i heart rob bell, and i think he’s a heretic

July 1, 2009

target

“We’re cracked pots,” as my uncle Reed likes to say, “but we carry the treasure…”  That’s my Skogerboe family paraphrase of 2 Coronthians 4:7, “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  I believe in Jesus.  That makes me a cracked pot.

And Rob Bell is a cracked pot, too.  And so is Billy Graham.  John Piper.  My Mom.  All of us have beliefs that we are wrong about that we hold on to with a white-knuckled passion.  Me, too.  The availablity of coffee Haagen Daas and mom’s hot fudge in heaven, for example.  It only stands to reason that this blessed dessert pairing will make it to the heavenly feast table, but in my quiet moments alone… I can’t be sure.

So I have some problems with Rob Bell (lead Pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI) and I think some of his theology is dangerous.  But I haven’t yet had a chance to do a Matthew 18 with Rob and call him out on those things one-on-one. So my concerns need to stay with me for now.  Suffice it to say, I believe he’s on the Jesus Team, AND he kinda freaks me out.  I see the kind of influence he has as a leader.  And I just don’t agree with him – on many fronts.

But he has also been my pastor and teacher (via podcast).  Listening to him teach about the Good Samaritan impacted me deeply.  I believe God has used Rob as a truth-communicator, and His Word pierced me.  Rob has fueled my fire for “social justice,” even though I’d rather just call it “loving hurting people.” So he may be a heretic. And he may be a genius.  And he may be wrong.  But he’s just a cracked pot.  It’s the treasure He carries that makes him my brother, too.

To all my good friends who think I’m somehow flirting with disaster – entertaining dangerous alliances with flimsy (or heretical) doctrines, I love you guys.  You stalwart defenders of truth and the inerrancy of Scripture – I need you and the church gains strength from your conviction.  But please consider Matthew 18 when and if you are compelled to level your righteous shotgun at Rob Bell.  Or Bill Hybels.  Or Andy Stanley.  Or the pastor up the street. Or at me.  Go to the source.  The interwebs blog comment sections are full of the Church’s philosophical subdivisions firing salvos at other subdivisions – with righteous indignation and a belief that God is only on one side.  People!  We’re all cracked pots.  Invest your energy in exalting Jesus – willingly crucified and risen again for you!

Right before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed passionately in the garden for His believers.  “Father, please help my kids see that the Baptists (or Lutherans… or Epitholupians… pick your flavor) are the only ones who are gonna make it to the party…”  Nope.  “…that they will all be ONE, as You and I are ONE… so the world will know You sent me.” (see John 17)

WHAT?!?  You mean, if all of us cracked pots unite around Jesus Christ, the world will believe?!  I’m in!  I heart you Rob Bell!  (…even if you ARE kinda a heretic.)

And with that, I don my bulls-eye tee-shirt and prepare for the oncoming deluge.  Fire away. (But I warn you…  I am a Lutheran drummer, so I’ve had some practice wearing this get-up.)

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“i heart rob bell, and i think he’s a heretic” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

18 responses to i heart rob bell, and i think he’s a heretic

  1. a very good word josh. thanks for sharing your heart and speaking the truth regarding a potentially volatile and sensitive issue…
    from a fellow cracked pot :)- keep seeking Jesus.

    • heretic becomes an interesting word when used toward another human being. it almost takes on a semiosis of sorts. a symbol and plumbline for those who might need one. so, the question is: why do we need the plumbline (if we need one)….and if we are all human, who gets to choose who is a heretic and why? also, how is it helpful to use that terminology toward another human?

      having said that, you have a nice website!!

      • This is for george, who posted today (11/13), even though my comments for this post are all jumbled since I transferred them here from my first blog…

        Thanks for commenting and checking out my blog. I actually agree that throwing the term “heretic” around is rarely profitable and should be VERY carefully used. My use of the word was meant to be a bit on the ironic side, since the point of my article here is that we ought to MAJOR on the MAJORS for the sake of UNITY in the body. So, my title and closing line should be read with a wink. 😉

        Having said that… Heresy is proposing some unorthodox change to an established system of belief, especially a religion, that conflicts with the previously established opinion of scholars of that belief. Rob has flirted with ideas such as the virgin birth of Jesus only being marginally relevant doctrine (ala “Velvet Elvis”) and answered interview questions in multiple publications that seem to redefine what the gospel message is. That does border on “proposing some unorthodox changes” to long-held Christian doctrine. And, like I said, I have learned things from Rob – been impacted by his teaching in profound ways. So he’s a mixed bag. Heretic? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll be careful. 🙂

        Thanks much george. God bless you.

