A couple of weeks back here at Apprising Ministries I pointed out that Rob Bell is Set to Tour with Oprah Winfrey.You may also recall I told you that it was back in 2008 I would feel led to write Rob Bell And Christian Universalism.
Therein I began to show you that, even then, Rob Bell was already leaning toward, as well as beginning to teach, a form of universalism where—after a time in some type of a purgatory—eventually everyone will end up being saved.1
A few years later, in 2011, Bell released his most controversial book Love Wins where he came out of the closet advancing the argument for a form of Christian Universalism.2 Keep in mind here that the Emerging Church, with which Bell was aligned, morphed into the Emerging Church 2.0 with its own postmodern Progressive Christian theology.
Well, now it looks as though we’re getting a little clearer picture as to why Rob Bell has become so chummy with his fellow apostate Oprah Winfrey; it seems Bell is going to have how own show on Oprah’s OWN network. The other day he would tweet:
The link takes us to Rob Bell Show tickets: (source) So, it would appear that a very real bond has formed between Oprah Winfrey and Rob Bell, which seems rather obvious by their rapport below. The clip following below is from last November 3 when Bell appeared on something Winfrey calls Super Soul Sunday on OWN. The fact is, at the time Bell’s:
latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, [had] been listed as the first recommended title in “Oprah’s Super Soulful Book of the Month” club. (source)
Winfrey was so taken with Bell’s book What We Talk About When We Talk About God (WWTA) that the segment of Super Soul Sunday they did together was also called by the same name. It seems this section was particularly special to Oprah Winfrey:
Bell states in What We Talk About When We Talk About God (Harper Collins) that he wrote the book because “there’s a growing sense that when it comes to God, we’re at the end of one era and the start of another, an entire mode of understanding and talking about God is dying as something new is being birthed.” (source)
Yes, indeed Rob and Oprah; there’s a new One World Religion being birthed alright, but it isn’t coming from God. As we might expect, Winfrey really enjoyed her ears being scratched (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4) as we find out:
In her praise of the book, Winfrey said Bell was “shaking up the way we think about God and religion.” She added, “When I first started reading it, I was highlighting my favorite passages, but then I realized — what’s the point? I’ve marked every page! It just wowed me. In the book, Bell explains that God is and always has been with us, for us, and ahead of us — and then explores how we can really absorb this knowledge into our everyday lives to become more connected to spirit.” (source)
Winfrey, whose beliefs about God are akin to the New Age Movement, would delight in this, of course. However, as Christians, we will agree with:
Dr. Michael Kruger, president and professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, wrote that he found Bell’s book to be “really just spiritualism with a Christian veneer” and not about the “God of Christianity.” Kruger concluded in his May review of What We Talk About When We Talk About God, “It’s a book that would fit quite well on Oprah’s list of favorite books.” (source)
The point being, as usual, Rob Bell’s writings about God are so nebulous that even someone like Oprah Winfrey could get so much out of it. Notice how she especially likes Bell’s man-centered mythology that “God is for us.” Years ago I talked about this e.g. in Everyone’s Going to be Saved Eventually…aren’t they? (Part Two). I explained that—contra so many false teachers today—if you’re not a regenerated Christian, the great 16th century Church Reformer John Calvin was exactly right when he said: “We are taught by Scripture to perceive that apart from Christ, God is—so to speak—hostile to us, and His hand is armed for our destruction.” And not even an apostate as revered as Rob Bell can make that go away:
While I don’t know him, Craig Miller, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Cedarville, Ohio shares my thoughts exactly on the apostasy of Rob Bell when he says:
- Through his speaking and writing gifts, he has gained a platform that few coming from the evangelical world have attained–the opportunity to speak to the large “popular culture” about matters of utmost importance.
- He has made a conscious decision to use that platform for non-confrontational, generalized, spirituality, not biblical Christianity. Deepak Chopra, Hinduism’s earlier “Rob Bell” (I say that because many Hindu teachers find him stealing their “good stuff” and mashing it up in ways that they abhor) could have said everything Rob Bell said–except maybe thinking about “flesh and blood” people in heaven that make it a place you want to go (I thought of Mitch Albom’s book The Five People You Meet in Heaven during that particular part of the interview).
- Whether intentional or not (and Rob is much too smart for me to truly believe it isn’t), Rob deflected every opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ toward an optimistic, generalized, “everyone is going to be fine” spirituality that, if embraced, will send you to Hell. In the picture he painted, Jesus is not the greatest joy of Heaven, instead it is seeing relatives you never met. God isn’t a person who makes himself known to those who seek and has given a Word to be heard, but rather “like a song you hear in another room” but you can’t hear clearly, so you keep trying to hear it more and more. No one is evil in need of repentance–everyone just needs to “wake up.” Death isn’t a great divider and time of judgment (Hebrews 9:27), but only a grand “Aha!” moment. I could say more, but I will stop here on this point.
