I Love Rob Bell

Here is a link to the only blog post that I read over the weekend: Rob Bell: Universalist?  It basically asserts that Bell, in his soon to be released book Love Wins, argues that everyone ends up in Heaven. 

Here is my response:  I love Rob Bell.

1.  I love Rob Bell because I hate traditional paragraphs.  I tried to start a “Down with Paragraphs” club in high school, but the english teachers put a stop to it by making me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Those were some well-connected old ladies.  I’m not sure that Bell hates traditional paragraphs, but it seems like he does.

Because he writes like this.

And I like people who write like this.

Because I know that it bothers english teachers.

And english teachers deserve to be bothered.

2.  I love Rob Bell because of his glasses.  Who can wear glasses that look like they should come with a fake nose and fake bushy eye-brows and still seem super cool?  Rob Bell.  Who is jealous of this?  Me.  Who has the innate ability to make cool looking glasses appear terribly un-cool?  Me again.  Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?  Not me.  Definitely not me.

3.  I love Rob Bell because he can walk and talk at the same time while using overly dramatic hand gestures.  The types of hand gestures that he uses are nearly impossible to do while stationary, yet he does them again and again while walking, talking, and looking directly into a camera.  He is the Chuck Norris of walking and talking at the same time. 

4.  I love Rob Bell because when he was in a band that played “northern gospel” music.  I assume that northern gospel music is similar to southern gospel music, but with fewer truncated words like “fixin’,” “gonna,” or “pow’r.”  And it probably features a violin instead of a fiddle.

All of these are reasons why I love Rob Bell, but the main reason that I love Rob Bell is because I know God.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8

As of right now, it is unclear whether or not Rob Bell can be considered a universalist.  There are signs that he is; I understand this.  If so, I will be disappointed because I believe that Hell is just as real as Heaven and that many people really will spend an eternity apart from God.  If Rob Bell teaches universalism, I will not love his theology.

But I will still love Rob Bell.

Because God will still love Rob Bell.

And because God will still love me.

(Why do you love Rob Bell?  What do you think about non-traditional paragraphs? What do you think about universalism?  Share away!)

 

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87 thoughts on “I Love Rob Bell

  1. I love non-traditional paragraphs.

    But that’s because that’s how I write.

    I love the glasses.

    And I wear the same type.

    I talk with my hands a lot too.

    But I’m out on universalism. I just think we need to read the book before any major conclusions are made.

  2. I’m a huge fan of non-traditional paragraphs and tend to use them a good bit in my own writing.

    Though not so much in today’s blog post.

    While I don’t think I buy universalism altogether, I certainly can get behind the 7th Day Adventist teaching of annihilation. And probably some kind of inclusivism. But I will hastily say that this is based a whole lot more on personal feelings than on any kind of in-depth study of the Scripture on the topic. (When you have an unbelieving spouse, a theology that doesn’t have him in eternal pain for a temporal choice is very, very comforting. Not to mention a crapload of other folks in my life and who I just LIKE.)

    And I love Rob Bell because of his thoughts about what is sacred/spiritual. He put into words something that I had felt for a long time.

    • 1. I will say this: I am not God, and neither is Rob Bell. I know him and can tell you he knows very well he is not God, and therefore does not and cannot know who is and is not going to heaven.

      2. I will also say this: “When you have an unbelieving spouse, a theology that doesn’t have him in eternal pain for a temporal choice is very, very comforting.”

      You need not subscribe to universalism to take comfort in the Spirit, even with an unbelieving spouse. I Corinthians 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” Paul wasn’t God either, but he certainly was the “human pen” the Spirit used to write down the Scripture. And according to Paul the unbelieving spouse is sanctified (definition: made holy) through their believing spouse.

  3. Well said Matt. It’s easy to love our friends and family. But God sends us to love even our enemies (I’m not saying he’s an enemy).

    Whatever his theology is, he’s still a person worth loving. None of us are very loveable. Christ didn’t love us because we were his friends. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I want to love like he does.

  4. Having been practically taught for years to not love those with whom I disagree (I grew up in a very legalistic fundamentalist church setting) I sometimes find it difficult to have love for Rob Bell, even before this whole universalism controversy. Shame on me for that.

    I know that I need to love him and everyone else for that matter. Thanks for the challange on this today. I needed that.

  5. I’ve definitely been blessed and challenged through some of his Nooma videos. I’m sure it will be the same on his future stuff (books) as well. Regardless of his theology, I’ll love him as a person. Plus, yes- he has some wicked cool glasses.

  6. Well said. I think we will have to read the book before jumping to assumptions. However, I do believe like you said, Hell is just as real a place as Heaven.

    I love Rob Bell because of Velvet Elvis. Thought it was a pretty good read.

