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. Helen g

    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
    (in response wether or not we will see certain people in heaven)
    My persona opinion try reading word of God instead of somebody's opinion about it!

    March 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Magic

      Helen g,

      "My persona opinion try reading word of God instead of somebody's opinion about it!"

      You are reading someone else's opinion too – John (or those who wrote under that name). Were those words really the exact words of Jesus?

      March 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Helen g


      It's called direct quotation of the words that came out of Jesuses mouth!! Hence they have quotation marks around them in a bible or are highlighted in red

      March 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  2. recreative

    It amazes me how big this conversation about heaven/hell/Christian salvation is getting. It is momentous. It is certainly a conversation worth having. Please join some of us who are gong through the book chapter-by-chapter at http://recreative.wordpress.com.

    March 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  3. Sheila

    Rob Bell is apparently interested in restoring the Christian story to what it was 2000 years ago, instead of what it's become in the last 150 years. He's a thinker. Fundamentalists don't like thinkers. That's what's at the root of the word "heresy", "one who thinks for themselves." Scripture is a story of man's journey and search for God. YES, hell is here and now, as is heaven. Think people. I'm glad he loves Jesus enough to untangle the story and speak the truth. God is love, and Love never fails–every, not here, not there, not with you, nor with me. Love simply never fails. Read the Book.

    March 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Dee

      What?! You think hell and heaven are on earth?! What 'book' are you getting this from?

      March 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  4. Luther

    " and they can miss seeing the hell around them "

    As horrific as some things here are they are not comparable to an eternity separated from God

    March 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Luther

    " “He leaves it open-ended. He lets you think and draw your own conclusions "

    That is one of the most dangerous observations I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. As a pastor/shepherd it is his responsibility to lead the flock of believers and evangelize the lost and not to allow not to allow sinful men/women come to their own conclusions.

    The Gospel is the good news that God saves sinners and reconciles all things unto Himself.

    March 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  6. The Real Pae

    I have one word for Bell _ HERETIC!!! That says it all!

    March 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  7. Rhonda Lampton

    Here's a thought...how about actually reading the Bible for oneself...praying for understanding and stop relying on modern day, self appointed "prophets" to tell us what to believe. God promised that his Word would not come back void. Just read for yourself...you will be shocked at what God will reveal without Rob Bell, or any other person's biased opinions.

    March 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Matt

      Rhonda as much as I appreciate your insight into the subject and your addition to the conversation going on, I strongly disagree and think that if this were to become true it would have deadly effects on our Faith and Religion. Very simply, the Bible itself is based on the people opening up God's Word and sharing what it means to them. The Bible has books in it that are the stories of prophets which were condemned by people for spreading God's Word. Jesus did the same thing. He didn't sit in a room and examine God's Word alone, he took it to the people. He taught it, he explained it, he debated people on the subjects. And if we are to follow His example, then we should be doing the same as He did. We aren't challenging His Word, but simply immersing ourselves in it to learn a better understanding. Rob Bell is doing the same thing that EVERY Christian is called to do, including you. Come to know God through the interpretation of the scriptures and then share what we have felt and learned with the world.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Dee

      Excellent idea, Rhonda. I do believe that God raises up teachers. However, there are too many people who are trying to make their version of cool Christianity. Most Christians survive on about 20 minutes of teaching a week! If you don't get into the Bible, you really will have no idea what it says.

      March 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  8. PRISM1234

    You will never know what someone is made out of till they be ex'posed to the Word of God, which is THE STANDARD. This man has will'fuly taken it out of context, and the love of truth is not inn him. He may have fame for a season, and gather followers who will ch'eer him. But when he stands before a holy God , and the int'ents of his heart are ex'posed, he will be judged according to what he did with God's word.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Aaron

      As will u and I.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  9. Melissa

    There is no literal hell fire. If we choose to believe this, have we really come to know the True God? Truth is sought, not taught. Ask God, it is mandatory for salvation.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Dee

      Really? How do you explain the scripture references then?

      March 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  10. Melissa

    The bible tells us that the "road/path is narrow and few find it". If one does not understand Rob, it is not time for them because they have not asked for Truth. Most hold a truth that has been taught them by another person, who of course learned it from a person. They do not yet know how to aquire the indwelling of the Spirit of God "Which teaches all things".

