Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

NOOMA 001 - 024 | with Rob Bell


Years ago my wife and I attended Mars Hill Bible Church during its first 20 years. Rob Bell preached 12 of those years. After Rob came Kent Dobson (our former pastor's son, Ed Dobson; Ed came from Liberty University and its political arm, the Moral Majority under Jerry Falwell). Then AJ Sherrill (who was every bit as good as Rob with a pastor's heart). When we left, AJ left perhaps a year later to preach in South Carolina to help out both his and his wife's mothers in their old age.

When we left from Calvary Church with Ed Dobson's blessing to serve at Mars Hill we didn't know it as anything but a very profound church with a message of God as love to all who would come with heavy hearts, deep questions of life, a spiritual need yet unidentified, or simply as a fellowship of Christian men and women having walked the paths of Christianity in doubt and uncertainty knowing God was out there somewhere but unable to be found through the churches each had attended.

Our beloved preacher was Rob Bell, who was still finding his place in the world in his late 30's, bearing a zealous heart for Jesus, and wished to make God known as Love actually, only, always, and presently with us every moment of every day whether we knew it or not.

Rob was special for his passion. He wished to look at his Christian faith and saw more than the  conservative evangelical church was granting the God it worshipped. He found his faith again in the gospel of Jesus that God is love and we are to do the same with one another.

As you have witnessed over the years here at Relevancy22 the love of God has been profoundly transforming how we think of God and God's activity in the world; our we read of God in the bible; and, live the Christian faith through love. In many ways our worlds of faith have been dramatically transformed by God's love. They have been turned upside-down and inside-out to our hearts and minds.

The bible systems I was once taught, which I grew up on, and had diligently studied, paled in the light of God's persistent love. My first comprehension of God after many decades of experiencing the church and the world was that my faith had been emptied of God's love and replaced by many other thoughts of God. As the book of Revelation said, "I had left my first love and must now return to it." When I did, God's love would violently shake my world of its ungodlike images and unloving religious thoughts I had acquired through secular church culture.

Necessarily, I began Relevancy22 as much for myself as for those as burdened as I had become in wishing to behold God aright. As a God who loves with an everlasting fire consuming our souls of all whom we are to become all we might be. (This is a little interplay between being and becoming, which is a very central thought of Process Chrisitianity. Only I reversed the statement here.)

This, for me, was the God of the bible. A God of Love. Not the God that Christianity was describing in other ways when reading the bible's violence, judgments, calamities, horrors, and vindictiveness. These were the stories of men not knowing the God of love but only the God they beheld within religious worlds of good and evil. Of a God who acted and behaved as they did in unloving ways. But even in judgment, this God of love measured truer justice as a loving Father would - not as religious men were describing God in the bible who was portrayed by the Hebraic priesthood as an harsh OverLord, a cruel Tyrant, or self-glorifying Presidential Despot.

This God of Love was the God whom Rob Bell fell in love with. Whom he preached passionately day and night until the world of the unenlightened church came to break his gospel. A gospel which Jesus preached and showed by His actions. Whom the prophets of old and Apostles to come tireless preached.

An emergent gospel of love of which I have been describing in forms of Progressive Christianity (as a social movement) or more formally, as Process Christianity (as a formal system built upon Process Theology). Whereas Progressive Christianity deeply bears the element of social justice measured in self-sacrificial service to others, Process Christianity bears the Alfred North Whitehead's element of God as a God of love through-and-through. A God who has lovingly transposed Himself into the very world He created - right from the beginning - Who is intricately embedded within, committing Himself to creation's healing, wellbeing and resurrection.

The NOOMAS below speaks of a God of Love far better than any words can do. They tell a story of a God which we may feel, taste, touch, and handle through our own stories of God's ever-presence with us. Stories inhabiting our bones as we struggle through the needful days and wasteful hours looking for love, trying to be love, or showing love. Heavy tasks that none of us are capable of but for which our fellowship with life means nothing if we do not apprehend love to then live love.

Be at peace my fellow wanderers. God has not abandoned us. Nor will He leave us. God is an ever present fellowship with us. And through Himself, God has brought salvation to the world in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. But must release ourselves unto so that both God, ourselves, and God's creation, may become. May attain what it aches to be in healing, reclamation, and redemption. 

