Critique: Rob Bell…Velvet Elvis (movement 1)


It is not my intention to rip Rob’s words out of context. It is my aim to be Scriptural, coherent, and logical. Although I am passionate about the truth of Scripture, I will not allow my emotions to go on an anathematizing rampage; I expect the same from any who wish to comment.

The Good.

“It’s possible to believe all the right things and be miserable (page 35).”

So true, Rob. Thanks for the reminder.

Now for the The Bad

ONE —- While speaking of the words of Jesus in John 14:6, which reads:

I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me

Rob says,

“Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living, perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are.”

Rob’s handling of the verse is invalid for two major reasons.

1). It’s based upon an exegetical fallacy. On the line above the quote in question, Rob says,

“And God is the ultimate reality. There is nothing beyond God.”

I have no problems with that. He is describing God as ultimate reality. The problem arises when he takes that definition of God and superimposes it on John 14. Now his interpretation is not “no man comes to the Father…”, but rather “nobody can approach ultimate reality — the way life was meant to be lived.” It’s a cool thought and maybe a true one, but it’s not the point of the verse.

2). This unfortunate handling of the text misses the obvious context of John 14. It’s a famous passage, most certainly speaking of heaven. Jesus told the disciples that he was going to “prepare a place for them” — a real place where they would eventually “be also.” Thomas responded to Jesus’ teaching and said something like this: “We have no idea where you are going, but we want to be there. How can we get there?”

Then Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth…” He is making exclusive claims about entrance into heaven, about how the disciples can follow.

TWORob makes it sound like as though the doctrine of the trinity were not based upon Scripture. He writes,

“Take for example the doctrine – the spring – called the Trinity. This doctrine is essential to historic, orthodox Christian faith., While there is only God, God is somehow present everywhere. People began to call this presence, the power of God, his ‘Spirit.’ So there is God, and then there is God’s Spirit. And then Jesus comes among us and has this oneness with God that has people saying things like God has visited us in the flesh. So God is one, but God has also revealed himself to us as Spirit and then as Jesus. One and yet three. This three-in-oneness understanding of God emerged in the several hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection. People began to call this concept the Trinity. The word trinity is not found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus didn’t use the word, and the writers of the rest of the Bible didn’t use the word. But over time, this belief, this understanding, this doctrine has become central to how followers of Jesus have understood who God is. It is a spring, and people have jumped for thousands of years without it. It was added later.”

Does Rob believe the trinity? Yes he does. But you wouldn’t get that from reading Velvet Elvis unless you turned to the back of the book and read his fifth endnote.

THREE — Rob says some unfortunate things about the importance of the virgin birth. I have already addressed this in an earlier post.

FOUR – Rob affirms the problematic, emergent rallying cry that orthopraxy (right action) is far more important than orthodoxy (right belief). He says,

Perhaps a better question than who’s right is who’s living rightly?

and

I am far more interested in jumping than I am about whose trampoline is better.

Maybe Rob should do his good works on the Buddhist trampoline or the trampoline of the Muslims — I’m certain they would love to play trampoline with Rob. Some atheists do good things too — even things that are spoken of in the Bible. I’m sure they would welcome Rob to their trampoline as well.

Only one chapter in and so far, I haven’t been pleasantly surprised.

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  1. #1 by Mark on July 10, 2007 - 2:45 pm

    Does this mean you’ve found the word Trinity in Scripture? Would you mind showing how what he said is wrong according to Scripture?

  2. #2 by clearly on July 10, 2007 - 2:54 pm

    Mark,

    Of course not, it’s not in there.

    I said, “Rob makes it sound like as though the doctrine of the trinity were not based upon Scripture.”

    The trinity, although not mentioned by name in the Scripture, is most certainly based upon the Scriptures.

  3. #3 by Ryan Imel on July 11, 2007 - 5:21 am

    Glad you’re reading Velvet Elvis. Couple things…

    “It’s a cool thought and maybe a true one, but it’s not the point of the verse.”

    I guess I don’t see your point. Coming to the Father would necessitate entering the true reality, that-which-cannot-be-exceeded. When Bell is saying “the best possible way for a person to live”, he is talking about “the way to heaven”, which is what you claim in your point two. They seem like two sides of the same coin.

