek’s Lisa Miller for a conversation on stage and take questions from the 650 audience members and thousands more watching the event streaming live on the Web.

Bell and Miller on stage at the New York Ethical Culture Society auditorium.

Before the crowds arrived, a contemplative Bell settled into a pew to talk with CNN about the book and to answer his critics.

The book began, he said, five years ago. “As a pastor, you interact with so many people [that] some of the same questions keep coming up. And ultimately you keep bumping up against what people really think about God.”

In his church and around the country, he saw what he considered a misrepresentation of the Christian narrative in the Bible.

“At the heart of the Christian story is [the message that] God loves the world and sent his son Jesus to show the world this love. So that’s fundamentally first and foremost the story. God is love and God sent Jesus to show this love.

“In our culture Christians are known for a number of other things. … Rarely do you hear people say, ‘Oh yeah, those are the people who never stop talking about love. Oh a Christian church - that’s where you go if feel beaten down and kicked and someone has their boot on your neck. You go there because it’s a place of healing and a place of love.’

“I’m passionate about calling people back to [Christianity’s] roots,” Bell said.

'Theology of evacuation'

In his new book, Bell challenges the traditional notions of heaven and hell.

“For many people the fundamental story was one of escape - Jesus is how you get out of here. I think for many people in the modern world, the way they heard it was fundamentally, ‘This place is bad, and there is some other place, and Jesus - believe, accept, trust, confess, join, get baptized, whatever sort of language got put on it - Jesus is how you get to some other realm where things are good.’

“So essentially it’s a theology of evacuation. And my understanding is the Bible is first and foremost a story of restoration. It’s a story of renewal.”

“The fundamental story arc of the Bible,” he said “is God is passionate about rescuing this world, restoring it renewing it. So discussions about heaven and hell … for many people are irrelevant and esoteric. … But what happens is, what you believe about heaven and hell deeply shapes how you engage this world now.”

Bell said if a believer has their eyes on heaven, they can miss the opportunities to bring people a taste of heaven here on Earth - and they can miss seeing the hell around them.

“Greed, injustice, the sex trade in Far East Asia, we see hell all around us, whenever people reject what is good and human and right and peaceful and all that,” he said.

“I begin with this world right now and the observation that we are free to choose. It’s the nature of love. So then when you die, I would assume [given] the nature of love you can continue to make these types of choices.”

For Bell the here and now is just as important as any possible life to come. “I think it’s very very important to point out … [that] we are speculating about after you die,” he said.

“In the Jewish context in which [Jesus] lived and moved, you didn’t have that articulated belief system about when you die. It was very rooted in this life - dirt and wine and banquets, family and fishing. [In] his stories, it’s all a very visceral – this world is our home, this world that God loves, that God is redeeming - so that’s the starting point.

“I think for many people they were taught you’re either in or out. But Jesus invites us to a journey that’s a fundamentally different way to think about it, and that frees you up from a lot of things that I think haunt people, bind them up and make them miserable. Then it creates all sorts of space for wonder and awe and mystery and the unexpected,” Bell said.

His perspective does not line up with many of the traditional views about heaven and hell, of separate spaces and places with streets of gold or lakes of fire.

For Christians who see salvation and heaven as crucial elements to their faith, Bell’s message can be abrasive - which in part led to so many people pouncing on his book before it was released.

What stirred many critics was a promotional video in which Bell asks whether Mohandas Gandhi, India’s non-violent leader, was in heaven. Bell’s answer offers a good insight into his view of salvation.

Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.”

Bell insists there is room for mystery in salvation and that Christianity is open to discussion.

“The historical orthodox Christian faith is extremely wide and diverse,” Bell said. “No one has the last word other than God. I am taking part in a discussion that’s been going on for thousands of years. Everyone can play a part in that discussion.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Devil

soundoff (1,308 Responses)
  1. Jean

    If only everyone would take a college level Bible 101 course and knew how the Bible (particularly the New Testament) came to be in its present form (who wrote what, when, why, and for whom) I think it would make for a more serious and sincere discussion.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Relictus

      Again, I wholeheartedly agree. If only people would study what they argue! So many opinions, and much of it is so foolish.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  2. seveneyes

    BE SILENT before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is NEAR. The Lord has prepared a SACRIFICE!
    He has consecrated those he has invited. (Zephaniah 1:7) YOU PEOPLE TALK TOO MUCH! ! !