  2. we’ve had many conversations on this stuff – I like to think I share some of the blame for your heresy 😉

    I’ve always thought the Emergent church was flawed, (as are all churches) but that it was primarily a knee-jerk reaction to the Americanized “Me first” nationalized version of Christianity which almost looks like heresy itself. (you know, that Christianity which still pervades today that justified our killing Indians cause God gave us their land cause they’re heathen) –

    Sorta like driving on one side of the ditch and swerving across the road to the other side, but I can dig it.

    pax
    RB

  3. Thanks, Josh! Well written!

    • Russ! I miss lunches with you, my crazy leftist brother! I’ll post another day about the Emergent Church, but I can’t let this one go… How exactly is my local church justifying killing Native Americans?? Oh, man, I love you – but that’s some crazy talk you’ve got going there. Let’s keep in touch!

  4. I didn’t say YOUR local church 😉 – besides, I’m not a liberal – I’m a moderate non-conformist who refuses to vote for every rotten egg that someone stamps a “Jesus” stamp on and tries to convince me doesn’t reek.

    have a great 4th –

    pax
    RB

  5. Yes, Rob Bell is a cracked pot, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wouldn’t presume to put him in the same category of ‘error’ as Billy Graham, John Piper, et al.

    You need to compare apples with apples.

    Public false teaching needs to be confronted publicly, not privately. Rob Bell did you no personal offense. Matt 18 is not applicable to false teachers and public hypocrisy. Peter was not approached privately by Paul. Paul publicly named false teachers and warned the church about them.

    http://blog.harvestbiblefellowship.org/?p=1343

    James Macdonald in the comments section: “Lance:
    The Mt. 18 passage deals with personal offenses. I think if you are ‘personally’ offended by a false teacher you should at least attempt to talk to him prior to talking about what he teaches. I think it unlikely that most false teachers with broadly known messages are actually available to discuss it with everyone who would object. By making there message public in broadcast or book, they invite accountability to the scriptures. If the issue is minor it is best left alone, if it is major warning becomes the higer priority. Warning your own flock is your first obligation, not resolving a point of disagreement with a wolf.

    james”

  6. It’s a straw man to bring up Matthew 18 regarding public statements by public people such as Rob (makes me barf) Bell. Matthew 18 is for when someone sins against you – it’s a personal sin; it does not relate to public doctrinal statements.

    This is why anyone is free to criticize “The Purpose driven Life” or “Your Best Life Now” or any book by a real pastor.

    When someone sins against YOU, Matthew 18 – and 1 Cor 5 – come into play.

  7. PIED PIPER JOHN INVITES RICK WARREN HERETIC TO DG 2010

    FIRST THE CLOSE WORK WITH EMERGENT CHURCH MARK DRISCOLL FOLLOWED BY A 8 MONTH LEAVE FROM MINISTRY DUE TO ” UNNAMED PRIDE ..? ” NOW HIS DESIRING GOD CONFERENCE HAS NOTED HERETIC PROSPERITY GOSPEL MONEY HUNGRY MEGACHURCH AUTHOR RICK WARREN AS A SPEAKER. WHAT’S SAD IS SO MANY YOUTH OF TODAY PASTORS OF TOMORROW FOLLOW PIPER’S HEDONIST DOCTRINE OF PREACHING TEACHING & WRITINGS ! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH JOHN, COME BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE !!

    MRWBBIII

    • Hello MRWBBIII. I honestly struggled with whether or not I would approve this comment because (A) it is way off topic, and (B) uses deragatory language towards three Christian leaders I respect. That’s not to say I agree with everything they say. But they are brothers and I respect them as such.

      In the end I opted for the open forum. If nothing else, I feel this comment from you pretty well summarizes exactly what I’m asking brothers in Christ NOT to do. Maybe others will learn from your example.

  8. I am not sure how I got here–Bing maybe? But this is a nice post.

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