    I never got the impression Rob doesn’t believe in the Trinity. I’ve always gotten the impression that Rob very much believed in tradition, that he greatly respected and admired doctrine of all sorts, and that he is proud to be a part of this history. He’s only pointing out the reality of it, which (I think) makes it all the more beautiful. Thoughts?

    I was surprised to see that you reject those living rightly if they aren’t “believing rightly.” Since you agreed with Rob’s statement at the top of your post (the good) I would think you would be right there with him. The point is not one without the other (doing without belief, or belief without doing) but that there is an interesting connection between the two, where often (as I’ve seen) the doing comes before the believing, or at least along with. Think of acts of faith. Jumping out of boats, climbing trees, etc. It seems that for these people, their actions were treated before their beliefs were — understandably leading to the decision to rank actions pretty high.

    And, I would much rather help a loving atheist pull someone through a tough life situation than sit next to a bunch of people who simply think the same way I do in a big room listening to someone say things we like while not doing anything about it.

    Phew, a big two cents. Sorry about that, I guess I had a bunch to say. Thanks for prompting discussion.

  4. #4 by clearly on July 11, 2007 - 5:34 am

    Ryan,

    I’m glad you took the time to comment. I’m running out the door for work, so this will be brief, sorry.

    “I guess I don’t see your point. Coming to the Father would necessitate entering the true reality, that-which-cannot-be-exceeded. When Bell is saying “the best possible way for a person to live”, he is talking about “the way to heaven”, which is what you claim in your point two. They seem like two sides of the same coin.”

    The point I was making is that Rob doesn’t believe the verse addresses the exclusivity of Jesus. He says that the point isn’t about Jesus being the only way to heaven — rather, just the best way to live. I don’t see how these are the same coin at all — if they were the same, Rob wouldn’t have said that my view completely misses the point.

    As far as the trinity goes, fair point. We’re talking about impressions, etc. We can let that one go. I wouldn’t have know had I not seen the footnote. I felt the passage really tended to incite doubt and not trust.

    As far as orthopraxy goes, I never minimized right actions —- they just must flow from right doctrine.

    Thanks for interacting here, sorry that was so brief. More later.

  5. #5 by Mark on July 11, 2007 - 5:45 am

    I’m not trying to be obtuse here. I don’t even know if I like Rob Bell. A friend of mine (co-worker really) goes to his church but I don’t believe in the Trinity so if youd don’t mind, to paraphrase Cuba Gooding Jr.

    “Ssssshoooww Me the verses!”

  6. #6 by clearly on July 11, 2007 - 5:56 am

    Mark,

    I don’t want the discussion here to go that direction.

    Here is a link to a good guy:
    http://www.extremetheology.com/2006/03/doctrine_of_god.html

  7. #7 by Phil on July 11, 2007 - 12:49 pm

    Clearly,
    You seem to be exceedingly picky here. Are you this way with every book you read, or are you just jumping on the anti-Bell bandwagon?

    Bell isn’t denying the exclusivity of Christ at all, it seems to me he affirming it. He is saying that Christ is not establishing an exclusive religious system, but rather a way for human to relate to the Father. It seems that you reading this with a bias and finding something that isn’t there.

    Also, I do not understand what your point is about the Trinity. Obviously, he believes in it. Bell is just saying the word doesn’t appear in the Bible, and it doesn’t. The Trinity is a the model of what Christians believe the nature of God is like. The full reality of it is beyond our grasp.

    As far as orthoraxy and orthodoxy, do you think that is possible for someone with incorrect orthodoxy to really be commited to correct orthopraxy. I would submit that it is not. It is possible, on the other hand, to have correct orthodoxy (theoretically) and not orthopraxy. You can’t have one without the other.

  8. #8 by michael on July 11, 2007 - 1:10 pm

    i’m definitely not being argumentative but we should be careful with point 4. james 2 is clear on actions following belief. this is realizing that james is the first book of the nt and much grace follows.

    i think bell is rebuking those whose beliefs are static and dormant, thus without right living. which would have been unlike jesus.

    the way i read the text of point 1 was that christ was beyond a religion. he was god and therefore he is the only reality that is in play. everything else is a lie (not reality).

    i do think bell missed some of the exclusiveness that is there, especially coming off of the most inclusive statement in scripture in john 3:16.

  9. #9 by clearly on July 11, 2007 - 2:15 pm

    Phil,

    “Are you this way with every book you read, or are you just jumping on the anti-Bell bandwagon?”
    I believe I am thinking critically, not thinking picky. I could level the same question at you. “Why are you on the “Rob fan club”?” You don’t see me flashing names around like Dr. JMac or Piper. I try to follow men only inasmuch as they follow Christ.

    You said, “it seems to me he affirming it.” He can say what he wants to say, but would you not agree that his point is not found in John 14:6? It’s a clear exegetical fallacy — an abuse of Scripture.

    You said, “As far as orthoraxy and orthodoxy, do you think that is possible for someone with incorrect orthodoxy to really be commited to correct orthopraxy. I would submit that it is not. It is possible, on the other hand, to have correct orthodoxy (theoretically) and not orthopraxy. You can’t have one without the other.”

    I agree with you. It is possible to have the correct doctrine and not practice rightly. However (as a general rule, I realize there are exceptions) if your doctrine is messed, you can’t practice rightly. That’s why doctrine is so important — it is foundational to proper practice.

    Rob, in his own words, says, “I am far more interested in jumping than I am about whose trampoline is better.” He thinks orthopraxy trumps orthodoxy…

    So if Tony (just a random name) doesn’t believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone, but gives his money to help the AIDS problem in Africa, then Tony is jumping rightly even though his trampoline has a massive hole in it?

    The Bible teaches that our best efforts toward righteous deeds amount to mere filthy rags before God unless we are regenerated.

  10. #10 by phil on July 11, 2007 - 3:26 pm

    Clearly,
    I will admit, that to some extent, I am a “fan” of Rob Bell. I don’t think he’s perfect, but I do do think he is a gifted and annointed commicator. I have seen fruits of his ministry firsthand.

    As far as “thinking critically” goes, I would say there is a thin line between “thinking critically” and just being a critic. I don’t see the level of nitpicking with other Christian authors that I do with Rob Bell. Velvet Elvis has been out for over two years now, and people are still harping on it. I would also say that I have never seen anyone who takes a position against the book turn and change his mind even when presented with evidence to the contrary. It seems to me that just as much as there could be people jumping a fanboy bandwagon for Bell, there is a group that seems to just enjoy being contrarian.

    As as the fruit I was talking about – my wife and I are campus pastors. A lot of the kids we deal with have been hurt by very conservative churches in one way or another. Some are very close to leaving the faith if they haven’t already. One kid I can think of specifically was just questioning a lot of stuff, and when I read VE a few years ago I thought of him immediately. I gave him a copy, and he read it right away. It really opened the door for him to enter into a new, real walk with the Lord. He is now in Seattle with his wife, and is deeply involved in a church out there with some great Christians.

    Here’s my point – Bell wasn’t writing for Bible School graduates. He was writing for people like the kid I described and thousands of others. I truly believe God has used the book, regardless of the critics.

  11. #11 by clearly on July 11, 2007 - 3:38 pm

    Hey Phil, you can call me Dave, it’s ok. Thanks for sharing your heart on this.

    If my problems were merely about style or preferences, then I wouldn’t say anything. However, in my opinion, they are about doctrine and can’t be let go.

    You mentioned that people have been critiquing Rob’s book for two years now. Well, Rob claims to be part of the reforming tradition (see intro of VE); people still critique Calvin, Luther and Zwingli too, and rightfully so. We all need to be sharpened.

    The book wasn’t targeting people like me, point well taken. But does that give Rob liscence to treat Scripture as he does? It seems that if a KJV-only, skirts-only type fundamentalist used Scripture like Rob does that many would be up-in-arms. Just my thoughts.

  12. #12 by Derek Iannelli-Smith on July 12, 2007 - 3:28 am

    With all the commentaries on Velvet Elvis…

    here is one too: http://www.reformation21.org/Past_Issues/2006_Issues_1_16_/2006_Issues_1_16_Shelf_LIfe/February_2006/February_2006/148/vobId__2030/pm__338/

    one of the best one’s I would like to see is one based upon Gal 6:1-4; and Mat 18:15-20….

