Rob Bell…on the virgin birth?


Why would any “preacher” of God’s Word say such a stupid thing? I realize I called it stupid; that may frusterate some of you. But it is stupid. I couldn’t think of a better word, sorry.

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?…If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?”

Rob, it was a strong faith in the first place because it was based on the very great and precious words of the Scripture, or at least it was strong until they read this new teacher that started casting doubt upon the reliability of the Scriptures. Questioning the meaning of a word in a prophecy is one thing, but if there were any doubt about Mary’s virginity in the sense that she was sexually inexperienced, then Matthew clears things up for us.

Matthew 1:18 teaches that Mary was found with child from the Holy Ghost before she ever had sexual relations with Joseph. There is no way around this fact, unless of course you don’t believe in inspiration, but that’s another post.

If Jesus were not born of a virgin, then the Scriptures cannot be reliable. If the Scriptures are not reliable, then we are of all men most miserable — our faith is in vain and we are dead in our sins.

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  1. #1 by bwb on June 25, 2007 - 1:18 pm

    What if we found evidence that God doesn’t exist, could we all still love each other? Could we all still be friends? Could we all still send money to Ethiopia? Why is it that some little doctrine about the existence of God should matter so much?

  2. #2 by Joe Martino on June 25, 2007 - 2:59 pm

    Hey, did you actually read this chapter? I’m just curious.

  3. #3 by phil on June 25, 2007 - 4:36 pm

    Oy, vey! Doesn’t anyone get tired discussing this paragraph.

    This whole passage actually has very little to do with the Virgin Birth. To make it all about that is to miss the point. What Bell is describing is a belief system that is not based on Foundationalism, a byproduct of Modernism that when applied to theology basically says that human reason can be used to prove empirically the “foundations” of faith.

    If you are genuinely interested and want a better explanation, Stan Grenz’s “Beyond Foundationalism” is good and Robert Webber talks about it some in his book, “The Younger Evangelicals”. In a very real sense, theologians in the modern era placed reason above Scripture, and treated the Bible as a series of propositional truths. We would do well to read the word in the true contextual, narrative setting.

  4. #4 by Henry Frueh on June 25, 2007 - 6:34 pm

    Bell is so cleaver and by suggesting that people’s faith in Jesus should not hinge upon little things like the virgin birth Bell is a blasphemer. There are certain truths that are inherant in Christ and people should never be challenged to suppose they were not true.

    Suppose the Da Vinci code was true, will you still go to church and worship? Not me, I’m headed for the bar (there’s your answer Mr. Bell). Sorry, Jesus, the virgin born one, changed my life 32 years ago and I will not listen to some young man who enjoys being provocative with some of the most sacred revealed truths of the gospel.

  5. #5 by Joe Martino on June 25, 2007 - 6:37 pm

    Thank you for those thoughts, Rick. I’m just here to find out if he actually read the chapter or if he just saw that quote online.

  6. #6 by clearly on June 25, 2007 - 9:39 pm

    “We woulld do well to read the word in the true contextual, narrative setting.”

    If you read the gospel of Matthew in its true narrative setting as you state it, then you would realize that Mary was found with child before she had sexual relations with Joseph. End of story — there’s no way to read the gospels and come up with something other than that.

  7. #7 by Phil on June 26, 2007 - 4:13 am

    Clearly,
    Bell doesn’t deny the fact that Mary was a virgin. He affirms it later in the chapter, and also in the sermon that you cited earlier on this blog. Like I said before, that’s not the point of this passage.

    What Bell is doing is making a hypothetical ad absurdum argument. Obviously, there is no way someone could dig up “definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry”. It would be a scientific impossibility. Now perhaps it may have been better for him to make this type of argument using something other than the virgin birth, but that’s what he chose. What he’s talking about is that when faith takes a defensive stance, it only as strong as the weakest argument defending it.

    Maybe he should have went more off the 6-day creation thing. I have heard Christians say that if there wasn’t a literal 6-day creation, then the Bible would be proven false. I’ve seen people like Hugh Ross attacked because he suggests the earth may be billions of years old, or the flood may have been regional rather than worldwide. The point is that the Bible was not meant to be a book of propositional truths about God. It was meant to show God’s working with people and vice versa.

  8. #8 by Joe Martino on June 26, 2007 - 5:05 am

    Dave,
    I’ll take that as a “no.” Thank you.

  9. #9 by clearly on June 26, 2007 - 6:07 am

    Hey Phil,

    I understand that is completely a hypothetical question and I understand that Rob does believe the virign birth. To Rob, if the virign birth were not true, it wouldn’t be any big deal, to him Jesus would still be the best way to live. Rob and his son could still jump on their trampoline together, even without that spring.

    If Christianity still works for Rob, apart from the virign birth, then I really wonder what kind of Christianity, exactly, that Rob has. In actuality, if the virgin birth were not true, Jesus could not be God. If he had actual human parents, He could not be God. If He isn’t God, then the whole faith does crumble. This isn’t just a small point of Theological bickering.

    Rob could have used the six literal days point, I would have disagreed with him there as well. However, he didn’t. He used the virgin birth…

  10. #10 by Phil on June 26, 2007 - 6:26 am

    Clearly,
    But wouldn’t it become a moot point then? If you’re saying you couldn’t possibly be a Christian if the virgin birth were proven false, but Bell says he could, I don’t really see what that says. You wouldn’t have anything, but Bell says he could. I just don’t understand the reasoning here.

    Obviously Bell believes in the Virgin Birth, and he doesn’t really think it can be proven false, so I don’t understand what the whole point of contention is.

  11. #11 by Henry Frueh on June 26, 2007 - 6:27 am

    That is a good point. If Bell wanted to point out the fallacies of strict adherence to non-cardinal doctrines he could have used the literal six daycreation (I don’t believe), or eternal security (I don’t believe), or even the Trinity (I do believe), but he chose the virgin birth which is a clear teaching in Luke, forget about the different definitions of virgin in Isaiah. What part of “I never have known a man” does Bell not get. I know he believes in the virgin birth, but to use that as a question he is implying that if you don’t it is OK. How come most of the emergent types never preach on “The Truths that can never be compromised at all”?

  12. #12 by Joe Martino on June 26, 2007 - 6:32 am

    Rick,
    Have you read the book? Or even the chapter? I think Phil’s doing a dandy job discussing this with you all, I’m just curious, if either of you have actually read any part of the book. You wouldn’t even have to buy it, just go to Borders or Barnes and Noble. You could sip some over-priced coffee and read away. For free!!!!