    March 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  3. untestableClaims

    "knowing that I can only see a an inconceivably small portion of all that exists and know that it is not an accident."
    you have compelling, positive evidence that the universe is not an 'accident'? please provide this evidence and collect your Nobel Prize! (and if you don't have the evidence, you are just making shirt up)

    March 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • airwx

      The subject was common sense....twisting a statement is a poor form of debate, used when you have an agenda but no rebuttal.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Jean

    If only everyone would take a college level Bible 101 course and knew how the Bible (particularly the New Testament) came to be in it's present form (who wrote what, when, why, and for whom) I think it would make for a more serious and sincere discussion.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Relictus

      Most certainly. The problem with freedom of speech is that anyone can say anything and expect that their views carry the same weight as anyone else. So the educated must always fight a hard fight with those who are dense but opinionated and loud. This is why professionals in some trades require certification. I wish that certification in intellectual pursuits was more common, sparing us much public debate.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bostonian123

      Jean: You don't need a college course to understand and study the Bible, which was mostly written by fishermen, hunters among others. All you need is the Holy Spirit to direct you. I am a college graduate, colleges don't have all the answers, which has been proven over and over again, just look how the world is coming apart economically, morally, politically, etc...The human mind is an amazing thing, we can have very serious and sincere discussions without ever stepping into college...do you have any kids under 18? they're very challenging and can lead some serious discussions just about anything...

      March 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Magic

      "All you need is the Holy Spirit to direct you."

      It is glaringly apparent that this 'Holy Spirit' leads people to quite different conclusions and tells them that theirs is the *only* way.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Relictus: I would posit that many fairy-tale promoters are indeed certifiable...

      March 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  5. kronckin

    The point or question rather that I am asking is: what is more important to ones eternal life: faith or love, that is, faith in Jesus or a universal unconditional, sacrificial love not unlike that of the Lord. What does God look more favorably upon: a person who has professed a faith in Jesus or a person who does not know Jesus but who lives a love that is exemplary for any Christian? What if said person actually failed some the litmus test questions for being a Christian, yet loved Jesus for His unselfish sacrificial love. What of the person who lives the model life of Christ but who is Buddhist (the Bodhisatva ideal), or Jewish or whatever. What about people who reject Christianity because they have been alienated by the hypocritical behavior of Christians? What does God think? What does Jesus think about such people? Are they damned? Who are we to judge?

    March 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jasmine

      kronckin, no one is judging. The point being made by Christians on this blog is that if someone purports to be a Christian (keep in mind no one is trying to convert anyone here), they have to believe that there is only one way to Heaven, and that is faith in Jesus. For your second point about loving others, if someone truly has faith in Christ (and only God can see what is truly in man's hearts), then that person will love their neighbors as they love themselves.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  6. James1

    This would be interesting if any of it mattered.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  7. Daniel

    Christianity the chamelen relgion for chameleons .

    March 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  8. Jasmine

    I have yet to see anyone here rebut the simple statement made by Jesus in the Bible as I stated in the above post. I am not asking anyone to convert to Christianity. Simply put, all the intellectuals on this site cannot seem to wrap their brains around a simple rule as put forth by Jesus. You have to believe in Me (Jesus) to go to Heaven. End of story. So EITHER BELL IS CORRECT OR JESUS IS A LIAR.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • spagettimonster

      jasmine, It is you who cannot wrap your brain/mind anything else around the facts – there is absolutely no proof that jesus said the things that you claim from bible. Why not some roman theologist during the creating of King james bible have inserted this stuff that you claim. Nothing is beyond question including jesus and his father (wonder why it is not a mother!!)

      March 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Magic

      Jasmine,

      "EITHER BELL IS CORRECT OR JESUS IS A LIAR."

      I know that you crave a black-and-white, one-answer-to-everything world, but that is simply not the way it is.

      There are more options to your either/or scenario.

      - Jesus could have been misguided or delusional.
      - John (or whoever wrote under that name) could have been lying or misguided or delusional.
      - The church council members who chose the verses to include in the Bible could have been misguided, lying or delusional.

