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.
 
 

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.

Meacham explains:

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.

Sources:

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.

Find the original article here.

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.
Science Deceptions
Media Deceptions
Reformation
Spiritual Deceptions
Health Deceptions
A Basis for Conflict
Is there evidence for Creation science? How does it compare to evolution? The following articles give insight in to these questions and more.
The Big Bang Theory
Creation and Evolution: Is Compromise Possible?
How Can We See Stars That Are Billions Of Light Years Away?
Understanding the Creation Week
The Rise of Evolutionary Thinking
Geocentricity: It's Time to Face the Facts
Earth's History: Conflicting Paradigms
Lamarck Proposes Natural Selection
Age Of The Earth Is Carbon-Dating Accurate?
Flood Chronology
Evidence in Stone
Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
Soft Rock Evidence for Rapid Washout
The Fossil Record
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.
Evolution of the Horse
Evolutionary Sequences
Order in the Fossil Record Explosive Evolution
Fossils prove a Flood Fossil Footprints
Dinosaurs and the Flood Petrified Trees
The Biblical Flood Reasons For Extinction
Fossil Reefs The Post-Flood World
Human Evolution
Genes of Genesis
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?
Mechanisms For Variation
"Species" versus "Kind"
Creating Life in a Test Tube?
Molecules That Began Life Natural Selection
Natural Selection as a Creative Force
Ernst Haeckel's Theories
Variation and Classification
Why So Many Species? The Australian Problem
Synesthesia: Mystery of God’s Creation
Creation to Restoration
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?
A Good World Gone Bad
An Imperfect Planet Evidence For Design
Evidence For Transformation
Rapid Transformation
Clean and Unclean: The History of the Human Diet
The Dawn Chorus and Life Forces
Archaeology and the Bible
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?
Archaeology Confirms the Bible
The Lost Books of the Bible
Crossing Musical Boundaries
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.
Can You Feel the Music?
The Bible and Rock Music: Are they Compatible?
The Last Great Contest – Worship
From the Horse's Mouth: The Rock Industry Condemns Itself
Hollywood and the Movies
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Hollywood's History
Hollywood and Gnosticism
Brain Closed—Please Come Again
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
The Dangers of Television
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Violence and Video Games
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
The Origins of Halloween
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
The Pope Claims to be God on Earth
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
Catholic Councils
What happened at the Council of Trent?
The First Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council
The Jesuits
Learn what people throughout history have had to say on the reputation, history, and political nature of the Jesuit Order.
Ignatius of Loyola and Martin Luther
Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises
Protestantism Destroyed
The Jesuit Superior General
The Bloody History of Papal Rome - A Timeline
The oppression of Protestants is widespread and consistent throughout history.
Cross and Crown
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 Bloody History of Papal Rome - Quotes
It was once written in America's oldest Catholic newspaper, the Boston Pilot, that "No good government can exist without religion, and there can be no religion without an Inquisition, which is wisely designed for the promotion and protection of the true faith.”

Read several authors' thoughts on papal Rome's history.
The Aggressive Intentions of the Papacy
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.
Christianity and Violence
Would the world be a safer place without Christian fundamentalism?
Religious Doublespeak
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 Thinking and World Politics
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.
The Great Controversy
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
The Destruction of Jerusalem
Persecution in the First Centuries
An Era of Spiritual Darkness The Waldenses
John Wycliffe Huss and Jerome
Luther's Separation From Rome
Luther Before the Diet The Swiss Reformer
Progress of Reform in Germany
Protest of the Princes The French Reformation
The Netherlands and Scandinavia
Later English Reformers
The Bible and the French Revolution
The Pilgrim Fathers Heralds of the Morning
An American Reformer Light Through Darkness
A Great Religious Awakening A Warning Rejected
Prophecies Fulfilled What is the Sanctuary?
In the Holy of Holies God's Law Immutable
A Work of Reform Modern Revivals
Facing Life's Record The Origin of Evil
Enmity Between Man and Satan
Agency of Evil Spirits Snares of Satan
The First Great Deception
Can Our Dead Speak to Us?
Liberty of Conscience Threatened
The Impending Conflict
The Scriptures a Safeguard The Final Warning
The Time of Trouble God's People Delivered
Desolation of the Earth The Controversy Ended
Is the Bible True?
If archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true, then why is it a point of so much controversy?
Archaeology Confirms the Bible
Studying Scripture
Scripture is Inspired by God
The Lost Books of the Bible
Who is Jesus?
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Did Jesus Ever Exist?
Was Jesus the Messiah? Is Jesus God?
Why Did Jesus Have To Die?
Six Purposes for Christ's Life and Death on Earth
The 70-Week Prophecy What Day Did Jesus Die?
Jesus, the Recycled Redeemer
Names of Christ in Revelation
Christian Living
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life with author Wendy Goubej.
What to do About Low Self-Esteem
Why Should I Study the Bible?
What does the Bible have to say about money?
How God Saves Us Examine the Roots
God’s Supreme Sacrifice for You
Conversion and Repentance
A True Christian Spiritual Life What is Faith?
Surrender Christian Growth
God's Promises to You
Baptism: the New Birth Experience
Good God, Bad World. Why?
Did God create sin? If not, where did it come from?
The Origin of Sin
The Great Controversy
The Prince of this Planet
God's Plan to Eradicate Sin
A Day of Rest
Have you taken a day to recreate lately?
What is the Seventh-Day Sabbath?
Creation and the Sabbath The Weekly Cycle
Why Sunday? Sabbath FAQ
The Gospel Story
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.
The Second Advent Movement
The Beginning of the End of Time
The Great Disappointment and the Birth of Adventism
What are the Three Angels' Messages?
Adventism and the Final Conflict
Signs and Wonders
Are miraculous signs the best way to be sure that God exists?
Supernatural Deceptions
Stigmata - a sign of God or a deception?
Walking Through Daniel
Dive into prophecy and history in this chapter-by-chapter commentary of the book of Daniel.
Introduction to Daniel
Daniel 1 Commentary Daniel 2 Commentary
Daniel 3 Commentary Daniel 4 Commentary
Daniel 5 Commentary Daniel 6 Commentary
Daniel 7 Commentary Daniel 8 Commentary
Daniel 9 Commentary Daniel 10 Commentary
Daniel 11 Commentary Daniel 12 Commentary
Walking through Revelation
Join us on a journey through the pages of this letter from Christ to His people.
The Chiastic Structure of Revelation
Is Revelation a Sealed Book?
Revelation 1: Jesus, The Heart of Revelation
Revelation 1 Commentary: The Revelation of Jesus
Revelation 2-3: Letters to Seven Churches
Revelation 2 Commentary: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira
Revelation 3 Commentary: Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
The Throne, The Lamb and the Sealed Book
Revelation 4 Commentary: The Throne in Heaven
Revelation 5 Commentary: The Scroll and the Lamb
Revelation 6 Commentary: The Vision of Seven Seals
Revelation 7 Commentary: The 144,000
Revelation 8 Commentary: Seven Trumpets
Revelation 9 Commentary: The Bottomless Pit
Revelation 10 Commentary: A Little Book
Revelation 11 Commentary: Two Witnesses
Revelation 12 Commentary: The Woman and the Dragon
Revelation 13 Commentary: Two Beasts
Revelation 14 Commentary: Three Angels' Messages
Revelation 15 Commentary: Seven Angels, Seven Plagues
Revelation 16 Commentary: Seven Bowls of God's Anger
Revelation 17 Commentary: A Woman Rides the Beast
Revelation 18 Commentary: Babylon Falls
Revelation 19 Commentary: The Rider on the White Horse
Revelation 20 Commentary: Millennium and the Judgment
Revelation 21 Commentary: The New Jerusalem
Revelation 22 Commentary: Invitation and Warning
Deceptions Today
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.
The Antichrist Identified
Politics and the Papacy Unity at All Cost?
Pentecostalism The New Age Movement
Secret Societies
The United Nations' Global Government
What’s So Bad about Spiritual Formation?
Zionism
The Second Coming of Christ
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Signs of The Second Coming of Christ
How Christ will Return
What will Happen to God's People?
What will Happen to the Rejecters of God?
Will there be a Secret Rapture?
The Seven Plagues
The Millennium of Peace
Learn about the Bible's prophecies on God's judgment, deliverance, Armageddon, and the earth made new.
Viewpoints What is the Judgment?
Probation and God's Promises
Consequences Begin Deliverance and Armageddon
Satan Bound God's People will Judge
Postmillennial Return of Christ
The Resurrection of those who Reject God
The Crowning of Christ
The Punishment for those who Reject God
The Earth Made New
Spiritual Gifts
Learn from Paul as he teaches the Corinthian Church about spiritual gifts.
Understanding 1 Corinthians
Pagan Practices
1 Corinthians 12: Spiritual Gifts
What are Spiritual Gifts?
Defining the Spiritual Gifts A Lesson in Love
Dealing with Tongues
Prophecy: God's Guiding Gift
The Mystic Realm of Death
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life?
Death: Understanding the Terminology
A Biblical Understanding of Death
The Resurrection of Lazarus Spiritism
Hell and Purgatory An Immediate Afterlife?
The Parable of Lazarus
Excitotoxins
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Aspartame
MSG: Is This Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets
Is a Little Wine Good for the Heart?
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Is a Little Wine Good for the Soul?
The Dairy Controversy
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Drink Milk? Udder Propaganda
Lactose Intolerance Calcium
Poisoned Meats
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The History of the Human Diet
Genetically Modified Foods
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.
Soy Safety Summarized
Still Eating Genetically Modified Foods?
The Big GMO Cover-up
Refined Grains
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?
The Gluten Connection: Weighing in Against Modern Wheat
Coffee
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
America's Number One Drug Problem—Coffee
Caffeine Caffeine Raises Stress Hormones
Sugar—Affecting the Body and Mind
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Sugar and Mental Illness
Eating Sugar is Worse than Eating Nothing at All
Sugar Substitutes
The Truth About Evaporated Cane Juice
Can You Beat the Nicotine?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
Kicking the Tobacco Habit
Nicotine and Depression
Necessary Treatments?
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?
Mammograms or Thermal Imaging?
How to Kill a Cold, Starve a Fever
Many Doctors Ignore the Root Cause of Cancer
Are Hospital Births or Home Births Safer?
Compromise in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Hepatitis B Vaccines
Mercury Poisoning from Amalgam Dental Fillings
Tylenol, the tip of the iceberg
Deathtraps in the Cosmetics we Use
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.
Depression
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
Diseases of the Mind
Lifestyle Principles for Treating Depression
Nutritional Treatments for Depression
Herbs and Medication for Treating Depression
SAD and Bright Light Therapy
Get Healthy!
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
The Eight Laws of Health
"You've Changed"
When Sin Has Nothing To Feed Upon
Physical and Spiritual Health
Use it or Lose it! Living off the Land
An Attitude of Gratitude Serving Others
A Healthy Attitude The Healing Power of Honey
Iron in the Vegan Diet Healing
Helpful Health Charts
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.
Sources of Calcium - Chart
Animal Products and Food-borne Illness
Chocolate and Carob Compared
Compatible Combinations of Plant Foods - Graph
Acid and Alkaline Ash Food Groups - Graph
Schedule for a Healthy Lifestyle