Rob Bell

The Rob Bell show continues . . . on Oprah

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Ever wondered what happened to Rob Bell?

In 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham.

Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people isn’t even attending an organized church. Instead, he surfs the waves near Hollywood and has teamed up with the goddess of pop theology, Oprah Winfrey.

“The Rob Bell Show” will premiere Dec. 21 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a one-hour show that features Bell and is co-produced by him. He also recently toured the country with Winfrey on a “Life You Want Weekend.”

In many ways, some elements of typical evangelicalism are a good fit for Oprah’s lineup of public confession and personal transformation, said Kathryn Lofton, author of “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon.” The difference, however, is that The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.

“I think an interesting way to think about Bell and Oprah here is to observe how easily she incorporates him into her pantheon of spiritual advisers. She remains, as ever, the determining corporate deity,” said Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale.

“One way of looking at this is less a merger of two equal powers than it is the acquisition by one large corporation of another small business.”

“She [Oprah] has taught me more about what Jesus has for all of us, and what kind of life Jesus wants us to live, more than almost anybody in my life,” Bell said.

Last year Rob Bell described conservative evangelicalism as a “dying subculture.” 

Quite the contrary, Bell represents a form of religion that defines itself by what it rejects. In a previous generation is was known as theological liberalism. Today it’s known as progressive Christianity or Emergent. The outcome will always be the same. It always leads to the decline and decay of Christian movements. 

TS Eliot’s critique applies equally to this new generation of progressives.

In religion, Liberalism may be characterized by a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous or obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and nowhere to go.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Is 40:8).

 

The Rob Bell show continues . . . on Oprah

NewImage

Ever wondered what happened to Rob Bell?

In 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham.

Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people isn’t even attending an organized church. Instead, he surfs the waves near Hollywood and has teamed up with the goddess of pop theology, Oprah Winfrey.

“The Rob Bell Show” will premiere Dec. 21 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a one-hour show that features Bell and is co-produced by him. He also recently toured the country with Winfrey on a “Life You Want Weekend.”

In many ways, some elements of typical evangelicalism are a good fit for Oprah’s lineup of public confession and personal transformation, said Kathryn Lofton, author of “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon.” The difference, however, is that The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.

“I think an interesting way to think about Bell and Oprah here is to observe how easily she incorporates him into her pantheon of spiritual advisers. She remains, as ever, the determining corporate deity,” said Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale.

“One way of looking at this is less a merger of two equal powers than it is the acquisition by one large corporation of another small business.”

“She [Oprah] has taught me more about what Jesus has for all of us, and what kind of life Jesus wants us to live, more than almost anybody in my life,” Bell said.

Last year Rob Bell described conservative evangelicalism as a “dying subculture.” 

Quite the contrary, Bell represents a form of religion that defines itself by what it rejects. In a previous generation is was known as theological liberalism. Today it’s known as progressive Christianity or Emergent. The outcome will always be the same. It always leads to the decline and decay of Christian movements. 

TS Eliot’s critique applies equally to this new generation of progressives.

In religion, Liberalism may be characterized by a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous or obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and nowhere to go.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Is 40:8).

 

A faith for this world

By ‘secularised’ we mean to move from otherworldliness, to present a more distant and indistinct conception of the supernatural, to relax the moral restrictions on members and to surrender claims to an exclusive and superior truth.

Finke and Stark

The post-evangelicalism of former evangelicals such as Rob Bell, Brian McLean, and Steve Chalke, reminds us that successful movements tend to drift from orthodoxy to secularism over time.

Every generation faces its own challenge to remain faithful to the gospel, while remaining connected to a lost world.

You can be faithful in your view of scripture, your doctrine of the atonement, and sexual ethics, yet unfaithful in connecting with lost people in a lost world. Being right is not enough.

Being relevant is not enough. You can be contextualised in a postmodern world, and yet adrift from the truth of the gospel.

When Jesus welcomed the woman who wept at his feet (Luke 7:36-50) he announced to the room of religious bigots that, "her sins are many." They agreed. Jesus was not soft on sin. Yet he welcomed her love and devotion because this woman who had been forgiven much, loved him much. He came looking for people like her because they were lost, and he loved them.

Post-evangelicalism would have us believe that there is no sin to forgive. Jesus just accepts her. He's on the side of the marginalised. Yet Jesus taught that we all need forgiveness — the sexually immoral person, the corrupt government official, the military officer, the lost son and the righteous son, the proud Pharisee.

To say that there is nothing to forgive, that God does not judge sin, is an unloving act. Listen to Rob Bell's interview. It's all about keeping up which changing social trends to ensure the survival of the church. Compromise is too high a price to pay for relevance.

God judges sin. If that offends you, consider the alternative; a world in which God is indifferent to evil. A world without justice.

The God who opposes evil is the God who bore the consequences of our rebellion. Let them reject this as "cosmic child abuse." Reality won't change. God judges evil. God rescues sinners through Christ's death. There is no other gospel.

The gospel of progressive Christianity cannot save. It leaves people lost in their sin, separated from his sacrificial love.

No one will cross the road, let alone the ocean, to spread this gospel. No-one will suffer and die for it. Why should they? It's a gospel for those who have lost their faith, but want to hang on to it's trappings.