From Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
There are pastors (including Calvary Chapel pastors) who are promoting Rob Bell’s view that Christianity must be “reinvented for the 21st century.” Rob Bell is one of the prominent leaders of the Emerging Church movement.
In Faith Undone – the emerging church – new reformation or last day deception, the following facts about Rob Bell were presented:
Bell, a graduate of Wheaton College (the same as Billy Graham), is the producer for short films called Noomas (derived from the word Pneuma, meaning breath or spirit.) In his Nooma film called Breathe, Bells states: “Each day we take around 26,000 breaths … Our breathing should come from our stomach, not our chest.”
This sounds fairly benign at first glance. But in a 2004 Christianity Today article titled “Emergent Mystique,” Bell says, “We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.” Is Bell just trying to sound postmodern and culturally-relevant when he says this, or does he really believe that Christianity is an Eastern religion? The answer to that question can be found in two people with whom Bell strongly resonates.
In Bell’s Velvet Elvis, in the “Endnotes” section, Bell recommends Ken Wilber (whom I mentioned in chapter two as one of Leonard Sweet’s “New Light” teachers). Of Wilber, Bell states:
“For a mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity, set aside three months and read Ken Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything.”
Ken Wilber was raised in a conservative Christian church, but at some point he left that faith and is now a major proponent of Buddhist mysticism. His book that Bell recommends, A Brief History of Everything, is published by Shambhala Publications, named after the term, which in Buddhism means the mystical abode of spirit beings. Wilber is one of the most respected and highly regarded theoreticians in the New Age movement today.
Any pastor (including a Calvary Chapel pastor) who follows and promotes the teachings of Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis , Nooma films, etc.), but claims not to be part of the Emerging Church after reading the following article about Rob Bell, needs to publicly declare whether he is Emerging Church or not. A pastor who follows Rob Bell has the potential to be led away from a Bible-based Christiantiy towards a New Age eastern mysticism that includes contemplative spirituality. This is a perfect example of how a shepherd who is supposed to protect his flock from wolves can become a wolf in sheep’s clothing and become a danger to his own flock and other pastors who follow him or his methods.
Excerpts from the article:
Faith in Jesus, Bell says, must be repainted for each generation if it is to avoid the fate of his velvet Elvis. “What often happens in religion is people freeze the faith at a certain point,” Bell says. “There’s no more need to paint. We’ve got the ultimate painting.”
On the contrary, he says — religion, like art, must keep exploring and reforming, or “you end up with a velvet Elvis on your hands.”
“It is not possible to simply do what the Bible says,” Bell writes. “We must first make decisions about what it means at this time, in this place, for these people.”
Many of them are looking for what Bell says his book offers — “a fresh take on Jesus.”
Bell also shakes up traditional evangelical beliefs. While calling Christ’s way “the best possible way to live,” Bell writes Jesus did not claim one religion is better than another when he said he was “the way, the truth and the life.” Rather, he writes, “his way is the way to the depth of reality.”
As a follower of Jesus, Bell says, he is free to claim the truth wherever he finds it.
“One of the lies is that truth only resides in this particular community or that particular thought system,” Bell says. “I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God.”
LTRP Note: As we have reported in the past, many Christian junior high and high schools, as well as many churches, are using Rob Bell’s materials. Please see the articles below for more information: