Rob Bell and His Living Bible

The seeds of the cacao tree in their pure form are bitter. But after processing they are magically transformed into a variety of forms of chocolate that are very delicious and desired around the world. However, if anyone eats too much on a regular basis, it can cause weight gain that could be unhealthy. Dark chocolate also has health benefits. Additionally, chocolate contains a chemical that can be deadly to some dogs and other animals. Now, we have a problem here. If chocolate is bitter, how can it be delicious? If eating it can be unhealthy, how can it have health benefits ? And how can it be consumed around the world if it kills animals? This is confusing, is it not? What is it? Which part is true? You can’t have it both ways! It’s one or the other, or none of it’s true, right? Here, have a bite, chocolate is good!

Welcome to the world of Rob Bell, emergent church pastor from Michigan. He is the author of the best selling, and controversial, book “Love Wins: A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.” Reading the book is a lot like the little chocolate description I wrote in a simple (and feeble) attempt to mimic Bell’s style. He runs down little trails here and there that eventually go nowhere, or end up back where he started. Some roads are dead ends. Many are contradictory. The worst one’s are blasphemous. There are many articles available that critique this book and his concepts of hell which has caused such a ruckus. There are also great articles on his lengthy treatment of the Greek word “aion,” which refute his Biblical scholarship and effort to accurately translate Koine Greek. I suggest anyone interested, to research the variety of responses.

Since many others, much more qualified (my Greek is old and rusty), have written extensively about the book, I would just like to make a few observations that apply to all of the emergent/contemplative prayer/spiritual formation proponents, of which Bell, at this time, is in the forefront.

Rob Bell and his cohorts are preaching nothing new. The only addition is the area of contemplative prayer which has been borrowed from New Age and Eastern mystics. The liberal denominations, for a century and more, have held that the Bible is not the infallible Word of God, Jesus is not the only way, Biblical miracles are not true (virgin birth, atonement, etc.), hell is not real, all religions are worshiping the same god, and in the end everyone goes to heaven. This is exactly what the emergent church represents. And while they are not so forthcoming in their writing and preaching (for fear of outright rejection), when they write and speak long enough it eventually begins to come through (I learned long ago in counseling that if we talk long enough it’s impossible not to reveal who we are).

The long standing representative of this “liberal theology” is the Unitarian/Universalist church. They accept anyone into their church as long as exclusivity is not believed. Whatever your preference is fine, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wiccan, Christ-Follower, or whatever, as long as you accept all other religions as equal. Notice I did not include Christian, because that is known, in their pagan thinking, to be exclusive and divisive. So it is in the emergent church. They want an end the designation “Christian,” and prefer either Christ-Follower or Follower of Jesus because that identifies Him as a role model, not the exclusive Savior of the world. If Rob Bell, et. al, were honest, they would admit that they have lost the faith, if they ever had it, and leave the “Church”. They would be welcomed with open arms in many of the main line liberal denominations especially the Unitarian church.

In the current United States’ political climate, the topic of Constitutional governance is front and center. Conservatives are calling for a return to the constitutional, original intent of the founding fathers. Progressives (Socialists), describe the Constitution as a “Living Constitution,” meaning that they must re-interpret the document according to current culture and changing times. The original is hopelessly outdated. Only through such beliefs could judicial activism find a Constitutional right to abortion, burning the flag as free speech and other liberal rulings as being intended in the Constitution, even though no where does it say so. And, indeed, if we do have a “Living Constitution,” then any portion of it can be twisted and turned to legalize anything. That is their purpose.

As with the Progressives and the Constitution, so it is with the emergent church and the Bible. With no intended reference to the paraphrase of the same title, Rob Bell and company are doing the same thing with the Bible, turning it into a similar “Living Bible” that will support their ideas of what they think it should mean. Using literary deconstruction, they re-interpret, question origins and meanings, re-translate and reframe the “stories,” (as in fiction) of the Bible to make it more palatable to the post-modern generation and those who are insulted by its claims. They do not believe that the Bible is the infallible, reliable, God-breathed Word from God, as it claims to be, and that it’s truth is for all generations past, present and future.

What every Christian must answer: is the Bible the Word of God or not? Are it’s claims real or subject to change? Can we trust the centuries of Godly men and women who have given their lives to study, translate, teach, preach and depend on God for insight, wisdom and understanding of His Word? The liberal and emergent church leaders are not doing their deceptive work by accident or ignorance. Their mission to immanentize the eschaton and merge all into a world religion is rapidly defining the emergent movement as a quasi Christian cult. The sad thing is that they are taking advantage of those who either are not knowledgeable about the Bible, or who are not born again. In either case there is not the spiritual discernment necessary to “rightly divide the Word.”

Although many voices are being raised, and through the ages have been raised, against heresy, we should not be surprised, simply because this is exactly what the Bible warns will happen.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught my demons.” (I Timothy 4:1)

Jesus is coming soon!


  1. Gina Hartmann says:

    EXCELLENT! You absolutely speak for me and all I have “preached” against for years. Great work, Alan! Love you and your heart for TRUTH!!!

  2. Marcia (Jenkins) McDannel says:

    Hi Mr. Dodd,
    I really enjoyed your blog about Rob Bell’s book. I’m definitely in agreement with you. I’m curious, however, if you agree that the use of “Christ-Follower” identifies Jesus Christ as a role model of that person and not the exclusive Savior of the world. I personally believe Jesus is the only Way (and is unchanging yesterday, today, and for all of the future!) and believe the Bible to be the infallible, reliable, God-breathed Word from God. However, so many people call themselves ‘Christian’ (including Mormons and nonbelievers) that I believe it’s become an almost generic description that people use to describe themselves. It really doesn’t tell you much about their true beliefs (if they have any at all). Though my church here in Colorado is definitely not ’emergent’, many of us describe ourselves as “Follower of Jesus” or “Christ-Follower”. I’m just curious about your opinion of this as I’ve never heard the example you used from the Universalist church.

    By the way, I graduated with Laura from Portales HS and remember you from way back. You’ve been blessed with an amazing family!

    Thanks for your time!

  3. Hi Marcia,
    Yes, I do remember you; glad to hear that you are a sister in Christ. Were it not for the fact that the emergent church, and other groups, has co-opted both terms, I think they would be fine. Your point obout the careless use of “Christian” is true. To learn in detail about all of inner workings of the emergent church I recommend the extensively documented book, “Faith Undone” by Roger Oakland. You can get it on Amazon.
    God Bless

  4. Hi Gina,
    I am always blessed by your strong witness on FaceBook. Yes, we all have to stand for the truth of God and His Word.

    God Bless

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