Rob Bell and the Confusion Over the Bible

March 8, 2013 — Leave a comment
Same Book Jackets: New Religions - L. Ron Hubbard and Rob Bell

Same Book Jackets with New Religions – L. Ron Hubbard and Rob Bell

Rob Bell‘s  promo video is creating a stir. The video is hawking his new book which comes out next week.

For the last several years, Rob Bell , pastor, showman, enfant terrible,  and thought-leader,  has made a name for himself by essentially  extricating himself from the  what most Christians consider  the TRUTH of the Bible.

In all the uproar over the last few years regarding  the Bible  (including Oprah  wanting to rewrite it) , the Holy Book has gotten some tough bangs and bumps.  “I don’t like that God is jealous, “cried Oprah. “I mean, how could God be jealous of me?”  Rob Bell equates the Bible as being old-fashioned like an “Oldsmobile”. His thesis appears to place culture over God.  Click here for Rob’s “Oldsmobile” parable that has created the recent controversy — and his book hasn’t even been released yet.

American folk have been pushing, pulling and cutting out text from the Bible since  our country’s  founding father, Thomas Jefferson, decided to take a stiletto knife to the Word and remove the miracles from the text.  This is known as The Jefferson Bible. An architect by trade, Jefferson wanted to look only at what Jesus had to say as a man (Jefferson did not believe Jesus was a deity, nor did he believe in the Trinitarian God).  That said, Jefferson was fascinated by Jesus.

The Jefferson Bible currently on display at the Smithsonian

The Jefferson Bible (1819)  currently on display at the Smithsonian

Jefferson studied the Christ in his expurgated Bible as if it was a land  map on which to build Monticello. In fact, Jefferson did build on the words of Jesus. He created the “Bill of Rights” from his reading of this edited Bible.  Jesus’ railing against religion, his elevation of children to human status, his care for women — all became a part of American foundation through the Bill of Rights.

It seems that the Rob Bells and Oprah Winfreys and even ourselves, may be losing the complexity found in the Bible.

A friend of mine started reading the Bible and her first question to me was, “What’s with all the circumcisions?”

“God breathed” is not the only account  which Scripture gives of itself since God’s mouth was not the only mouth involved in its production. The same  Scripture that says that the “mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Is. 1:20)  also says that God “spoke by the mouth of the holy prophets “(Acts 3:18, 21).

Out of whose mouth, then, did Scripture come?

God or man’s?

The only Biblical answer is “both”.

Indeed, God spoke through the human authors in such a way that his words were simultaneously their words and their words were simultaneously his.  This is the double authorship of the Bible. Scripture is equally the Word of God and the words of human beings. Better, it is the Word of God through the words of human beings.

"Still Life With Bible" by Vincent van Gogh (1885)

“Still Life With Bible” by Vincent van Gogh (1885)

The double authorship of the Bible must affect the way we read it. The British Evangelist, John Stott , makes a great point in his book, God’s Book For God’s People and gives the answer that many Christians have been searching.   “Because it is the word of humans, we shall study it like every other book, using our minds, investigating its words and syntax, its historical origins and its literary composition. But because it is also the Word of God, we shall study it like no other book, on our knees, humbly, crying to God for illumination and for the ministry of the Holy Spirit, without whom we may never understand his Word.”

As followers of Jesus, we must keep the Word of God and the Spirit of God together. For apart from the Spirit, the Word is dead, while apart from the Word, the Spirit is alien. If I  am to make one suggestion:  perhaps Mr. Bell might begin to look at Scripture with the remarkable eyes of the Holy Spirit while understanding its political and social context.

In Scripture, God tells us who He is.  He is outside of time. He is: omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, loving, sovereign and  forgiving. The Bible is not some trackless jungle, a collection of  random stories. Rather, it is  the “God Breathed” autobiography of God told through 40 different people, on 3 different continents,  over many centuries.  It is the story of God’s abiding belief in rebellious  man who despite himself , through the great express of God’s  love, continues to move forward.

Unlike God, Oldsmobiles  are not timeless. As for Oldsmobiles, they were good while they lasted.

And  Rob Bell?

As for all of us  who are alive…. Rob still has time.

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