R.E. Slater
 April 28, 2021

*The videos below, if marked with an asterisk are my especially favorite ones.

* * * * * * * * *

The RobCast

The RobCast is a weekly podcast hosted by Rob Bell.

NOOMA Small Group Bible Study: 001 RAIN with Rob Bell


*NOOMA 002 | FLAME with Rob Bell


NOOMA 003 | TREES with Rob Bell


NOOMA 004 | SUNDAY with Rob Bell


NOOMA 005 | NOISE with Rob Bell


NOOMA 006 | KICKBALL with Rob Bell


*NOOMA 007 | LUGGAGE with Rob Bell


NOOMA 008 | DUST with Rob Bell


NOOMA 009 | BULLHORN with Rob Bell


NOOMA 010 | LUMP with Rob Bell


*NOOMA 011 | RHYTHM with Rob Bell


NOOMA 012 | SUFFERING (Matthew) with Rob Bell


NOOMA 013 | RICH with Rob Bell


*NOOMA 014 | BREATHE with Rob Bell


NOOMA 015 | YOU with Rob Bell


NOOMA 016 | STORE with Rob Bell


NOOMA 017 | TODAY with Rob Bell


NOOMA 018 | NAME with Rob Bell


NOOMA 019 | OPEN with Rob Bell


NOOMA 020 | SHELLS with Rob Bell


NOOMA 021 | SHE with Rob Bell


NOOMA 022 | TOMATO (Selfless) with Rob Bell


NOOMA 023 | CORNER with Rob Bell


NOOMA 024 | WHIRLWIND with Rob Bell


Rob Bell Breaks Down Why the NOOMA
Series Were So Extraordinary | Nov 3, 2019

Rob Bells Speaks to Why His Ideas Merged
and Began Talking to One Another

* * * * * * * * *

Church of the Highlands senior pastor Chis Hodges addresses racial injustice and his recent social media activity in his message on May 31, 2020. Video screengrab via Church of the Highlands
Church of the Highlands senior pastor Chis Hodges addresses racial injustice and his recent social media activity in his message on May 31, 2020. Video screengrab via Church of the Highlands

Evangelicals perfected cancel culture.
Now it’s coming for them

by Jonathan Merritt
June 17, 2020

One Alabama megachurch preacher is experiencing a cautionary tale
about a central spiritual idea: What goes around comes around.

(RNS) — Liking a tweet is technically free, but one Alabama megachurch is paying a hefty price.

This month, Chis Hodges, senior pastor of Church of the Highlands, an evangelical congregation with 60,000 members spread across 24 locations, came under fire after screenshots were shared online showing the pastor liking several posts by Charlie Kirk, a controversial pro-Trump activist.

The posts in question were considered racially insensitive and, among other things, questioned whether white privilege actually exists.

These actions sparked outcry from Birmingham residents, including the pastor of at least one black church who was already displeased that Hodges’ church has been planting white congregations in black neighborhoods to which they had no connection. 

Hodges attempted to quell the furor by deleting his social media accounts and tearfully apologizing to his congregation, but Birmingham’s Board of Education, which leased two public high schools to the church, was unconvinced.

RELATED: Why American evangelicals are so tempted by the easy assurance of conspiracy theories

The board abruptly canceled Church of the Highlands’ six-year lease, prohibiting the church from continuing to meet in the schools. The city’s housing authority also terminated a partnership under which the church provided various social services to residents.

Hodges had been “canceled” – a term for what happens when people, most often on social media but increasingly in “real life,” band together and employ shaming tactics to block a person from having a platform. It can mean boycotting the target’s businesses, refusing to consume their books or films or pressuring friends, colleagues and activists to denounce them or formally cut ties.

Ironically, evangelical Christians, who now decry what happened to Hodges, are well practiced at this treatment. While “cancel culture” may be a recent phenomenon, public scapegoating, shaming and silencing tactics are not.

Following the cultural upheaval that began in the 1960s, conservative Christians bathed in a sense of loss. By the mid-1970s, traditional American Christian values were on the decline in favor of a new kind of pluralism. To protect themselves, leaders of the newly formed religious right argued a kind of Christian cultural separatism in which all that was deemed evil would be cut off from all that was deemed holy.

