Rob Bell at the Seeds of Compassion Event

Thanks to Chris at A Little Leaven for making these videos available for viewing. Ken Silva also has the transcripts available on his page via Rick Freuh. Thanks guys for both your perspectives and for doing some leg-work here.

This was so sad. In an event where all religions were viewed as being equal, a boy expresses the guilt he feels when he does something that he knows to be wrong, i.e not showing compassion. His question was rephrased as “what can I do to not be so hard on myself when I make a mistake?” In his actual wording, he used the word “redemption.” You would think this would be a set-up for the gospel, right?  

Rob had a chance to teach concerning the finality of forgiveness and purity of conscience that can only come through the blood of Jesus Christ! Hebrews 10 would have been perfect here.

However, Rob decides to take a cheap shot at those who would presume to be interested in their eternal destination!

The crowd may have applauded Rob today; however, the angels of heaven were not rejoicing.


  1. #1 by Samuel Laurence Guzman on April 16, 2008 - 8:19 pm

    He has his reward…

  2. #2 by Phil Miller on April 17, 2008 - 4:21 am

    Puh-lease! Man, Rob has certainly gotten the self-righteous mafia’s dander up with this one.

    Enough digital ink has already been spilled on this event by the Monday morning quarterbacks, and I’m already tired of the whining about it. Chris Lyons wrote an excellent article about it here.

  3. #3 by Rick Frueh on April 17, 2008 - 7:55 am

    There can be no more doubt. I used to believe that Bell was caught up in intellectual bridge building but when stripped down he believed the atonement as do we. I was wrong, the reason Bell did not share Jesus was because he does not espouse the same gospel as do we. I have written about this conference.

  4. #4 by Raquel on April 17, 2008 - 8:55 am

    …speaking of my neck of the woods… (I’m in Seattle)

    It was BIG news here – Tutu AND the Lama in the same arena… NPR referred to the Lama as “the pope of Seattle.” Sadly, I’m afraid he’s right.

    And yet it spurs me on to fight the good fight for Jesus. It shoves me into prayer for those who are being wooed deeper into the religion of self. It encourages me to reach further and try that much more to show the love of Christ to everyone I come into contact with.

  5. #5 by clearly on April 17, 2008 - 8:59 am


    That is what things like SOC should do…it should inspire us to boldly cry out to our friends and neighbors that Jesus is the only way…that reconciliation to God can only happen through Jesus Christ!

  6. #6 by Phil Miller on April 17, 2008 - 9:38 am

    Puh-lease! I see the self-righteous mafia is already out in force on this one. I’m sure you all are pretty sure you’d do a better job, but that’s pretty worthless. It’s nothing but Monday morning quarterbacking.

  7. #7 by Ken Silva on April 17, 2008 - 9:53 am

    “It’s nothing but Monday morning quarterbacking.”

    Oops, perhaps Phil forgot his mystery mantra as expressed in the song he quotes at CRN.(Mis)Info:

    I am comfortable with deconstruction
    I am comfortable with doubt
    It’s the assurance that I’m right about the mystery
    The assurance that you’re wrong that I can do without

  8. #8 by Joe Martino on April 17, 2008 - 1:35 pm

    Always nice to see you’re still reading our stuff Ken.

  9. #9 by joy on April 17, 2008 - 1:37 pm

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful…but really, Monday morning quarterbacking? If I could not defend my faith better than Bell did at the conference, I would be ashamed to call myself a Christian. Now maybe he wasn’t exactly there to “defend” his faith, but the door was wide open for the gospel. I had read earlier by one of his supporters that Rob was taking this opportunity to speak at the SOC event to impact the world and rub shoulders with the community so that he could reach them with Christ. The only reaching I saw was reaching for more supporters and publicity. If someone straight-up asks you,
    “What can I do when I feel bad about the things I do? Can I just do more compassionate acts to feel better?”
    If all you can say to that is–life is a journey, just keep trying to do good things (in a nutshell)–what a wasted opportunity! I don’t know about you, but my Bible says:
    “There is none righteous, no not one.”
    “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”
    “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”
    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
    I think I could have come up with a better answer–not by my own wisdom, but straight from the Word of God.
    So tell me, if he wasn’t going to share the Gospel (or barely mention the name of Christ)–what was he doing there again? maybe i just completely misunderstood. sure.

  10. #10 by Phil Miller on April 17, 2008 - 4:14 pm

    Well, sure Joy, if you assume that the four minutes of video that you see there is the sum total of Rob’s involvement, then I guesss he could have said more. The opportunities I need to worry about wasting are the ones I have. Bell is not accountable to me anymore than I am to him.