    Has anyone engaged Rob on these items… now that is a review I would like to read!

  13. #13 by Bike on July 12, 2007 - 4:27 am

    Mark: Have you found the word “gravity” in the Bible? How can you prove it exists/existed? Have you found the words “reason” or “logic” or “theology” in the Bible? Ever hear of these things in general?

  14. #14 by louie louie on July 12, 2007 - 7:04 am

    I think that the greatest issue that we can address is RB’s statement that
    “Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth.”

    Now we have a problem, because RB just called into question whether Buddhists can go to heaven. In fact, when you change out “Father” with “living rightly” then you include anyone that is “living rightly” whether that person be Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon etc.

    If that person is living rightly, (helping the poor etc) then we have to assume that they have Jesus too, even though they are not Christian.

    Bell would like to see everyone doing good deeds. He wants to see it so badly that he is willing to allow people to stay in their false religion and give them assurance of their salvation because they “live rightly” He would say that a Buddhist can follow Christ without naming the name of Christ.
    In other words, you can be a Christian without even knowing it. Listen to RB’s mentor,

    “”My Buddhist cousin, except for her unfortunate inability to embrace Jesus, is a better Christian than almost every Christian I know.”

    RB’s phrase about “Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth.” is simiply echoing this idea from his good friend Brian McLaren.

  15. #15 by Pastor Ken Silva on July 12, 2007 - 7:50 am

    louie, louie,

    Precisely! Well said.

    The Emergent Church, and even Tony Jones has recently said that Bell’s church is a hub in the Emergent Church, is in its basic essense just a repainted version of the old social gospel proclaimed by the original cult of liberal theology.

  16. #16 by clearly on July 12, 2007 - 7:54 am

    I agree. louie, louie nailed it! Thanks for that comment…

  17. #17 by Paul Carley on July 13, 2007 - 8:08 am

    well said Louie. I have read the entire book and as clearly has said here, despite RB protesting his orthodoxy in the fly leaf cover notes, the tone of the book to me said one thing ” I know its hard to believe all this stuff, but ignore it and just become a really nice person and do good stuff”. It is most dangerous to the young who need to struggle and tackle the scriptures and come to a settled and reasoned understanding of the 2 the hope that is in us”.

    Paul (ireland)

  18. #18 by Mark on July 14, 2007 - 3:51 am

    Bike,
    Those are excellent Straw men. I can prove gravity independently of the the Bible. The same with logic. Theology is an obvious man made word, the same as blue. The only thing that gives it meaning is our agreement that is what it means.
    When it comes to the Trinity, many “Christians” like fired up when it is pointed out that you can’t prove it from Scripture. One would think that if all of the other doctrines you believe are in their this one would be too. But except for some serious dancing on most people’s part from the story of Peter and the family God killed for lying in the N.T. I’ve not seen a coherent argument for it. That’s not true, my friend that turned me on to this blog gave one of the best arguments for it. It still lacked but, it was better than most I’ve heard and certainly better than your ridiculous straw men.

  19. #19 by Pastor Ken Silva on July 14, 2007 - 10:18 am

    Mark,

    “When it comes to the Trinity, many “Christians” like fired up when it is pointed out that you can’t prove it from Scripture. One would think that if all of the other doctrines you believe are in their this one would be too.”

    Not sure what you bring this up for because Bell at least says that he believes in the Trinity. And where do you think the doctrine of the Holy Trinity came from? It came from the Bible.

    See – Keeping You Apprisied Of: The Holy Trinity

  20. #20 by whittaker on September 27, 2007 - 6:13 am

    I could give you some lessons in basic English grammar if you would like – then maybe we could move on to theology, and perhaps even touch on exegesis. Just drop me an email.

  21. #21 by clearly on September 27, 2007 - 6:58 am

    Perhaps we are in the presence of greatness? Please do tell…I’m still a student and ready to learn.

  22. #22 by N.M. Owen on October 10, 2007 - 7:46 pm

    I was just gonna read, but now I can’t resist.

    Mark says he’s going to “prove logic.”

    Outstanding Mark. Way to think.

    Do it.

