on Sex God…


Many have asked me, “Why don’t you like Rob Bell?” It’s not that I don’t like Bell, the person — I just hope that during his “conversation” that he comes to his senses and realizes that he is missing the most important part of the Christian equation | the gospel.

While I have been quick to point out my disagreements with Bell’s theology, many have criticized me for not reading his stuff, but rather only focusing on quotes that others have pulled from his writings (mainly the excellent work of Rev. Ken Silva). Because I refuse to spend money on his stuff ($19.99), I only read the first chapter of his book, Sex God (you can download the first chapter here for free and read it for yourself). Here’s what I thought:

1. My main problem with Bell is not that he has nothing to say; my problem is with what he doesn’t say. His life and ministry are not gospel centered – they are social help centered. I have no problems with social work, but only when it is attached to the gospel ministry.

What is the gospel? It’s not complicated. My 3, almost 4 year old nephew has no concept of time. A week is a year; a year is a month | it doesn’t really matter to him. Brad, however, has grasped the core of the gospel. Brad would tell you (although this event happened last week): “We all do sin. Last night, I prayed to God to wash my sins away and did. He died on the cross.” So, as a teacher of God’s Word, you would expect that Rob Bell has grasped this, right?

In chapter one, Bell tells story after story of individuals he knows that are doing something worthwhile with their lives. None of the stories mention anything about the gospel. Is it a good thing to rescue young Asian girls that are going to be sold as prostitutes? Yes. Is it a good thing to raise children who have mental and physical disabilities? Of course. However, if we help them with all their physical maladies but never use our influence to tell the them gospel of Jesus Christ, what was accomplished? The same thing the Red Cross accomplishes | humanitarian aid.

The Bible is not the ultimate humanitarian guidebook — rather it is the very Word of God communicated to man in order that men may enter an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. This can only happen by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone. The gospel is not complicated – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus | his work credited to our accounts — his doing for us what we could never do for ourselves | giving us spiritual life.

2. Because Bell’s view of the gospel is anything but orthodox, he arrives at some very interesting interpretations of Scripture. He writes,

“Jesus had much to say about what happens when a woman, an image-bearer, a carrier of the divine spark, becomes a “that.” In the book of Matthew, Jesus teaches that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (footnote) He connects our eyes and our intentions and our thoughts with the state of our hearts.”

Jesus in fact does teach that evil heart intentions make one guilty of actually putting actions to our evil thoughts. However, this gospel account is not about degrading women | it’s not about stealing the human – image of God – identity from the victims of lust. It’s about purity of action; but more than that, it’s about purity of mind and heart.

Bell continues,

“Jesus then takes it farther. He says, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” Which is a bit violent. Not to mention painful. And if taken literally, renders half of the human race blind in a matter of moments.”

He continues to explain that in order to understand the outlandish statements of Jesus that we must understand “first century Jewish understanding of heaven.” He goes on to explain that heaven isn’t necessarily a set space in the universe, but rather the place where things are as God wants them to be. So virtually, to Bell, heaven can be anywhere.

He continues (all italics are mine and added for emphasis),

“Now if there’s a realm where things are as God wants them to be, then there must be a realm where things are not as God wants them to be. Where things aren’t according to God’s will. Where people aren’t treated as fully human. It’s called hell. think about the expression “for the hell of it.” When someone says “for the hell of it,” what they mean is that whatever is being discussed was done or said for no apparent reason. It was, in essence, pointless. Random. And God is for purpose and beauty and meaning. When we say something was a “living hell,” we mean that it was void of any love or peace or beauty or meaning. It was absent of the will and desire of God. We hear about war zones being like hell, working conditions being hellish, a divorce being emotional hell, a famine feeling like hell on earth (footnote). Concentration camps are hells on earth. And that’s Jesus’ point with the “gouge out your eye” teaching. His point isn’t that you should mutilate your body if you find yourself lusting after someone. His point is that something serious – sometimes hellish – happens when people are treated as objects, and we should resist it at all costs.”

Did Jesus deal with lust in a serious manner? Absolutely. Is the point of Matthew’s narrative that when people are treated as sex objects that something hellish happens? Absolutely not.

Jesus is teaching two main things here.

1) He is teaching the Jews that they have ignored the heart aspect of the law. Sure, they weren’t committing open adultery, but they all had lusted | committed adultery in their hearts, which Jesus teaches is just as wrong. Many of these Jews also believed that their eternity was settled, simply because of their lineage. Jesus demolishes that idea in the next section.

2) He is teaching radical repentance. Similar to his dealings with the rich young ruler, he is teaching that if lust is keeping someone from turning to Christ in repentance, they better take radical measures to eradicate it | eternity, in a literal, spatial, heaven or hell is at stake. In the parallel passage (Mark 9:47-48), hell is a specific place, not any place where things are not as God intended (as Bell would have us believe). Verse 48 says, “Where their worm dies not and the fire is not quenched.”

