Nooma update

As I mentioned before, there have been requests for reviews of other Nooma videos. I have watched “You” and “Breathe” and reviews of these two videos are forthcoming — I promise. In the meantime I thought it might be of interest to note some of the things I’ve learned about Rob Bell whilst I’ve been researching.

hipglasses.jpgApparently Bell seems to disagree with the biblical idea of sin. Certainly sin is not something over which God is angered. Quite the contrary. Bell even went on a speaking tour entitled “The Gods are not Angry” to reassure us that we’re really okay. A review of that tour is available here.

In a previous post I pointed out how Bell has recommended some very questionable reading in the endnotes of his book Velvet Elvis. Well, Ingrid, over at Slice of Laodicea, has discovered another one. Apparently Bell — with no qualification at all — recommends a book by Marcus Borg. This is very important because Marcus Borg is a member of the Jesus Seminar — a group of “biblical scholars” who have taken it upon themselves to reject (on the basis of their popular vote) many of the key doctrines in Scripture. They deny the virgin birth, the vast majority of His miracles, a lot of His teachings, and the resurrection — and Bell has no problem recommending Borg’s book The Heart of Christianity with no qualifications of any kind. One would have to assume Bell has no problem with the contents of the book. What are the contents of the book? Here’s just a sample:

When a Christian seeker asked the Dalai Lama whether she should become a Buddhist, his response, which I paraphrase, was: “No, become more deeply Christian; live more deeply into your own tradition.” Huston Smith makes the same point with the metaphor of digging a well: if what you’re looking for is water, better to dig one well sixty feet deep than to dig six wells ten feet deep. By living more deeply into our own tradition as a sacrament of the sacred, we become more centered in the one to whom the tradition points and in whom we live and move and have our being.

A Christian is one who does this within the framework of the Christian tradition, just as a Jew is one who does this within the framework of the Jewish tradition, a Muslim, within the framework of the Muslim tradition, and so forth. And I cannot believe that God cares which one of these we are. All are paths of relationship and transformation. (223)

Now I base my faith on Scripture and I get the sense from Scripture that Christ’s resurrection is kind of important. But maybe I’m not understanding something. Let’s take a look…

“And if Christ is has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. for if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” — 1 Corinthians, 15: 14-19

If I’m reading this wrong someone please tell me, but it seems the Christian faith hinges on the resurrection.

Bell, by contrast, recommends books by New Age teachers and Jesus Seminar “scholars.” He admits these people have influenced his beliefs. He doesn’t seem to have a biblical view of sin nor do things like the resurrection seem to matter that much to him (small hint: this is one of the problems I have with the Nooma “You”). His teachings are thick with humanism, universalism, and New Ageism. It’s no wonder he will be participating in an “interspiritual event” with other Emergent leaders, Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama.

I try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. But the Apostle Paul didn’t seem to mind calling a false teacher a false teacher. And when I hold Bell’s teachings up against Scripture I can only draw one conclusion: This guy is a museum quality false teacher.

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

11 Responses to Nooma update

  1. mikeoles3 says:

    Not that you would care about what I have to say about Marcus Borg but I would highly reccomend reading MEETING JESUS AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME. It is really quite an amazing book and I think Borg’s understanding of Christianity, like Rob Bell’s, is quite compelling and even biblical. Much more so than fundamentalist, “strict” readings of the bible

    I was at the Gods Aren’t Angry Tour and he basically preached straight from the bible. He compared what was going on in the Hebrew Bible/New Testament with what other religions were saying during the writing of the bible.

  2. Pingback: Nooma “You”: A Review « Thideology

  3. Godsballer34 says:

    I have read a couple of your articles on Rob Bell now and in each you point out how he is focused on restoring this world and how it is a new age belief. One of the main questions I have is what do you propose we should be like as Christians?

    In Matthew 5 Jesus talks about being the light of the world when he says, ” You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”. Thats from the NIV incase translation is an issue. Anyway, I guess when I read that verse I get two things out of it. The first is live your life as a testament to God, showing how glorious God is which is clearly established at the end of that quote from Jesus. The other thing that I get out of it though is that as lights of the world, we are called to go out and change the world for Christ. In my opinion this certainly means trying to restore this world by restoring the people of this world to God. I’m not sure where in the Bible it is exactly but Jesus says to the disciples to go out and make disciples which in my mind means, go out and try to restore people to me.

    I could be looking at your argument wrong and if I am please let me know but how does the scripture from Matthew and the idea of creating disciples fit into your concept of Christianity if it is not as a measure to restore this world? I would appreciate any feedback! Thanks!

  4. Chip says:

    Godsballer34,

    Forgive me for taking so long to respond to your questions — my “real” job often distracts me from keeping up with my blog. Nevertheless, you raise some good questions I think are worth a response.

    I don’t consider Rob Bell a proponent of New Ageism based merely on his focus to “restore this world,” although that is a part of it. New Age beliefs are a bit more broad than that. They encompass spirituality, philosophy and religious practices from many belief systems and world religions. There are elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, neopaganism, naturalism, deism, pantheism and panentheism in New Ageism. I consider Rob Bell a proponent of New Age thought based on an overall theme contained in his teachings. A lot of these beliefs can be seen in what Rob Bell teaches.

    As far as his efforts to “restore this world” are concerned, he is more consistent with the naturalistic belief that God is all about restoring this world to some sort of paradise than He is about saving people from their sins (which is the biblical view). The gospels are rich with texts where Jesus, Himself, points out that His kingdom is not of this world. His is a spiritual kingdom and it is the only one that is eternal. The kingdoms of this Earth are all doomed to end at some point. Jesus points out that He is not of this world and that His followers are not of this world. By contrast, Rob Bell’s teachings are heavy with making this world a better place and considerably lacking in the eternal, spiritual, focus so prevalent in God’s Word.

    Your reference to Matthew 5 is a great passage to illustrate our purpose as Christians. The stated reason for Christians to do good works is so, “they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” This can’t be emphasized enough. Our WHOLE purpose as Christians is to glorify God, period. This is the central theme of Scripture.

    Our lives are to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), good works are done in His name and for His glory (Matthew 5:16), God grants us gifts so that He may be glorified (1 Peter 4:10-11), even the crucifixion was meant to bring glory to the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).

    We have specific instructions in Scripture with regard to making disciples but none of them are intended to “restore this world” to it’s original form. Rather we are to be consumed with proclaiming the good news that people may be rescued from this sin-cursed world and that God has prepared a place for us in heaven. Our motivation is to see God glorified.

    I don’t deny we should have a desire for restoration. But that restoration is the reconciliation between a Holy God and sinful man — NOT the restoration of the physical world to it’s pre-fall form.

    I hope this answers your questions. Thanks so much for commenting

  5. Greg says:

    I was looking for something in a NOOMA video when I came across this site and decided it was important to respond. I have only a few short comments that I hope survive any manual deletions by the author.

    1) You will find similarities to any church with other doctrines and religions. Why? Lies are always a distortion of the truth. Rather than saying that Rob is more like New Age, perhaps you should take time seeing how New Age steals certain elements of truth from Christians.

    2) I’m personally sick of religion. This may bring shivers up your spine, but being a missionary right now in Africa, I can tell you that religion (and that started by Christians) is destroying the potential for a real relationship with Christ. We talk about our faith being a relationship and not a religion, but this article smell a lot like a religous leader. Try witnesses to the unsaved in the cities of America before you slam Bell. He’s brought more people to a real relationship with Christ than most of us can say.

    3) This writer obviously has it out for Bell and probably can never find any good. Before you condemn him as a false teacher, you may want to get to heaven. You’ll look really stupid having called someone who’s name is in the Book of Life a false prophet just so you look like you’re smart and know more than him. I would hope that you are not denying the works of the Holy Spirit today around the world. This is publically calling something that God is doing not of God. You know the Biblical reference for that, don’t you?!?!

  6. Chip says:

    Greg,

    Thanks for commenting. You should know that your comments are welcome here and will not be deleted merely because they disagree with my point of view. The only comments that are deleted are ad hominem attacks and comments that use profanity.

    1. It may be true that New Age steals concepts from biblical Christianity. But some of what Bell teaches are New Age concepts NOT found in Scripture. Rather, they are original with New Ageism and other false religions and should not be taught as biblical Christianity.

    2. I do personally witness quite often but even if I did not that would not disqualify me from holding Bell’s teaching up against Scripture. It may well be that God has used Bell’s teaching to bring some people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ but that would be IN SPITE of the unbiblical content of Bell’s teaching not because of it.

    3. As I’ve told others who have commented — if you think I “have it out” for Bell (and you plainly stated that is your belief) then I suggest you read my series of articles on the Emergent Church found in the Thideology Classics links on my blog. My first impressions of Bell were quite good. And I still maintain there are some things he teaches that would be beneficial. But the good stuff he teaches is not worth having to wade through all of the false teachings to get. The danger is too great that you’d be influenced by his humanist, universalist, and New Age tendencies.

    It is interesting that of all the comments I’ve received defending Bell not one person has used Scripture to refute my claims of his teaching false doctrines. You are quite welcome to share your feelings and your thoughts but they are not authoritative. Only the Word of God is authoritative. The teachings of Bell’s that I condemn here I do so on the basis of Scripture. If you would like to defend him I only ask you do so on the same basis.

    Again, Greg, I appreciate you comments.

  7. Pingback: New Blog Link « Titus 1:9

  8. Lisa Nunley says:

    You are obviously not out to win a popularity contest. 🙂

    Press on in His truth and His love for His glory,
    Lisa

  9. Rob Bell is a pantheist, plain and simple. His implementation of it just happens to be Christianity; just like Christian Science. I’ve written an analysis of NOOMA, posted here: http://www.alancoughlin.com.

  10. Pingback: Legacy Baptist Church » New Blog Link

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