Rob Bell and Fortune Cookies


Yesterday afternoon I sat down for some Chinese. Mhm. At the end of the meal, the nice Chinese man brought us fortune cookies. Mine was: 

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination. 

I didn’t realize that Rob Bell was now writing fortunes for cookies? Or perhaps the authors were attendees at the Seeds of Compassion event?

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  1. #1 by Phil Miller on July 7, 2008 - 9:37 am

    Why do you hate fortune cookies? 😉

    Seriously that statement is so vague that any number of Christian writers could have said it. If it were said by John MacArthur it would be applauded for its depth of insight.

  2. #2 by Sam on July 8, 2008 - 10:14 am

    Phil,
    Don’t be ridiculous. That statement is obviously post-modernly emergent. The quote had no author and Dave jokingly attributed it to Bell. The fact is, I could easily imagine Bell, or any number of emergents, saying something just like that. To say that the author would change Dave’s interpretation of the quote is a terrible red herring considering the quote had no attributed author.

    If MacArthur said something that ludicrous, I would be very worried. Good try Phil– but you will have to try harder than that.

  3. #3 by Jessica Mundt on July 11, 2008 - 1:12 pm

    Dave, for a couple years now, I have sporadically come across your many attacks on Rob Bell. I’m not going to get caught up in this constant backlash of arguing and vicious cycle of personal opinions. However, I feel that this once I am going to comment.

    Your attacks against Rob Bell break my heart. Please, I beg you to be cautious when attacking another person. It yields no good. Consider the Proverb, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

    From viewing your past posts over the years, I know that you have your mind made up and you will simply argue with anyone who has the unfortunate occasion to disagree with you. (This is why I will make this one post, and will not reply to any comment made in response to my post. I feel, however sad it may be, that it is pointless.) Your mind is closed to any counsel or advice that you do not deem worthy. Be careful, that is how the pharisees killed Christ.

    I say all of this simply to ask, why do you focus so much on Rob Bell? Why this one person? How can you be so wrapped up in the slandering of one man? That is not the christianity of the Bible. “He that uttereth slander, is a fool.”

    There is so much more that I could say on this topic, but I will stop here because I know that you have the training and capability to take any portion of the Bible and twist it into whatever you need it to defend in your life. Please, consider Christ’s example as you continue this open, public forum.

  4. #4 by J on July 12, 2008 - 4:29 am

    Just found the blog…thanks for your stand. Truth lies fallen in the streets…there are only a few good soldiers left with the fortitude to take a stand. Your words are necessary medicine. Keep it up. Even if nobody listens, in eternity all will proclaim, “There was a prophet among us.” Bookmarking you…look forward to hearing more.

  5. #5 by clearly on July 16, 2008 - 6:35 pm

    Jessica,

    Why would you ask me questions, insist that I am slandering Rob Bell, if you have no intentions of any further interaction with me? I have only shown you kindness in the past; I believe my sister and brother-in-law invited you over for Sunday dinner last year when we all enjoyed some good conversation. I am saddened by your comments.

  6. #6 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 4:05 am

    What is funny is how true the statement is, regardless of who wrote it. However, if a Christian like Rob Bell really did write it he wouldn’t use the phrase “good life” but maybe “Sanctification” or “Life with God.”

    Clearly, do you think life with God is a process, something we are always growing in or have you already arrived and are perfect?

  7. #7 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 5:36 am

    Clearly-
    Over on CRN.info you said this about someone making a comment about Sam Guzman:

    “Sam Guzman is not the one being stupid here. If you knew him personally, as I do, you would know that his words come from a heart of passion for God, simply longing to see his generation do more for the Lord…”

    I wonder if you know Rob Bell “personally?”

  8. #8 by chris on July 21, 2008 - 5:40 am

    Sam,

    I guess Jesus and the words of Paul are ludicrous. I mean with all the analogies of choosing roads to walk, running races, and being transformed more into his likeness.

    So post modern of Jesus to assume that following him will lead to the good life. You know it’s a process not a state of being right?

  9. #9 by Chris Rosebrough on July 21, 2008 - 8:15 am

    Chad,

    Watch the videos from the Seeds of Compassion event. This fortune cookie statement is the same as Bell’s goofy saccharine spirituality.

    http://www.alittleleaven.com/2008/04/rob-bells-comme.html

  10. #10 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 8:35 am

    Chris,
    Jesus also used the words abiding- a word that describes a state of being. Sanctification is a process, but there are many aspects of the Christian life that are already completed, such as our justification. I think the emergents place a very unhealthy emphasis on the journey and not on the goal.

