Rob Bell…6/2 podcast

First for the positive, Rob has amazing speaking ability. Listening to his delivery really caused me to evaluate how exactly I deliver my messages. He is articulate and passionate about his message. Thanks Rob; that was quite challenging.

Now for the negative. Rob preached from Mark 2, where Jesus and his disciples are accused of breaking the sabbath law by plucking wheat. Jesus reminds the pharisees that David and his companions ate the shewbread when they were hungry on the sabbath. The whole message is based on Rob’s comparison between the disicples and the mighty men of David. He says,

“Be careful if you follow Jesus because Jesus has terribly high view of humanity. Jesus believes that people are capable of greatness.”

He cites John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Rather than concluding that, with divine empowerment, men can accomplish all that God wills, Rob goes on to say, “God has tremendous faith in people.”

This last statement greatly troubles me. If it doesn’t trouble you, then you believe in a pretty weak god. The fact is, God does not excercise faith.

What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Wait, I thought God was the object of our faith? The one in whom we were to trust, not vica versa. Wait doesn’t God see all things, the end from the beginning, but yet he has faith | conviction in things not yet seen?

All throughout the gospels, Jesus demands faith of those who follow him (Matthew 17:20; Mark 11:22, etc.); he never once tells them that he has faith in them.

Further, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). God demands our faith; he doesn’t manifest it towards us.

What kind of man-centered theology is Bell preaching?

A god who has faith is a created being, not the God of the Bible.

Again, it is clear from this podcast that Rob Bell is actively attempting to redefine the gospel to something other than forgiveness and freedom from sin. To Bell, the gospel to the oppressed is all about freeing them from political, social, and physical oppression – whether it be building libraries or establishing a way for people to walk their neighborhoods in security.

Rob says, “The church is mission.” He then goes on to discuss the water crisis, calling on his church to be involved.

I agree with Rob; the church has an obligation to help with the water crisis. Men all over the world are drinking water, day in and day out, water that can never satisfy their thirst. This is the true crisis! Jesus offers living water, that when a man drinks, he will never thirst (John 4).

The water I’m speaking of is a clear metaphor for salvation. Since the ascension of our Savior, the mission of the church is to preach the gospel and make disicples, not to provide clean drinking water for the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15).

try to see it clearly_

  1. #1 by Ken Silva on June 10, 2007 - 7:25 pm

    My brother,

    This is what I have seen in Bell’s antropocentric message. I also concur he is a gifted speaker but honestly his veiw of God is quite shallow.

    Rob says, “The church is mission.” This is a common mantra of the Emergent Church, McManus says this as well. However, the mission of the Church is worship of God in Christ through the Spirit.

    Then from that His love flows through us and outward into missions. Nothing in the Reformed faith precludes doing any of the things Bell talks about. However as you know, it must be done in Christ, for God by the power of His Spirit or it is skybala.

  2. #2 by clearly on June 10, 2007 - 7:32 pm

    Amen, Ken.

    I would even take it further. A god who has faith in his creatures is really no God at all.

  3. #3 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 4:34 am

    “the mission of the Church is worship of God in Christ through the Spirit.”

    Is that in the Bible? I don’t remember reading that.

    “Nothing in the Reformed faith…”

    Ah, so it’s not from the Bible, it’s from the Reformed faith.

    “I would even take it further. A god who has faith in his creatures is really no God at all.”

    I think that Matt 28:19 is a pretty big statement of faith in His people. We are called to spread the kingdom. We were chosen. We do it through the power of God, but we still do it.

  4. #4 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 6:08 am


    Can God excercise faith? Please give me an exegetical reason. A command or imperative really doesn’t demonstrate that God has faith in his people. Is it within his character to have faith? If you say yes, then you walk right the door to open theism: God hopes for what he can’t see yet.

  5. #5 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 7:58 am

    Well, you’re using one definition of faith – that is faith in God. There are more kinds of faith. Faith can also be used as a synonym for trust and confidence, which I believe is the context that Bell used.

    Bell is simply playing on words – that is, we talk all the time about having faith in God (that which we can’t see) and we neglect the idea that God has faith in us (trust and confidence). Same word, two subtlety different meanings.

  6. #6 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 8:15 am

    Wait, so now God has trust or confidence in his people? I still don’t see how this helps his point. Either way, the god that he is talking about lacks sovereignty and the ability to carry out his plans. God does not need confidence; he is completely self-sufficient.

  7. #7 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 8:29 am

    Yes, I believe God has trust in His people. Otherwise, He would have put the responsibility of carrying His message into the world into different hands.

    You’re making a logical leap by claiming that Bell is saying God needs us to carry out His plans. He doesn’t “need” us, but he did choose us.

    I don’t deny that He is completely self-sufficient (whatever you mean by that), but He chose people to advance His kingdom. This doesn’t speak to our awesomeness or power, it speaks to the power and faithfulness of God.

  8. #8 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 8:35 am

    “Yes, I believe God has trust in His people. Otherwise, He would have put the responsibility of carrying His message into the world into different hands”

    2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the excellency of the power is of God and not us.

    God uses humans, not because he has faith in our abilities to accomplish his plans, but because He wants us to glory in his sovereign power.

    The emphasis that you are talking about is still so man-centered!

  9. #9 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 9:23 am

    I can not believe you. That message was awesome! You did not even touch on what he had to say. All you can do is pick apart one little statement? Wow, you are desperate to find something to pick on him about.
    God does not have faith in us? Would you rather him say God believes in us? God knows us? What would you rather he say? God cares about us.
    I would love to hear your take on the whole message. Not just one statement.

  10. #10 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 9:27 am

    Your explanation was right on:-)
    Clearly and Ken,
    I would love for you to answer Todd’s question.
    “Is that in the Bible? I don’t remember reading that.”
    In case you missed it I copied and pasted it for you.

  11. #11 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 9:28 am

    I feel like we’re not communicating here.

    I’m saying that God chose us to fulfill His mission. He could have chosen anyone or anything, but He didn’t. He chose humans. He didn’t choose us because we’re worthy of trust or faith, but He did choose us. By choosing us, He has placed His faith in us and is trusting that we will carry out His purpose. This isn’t for our glory – it’s for His.

    How is that man-centered? Specifically, how is that more man-centered than claiming that God wants us to “glory in his sovereign power”?

  12. #12 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 9:32 am


  13. #13 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 10:08 am


    “By choosing us, He has placed His faith in us and is trusting that we will carry out His purpose.”

    Are you familiar with the text that says, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out. (Luke 19:40).”

    The fact that God is using humans does not mean that God has confidence in us; it means that God is using us according to his good pleasure. He has chosen to use us; we should challenge each other to do all we can. However, God does not and cannot excercise faith in any shape or form. He is not a man; he does not need faith. If he could excercise faith, trust or confidence, then he would not be God.


    I spent most of my review on those statements because they were the foundation for most of the message. I didn’t address the priesthood aspect of the message because I didn’t have a problem with it. Some of the other content was addressed later in the review. It seems that most of your problems with my reviews are that about what I didn’t cover. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about what I do cover.

    I’ll be away for several hours.

  14. #14 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 10:26 am

    I am familiar. So let’s not be silent. Let’s be worthy of the trust God has placed in us so He doesn’t have to turn to the rocks to do His work.

    “If he could excercise faith, trust or confidence, then he would not be God.”

    What? I’m not familiar with a verse or teaching that communicates such a message. How does trust or confidence invalidate God’s sovereignty?

    I eagerly await your return.

  15. #15 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 11:31 am

    Are you familiar with verses that teach what faith and trust are? They are both human actions that manifest a simple understanding that we are not sufficient in ouselves. Hence, we look to one who is sufficient to meet our insufficiencies.

    The texts I cited about faith in the article demonstrate my point. Sure, I cannot find a verse that says “If God were to excercise faith, then he would not be God.” But, my point is that I don’t have to.

    1. The definition of faith or trust precludes God from excersing either.

    2. Scripture nowhere teaches that God has faith in anything, much less fallen humanity.

    Am I missing a passage that you can bring back to my memory?

  16. #16 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 11:32 am

    It’s one thing that God has given us stewardship responsibilities. It’s quite another that God has faith in us!

  17. #17 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 11:34 am

    I have avoided commenting on what you have to say because you do not seem to welcome those comments.
    Since you asked, I think you are wrong. God created us, We are sinners, we fall short every day. He gives us plans, directions, and He has full intention to believe (Or has faith) that we will carry out those plans. He had a plan for David, a plan for Moses, these men sinned, I don’t believe they messed up God’s plan, instead God used them. God had great faith they would carry out what they were told to do. I think you play on words.
    This whole argument seems silly to me. It honestly reminds me of the days I was in bible college and I sat and picked a part every last word someone spoke, ignoring the content. Our sure you your not fresh out of bible college?:-)

  18. #18 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 11:35 am

    BTW, I think Todd explained it to you the best. I could not agree with him more.

  19. #19 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 1:34 pm

    Clearly, we are not going to agree. Your definition of faith is limited to belief in the unseen. You’re assuming that trust is a uniquely human trait. You claim that you don’t need a verse to show that if God had faith he wouldn’t be God.

    We disagree on all of the above. Since we can’t agree on even the basics of this discussion, perhaps we should terminate it, as it seems unlikely that we will arrive anywhere productive.

  20. #20 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 1:38 pm


    You are right. We aren’t getting anywhere here.

    I wish you had provided me with some sort of Scriptural support for the idea that God trusts mankind.

    If you could, I would still be open for more discussion on this. Thanks!

  21. #21 by Henry Frueh on June 11, 2007 - 1:53 pm

    If God had faith in Adam he was sorely disappointed. By definition faith means to be sure about something you do not totally know or else it would be knowledge, not faith.

    How can God exhibit “faith” when He knows everything? It is ludicrous and humanistic. It is attempting to shape God into human attributes.

    And if God had faith He sure wouldn’t place it on man.

  22. #22 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 2:01 pm

    Clearly, the only scriptures I can provide off the top of my head are:

    Matt. 28:19 – I am making the assumption that He trusts us as He has tasked us with carrying His message into the world.

    Psalm 8:4-6 (or Heb. 2:6-8): God is mindful of man, placing everything (everything!) under his feet. Once again, it appears that God believes in His creation.

    Can you provide scriptures that point to the idea that “The definition of faith or trust precludes God from excersing either.”

  23. #23 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 2:18 pm


    I just did a quick search on “faith” using a simple Bible program. I could not find one verse that referenced faith as belonging to God or as something that God can do in any shape or form.

    You asked, “Can you provide Scriptures that point to the idea that ‘the definition of faith precludes God from excercising either.'”

    I have used the Scriptures over and again to demonstrate what faith is. How could I find a better definition than Hebrews 11:1? It introduces what is called the “hall of faith.” Based on that text and what we know about God, He cannot have faith.