    Bell was invited there. I don’t know that he had to have any other motive to go other than he just wanted to be part of the experience. What he does is up to him, and like it or not, we aren’t his judges.

  11. #11 by Ken Silva on April 17, 2008 - 5:02 pm

    “Always nice to see you’re still reading our stuff Ken.”

    (Mis)Info is always good for a laugh. Defending Rob Bell’s pathetic excuse of a witness while whining, “we aren’t his judges.”

    Hilarious. “Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12)

    O, and Mark Driscoll is a apostate, what a joke. 🙂

  12. #12 by Joe Martino on April 17, 2008 - 6:26 pm

    Are you saying that you’ve never written or implied that Driscoll is apostate?

  13. #13 by joy on April 18, 2008 - 11:37 am

    “The opportunities I need to worry about wasting are the ones I have.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this point–our own personal walk with God is what we are accountable for. And you are correct, we are not the judges of Rob. However, it is obvious that with leadership comes responsibility. Meaning, whether anyone likes it or not, anyone in a leadship role has higher expectations put upon them. They are looked to as an example to follow. My point is, If Rob (as a pastor and a leader for the emergents) wants to really make a difference by his example (which is the role of every leader, chosen or unchosen), then he wasted the opportunity. Sure, maybe he inspired some people to do good things, but in the scope of eternity, what does that matter? At the end of the day, are they going to heaven or hell? What did he do, with the opportunity that he had as a leader, to change that? Nothing…that’s all I’m saying. I’m not his judge, but I certainly have the right to observe his actions and learn from his mistakes.

  14. #14 by Mark on May 3, 2008 - 4:12 am

    Rich Frueh Wrote:

    “…the reason Bell did not share Jesus was because he does not espouse the same gospel as do we…”

    That’s why you need to listen closely to Bell and understand the correct gospel instead of that self aggrandizing false religion presently polluting your mind and soul.

    You are correct that Bell’s understanding is different from yours. Your only failure is in assuming that Bell is wrong.

    Its not too late for you to wise up.

  15. #15 by Mark on May 3, 2008 - 4:19 am

    Phil Miller wrote:

    “The opportunities I need to worry about wasting are the ones I have. Bell is not accountable to me…”

    Great response, Phil! Every once in a while I see someone like you who actually gets Jesus’ message. Thanks for helping break the prolific perception all across the world that Christians are a bunch of egotistical morons who are required to scream “Jesus” with every other breath they take.

  16. #16 by Mark on May 3, 2008 - 5:04 am

    Joy wrote:
    “…If I could not defend my faith better than Bell did at the conference, I would be ashamed to call myself a Christian…”

    Joy, if you believe that God created the world and everything in it (including you) then why do you think that God or your faith needs defending? Are you sure that your faith hasn’t been turned by you into something that’s really about you? Think about that for a while. Really think about your motives. You might find some shocking discoveries about yourself if you are brave enough to do that.

    Joy went on to write:
    “…anyone in a leadership role has higher expectations put upon them. They are looked to as an example to follow. My point is, If Rob wants to really make a difference by his example then he wasted the opportunity.”

    Joy, just to let you know, I really resent it when Christians don’t see me as a person but only as an “opportunity”. I am a human being and not a notch on your evangelical belt.

    Raquel wrote:
    “…it spurs me on to fight the good fight for Jesus. It shoves me into prayer for those who are being wooed deeper into the religion of self…”

    Raquel, we see your motives as completely self absorbed. Hollering the name of Jesus every five minutes is not going to hide that fact from us. Instead of lecturing us about Jesus and your personal brand of religion why don’t you try going out into the world and showing some fruit?

    All of you Christian critics should try keeping your mouth closed and just show the fruit. If you find being quiet hard to do then it should be a warning sign that you aren’t really in it for Jesus but only for your own ego. There is a whole lot more to Christianity than Christians to scream “Jesus” with every other breath they take. You seem to have no idea how many people you turn off to Christianity by behaving in such a shallow and self absorbed way.

  17. #17 by Mark on May 3, 2008 - 5:14 am

    I found the words below at one of the links above. It says what I tried to say but in a much better way.

    This is a person who “gets” the message of Jesus:

    >According to some, this was not a fitting
    >response for a Christian because “there
    >is nothing distinctly Christian about
    >what Bell says.” The problem some will
    >have with this opinion is that it assumes
    >Christianity is tied to a certain language,
    >and more specifically, to a few choice words
    >rather than a way of life. The religion that
    >says we must proclaim the name of Jesus
    >continually, or to announce a certain
    >sequence of words like “Jesus saves” or
    >“Accept the Lord Jesus” is not based on the
    >Scriptures but on a worldview that has little
    >to do with the Jesus who walked along 1st
    >century Israel’s dusty roads, and actually
    >has more in common with witchcraft than with
    >historic Christianity.