Jesus and Rob Bell are describing two different things. Bell’s message may sound provocative or read well on paper, but when in doubt | I choose to believe in a hell described by Jesus.

My problems with Rob Bell are numerous – from blurring the substitutionary atonement, to reducing the gospel to social aid, to asking people questions like, “If we found out that Jesus wasn’t really born of a virgin, would that shake your faith?”

The bottom line is this: I hope Rob Bell knows Christ. But as far as I’m concerned, we believe different gospels.

Many have told me that I need to approach Rob Bell with an attitude of grace and humility, understanding that there are multiple interpretations of Scripture. Paul never dealt with people in such a manner when the gospel was at stake.

Paul in Galatians 1:8-9
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

  1. #1 by nathan on June 8, 2007 - 7:05 am

    I wrote a response to your article here:
    http://www.christianresearchnetwork.info

  2. #2 by Joe Martino on June 8, 2007 - 7:14 am

    Believe it or not, in a rabid, neo-evangelical, diabolical plan to write a whole book, there are more chapters than chapter one. Now, I know you don’t want to spend money so there’s a cool little thing called iTunes. You can download the sermons for free. Perhaps, I can write a review of you where I make some sweeping conclusions of your whole life based on a few posts in this blog. What do you think?

  3. #3 by toddpbc on June 8, 2007 - 7:58 am

    I have read the book and finished it. Would you like me to mail it to you so you can write a full critique?

  4. #4 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 8:09 am

    Nathan,

    Thank you for your kind review of my critique of the first chapter of Sex God. I was kind enough to post your comment. I would appreciate some more contructive criticism than simply, “you only read the first chapter?” As far as my second point goes, please interact with the biblical texts that I nailed Bell for using incorrectly.

    As far as my first point goes, one of your readers did all my legwork for me (a member of Bell’s church actually). She writes,

    “Wow! His ministry is most definitly gospel centered! The Gospels is all about loving and serving others. That is what Jesus did and that is what we do at Mars! Rob made a phenominal statement in one of his sermons. He said “What would the world be like if churches stopped being all about themselves and instead start focusing on others. He said we have all these agencies that we should call if we want to help the homeless, crisis pregnancy, aids in Africa. These agencies are great, but shoudn’t it be the church the world contacts..”

    This is more of the same – social help and not gospel. The gospel isn’t complicated, but somehow Bell misses it time and again. Sure, he may hold to orthodox theology in one interview, but in his next presentation, he pushes the same social help agenda. The priority must be on the gospel, the same gospel for which Paul, the apostles, and many of the early church died.

  5. #5 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 8:13 am

    Joe,

    I would be glad for you to do a critque of my life based upon anything that you read on my blog:)

    I try to pay close attention to how I use Scripture, whether it be in an upcoming “seeing doctrine clearly” post or whether it be a “daily thought.”

    Critiques of one’s Bible knowledge and interpretive skills should always be welcomed in open arms, iron sharpens iron.

  6. #6 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 8:16 am

    Todd,

    Thank you for the kind offer, but part of the reason that I don’t put my personal information on seeingclearly is because I don’t want it out. But thanks so much for the offer!

  7. #7 by Joe Martino on June 8, 2007 - 8:24 am

    If you create a PO Box we’ll mail you a copy.

  8. #8 by phil on June 8, 2007 - 8:43 am

    Maybe we can start a drive so we can raise enough to buy the rest of book.

    “My main problem with Bell is not that he has nothing to say; my problem is with what he doesn’t say.”

    This statement makes no sense at all without reading the whole book. How do you know what he’s not said? You ignore 90% of the book and haven’t listened to his sermons, so how in world would you know if he hasn’t said something?

  9. #9 by Ken Silva on June 8, 2007 - 8:46 am

    I think we can’t exactly take Mr. Martino’s criticisms too seriously. He moved quite a distance to be able to become a member of Rob Bell’s church. He can hardly be considered objective here and open to even considering further valid criticism.

  10. #10 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 8:53 am

    Phil, within the first chapter, there were numerous places where a mention of the real gospel would have been expected. What did I read from from Rob instead? More social gospel…

  11. #11 by phil on June 8, 2007 - 9:01 am

    Clearly,
    How do you define the “real gospel”?

  12. #12 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 9:08 am

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news which is clearly laid out in the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 or so.

  13. #13 by phil on June 8, 2007 - 9:28 am

    Clearly,
    I definitely not going to argue against the primacy of the death and resurrection of Christ, but I think Christ’s death was about establishing the primacy of His kingdom as much as it was reconciling people to God. Look at Colossians 1. To me this is more complete explanation of the Gospel. It about reconciling or bringing all things under His reign.

  14. #14 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 9:57 am

    Phil,

    I would agree that Colossians 1 is a great passage concerning the gospel. Verse 20-22 are quite instructive here as well:

    “20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”

    I see this passage as God working to reconcile me, one who was formerly alienated and an enemy in mind by my wicked actions. This occurs through the cross, the work of Christ for me.

