Thoughts about Bell, through Tozer

If you are as dorky as me (let’s hope not) then you know Bell is the talk of the town. If you don’t know which Bell I’m referring to, then be of good cheer, you are officially cooler than I am. Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids Michigan. A lot of people come to his church, and a lot of people like him. He has written a few books already, including Velvet Elvis, Sex God, and others. He is also the dude you see in the Nooma video series. His latest book coming out is causing a real rucus.

The book is titled “Love Wins: A book about Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived” (awww how sweet). It hasn’t even come out yet and a bunch of Christians are pretty upset. To be honest, I have never read any of his stuff. I will when I have time. Some people say he is good (he is known for saying things in a fresh and creative way), others say he is a sold-out heretic. I’ve seen most of his nooma videos and liked em, so as of yet I’ve not had too much of an issue with him. Generally, I appreciate someone who can bring “newish” light on eternal truths. If that’s what he’s doing, cool! Some people believe he is doing a lot more. And it seems they may have me convinced. But that’s another story.

Bell recently put out a trailer for his new book, which you can see here. In his trailer, Bell asks provocative (important) questions about heaven, hell, and eternal destiny. He seems to be hinting that no one goes to hell. I did a bit of searching, and I found a bit more helpful information on the topic. I’ve seen in other blogs – responses to people who have actually already read the book (you would think this would be a basic requirement before you blast the guy). Minus the fact that by the end of the short clip I almost puked from the nostalgic feeling I was supposed to have, I thought it was pretty intriguing, and very attractive. This idea that somehow “Love” is what conquers all. We actually know this is the case, from Scripture, but Scripture defines love in a very different way than most of us realize. Most controversially it seems from the trailer that Bell doesn’t believe in Hell.

Apparently, those who have read the book already, say Bell does still believe in hell, he just doesn’t believe it is eternal. I’m not even going to get into why this wouldn’t even be awesome IF it were true. Thats for another post. For now, I’d like to ask a few questions about Bell, via A.W. Tozer. I think these are helpful.

In a short essay titled, “The Responsibility of Leadership” A.W. Tozer reminds us that usually, “masses are or soon will be what their leaders are.” Reminding us of Biblical history, he says, “Whatever sort of man the king turned out to be, the people were soon following his leadership. They followed David in the worship of Jehovah, Solomon in the building of the Temple, Jeroboam in the making of a calf and Hezekiah in the restoration of the temple worship.” This is true from history, and although we know it is not a complementary truth, especially to us who make up the “masses” we know we are at least in part who our leaders are.

Later on in his article, Tozer points to a number of factors which contribute to bad leadership. As you read, ask yourself, is Bell succombing to any of these?

  1. Fear – The wish to be liked and admired is strong even among clergy.
  2. Economic squeeze – Pastor’s are notoriously underpaid. So to make more money, a pastor may say what the people want. Tozer comments, “leadership withheld is in fact a kind of inverted leadership. The person who will not lead his flock up the mountainside leads it down without knowing it.”
  3. Ambition – When Christ is not all in all to the minister, he is tempted to seek place for himself/herself. Instead of leading where they ought, he leads them to where they want. He seems bold, but is cowardly since he is afraid to offend anyone
  4. Intellectual Pride – Lest he be guilty of saying something trite or common, the young intellectual in the pulpit shakes in his carefully polished Oxfords. Instead of leading them to a green pasture, he leads them to a sandy desert.
  5. Absence of true spiritual experience – No one can lead another farther than he himself has gone. For many ministers this explains their failure to lead. They simply do not know where to go.
  6. Inadequate preparation – Churches are cluttered with religious amateurs culturally unfit to minister at the altar, and the people suffer as a consequence.

Leadership is important. The responsibilities are heavy. How is Bell as a leader? Do we want a lot more Bells running around?

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One thought on “Thoughts about Bell, through Tozer

  1. I think Rob Bell is an example that shows people are still choosing leadership without God’s blessing – still living in defiance of God’s outline of righteous leadership in Deuteronomy 17. Still putting personal benefit or what they perceive as leadership that will produce personal benefit above godly guidelines for leadership. One young person summed the political counterpart by saying it is all corrupt so my vote is all about what’s in it for me. Isn’t that the same way many choose a church – by asking what’s in it for me?

    The story in I Sam 8 is in my opinion the story of provocative leadership like Bell’s and politically America’s leadership story too. People want peace and prosperity at any cost. God sent Samuel to tell the people the kind of leadership NOT to choose, warning them specifically of the cost of such a choice.

    This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons … making them run before his chariots…some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you … He will take away the best of your (income) and give it to his own officials. He will demand the finest of your (property) for his own use. He will demand …(tribute/taxes), and you will be his slaves.

    How did the people respond? “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us.” I think that is what is happening spiritually in America.

    When we start caring/wondering/worrying about what our leader believes (what does Ron Bell believe or not believe) rather than what the Word of God teaches, we are already in danger of following the leader. It’s time to re-evaluate leadership by scripture before we experience what the Israelites did. They thought they chose leadership who would benefit them, but all they did was become just like their leader. When a King followed God, the people did also, when the leader built a golden calf, the people gave up their gold, and participated in the false worship because it seemed good to them.

    I think the big test for Rob Bell or any other leader is if they expect, hope, or even allow God’s people turn to them or any worldly leader, or pastor or government for spiritual, physical, emotional, political – or any kind of new message about salvation they have duped us because, making that choice, we have already rejected God.

    My conclusion is that Rob Bell is a distraction from God’s Word. A provocative copycat luring others to wonder, “Did god really say…”

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