  7. I do like his unique writing style, and I think his presentation skills are really cool. However, his theology is off, and it is alarming that through the years he has dodged so many statements on his theological stances. I understand the importance of questioning, but I do think he often gets lost in the ‘theoretical’ answers behind the questions.

    Still, I do appreciate the guy for being so cool, and I do love him as a human being.

    Have you read Velvet Elvis? There’s some sketchy stuff in there.

  8. Great post. Thanks for this well-written and gracious challenge today; the only post I need to read on the Rob Bell situation. Keep loving him, as we’re already called to do, no matter where his theology and doctrine ends up. And, if he does turn out to be universalist, an enemy of truth, Jesus tells us clearly to love our enemies.

    Needed this today.

  9. I love Rob Bell because of his intellectual way of delivering spiritual material, but as a conservative political thinker, I do recognize that “some” overly intellectual thinkers abandon basic, obvious principles because of a “new” thought or idea. Why is this? Read Pete Wilson’s blog today…maybe they think they are human computers, lol. Seriously, I still love Rob Bell!

  10. He built the best bonfire I’ve ever seen.

    He loves his children.

    He preaches ‘in the round’…

    He causes me to ask questions & dig deeper.

    I don’t always understand or agree w/ his theology. He’s not my pastor, mentor, friend or professor. But, yeah, I love him.

    And, I’ve prayed for him a lot this weekend.

  11. I looooooooove nontraditional paragraphs…aren’t they the stuff good blogs are made of!? 🙂

    Thanks for the thoughtful reminder about why we should all love Rob Bell.

    I’ve only read one of his books (Sex God), and there were things in it that I found questionable.

    I will be very interested to read his latest book. I’m sure it will result in a backlash of other books taking him down.

  12. I love Rob Bell because he is my brother.

    I love Rob Bell for his honesty and courage.

    I don’t agree with universalism to the same degree I don’t agree with double predestination. If Bell teaches the first (which remains to be seen), he won’t be any more or less wrong than John Piper. Just different wrong.

    (sorry for the paragraph)

    • I used to ask my grandmother what her pastor preached about. She would say “sin.” I would ask what he said about it. She would say “He’s agin it.” I think that is true in this case, too.

  13. Sorry, I’m not familiar with Rob Bell.

    I met Bob Bell as a child. (I should have mentioned that on the famous people post.) But he is a different man altogether.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Bell_(actor)

    I minored in English in college, yet I still like non traditional paragraphs. It seems I just don’t truly belong anywhere…. (I also like trailing periods, parenthesis, being random and walks along the lake…)

    I am not a believer in universalism. The idea that “good people” will go to heaven sounds nice, until we get to the question of who gets to decide who is good. If we answer God, well He already said no one is, and provided a Savior for us. If we come up with our own check list as to what makes someone good, aren’t we trying to make ourselves God?

    I better stop now. I’m making my own head hurt.

  14. Haven’t read the book and for that reason the verdict is still out on it for me but Paul had some pretty hard words for false teachers in Galatians 1. So did Jude for that matter. I think we have to be careful not to mistake a “lovefest” for “truth in love.” Tough call on this one Matt, thanks for challenging our thinking today.

    • No doubt. We must love, but we must also proclaim the truth. Some are jumping to conclusions before reading the book. And even if we disagree, we can do so without name-calling and inflammatory phrases. Thanks Matt.

  15. Knowing Rob Bell and his way of putting a book together, I can only assume that what we heard and read this weekend about his new book is only half the argument. How many times have you started reading one of his chapters not knowing where it would lead? Starting to wonder where he was going with all this? Maybe even breaking out in a sweat because he was challenging a staple of God’s truth and what you’ve known to be true?

    And then he does it.

    He brings it all full circle to PROVE that staple of God’s truth. He challenges what you know and why you know it all to prove that you DO know it after all! (Well, hopefully you know it.) And then he puts a new and improved spin on what you know to bring it to an even more real place in your life.

    He’s the best at what he does.

    I don’t know if there’s a name for what he does, but he does ‘it’ well.

    I’m interested to read this next book. One reason is so we can all lay this “Is he, or isn’t he?” stuff to rest. I’m not worried about it at present, but other people seem to be worked up into a tizzy about it. And the other reason is that Universalism has crossed my mind a time or two, but I haven’t allowed myself to think about it too much for fear of where it might lead. I am interested in reading his findings and curious at how he approaches the subject.

    So, while others may not read this book because of what they think they KNOW it contains without reading it (that’s quite an interesting gift of the Spirit there btw), I will be one of the many who will wait to read what the man says before I add him to any prayer list.

    Thanks for your blog post! I think it’s brilliant and I agree with you whole-heartedly.

  16. I get a lot out of using nooma’s with groups, I actually think the questions that go with them are just as, if not more than, valuable than the films themselves.

    I love that Rob doesn’t get drawn into the argument!

  17. I’m a fan of the one line paragraphs as well.

    And his glasses.