  13. #13 by Henry Frueh on June 26, 2007 - 6:44 am

    I have read part of it and I will concede his good intentions. But he uses such provocative illustrations that they are sure to be misunderstood by some. That is my contention, that Bells mind expanding techniques sometimes walk dangerously close to error and I am sure cloud the issue with some who he wanted to clear up the issue.

    By implication on this particular teaching, he is being understood as saying that the facts concerning the Person of Christ may change as we proceed and how will that affect our faith.

  14. #14 by Phil on June 26, 2007 - 6:56 am

    This may be sort of a weird question and somewhat of a tangent, but how does one really “prove” that he or she believes in the Virgin Birth? I mean we can say it, but how does that belief translate into how we live our lives? I know that the Virgin Birth is essential in establishing the divinity of Christ, but it seems like a rather abstract to our everyday lives. Contrast that to the death and resurrection of Christ. This impacts how I live my life everyday. If I don’t believe Christ rose, then I am without hope. If I don’t believe He rose, then I can’t have a relationship with Him.

    I guess what I’m getting to is this. It seems like trying to distill Christianity into a series of right beliefs that we check off misses the point to some extent. If people have an encounter with the living Christ, the beliefs will follow.

  15. #15 by Joe Martino on June 26, 2007 - 7:18 am

    Thank you for answering Rick.

  16. #16 by Bert on June 27, 2007 - 2:06 am

    How can Rob say that the “virgin birth of Christ” is not relevant to his being a Christian. The virgin birth of Christ is one of the key foundations that all Christianity is built upon. It is the “brick in the wall” that can’t be moved. If Jesus is not the virgin born Son of God, then He won’t be perfect and sinless, and therefore could not redeem us from sin and Hell, and His death on the cross would be in vain. Christianity isn’t just a nice way to live phylosophy, it is the difference between life and death. Anyone who truly believes in the virgin birth of Christ and His atonement should never suggest in gest, conjecture, or any other way such a ridiculous statement.

  17. #17 by clearly on June 28, 2007 - 7:45 am

    Phil,

    “If people have an encounter with the living Christ, the beliefs will follow.”

    So, if people have the wrong beliefs, then they haven’t had an encounter with the risen Christ?

    You sound like me.

    Also, the virgin birth is foundational to the death and resurrection. Without the virgin birth, Jesus could not be both man and perfect — the qualifications for bearing the sins of mankind. Without the virgin birth, my whole house of cards crumbles.

    Rob was really asking, “So, if Jesus were not God, would your faith crumble or could you keep jumping?”

    This shows a major gap in Rob’s ability to discern doctrinally…

  18. #18 by Phil on June 29, 2007 - 5:17 am

    Clearly,
    I still think we’re arguing different thing here. You are insisting that Bell is somehow saying the Virgin Birth isn’t important, and I don’t think that’s what he saying at all. Also, I find it interesting that you use the term “house of cards” to describe your faith, but that’s another argument.

    Generally, I am in agreement with your statement, “So, if people have the wrong beliefs, then they haven’t had an encounter with the risen Christ?” The only caveat I would add is that it is not up to us to be the final arbiter of what every right and wrong belief is. I would also say the “encounter” needs to be a continual encounter with Jesus. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve had some sort of experience, but then end up somewhere out in left field because they neglected the ongoing relationship with Christ that comes through prayer, reading the Word, etc.

    Now you may say that Rob Bell is out in left field somewhere, but that is where I would disagree with you.

  19. #19 by clearly on June 29, 2007 - 8:52 am

    Phil,

    I don’t think Bell is in left field; in my opinion, he has left the stadium.

    I think you would agree though that an ongoing relationship with Christ must be built on proper knowledge of Him.

  20. #20 by Henry Frueh on June 29, 2007 - 11:15 am

    In today’s theological climate we should be very careful about being even the slightest bit provocative about the Person of Christ. Like someone else said, use the six day creation theory, or the flood, or anything, but do not even let it enter anyone’s mind about Christ.

    I think I know what Bell was attempting to say, but he was careless in his object lessen.

  21. #21 by oneweekend on July 1, 2007 - 2:00 am

    Hey Dave,

    This is Dale Mundt. I really wanted to chime in on this discussion, but I’m not trying to just continue an argument. I feel like I need to comment, because when I talk to other Christians about my spiritual life, this is one of the things I often bring up.

    I can’t say that I agree with Rob Bell all the time, but then again, I can’t think of anybody that I agree with all of the time. Having said that, however, Rob Bell has had a huge impact on my life.

    I grew up at Falls Baptist and went to MBBC for a couple years, but in all that time, I knew about God, but I never experienced a real, vibrant walk with God. Now, part of the blame probably lies with people from the church and school I grew up in, and part probably lies with random people at MBBC, but I’m sure that the vast majority of the blame for my stagnant spirituality lies with myself.

    I started listening to Rob Bell and reading his book, and books by a few other “emerging/emergent” authors about a year and a half ago, and for one of the first times in my life, God became real to me. God is no longer some distant concept, or some word on a page. God is now a real, active part of my life.

    And that is what this portion of his book means to me. To me, his springs/bricks discussion boils down to the reality of God in my life. The methods that he describes as “Bricks”–the methods that I have been a part of my entire life– talk about a bunch of things that are true. And because they are true, they eventually turn into a real set of actions. The problem is for me, I couldn’t get to the real part. I kept getting stuck. The way he describes as “Springs”–the way you believe if Larry “doesn’t matter”– is that God is a real part of your day. You experience His working, His truth, and His beauty all of the time. And because of that, you then believe that all of these other things are true. He’s not saying that the virgin birth doesn’t matter, he’s saying that he believes in the virgin birth because he has experienced that God is real and God is trustworthy and God does not lie.

    I’m not necessarily asking you to believe like this. This is completely opposite the way that you have learned to think and deal with scripture. And I know that you are going to have problems with basing your beliefs on experience. I’m just asking you to realize that God has used Rob Bell and the book Velvet Elvis in a special way in my life. If it wasn’t for these types of books, and churches like Mars Hill, I don’t know where I would be right now. I have no doubt that my life would be in shambles and that I would be running away from God. Matty has known me forever–ask him where my life was headed and where it is now. God has changed my life over the past two years. And he has used, among a lot of other things, Rob Bell.

    Have fun in Cali. Peace.

    Dale

  22. #22 by clearly on July 2, 2007 - 11:29 am

    Dale,

    Thanks for commenting. I am glad that God has been working in your life. You know, my Dad was saved under the preaching of Billy Graham. If it weren’t for the ministry of Graham, then I may not be a believer in Christ today. However, Billy’s ministry was marked by compromise — compromise which needed to be discussed, addressed, etc.

    I believe that Rob’s teaching and preaching are more than simply areas of compromise to address, that’s why I write the things that I do. I don’t doubt for a moment that people have been affected for good in many ways. However, I am certain that Rob has messed a lot of people up theologically as well.

    You are right, I do have a problem with basing our spiritual truth on experience alone — I rejoice that I have experienced God. However, I don’t believe that a genuine experience of God can occur apart from propositional, spiritual truth. We cannot know God relationally apart from the Scriptures — it’s impossible. Therefore, if we do not know and interpret the Scripture properly, then we can’t know God.

    Many have tried to get away from trying to interpret “words” and “meanings” in Scripture and simply focus on doing. Right actions must flow from truth — or else how do we even know that they are right actions (I understand that we have consciences, etc.).

  23. #23 by Henry Frueh on July 3, 2007 - 4:33 am

    I was saved watching Billy Graham on TV in 1975. But I have had to speak out against his metamorphosis into universalism. If Bell wanted to make a point about commitment, he could have used many other non-essential doctrines. But to use the virgin birth is extremely unwise and many will take it to a place of heresy.

  24. #24 by Justin on August 5, 2007 - 9:27 pm

    Matthew 1:18 does not argue anything about Mary being a modern day “virgin”. It very simply says that the birth is from the holy spirit but does not say that she never had sex.

    if mary was found to be not a virgin through any type of testing, i would still beleive in Jesus and be a Christian. my foundation in GOD and JESUS does not depend on mary not having sex, that is silly.

    why do we argue so much about this anyway? we begin to hate other Christians (like rob bell) for actually thinking. would christ actually do that? no. who cares about mary not having sex?? that is not more important that God, is it? maybe Christians should learn how to set priorities straight….?

  25. #25 by clearly on August 6, 2007 - 5:00 am

    Justin, you wrote, “Matthew 1:18 does not argue anything about Mary being a modern day “virgin”. It very simply says that the birth is from the holy spirit but does not say that she never had sex.”

    It very cleary says that she was pregnant before they ever came together. What do you think this means? Are you married?

    This is a matter of the Bible being reliable. If the Bible has obvious error, then how do we know that our knowledge of Jesus and/or God is not flawed as well? If Jesus weren’t born of a virgin, how do we know that he died on a cross? If Jesus weren’t born of a virgin, how do we know that he rose again the third day?

    Simple answer: we don’t.

  26. #26 by ejb on September 11, 2007 - 7:37 pm

    Clearly,

    Thanks for your post and I appreciate the discussion and the manner in which you’ve approached it with all of the visitors to the site. I haven’t read much by Bell or McLaren, but I just finished a book I think you might like called The Truth War by MacArthur(not totally sure on the author). Anyways I was wanting to see for myself if some of the things which he talks about Bell and McLaren saying were being discussed on the web and here they are. After reading the Truth War God has made it plainly evident how fundamental and important the truths in his word are to the whole of our Christian faith and to the message. If there be error at all the whole Bible looses it validity and claim to truth. The Truth War talks about that when Christianity was still in its infancy that a few derivations arose that while they may have seemed small to those preaching them if left unchallenged would have substantially weakened the message of the gospel. Praise God for Men of righteousness and truth that stood up against these aberrant doctrines and identified them for exactly what they are; apostacy. Jude speaks very clearly about this and how it is too be handled. My own efforts to study the word have been lit aflame by this book in order that I can discern whether that which is presented before me in whatever Christian venue is really from God or man.

  27. #27 by clearly on September 11, 2007 - 8:23 pm

    EJB,

    Thanks for the encouraging post. Honestly, I have never completely read through Truth War — I am familiar with it, however. I had it in my possession for about 2 weeks, but was never able to get more than a few chapters in — crazy schedule. I should make an opportunity to pick it up again — maybe sometime this semester when I’m done with the required list…

    Thanks again and God bless you as you seek truth.

  28. #28 by Verity on September 13, 2007 - 4:40 am

    What an encouragement! Thanks for sharing your take on things Clearly. I am wrestling with Bell issues in my own church – as the Nooma videos are considered safe and acceptable teaching tools.

    I have read both The Truth War (worth reading) and Velvet Elvis… and I think that one of the areas where Bell is misunderstood for perhaps being a poor writer (my pastor’s position); he is infact, brilliantly evasive, and as Henry said, provocatively presenting Christ. I think what most people are missing is found in the back of Velvet Elvis – browse the footnotes and wikipedia the authors he sources. That he thinks Ken Wilber’s “A brief history of Everything” is worth 3 months of your life is a great example of how Bell is sneakily applying a Buddhist’s worldview (I bought Wilber at Barne’s and Noble in the NEW AGE section) to his take on Christianity. Many of his concepts come from Buddhists, Panantheists, Atheists, Universalists and Gnostics. Look to the source of his “theology” if you want to actually understand what Bell means….
    Bell is dangerous, precisely because so many think he isn’t….

  29. #29 by Joe Martino on September 13, 2007 - 2:00 pm

    I’m gonna regret getting involved in this I know but…

    Verity, if your assertion is true, he (Rob Bell) also says that we should immediatly buy and read everything that John Piper has ever written so maybe he’s “sneakily” applying a Calvinistic, Reformed, Bhuddist world view?
    Seriously?

  30. #30 by Verity on September 13, 2007 - 5:34 pm

    Excellent point Joe – and I am totally confused on why Piper is in there – save Bell’s use of a Piper analogy. I am not sure if it is fair to speculate… (does that sound like a cop out? : ) I find Bell suggesting that one should read every Piper book to be ironic – because neither Bell’s approach to the Bible, nor his actual doctrine remind of something Piper has taught. The fact that Piper took his latest sabatical to write a book refutting the teachings of N.T. Wright on the justification of God (whose article on the inerrancy of Scripture is the only piece of substance on Bell’s Mars Hill web site) suggests to me that the concepts Bell gleans from some of his sources are not congruent with others.
    http://www.marshill.org/pdf/HOW_CAN_THE_BIBLE_BE_AUTHORITATIVE.pdf

    I think Bell has borrowed most of his doctrine from questionable teachers. And I can’t help but wonder if throwing in a few reformed guys doesn’t just give us all the warm fuzzies….