- Rob Bell is dangerous because he is so good at what he does. He rightly understands the power of story and simile, just as Jesus did, and uses them powerfully. But he draws incomplete and false analogies that have just enough of a ring of truth that they resonate with us. And the small amounts of truth contained in his thoughts fall far short of real “good news” for the broken people Rob seems to be so concerned for. He offers “peace” to so many who have no peace, and will never find it if they take him at his word. (source)
Finally, the words of pastor Miller are sadly true when he writes that, “I know Rob once believed differently–or at least taught differently with passion.” I can verify this as a few years ago I spoke with many people who used to attend the Saturday night class Bell taught at Calvary Church prior to his church plant.3 One of them told me that “Rob used to teach very orthodox doctrine exegetically; think John MacArthur.” Tragically, Miller is also dead-on-target as he brings out that those who hear Rob Bell now “may never even hear that name–the only one given under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” In closing, here’s an example. This is from Heaven is a Place on Earth: Rob Bell’s Revolutionary Mission, which you’ll find under “inspiration” at Winfrey’s wevbsite. I think it’s rather telling that anyone who watches Oprah and reads the following drivel could agree with the vagaries concerning religion/apirituality attributed to Bell. Apparently Rob Bell sees the Christian faith as a path, not not the path to a relationship with God:
He views Christianity as a path, first and foremost. Bell believes that “the universal needs a particular”—that we need guidance to become the people we are capable of becoming. The power of a path, he says, “is that you set your intention to become more aware, to heighten your senses and sharpen your eyes, so that you don’t miss anything.” True spiritual experience often begins in those instants when your soul takes a picture of things, he says. (source)
Now, if you’re among the truly gullible thinking that Rob Bell is using this vessel of touring with and writing for Oprah Winfrey, and doing a show on her network, as a way to preach the Gospel, think again. Jesus is mentioned but four time in this four page article and nothing even remotely resembling a Gospel message comes emerging. It’s filled with the ramblings of those like Bell who’re practitioners of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness sprinkled with Christian terms, which is the crown jewel of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM). Little wonder, he’s been into CCP and CSM for years now.4 To be honest, this article is nothing more than a puff piece about Bell sharing some of his fickle fables that scratch itching ears. More of his lying to people by espousing a theology centered on man that’s completely devoid of the Law of God; leaving them under His judgement and giving them no reason why they need to repent. Warped and toxic mystic Bellism’s like:
[T]hough he always loved stories of Jesus, whom he finds “interesting and dangerous and funny and unexpected,” he remembers being unsettled even as a teenager by the “party line” preached from Christian pulpits… “A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment,” he wrote. “This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”… Not only did Bell denounce popular notions of hell, but he also redefined heaven. He believes that when Jesus used the phrase “eternal life,” he was referring to a quality of life available now… Bell believes that faith should electrify our mortal experience, making us open, expansive, and alert to the shimmering, unimaginable beauty and mystery around us. As we stop worrying so much and allow ourselves to “feel reverence humming” in us, he says, quoting Jane Fonda, we will—and this is key—be inspired to leap into action, find our true callings, and, in a flurry of creativity, compassion, and ingenuity, work with God to heal and repair the earth. In other words, make a heaven right here.
Until we do this, Bell has written, we are missing out: “We’re trying to embrace our lover, but we’re wearing a hazmat suit.”… He believes a mass spiritual awakening is afoot in our culture, as religious people question the exclusive labels they grew up with and atheists and agnostics acknowledge “that there’s more, that we’re loved, that something else is happening.”… As you set out on your own spiritual journey, Bell believes you’ll know the divine when you feel it. In What We Talk About When We Talk About God, published last year, he argued that God is not some judge-y bearded guy up in the sky who pops in and out of human affairs, but something more amorphous and omnipresent, accessible to us always, “the electricity that lights up the whole house.”… Bell thinks we are too busy worrying about salvation and questioning our worth to receive the love God presents to us in abundance every day—to feel the reverence humming within us… [H]e categorically rejects the notion that his version of the Jesus story is watered-down or any less devout because he doesn’t think it ends with most of us in hell… He views Christianity as a path, first and foremost. Bell believes that “the universal needs a particular”—that we need guidance to become the people we are capable of becoming. The power of a path, he says, “is that you set your intention to become more aware, to heighten your senses and sharpen your eyes, so that you don’t miss anything.” True spiritual experience often begins in those instants when your soul takes a picture of things, he says…we are all chasing…peace and grace in each moment. The reassuring sense that we are loved, that this has meaning, that something bigger is going on here. That we are always, eternally, okay. (source)
As far as i’m concerned it looks like he’s followed his true heart and found a vehicle to launch his next career as Guru Rob Bell.
- This will prove helpful as well: Pastor Chad Holtz Explaining Christian Universalism. ↩
- This will give you a good working knowledge of this decidedly not Christian mythology:http://carm.org/christian-universalism, accessed 4/28/14. ↩
- I give you the background of how the plant came about in Rob Bell: The Myth of Mars Hill “Miracle Grow”. ↩
- I discussed this previously in 2009 , e.g. Through Rob Bell, “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness. and again in Influence of Richard Rohr on Rob Bell and his Love Wins Mythology. ↩