    He does not have faith in his creation. That’s absurd. The very passage you quoted from Psalms demonstrates that point – God is mindful of man. Psalm 139 teaches that God knows everything about me, when I was in my mother’s womb, God knew me. God knows my thoughts before I do, etc. God’s knowledge is infinite, so to say that he trusts in us or has faith in us is absurd.

    He has, however, put the creation under our care and given us other stewardship responsibilities, such as sharing the gospel. But, to say that God has faith in us is at best, confusing the terms. At worst, embracing an incredibly low view of God.

  24. #24 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 3:03 pm

    I can’t believe I’m continuing, but…

    Do you have faith in your wife?

  25. #25 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 3:15 pm

    engaged, not married

    but no, i wouldn’t call it faith.

    We have established a relationship based on our faith in God – but we have cultivated a spirit of trust. We trust each other.

  26. #26 by toddpbc on June 11, 2007 - 3:45 pm

    Let me try another direction then: When my bosses ask me to do something, they have faith that I will carry it out. They have chosen me for the job, they know my abilities and they believe that I will do as I am commanded.

    They have faith in me as an employee. Not an unseen being. The word “faith” isn’t limited to the definition of “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith and trust can be used interchangeably. That is all that I am (and I believe Rob Bell is) trying to say.

  27. #27 by Henry Frueh on June 11, 2007 - 3:54 pm

    I would say that is…uh…goofy. I meant to say untrue. A little more sophisticated than goofy, but the same meaning.

    God has faith in mankind. Maybe Bell should footnote Robert Schuller for that view. Poor Wesley, Edwards, Luther, Moody, Spurgeon, and many others. They were pitifully naive in their theology.

    Either they were right or Bell is. Um…I’m going with Wesley.

  28. #28 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 4:14 pm

    Todd, I get what you are saying, but I don’t think you can read that 21st century idea of faith back into the biblical text. Now, obviously the idea didn’t come from the biblical text, but rather from Bell. If indeed, he meant what you are saying, it is a non-biblical message; he should not blurr and confuse terms in such a manner.

  29. #29 by daviddansker on June 11, 2007 - 4:21 pm

    “Rob has amazing speaking ability.”:

    And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    (1Co 2:1-5)

    In Christ,


  30. #30 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 4:40 pm

    Can you tell me what it means to break faith with someone? I would like to address this issue but I need to see if we are working from the same P.O.R.

  31. #31 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 4:52 pm

    You know what, It’s all good. I almost stepped somewhere I’d rather not go. So don’t feel the need to answer. I am truly sorry about that.

  32. #32 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 4:57 pm

    I think you are playing symantics.

  33. #33 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 5:23 pm

    I think he is too, Erica. Alas, we finally agree!

  34. #34 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 5:32 pm

    Take a look at the word Covenant. It is used through out the entire bible.
    When I got married, I entered into a Covenant relationship with my husband. When I entered into that relationship, I did it with great faith, great faith believing that my husband was going to hold up to his end of the covenant. I am responsible regardless of what he does to hold my end of the Covenant. I still have to trust, have faith in him, believe in him or my marriage will not make it.
    God talks about the Covenants he entered into with Abraham and others. God makes a covenant and promises a reward for their faithfulness. God is trusting them or putting faith in them that they are going to keep the covenant between them. Did God not have faith in Adam and Eve that they would not eat of the fruit? Or do you believe God planned for them to sin so he could die. God trusted them and they broke that trust. If he did not have faith in them than why was He disappointed in them?
    In uses a representation of marriage like his relationship with us. Go to Malachi 2:14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Why would he say that a husband can break faith with a wife? There is an assumption to be made here that the husband and wife had faith in each other. It is funny that God describes His relationship with us like a marriage. Why would he do that, if he not placing faith or trust in us as his people?
    God never comes out and says that He has faith in his people. It is assumed by what you read. Please do not come back and say that you can not assume what is not actually written because people in your circles do it all the time with their interpretation of Revelation.

  35. #35 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 5:39 pm

    haha, she meant you were playing semantics. She’s my wife. LOL. You crack us up.

  36. #36 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 5:40 pm

    You make some great points babe!

  37. #37 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 5:41 pm

    ha, you think I didn’t know that?

  38. #38 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 5:44 pm

    One never knows these days. 🙂

  39. #39 by Henry Frueh on June 11, 2007 - 6:18 pm

    God has concluded the ALL in unbelief. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all like sheep have gone atray. There is none that seeks after God, no not one.

    Some faith.

  40. #40 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 6:21 pm

    Henry, could God have a different perspective on those that follow him?

  41. #41 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 6:57 pm

    That is a great verse. I referred to the fall of man; If there was no fall than there would be no need for that verse. God had faith in Adam and Eve. When they sinned they broke that and that is how sinned entered the world. Jesus died to pay for that sin.
    When a person chooses to follow Christ, they have a new life right? That verse shows why Jesus died. He has given us a new start.. It is called Regeneration. In this new start we become Christ followers! He has faith in us as children of God.

  42. #42 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 7:01 pm


    Your post about covenants reveals that you really need to do some studying on biblical covenants. There were three main types. Of the main covenants in scripture, most are promissory or unconditional, meaning God will accomplish them (God told David that his throne would endure forever, God told Abraham that he would make of him a great nation, God told Israel that he would give them a new heart, God told the earth that he would never punish them with a world-wide flood). In other words, the only covenant that was conditional was the Mosaic and it’s rather obvious that God’s people have broken it.