  31. #31 by Phil on September 14, 2007 - 4:27 am

    Like Joe, I’ll probably regret jumping in here again as well. But here goes.

    I don’t think Bell would hold up any of the books or authors he cites as 100% correct. Some of them, I can assume, he would think are mostly wrong. For example, people have gotten all worked up about his citation of Marcus Borg, but Bell himself has said many, many things that disagree with Borg. I don’t think a citation or even a recommendation of a book needs to be seen as an endorsement of its entire content. It’s quite common, actually.

    I have recommended books to people even though there was some content I felt was questionable. Is that being irresponsible? I don’t think so. We can’t make people think the way we want them to, and that’s a fact.

    Polls have shown that a majority of Christians in churches really have messed up ideas about theology and Christianity in general. Is this because they haven’t been taught correct things? That may be part of the problem, but I think a bigger issue is that we have been giving people facts and theories, but we really haven’t taught them how to process stuff on their own, how to make the knowledge their own.

    I think what Bell does is he tries to point people in a direction where they can learn on their own, process stuff, wrestle with it. In the end, it comes down to whether or not we trust the Holy Spirit to guide people in their search for truth more than us having all the right anwers.

  32. #32 by clearly on September 14, 2007 - 9:26 am

    Guys, I think what she is trying to say is this:

    1) Rob’s book is problematic in several important areas of theology.
    2) Rob cites authors that have troubling views in many of the same areas.

    Conclusion: somewhere along the line, Rob was most likely influenced by them whether knowingly or unknowingly and now his writing reflects the theology of his teachers, at least to some extent.

    I agree with her.

  33. #33 by Verity on September 14, 2007 - 9:26 am

    Arrg… I typed for an hour, and it didn’t post…
    Sorry Clearly – I am not trying to highjack your blog – feel free to help me out here. : )

    I think that, while I agree with you Phil – we often use authors we do not agree entirely with, Bell is in a different sort of category – he is not using the “good” points from bad authors – but their bad points as well. I think Bell is making a deliberate effort to meld Christianity with other worldviews – his Nooma video Rhythm hints at that – as does his whole concept of his unsaved friends being close to Jesus, even if they did not actually want Him in their lives:
    Regarding marrying an unsaved couple, who “said they didn’t want any Jesus or God or the Bible or religion to be talked about. But they did want me to make it really spiritual.” (pg 76) Rob Bell goes on to say “ When they resonate with the peace and harmony of unspoiled nature, I believe God made it unspoiled by speaking it into existence. And Jesus is the life force that makes it possible. So in the deepest sense we can comprehend, my friends are resonating with Jesus, whether they acknowledge it or not….. Their laying down their lives is a picture of God doing the same for every single human being in Jesus, whether we affirm it or not….. In affirming and celebrating all that they did that day on the cliff, my friends are closer to Jesus than they could ever imagine. “(pg 92) Universalism?

    The danger of “trusting the Holy Spirit to guide people” is that most Christians are babes, when they ought to be craving solid food. And the job of the teacher or preacher is to make God’s Word more clear to them: “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine… in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that can not be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:1,7,8 This wishy-washy gospel that answers questions with more questions, presents God as some great mystery (when He clearly states His spirit reveals Himself in part to our spirits) and leaves people to come to their own conclusions (when the Bible is full of absolute truths) is dangerous, because so many are lulled into a complacency, and false sense of hippy-feelgood love.

    Matt 24:24 tells us that the day will come when “False christs and prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” We certainly can not make people think what we want them to, but God’s truth is not so vague as modern man would have us believe – there are right answers, and to leave sheep alone to be Bereans is resulting in many people being led down a wrong path…..

  34. #34 by clearly on September 14, 2007 - 9:27 am

    P.S. I find it interesting that neither one of you are getting involved in Angels, Trust and God…but hey, I understand.

  35. #35 by Jason on October 8, 2007 - 9:38 pm

    Wow. This killed me reading it. If you have not read the book, are you really capable of giving a good explanation of what the author was trying to say? That is like reading one book of the Bible, no wait, one chapter, no wait, maybe a paragraph and then telling us how it ends and what the author meant. I read Jonah chapter one and two and this guy is such a dirtbag (adam – from dirt) and he does not witness to anyone. Your arrogance is annoying. Rob Bell has helped many people, that one guy claims Bell is someone who had a big impact on his life and helped him to receive Christ as Saviour. I say Amen to that, thank you God for Rob Bell and thank you for your Holy Spirit working through Rob’s writings to get to this guy. I do have a correction here for this one guy. Emerging and Emergant church are not the same thing. Here is Pastor Driscoll from Marshill (in Seattle) talking about this, it is just a quick overview, if you have not studied it, then do not talk about it, as many people have quoted before, “it is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought of an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” This is the youtube link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=mcCUdIBaZig
    Please read the rest of the chapter, Bell comes back and says he believe in the virgin birth, he was just getting you to think. If you do not read anyone who thinks differently than you do, you will never learn. Keep reading people who you only agree with, then you will never learn anything new. The difference between you and you 5 years from now, are: the people you meet, the books you read, and the seminars you attend. Bell, Piper, Walvord, MacArthur, Ryrie, Pentecost, these guys all think differently and should all be read if you want to really know in depth stuff about theology. Please, do not take one line or one paragraph from a book you saw on a shelf that one of your friend’s best friend’s uncle read and found one statement which completely takes the author out of context. People do this w/ the Bible and people do it with MacArthur, Bell, Adams (Competent to Counsel) and people often believe this crap (I call it like I see it) because one person takes things out of context. If you want to stay on here hating on Rob Bell, more power to you, if you ever take 3 days and read it (or listen to it on CD) then you will understand that Bell is a Christian and has been sent here to help little sheltered Christians get out of their “us 4 no more” mode and help people out and get out there and do something w/ their lives and challenges you to stop being so narrow minded. I am never reading this page again so if you want to give me your 2 cents, e-mail me, if you want to criticize me, go ahead. I am out. peace.

  36. #36 by clearly on October 9, 2007 - 5:21 am

    Jason,

    If you would like to come see my worn, highlighted, and scribbled upon copy of Velvet Elvis, you can come over to my house and we can discuss its points of heresy over coffee. Let me know.