    In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul speaks of the ministry of reconciliation that believers now have as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. This all comes back to the cross; people cannot be reconciled to God apart from it. People cannot be associated with the work of Christ on the cross without God’s grace leading them to faith in Christ.

  15. #15 by phil on June 8, 2007 - 10:20 am

    Clearly,
    The Gospel is about our “personal salvation”, but it about “salvation” on a grander scale as well. In that passage in Colossians, specifically in 1:19 & 20 it says

    “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

    So it seems Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished something much more than just personal salvation for Christians. It was a great, cosmic event. It was God reconciling all things ti Himself. It was His way of restoring the universe back to the originally created intent.

    If you ask a typical Evangelical Christian today why Jesus had to die, the likely answer would probably be something along the lines of “He died to pay for our sins.” While this is true, it is not the whole truth. Historically, Christians would have answered that question more along the lines of “to defeat the Devil and his works”. The cross was the beginning of the end for Satan. Obviously, Satan is still alive and working today, but His days are numbered. It is the Church’s mission to fight against his kingdom by proclaiming and living in the Kingdom of God. We are pushing back, with the support and strength of the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of darkness.

    Now back to Bell. What Bell is advocating is a Gospel that realizes this fact. That is why He advocates doing good things in Africa, Asia, or wherever. Those things are part of the living out of the Kingdom of God. Because of these things people will see the Truth and enter into the Kingdom. Yes, they will have to make a personal decision, and I believe that they will be given opportunities at the right time. The Gospel is not just based on words or mental assent, it is based the Church living out it’s mission.

  16. #16 by Michael Krahn on June 8, 2007 - 10:28 am

    Hey guys,

    There are obviously some polarized opinions here.

    I’m not a fan of Ken Silva’s any more than I am of Rob Bell’s – that is to say they both make some good points but they both go over the edge (in opposite directions).

    I just finished writing a series on Rob’s book “Velvet Elvis” that I think you’d be interested in.

    Read and join in on the discussion at:

    http://michaelkrahn.wordpress.com/rob-bell/

  17. #17 by James on June 8, 2007 - 11:24 am

    Joe,

    If it walks, talks, and looks like a duck, I don’t need to follow it around for 3 weeks to make sure it’s really a duck. One chapter is PLENTY here.

  18. #18 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 12:38 pm

    Phil,

    I’m sure we have differing opinions on the kingdom. However, whatever your view, we should all agree that first of all, it is the sovereign acts of God alone which will fully establish his kingdom. His kingdom is far greater than the sum of the efforts of his people – it is uniquely tied not only to the new covenant, but to every other unconditional covenant (promissory) in the Scriptures. God will bring these things to pass, not the church.

    However, that being said, the church should ever strive to live with kingdom ethics – helping the poor is great, clothing the homeless is noble, etc. However, these are byproducts of the gospel, not the gospel itself. I do these things in correlation with the preaching of the gospel, not as its substitute and not as priority over the message for individual salvation. The cross made provision that one day, the created order will be returned to its original state; sin will have no more power. Until that time, the only advancement of the kingdom that Christians can take part in, is preaching the gospel to those who are perishing.

    Restoring the universe can really only be accomplished when the problem is solved, i.e. that which displaced the universe from its original state | sin.

    Until the power of sin be erradicated in individual lives, those people cannot experience the kingdom in any shape or form.

  19. #19 by Neil on June 8, 2007 - 1:55 pm

    “…I have no problems [sic.] with social work, but only when it is attached to the gospel ministry….”

    So, love your neighbor as yourself is only valid if you present the four laws while doing it? So I violated the Scriptures by feeding the homeless because I didn’t share the Gospel with them?

    Neil

  20. #20 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 2:01 pm

    Neil, I’m not really sure what the four laws are, sorry.

    You didn’t violate the Scripture, but you sure missed a great opportunity! what were you thinking?

    If they died tonight tonight without Christ, the soup you provided will really help.

  21. #21 by Neil on June 8, 2007 - 2:06 pm

    “1. My main problem with Bell is not that he has nothing to say; my problem is with what he doesn’t say….In chapter one, Bell tells story after story of individuals he knows that are doing something worthwhile with their lives. None of the stories mention anything about the gospel…”

    I’ve never understood how you judge a person for something they did not say, when said omission was not the subject of the discussion – now if the definition of the Gospel was the topic of the chapter – fine then… but if this so-called omission is the best indictment you can find…

    The other day I heard a sermon by Billy Graham… and in it he never said Jesus was divine… and I thought he was a good Christian man. I didn’t disagree with anything he said – just what he didn’t say.

    Thanks Clearly.

  22. #22 by Neil on June 8, 2007 - 2:08 pm

    I wonder about the people Jesus healed but never called to repentance – what was he thinking?