    And is uber cool haircut.

    As far as his new book – I’m interested in reading it. I have a feeling people have jumped to the wrong conclusions and made assumptions that won’t be found in his book. I’ve read most of Rob’s stuff, and he isn’t afraid to ask the questions of why we believe what we believe. I have a feeling this book will be the same, but only time will tell as we wait for it to be released.

  18. I can’t speak on Rob Bell, but I’ll try and tackle nontraditional paragraphs.

    At the risk of sounding like a writer-snob (which I could never be because I don’t know enough to be one), I think there’s a time and place for nontraditional paragraphs. If you do it the right way, it can add emphasis to what you’re saying. It can surprise the reader. A well thought-out one-liner can do wonders. But you can also abuse it. Using too many can make your writing too staccato, rather than flowy. Writing to me is like music… you carefully weigh each word, listening to the rythym. If it’s a little too heavy on the words, you cut them back. If it’s not enough, you add some more, all the time listening to that rythym and the piece as a whole.

    In summary, I love nontraditional paragraphs when they are used correctly and most beneficially for the reader.

  19. Here everyone is blogging about Rob Bell today, and I went and wrote about boobs again!

    What’s up with that?

    Seriously, I’ll be praying for the man. And if God loves him–which I think He does–then I do, too. Even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on things.

    Additionally, I would venture to say that mature believers should be able to disagree maturely.

    That is all.

    (non-traditional enough?)

  20. I love Rob Bell because I love books that I can take something away from and they change my life.

    And I like buzz cuts.

    And I really like this post.

  21. I love this post. Thank you for saying this. I can’t wait to read the book and see if it’s what all the skeptics are talking about or if it’s taken out of context. I can’t wait until Jesus comes back and corrects all of our bad theology. I don’t agree with universalism, but I’d like to try to not judge a book by it’s cover…or in this case by a promo video or press release.

  22. I was really into one book over the summer. Then one day I was reading along and saw, “So that explains why everyone is going to Heaven.”

    Note what he said: “Explains.” Not that the Bible said it anywhere (even though this was supposedly a book about the Bible), but that his logic and reason brought him to that conclusion.

    I couldn’t believe it. I had enjoyed his previous book, and all of the book up until that point, but that one section ruined it. This isn’t me and someone disagreeing on spiritual gifts (which has come to mean, “Does your church speak in tongues?”) or pre/post/mid tribulation rapture, all things that are important to understand but not necessarily directly related to salvation; this is a dealbreaker on how you’ll live out the rest of your life and how you’ll share the Gospel with others.

  23. If I love or hate Rob Bell, seeing as how he and I do not personally know one another or interact in any way at all, does it matter? People who have read his books or follow him on Twitter or what-not speak about this man like they are his closest friends. Really?

    I am interested in the reactions to, more so, this as of yet unreleased book. I can honestly confess that I detest Universalism greatly, for The Scriptures themselves debunk such nonsense.

    If indeed Mr. Bell is preaching this to others, using his notoriety and fandom as his microphone, I feel a great swell of pity for him, as he will have entered into false prophet/teacher status.

    If.

    The book is not yet here. Isn’t patience a fruit of The Spirit?

    I’m looking forward to seeing the truth come out, to be sure. I so enjoy it when one person can shake up the devotees of Christian self-help books like this. Who is Rob Bell to any of us? Just another writer and personality. Time will tell and God will reveal all.

  24. Matt, look what you’ve stirred up! 🙂

    Rob Bell has been a great influence in a lot of ways, but I like how he puts it in his Velvet Elvis book, “Wrestle with this book.”

    First of all, if Rob Bell’s new book is like his old books and all his videos, he’s not EVER going to come out and say, “I believe ______” or “What you gotta do is _____” – TOTALLY not his style. And this isn’t the first time he’s said things that make “traditional paragraph church folk” uncomfortable. He puts stories and “what ifs” out there and leaves it to his audience to decide.

    Regardless…Rob Bell is not the Bible. I love some of his thoughts and discount others, but he’s not the 4 Gospel writers. John Piper has some great ideas, but he’s not the Bible. Matt Cannon has great ideas and likes to talk about feet, but he’s not the Bible. Bryan Thompson has some mediocre thoughts..but (THANK GOD) he’s not the Bible. 🙂

    IMHO.

  25. There it is, man.

    I hate

    non traditional paragraphs.

    except when i write them.

    on my blog.

    I like Rob Bell because he’s a great example of how to get your message across. plus…the yahweh nooma video changed my life.

  26. I like how you love, brother. You have made a great site and this one is a cool post.
    By the way,
    I sometimes
    write
    like this!
    Because writing
    and reading
    should be
    FUN !
    🙂
    Thanks for your posts,
    Len ( i hope you will come to poke around my site, ’cause i need tips from an expert)

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