    PS – On a more substantial note, no one seems to have raised the point yet the Bell’s blurb on the Trinity essentially (if underhandedly) passes Jesus off as just being the way we speak about God incarnate, thus he denies Jesus has the eternal Son of God. For Bell, Jesus is – if you will – just the way we speak about the Father when he’s in Creation.

    This is hella dangerous. Pun intended.

  23. #23 by Vince on October 12, 2007 - 8:45 am

    “Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth.”

    ___
    Sounds like you are reading into things a little. You can’t really assume Bell is saying all religions are equal. I think you need to understand his glossary and what he means when he says religion. He’s absolutely correct in saying it isn’t about religion.

  24. #24 by john on October 14, 2007 - 11:46 pm

    So you want a verse for the Trinity?

    Zechariah 12:10 (in a literal bible) has an interesting grammatical conundrum for anyone who doesn’t want to believe in the persons of the Trinity, here is the excerpt:

    “and they shall look on me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only son”

    I recommend the whole context, or if you don’t want to read much then verse 8+. It’s troubling me, however, that even some “literal” versions are smoothing-over this grammatical JERK by changing “Him” after God says “me” to “Him”: I’ve seen Jewish Bibles do this, and I’ve seen Chrristian Bibles that aren’t careful do this…but I’ve checked the Hebrew and this verse if challenging even to the Jews when you make them open the Old Covenant (Testament) and read it to you from the Hebrew…I would expect it would freak them out, even.

    Anyways, yeah: this one is interesting…it also boggles the mind, but God did say that He’s not fully comprehensible (read Job again).

    I know you didn’t want this to “go this way”, but this is short, sweet, and one of the first verses you can show people to see this. : )

    By the way, the verse is the same in the Massoretic, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Critical Edition (i.e. KJV vs. NKJV since the NKJV uses teh Critical Edition that they’ve published…though Harry M. Orlinski-a text critic-has some searing comments on the carelessness of that edition such as using the LXX to supposedly correct the Hebrew when the LXX translation is very easily shown to, often, be from interpretative influences of Rabbis of the time which we can document, and etc.: and since disparate Scrolls from groups seperate from one another over a 1000 years, even, when reunited show…the same text! That’s incredible scribesmanship.) : )

    Anyways, there’s one verse for you: I’d give more but it’s the first to come to mind.

  25. #25 by S. Laurence Guzmán on October 15, 2007 - 1:25 pm

    I think the emergents are addressing a very real problem in the church– deadness. However, their solutions focus on doing good rather than believing rightly. Of course the Bible emphasizes right living: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”; but the foundation of right action is always a right understanding of truth. We cannot serve God properly until we rightly understand who he is (else we are serving an idol); we cannot understand who he is unless he reveals himself to us; we cannot know God’s revelation until we read his Word.

    In short, in an attempt to get people to “live right,” the emergents are undermining our basis for right living: a right understanding of who God is which is found in his Word. Thats about as effective as trying to make a car faster by removing the engine.

  26. #26 by Maximus on December 19, 2007 - 10:56 pm

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  27. #27 by Geoff on February 26, 2008 - 12:29 am

    How do you feel about Donald Miller? I think he says things that are as ‘out there’ as Rob Bell but he doesn’t seem to get near the criticism. I like both guys, a lot. Rob is off-base with some of his thoughts, but I think he is simply challenging us to be more engaged with who Jesus is and how we should live more like him. Like many authors, I think you get out of it what you want. For fans of Rob, like myself, I don’t see him challenging Jesus’ authority or the trinity or even the virgin birth. He poses some questions and some possible differing views, but it seems he always comes back to wanting people to be more like Chirst. I simply can’t find fault with him for this. His videos have inspired me and I don’t feel that at 38 I’m going to be led astray from my ‘basic beliefs’. I don’t think Rob promotes doing right over believing right. I think what he is asking is, ‘what good is believing right if you do nothing?’ His views are ‘different’ but I don’t know that they are all that ‘wrong’. In some areas maybe, but I think Rob strives to promote thought and discussion. It has worked in me. He’s not perfect, but I’ve yet to meet ‘that person’ in the church either.