    Neil

  23. #23 by Neil on June 8, 2007 - 2:10 pm

    I suppose your soup illustration has a point – but taken to it’s illogical extreme, every pastor should preach only the Gospel message every Sunday – lest someone die that evening…

  24. #24 by Joe Martino on June 8, 2007 - 2:20 pm

    Mr. Silva,
    I’m flattered that I’ve moved to Mr. Martino and a little hurt. I thought we were past formalities. You left out that I moved without a job and I that I did it because I believe God told me to do it.

    James, Thank you for your thoughts. It helped me glean considerable understanding into your perspective. Blessings to you and yours.

  25. #25 by clearly on June 8, 2007 - 3:14 pm

    Neil,

    When I preach, I try to get the gospel into every sermon. I know many others who do the same, especially if someone will be present in their congregation who has not been saved. Pretty simple stuff.

    Everyone seems to want to discuss point #1. That’s fine; we have. We disagree.

    However, nobody has really had anything to say about Bell’s “exegesis” in point #2.

  26. #26 by Erica on June 8, 2007 - 7:58 pm

    Clearly,
    I responded to you over at CRN. I am just flabergasted at the sweeping statements you make without reading the whole book.
    I will enjoy reading how you respond to Neil’s statement.
    What is going on at Mars is good stuff! I wish you could be a part of it. We are moving out past our Sunday morning gathering and reach others with the love of Christ.
    I am not sure what your problem is? You mention that Rob does not mention how to be saved in the first chapter of his book. That is just unbelievable. You have an audience right here on this blog. Wait, you did not share the gospel on this post. Maybe you believe in a “Social Gospel.”

  27. #27 by Paular on June 9, 2007 - 5:08 am

    Erica,

    Clearly does present the gospel far clearer than anyone in the Emergent movement seems to be doing. Read the second paragraph again. Maybe you missed it the first time. Maybe you only read the first paragraph before you made your judgement.

  28. #28 by clearly on June 9, 2007 - 7:29 am

    Erica,

    It’s not that Rob didn’t mention how to be saved; it’s that, to him, it seems that doing good things almost replaces the priority of the gospel. I talked about the different illustrations that he used about people “restoring the earth to way it should be.” None of them had anything to do with evangelism. My point is that Rob is getting the buggy before the horse…and in this case it is quite serious.

    I will respond to the verses you posted on the other site, but I will be out for a while today. Actually, I need to call on some people that need to hear the gospel; I’m not just a blogger critic – I practice too.

  29. #29 by Erica on June 9, 2007 - 7:28 pm

    I am glad to hear that you live out your faith! ( I am being serious, I know some times things can be read sarcastically and I am not being sarcastic at all!:-) Here is what you do not see, you and Rob believe the same way. It might seem to you that he believes that doing good works replaces the gospel message but he does not at all. In fact I was just reading the new Constitution(It is not called that at Mars but I can not think of the word they use) it does nothing to indicate works and everything to with what Christ has done.
    You can not get around in the bible that God’s love, His actions, what he did for us, it should change our lives. My actions should show that I know Jesus! It should change my life! My life should back up my confession. Knowing Christ was more than just a prayer people prayed in the New Testament. It changed their lives! A lot of them died because the gospel changed their life in such a radical way! That is all Mars teaches. God’s love, His grace, His mercy should change my life. Most of the characters in the New Testament demonstrated their relationship with Christ by serving others and telling others how to be followers of Jesus Christ. Do you disagree?

  30. #30 by Erica on June 9, 2007 - 7:30 pm

    Paular,
    You are right he does give us a dose of the gospel message in this post. I don’t think he needs to in order to prove any thing. That is my point about Rob.
    He does not have to share the plan of salvation or tell us his belief on every doctrine every time he opens his mouth.

  31. #31 by clearly on June 9, 2007 - 9:25 pm

    Everyone,

    It seems like so many people are making statements about other people who don’t mention the gospel in every sermon. However, if a main thrust of your writing is that Christians ought to be working to restore the universe to its original, created fashion – the way God designed it to be – then, would it not seem logical that a simple, but yet clear mention of the gospel would be in order? I think so. IT CANNOT HAPPEN APART FROM THE GOSPEL. The world was tainted by sin at the fall; it can’t be returend by helping the physically oppressed, the hungry, the thirsty, etc (these are good things; but they will not accomplish what Rob says they will). It can only occur through spiritual change that flows from the cross.

    If we can’t agree on this simple matter, the state of evangelicalism is much worse than I had even thought.

    Erica,

    Thanks for being interested. Actually, today was quite exciting. I got to spend some time with some teenagers who had grown up in church, but with no understanding of the gospel message. We played basketball and went out for milkshakes. They both trusted Christ to do for them what they could not do for themselves, give them righteousness.