    March 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ian

      Broad is the road that leads to death, which is the only road big enough to hold the religious infested Pharisees of all ages past, present and future. Just another angle many don't seem to notice. The narrow road is narrow in that people are in too small supply that stay as innocent as a child, but many are all to quick to complicate things by using the Bible as a weapon instead of a Word for us to explore and wrestle with God.
      I like what you say Sista 🙂

      March 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Rich

      Why do I have to agree with him? I follow Christ, and noone else.

      For me, the reason that I don't agree with him is that he teaches things that are contrary to the bilble

      Rob's words, “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.”

      Jesus words, “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’" Luke 16:25-6.

      Rob's words, "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."

      The bible's words, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." Colossians 3:1.

      Rob says non-believers can make it into heaven. The bible says: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

      I could probably go on for a long time. The bible is actually pretty simple, when you have real faith in it. But when we think that our morality is above the bible's, and ultimately God's, then clear teaching from the sciptures become obfuscated, and thus false doctrines are formed.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  11. Melissa

    NL...great question. Adam & Eve's nakedness was not the sin. After choosing to fall from God's Grace and purity, love etc, They then felt it was wrong.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • NL

      They felt it was wrong, but it wasn't actually, is that's what you're saying? Shame is just a human feeling then, until at least Ham sees Noah naked (and drunk).

      March 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  12. ED

    Rob talks about 'Hell' just like it is sometimes here on EARTH !!....NOT

    March 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  13. Ian

    Peace my bradas and sistas.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  14. LaLa

    While I don't agree with his position, I wouldn't shy away from his question or respond harshly to him or others who are wondering, "Why would a loving God send people to hell?" The fact is, people want to know, and it's what believers need to be prepared to answer without hostility. As for Rob himself, he's done a lot of positive things with Nooma. Praying for him, and I'm impressed with his steadfast hold on love.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Julie


      "But, then what would the giving really be, to those we helped? It would be social gospel being preached, one that had no roots in God, but the world only. Thus, it would be temporal help,which would exclude the spiritual replacing it with the material and hope for the eternal."

      But, isn't 'social gospel' a more moral, ethics-based message than this 'relationship with Jesus' gospel that evangelicals have been preaching lately? What's wrong with doing all that you can to help the poor and needy. Even if the problem never goes away completely, isn't the point to try? After all, if everyone just gave up because they couldn't solve a problem single-handedly then charitable organizations would never have been created in the first place, right.

      ***NL, I am all for giving, in any capacity or terms. Its is an act of love.

      Have you ever heard The Starfish Story?

      "A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

      She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

      The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

      “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

      The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved"

      adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

      "This means not to brag or take any personal credit for your acts of charity. It could also mean by needy, anything that a person is needy of, besides material goods, mayby compassion, your time. etc."

      You may be amazed, then, to discover how many times some Christians brag about how they do vastly more charity than secular people do. Tell me, is this in the spirit that you are talking about?

      *** What I was referencing, was Christians in that particular sentence. But like I said, giving is an act of love, and I have no problem with it. Whomever brags on either side, well, I would have to suspect it was more out of "look what I did" then love.

      "I know alot of Christians that give in the background as well as secular, and say nothing about it. Nothing wrong with that ."
      Nothing wrong whatsoever, I think. Unfortunately, I think many people wouldn't give a dime that they couldn't claim on their taxes as well as a minute of their time that they couldn't claim publicly.That's just sad, isn't it?

      ***Yes indeed, that is quite sad! I loved your story by the way, lovely! Thanks for sharing it with me. 🙂

      March 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • NL

      You're welcome!

      March 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • JKoos

      Conditional immortality. Eternal life for believers. Punishment and second death for unbelievers. Eternal punishment is a non starter and unbiblical to boot. Creating a non-biblical second chance theology is simply outside of the realm of Christian doctrine. Fun to theorize, but it is not theology

      March 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  15. Matt

    I read Rob Bell's new book, and it is great. Does it teach universalism? No. He says that there is a hell and there is a heaven. In his book he examines those different ways in which we arrive in those places. For those people calling others "sheep", you are the ones being led by the media to believe that Rob's message is controversial. His ideas are nothing new. Go to any modern Christian Church and you'll hear a message of acceptance and love. Yet those people who have some much at stake in "this is the way God works" are fighting back against Rob's message of "there is more". That has been a theme of all his work. There is more to this faith. Jesus dug into the Jewish texts, we are called to do that same. I thank Rob opening up the discussion.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Ian

      Right On My Brada!