    I do agree that Christian life is a journey, way, path, etc., but the apostle Paul was never consumed with the journey, he was consumed with the goal, the prize he was striving for.

    Focusing on the journey, as many emergents love to do, will steal the motivation for running in the first place. When you are running a race, an often painful process, the only thing that keeps you taking that next step is the idea that you will soon be done and there is a prize– and rest– waiting for you. I don’t think when the apostle Paul was beaten senseless and bloody that he was excited about the journey. The only thing that kept him going was the idea that he might “win Christ.”
    I think the only way emergents can get so excited about the journey is because they don’t understand what it means to follow Christ as the apostle Paul did.
    Sam

  11. #11 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 8:45 am

    Sam,
    I disagree with you. Who says emergents, or Rob Bell, is not focused on the prize before them/us? Just because someone is emphazing the way or the journey (something that I would argue has LONG been neglected for the sake of focusing entirely on the question: will you go to heaven or hell?) does not mean they do not focus at all on the prize.

    And by the way, the prize is God’s kingdom fully reigning, God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. It is because emergents like us understand well what the anticipated prize is we can strive today in the journy to be an intricate part of that reality unfolding.

    peace,
    Chad

  12. #12 by S.J. Walker on July 21, 2008 - 8:46 am

    Every one,

    The issue is not that un-emergents say there is NO process (Jesus’ parables, Pauline races, etc.) But that the process, or race, is not the GOAL. There is a higher goal and end. Sanctification is a process, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. The issue is that the post-modern tendency seems to call this process the goal. E.I. The fortune cookie sounding quite, well, “Bellian”.

    A read of Romans 8 explains what I am getting at.

  13. #13 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 8:48 am

    Clearly,
    Why did you approve my first comment but not my second, which read:

    Clearly-
    Over on CRN.info you said this about someone making a comment about Sam Guzman:

    “Sam Guzman is not the one being stupid here. If you knew him personally, as I do, you would know that his words come from a heart of passion for God, simply longing to see his generation do more for the Lord…”

    I wonder if you know Rob Bell “personally?”

  14. #14 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 8:48 am

    Chris,
    Jesus also did not enjoy the “journey” either. It was only for the “joy that was set before him” that he endured the cross. I can’t really see anywhere in the Bible where believers enjoyed the journey. The fact is, just about everywhere in the New Testament believers are being visciously persecuted. The wriers of the epistles always comforted them by reminding them of the prize and the goal, not by telling them to enjoy the journey.

    Again, the only reason I think emergents love the journey is because they are sitting in air conditioned coffee houses sipping lattes while talking about following Christ. Unfortunately, I see that love of ease in myself. American Christianity’s greatest blessing, prosperity and freedom, is also it’s greatest curse. The writer of Hebrews sums it up best:

    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
    Hebrews 12:1-2

  15. #15 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 8:54 am

    Sam,
    Who, exactly, claims that it is about “loving the journey” in the sense that they are “sitting in air conditioned coffee houses sipping lattes while talking about following Christ.”

    That is not a characterization of emergents but of Americans in general. It does no good to define emegents the way you want to define them just so you can tear them down. That is called a strawman argument.

  16. #16 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 8:55 am

    Chad,
    I’m sorry you think that it is your job to bring in God’s kingdom. Actually though, God’s will already is being done on earth as it is in heaven and God is currently reigning.

    Our job is to make disciples, not crate a Utopia. How many people have tried to make such a “heaven on earth” and failed time and time again. Much of emergent “theology” is simply the idea that we can reverse the curse through working together and cooperating…something people have dreamed of throughout history and yet have never accomplished because they forget one thing– the wickedness and sinfulness of the human heart. You see, it is infinitely practical to talk about salvation, as be saved from this wickedness is the only hope for man.

  17. #17 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 9:03 am

    Sam,
    I never said any of that. Like you have already done with emergents you are now trying to do with me – that is unfair.

    I never said it is our job to bring God’s kingdom but that we as Christians are called to “play an intricate part” in it. That is far different than saying it is “our job” to bring it. Paul calls us “co-workers” with God. What are we working towards? The new creation.

    I agree with you that it is not our job to create Utopia. The myth of progress is just a myth – we cannot do it alone because of sin and evil present in the world (which sorta mutes your point about God currently “reigning” – yes, Jesus is Lord of Heaven and earth but we live in the alread/not yet. God has not fully consumated the marriage between heaven and earth). Until that day comes, however, we are pray, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That prayer should not just be a vaccuous plea but a hope grounded in the power of God to work in and through us to bring light where there is darkness. That is an awesome journey! It is also scary and many times painful. It requires dying to the self and living fully to God.