Among their enemies were liberal politicians, social justice activists, feminist professors, abortion rights advocates, secularists, pornographers, humanists, atheists, Hollywood moguls, civil rights leaders, working moms and stay-at-home dads.

Paige Patterson closes his eyes during a special meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees on May 22, 2018. Photo by Adam Covington/SWBTS via Baptist Press

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, church youth groups coordinated book burnings and music bonfires to purge their world of evil art. On any given night of the week, televangelists and Christian activists could be found on cable news attacking their enemies by name and blaming them for the “moral decay” of America.

Evangelicals tried their level best to smear and shame any person or organization who didn’t behave or believe appropriately in order to forcibly craft a society according to their Christian values.  

When the target of their wrath wasn’t vulnerable to their smears, they used the foremost tool of cancel culture: the boycott. In 1997, the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention boycotted the Walt Disney company, which they perceived to be too gay-friendly. 

Two years later, Jerry Falwell Sr., founder of the Moral Majority, famously led an effort to boycott “The Teletubbies,” a children’s television program, because he got an inkling that its Tinky-Winky character was covertly gay.

In 2012, the evangelical group “One Million Moms,” part of the American Family Association, led a boycott of JCPenney after comedian Ellen DeGeneres, an out lesbian, was named the department store chain’s spokesperson.

White evangelicals’ “cancel culture” did not just target those outside the camp. If a member of the community dared to deviate from what the majority called “orthodoxy,” that person too risked being run out of town.

Beginning in the 1970s, a group of Southern Baptists, led by now disgraced preacher and seminary president Paige Patterson and other conservative leaders, sought to purge their denomination of any hint of “liberal theology.” Seminary professors, church employees and pastors lost their jobs or were shamed out of the convention during this denominational civil war.

Known as the “Conservative Resurgence” or “the fundamentalist takeover,” depending on your point of view, the coup Patterson led was a massive exercise of cancel culture. Only true believers allowed. Anyone who crossed the masses was expelled quickly and forcefully.

Rob Bell. Photo courtesy of Rob Bell

Beyond the SBC, one of the best-known examples of evangelical cancel culture involved the public shaming of author Rob Bell, a former megachurch pastor who dared to question whether non-Christians went to hell after they died.

Strictly, Bell was not “canceled,” but “farewelled” — the patent online move was simply to bid “Farewell, Rob Bell,” next to a link to his apostasy. Suddenly, anyone who was friends with Bell, owned books by Bell or even dared to quote Bell’s earlier work was at risk of being canceled as well.

Since then, other Christian writers, including Jen Hatmaker and Rachel Held Evans, found their books no longer welcome in Christian bookstores due to their support for same-sex marriage.

Now the tables have turned.

Something shifted in 2016 after the election of Donald Trump. The rapidly proliferating groups evangelicals had been marginalizing and attacking — women, people of color, feminists, immigrants, LGBTQ people — recognized that they had their own pulpits on social media. They began to sermonize back.

This “Great Awokening”  has flipped the script on cancel culture, and white evangelicals are calling for a rewrite.

Which is how Alabama pastor Chris Hodges found himself shut out of his high school auditorium rentals, and why conservative Christians and their political allies quickly set up a howl of fury.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, a longtime friend of Hodges’, claimed that “cancel culture” was tantamount to “mob tactics” and leftist “intolerance.” Former Attorney General and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions called it “an attack on both religious liberty and freedom of speech,” while Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that “canceling” an evangelical leader like Hodges was “absolutely insane.”

Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, called the shaming of Hodges “weaponized social media,” comparing it to a pitchforks-and-torches scene from “Frankenstein.”

RELATED: More on American evangelicals on Religion News Service

A reasonable argument can be made that, in Hodges’ case, the punishment far exceeded the crime.

But such an argument must also take into account from whence this problem arose. They are not victims of a liberal culture out to obliterate them from acceptable society; they are the collateral damage of a culture they helped create.

They are reaping what they have sowed.

Evangelicals’ “boycott for thee, but not for me” approach is not just drenched in irony. It’s a cautionary tale about a central idea taught in most major religions: What goes around often comes back around.