  18. #18 by Jim W on May 5, 2008 - 5:58 pm

    Mark, you accuse Joy and Raquel of turning people off to Jesus with their message. The trouble is; you never turn people on to the real Jesus with your message. You present a “nice” Jesus, one who will feed them, heal them, give them social justice. That message leads straight to hell. You are willfully allowing people to be deluded about the true message and meaning of Jesus and you only care about the tone of voice. You hypocrite!

  19. #19 by Raquelamisto on May 6, 2008 - 7:30 am

    If you’re in Seattle for a time, you’re more than welcome to spend a day with our family to meet and see who we are and how we live. No sarcasm, here. It is an honest invitation.

    There is a place where someone can beleive what the Bible says and simultaneously act like they beleive what the Bible says. I’m doing my best and certainly fall short all of the time.

    Did I lecture? Not sure what I said that was offensive. I am interested in your opinion, though.

  20. #20 by Nicole on May 14, 2008 - 10:52 am

    Mark wrote: “You seem to have no idea how many people you turn off to Christianity by behaving in such a shallow and self absorbed way.”

    “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:14

    Pardon my late entry – I have been away for a week. I think, Mark, that you are eagerly attacking a group of people who are so very contrary to what you are labeling them to be, that you can not understand them. If we were actually out for our own ego, we would not be cautioning others against things like Bell, or books like the Shack. If I wanted to stroke my own ego, it would be in finding more people who agreed with me, than it would be to unavoidably set people against me with my strong convictions. The glory of God is of utmost importance, and saying what I say does not often make friends.

    Jesus promises that those who love Him will suffer. He promises they will be hated by the world. When I worry about offending those around me, I am not worried enough about whether my words offend God.

  21. #21 by Justin on May 15, 2008 - 3:11 pm

    I’m gonna jump in here and ride the fence. Please read ALL of what I am going to say and I hope I communicate fully what I’m thinking.

    AT THE SAME TIME, I think Mark has a better grasp on Bell and his thinking and theology than anyone else that has posted. I honestly think that the base assumptions for posts like this are completely skewed. Of course, EVERYONE believes that THEIR Jesus, or their gospel, or their “truth” is the right one…or at the very least, closer to THE TRUTH (whatever they mean by that, since everyone defines it differently) than other views. I’m not sure that it’s fair to throw out his views (and add Phil in here too since he got silvafied) simply because they have a different approach. And that’s what this all goes back to… Mark prob. FEELS like he HAS to be attacking because that’s what he expects in return, and has received before. It’s tough expressing your views when everyone is so concerned about protecting their wall (own views) and can’t truly listen and (gasp) perhaps consider views like Bell, Mark, Phil, and myself. I think that even in the best circumstances, people don’t discuss, they don’t ask questions to get further information…instead they poke and prod trying to “disprove” another’s theology!

    Mark, I completely understand where you’re coming from, but in the same way that you accuse others of turning people away from Christ, the harshness and delivery of your comments can accomplish the same task. I for one, KNOWS that Bell would not encourage that kind of defense. I’m assuming that there is a lot of hurt and anger behind your words, from experiences far beyond this post… but if I may speak in love and honesty, you’re hurting your cause!

    the thing about Bell is the beauty in what he says: “I believe _________ (insert Christian topic here) is a better way to live” I like this language and wish people would use it more often. If you believe that salvation comes through a relationship with Christ, then say, “I believe that a life in relation with Christ, saved from Sin is a better way to live!”
    Bell simplifies it to say, “I believe that following Christ is a better way to live.” Yes it can mean something different to different people, and it doesn’t spell out the sinner’s prayer, or four spiritual laws… but it is appealing and mysterious…so much that people don’t turn it off and it opens the door for more conversations about Christ, salvation, etc…

    I believe that living in unity under Christ, despite our differences is a better way to live. I believe that true conversation and respect is a better way to live. I believe that living in love is a better way to live. I believe that working TOGETHER towards Christ’s vision for this world is a better way to live! But that’s just what I believe….

  22. #22 by Nicole on May 16, 2008 - 4:04 am

    But why soften the gospel?? I don’t understand. If Jesus Himself declares He is the only way to the Father, why tell someone He is just “a better way, as far as I am concerned.” At that point, all you are doing is presenting your opinion. Jesus promised the gospel would offend, why remove that?

  23. #23 by Justin on May 16, 2008 - 8:32 am

    I think sometimes we confuse “the gospel offending” as an excuse for US to offend. I think there might be a difference. I think that the tendency is for PEOPLE to be harsh and offensive, and then hide behind the gospel excuse. Using cut-and-paste verses to call someone a heretic I would argue is the PERSON, not the GOSPEL being offensive.