    All of this is part of what emergents define as “the journey,” which you have mischaracterized in your above posts.

    peace,
    Chad

  18. #18 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 9:11 am

    You really should get a copy of N.T. Wrights new book, “Surprise by Hope.” In it you will find a very good theology about the hope we are anticipating as Christians and the mission (the journey, so to speak) that this hope ought to enage the church in.
    I am teaching it at my church presently and have been posting the study sheets for each chapter on my blog: http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com

    There you will find that Wright agrees with you about the false hope of progress or Utopia building. That is not what emergent Christians believe, Sam.

    peace,
    Chad

  19. #19 by S.J. Walker on July 21, 2008 - 9:11 am

    Chad,

    “All of this is part of what emergents define as “the journey,”… ”

    I think it might be a little ambitious to say emergents believe this in general. In truth, there is such an influence of Eastern religion in mindset, even if not entirely in practice although that is quite common as well, that one would be hard pressed to find many who did not focus more on “journey” than “destination”. And then, even if the journey is a “good” one as noted in your post, there is great danger in putting too much emphasis on that being our saving grace so to speak. (I’m not saying you said this.) Go just a little ways down that road and you have works salvation or worse.

  20. #20 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 9:43 am

    Thanks for clarifying Chad. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Christians must act on their belief, or in reality it is unbelief.

    I suppose it’s dangerous to paint with too broad a brush, though, when talking about “emergents”, either postively or negatively. Since the whole movement is difficult to define, it may be true to say of some emergents that they have a utopian view of the kingdom, while it may be false of others. Some emergents are blatantly heretical, while others are more or less orthodox. There is such a broad spectrum of belief (or non-belief) among those who claim to be emergent.

    That’s why I think it’s important to focus on teachings of specific teachers, as clearly does on this blog. That’s the only way you can address emergent issues.

  21. #21 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 9:47 am

    “Some emergents are blatantly heretical, while others are more or less orthodox. There is such a broad spectrum of belief (or non-belief) among those who claim to be emergent.”

    In all fairness, Sam, this is true even within a local church body and in churches all accross the world whether they are “emergent” or not. As a pastor I see first hand the wide range of beliefs held by even the small congregation I tend.

    I hope, in any event, that in your future writings about “emergents” you will keep in mind that not all of them are devils under a rock anymore than traditional evangelicals might be. And just as your friend Clearly asked everyone to give you some leeway over at CRN.info because if we “really knew” you we’d know your heart and passion for God (which I do not doubt) the same should be said about the people you write about or paint with broad strokes – if you “really knew” them you might not be so quick to judge.

    peace,
    Chad

  22. #22 by Rick Frueh on July 21, 2008 - 10:22 am

    Dave,

    I did not consider your fortune cookie joke as especially hurtful. I took it lightly and without real malice. Everyone defends their own camps even when the “poke” is not really offensive. We must keep some sense of humor or we’ll explode!

    As a matter of fact, the fortune cookie template is a creative idea. How about these cookies:

    “This cookie is irresistable” (Calvin)
    “I see great things for you today” (Osteen)

    See, fun!

  23. #23 by Will Farel XV on July 21, 2008 - 10:24 am

    Aaah, the passion of the young! How refreshing to have young men stand as real men against heretical mystics like Rob Bell. The wisdom of the old most often gets in the way of effectively defending the Truth. If we are not quick to judge these heretics, and do as this heretic enabler Chad suggests, the fragile Truth might be replaced by the Lie and the Truth might be lost to the elect forever. To get to know them personally like Chad suggests will just infect you with the Lie they teach, so separate, yes keep yourself apart from them.

    Chad, stop harassing these young men and leave them to become Defenders of the Truth like myself. Your peace, peace cry is starting to sound like John Lennon. Perhaps you are into the same Eastern mysticism he and Yoko Ono were into. I should scrutinise you more closely.

    Will Farel
    Burning for the Truth

  24. #24 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 10:26 am

    Chad,
    Thanks for the reminder. It is something we can all be careful of regardless what perspective we take on these issues. I do not apologize for speaking out against error, strongly even, but a spirit of compassion, humility and love must always be present as well.