    That’s why the law functions as our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The only covenant with an agreement on the side of mankind is the Abrahamic and God’s people failed miserably.

    If anything a good study of the biblical covenants would reveal that God does not have faith in us to keep any cotractual agreement, that is why is the one who will keep the covenants.

  43. #43 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 7:29 pm

    What about Adam and Eve? What about Marriage? I do not disagree with your perspective on Covenants. (I went to bible college to my friend 🙂 I disagree with your conclusion. Some how, I do not understand it all, God knows everything, but some how he gave us the ability to choose. Even though in his foreknowledge He knew the out come. He still gave us the choice. He had faith that we would choose what is right even though He all ready new we would not.
    God does not fit in a text book or box. Who God is goes beyond what our minds can comprehend. Some how God places faith and trust in man kind, you can not deny that or we would all be robots. Some how we have free will.
    To say that Rob is wrong in his interpretation of that passage is wrong on your part. You are making conclusions that are not clear in scripture. You are doing what you accuse him of doing. The bible is not in black and white. We are not limiting God, we are not belittling God by saying he has faith in his people. I really do not think when we stand before God one day He is going to say to us “Did you say I had faith in you?” He does not care. All He wants to know is what we did with the person of Jesus. You are making this out to be an issue of whether or not Rob is redefining the gospel. Whether you believe the statement is true or false that he made your conclusion that he is re-defining the gospel is absurd. He is not re-defining the gospel by saying God has faith in his people. That is a huge jump! It is false. Rob, me, and you believe we come into relationship with Christ the same way.

  44. #44 by clearly on June 11, 2007 - 7:42 pm

    Please re-read my article. When I spoke of the gospel being re-defined, I was speaking of the whole “God has faith in us” line. I was talking about his social gospel emphasis at the end of the message. A re-read of the article would reveal that.

    Also, in your previous post, you were saying that God making covenants with us shows that he has faith in us. I am trying to tell you that if the covenants are understood correctly, your view is completely absurd.

    God made a covenant with David that his throne would endure forever. As much as David messed things up, God was still faithful and He will (some argue he has already) fulfill the covenant.

    God made a covenant with Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God accomplished this through Christ.

    God made a covenant with Israel that he would give them a new heart, write his laws on their inward parts, make them his people, etc. Israel has failed God in every possible aspect, but God will still accomplish it. In almost every New Covenant passage, God says “I will.” God will perform it.

    The only exception(s) are the Mosaic and Adamic. The provisions were clearly laid out by God. Man failed; God made provision for their failure.

    How can you not disagree with my perspective on covenants but disagree with my conclusion? There is no way the covenants teach that God has faith in his people. Your view is not Bible.

  45. #45 by Joe Martino on June 11, 2007 - 7:50 pm

    Where exactly does Rob present a social gospel? By that definition he would have to say that by doing XYZ we’re going to bring someone to repentance, or we’re going to save them… or something like that. He doesn’t do it. He does say that we are going to be a church that is about helping the poor, joining the God of the oppressed to make a marked and measurable difference in the world we live. If your Gospel has no room for that type of activity, I want nothing of it. Keep it.

  46. #46 by Erica on June 11, 2007 - 7:53 pm

    Sure it does! The one that explains it the most is marriage. If you are not married you will not understand it. You will not comprhend such a powerful covenant! You have to put faith in each other. God uses marriage as an illistration of Chrsit and the Church. If you are married than you are missing this. Some great books to read are Sacred marriage, and covenant marriage. You are confusing God’s forknowledge with the here and now. It is not explaining. If he did not put faith in people, there would never had been a need for those covenants. He is God right? He could have done all of that without making any promises or any convenants. There is mans responsiabilty. Some how God put faith in man to get it done. Everything could have been accomplished without man but God has given us a choice. He has chosen to allow us to play a role in this story called life. It is not explainable.

  47. #47 by Henry Frueh on June 12, 2007 - 3:39 am

    God did not have faith in Adam and Eve, he saw them fall before they were created. He had “faith” in His redemption and His Son. Faith implies trust and there is no trust in anything but God, so in essence, God trusts His own love and power.

    If there is any trust in any man by God, it is a trust in the presence of His Son, not the vessel. In reality, God has “faith” in man’s inability to please Him without His power. Those that have been partakers of His nature by grace through faith still can have no confidence in the flesh. Only in the hope that dwells within him.

    We have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the excellency of the power is of God, not of us.

  48. #48 by Scotty on June 12, 2007 - 5:32 am

    Good point Henry. Somehow I can’t picture God saying “Wow, I didn’t see THAT one coming”.

  49. #49 by Erica on June 12, 2007 - 5:57 am

    Than we must be all Robots!

  50. #50 by toddpbc on June 12, 2007 - 6:37 am

    Henry: “there is no trust in anything but God”

    Are you married?

  51. #51 by clearly on June 12, 2007 - 7:27 am


    I’ve been thinking about your marriage point; I understand that you really like it. But, it doesn’t work here. Before you respond emotionally, think about what I am saying.

    I’m not married, but I don’t have to be to understand this much. Marriage is not in the same category as the biblical covenants that I mentioned earlier. It is an institution that God gave to mankinnd. The husband and wife enter into a covenant with each other before other men and God. This has nothing to do with God having faith in us. Like the old saying goes, “you can’t compare apples and oranges.”

    Besides, if you look at the larger picture, how many marriage covenants are ending in divorce? How many people are simply forgoing their marriages and living in open fornication? Even if it were the example that you say it is, then mankind fails miserably again.