  37. #37 by Michael on October 17, 2007 - 9:48 pm

    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    Matthew 7:15-23

    Rob Bell should be judged by his fruit and the man produces good fruit. Both past and present hold dramatic examples of men who held firmly to the virgin birth and the Trinity but their fruit was bad. I believe truth is very important to Rob Bell or he wouldn’t be teaching the things he teaches today. I think Rob Bell affirms a virgin birth and the Trinity. But I sincerely doubt Rob Bell could have a man like Michael Servitus burned alive at the stake because he did not affirm the Trinity or infant baptism. I am quite certain that Rob Bell and many, many others would agree with God who declared Abraham righteous despite the fact he most certainly did not have the ’springs’ or ‘table legs’ of the virgin birth or the Trinity.

    Jesus and his disciples uprooted and shook the very faith foundations of an ENTIRE nation that at one time was declared the people of God, because their faith had become in the foundations their God had given them instead of the God who had given them the foundations. And when we begin to go down that road we become capable of the most evil of name calling, ill advised perceptions and yes, we even become capable of killing the Son of God. Matthew 25:31-46.

  38. #38 by clearly on October 18, 2007 - 12:23 pm

    Michael,

    I think I agree with you that people can be saved apart from a belief in the trinity or the virgin birth. I also agree that people with orthodox theology have done terrible things in its name (ex. Calvin was responsible for the death of many anabaptists). However, in VE, Rob is entering the realm of the hypothetical — what if the virgin birth really wasn’t true after all? In that case, 1) Jesus could not be Messiah 2) Jesus could not be God.

  39. #39 by Verity on October 18, 2007 - 1:56 pm

    What is the definition of good fruit? Is it merely numbers? Is it neighbourhood bbqs? Not being rhetorical, I am just asking what we, as members of one body, ought to look for as signs of bad fruit… 1 Peter 2:1 indicates those who teach a gospel contrary to that of those in the Bible as being false teachers….

    These times are scary: wolves in sheeps clothing, angels of light…. definitions of false teachers indicate that the dangers from within are not so easy to spot. Recognising who the sheep are, and are not, is often difficult – to an amazing degree as the following verse indicates:

    “False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” Mark 13:22.

    Clearly – can you expand, it sounds as though you believe people can know God without knowing who Christ is?

  40. #40 by clearly on October 18, 2007 - 5:22 pm

    Let me answer from my own experience. My understanding of the Godhead was rather modalistic until I went to Bible college and actually had to understand the doctrine for a class. I went to a great church that taught an orthodox view of the trinity — I just missed it somewhere along the way. Anyway, I have no doubts that I was a believer all along — it was my understanding that grew. Where I would be more bold would be in a situation where someone is confronted with the truth of Scripture and will not believe. That is another story, in my opinion. Does that make sense?

    As a side note, I think you make a great point that doctrine is fruit too!

  41. #41 by Michael on October 18, 2007 - 9:21 pm

    Verity,

    When you ask the question ‘what is good fruit’, I am reminded of the lawyer in Luke 10:23-37 who asked Jesus (wishing to justify himself) “And who is my neighbor?” The answer was quite shocking wasn’t it and most certainly not what that lawyer was really looking for. My challenge (too strong of a word but I think you can handle the context) Verity is that if you are truly asking that question, dig in deep, without preconceived notions, and find that answer. (By the way Clearly, didn’t Jesus enter into the realm of hypothetical in his teaching too ie. the story above).

    Paul clearly designates ‘fruit’ (Gal. 5:22,23). Doctrine isn’t in that list. I also believe Jesus and his disciples, in particular Paul, understood the difference between striving for sound doctrine and ‘worshiping’ sound doctrine (1 Corinthians 13: which was not meant to be the designated wedding text).

    Please don’t misconscrue my comments. Truth is important. Sound doctrine is important. There are many deceivers. But the demons also believe, and shudder.

    Look, I think it is the responsiblity of everyone who claims to be a son of God, to put on the COMPLETE suit of armor. I believe that our ‘church’ today is made up of too many people who say Lord, Lord but don’t do what he says…because they don’t know what he says. I am not comfortable with Rob Bell (and others) intermingling (intentionally or unintentionally) ‘eastern’ philosophy with the teachings of Jesus. But to develop perceptions of someone without knowing them personally, without seeing their whole ‘body’ of work, and in many cases, from a distance and without challenge, is hardly a scriptually sound way of judging someone today…let alone for eternity.

    I really enjoy your hearts. I don’t sense judgement. I sense sincere concern and a seeking after truth. After all, Jesus did say it would set you free (another fruit). Goodnight. Will talk again soon.

  42. #42 by Verity on October 19, 2007 - 4:17 am

    Michael –
    I am loving your spirit!

    I think that the fruits in the gospel, and the fruit of the spirit are not neccessarily the same thing? I have always assumed (maybe incorrectly?) that the fruit in the passage you quoted is sort of the all encompassing part of man that he reveals to others… I am cheating a little here and am using my Bible notes but some false teacher’s fruits are: controversies (1 Tim. 1:3), divisions (1 Tim. 6:3,4), destruction of faith (2 Tim. 2:18), and self-destruction by heresy (2 Pet. 2:1)… I think “only time will tell” with some of the fruits that are growing out of the emerging church. An amazing look at what is happening though, is to scroll through Clearly’s blogs, and check out the link to a quiz: http://www.alittleleaven.com/2007/08/time-for-a-pop-.html
    People’s answers on there show how much truth we are missing out, when we join the Beatles in singing “all you need is love”….

    But I think you hit the nail on the head. The balance between orthopraxy and orthodoxy must be maintained….. I just think the modern church is going about it all wrong. Clearly told me to go read Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer. I am half way through, and amazed at how life altering a book can be that really is not about man at all. Same goes for God’s Passion for His Glory…. I think that the real key, as Tozer says is to focus on God. “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate…. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.”

    Clearly, you would say then that there is a difference between someone who is still growing in their understanding of a particular doctrine, and someone who has willfully neglected/turned aside from a doctrine (Ie. denies that Christ is God?) That clarifies things – and I agree (for what that is worth : )

  43. #43 by Michael on October 20, 2007 - 10:30 pm

    The passages you listed (1 Tim. 1:3, 1 Tim. 6:3-4, 2 Tim. 2:18 and 1 Peter 2:1) do warn against false teachers, but again, what they teach is not fruit. A great contrast was the Pharasees. Jesus said ‘Do as they say, but do not do as they do.” They taught the right things. But the fruit of their lives was the real evidence of who they were (Matt. 23. Matt. 6, etc.) The fruit of the Spirit is not the all encompassing PART of man that he reveals to others. It’s THE EVIDENCE that he is filled with the Spirit. Spirit is capitalized in that passage. That would be a strong indication that the fruit is something that would ONLY be present in someone who is being led by the Spirit.

