Oddly enough, on the day this news is breaking we find a press release at Christian Newswire called Risking Heresy: Lessons from Publishing Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins.’
It’s actually from Mickey Maudlin, who happens to be:
SVP, Executive Editor and Director of Bible Publishing at HaperOne. He has spent over thirty years in religious publishing, including working at Christianity Today and InterVarsity Press. (source)
Seems Maudlin’s miffed “by the sheer quantity of negative attention from Christian leaders and how few public figures rose to Rob’s defense” concerning Bell’s book Love Wins (LW).
Now Maudlin appears to want to set the record straight about this book and the resulting publicity. He begins by telling us:
With the release of the paperback this month, I thought it a good time to reflect on the phenomenon. While there is much to celebrate—the book’s success, the notes from people who say it restored/healed/even saved their faith, etc.—I thought I might focus on lessons learned. (source)
I’ll come back to his lessons, but first, let me say that Maudlin should know better; a Christian book that doesn’t teach the historic orthodox Christian faith is not something to celebrate.
What Rob Bell did with his LW is to give people a false gospel and offer a phantom hope. As pastor Kevin DeYoung pointed out in his review of LW:
I really must say something about the two most grievous errors in the book: Bell’s view of the cross and his view of God. According to Bell, salvation is realizing you’re already saved. We are all forgiven. We are all loved, equally and fully by God who has made peace with everyone. That work is done. Now we are invited to believe that story and live in it (172–73).
Bell is not saying what you think he might be saying. He’s not suggesting faith is the instrumental cause used by the Spirit to join us to Christ so we can share in all his benefits. That would be evangelical theology. Bell is saying God has already forgiven us whether we ask for it or not, whether we repent and believe or not, whether we are born again or not.
“Forgiveness is unilateral. God isn’t waiting for us to get it together, to clean up, shape up, get up—God has already done it” (189)… Bell categorically rejects any notion of penal substitution. It simply does not work in his system or with his view of God. “Let’s be very clear, then,” Bell states, “we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction.
God is the rescuer” (182). I see no place in Bell’s theology for Christ the curse-bearer (Gal. 3:13), or Christ wounded for our transgressions and crushed by God for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5, 10), no place for the Son of Man who gave his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), no place for the Savior who was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), no place for the sorrowful suffering Servant who drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath for our sake (Mark 14:36). (source)
Maudlin addresses the idea that HarperOne had attempted to create controversy in order to sell more copies of LW. While doing so, he apparently needed to take a shot at Christians being Berean believers:
Contrary to much blogosphere speculation, we at HarperOne did not manufacture the initial Twitter-driven frenzy–if we had, we would have timed it better than four weeks before the original on-sale date! Yes, we did create a wonderful and provocative book trailer that raised questions more than gave answers, but the goal was to point people to the book, not generate controversy.
The frenzy was driven by others, by a cadre of mostly young and mostly Reformed plugged-in guardians of the faith who made sure everyone knew about this “dangerous” book. (source)
As he continues into his second lesson Mickey Maudlin’s neo-liberal leanings slither further into view:
Here was Rob, a pastor, dealing with what he saw as the biggest cause of spiritual harm among the people he ministered to—an image of God as violent, angry, hateful, and pleased by torture—and this unleashes a barrage of angry and hateful criticism by Christian leaders? Not all the critics were hateful, but the negative energy the book unleashed was very troubling.
What is this force within the church that caused so many people to mishear or distort the message and quickly pronounce judgment and censure? I shudder to think some might name this force the “Holy Spirit.” (source)
I would argue just the reverse; I shudder to think some might claim Rob Bell’s LW mythology was inspired by the Holy Spirt. It truly is as John MacArthur correctly points out:
Christ’s famous warning about wolves in sheep’s clothing is given to us as an imperative: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Our Lord clearly expects His true disciples to be able to spot spiritual imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing—especially those who are purveyors of deadly false doctrines.
Rob Bell certainly fits that category. He relentlessly casts doubt on the authority and reliability of Scripture. He denies the Bible’s perspicuity, disavows its hard truths, and ridicules some of the most important features of the gospel.
Granted, Bell (who was raised in the evangelical movement and is an alumnus of Wheaton College) still insists on calling himself “evangelical.” He reiterated that claim recently in a March 14 interview with Lisa Miller, where he stated, “Do I think that I’m evangelical and orthodox to the bone? Yes.”
A careful examination of Bell’s teaching suggests, however, that his profession of faith is not credible. His claim that he is “evangelical and orthodox to the bone” is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Bell’s teaching gives no evidence of any real evangelical conviction.
The third thing Mickey Maudlin says he learned is “‘loudness’ is not a good measure of popularity”; well, it can also be argued that “popularity” is not a good measure of being faithful to the teachings of the Bible either.
Finally, I am struck by the cost of speaking out. Yes, Rob sold many books and received more media coverage than ever before, but at a cost. The book altered his place in the world in a way that made it harder for him to simply be a pastor for his church. Many churches, colleges, and seminaries will think twice before inviting him to speak.
Speakers and writers at many institutions will feel compelled to qualify anything positive they say about Rob by adding, “While I certainly don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says . . .” It is a lonely path he has chosen. (source)
Good; I pray more people will wake up from their being under the spell of Bell. But as one of the most influential voices among young evangelicals for years, Rob Bell can hardly be said to be alone of his apostate path.
Mickey Maudlin’s next comparisons only serve to further illustrate why we should reject his author Rob Bell:
I am comforted somewhat that others whom I admire have traveled this path before. Martin Luther King frustrated church leaders who wanted him to slow down and wait.
Billy Graham provoked his conservative base at several points in his ministry: when he refused to speak to segregated audiences, when he decided to invite all churches to participate in his crusades (not just conservative Protestant ones), and when he accepted an invitation from the Soviet Union to preach. (source)
Leaving aside the very admirable work Martin Luther King did to right horrid secular wrongs, he was a progressive/liberal, not an orthodox Christian:
Understanding that King embraced a historical and critical interpretation of Christianity is important because we live in an age where fundamentalists use literal interpretations of the Bible to support bigotry and hate.
Knowing the facts about King’s life is important as he is a widely revered figure and we can use his life and teachings to advance a more reasoned approach to religion and social justice.
Other interesting facts:
King described Jesus as white up until 1966 and then after he no longer did.
He said that he didn’t believe in a literal heaven or hell, denied the literal divinity of Jesus, thought the Bible was myth and rejected literal interpretations of Christian doctrines. (source)
Rob Bell’s rather close at that. As far as Billy Graham, I showed you his sinful ecumenicism in Billy Graham’s Apostasy Is Older Than You Think. Even squishy Christianity Today tells us:
After Graham’s first “communist” crusade in Hungary in 1977, he was invited to the predominately Catholic country of Poland by the tiny Protestant community there, which amounted to less than 1 percent of the population.
Just as in his 1957 New York City crusade, Graham wanted to work with as many Catholics as possible. (source)
Before you’re tempted to say, “Well, he’s preaching the Gospel to them,” Graham would then hand people off to apostate Roman Catholic Churches. In closing this, for now, Mickey Maudlin is correct when he says:
“Lonely does not have to mean ‘ineffective.’” (source)
Absolutely; so you take heart dear Christian as we walk that lonely road together opposing such as these…