      March 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Melissa

      You are a very wise man Matt. If Jesus walked the earth today, they would call him heretic and universalist too. God must approve of you Matt, or He would not have revealed this wisdom to you. Blessings

      March 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Dave

      Reading the book now, 3 chapters in, EYE opening stuff, very interesting, fascinating. So good to see someone adding to this great conversation of faith we live.

      I wonder how many people here are reading the book?

      March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  16. anon

    1 Timothy 4:1 (NIV)

    1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

    March 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Yes, all those bad figs at end of days.


      March 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  17. MC

    Rock star? Hardly. He was in a punk band that played at small Christian colleges.

    March 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Joe in Chicago

    "And my understanding is the Bible is first and foremost a story of restoration. It’s a story of renewal.” – I would contend that the Bible is first and foremost a story of reconciliation, to God and to each other. The first thing that happened when Adam and Eve "fell" is that they realized they were naked and make coverings to cover themselves. Then they tried to hide from God for the same reason. Later we're told that God banishes them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2). Sin is what separates us from God and each other and Christ came to first and foremost reconcile us to God and each other.

    March 21, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • NL

      Why was Adam and Eve's nakedness sinful? Nobody else was around to see them, their kids weren't born yet, and they were mated to each other by God, right? I mean, by that argument, isn't it sinful for a married couple to wander about their home naked, or to see themselves naked at all?

      March 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Reality

      Adam and Eve are myths making original sin mythological and Baptism symbolic. (Also taught in graduate theology classes at many major Catholic universities).

      March 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • MC

      "Adam and Eve are myths making original sin mythological and Baptism symbolic. (Also taught in graduate theology classes at many major Catholic universities)."

      If that were true then the entire New Testament would be meaningless, so why would Catholics teach this? But I'm curious what new evidence you've uncovered that somehow prove there was no first couple? I'm sure it must be science, and since science is based solely on observation, you must have been present.

      March 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The sin in the garden of Eden was that Eve was beguiled (deceived) by Satan. What happened at the beginning (1st earth age and 2nd earth age which is this earth age that we live in) being deceived by satan's lies happens throughout history (His Story). Love and follow Jesus (truth) and live spiritually while housed in human flesh, then spiritual live through eternity with Jesus or love and follow satan (lies) and die spiritually here on earth in human form as well as die spiritually and not reside with Jesus for eternity.

      Satan's seed was placed in Eve, giving birth to Cain (seed of satan) and Abel (seed of Adam). Satan did this so evil could come into this earth age as he (as Lucifer) deceived 1/3 of God's angels in the first age that God destroyed. Satan wanted to foil God's plan to bring forth Emmanuel (God with us) who is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.


      March 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • NL

      Observation as in being an eyewitness to something? Science is not really based on that. If that were your understanding then how could Christians believe in atoms? You can't 'see' an atom because they are smaller than waves of light, yet I have yet to find a Christian who denies their existence.

      We can conclude from genetics that a single breeding couple could not account for the diversity of the gene pool now if they only lived some 6000 years ago. Their boys went out to find wives so, obviously, they weren't the only people around. Others must have been living outside of God's little zoo.

      Besides, almost all religions have a creation myth, and almost all involve a first couple. Adam and Eve just follow a common story line. Pretty close to Prometheus and Pandora in Greek myth. Blame women for everything that goes wrong.

      March 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • NL

      "The sin in the garden of Eden was that Eve was beguiled (deceived) by Satan."
      So, being conned is a sin. Try telling that to the folks who trusted Bernie Madoff.

      "Satan's seed was placed in Eve, giving birth to Cain (seed of satan)"
      Now you're just spiraling off into fantasy, even by Christian standards. Where do you get this stuff?

      March 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  19. Reality

    History or heresy?

    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

    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.


    March 21, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • chief

      at least come up with some new lines... your cut and paste comment is like a darking dog at 4am.....

      March 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Joe Binkley

      I find it interesting that those you would claim to "mythicize" the story of Jesus resurrection would hold so strongly to that "myth" even to the point of a martyr's death. I believe that it is certainly not plausible for a "myth" to start from 12 cowards to grow into the 1.4 billion who profess faith in Christ today. I also find it hard to believe that a "myth" could be fabricated while the people who witnessed the death of Jesus were still alive to disprove it. Also, if it were a hoax, why would the followers of Jesus have sent two women to discover the empty tomb, when in that culture their testimony would have had very little credibility? It would seem that if they were going to fabricate a myth, they would have sent someone with authority to discover the "mythological empty tomb". I appreciate your thoughts but they are certainly poor historically and academically.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Reality

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life." – JD Crossan

      March 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Reiteration is not only a great learning/teaching tool, it is also good for the soul.