    We can all have our opinions on how the modern church is going about balancing orthopraxy and orthodoxy…but I am quite certain the Catholic Church had the same concerns with the Protestant movement during the Reformation. Unchecked, those concerns turned into the bloodiest time in the history of the church. We can also look at Tozer’s statement through our own lenses. Were Christian ethics applied during the Reformation? Or did imperfect, ignoble thoughts about God lead men to burn each other alive over doctrine?

    And again, I ask the question (which I am amazed gets ignored and passed over more that any other question I have ever asked)? If doctrine is foundational to eternal salvation…how do you explain Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses…NONE who could have possibly held to the doctrines we are pointing to today as essential to Christianity?

    …and why is there a difference between a person who is still growing in their understanding of a particular doctrine and someone who is willfully neglecting/turning aside from a doctrine. Either it is essential or it is not. There is no middle ground (and I know once again that raises the serious question…is truth important? I believe it is but for far different reasons than salvation). Are you saying it is safer to stay in a state of no or little understanding? What happens if that person who is still growing in their understanding if they are suddenly hit by a car and killed? And lets suppose they hadn’t fully embraced the diety of Christ? See the problem? Now aren’t we beginning to sound like the emerging Church?

    I think Tozer is right…when we begin to place ourselves and what we believe in a more important position than God…we missed the point. Imperfect, ignoble thoughts about God have turned us into doctrine loving, people hating creatures. And that is idolatry. We have focused on OUR salvation (loosely translated doctrine) when the point was never OUR salvation, but the glorification of God the Father (Phillipians 2). WOULD YOU WORSHIP AND GLORIFY GOD, IF YOU WEREN’T GOING TO BE SAVED? I don’t believe Abraham was found righteous because he had some ideas about God right and that those right ideas would get him to heaven. I believe he worshiped God because he was in awe, fear and love with a Holy God. And he was found righteous in God’s eyes.

  44. #44 by Verity on October 21, 2007 - 8:33 am

    None of us have it right, or perfect yet. There are clearly babes in the Word, and those who are mature, who are ready for more substantial doctrine, and most of us somewhere in the middle. My five year old can hear the words “God in three Persons”, and get a basic grasp of the idea, but he will grow in his understanding as he gets older… But I also believe that willfully neglecting the truth of who Jesus says He is, is a salvific issue.

    I believe the men and women of the OT were looking ahead to Christ. “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” Romans 3:25 I would say that, before Christ came, God did not reveal in full how that would look. God is not constrained to time as we are, and before the foundations of the earth chose some unto salvation. I would say that there are Jews on earth now, who will not spend eternity with God, because they have rejected their Messiah. I think you actually make my point Michael – there are those who now fully reject a gospel and suffer eternal consequences for it, while others (ie. those in the OT), who did not know the truth as fully, will be in glory with God… I do believe that there are babies who die as babies, and spend eternity with God – although they never accepted Jesus as the only way to God. I also believe that those who willfully reject His Godship are in danger of hell… does that clarify? I do not think it a contradiction.

    Better to have little knowledge?? That removes the element of the Holy Spirit working in man. It is God who saves, and God will not lead His elect to unbelief.

    “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” 1 Corinthians 15:19 I would say that, while one day in God’s courts is worth a thousand elsewhere, the life of a believer (ought to be) is one of denial, one of hating this world, of giving up the things of this earth, of denying self, of suffering persecution…. You’ve stumped me a little here. I will have to think on this. I am not sure even the apostle Paul, according to this passage, would say that his suffering in this life would have been worth it, if not for eternity? But maybe my understanding is weak….

    Read my latest blogs… I am so very with you on God’s glory being of utmost importance!

    I think I am going to have to spend my afternoon painting my family room, and contemplating the concept of what issues are salvific. I thought it was easier to distinguish before, but you’ve got me thinking….

  45. #45 by Verity on October 21, 2007 - 8:34 am

    sorry. that was really long….

  46. #46 by Kent on November 28, 2007 - 7:56 am

    bell is simply making the point that we should not be trying to prove our faith in Christ. the definition of faith, by the way, is just the opposite: “belief without absolute proof.”

    that is, to me, the beautiful difference between believing in God and believing in science. science, as someone said earlier, is only as believable as the weakest argument against it. we should believing in Christ, not because we have hard cold evidence, but because we have faith.

  47. #47 by clearly on November 28, 2007 - 8:07 pm

    Kent,

    Without faith it is impossible to please God — faith in error leads to separation from God in an eternity in hell. However, faith in God and his truth leads to knowing God and an eternity in heaven.

    Our faith is predicated upon God’s revelation of himself to us — it is not a leap in the dark. He has revealed himself and we can know Him.

    It just so happens that He has chosen to reveal very clearly in the Gospel of Luke that Mary was found with child before she and Jospeh ever experienced sexual intercourse. I am not trying to prove my faith — I am trying to defend it.

    Rob’s point is clear — if the virgin birth were false, it would be no big deal for his faith. Is that kind of faith based upon what God has said? Or is it based on some sort of human construction of who God is?

  48. #48 by JC on January 17, 2008 - 10:43 am

    The problem is to many people read other books to try to help them walk in the christian life.
    But the most important book that any christian should read and study and pray that the God of your life would show Himself to Them the book is the
    BIBLE.

    Let me say it one more time it is the BIBLE

    Not
    Rob Bell
    and others

  49. #49 by PW on May 24, 2008 - 6:50 pm

    I have read Rob Bell’s book The Velvet Elvis.
    I think the difficulty with the whole book is that you can never really know just what Mr.Bell thinks about anything. He honestly reminds me of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.
    His statements about the virgin birth are very confusing, but after reading the book, and re-reading the book, and reading N.T Wright’s view of the authority of Scripture (which Mr. Bell’s church web site quotes) I have come to the conclusion that just as Mr. Bell does not believe in a literal 6 day creation because science has disproved it, so, if science was somehow able to disprove the virgin birth, he believes that he would still be a Christian. He himself quotes Marcus Borg and says he believes the “more than literal truth”.
    Which leads me to believe that it is possible that perhaps Mr. Bell doesn’t have faith in God. But rather, faith in science and faith in reason.
    As do so many of his advocates.
    I realize I could be wrong, but as he is so ambiguous about things that he believes and as he comes across as not at all kind to evangelicals (he openly mocks us in his books and in his Nooma videos)I can’t help but distrust him, until (unless) he makes some sort of clearly Biblical stance.

  50. #50 by Phil Miller on May 26, 2008 - 5:06 pm

    Which leads me to believe that it is possible that perhaps Mr. Bell doesn’t have faith in God. But rather, faith in science and faith in reason.
    As do so many of his advocates.

    Wow…

    It always amazes me that two people can read the same thing and come away with two diametrically opposed conclusions. The way I read VE, Bell is saying this is what a lot of Christians are doing. He’s saying that Christians want their faith to be validated by scientific study to such a point that if something is “scientifically” disproven, their whole faith system falls apart. He’s actually saying that our faith isn’t grounded on science and reason, but rather the person of Jesus Christ.

  51. #51 by Justin on May 26, 2008 - 6:07 pm

    I agree with Phil.
    Science and reason are just more springs on our trampoline.
    See “Everything is Spiritual” Tour (now on DVD). He takes a holistic approach to understanding that A) there is a God, and B) that God is connected to us.

    He uses:
    Science-Lee Strobal is cited as well as several phyicists
    Reason/logic
    Mostly the Biblical story of Creation/Adam and Eve
    His own story
    Illustrations of other people’s stories.

    It doesn’t matter if God can’t be proven say Scientifically, that was just one Spring…removed, we’re still bouncing… Because God is holistic in his nature and in our lives/world!

    just my take
    thanks,
    justin

  52. #52 by ken on April 29, 2009 - 5:10 pm

    Hey Phil, logically explain Genesis 1.

  53. #53 by brenda on August 4, 2009 - 9:13 am

    in response to bwb who i did not see an answer to…
    our very existence is proof that God exists.

  54. #54 by Dan Morgan on October 2, 2009 - 8:42 am

    Jesus gave us warnings for a reason. How come we don’t talk about them much? Jesus warned us against false teaching and false teachers. I started to read Velvet Elvis with high expectations (my wife loves it, for one) — and then quickly started to feel my heart sink. False teaching. Like another has said, we don’t need more interpretation and opinioning – we need the honor of the Bereans in Acts 17:11, who searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. Would that we did more of that, instead of letting others do the thinking and interpreting for us.

  55. #55 by JD on October 4, 2009 - 4:44 am

    Has anybody read page 27 of Velvet Elvis? The page that says ‘I affirm the Christian faith and the virgin birth’ etc? What is the problem?
    Okay, so the emerging church has a lot of liberal qualities (I’m from England)but as Rob declares earlier in the book, he longs to change the way we think about expressions of faith. I’m involved in local politics, and I agree with his stance on Christians have become distorted and miss out on Christ’s true message. Too many theological debates, and not enough engaging with the world we live in.

  56. #56 by Dan Morgan on October 4, 2009 - 12:28 pm

    JD,

    I agree with you insofar as “we” have too many theological debates. I would say the Church has become too religious. Did Jesus come to start a religion? Hardly. He came to make a way to the Father. That is the Gospel that you can take to any nation, tongue, tribe, and language. The Good News is Jesus. RE Rob Bell, I was struck by how little his main points are referenced to what Jesus said, or to the scriptures. For example, his ideal of community. Jesus spoke of family. Family is the framework, not community. This matters: God is our Father, not our community activity director. Family is essential; community is optional. Where did this community idea come from? Pop logic and culture. Not good. Or his whole point about interpretation in Movement 2. Rob says, “the Bible HAS to be interpreted” and “it is not possible to simply do what the Bible says.” (page 46). WAIT a minute! I can imagine if I told my son to clean up his room, and he called his friend and said, “Hey, let’s meet at the skate park tomorrow and discuss what my dad told me to do – what did he really mean by “clean up my room”? What’s the “room” thing all about? And what does “clean” mean, anyway?” That’s some very dangerous thinking that sounds good, but is highly untruthful and disobedient. Jesus’ paradigm is family, and that he and his Father gave us commands to move us to maturity – to love, not to philosophize about and have interpretation parties over. Jesus clearly says “if you love me, you’ll do what I say.” And his Father says, “This is my beloved son – listen to him.”

  57. #57 by Dennison on December 22, 2009 - 5:41 am

    This flap really has me grinding my teeth and takes me back to the church where I grew up which prided itself in being fundamental (translation: we have the truth, just ask us),independent (translation:sorry we won’t see any of you in heaven),premillenial(translation:the antichrist is probably the pope)and scripture based (translation: King James only). I came to believe that my salvation was a fire escape and my only reason for being on earth was to (a) scare people into getting saved and (b)prove I could run the gauntlet God and Satan had agreed to bet on. Nobody was allowed to have a Bible study other than the pastor or, for women, the pastor’s wife. Mysteriously, even the drunks and prostitutes in the community, although shunned their entire lives by the church-goers,had a death-bed conversion witnessed only by the pastor which allowed them to have a church funeral where the pastor could scare those in the community that would otherwise never subject themselves to the arrogance of the righteous. Women wearing pants were not allowed in the church building based on a verse apparently in Sears 3:16. Making paper airplanes on Sunday was spoken of in Boeing:27-7.

    My point is we have millions of church-going folk who have never been allowed to think or experience God. Rob Bell represents the antithesis of much that was stiffling in my experience and is perpetuated by too many who are flat-earth Christians.

    Would you please let go of the arrogance and let the Spirit do His work in God’se people

  58. #58 by Lisa on February 2, 2010 - 12:04 pm

    This post and following comments were extremely helpful to me, as my brother and I just talked about this portion of the book. After thorough examination of the book and my own heart, I believe the following question is the heart of the issue Bell is describing:

    Is there any man-made “proof” that could exist that would make me lose my belief in Christ and what he did on the cross for me?

    I think Bell could have made this part of the book more plain and used a less inflammatory example, but the way everyone gets so riled up proves his point. People build their faith on a series of facts that must be true in order for them to believe. But that isn’t faith.