    Believe me, when I speak out against something unrelated to doctrine, I almost always am speaking against an issue I have faced myself. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, beweare lest he fall.” I am actually shocked at the CRN.info post. I hardly expected them to pick on that one, as the lack of zeal in all of us should be readily aparent.
    Sam

  25. #25 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 10:28 am

    Rick,

    My cookie read: Rick Frueh is going to claim omnipotence today…and humbly so. 🙂

    To be clear, clearly, I did not take it maliciously – just slanderously. It is just silly to try to make someone you disagree with the big evil villian who believes outrageous things and equate to him all that you find wrong in the world, or in cookies.

    peace,
    Chad

  26. #26 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 10:32 am

    Sam,
    Well said.

    To be sure, the intent at CRN was misplaced I believe by a few rogue posters trying to make it say something it was not saying. The simple point, as Jerry stated numerous times, is that two leading Calvinists (Washer and Piper) apparently disagree about the state of young people and their devotion to Christ.

    grace and peace,
    Chad

  27. #27 by Ken Silva on July 21, 2008 - 11:26 am

    “The simple point, as Jerry stated numerous times, is that two leading Calvinists (Washer and Piper) apparently disagree about the state of young people and their devotion to Christ.”

    Yeah, a couple of Christians have some differing opinions. Ho-wee, what a news flash! Sheer brilliance.

  28. #28 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 11:32 am

    Always good to hear your charitable contributions to any topic, Ken.

  29. #29 by dangoldfinch on July 21, 2008 - 11:44 am

    Pastor Silva,

    Once again, your depth of insight is profoundly staggering. Thankfully, Chad got the point which is not even that it is two ‘leading Calvinists’ disagree, but that these two leading Calvinists are obviously reading the culture differently. How can either of them be trusted when they both look at the same culture and see something different?

    Charitably,
    jerry

  30. #30 by Rick Frueh on July 21, 2008 - 3:03 pm

    If only Calvin were alive he could solve this dilemma for us. 🙄

  31. #31 by Samuel Laurence Guzmán on July 21, 2008 - 5:06 pm

    To clarify, I think Piper and Washer would not disagree in reality. I think they were simply doing two different things.

    Paul Washer was assuring believers that God is still at work though things may seem dismal at times. Piper was calling young people to action; it was more of a call to arms to young men and women than anything. I don’t think Piper was saying there are no men and women who are standing for God, as I have heard him say many encouraging things about young people. He was simply saying, “let’s get radical for God and forget everything else” much as the authors of the Bible would often say “lets lay aside every weight…” He was saying it as a motivational thing, not a discouraging thing.

    I believe the whole article at CRN.info was based on a false premise, and it only spiraled downhill from there.

    Boy, I’m sure clearly didn’t expect a levitous post on a fortune cookie to go this far! 🙂

  32. #32 by Chad on July 21, 2008 - 5:18 pm

    “Piper was calling young people to action; it was more of a call to arms to young men and women than anything.”

    Sam, maybe another way of saying the same thing as Piper is to “be mindful of the journey” or “playing in intricate part” in the work God is doing among us and through us for his world and that this is a process that takes our whole lives to work through…etc. In some ways Piper sounds like the fortune cookie, don’t you think?

    peace,
    Chad

  33. #33 by Chad on July 22, 2008 - 6:01 am

    Chris R-
    I didn’t see your comment above until just now. I saw the Seeds of Compassion event. I thought Bell did a fantastic job. I disagree with your assessment of it, and him.

    And none of that speaks to the truth of the statement as it is. Life with God is a journey, not a destination. Do you think you have arrived, Chris?

  34. #34 by Rick Frueh on July 22, 2008 - 7:02 am

    Jesus is a scandalon – a stumblingblock. What Bell presented at the Seeds event was palatable to all religions represented there. To believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, and then not present in love the full gospel, is at odds with the compassion that we are to show.

    Speak the truth humbly, speak it in love, but always speak it because those souls need to hear it. Spread the divine seed on every type of soil, only God knows when it will sprout into regeneration!

  35. #35 by Chad on July 22, 2008 - 7:28 am

    “What Bell presented at the Seeds event was palatable to all religions represented there.”

    Rick, some might say that it was palatable because Jesus embodies Ultimate Truth and that will often resonate with those who are genuinely seeking peace and reconciliation for the world. Just a thought.

    peace,
    Chad

  36. #36 by Chad on July 22, 2008 - 7:30 am

    …that is to say, Jesus is a scandalon to those who would usurp power and authority for their own selfish interests (which is what we ALL are guilty at varying degrees). To those who would weild power by a sword (or money or fame or position, etc) Jesus is quite scandalous.

  1. Rob Bell Writing Fortune Cookies? - Reformata
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