      March 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      History is His Story, the teachings of Jesus about life and the hereafter.


      March 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslim souls:
      There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam

      Saving 2 billion lost Christian souls to include that of HeavenSent:
      There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity

      Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses never existed.

      Added details upon request.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Joe – "it is certainly not plausible for a "myth" to start from 12 cowards to grow into the 1.4 billion who profess faith in Christ today."

      Every myth in human history has started from some small group and been spread, sometimes to the ends of the earth. Speaking of which, the flat earth myth beleived by the known world as fact for several centuries. The earth as the center of universe myth. The "sin" of touching unclean things can kill/curse myth (hint, its actualy germs). The young earth myth (guess what, its not 6000 yrs old).

      Trying to use the "fact" that a bunch of people believe something does not make that something true.

      March 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Dee

      ScottK, I'm glad you can state as fact that the earth isn't young. You were there, right?

      March 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  20. jodee

    Emergent church, wolf in sheep's clothing, going after the youth, he needs to repent..people need to stay away from this guy, nuff said.

    March 21, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Joe Binkley

      I agree. The Bible said there would be deceivers. I find it interesting how so many can fall into this type of false teaching. But I don't assume that Rob had the intention of being a false prophet, so I don't like to toy with the notion that I would be immune to it. I pray that I always stay faithful to the truth. Thank you for your post.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • NL

      From Bell's standpoint, the people you guys are listening to are the false prophets, right? So, can either of you guys make a case as to why his teaching is the false one, and the one you support isn't?

      March 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Michael McCurdy

      I agree also; I spent a lot of time recently investigating Bell's teachings and he IS a universalist. He flat out lies in the interview. He also thinks, pretty much everyone for the last 2000 yrs has been wrong and he is the great prophet to set us aright. His "tribal" (his terminology) ways, he believes, are superior to evangelical, orthodox "tribal" ways. Us evangelical "dawgs" (his terminology) need to stop thinking that we can be so confident that there are absolute doctrines; is he absolutely sure? He uses a lot of ambiguous language so, it can catch you off guard at first but his false teaching becomes clear the more you read and think about it–comparing it to the only objective truth source; the canonized Bible.

      March 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Sarah B

      For all of you bagging Rob, have you actually read his books/theological positions? I don't claim to have the edge on truth or understanding the Bible or knowing God any more than anyone else, but all I know is that when Rob articulates certain things, I feel the Spirit of God resonating so strongly within me that I am moved and changed for the better (and yes, because I know God, I know his voice). We will be known by our fruits, and the fruit of Rob Bell's teaching in my life has been to deepen and challenge and enliven my relationship with God. I believe God is using him to redeem 'Christianity' in our culture back to what it is all truly about (LOVE).

      March 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • kristen

      I will tell you I have attended Mars Hill for years and Rob Bell is quite simply a man that loves Jesus and has done nothing but GOOD since the inception of his church. Please be sure you know ALL of the facts before you dismiss this phenomenal man and his work.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Hope

      What really matters is if he's preaching God's word, which is the Bible. Anything against that is false doctrine. If anyone doesn't bother to look in the Bible themselves to see if what they hear is true, you are doing yourself a tremendous disservice. It doesn't matter WHO is preaching.
      And the TRUE roots of Christianity is (JESUS). And you will only find the truth written in His word.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • sand

      Jesus never wrote anything while He was walking this earth. His disciples eventually wrote it, although some (such as Luke) was not even around when Jesus was around, so in essence it is all second hand knowledge. the Bible, is God breathed, written by man, manipulated for power, and has become irrelevant. we are a sad lot, us Christians, I bet Jesus is up in heaven somewhere in a bar crying into His mug of beer because His followers have become sheer idiots. no, scratch that. Jesus is concerned about the kids being trafficked in southeast Asia into basically modern day slavery and then sees Christians bickering about some guy in Michigan that wrote a book and then He cries into his mug of beer because His followers are a bunch of idiots. the devil is winning when us Christians are essentially ineffective.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
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About this blog

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.