    The gospel being offensive, if I remember my context and overarching themes correctly, is that the “Good News” would be offensive because some people are offended by anything good. They live a life of darkness and the light of this “good news” (which is not the same as absolute Truth, but that is a debate for another time) is literally blinding and painful to them. The gospel of John is suburb in this imagery and theme of light and darkness, just so you know I’m not pulling this out of thin air.

    I think we have to be careful that we don’t use statements like “the gospel will offend” as a means to give us permission to be hateful or unloving in our words and deeds.

    AS far as “the better way to live” statements… Salvation is a process. No matter WHAT view of salvation a person takes, it is never a single moment. The Holy Spirit has been working in that person’s life before we came along, and will continue to work after we leave. I think sometimes we shove salvation down people’s throat. But this relationship between Christ/God and humanity (esp. when we talk about the ability to have a PERSONAL relationship with the almighty) is mysterious. I think we try to push things in our own time and not allow people to flower into God’s timing.

    A person’s introduction into wanting to discover who Christ is and what it means to be a disciple or to “follow him” may come from an ominous statement just like that. It isn’t softening the gospel, I would say it is being true to the gospel and how Jesus approached it.

    Remember, Jesus simply went up to people like Peter and simply said “follow me”. There was no 4 spiritual laws or sinners prayer. No explanation at all! In fact, we see later that even after he figures out the Jesus is the messiah, he then shows he DOESN’T understand what it MEANS for Jesus to be the messiah. Hence the argument with Christ about him going to the cross and Christ calling Peter “Satan”.

    Was Jesus softening the gospel when he simplified it to this mysterious statement of “follow me”. What was so appealing that they would drop their nets and follow him? Perhaps it was because he was the embodiment of a better way to live. They couldn’t perhaps put their finger on it, but they just knew if they followed him it was a better way to live!? either way, I don’t think we can claim Jesus softened the gospel, but allowed his disciples to come into their own understanding (allowing God to work and not forcing it) in God’s timing. I fear that we as Christians have lost the art of patience and, to other Biblical imagery, seed planting. I think we’re always focusing on the harvest and not focusing enough (perhaps for some, at all) on the planting.

    So I’m not sure it is either fair or accurate to say that he is “softening the gospel”… but you can’t convert the Dali Lama in a two min speaking chance in front of an audience. What can he do? speak in such a way that it leaves the door open for discussion about each other’s beliefs. Same thing with the “better way of living statements”. It isn’t softening the gospel, actually it is all encompassing with few words, but opens the door for further discussion and exploration.

    just my thoughts. thanks

  24. #24 by Cannonj on June 25, 2008 - 1:29 pm

    This should settle the argument.
    Justin, Mark, Phil, and anyone else attacking the Gospel, These questions are for you…
    Would you consider yourself to be a good person?
    Are you good enough to get into Heaven before a rightous God?
    Let’s see if you are…
    Have you ever told a lie? If so, that would make you a liar.
    Have you stolen anything? That would make you a theif
    Have you taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is blasphemy
    Have you looked with lust? Jesus says that if you look with lust, then you are an adulterer at hear.
    Have you ever been angry with someone? Jesus would call you a murderer at heart.

    If you said yes to any of these, then you are a self admitting lying theif, blasphemous adulterous murderer at hear. If you were to die right now, would you be innocent or guilty? If you are honest, you would say guilty. So, would God who is just, send you to Heaven or Hell? The Bible says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire, no thief, blasphemer, adulterer, or murderer will inherit the kingdom of God (1 corinthians 15, Revelation 21).

    If you are guilty, then you are in big trouble, come judgement day. If God were to give you justice, you’d end up in Hell and I don’t want you to go there. God doesn’t either. That is why He came to earth in the person of Jesus of Nazereth to take the full punnishment for your sins. He was perfect and sinless, and yet took the full wrath of God upon Himself, so we can be forginen. Now I am not judging you, I am the foulest of sinners who has recieved grace because God is kind. PLEASE I begg you who read this. Repent/turn away from your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ, and God can grant you everlasting life. PLEASE think about this and read your Bible. I am not saying this to gain anything, but I want you to be at the foot of the throne with me and my fellow believers. Amen.

  25. #25 by Cannonj on June 26, 2008 - 3:11 pm

    Ok, I’m an idiot… in my last comment, I mentioned 1st Corinthians 15, but it’s 1st Corinthians 6:9

  1. Rob Bell’s Misplaced Seeds of Compassion « Benison Blog
  2. Rob Bell Shares Gospel at Seeds of Compassion Event « Because It’s Possible

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