Even though New Age sympathizer Rob Bell has left his position at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI, Bell’s influence won’t be disappearing from the “Christian” scene anytime soon. As The Grand Rapids Press article below states, Harper Collins is releasing a study guide to Bell’s book Love Wins.
For several years, Lighthouse Trails has been reporting on the emerging spirituality of Rob Bell, who has traded in his pastorate position to become a television producer in California. Bell was named by Time magazine in 2011 as one of the top 100 most influential people, and his Nooma films and his book Velvet Elvis found their way into too-many-to-count Christian junior and senior high schools and colleges and seminaries. But parents, just because Bell has headed to Hollywood, don’t assume he won’t show up in your child’s life again. And when your son or daughter asks you, “What is wrong with Rob Bell,” and when they want to watch his latest Hollywood movie maybe some of the information below may come in hand.
To capsulate some of the items we have reported on regarding Bell’s influence in bringing emerging New Age spirituality into the church:
1. In Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell tells readers to study Buddhist advocate Ken Wilber for three months for a “mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity.” (p. 192 – quoted in Faith Undone, p. 109). The book by Wilber that Bell tells readers to study is A Brief History of Everything, published by Shambhala Publications, espousing the views that all is God. As Roger Oakland states, “[Wilber] is one of the most respected and highly regarding theoreticians in the New Age movement today” (Faith Undone, p. 110). Bob DeWaay also writes about the Bell/Wilber connection in The Philosophy of Rob Bell’s “Mindblowing” Model, Ken Wilber.
2. Faith Undone points out a section in Velvet Elvis (p. 157) where Bell gives an example of “divine creativity” where God gives creation the power to create. Roger states that Bell believes, “creation (including man) is co-creating with God, and the reason is that all creation is divine. Everything is God “(Faith Undone, p. 110). This idea of man being a co-creator is found throughout the writings of emerging church and New Age writers. With this mindset, this now puts man on an equal level to God.
3. Bell showed his propensity toward mysticism, when in 2006 he invited a Dominican sister to speak at the church. During the service, Bell and the sister led the congregation in various meditative contemplative exercises.The sister who spoke at Mars Hill during that service is from the Dominican Center at Marywood in Michigan where a wide variety of contemplative/mystical practices are used and taught. One of the practices at the Center is the occultic practice, Reiki. Once Bell stated, “We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion.” That night in 2006, Bell certainly showed that he was attempting to bring this about. (see Faith Undone for footnotes on this material, p. 111). (Click here to listen to a short clip of this church service with Bell and Sister Virginia)
4. In Velvet Elvis (p. 180, 184), Bell praises Marcus Borg twice. Borg, the author of Jesus and Buddha and The God We Never Knew, said the following in the The God We Never Knew:
I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.… I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority. (p. 25)
Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world. (p. 25)
5. After the announcement of Bell’s book, Love Wins(where Bell incidentally received much publicity for his pre-release video on the book insinuating that there is not hell), Lighthouse Trails posted a number of critiques: 1. Steve Blackwell’s article Rob Bell Puts God on Trial – “Hath God Really Said?” 2. Berit Kjos’ review Love Wins by Rob Bell – Mocking Truth: Rob Bell’s False Hope, Worldly Heaven, and Earth-Based Hell and 3. our own If Rob Bell and Neale Donald Walsch are Right, Then Hitler Will Be in Heaven! . Aninterview Rob Bell had with MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir left Bell squirming without answers, typical of emerging leaders who are always searching but never finding.
6. In Rob Bell’s “Everything is Spiritual” tour, Bell stood in front of countless young people and told them (in a quantum spirituality kind of way) that God is in all things. Bob DeWaay captured some of that tour lecture in his Quantum Lie DVD.
7. Lighthouse Trails free-lance writer Mike Stanwood wrote a compelling book review on Bell’s book Drops Like Stars where Bell gives a distorted view of the cross bringing God down to our level (or us up to His). Stanwood ends his review saying:
[I]f it’s a coffee table book with worldly wisdom and emerging spirituality you seek, this book may be just the one. You will not find much godly counsel within these spacious pages, but plenty of name dropping quotes from famous musicians, writers, artists, movies and celebrities to whom the world will gladly listen. In Bell’s attempt to engage the culture, he has drawn from the philosophy and wisdom of the world and abdicated his responsibility as an evangelical pastor to represent the Gospel.
And what a shame. Far more important than the wasting of trees and paper with nearly blank pages in a book, there is an eternal significance–a wasted opportunity to share God’s hope to a dying world. Our hope, our solidarity, and our unity is not in suffering, but in the resurrection power of our living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Hope of the world.
By Matt Vande Bunte
The Grand Rapids Press
“Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ study guide promises deeper look into Mars Hill pastor’s ideas”
GRANDVILLE — Whether it brings readers farther into the pit of hell or more fully into the grace of God, a new study guide for local pastor Rob Bell’s latest book promises a “deeper” look into the megachurch-pastor-turned-television-producer’s edgy ideas.
“The Love Wins Companion” was to be released today (TUES) by Harper Collins Publishers. With commentary from theologians and excerpts from historical works on salvation, the guide “offers support and resources for individuals, groups, and classes wishing to further explore the ideas presented in ‘Love Wins,’” according to a promotional website.
Bell over the weekend wrote to his 82,482 Twitter followers that “I’m thrilled with how it turned out,” and noted that a “Love Wins” enhanced e-book with new video content also will be released. Click here to continue reading.