  32. #32 by Ken Silva on June 10, 2007 - 11:40 am

    “IT CANNOT HAPPEN APART FROM THE GOSPEL. The world was tainted by sin at the fall; it can’t be returend by helping the physically oppressed, the hungry, the thirsty, etc (these are good things; but they will not accomplish what Rob says they will). It can only occur through spiritual change that flows from the cross.”

    This is the crux of the matter because we are not talking about the same Gospel. In Velvet Elvis, which I personally own and have read, Rob Bell teaches that at the Cross, in addition to all of mankind, the universe itself and even all within it was also redeemed. Therefore the fall is reversed and God is now “retelling its story.” As a matter of fact you’ll here in the Emergent Church that man is now co-creator with God as He retells the future. That’s where Erwin McManus gets his “creating the future” schtick.

    But this what I touch on in Rob Bell and the Emergent Church when Bell says: “The Bible paints a much bigger picture of salvation. It describes all of creation being restored… Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker… We can join a movement that is as wide and deep and big as the universe itself. Rocka and trees and birds and and swamps and ecosystems (109,100).”

    I cover this further in Rob Bell Says “All-ee in Free…Almost but Bell writes: “Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for” (146). In the Emergent Church Jesus paid the price for all sins so sin isn’t the cause for someone going to Hell. Not choosing to live in this “new reality” of already being forgiven and not choosing to follow Jesus would be the cause of these “forgiven people” to be in Hell.

    “If we can’t agree on this simple matter, the state of evangelicalism is much worse than I had even thought.” My brother evangelicalism is mortally wounded, semi-pelagian and smothering in a twisted Arminian man-love.

  33. #33 by Joe Martino on June 10, 2007 - 12:41 pm

    I see you deleted my comment. Nicely done. Thank You.

  34. #34 by clearly on June 10, 2007 - 12:48 pm

    Joe,

    Comments which use ad hominem arguments will not posted on seeing clearly. I have been able to discuss this issue with you in a dignified, Christian manner. I would appreciate the same from you…

  35. #35 by Henry Frueh on June 10, 2007 - 4:13 pm

    The resaon one only need read one chapter is the same reason one only needs to read one chapter of Robert Schuller’s books, it is intellectually stimulating nonesense that has severely departed from the faith once delivered to the saints. I have heard Bell’s testimony and I believe he is a Christian who became disenchanted with modern evangelicalism and I do not blame him for that, but in his disilluion he set out to tickle the ears about a lot of goofy nonesense instead of praying for revival.

    I listened to one, that’s right just one, of Bell’s sermons and it was a kind of monologue with many personal anectdotes and really no point. It ended with people blowing on a piece of paper (you heard correctly).

    He is a personable, intellegent young man who has strayed significatly from the gospel. He even dances around doctrines like “hell” in order to be coy and prove himself intellectually superior to us fundamentalists.

    The teachings of Paul have been dismantled and the falling away can now be termed the fallen away. Very sad, pray for him and others like him, they do the Scriptures a disservice as they dismiss the established doctrines of the church.

  36. #36 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 5:01 am

    Henry, as I consider myself “others like him” in belief I covet your prayers. I would especially appreciate prayer in the following areas:
    1. I am attempting to discern where God would have me go to school and how best to facilitate that with a family of three
    2. Obviously, attempting to go back to Seminary or Grad School is going to put a financial strain on my family so we’re praying for the right job.
    If you’d like to know more just email me. When my mom died 5 years ago, I lost one of the greatest prayer warriors there ever was. And that isn’t a metaphor! :)

  37. #37 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 5:06 am

    That should say family of 5. I have three kids. Sorry about that.

  38. #38 by faith on June 11, 2007 - 4:01 pm

    I have read sex God and i find it brilliant because not only is sexuallity such a big part of our lives but i find it interesting the approach Bell takes to it. Not only is it a great book but it has also given me the chance to discuss my beliefs with non believers because their eyes are automatically drawn to that book on my book shelf in my dorm i have had the chance to have great discussions surrounding this book.

  39. #39 by Neil on June 13, 2007 - 12:05 pm

    RE: “Everyone seems to want to discuss point #1. That’s fine; we have. We disagree.

    However, nobody has really had anything to say about Bell’s “exegesis” in point #2.”

    Cleary,

    There are two reasons I didn’t bother with point #2:

    1. – Your first point was rather weak for all the reason stated up to this point.

    2. – Nothing personal, but I will not trust you to accurately quote Bell. We have documented how Silva will selectively string partial quotes together, or selectively edit a quote to give an impressed meaning that is different than the authorial intent. (Sorry to lump you in with Silva, but since you praise his work I must assume you MAY do the same thing.) Therefore, before I could address your objections with Bell’s book, I would have to first make sure you are not changing what Bell said/meant – Since I don’t want to read the whole chapter just to make sure you have not gone Silva on us I just addressed your first point and ignored the other.

    Neil

  40. #40 by Joe Martino on June 13, 2007 - 5:51 pm

    Neil,
    I’ve missed you.