(Jonathan Merritt is author of “Learning to Speak God From Scratch” and an award-winning contributor to The Atlantic. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

* * * * * * * * *

Rob Bell

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Robert Holmes Bell Jr.
Rob Bell 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Bell in 2011
BornAugust 23, 1970 (age 50)
Alma materWheaton College
Known forFounding Mars Hill Bible Church
HonoursTime 100 (2011)

Robert Holmes Bell Jr. (born August 23, 1970) is an American author, speaker and former pastor. Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, and pastored it until 2012. Under his leadership, Mars Hill was one of the fastest-growing churches in America. Bell is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Love Wins and the writer and narrator of a series of spiritual short films called NOOMA. In 2011, Time named Bell on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has since become a freelance writer and speaker appearing on various talk shows and national speaking tours on topics related to spirituality and leadership. He also hosts a popular podcast called 'The Robcast'. In 2018, a documentary about Bell called The Heretic was released.


Education and ministry

Bell is the son of U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan.[1][2]

After graduating from high school, Bell attended Wheaton College in Illinois. While at Wheaton, he roomed with Ian Eskelin of All Star United. With friends Dave Houk, Brian Erickson, Steve Huber and Chris Fall, he formed the indie rock band, "_ton bundle", which was reminiscent of bands such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads. During this time _ton bundle wrote the song "Velvet Elvis", based upon the same Velvet Elvis painting that he used in his first book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Wheaton College was also where Bell met his wife, Kristen. The band _ton bundle started to gain some local fame and was even asked to perform at large events, but when Bell was struck with viral meningitis[3] these plans fell through.[4]

Bell received his bachelor's degree in 1992 from Wheaton and taught water skiing in the summers at the college's Honey Rock Camp, making about thirty dollars a week. During this time, he offered to teach a Christian message to the camp counselors after no pastor could be found. He taught a message about rest and was later approached by several people, each of them telling him that he should pursue teaching as a career.[citation needed]

Bell moved to Pasadena, California to pursue this calling for teaching and received a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. According to Bell, he never received good grades in preaching class because he always tried innovative ways to communicate his ideas. During his time at Fuller he was a youth intern at Lake Avenue Church. He did, however, occasionally attend Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock, California, which led to him and his wife asking questions in the direction of how a new style of church would appear.[citation needed]

Between 1995 and 1997, Bell formed a band called Big Fil which released two CDs; the first was a self-titled disc and the second was titled Via De La Shekel. When asked what style of music they played, Bell would respond with "Northern Gospel!", which later became the name of a song on the second album. Even after Big Fil stopped performing, Bell continued with two more projects by the name of Uno Dos Tres Communications volume 1 and 2, both of which had a similar musical sound to Big Fil.[citation needed]

Mars Hill Bible Church

Bell and his wife moved from California to Grand Rapids to be close to family and on invitation to study under pastor Ed Dobson. He handled many of the preaching duties for the Saturday Night service at Calvary Church. Bell announced that he would be branching out on his own to start a new kind of community and would name it "Mars Hill" after the Greek site where the apostle Paul said: "For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you."[5]

In February 1999, Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church, with the church originally meeting in a school gym in Wyoming, Michigan. Within a year the church was given a shopping mall in Grandville, Michigan, and purchased the surrounding land. In July 2000 the 3,500 "grey chair" facility opened its doors. As of 2005, an estimated 11,000 people attended the two "gatherings" on Sundays at 9 and 11 AM.[6][full citation needed] As of March 2011, Sunday attendance numbered between 8,000 and 10,000.[7] His teachings at Mars Hill inspired the popular "Love Wins" bumper sticker, and the congregation freely distributed these stickers after services.[8]

In order to maintain balance in his life, Bell maintained his Fridays as a personal sabbath, where he did not allow contact by electronic means, and had all pastoral duties transferred to other Mars Hill pastors.[9][better source needed]

In the January 2007 issue of the magazine TheChurchReport.com, Bell was named No. 10 in its list of "The 50 Most Influential Christians in America" as chosen by their readers and online visitors.[10]

In June 2011, Bell was named by Time Magazine as one of the "2011 Time 100", the magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[11]