      Jesus, if he was an All-Knowing, All-Powerful "God" could have and would have left better, indisputable evidence of his existence and desires.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jasmine

      Magic, you could have simply said "you believe, I don't", and leave it at that. I'm not condemning you for not having faith, you shouldn't condemn me for having it.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Magic

      Jasmine,

      Where exactly did I condemn you? I simply said that you are not thorough in your thought processes.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Jasmine

      How am I not complete in my thought processes.
      1. Jesus said he is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). I'm not asking anyone to believe this, I'm just saying this is what He said.
      2. Bell says everyone will go to Heaven, regardless of if you believe in Jesus.
      Okay, one of these two is wrong. They can't both be correct. So, if to be a Christian one must believe in the 1st, then Bell's teaching is way off. If Bell's teaching is correct, then what's the point, Christianity as a religion is way off. Then, Bell should create another religion since Christianity appears to be full of it.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Or (3) Jesus was not so much lying as self-deluded or (4) Jes us actually never said that or (5) there never was a Jesus, to name just a few of the most obvious other options.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Joe citizen abroad

      "How am I not complete in my thought processes. 1. Jesus said he is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6)."

      Here's how your thought process is not complete. You're assuming everyone believes the Bible contains Jesus' actual word-for-word statements, so in fact you are asking for people to believe something. John reports Jesus' words as this: "5 Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

      Let's assume Jesus said that, or something close to it. Now let's assume that the statement is true. It's still lacking in a lot of details. Did He mean that no one can converse or pray to the Father without Him interceding for them? Was He saying the way to get where I'm going (is that Heaven...doesn't say) is to live as I have lived...my life, my lifestyle is the way? Or did Jesus mean no one gets to heaven without first believing in Him? That last meaning is your interpretation. Now, a lot of people interpret that verse the same as you,. But that doesn't make it infallible. Lots of people have believed lots of wrong things. The earth is flat. Slavery is okay. Saddam has WMD. You get my point.

      But let's go even further and say that your interpretation is the correct one. There are still a lot of gaps. Things no one of this earth can understand or have complete knowledge of. For instance, do you know, exactly, what happens after you die? No one does. Until it happens to them. Maybe everyone meets Jesus, for instance, and He's the gatekeeper (sorry, all you St. Peter mythologists). And He decides at that point who's in or out. And if He's the decider, who are we to pronounce judgement before He has a chance, face to face, in person with the one being judged? Maybe that's the meaning of that verse. We just don't know. It's far from clear. And that seems to be Bell's point.

      It seems we're all preoccupied with the more mysterious quotes attributed to Jesus, the things that we can never know about for certain...until it happens to us...the things we can argue and fight about, because they're not clear...but we're not as preoccupied with the really solid, tangible, day-to-day things attributed to Him. Maybe because those things are so clear. And not always easy to do. Love one another. Don't judge. Be good to children. Treat each other the way you'd like to be treated. The only requirement for being a "Christian" is to believe Jesus died for your sins (your friend John, again, 3:16). Knowing the exact mechanisms of the hereafter, God's designs for the universe, etc. is a little beyond us, I'd say. It's certainly beyond me. Why don't we just leave all that complicated stuff to Him?

      And here's the bonus. None of this weakens your faith. Admitting you don't know what you don't know, but acting on what you do know, actually makes your faith stronger. All the best, Jasmine.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Jasmine

      Are you all illiterate, did I not say in my response that "this is what Jesus said..." and "that I'm not asking anyone to believe it, it's just what He said". Stop your double talk and twisted logic. Why are you so threatened by mere faith? And, Jo Citizen Abroad is correct, logic doesn't answer it all, sometimes it is mere faith.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  9. Jon

    Huh. Sounds like he's moving Christianity more towards Judaism in some ways. Interesting.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  10. Ryan Powell

    The problem is that Rob Bell does not mention the one thing that stands in the way of heaven. Sin. He states that he thinks love wins in the end, but just knowing that love wins is not going to get you into heaven. Romans 10:9 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." This is the only way to heaven.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      "This is the only way to heaven."

      Only if your library and reading history is extremely limited.

      By the way, exactly where is this "heaven" to which you refer?

      March 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jasmine

      I agree. Problem with Bell's teaching is that there is no free will. Even if I want to go to Hell, God's love will apparently FORCE me to go to Heaven at the end. So what happened to the other basis for Christian teaching, that is man was created with free will??? Bell can't seem to answer that one either. He should just create his own religion and leave Christianity alone.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Relictus

      Many will cry "Lord! Lord!" but Jesus will not know them. They will join me among the forsaken. Matthew 7 is clear.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  11. tr33house

    i would be more likely to convert to his brand of christianity before any of those other looneys out there that use it as a tool of control and power and a method of raking in money so they can buy that big old brand new mcmansion and caddy.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  12. Reality

    Heresy or reality?

