Rob Bell has come out with yet another book. From the sounds of it, it’s one just as biblically disappointing as the others. His book is titled, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. My current reading list consists of two seminary books about preaching OT narrative, Dr. Lisle’s new book on interpreting Genesis, and Bahnsen’s extensive work Theonomy and Christian Ethics. I don’t have time to read Bell, even considering the beneficial purposes of exposing heresy. However, thankfully, he gives many talks which, in theory, present his latest theses and give some remarks to support them. Any good speaker knows not to give enough information to make buying the book irrelevant, but a good speaker will also give us enough to establish relevance to purchase it at all.
In this latest presentation at Vanderbilt University, Bell gives us just enough to remind us he is a wolf.
Before examining his lecture by the same title as his book, let’s first give credit where credit is due. Often doing that will assist in taking away of credit that has been wrongfully distributed.
Rob Bell is a captivating speaker, and I don’t think I use that word dramatically. His transitions are flawless. You find yourself hearing a story about a woman nearly dying in a car accident, and the next moment you realize your hearing about how to be nice to parents with ugly babies, and never once do you sense that anything is off track even though you have no idea how you got where you are. His transitions are seamless. He is very talented.
He is also very witty. He relates to the audience well and he can be very funny, far funnier than I am when I speak in front of people.
Bell tells very interesting stories. As a matter of fact, most of this talk is a compilation of interesting stories. He talks about his wife nearly dying in a car accident and her parents seeing that, he talks about mind blowing theories in quantum physics and the material universe, he talks about a heroic effort on his part to save a woman who was hit by a car, and he talks about a very humble man who cleans houses for a living but is profoundly proud of work. He tells gripping stories with artistic detail. He speaks as if he is writing. It’s artistic, creative, and rhetorically pleasing.
All of those things are true, and that’s exactly why it’s dangerous. Falsehood looks better when it’s adorned in artistic rhetoric. When someone is endearing, clever, polite, and captivating, it’s harder to examine what they say.
I hate to be cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason, so what’s that thing about how Satan masquerades?
Rob Bell is not Satan. The point is though, falsehoods don’t want to look like falsehoods. Demons want to look like angels. Pedophiles want to look like nice guys. Undercover cops don’t want to look like cops, and false teachers with anti-biblical messages don’t want to look like that. This lecture is battered in art, rhetoric, sophisticated language, and sprinkled with just a tad bit of religious words to make it appear like a beautiful Christian masterpiece. But a little leaven leavens the entire lump of dough, and in a positive way, a little discernment exposes the entire lecture. I throw bread away if there is mold on it, regardless of how much bread there is with no mold. In the same way, although Rob Bell has some really cool stories to tell and really creative ways of expressing them, there is just enough camouflaged biblical antithesis to throw the whole thing away.
Rob Bell actually makes very few actual claims about God. The structure is typically the telling of a long, fascinating story which leads to one general truth about deity, then tell another long interesting story which leads to a new simple belief, and then more stories which lead into very false ideas.
What’s interesting is one thing never shows up: God’s Word. The bible is nowhere in this lecture, physically or in content. It is absent. It seems prudent to use what God has said about himself in a lecture that’s supposed to clarify what we mean when we talk about God, but Rob Bell gave up the God of the Bible a long time ago. This lecture makes that abundantly clear.
Rob Bell seems to somewhat believe this, seeing how in his introduction he identifies as an author and filmmaker. I was encouraged to hear pastor left out of that. However, he did later on identify his profession, and that’s why this is important to expose to the sheep. The Bible has harsh things to say for people who profess Christianity but deny it, and even harsher words for those who do so in the teaching realm. For that reason, the blogs to follow might rightfully be classified with that same adjective. To hear every word for yourself and discern my discernment, you can find the link here: