Wednesday, March 16, 2011

That Phrase. You Keep Using That Phrase. I Do Not Think it Means What You Think it Means

"These [Eucharist] rituals are true for us, because they’re true for everybody. They unite us, because they unite everybody. These are signs and glimpses and tastes of what is true for all people in all places at all times—we simply name the mystery present in all the world, the gospel already announced to every creature under heaven."

-- Rob Bell, Love Wins (157)
From Kevin DeYoung's excellent evaluation of Bell's book:
Bell has a Joseph Campbell “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” view of Christ. Jesus is hidden in various cultures and in every aspect of creation. Some people find him and some don’t. Some call him Jesus; some have too much baggage with Christianity, so they call him by a different name (159).

Bell finds support for this Christological hide-and-seek in 1 Corinthians 10. This is where Paul calls to mind the Exodus narrative and asserts that the rock (the one that gushed water) was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). From this Bell concludes, “There are rocks everywhere” (139). If Paul saw Christ in the rock, then who knows where else we might find him (144)? Jesus cannot be confined to any one religion, Bell argues. He transcends our labels and cages, especially the one called Christianity (150). Christ is present in all cultures and can be found everywhere.
What this sounds an awful lot like is gnosticism's "secret knowledge," the esoteric truth that hides the divine light in everyone, uniting everyone. That Bell identifies the divine light as Jesus doesn't make it less gnostic, especially as he holds you don't have to explicitly trust Jesus to see the fruition of Jesus' spirit already present within you. Universalism, in fact, can fall under the general umbrella of gnosticism.

I find it extremely interesting that the title of Bell's book is predicated on 1 John 4's "God is love," which happens to be in a book ostensibly written in response to gnostic false teaching. It's the same book, in fact, where John says to reject Christ is not a-ok because it's all good in God's hood, but that to reject Christ is the spirit of the antichrist.

But I don't reckon Bell will say that on Good Morning America.


Andrew Terry said...

“Inconceivable! Fezzick, how can a God of love let all those poor people go to hell?” ;) Maybe God is “to blave.”

The Gnostic connection is good. The irony of 1 John is great. The spirit of antichrist is at work even now!

Spherical said...

He is not dead, he is just mostly dead. I've seen worse.

Bell needs our prayers. He has been headed down this dark path for a while. And our prayers need to go out for the many young leaders who worship him. I have read that he is especially popular among youth leaders. What better way for Satan to perpetuate these lies than to slip them to our young.

Jason said...

Bell's a false teacher and I've known it for a while. In fact, I left a church partially because the pastor and staff were enamored with his teaching and when I pointed out contradictions between Bell and Scripture they dismissed it.

That's one of the biggest dangers with Bell. His devotees don't question him at all and defend Him on a dime. Not Jesus. Bell.

Mike said...

I'm reviewing a book by Nora Gallagher right now called, "The Sacred Meal" for Booksneeze...pathetic! I expected the credit on your opening quote to come from her!

I haven't read "Love Wins" yet, but it's heart-breaking what so many bad theologians do with the Eucharist, applying it to everybody in a social-justice kind of way. There's no in-or-out to them, but all are included. Their theology is logically incoherent.