No Hell Bell

I know about the Nooma videos with their super cool style and cosy chats about religious stuff. I have not watched many of them, in fact I have only seen one of them right through to the end. I had always assumed they were harmless and meant to be good discussion starters to provoke people to explore spiritual issues.

What I did not know is that Bell, the chap that speaks on them, denies a number of Biblical truths. ‘No Hell Bell’ I will now think of him, as the existence of hell is one of the Biblical truths he denies.

If he does not believe there is something people need rescuing from he must be uncomfortable with attempts to help people find rescue in Jesus. After all ‘Jesus Saves’ is meaningless if there is nothing to be saved from. I presume he will not refer to non-Christians as lost. If the Gospel is the means of personal wholeness then no one is lost, they are only just not yet reaching their potential.

I did watch a remarkable clip of Rob Bell saying that when Peter walked on the water it was because Peter had faith in himself, not because of his faith in Jesus. Remarkable in that there is no biblical foundation for his speculation.

I watched this video with interest.

The more I have searched for information about Rob Bell’s beliefs the more alarming I find them.

People can believe what the want, but I think many church leaders would be horrified to know that their young people are watching this stuff and not knowing that it is not biblical Christianity.

Sadly, I think some Christian young people would not even care whether Nooma is biblical or not. Perhaps “Cool is more important than Truth” would be their slogan.  Some young adults will prefer a ‘Christianity Lite’ they are not embarrassed about rather than the Truth that may offend their friends or make them look uncool.

If only there was something like Nooma but a bit more theologically savvy.

6 thoughts on “No Hell Bell

  1. Amen to that! I saw a Nooma video a few months ago in which Rob Bell talked about how he hoped he would be the kind of person that would honour God in the little things. He looked out of his window and saw a neighbour shovelling snow on their huge drive. He watched and said that he hoped he would be the sort of person that would go out and help them. Then he sat about talking to the camera, while I shouted at him “you can talk to us later! Go and help your neighbour or they’ll be done by the time you get round to offering help!” Finally he finished talking and the camera cut to the person shovelling snow. It turned out that the person we had seen working away was someone clearing their neighbour’s drive and not their own, so it was meant to be a clever twist. But this STILL annoyed me. He had still talked about doing something, seen an opportunity to do it, and talked about doing it instead of actually getting up and putting his boots on.

    This is what bothers me about the Nooma videos, they may be pretty but they are all just talk. Abstract, empty, vauge, socially acceptable talk. They make me despair of my own generation.

    However, there is hope. I went to the church over the road from me last Sunday because I couldn’t drive to my own. A lad I know who is a few years younger than me was preaching on Lazarus and Resurrection. I braced myself for some liberal, modern, wishy-washy apologetic. I didn’t get it! Instead he preached (a bit too loudly for the people in the front row) about Death with a capital D, Hell with a capital H, and RESURRECTION with a capital everything. He talked about Hell and eternal death as the consequence of living a life without Christ. Give that young man a YouTube channel! Move over Rob Bell, it looks like some of us still believe something!

  2. I get the point. But Bell isn’t trying to present the gospel with bits missed out or watered down – this is a common criticism/interpretation – he’s trying to make biblical themes relevant to modern christians. Now, to be fair, I’ve only seen two Noomas, one of which I thought was dross, so I’m no expert. I just think people misinterpret his intentions: just because he doesn’t preach in the same way traditional churches do, doesn’t mean he has crushing doctrinal disagreements. He’s an excellent communicator of specific ideas (or at least, to some people). Besides, who says we need to preach on Death and Hell? Church tradition?

  3. Thanks Miko. You make some good points. Perhaps those are some of the things that were in my mind as I wrote my other post ‘What is the Gospel?’

    I find Rob Bell interesting. It is a bit of a game of trying to find out what he believes. He uses such a lot of gobble-de-gook. That, coupled with his strange style of speech (or perhaps it is my age) talking in fragmented sentences, means that after listening to him I have the impression that he thinks he has said something profound yet I have no idea what it is.

    If the gospel is a message that saves I think it should be understandable to those who hear.

    Anyway, what about my challenge in my ‘What is the Gospel?’ post, how would you best sum up what the gospel is in as few words as possible?

  4. I’ve always been an interested Rob Bell follower and over the years have found his stuff to be really helpful and I reckon he’s had a positive impact on the way I’ve thought. I have caution though, and I think the way he presents his stuff facilitates that caution.

    In all of the mass of stuff that we can get a hold of now from different preachers and thinkers people seem to stand in different camps, if you like Mark Driscoll then you’re against Rob Bell, if you like John Piper then any of that HTB 20minute talk is just baby food; anyone who isn’t in a BMW hates Joel Osteen. But what we have in our age of mass communication is a fantastic opportunity for amazing discussion. I can walk to uni with some of the best preachers out there in my ear whereas previously I’d have to wait years and travel miles to go and hear an hour of them. What I think we have to see what we get from the Itunes top 20 chart is discussion, first and foremost.

    This is why I’ve always enjoyed Rob Bell, because he is a fantastic communicator and encourages you to think in a different way, sometimes from ever before. Sometimes he is clever, sometimes he tries show something in a clever way but is not clever. As someone brought up in a Christian family all my life I have found his thoughts very releasing at times. Great books don’t necessarily have to be ones you agree with (Rock of Doubt by Sydney Carter was a really important book for me a year ago, but awash with nonsense) I think he represents his views in a round-about way and teases you with thoughts mostly in the stuff he produces for the wider audience, I’d hope for his church he is more clear-cut (though the Mars Hill declaration of belief is a bit bizarre). In Velvet Elvis, he so often puts a thought out there, and then just leaves it tinkering on the edge without really clearing it up. Since its a book, and a part of discussion, I think this is ok.

    But, with all these views being bandied around and the snippets of church models we get from our ipods, I think now is a time more than ever for the church to be firm and be a place where its members can come and know they have answers. I can listen and read to all sorts of things (with caution) knowing that I belong to a church with doctrines I agree with and is lead by people I trust and follow.

    Whether or not Rob Bell is a false teacher, or a teacher preaching some false things I wouldn’t like to say, but for the time being I’m going to keep listening to what he says, but do it critically! Also, hearing my pastors views on him is really useful when trying to interpret Bell, cheers Graham!

    As an aside, we have to be careful (and open) when comparing modernism, postmodernism and liberalism, they’re not one and the same!

  5. I like your perspective Rob. Thanks for the comment.

    Intelligent Christians should be listening to, and reading, all sorts of stuff. I do! Limiting our minds to what are perceived as safe zones robs us of material that will stimulating our thinking and help us discover our own convictions. Fear has for too long robbed Christians of enlarged thinking.

    Perhaps Rob Bells contribution is that he provokes questions rather than offers answers. That is okay so long as there are those who do offer the answers.

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