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years- see section 1 for some typical references used by said scholars)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    March 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • tr33house

      i always had a hard time memorizing this prayer as a child. thanks for the revisions. it should be much easier now.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • graceonfire

      You certainly have an overinflated sense of self.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  13. Jasmine

    Bell's teaching is heresy, plain and simple. It isn't that Christians want to feel special about themselves, but there are certain laws that are absolutes in Christianity. I as a Christian want everyone to go to Heaven, but that is simply not the case. There is one basic law that is unchanged no matter what Christian denomination one belongs to, and that is Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no one goes to the Father (Heaven) but through him. (John 14:6). Any other teaching purporting to be Christianity is HERESY! WHY ARE PEOPLE HAVING A HARD TIME WRAPPING THEIR BRAINS AROUND THIS CONCEPT???

    March 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • snugglebunny

      Well said Jasmine. The blinded minds are caused by hardened hearts, I think. It requires a certain amount of humility to accept the gospel and lots of people want to be their own gods or to worship gods who don't require them to be humble and to admit they need a saviour.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • everyoneiswrong

      I don't think it's true that you want everyone to go to heaven. I have read your scathing comments telling others that they are dirty people with filthy minds condemned to hell, and you seem very glad to condemn them. I think you have problems if you are so self righteous that you think you and only you know the rules, and how to follow them. You seem to not get the concept of "Judge not lest you be judged."

      March 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Chris

      That sounds like you feel very special about yourself. The term "absolute" is reserved for the elements of life that are irrefutable. To say that every other religion historically and categorically is wrong because it doesn't have the same stamp reeks of vanity and arrogance.

      God is love. People are supposed to be offsprings of that love. But we've lost the message when we condemn others to hell, whether it's directly or indirectly, and stand tall upon soap boxes proclaiming truths that are not ours to claim.

      Just believe in human decency, a higher power that guides us, and the need for each other to spread a message of love and resist fear. The rest of your message and credibility are lost when you label people for God. Take a seat. It's not your place to speak or shout who will go where and how.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Relictus

      @Jasmine – I am of the forsaken, but even I know enough scripture to recognize you for whom that you are. By your fruits, and cries of "Lord! Lord!", the wise man knows you. I will never make Heaven, but at least your fate is not mine.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Amarillo Girl

      I grasp the desire of Mr Bell to spread the gospel of love. However, I nor he want to stand before God and be judged for not teaching based on the Bible. It was tough for me to come to the realization the BIble isn't like Burger King – have it your way. It's God's way.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • graceonfire

      @everyoneiswrong – I don't know if this is the same "jasmine," to which you refer. But I too have been condemned to hell by someone of a similar name who was eager to cast judgement on me after I proclaimed my love of God and Christ, and was foolish enough to talk of Christs promise of heaven for the righteous. I was told I was "filthy" and "disgusting" and most assuredly bound for the hell that the punitive wack jobs love to dwell on. Personally I think any human relishing the idea of anothers punishment and eternal damnation is a sick and twisted individual. If those are the type of people who will be in heaven, I'm not so sure that's where I want to go.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jasmine

      Are you all reading the same post? I never condemned anyone to hell, that's not my job. All I said is that Christianity requires certain rules, and if someone can't abide by them, then don't call yourself a Christian. Way to go twisting my words. Read my posts again.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Chris

      Rather than asking others to read your words again, perhaps it's you that should take time to read your own words. You reek of fear.

      March 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Jasmine

      Chris, surely you must be joking. It sounds like if anyone is threatened by anything, especially faith, it's the Christian bashers on this blog.

      March 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  14. Daniel

    I'm really amazed at the numbers of highly educated people . Who find it difficult to think for themselves . A man of science ?
    It really comes down to common sense .

    March 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • airwx

      Daniel....common sense means walking out my front door at night and knowing that I can only see a an inconceivably small portion of all that exists and know that it is not an accident. Common sense is knowing that with 25000 genes in the human genome the odds of me being me are almost the same as hitting the powerball jackpot 777 times in a row. ( now multiply that mnumber by the human population throughout history!) Common sense is knowing that for all our knowledge to date, we still have more questions to ask than those we have answered and for every answer comes 3-4 more.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      AirWX: we can agree on just about all you wrote.

      It's just that some of us don't claim to have all the answers...