    You made a comment about robots. Just because God does not have faith in us, does not mean that we are robots. We have the freedom to act rightly or wrongly. The only problem is that sin has so marred this earth and mankind upon it, that our natural bent is toward lawlessness.

  52. #52 by Henry Frueh on June 12, 2007 - 7:59 am

    We are not robots, I am completely Arminian. Any earthly comparison such as marriage, or contracts, or even earthly covenants are incongruous without the divine person. Hebrews tell us that God could not find anyone worthy of securing His covenant, so He swore by Himself. Why?

    Because we can only have faith in God and in God alone. The robot reference is strictly from an earthly perspective. Picture this:

    A hundred foot ditch in which a man is stuck at the very bottom. It is impossible for him to escape. Another man arives at the top with a long truck that can lower a bucket that can scoop up this man because he is not only at the bottom, he is injured and cannot even climb into the lowered bucket. The truck man hollars down “Do you want me to rescue you?” and the man says “Yes, please”.

    The truck man lowers the bucket and when it reaches the man the bucket scoops this immobilized man into the bucket. The bucket brings this man to the top. That is salvation, except in our case we were not just injured we were dead.

    When we are saved we are no longer alive, Christ lives in us and the life that we now live we live by the FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved us and gave Himself for us. We are not robots, we are now sons of the living God not in any part of our flesh but of HIS POWER. God does not have faith in us because we are dead, it is He who now lives our HIS LIFE through us.

    In one aspect you are correct as well as Bell, it is a mystery, a glorious mystery, that is ALL OF HIM and none of us!!

    All glory, honor, strength, and power are ALL His. The faith train travels one way, from us to Him forever. In my flesh dwells NO GOOD THING!!!

  53. #53 by Pat on June 12, 2007 - 11:48 am

    Following the discussion with interest. I have seen this verse quoted many times in these types of discussions as if it is the be all and end all definition of faith “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
    If this is the strict and only definition of “faith” that is true, then according to this definition, the disciples did not have faith in Jesus because they could see Him both before and after His death and resurrection. Certainly, the Disciples placed their faith in Jesus, but they don’t fit the “definition of faith” that is this verse. It doesn’t answer any of the above questions, but it does cause me to pause and reflect on the definition of faith and see that it may be consistent with but not limited to Hebrews 11:1

  54. #54 by Erica on June 12, 2007 - 12:38 pm

    Marriage covenant does not work? Hmmm, than why does God compare marriage with our relationship with Him? Than why does it say this in Malachi 2:14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Why would he say that a husband can break faith with a wife?
    Notice in your conversation to me about Covenants that some of those covenants were broke but God still held up his end of the deal. Your comment about divorce is no different than other covenants in the bible. If Joe cheats on me I am still responsiable to hold up my end of the covenant. My response is not dependent on his actions. It was the same thing with God’s covenants. Rob is not refering to faith in the bilblical definition that you find in Hebrews. Their are more than one definition to the word Faith.
    Your alls theology acts as if we are all Robots and God controls are ever move. God knows everything but some how we have free will.

  55. #55 by Erica on June 12, 2007 - 12:49 pm

    BTW, Could some from your side please explain to me what you define a social gospel to be? I was just wondering. I was only aware of one gospel. Social gospel is obviously a man made term because I do not see it in scripture so please define it. ( I do find that humerous!) I hope know one ever uses the term social gospel from the pulpit! It is not in the bible!! If you mentioned in the church than you would be know different than Bell. If he can not use words like Faith and allow it to have a different meaning than Hebrews 11 than you can not use words like ” Social gospel.”

  56. #56 by clearly on June 12, 2007 - 1:53 pm


    Your comments reveal that despite your time in Bible college, that you still need more study in the Word.

    The social gospel is a movement from theological liberals, much of which stemmed from the writings of men like Walter Rauschenbusch, that teaches that we must extend kingdom living to every area of social systems. The biblical problem with this is that the kingdom is reserved for those who have been regenerated (John 3); kingdom living is impossible apart from regeneration (btw, nobody has addressed this glaring problem for your view yet). You are right, the social gospel is not found in the Bible; that is why I am so against it. At least we can agree on that.

    As far as the marriage covenant goes, why did you bring it up in the first place?

    We were talking about God having faith in us. You said that a marriage covenant shows demonstrates that God has faith in us. Surely, we can be unfaithful to our spouses and break the covenant that we made to them before God, but how does this show that God has faith in us?

    We are covenant breakers. God does not have faith in us. I find it amazing that although the Scripture is full of verses which command us to have faith and which teach us that God is the object of our faith, that you are struggling so much to find one clear example where God has faith in us. If it is that vital that God has faith in us, then shouldn’t it be abundantly clear from Scripture? I would think so…

    Try to separate your emotional attachment that you have with your church from this debate. Let’s objectively examine what the Scripture says and compare it to what Rob Bell teaches.

    Rob’s message is not found in the Bible.

  57. #57 by Henry Frueh on June 12, 2007 - 2:22 pm

    As I observed before, earthly covenants cannot accurately and totally reveal the New Covenant with God. His covenant is fully accomplished by Himself with nothing on our part. Our part is FAITH which is HIS gift.

    He cannot even have faith that we will believe on our own, He must draw us and give us the faith to believe. And I am a free willer. God doesn’t have faith in anything or anyone. Just as He needs no one, He is totally fullfilled in and of Himself.

    Why then did He make man? To show forth His goodness and love. Faith is inconsistent with the nature of God, he knows everything in one intuative glance, which is again from our perspective. There is not only nothing good in man, the fallen nature of man is an enemy of God.

    bell’s descriptions which are meant to provide some self esteem are humanistic in content. His motives are right, his theology is wanting.