On September 22, 2011, Bell announced his resignation from Mars Hill Church to start "a spiritual talk show in Los Angeles.[12] In July 2012, Bell held his first major event since leaving Mars Hill, speaking at the Viper Room night club in Los Angeles.[13] Bell has hosted conferences and workshops in Laguna Beach for "leaders, teachers, preachers, entrepreneurs, artists, pastors—anyone whose work involves creating something and then turning it loose in the world."[14]

Other projects

Bell is the featured speaker in NOOMA, a series of short films. The title of the video series, "NOOMA", is an English variation of the Greek word pneuma which means breath or spirit. All the videos feature the teachings of Bell accompanied by music written and sung by local independent artists with the exception of The Album Leaf's music being licensed for the NOOMA DVD Lump.[citation needed]

In August 2005, Zondervan Publishing published Bell's first book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian FaithVelvet Elvis is, according to the official online summary, "for the millions of people who are fascinated by Jesus, but can't do the standard Christian package. In his debut book, Bell explores a new understanding of the Christian faith."[15]

Bell's Everything is Spiritual national speaking tour launched on June 30, 2006, in Chicago, drawing sold-out crowds in cities across North America. The proceeds from ticket sales were used to support WaterAid, an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping people escape the poverty and disease caused by living without safe water and sanitation.[citation needed]

Bell's second book, titled Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, was released in March 2007. In February and March 2007 Bell hosted a "Sex God" tour on six university campuses to promote his book. The tour functioned more as a time for engaging questions and conversation. Questions ranged from Old Testament codes to homosexuality to what should Christians do with the word "evangelical". Each night ended with the showing of NOOMA number 15 entitled "YOU".[citation needed]

In June 2007, Bell toured the United Kingdom and Ireland with a series called Calling All Peacemakers.[16][better source needed]

Bell launched another speaking tour on November 5, 2007, in Chicago. "The Gods Aren't Angry" again drew sold-out crowds in cities across North America. The subject matter was a narrative defense of justification through faith and not works (sacrifice). Proceeds from this tour were used to support the Turame Microfinance program supporting the poor in Burundi, a mission supported by Bell's church.[citation needed]

Bell's 2009 project, Drops Like Stars, explores the links between creativity and suffering. Drops Like Stars was an international tour and a book, initially handwritten by Bell, with photographs. The title of the project comes from a young child's view of raindrops on a window at night. Rather than focusing on the conundrum of why an all-powerful God would allow suffering, Bell instead looks at the creativity, empathy, new connections, and growth that can spring from suffering. When asked in an interview how he had become interested in suffering, Bell replied that as a pastor he had been given a front row seat in the most poignant moments of people's lives. At the same time he was doing lectures on creativity and realized, "There was a connection between these two halves of my life – all these connections between suffering and art-making."[17]

In September 2013 Bell was interviewed by Oprah for her Super Soul Sunday television show. Bell's book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, was also listed as the first recommended book that month in Oprah's "Book of the Month" club.[18]


ABC television announced production of a new television drama, Stronger, co-written by Bell and Carlton Cuse, the executive producer of the television series Lost.[19] The show, based loosely on Bell's life and his unpublished novel-turned-pilot-script, would follow the life of Tom Stronger, a musician on a spiritual journey.[20] Ultimately, Bell and Cuse were unable to get approval to shoot a pilot for Stronger.

Bell and Cuse have moved on to another project described as a "faith-inflected talk show" presented by Bell. Two tapings of the proposed show were filmed in September 2012 in a warehouse in Los Angeles' art district in order to put together a reel for network executives.[21] At the time, they were referenced as either That One Show Rob Bell and Carlton Cuse Have Been Working On, or The September Shows for short.[22][23][24] A trailer has since been produced using The Rob Bell Show as a title card. His first and second guest each night were Cathleen Falsani and James "Jame-o" Primbram, an eco-warrior.[citation needed]


Rob Bell hosts a podcast, The Robcast, as the only host, but he is regularly joined by guests.[25] He believes that "churches and denominations are waning" and that the medium of podcasting provides freedom to learn and grow spiritually without the hindrances of institutions.[26] It was called the best religion and spirituality podcast of 2015 on iTunes.[27] Juliana Chan Erikson of the World Magazine, questioned the direction that podcasts like the Robcast steers their audiences.[28]


