When Rob Bell of Mars Hill church began propaganda for his book Love Wins, a lot of professing Christians appeared to be shocked. It was as though he had been orthodox up until this book came along. For instance, John Piper tweeted the words, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” Apparently, not many people realized that he had already been an emergent heretic. For example, he has propagated the Roman Catholic practice of lectio divina. He has also stated long before Love Wins that the Bible is not something that can be conquered and known, but just a human product. He has said that we need to embrace mystery, and that for him the Bible “used to be black and white, but now it’s color.” Love Wins was also a sermon series he had done some time before the announcement of the book. These may only be a few examples, but any amount of research on Bell will quickly reveal his long running heterodoxy. Plain and simple – Bell has been a wolf for a long time. Love Wins made a splash, but really left as quickly as it came. He never said anything new. But, the media loves to cover anything that might compromise the integrity of Christianity, especially if it should come from a professed Christian leader.
Bell has hit the headlines again, though not as violently as when Love Wins was released. On September 22, he announced that he is resigning Mars Hill church, and Shane Hipps (the other “pastor” at Mars Hill) will be taking over in the Spring of 2012. Here is the announcement from Mars Hill:
To our community of attendees, listeners, and supporters:
The infamous quote “change is the only constant” certainly holds true at Mars Hill. We have experienced ongoing changes that have improved and transformed—as well as at times unintentionally created tension or heartache within our community. And now, we have another significant change to hold together.
Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.
It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob’s voice and the message of God’s tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years. And we are happy and hopeful that as Rob and Kristen venture ahead, they will find increasing opportunity to extend the heartbeat of that message to our world in new and creative ways.
Rob and Kristen started Mars Hill and helped create a church that removes the barriers to meeting Jesus. And while we recognize that no one person defines a community, we acknowledge the impact of Rob’s leadership, creativity, and biblical insights on our lives, and face a deep sadness at the loss of their presence in our community.
Rob will be addressing our community in both Gatherings on Sunday, September 25, to describe his journey and call to pursue a new venture. For the remainder of this year, he will be teaching our Acts Series several times with his last teaching being in December.
As we plan for the future, Shane Hipps will continue to teach our community and we will be inviting other familiar voices to teach on Sundays during the spring of 2012.
We continue to be amazed by the grace and trust of the community we serve. Your voice and heart will be important elements of how we move forward together as a community of believers. We invite you to continue on this journey with us and ask that you would join us in prayer while we carefully discern what lies ahead for the Mars Hill community.
Grace and Peace,
The Elder Team, Ministry Leadership Team, and staff of Mars Hill
So, Rob Bell is stepping down. Some have seen this as a positive thing. It might be. I don’t know. But he hasn’t said that he is going to stop spreading his heresies. In fact, this might be worse. Sure, he has had a loud voice from within the confines of Mars Hill, but now he is hitting the road. Now he doesn’t have to worry about the church keeping him accountable (if they even did before) or the threat of driving away people of a particular congregation. Given this new “calling” Bell can really be a celebrity. Now, I don’t want to get carried away and over psychologize Bell. Chances are he truly feels called by God to do this, and is sincere. But that doesn’t mean he still isn’t a threat. We need to keep a continuous eye on him, just as with any wolves among the sheep, ready to sound the alarm at his every move. As long as he is speaking, he is influencing people, and he is a threat. One of the worst things that can be done with someone like him is to think that he is “old news” and poses no threat. An inclusive universalistic “gospel” + A supposed calling from God + A young hipster = 100% wolf.