  41. #41 by clearly on June 13, 2007 - 6:06 pm

    Neil,

    I posted my quotes verbatum from Bell’s book. I don’t really care if you trust me, but if you don’t want to discuss it, then don’t.

    But for everyone who actually cares what the Bible says and what it means, what Bell did to that passage is shameful. His conclusion is completely different than anything contained therein.

  42. #42 by Neil on June 14, 2007 - 1:18 pm

    Clearly,

    Back in January I proposed a Christian corollary to Godwin’s Law. I wrote:

    I think we need a Christian corollary to Godwin’s Law:

    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of one person claiming they believe the [insert adjective] Word of God approaches one.”

    The person employing the corollary does so to make the point that they take the Word more seriously than the other, or conversely, that the other does not take the Word as seriously as they should.

    Your swipe that “anyone who actually cares about the Bible… fulfills that corollary… as if the rest of us who disagree with you don’t care.

    Anyway, it was not my point to say I did not trust you, simply that I did not know if I could. Without reading the context from which the quotes were pulled, I cannot know if you’ve pulled a Silva on us or not.

    Neil

  43. #43 by clearly on June 14, 2007 - 1:48 pm

    Neil,

    My point was simply based on the assumption that you care about the Bible enough to take a few moments to study it out.

  44. #44 by Neil on June 14, 2007 - 2:55 pm

    Clearly,

    Understood. Though it’s not an issue of caring about what the Bible says – it’s an issue of caring enough about what you say Bell says about what the Bible.

    Neil

  45. #45 by clearly on June 14, 2007 - 3:35 pm

    Neil, if that is the case, then why are you commenting on my blog?

  46. #46 by Henry Frueh on June 14, 2007 - 4:12 pm

    Bell gets to say what he wants concerning the Scriptures, and I get to say what I think about what he says. After all, I’ve heard Bell criticize many others from his upbringing he now rejects, so he cannot be exempt from crtique.

    Bell did a whole video on a poor street preacher. Bell harshly criticized a man he did not even know, so he cannot be offended if some are asking questions about his own approach.

    I do not speak about him personally, never, he seems like nice guy. I speak about his teachings. By the way, my blog deals with Jesus and his cross and resurrection far more than I’ve ever dealt with Bell or anyone for that matter.

    Anyone who entitles a book “Sex God” is looking to be provocative and draws attention to his teachings rather than the One about Whom we should be teaching. It all sounds so new and mind expanding, but in my opinion it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  47. #47 by Joe Martino on June 15, 2007 - 4:21 am

    Rick,
    I don’t think the street preacher was any one person. More of the idea behind the street preacher. I don’t know if that would alter that paragraph at all for you. As for the rest, well as you say, have at it.
    Niel, your comments here are a breath of fresh air.

  48. #48 by billphillips on June 15, 2007 - 7:41 am

    We’re commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and feed them and clothe them if needed. We will glorify God if we obey Him in doing that.

    God can save anyone He wants, but He has chosen preaching the gospel to make disciples. Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

    Secondly, I’m not even going to read the first chapter of a book called “Sex God”. I can think of two possibilities. Either Rob Bell has carved himself a little idol and named it sex god, or he’s belittled the holy name of the Almighty Creator.

  49. #49 by Neil on June 15, 2007 - 10:05 am

    Neil, if that is the case, then why are you commenting on my blog?
    You made two ascensions, I only intended to comment on the first.

  50. #50 by Neil on June 15, 2007 - 10:09 am

    I’ll grant you than Bell is trying to be provocative. But it does not follow that his intentions draw attention to himself… and more than if a man wrote some notes in the Bible and called it “the Ryrie Study Bible.”

  51. #51 by Neil on June 15, 2007 - 10:12 am

    Thanks Joe, personally I think there’s too much name calling all over the web… to much attacking… sometimes I wonder if there will be any awkward moments in heaven, say a Silvite meets Bell on a street paved with gold – do ya suppose the former would cross to the other side so as to avoid the latter?

    Neil

  52. #52 by Neil on June 15, 2007 - 10:14 am

    …I can think of two possibilities. Either Rob Bell has carved himself a little idol and named it sex god, or he’s belittled the holy name of the Almighty Creator.
    A little more thinking and I can think of a third. He realizes this whole sex thing was God’s idea, that God is the God of sex – therefore… Sex God.

  53. #53 by Neil on June 15, 2007 - 10:15 am

    Shoot – the quotes didn’t transfer in a couple of the posts- hope you can decipher them since I can’t edit them…

  54. #54 by billphillips on June 15, 2007 - 10:58 am

    Neil,

    There’s a lot of things that God created, and are even gifts to us that I wouldn’t put in God’s name. God never called Himself sex God, so Bell is at the height of presumption to give God a new name, if not the height of blasphemy.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  55. #55 by Henry Frueh on June 15, 2007 - 1:03 pm

    There is nothing Bell can do that would meet with disapproval with some. The title sex god sells books, but if God wanted to be refered as such He would have called Himself that.