  58. #58 by Erica on June 12, 2007 - 5:54 pm

    Henry I do not neccessarily disagree with you.
    Here is my point:
    1) The way Rob used the word Faith is not the Hebrews 11 definition. People use the word Faith all the time. Their is more than one defintion
    2) None of know the mind of God. You are right there is no where in scripture that God uses the term he has faith in us. I can see were you could assume he does but I have already coered that ground.
    3) As humans we make up our own terms and equate them with scripture. My point to you Dave is, you might not like it that Rob used the word Faith in the context in which he did. What scares me is the conclusions you drew about him from that statement. Your conclusions are wrong.
    That sermon was awesome!! Clearly you can not see the parrell between the story in Mark and David and his mighty men? YOu do not believe that we are all a priesthood of believers and that all of us our servants?
    I have explained a million times already the parrell between the covenant of marriage and our faith and God’s faith in us. I must not be doing that great of job because you don’t seem to be getting it! I apologize.
    One last thought, Joe and I were talking about you last night. I told him what draws me to you is I use to be you! That is what scares me. You will be suprised when you are ten years removed from a college setting what you will learn and what you will realize you do not know. I use to think I knew it all. Now I realize I know very little. I am excited for you! I really am. I hope you do well in all your journeys of life. My best advice to you is be open minded.
    BTW if your definition on a social gospel is correct, Rob does not teach that at all!

  59. #59 by Erica on June 12, 2007 - 5:56 pm

    I know this will be scary to you, but we are not that far a part in what we believe:-)

  60. #60 by Michael Krahn on June 12, 2007 - 6:12 pm


    I just finished a series on Rob’s book “Velvet Elvis” that I think you folks would enjoy at:

  61. #61 by clearly on June 12, 2007 - 7:35 pm

    So when a guy who you perceive to be young comes online and says things that you can’t give coherant biblical answers to, your line of action is thus:

    1. Disclose his name on the blog, although through personal email with your husband, your husband said that personal information is confidential.

    2. Speak to him as though he is a young, narrow-minded, over-zealous fundamentalist who has never really thought anything out for himself, when in reality you know nothing about him.

    3. Let’s stick to the issues at hand.

  62. #62 by Henry Frueh on June 12, 2007 - 7:48 pm

    OK, I’ll see your ten years removed and raise you twenty more. That is irrelevant and Bell is a young man also.

    I have never heard in thirty two years of salvation that God has faith in man. I really believe many have grown tired of the same old gospel message. People today want something new and different, some new perspective, and if the old time believers have a problem with it, well, that’s a bonus!

  63. #63 by clearly on June 13, 2007 - 7:21 am

    I probably over-reacted. My name is Dave, okay, big deal. That doesn’t really tell anyone anything.

  64. #64 by Henry Frueh on June 13, 2007 - 7:23 am

    Oh, THAT Dave. Now it all makes sense! (sarcasm)

  65. #65 by the rain is gone on June 13, 2007 - 7:59 am

    Either way, I guarantee you it was an accident.

  66. #66 by clearly on June 13, 2007 - 10:02 am


    So you and Henry aren’t reformed in your soteriology, ok. Great. That hardly means that you aren’t far apart.

  67. #67 by Mrs. W. Pilgrim on June 28, 2007 - 12:51 pm


    Okay, kids, let’s try it this way:

    When Peter preached at Pentecost, Who was really doing the work?

    When Stephen answered the Jews, Who filled him with the words?

    It is all God! For pity’s sake, if He had “faith” in us, He wouldn’t interfere! But He Himself gives us our strength and our Gospel, our words and our works.

    To say that He has faith in us is to say that we do the work–and deserve the glory. But He doesn’t leave us alone for two seconds, does He?

    To quote C.S. Lewis, “Logic! What are they teaching in the schools these days?”

  68. #68 by dean on July 22, 2007 - 9:51 am

    First for the positive. You really aught to think about stopping right after that. 1 Corinthians 13,

  69. #69 by clearly on July 22, 2007 - 12:36 pm

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    We are talking about our doctrine of God here. If I am being unloving, then so was the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 1 where he said that if anyone preaches another gospel, he should be accursed…

    Could you provide a specific example where my speech or language was unloving?

  70. #70 by Ben Hammond on April 13, 2008 - 1:28 pm

    God having faith (as best we can understand it) does not create a weak God. That is simply a presupposition of what makes a strong or weak God. Jesus purposely limited his power to come to earth and be a man. You don’t think God limits what he can do to trust his plans to his own sometimes? He sure had faith in Abraham to obey him and go to sacrifice his son… because if God simply controls all in the way that is presented in this post… what Abraham did isn’t impressive at all. It had nothing to do with his courage and trust, etc (he may have felt like it did, but it really didn’t). If the answer to the example I give is that humanity can’t understand the ways of God, I would simply respond with the exact same statement about God putting faith in people.

    Just my 2-cents.

  71. #71 by Ben Hammond on April 13, 2008 - 1:30 pm

    I think trying to separate “God having faith in us” and “God filling us and giving us strength” is a misconstrued understanding of Bell’s teaching. I believe he would say that they are inextricably linked.

  72. #72 by Justin on April 14, 2008 - 2:51 pm

    this is Kah-Razy. I see both sides of this… a pure biblical definition of faith discredits what Rob is saying. I agree. However, in using the word “faith” in the vernacular sense (I used a simple dictionary program and found that faith is a syn. of trust)to his contemporary audience produces a rich and positive placement on the value of us to God.

