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?