    Only in America, with people suffering around the world, with souls dying into a suffering eternity, with signs of His return resounding world wide, would someone write a book entitled sex god. And millions love it. Sex, I wonder where the church acquired the obsession? The world maybe?

    Why not saliva god, or sweat god, or many worse things that could be called because God created them. But, no, sex god. We are not interested in saliva, but sex? God’s New Testament teaching is the marriage bed is undefiled. That is all, man has made up the rest to minister to his lusts.

  56. #56 by Joe Martino on June 15, 2007 - 1:10 pm

    Neil, well really everyone.
    I actually wrote a post about sex and God. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    http://www.joemartino.name/metamorphic/2007/04/god_and_sex.html

  57. #57 by Henry Frueh on June 15, 2007 - 2:00 pm

    Joe – as an aside, I’ve attended Yankee games at Yankee stadium. The highlight being the 1978 All Star game. Go Yankees!!

    And now for the biggest surprise. My favorite (and my family’s) in any sport is Notre Dame football. For four months I become a Catholic, then after that I castigate them. Saw the play Navy last year in Baltimore, drove up from Tampa.

    Go Irish!!! (pray for us Mary)

  58. #58 by SMM on June 15, 2007 - 2:35 pm

    Neil,

    I’ve been working to understand what everyone is trying to say but I don’t understand your previous post.

    You wrote: “Shoot – the quotes didn’t transfer in a couple of the posts…”

    What does ‘shoot’ mean? You are ready to shoot someone? or does the word refer to something else? What?

  59. #59 by Joe Martino on June 15, 2007 - 6:39 pm

    Henry,
    A friend of mine played football for ND. Personally, I’m a Penn State guy, but my boss is from Indiana. He says he can get me into a game this year. We’ll see.

  60. #60 by Joe Martino on June 15, 2007 - 6:39 pm

    Oh! and I LOVE going to Yankee stadium.

  61. #61 by clearly on June 15, 2007 - 8:29 pm

    Guys, as much as I would love to talk sports, let’s keep the discussion on subject here.

  62. #62 by Cris on June 16, 2007 - 12:40 pm

    I’d just like to point out that Jesus was not orthodox. I agree pretty much entirely with what Rob Bell says, but even if I didn’t it wouldn’t matter. Why would it not matter? Because I wouldn’t come on forums all day long disagreeing with different theologian aspects. Wheres the Jesus in that? Honestly, what does this accomplish? You talk about how hes reduced his ministry to social aid and thrown out the gospel, can you honestly say that by sitting here talking about what Rob Bell SHOULD be doing is getting anything accomplished in the kingdom of God? Does this store up treasures in heaven? Whether you agree with him or not isn’t the point, the point is to step up and realize that being a Christian is much more than arguing over little details. You have baptists, methodists, and many more arguing over small points and who on this Earth has enough authority to tell them that what they believe is wrong? Not you for sure, buddy, and not me either. When it comes down to who we serve, we’re all on the same team. Don’t infer that you believe Bell isn’t even a Christian when from what I can tell, hes doing what Jesus told him to, what are you doing? Christianity is about God and people. As far as I can tell, Bells got that down. Do you? Perhaps, but not while you’re on your computer arguing with people.

  63. #63 by Joe Martino on June 16, 2007 - 1:27 pm

    Dude, you’ve got to relax!

  64. #64 by Joe Martino on June 16, 2007 - 4:00 pm

    Chris,
    I realize that wasn’t necessarily directed at me, but I thank you. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “you held up the mirror to me and it hurt but it was good.”
    Thank You

  65. #65 by Henry Frueh on June 16, 2007 - 4:42 pm

    Who said Bell wasn’t a Christian? I believe God helped him invent the telephone!

  66. #66 by jhorneck3723 on June 16, 2007 - 10:27 pm

    Who are we to criticize anyone? Cris you are absolutely right. We have no buisiness criticizing anyone, believer or unbeliever. However, “…the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” I believe Clearly and others have done this. You’re right. I have no busy criticizing any one, but God’s word has plenty of business. So long as an individual is using God’s Word rather than his own opinion he is not only justified but obedient to God’s command in 2 Tim. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

  67. #67 by jhorneck3723 on June 16, 2007 - 10:32 pm

    Oh yeah, When Paul says “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” it shows that Paul placed an emphasis on arguing about “small points” and “little details.” Provided of course that you view the gospel as Paul states it in 1 Cor. 15 as a “small point” or a “little detail.”

  68. #68 by Joe Martino on June 17, 2007 - 4:49 am

    OH Jeremy!

  69. #69 by jhorneck3723 on June 17, 2007 - 9:33 am

    Joe could you please explain your last comment. Does it mean,
    “Ohhhhh, Jeremy, now I understand.”
    “Oh, Jeremyyyyy, that’s who you are.”
    “Oh Jeremy :(, you posess an ridiculously low intellect.”
    I can’t hear you voice inflection. I need more info.

