- Contact Us
11.04.15 - “A Massive Shift Coming in What it Means to Be a Christian?” — TIME Magazine Considers Rob Bell
Summary: The real question is now whether the church has sufficient Biblical conviction to resist this doctrinal seduction. Otherwise, it may well be that Rob Bell’s “massive shift” is the shape of things to come.
|Share with others:||
The edition of TIME magazine timed for Easter Week features a cover story on the controversy over Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins. Interestingly, the essay is written by none other than Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former editor of Newsweek—TIME’s historic competitor. Meacham, who studied theology as an undergraduate at the University of the South, helpfully places Rob Bell in the larger context of modern theology, even as he offers a basically sympathetic analysis.
The standard Christian view of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is summed up in the Gospel of John, which promises “eternal life” to “whosoever believeth in Him.” Traditionally, the key is the acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God, who, in the words of the ancient creed, “for us and for our salvation came down from heaven … and was made man.” In the Evangelical ethos, one either accepts this and goes to heaven or refuses and goes to hell.
Bell, Meacham writes, “begs to differ” with this “standard Christian view.” He then relates that Rob Bell “suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal—meaning that, as his book’s subtitle puts it, ‘every person who ever lived’ could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be. Such a simple premise, but with Easter at hand, this slim, lively book has ignited a new holy war in Christian circles and beyond.”
Well, “holy war” is an exaggeration loved by the media, but Bell has obviously ignited a raging controversy within evangelical circles.
Meacham then traced something of the reaction to Bell’s argument:
When word of Love Wins reached the Internet, one conservative Evangelical pastor, John Piper, tweeted, “Farewell Rob Bell,” unilaterally attempting to evict Bell from the Evangelical community. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Bell’s book is “theologically disastrous. Any of us should be concerned when a matter of theological importance is played with in a subversive way.” In North Carolina, a young pastor was fired by his church for endorsing the book.
All that is a matter of public record now, but what makes Meacham’s analysis really interesting is what comes next:
The traditionalist reaction is understandable, for Bell’s arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation. “When you adopt universalism and erase the distinction between the church and the world,” says Mohler, “then you don’t need the church, and you don’t need Christ, and you don’t need the cross. This is the tragedy of nonjudgmental mainline liberalism, and it’s Rob Bell’s tragedy in this book too.”
This may mark the first time any major media outlet has underlined the substantial theological issues at stake. Meacham understands what Bell’s proposal amounts to—“changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation.”
To his credit, Meacham also understands that Bell’s argument fits comfortably within the context of Protestant Liberalism. “Early in the 20th century, Harry Emerson Fosdick came to represent theological liberalism, arguing against the literal truth of the Bible and the existence of hell. It was time, progressives argued, for the faith to surrender its supernatural claims,” he explains.
Rob Bell, he suggests, “is more at home with this expansive liberal tradition than he is with the old-time believers of Inherit the Wind.”
Meacham is right about this, of course. Readers may differ with his analysis of other aspects of this controversy, and, in the end, Jon Meacham seems to admire Rob Bell, whom he describes as “an odd combination of Billy Graham and Conan O’Brien.” But he understands that the liberal tradition in theology is where Rob Bell now finds his home.
Finally, this may be the most telling portion of the article:
Is Bell’s Christianity—less judgmental, more fluid, open to questioning the most ancient of assumptions—on an inexorable rise? “I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian,” Bell says. “Something new is in the air.”
Like Brian McLaren, who argues for “a new kind of Christianity,” Rob Bell now openly wonders “if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian.”
“Something new is in the air,” he says. Actually, arguments for universalism and the denial of hell are anything but new. The real question is now whether the church has sufficient biblical conviction to resist this doctrinal seduction. Otherwise, it may well be that Rob Bell’s “massive shift” is the shape of things to come.
Jon Meacham, “Is Hell Dead?,” TIME, Thursday, April 14, 2011. TIME’s cover reads: “What if There’s No Hell?”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology,” Wednesday, March 16, 2011.
Although we strive to provide you with relevant and reliable information on this news blog, the views and opinions expressed in the news stories posted on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Amazing Discoveries. The AD News Blog is intended only as a service to provide you with interesting end-time related news or to keep you abreast of events and attitudes of our current day. The postings are not intended to be an official statement or recommendation of Amazing Discoveries. The reader should make his or her own judgment as to the usefulness of the information provided here.
Is there evidence for Creation science? How does it compare to evolution? The following articles give insight in to these questions and more.
Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
What does the fossil record show us? Is it all random or a defined science that we can understand? Where does evolution fit? Uncover mysteries in the history of the Earth.
As we study the genome, the molecule, and the atom, we see a vast network of intricate systems beyond our understanding. Were these systems really formed by chance?
How did this world change from the perfection depicted in Genesis to a world full of thorns, thistles, parasites, and death? If God made everything perfect, how could it have all been so changed?
Archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true. But what's so special about the Bible that makes it a point of so much controversy?
Music is a powerful emotional motivator that crosses cultural and language barriers. Its message can be understood by every culture and people across the planet.
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
This book "Cross and Crown" is a powerful and thrilling recital of the most romantic and dramatic incidents in history to be found on record, told in the simplest, most graphic, and entertaining form.
The historian Ranke says this about Protestant-Catholic relations: "In the year 1617, everything betokened a decisive conflict between them. The Catholic party appears to have felt itself the superior. At all events it was the first to take up arms."
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
Dive into history to uncover the remarkable stories of faith and passion in early Protestantism.
Language can be used to communicate both truth and lies. Learn about the religious doublespeak being used to pull the wool over the eyes of the world.
Hegelian dialectic thinking is applied in many situations in world politics. Often the ordinary people are used as pawns in the game of Hegelian psychology played by those who pull the strings of world control.
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
If archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true, then why is it a point of so much controversy?
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life with author Wendy Goubej.
Did God create sin? If not, where did it come from?
Have you taken a day to recreate lately?
Since the beginning of time, God has communicated timely messages to the inhabitants of planet Earth. It all started in Eden, with the first Gospel announcement.
Are miraculous signs the best way to be sure that God exists?
Dive into prophecy and history in this chapter-by-chapter commentary of the book of Daniel.
Join us on a journey through the pages of this letter from Christ to His people.
The greatest deceptions are still being formed in society today. Secret international alliances, the mark of the Beast, the New Age, and other issues are discussed.
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Learn about the Bible's prophecies on God's judgment, deliverance, Armageddon, and the earth made new.
Learn from Paul as he teaches the Corinthian Church about spiritual gifts.
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life?
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
From mammograms to prescription drugs, the modern medical industry is always presenting a new way to diagnose and solve health issues. But are these new treatments really healing anything?
There isn't one person I have ever met who knew anything about cosmetics, and that is because the chemistry of cosmetics has always been cloaked in secrecy.
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.