In his writings, Bell says, "I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it's true, it belongs to God."[29]

Bell's book Love Wins caused a major controversy within the evangelical community. The controversy was the subject of a Time magazine cover story and a featured article in the New York Times.[30][31][32] In the book, Bell states that "It's been clearly communicated to many that this belief (in hell as eternal, conscious torment) is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear." In this book, Bell outlines a number of views of hell, including universal reconciliation. Though he does not choose any one view as his own, he states "Whatever objections a person may have of [the universalist view], and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it."[citation needed]

The book was criticized by numerous conservative evangelical figures (in particular, some reformed church leaders), such as Albert MohlerJohn Piper, and David Platt, with Mohler saying that the book was "theologically disastrous" for not rejecting universalism.[33][34] Other evangelicals, such as Brian McLaren,[35][36] Greg Boyd[37] and Eugene Peterson[38][39][40] defended Bell's views. Bell denies that he is a universalist and says that he does not embrace any particular view but argues that Christians should leave room for uncertainty on the matter. As Jon Meacham stated, Love Wins presents [Bell's] "case for living with mystery rather than demanding certitude."[41][42] Some evangelicals argued that this "uncertainty" is incompatible with Scripture,[43] while others say that the book is simply promoting overdue conversation about some traditional interpretations of Scripture.[44][45] In the book, Bell also questions "evacuation theology" which has Christians focused on getting to heaven, instead of focusing on God's renewal and transformation of this world. Bell argues that Jesus (and the wider Jewish tradition of which he was a part) focused on God's ongoing restoration of this world, not getting individuals to heaven.[46][47]

At his Viper Room appearance in July 2012, Bell took a question from an audience member concerned about the church's acceptance of gay members. Said Bell, "Some people are gay, and you're our brothers and you're our sisters, and we love you. We love you... [Gay people] are passionate disciples of Jesus just like I'm trying to be, so let's all get together and try to do something about the truly big problems in our world."[48] On March 17, 2013, in an interview at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Bell said, "I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man...And I think the ship has sailed. This is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are."[49]

In March 2013, Bell expressed frustration with the state of conservative evangelicalism, calling it "a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized Evangelical subculture." He says that Evangelicals have "turned away lots of people" from the church by talking about God in ways that "don't actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people," adding that Evangelicals "have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive, and we've done it in the name of God and we need to repent."[49]


In 2018, a documentary about Bell called The Heretic was released.[50]