      March 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Praise the Lard... yes we can agree...I don't have all the answers, heck I'm still formulating questions...isn't that the beauty of life... to question, to learn?

      March 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Quag

      @airwx “the odds of me being me are almost the same as hitting the powerball jackpot 777 times in a row”
      But the odds of you being someone were 100%. The odds of a particular set of water molecules, out of all the water molecules in the world, being in the glass of water that I’m about to pour is by all intents a purposes impossible…to predict, but not impossible to happen. Perhaps a glass of water seems insignificant, but I think it shows how virtually impossible things happen all the time despite odds.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  15. Joe citizen abroad

    Mr. Bell may have a lonely walk ahead of him. His critics will seize upon any character flaw or personal failing, real or imagined, and cite that as a reason to condemn his ideas. The "army of God" seems to be the only army that buries its wounded.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  16. Jon

    Exodus chapter 20 verse 3-5

    3 Do not have any other gods before me.

    4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

    5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.

    The Ten Commandments declare the Lord to be the one true God, prohibit having other gods before him, and making or worshiping idols; threaten punishment for those who reject him and promise love for those who love him.

    John 3:16

    God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not parish but have ever lasting life.

    John 14:6

    I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    The man is a false prophet plain and simple he twist salvation for everyone when salvation is only for the ones who accept jesus as lord and God above all.

    1 Corithians 14:37

    If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

    2 Tim 4:3

    For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    2 Tim 4:4

    They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

    The bible talks about these kind of people he gathers so many only to be falsely taught listen to the lord for the lord is clear with his message and his teachings and dont be lead so easily by the false teachings but return to scripture for guidance and rememberance.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Magic

      Jon,

      So what? The Quran talks about false prophets/teachings too, and so does the Book of Mormon... even Scientology has a similar thing in their "SP Declare". They all want you to think that they are the *only* truth.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Joe citizen abroad

      Jon, I encourage you also to think about these scriptures: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." "Let that person who is without sin cast the first stone." "Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?"

      You are right - "Have no other gods before me" is an important commandment. However, the "god" many men choose to worship is themselves. They believe they have all the answers. They believe they know God's mind. God's will. The one true interpretation of God's word. They usurp God's authority by pronouncing with certainty who will be blessed or condemned.

      God is the only one who can and will judge each and every one of us. Until then, Jesus made our job clear: "Love one another."

      March 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Liz

      Pulling quotations out of context is not helpful, espeically when there have been varied translations of the same sentences.
      God wants you to think and say what is in your heart in your own words.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jay

      My dad, a 50 year retired Baptist Minister can quote the entire Bible. Forwards, backwards, right side up and upside down. He has probably led 1000s to confessing and accepting. He has married 100s and burried 100s.
      What no one else knows is,,,,,,inside of his own house, behind closed doors with his wife and his children (me & 4 others siblings) he is the most hateful, evil, disrespectful person you could ever meet on this earth.
      He is living proof that quoting the Bible does not prove anything about you as a Christian. It never has and it never will.
      My 12yr old can site algebra formulas and use the formula to solve a math problem. But he has no idea what it means or the how and why the formula is needed to solve the problem.
      If you are trying to make a point, please do so with your own words and spare us the reciting of verses because it means absolutely nothing.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Joe citizen abroad

      Jay, my heart goes out to you, man. That kind of damage never really heals, does it. Thank goodness for your son that you are able to see what was going on and not repeat it.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  17. kronckin

    Actually, when I die I would much rather end up in the company of Gandhi or Buddha than with John Calvin who had a Unitarian put to death.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • snugglebunny

      You probably will then.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  18. JG

    @pProf

    Anecdotes and stories from unknown authors are not verifiable facts.

    Martyrdom is not very convincing unless you give other religions with martyrs the same weight.

    Are you prepared to accept that Mohammad rode to Mecca on a flying horse? Or that Perseus slew the Kraken with Medusa's head?