  70. #70 by Cris on June 17, 2007 - 12:56 pm

    So you think Paul wanted you to waste your entire life arguing small points and avoiding what Jesus told you to do?

  71. #71 by Cris on June 17, 2007 - 12:58 pm

    “Well Jesus I didn’t feed the poor or clothe the naked but I certainly showed everyone that I could argue and be right all of the time.” The bible never says they’ll know we’re Christians because we’re right. I’m done. I have to pack up to be a counselor at a Church Camp tomorrow, what are you doing?

  72. #72 by Henry Frueh on June 17, 2007 - 1:00 pm

    Cris – What are you teaching the campers, “humility”?

  73. #73 by Joe Martino on June 17, 2007 - 1:34 pm

    LOL, my daughter hit send while I was typing and then the other two started fighting and I never got back to it. What I intended to say is no longer important. Perhaps, God was distracting me with my children.
    Sorry about that.

  74. #74 by jhorneck3723 on June 17, 2007 - 8:02 pm

    Cris – actually, tomorrow I am chaperoning for a class trip to reward those students who did not get demerits. Yes, I am very selfish and not focusing on what God wants me to do. There is nothing that I could find more entertaining than chapping 8 elementary students on a class trip. Oh yeah, after that I need to pack. You see, I’m moving to the island of Saipan where I will be teaching at an international missions school. I need to keep this short because I’m tired from working 60 hours this week at a fast food restaraunt. Why was I working at a fast food restaraunt with a college degree? Because it was flexible enough to allow me to get involved serving in many ministries at my church. But I need to go to bed because I am tired from today. You see, I had to say goodbye to my kids from the junior church ministry I have been in charge of for two years, except in summers when I volunteered at a Christian camp. It was tough and exhausting because I love these kids more than I can say and I won’t see them for a year. I could go on, but I won’t.

    I am not complaining. I am so grateful for the opportunities God has given me to serve him. In all honesty I would not trade a single on of those ministries for any “fun” thing I could do with my time. God has blessed me. I’m also not trying to brag. My point is that you might want to check your facts before accusing someone whom you do not know of not ministering. I believe that my theology drives my ministry. It is from a correct view of God that I am motivated to serve Him.

  75. #75 by jhorneck3723 on June 17, 2007 - 8:04 pm

    No problem, Joe. I don’t understand kids but I see how they could be distracting. I think I would like you in a less theologicaly driven context.

  76. #76 by jhorneck3723 on June 17, 2007 - 8:04 pm

    I meant to say I don’t have kids.

  77. #77 by clearly on June 18, 2007 - 12:01 pm

    Jeremy,

    “I think I would like you in a less theologically driven context.”

    I would bet five bucks that Joe has already emailed you…wanting to be “friends.”

    Here’s another thought (just for fun), what context in your life isn’t theologically driven? I’ve watched basketball with you and you even bring theology into that:)

  78. #78 by clearly on June 18, 2007 - 12:01 pm

    okay the five bucks was a joke…I’m broke:) maybe 25 cents…

  79. #79 by jhorneck3723 on June 18, 2007 - 12:21 pm

    You no my rules about betting on anything. I am a gambling addiction waiting to happen. I don’t bet on anything.

  80. #80 by jhorneck3723 on June 18, 2007 - 12:21 pm

    Wow, I just typed the wrong no/know. I really knead to preefread my comants.

  81. #81 by Joe Martino on June 18, 2007 - 4:57 pm

    Clearly,
    You’d lose.

    Jeremy,
    Can I get a cut of that money?

    I have all of my sent emails. I never said, “Hey, let’s be friends.”
    Either way, I have obviously offended you and for that I apologize.

  82. #82 by clearly on June 18, 2007 - 5:40 pm

    Joe,

    Accepted. I will expect the emails in my inbox today then. Thanks.

  83. #83 by Joe Martino on June 18, 2007 - 6:03 pm

    What good would my sent emails to you do?

  84. #84 by Joe Martino on June 18, 2007 - 6:04 pm

    I have to admit you are one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met in the blogosphere.
    Let’s be friends….ha!

  85. #85 by Joe Martino on June 18, 2007 - 6:27 pm

    For what it’s worth, I added a disclaimer to my post about anon commenting. I mentioned that the lie was a point of contention between us. I did this in the interest of fairness, not as a “let’s be friends” type of thing. :)

  86. #86 by jhorneck3723 on June 18, 2007 - 7:16 pm

    Wait a minute. Why can’t I have any friends??
    ***This message has been proofread by a highly trained K-9 proofreading squad***

  87. #87 by clearly on June 18, 2007 - 8:10 pm

    I was only asking for the emails that I sent you…so I could clear things up with you. But never mind, you have already told me that I can’t have them.

    We probably shouldn’t be discussing this in the open forum. My bad for bringing it up…

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