    This is one of the most interesting semantical arguments that I have read, and wow, are the out-of-context scriptures flying!

    But let’s go back a second and think this through. you said Dave, that you actually admired his speaking skills. I agree, much to be learned for me there too!both of us being educated know that some things don’t translate well from say greek or latin into English. Yet part of your reformed tradition is that we don’t preach (communicate a message) in that greek and latin because the people don’t understand it. Yes we may refer to the greek, but then have to translate it for the masses.

    Let’s take this a step further. I have a good friend who was a Religion and philosophy major with me. Smartest dude I’ve known. But to read his blog, I have to sit there with a dictionary in my lap. is he speaking English? yes! But he has a tendency to speak over 80% of his friends heads.

    One of the beautiful things that makes Bell’s preaching resound in the hearts of his listeners is his ability to speak simply about complex things. God, our relationship to God, revelation, and our purpose/ commission in this world are complex theological things. So he uses this word “faith” in the same way a common person would…yes I think it was a slight play on words.

    Yes, I agree we are the vessels that you quote from scripture. But when I place something in a “vessel”, I choose the “vessel” that I “trust” will best fit the needs of what I am securing in it. If I am placing say, my passport in a “vessel”, I can put it in a file in my cabinet, or I can place it in my fireproof safe. My intention for the “vessel” is to keep safe no matter what, the contents within. I think I’m going with the safe…I TRUST (have faith) that it will do a better job of protecting that document.

    Ok, change gears, God chose us to be the “vessels” of his word, good news, fill in blank here (another discussion entirely). He didn’t have to choose us (as others have mentioned) but he did. But does he need us? Prob. not. As you’ve pointed out in cut and paste scripture, god can be found everywhere, even nature cries out the revelation of God. There is room for general revelation and the idea that we are the vessels of a specific revelation. Back to purpose of the vessel. What was the purpose of the vessel He chose? Not just to hold, but to transport and transmit. God chose us to be that vessel, and trusts that we will become the vessel he called us to be. He didn’t choose a giraffe or a monkey because they weren’t the best vessels. Rocks, although they may cry out… well, every one I’ve met has not spoken to me even when I talk to it. Even my pet rock:(

    What I’m saying is that I think your anti-bell bias has become very nit-picky. you chastise Erica for calling you out on not exploring the whole of his sermon, and you castle your king, or pull rank and say that calling you out on that not sticking to topic. But it is. One can’t just close off and rant on one word of a sermon…it has to be taken in the whole context of his message.

    I don’t believe that Bell was trying to use a biblical def. of “faith”, i think he was speaking to the vernacular idea that God sees value in us (his creation), enough to be redeemed and entrusted with the most important task God has ever placed on any of his creation. God has a plan that what he placed in his vessels (us)will be delivered through us, but will be by the power of God. Rob is telling us that we are valued to God (I’m pretty sure that’s biblical), and that we have a great commission (think that’s biblical too). He is in no way devaluing God, simply acknowledging the great importance of what God has placed in our hands. Everything we do, every breath we take, is of the power of God, and is supposed to be to the Glory of God. I don’t think (speculation here) that Bell would argue with that…ok, no he’s said that so he would embrace it… forget the speculation.

    God doesn’t NEED us… but he CHOOSES to use us! He has trusted us as the appropriate vessel to spread the seed upon the earth. The trust is in us, yes…but since we are his creation, and he created us to be that vessel, really his trust is in himself…hmmm… That’s interesting logic… not man-centered at all! Just a complete logic circle that we happen to be a part of.

    (please read this slightly tounge in cheek. I am not trying to be rude. I hope you know that by now, but it never hurts to have a disclaimer).

    Errata: No one has mentioned this, but I want to say I really like Pat’s statement. she needed props!

  73. #73 by Nicole on April 14, 2008 - 3:06 pm

    What of the Holy Spirit?

    I think this is the part that always stands out most to me in Bell’s discussion on Peter – that we talk about God having a trust in us, when really, God is only using us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus talked about how much better off we are for Him leaving – because He would send the Spirit to us, to dwell in us. It is not a faith in God’s vessels that we are seeing, but God using God to inspire obedience/love/servitute to God. And, it is not for anything great in us that He died when we were enemies of His….

  74. #74 by Justin on April 14, 2008 - 8:43 pm

    That is a great statement. Kinda what I was getting at with my God trusting himself circular logic. Much more nicely stated.

    I think what it comes down to is this though. I like the Holy Spirit being brought into this. That is the essence that sums up what we are vessels of. I listened to the sermon again tonight and I think psychologically what Bell is getting at is to tell his audience that they are VALUED by God. God values us. I know from much reading and listening that Bell’s church is full of people that need to hear that They are valued by God. I think there are people in ALL of our churches that need to hear that every once in a while. Heck… I need to hear that!

    Since we are playing around with semantics, let me throw out another word. Many of us have used the Synonym “trust” here. What if a better synonym for Bell’s use of the word faith here is “ENTRUST”? Def.: “To give over (something) to another for care, protection, or performance” –American Heritage Dictionary

    We have been given the HS with a weighty RESPONSIBILITY. We need to be reminded of that. There is several ways. 1) guilt 2) Inspire… I think,from a psychological perspective, that #2 is far more motivating than #1. I have never heard Bell use a “guilt tactic”. Instead he stirs the spirit’s fir within. (actually, there is one sermon where he talks about someone feeling guilty after his sermon, and him putting his purpose straight).

