Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rob Bell on the Gospel

This post over at Nine Marks mirrors my concerns about Rob Bell. In an interview with Christianity Today, Bell was asked how he might present the gospel on Twitter. In other words, if you had a limited number of words, how would you present the gospel. Here is Bell's answer:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

That is the gospel? It sounds Oprahesque. Where is the cross? Where is Jesus? Where is sin? He does mention the empty tomb. I'll give him that. But seriously, Bell's answer is vague and misleading. He insists that there is reason for hope but he gives little or no ground for why our inward impulses toward hope are reliable. In typical emergi-speak Bell seems to want to talk around the gospel instead of stating clearly what Scripture says about the gospel.

Here is Paul's summary of the gospel:

For I delivered to you as of first importance that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve.
(1 Cor. 15:3-5)

I would point out that even Paul the Apostle did not presume to craft some fresh summary of the gospel which sounded cool to the culture. He passed on what he received. It was a matter of being faithful to the gospel which was revealed by God, a gospel built on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to deal with the problem of human sin.

The interview in CT suggests that Bell is "reframing" the gospel he inherited for his generation. After comparing Paul's summary to Bell's summary, could you honestly say that Bell has reframed the gospel? I think it is more than reframing. It sounds more like redefining. There is no gospel in Bell's retelling.

Read the CT interview and decide for yourself.

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