  28. #28 by gbfluteman on April 10, 2008 - 8:06 pm

    The biggest problem I have with the orthodoxy vs. orthopraxy argument from either side or camp is that both are wrong. One should never be held or esteemed above the other. Obviously, right doctrine leads to right action, wrong doctrine to wrong action, but at the same time, you can be doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons. This is exactly what I’ve been preaching (literally) for years and what Keven Brownfield preached the other night at my church. Consider the church of ephesus (Rev. 2). Christ commends them for 5 things that they were doing rightly. The church at ephesus, if set in our modern context, would probably look like what we would call a Bible preaching, Fundamental Baptist church. They stood for truth, they didn’t tolerate sin, they perservered despite persecution, and the list goes on. But, notice Christ’s scathing rebuke. Though they were doing the right thing (orthopraxy and orthodoxy), they were doing it for the wrong reasons. They had left (literally, “divorced”) their first love. They had forgotten that the reason you keep seperate from sin isn’t because you’re more righteous than that sinful brother or sister. It’s because you love Jesus too much and you love that brother or sister too much to let them continue on in sin without showing them the seriousness of their sin. You persevere despite hard times- not because that means you can wear that perseverance as a badge of honor- but because you love Jesus too much to do any less. The list goes on. We need to be balanced in this whole issue.

    However, lest you think I am saying both sides are totally wrong (as far as the context of immediate discussion on this blog), that is not what I’m saying. David, you are absolutely right. We must have right theology and right doctrine if we are to live for God rightly. All I’m saying is that we need to make sure that as we live out right doctrine that we live it out because we love Christ too much to do anything less than to live for His glory alone.

    Good stuff, David. Keep them coming!

  29. #29 by Ten on August 7, 2008 - 9:02 am

    1 Timothy 4:16
    Watch your life AND doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

  30. #30 by Melinda on April 1, 2009 - 2:07 pm

    Interesting posts. Thanks for explaining! I’m in France this year working with a campus ministry. Always good to hear all sides. I agree with the Fluteman. Another great book is Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Being in France makes me think the US will turn into this if we don’t give actions to our faith. Pondering…

  31. #31 by Nick Carter on June 22, 2009 - 1:15 pm

    I found so many flaws in the book, I couldn’t even take the time to list them all. Thanks for this article. Well said. I posted a brief review here:
    http://www.truevictories.com/2009/06/he-stinketh-my-thoughts-on-rob-bells.html

  32. #32 by Hilary on July 27, 2009 - 4:57 am

    I have read the first three chapters of Mr. Bell’s book and am still unsure of what the point is. The first chapter seems to indicate that we should simply live “the way” and invite others to join us without regard to doctrine or belief. In my understanding we cannot live “the way” without the aid of the holy spirit. Though we may attempt and our lives may look good to those who would care to look, we are not living “the way” if we are not believing certain things. So far there has been no mention of sin, repentance, justification, resurrection… is Mr. Bell calling us to sanctify ourselves and others by living “the way.” I know that isn’t his intention but “Velvet Elvis” seems to be pointing us in this direction.

  33. #33 by Stef Morgan on October 2, 2009 - 1:28 pm

    I’d add that the trinity IS mentioned in the Bible. The term “trinity” is not used, but when Jesus sends his disciples out (the Great Commission, specifically Matthew 28:19), He commands them to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that the trinity as we understand it?

  34. #34 by Ben on January 7, 2010 - 9:14 am

    I don’t think Mr Bell was saying anything at all about other religions being “equal” to Christianity by saying, “Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth.” Later in Velvet Elvis (which I think is an awesome title for a book. Very mysterious) Mr Bell mentions Jesus turning the water to wine in reference to the Greek God Dionysus. Dionysus supposedly traveled to the east and learned to make grapes into wine over a period of time, whereas Jesus did it in an instant. Mr Bell seems to think John is relaying a message about the exclusivity of Jesus here. What was John getting at? Just a thought.

  35. #35 by Aeiluindae on January 26, 2010 - 8:20 pm

    I think Rob Bell walks a fine line. I agree with him on lots of things, but there are other times when I think he gets some stuff backwards. For example, I agree for the most part with him that doctrines are secondary to attitude and action. I think Rob takes the trampoline idea a bit too far sometimes. But there are some things that don’t make an impact unless you take them a little bit too far.

  36. #36 by Just a kid on February 1, 2010 - 1:51 pm

    Thank you for your review, I’m glad someone is able to see some good in his books. Several other reviews that i have read called into question the character of Rob bell, and one even ended with a remark about whether he actually believed in the God of christianity.

    However i would like out point out something that has been slightly glossed over or even omitted entirely.

    There is a small selection from the third chapter of the book, that is printed on the back cover.

    “We have to test everything.
    I thank God for anybody anywhere pointing people to the mysteries of God. But those people would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating.
    test it. probe it. Do that to this book.
    Don’t swallow it all uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it.
    Just because I’m a christian and I’m trying to articulate a christian worldview doesn’t mean I’ve got it nailed down. I’m contributing to the discussion.
    God has spoken, the rest is commentary, right?”

    I’d say thats a pretty blatant disclaimer. I mean, isn’t the bible useful for every good purpose? Aren’t the Scriptures supposed to be full of meaning? if they are full of meaning doesn’t that leave room for different interpretations of the same scriptures? I understand that there are some pretty big doctrinal issues with some of the things he’s saying, but does he say that he’s the only authority?

    I guess my Main point is that it seems as though you’re putting words in his mouth. What do you think he would say to some of the accusations that you are making? how do you know that “this is what he means when he is saying this…” etc? I know it might nbot be the most practical solution, but shouldn’t you let him defend what he’s REALLY saying, because right now it just seems as if everyone left right and center are taking pot shots at him for looking at things differently, and trying to help[ people understand who it is they’re following.

  37. #37 by alyse on June 14, 2010 - 3:05 pm

    I have not read the book so I can’t give an opinion that people would actually want to read. But I am extremely Bible-based, as is my church. I just believe in the Bible. I don’t label it as “Christianity” as Rob Bell says, so I do not disagree with that point. But that is exactly it. Jesus never came to preach a religion, just Jesus, and just salvation. The only problem I see with what I have seen of this book is that they are not Bible-based. The word became flesh, so to me to deny any part of the word, or even walk the fine line, seems to deny what Jesus came to do :/ of course that is strictly my opinion…the Bible is awesome though…go read it ;D

  38. #38 by Robin on October 24, 2010 - 1:03 pm

    I think we are missing the big picture here. Salvation. There has been alot of energy poured into this discussion which could have been poured into being fishers of men. All of us are obviously passionate about Christ and the word of God, however, would He see us bickering amongst ourselves about flesh made words? I think he would see us spreading his word with the world, so that we might all spend eternity with Him. Is that not what the entire Word is about? I hardly see anyone standing at the gates of Heaven, answering for their sins, and “The way you brought people to Christ wasn’t with the right words.” being included.

  39. #39 by Tony Clay on February 7, 2011 - 9:28 pm

    I think it’s about time the gulf between belief and science and also art was bridged and Rob Bell seems to have some good insights as to how to bridge this ravine so that people can travel both ways ie: Scientifically minded people can marry faith to knowledge and believers can add logical understanding to the gut level feeling we call faith.
    As for the bible ( that I have been reading for 40 plus years now…slow reader !!) for me it’s like musical notation which records music but isn’t the music it’s self ( music is far and away more wonderful to hear than to read off a score…. the bible records many things to do with who God is and his interaction with mankind in history but it isn’t all there is to God nor is it a substitute for knowing him and interacting with him personally NOW. We have to be careful not to confine God to a box even if the ‘box’ has ‘Holy’ written on it … we need to learn to think inside and outside the ‘box’ … we need to learn to THINK.

  40. #40 by Tony Clay on February 7, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    I have only just found this website sight and read through the comments … the one from Melinda in Campus crusade caught my attention because though English by birth France is my adopted home or rather France has adopted me. Please do not compare France to the USA after only being here a short time .. to appreciate the French you need to commit to them for years before they will really let you in. They are not a superficial people nor an unbelieving one they have many things to commend them that ‘other’ younger countries should aspire to. Plus they know how to eat properly and when not to go to war, they honor thier families and provide good health care and social security for thier people …until your nation has got all that together perhaps it would be wiser not to throw stones ?

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