    I am inspired when I am reminded that I am valued by God so much that he not only created me unique and with a plan, but then has made me a vessel of the most important thing he could give us (besides his original creating breath): the HS… As You say Nicole, in me personally it inspires “obedience/love/servitude to God”. But I’ll take it one step further… It empowers and emboldens me to go out and allow the HS to work in and through me… I’m not just a storage vessel, I am a….something that delivers seeds… yup…can’t think of what it’s called…def. not a farmer:) All the time though, I know that what is emboldening me is not Bell’s (or any person’s) words, nor my own will… but the very thing dwelling within me… the HS! That which I am delivering to the world is that which empowers me; that which dwells within me….. that’s something to try and wrap our heads around. We have been entrusted with this beautiful gift… we are to nurture (take care of it within ourselves)it (why we do bible study, devotions, worship, etc.), and use it as it was designed to be used (performance)… spread amongst the world. (def. of entrust).

    hope that made sense.

    As a side note though…. I was sitting at dinner tonight pondering something as a minister who enjoys presenting and listening to sermons. How would I feel if I delivered a sermon and out of the (we’ll say) 2000+ words I said, people got hung up on ONE of those words…. Hmmm.. I’d say that they missed THE point (as opposed to A point) of my whole sermon. That’s like a teacher giving a student a C on what should have been an A paper because she/he didn’t agree with a word choice on the second page of a 10 pager! i know, not a perfect analogy… but a pastor when preaching (even from a manuscript) does not dissect EVERY word because he is more concerned with the overall message. It is the nature of proclamation…esp. when you have to give a sermon on a regular short-term interval such as most pastors.

    Just some thoughts. ???!!!

  75. #75 by Nicole on April 15, 2008 - 4:07 am

    couple things (ah, the joys of unco-operative children 🙂 This was a sermon I did not listen to – but, Bell also made a Nooma video out of this whole concept which further elaborates the point he was making. It was number 8 I think, the one called “Dust”. So, while it is a small point in the message, I believe it is also an underlining concept for Bell.

    I believe that much in life is like a pendulum. All these individuals trying to personally over-compensate for the “evils” they see on the other extreme. Which is why a conservative evangelical can come across as hard-nosed, uncaring and arrogant, while a pentecostal seems to put too much emphasis on emotions… I think a similar pendulum is in faith, and value… I believe that so long as we are elevating our status of ourselves in God’s eyes, we are diminishing His in our own.

    I think of John in Revelation – who felt so woefully unfit in heaven that he’s bowing down to every angel that talks to him. Or Isaiah, crying out woe is me! Or Moses, who would have died if he had looked upon God, save His backside… Yes, God loves us. We are of more value than the sparrows. But, we ought to think of ourselves with more humility than we do.

    Paul started out his ministry the least of the apostles. And began to see himself as the least of all saints. Towards the end of his ministry, he believed himself to be the chief of all sinners. The closer we are in communion to our Lord, the smaller we are in our own minds.

  76. #76 by Phil Miller on April 15, 2008 - 4:41 am

    I’ve seen Dust a few times, and I never took the message to be some sort of self-empowerment thing. The whole point of it is in Rob’s prayer at the end, “may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi”. The point is that we stay so close to Jesus that we just naturally do the things He does.

    The “faith” that Jesus has in us is only because of Him working through us, and us continually looking at Him. As with many things Bell says, there is always an underlying influence. I think this is Bell’s way of explaining salvation in a very Karl Barth sort of way, in which salvation is looked at as taking part of the Trinitarian love.

    2 Peter 1:3-4 says,

    “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

    To me it’s a pretty big deal that Peter uses the phrase “participate in the divine nature”. To me that’s saying that our life is somehow entangled with Christ’s, and that God has invested a lot into us. That’s why I don’t see it as much of a stretch to say “God has faith in us”.

  77. #77 by Justin on April 15, 2008 - 8:55 am

    “The “faith” that Jesus has in us is only because of Him working through us, and us continually looking at Him.”

    “To me it’s a pretty big deal that Peter uses the phrase “participate in the divine nature”. To me that’s saying that our life is somehow entangled with Christ’s, and that God has invested a lot into us. That’s why I don’t see it as much of a stretch to say “God has faith in us”.”

    well stated Phil.

  78. #78 by clearly on April 15, 2008 - 9:04 am

    “The “faith” that Jesus has in us is only because of Him working through us, and us continually looking at Him.”

    Had only Rob said that…

  79. #79 by Justin on April 15, 2008 - 5:07 pm

    I do believe that’s what we were saying… it’s not because of US, but because of Christ. I think that Rob would agree with that…I’ve heard him say as much.

    I don’t know if you are simply agreeing with us or truly trying to say something else? Either way, I think we are all saying that exact thing.

    “Had only rob said THAT…” (Emphasis mine)

    perhaps you are looking for something far more comprehensive than can be found in one sermon. He is focused on a point, and I really don’t think (and I could be wrong…it has happened:) that what you have centered out was the exact message that he wanted people to take home with them. We (ministers/pastors/proclaimers/speakers) can’t give a complete comprehensive theology in each sermon. He already goes for 45 min.:) that in itself is amazing…but how many tomes of theology have been written? I am wondering, what were you LOOKING for when you listened to his sermon? I think the interesting thing about sermons (and scripture) is sometimes when we GO IN looking for something…we end up finding what we’re looking for, which may never have been the writer/speaker’s intent? Just a thought!

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