  59. #59 by Peter on August 8, 2010 - 5:53 pm

    Lisa,

    While the articles of faith are not subject to reason as if it were superior to revelation, it is absurd to think that we could hold to contradictory opinions at the same time, one by reason, one by faith. Rob Bell suggests it should be possible to remain a Christian even if we found definitively that Jesus was not God. Now, Christianity entails the affirmation that Jesus is God. So it follows that Rob Bell is suggesting one of two things: (1) That Christians need not believe that Jesus is God to remain Christians, which is simply false, or (2) that Christians should be able to believe on one hand (by faith) that Jesus is God, and on the other (by reason) that Jesus is not God. But that would be absurd.

    I don’t deny that Bell himself affirms that Jesus is God. But his writing betrays a sort of flippancy on the central tenet of Christian faith that is frightening. Even though I agree that the articles of faith cannot be proven by reason, it is wrong to think that faith and reason can stand in open contradiction. I think, rather than supporting that contradiction, Bell is saying that Christianity is more of an enlightened ethics. The content of the faith, in this view, is essentially prescriptive rather than descriptive. Therefore, if a descriptive assertion like ‘Jesus is God’ must go, the faith can continue relatively unscathed. There is the opposite and equally erroneous view that the content of Faith is essentially descriptive rather than prescriptive. In this way, as has been said, Christians risk becoming mere theologians rather than worshippers and lovers. The truth is that the content of faith is, in fact, the Truth, who is Christ; that is, the descriptive and prescriptive truths that flow from the deposit of faith cannot be separated because that find there source in the irreducible Word.

  60. #60 by Johnny on August 23, 2010 - 6:54 am

    First of all David, excellent job with your google rankings on this blog. You were 3rd from the top in the query that I performed.

    I did not have time to read all the comments here but I must quickly respond to your calling Rob Bell stupid.

    I will say that if I am looking through your narrow lens, by all appearances, Bell’s speculation does seem stupid. However, consider this. Astrotheology and Mythicism have made an astounding comeback in recent years. The Horus/Jesus connections along with many others are being looked at in a whole new historical light recently. Skeptics and cynics of Christianity have latched onto this extremely deceptive and dangerous theory that Jesus was just another myth, concocted in the same way that hundreds of other gods in religions before Him were also concocted. Horus and Attis are probably the most popular examples and have done the most damage in comparative religion theory to destroy the historicity of Jesus for many people. It is highly important that Christian apologist are not only aware of this zeitgeist but also made apt through research to defend these false skeptical theories of mythicism. It becomes obvious to me that defending belief in Jesus Christ through speculation theory is exactly what Rob Bell is doing. In other words, he is saying to the mythicist, “even if your theory is true that Christ was not actually born of a virgin, He is still more than worthy of being believed in”. He then follows it up with a, “here’s why” which you have not included in your post here. This is a subtle but sharp stab at the mythicist position. Unfortunately, because of ignorance, it is missed by most. But it is a powerful defense of Christianity. People have egregiously misconstrued his use of speculation theory which was meant for the purpose of defending Christianity and have turned it into something it is obviously not, a denial of the virgin birth. Rob Bell did not deny the virgin birth of Christ here. It is sad that he is accused of such.

    There are only a few pastors and theologian that I know of who are aggressively defending the ever increasing cynical onslaught of skepticism against Christianity by the mythicist of late. Rob Bell would be one of them. And he does it so subtly and cleverly. Maybe it is not he who is the stupid one after all?

  61. #61 by Lisa on August 23, 2010 - 8:32 am

    Peter – I completely agree with you that faith and reason do not have a contradictory relationship.

    What i think is so funny is that Bell is not talking about the possibility of the virgin birth being a myth. He’s saying that the world and skeptics could come up with a way to reduce it to a myth. And if they found a way to do that, how many people would let go of their faith? He’s not saying the virgin birth is unimportant. He’s not even saying that it isn’t essential to our faith (in Christ and in the bible’s infallibility). What he IS saying is that if someone told you they had proof (or interpretation)that indicates Mary wasn’t a virgin when she conceived Christ, would you believe their proof over the Word of God? Would belief in their proof cause you to chuck the whole thing and become a humanist?

  62. #62 by Lisa on August 23, 2010 - 8:49 am

    As I’ve been mulling this over, another thing occurred to me: when we present Christianity as a list of facts that make our prayer of salvation the logical response, we are totally missing the point. If logical knowledge were enough, kids who grow up in the church wouldn’t leave in droves when they become adults. There is something strange at work when the kids grow up learning everything there is to know (cerebrally) about Christ and then making a decision to leave it and pursue their own “kingdom”. What do we attribute that to?

  63. #63 by clearly on August 23, 2010 - 9:46 am

    Phil, you sort of summarized Bell in your own words with, “even if your theory is true that Christ was not actually born of a virgin, He is still more than worthy of being believed in.”

    But Phil, the problem is this: even with your charitable defense of Rob’s argumentation, the Jesus that he then defends and argues for is a Jesus short of the Biblical account, i.e. an idol.

  64. #64 by Johnny on August 23, 2010 - 5:47 pm

    This is true. I guess the difference is that he is more inclusivistic in his soteriology and would probably argue that a person could still be a Christian even when not believing in the virgin birth.

    Peace brotha.

    P.S. – I am not so sure I like the contrast of the white text on black background with this skin.

  65. #65 by clearly on August 25, 2010 - 3:01 pm

    Phil,

    I believe that a person can be a Christian, even if the virgin birth was never explained to them. However, if confronted with the biblical truth, should they reject it, would this not be evidence of non-salvation?

    The Bible forms for us who Jesus is. If the biblical picture of Jesus is not preached (i.e. full counsel of God), then is the real Jesus really preached? A Jesus who was not miraculously conceived is not the same Jesus who was miraculously conceived. Again, I think this is idolatry…

  66. #66 by Johnny on August 25, 2010 - 7:50 pm

    Right. I do agree. After conversion one should accept clear scriptural teaching on the virgin birth at face value and should not persist in denial or re-interpretation of it. It is and has always been a fundamental tenet of Christianity throughout history.

  67. #67 by yonny on October 7, 2010 - 12:35 pm

    if people believe all the “what if” then they will believe at nothing. There will be always another “what if.” You have to be an ignorant about the bible to believe all the “what if. Rob Bell takes things from the bible out of contexts and twist things around. Matthew, Marc and John were Jews. Did Jews believe in all that crap of Mithra and Dionysian? Of curse not.

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