    If not then you should examine your own position more carefully.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  19. chimmychonga

    God was an embarrassment to the Catholics a couple thousand years ago, so they invented the idea of Only One God and decided only the Church Theologians know and hear from God; it's just another power trip to control the idiot masses who are bigger idiots than ever. Previous to that time, for 4,000 years, twice as long a time period as our "forced" belief in One God, people believed in Many Gods or revered one of many Gods usually influenced by where they lived.
    The first and greatest civilization on Earth, the Sumerians, said everything they knew and learned was given to them by the gods who lived among them, and they called them the "people of the firey rockets." An upheaval of our thinking is required to grasp how correct this is. There is a ton of archaeological evidence (written tablets and drawings) that proves Gods were advanced beings who "upgraded" mankind and gave him civilization.
    But Catholic Church could not allow for many different gods otherwise they would not have control of the people, and so "demanded/ascertained" that there is only One God, and they know for a fact He created the Universe. Prior to that determination, no one "knew" or cared if God created the Universe. That idea is an Organizational invention and so is the notion of only one God. Now if you said "one True God" well, that is a Qualifier. When I was a kid it was always written "one True God", and it's fine with me since it was decided Jehovah was the True God. Most Catholic priests continue to hate the name because it is Jewish: Jehovah. In line with my thinking, there is a ton of material written about a God named E.a (pronounced Aee-yaah) to whom most of the things attributable to Jehovah were accomplished by E.a; I suggest E.a is our God whether you like it or not. Archaeological finds show He was the only God who could raise the dead, but that's another story; He also was the Serpent in Edin, but that's also another story. He was the most important God in the Noah story, Adam/Eve story, and it was one of E.a's son who was killed by a brother, who of course were Gods; gods by human standards you understand – and therein lies the truth: we have fictionalized the word "God" so we could never understand it's meaning yet it is so simple.

    How is it so E.a is the name of God? Hebrews did not have vowels in their language 5000 years ago so when E.a said his name, the Hebrews simply wrote "JHVH" and they knew the jh held the sound "aee" and the vh held the sound "aah". When they developed vowels they should have eliminated the consonants but did not because by then no one remembered anything. Also, the other name for God is "Yahwey" which, if you notice, is "E.a" backwards. Reversing a two syllable name is something ancients did going back 6,000 years so this is logical. I spoke to scholars who are still baffled; but this is the reason I'm certain.
    Is there a Hell? No, but we are able to create anything and we are well on our way to creating Hell on Earth. Heaven has multiple meanings. God took Elijah to Heaven and Enoch and Adam, and brought Enoch back and took him again. In a book previous to the Bible (that plagiarization we all swear by) Noah and his wife lived forever in Heaven with the Gods.
    So who has the Authority to say what Heaven is? A priest, a "scholar". A scholar is someone with a "Certificate" who could tie you up with his opinions and non stop imagination.
    But of course we should pray to our God. He is sooooo advanced a Being as to be a God to us; surely under certain conditions He would hear our supplements, and then of course do as He pleases.
    Today most people pray to Govt, and ask for all kinds of help from Obama. I believe he has direct ties with the Hell on Earth we are creating and wants to be Head Devil. Be careful what you ask for.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • RN

      you need to go home and take your meds – all of them.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Ritti

      Coo Coo....

      March 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bostonian123

      chimmychonga: What did you take before you wrote your editorial, it must be very strong. In your fantasy do you consider yourself a god? one calling Obama a headdevil...One thing is for sure, you're not a follower of the God and the Christ that the King James Bible speaks about...I hope you come back to reality and follow the love of Christ.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • george

      sounds like you want to be head devil-

      those catholics won't hurt you- you know you really don't care about everybody else.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  20. snugglebunny

    For God so loved the world that he gave his son....so that
    Whosoever believes in his son will have everlasting life. That's anyone who has it in their hearts to believe. It is a heart thing. If someone wants to be deceived that's their right. God knows who will be open to the truth, and who will refused to be convinced.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Rabbi Greene

      When you put it like that, there is no point in try to convert others is there.... Maybe if people stop trying to convert other the world would be a better place..... Unless you are so vain to think that because you have a 2 dollar prayer book god is going to change her divine plan.....

      March 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • snugglebunny

      @ R. Greene

      I had to be convinced by hearing the truth. Otherwise I would still be a lost soul. Someone was faithful enough to relay the truth to me. And God knew that I would accept the truth – accept Jesus as saviour. I thank him every day for that.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • M

      The biggest question of all is:.....how do you know someone told you THE truth? How can you or anyone possibly know what THE truth is? And truth about what? The concept of Truth is the most abused, confused, and exploited one of all time. Anyone who proclaims to know THE truth is a quack.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Chris

      You sure love to judge. Telling people they will go to hell isn't your right to exercise. You simply have a guide in life... stop spreading fear and hate. You might take a lesson from the past–the fuel of war and sin is fear and condemnation. As Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live a whole life believing that it is stupid."

      Peace out, brotha

      March 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.