See also


  1. ^ The judicial branch of federal government: people, process, and politics By Charles L. Zelden ABC-CLIO (July 12, 2007) ISBN 978-1-85109-702-9
  2. ^ "Profile: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell". Mlive.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  3. ^ CNN Belief Blog My Faith: Suffering my way to a new tomorrow
  4. ^ Jimmy Eat World's Blog Interview with Rob Bell
  5. ^ New International Version Acts 17:23
  6. ^ The Charleston Post and Courier Michigan pastor takes message to new places
  7. ^ Courtesy photo. "Rob Bell, Christian rock star, meets Sammy Hagar, real rock star, on Good Morning America set". Mlive.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "The Emergent Mystique". Christianity Today. November 1, 2004. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Grand Rapids Press Profile: Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Rob Bell
  10. ^ 7 Cultural Mountains, The 50 Most Influential Christians in America
  11. ^ "The 2011 Time 100"Time. April 21, 2011.
  12. ^ Gr, Charley Honey | The; Press, Rapids (March 8, 2013). "Rob Bell talks about why he really left Mars Hill"mlive.
  13. ^ "Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' Out In Paperback, As Pastor Celebrates At The Viper Room (VIDEO)". Huffingtonpost.com. July 26, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  14. ^ "2DAYS WITH ROB BELL OCTOBER EVENTS". Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  15. ^ "Review: Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob"barnabasministry.com. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  17. ^ Paulson, Michael (September 26, 2009). "Rob Bell on faith, suffering, and Christians". Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  18. ^ "Rob Bell Speaks With Oprah Winfrey on 'Super Soul Sunday'". Christianpost.com. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "ABC Buys Spiritual Drama From 'Lost' Exec Producer Carlton Cuse And Pastor Rob Bell". Deadline.com. Retrieved August 15,2013.
  20. ^ "Rob Bell, TV star? Pastor writing ABC drama based on his life, reports say". MLive.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  21. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (November 26, 2012). "The Hell-Raiser: A megachurch pastor's search for a more forgiving faith". The New Yorker: 65.
  22. ^ Bell, Rob (September 11, 2012). "friends in LA - we are doing another show tonight. we'll have a standby line starting at 7 at 826 E. 3rd St".
  23. ^ Bell, Rob (September 10, 2012). "show tonight in LA. we will have some spaces reserved for walk ups starting at 7 at 826 E. 3rd St".
  24. ^ "That Show Rob Bell and Carlton Cuse Have Been Working on"Eventbrite.
  25. ^ Dibdin, Emma (June 21, 2019). "8 Podcasts for the Spiritual Searcher (Published 2019)"The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 2, 2021While he’s generally piloting the podcast solo, Bell is occasionally joined by a celebrity guest (Pete Holmes of HBO’s “Crashing” is a regular)
  26. ^ "Are podcasts replacing church for some believers?"Baptist News Global. August 12, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  27. ^ Nicole Anderson Cobb. "When Faith Speaks: An interview with global thought leader Rob Bell : Culture : Smile Politely"smilepolitely.com. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  28. ^ Erikson, Juliana Chan. "Listen and consider - WORLD"world.wng.org. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  29. ^ Beliefnet 'Velvet Elvis' Author Encourages Exploration of Doubts
  30. ^ Meacham, Jon (April 14, 2011). "Cover: No Hell? Pastor Rob Bell Angers Evangelicals". TIME. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  31. ^ Eckholm, Eric (March 4, 2011). "Pastor Stirs Wrath With His Views on Old Questions"New York Times.
  32. ^ "Heaven, Hell, and Rob Bell: Putting the Pastor in Context". Christianity Today. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  33. ^ Meacham, Jon (April 14, 2011). "Pastor Rob Bell: What if Hell Doesn't Exist?"Time. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  34. ^ "Baptist Press -NEWS BRIEFS: David Platt weighs in on Rob Bell controversy; Colo. civil unions advance – News with a Christian Perspective". Bpnews.net. March 24, 2011. Archived from the originalon May 8, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  35. ^ McLaren, Brian. "Rob Bell – Giving Us All A Wonderful Opportunity"Brian McLaren. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  36. ^ McLaren, Brian (March 16, 2011). "Will "Love Wins" Win? We're early in the first inning..." Brian McLaren. Archived from the original on March 26, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  37. ^ Boyd, Greg (March 4, 2011). "Rob Bell is NOT a Universalist (and I actually read "Love Wins")"ReKnew. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  38. ^ Randle, Daniel (March 18, 2011). "Why Eugene Peterson is Wrong on Rob Bell and Love Wins (Among Other Things)"Christ and Culture. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  39. ^ Dalrymple, Timothy (March 21, 2011). "Eugene Peterson: Would Jesus Condemn Rob Bell?"ChurchLeaders.com. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  40. ^ Stevens, Mark (March 17, 2011). "Eugene Peterson defends Rob Bell and endorses his book…"Near Emmaus. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  41. ^ https://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/03/24/general-us-rel-hell-no_8372485.html[dead link]
  42. ^ Meacham, Jon (April 14, 2011). "Pastor Rob Bell: What if Hell Doesn't Exist?"Time.
  43. ^ Grand Rapids Press File Photo. "Release date of Rob Bell's new book moved up after online buzz erupts". MLive.com. Retrieved August 15,2013.
  44. ^ Wilson, John (March 18, 2011). "What Happened to Heaven and Is Gandhi There?"The Wall Street Journal.
  45. ^ Beam, Alex (March 18, 2011). "A heck of a theological debate"The Boston Globe.
  46. ^ "Rob Bell punches back against claims of heresy – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs". Religion.blogs.cnn.com. March 19, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  47. ^ "Heaven and Hell: Pastor Rob Bell Extended Interview". YouTube. September 7, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  48. ^ Almendrala, Anna (July 26, 2012). "Rob Bell's 'Love Wins' Out In Paperback, As Pastor Celebrates At The Viper Room"The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  49. Jump up to:a b "Hear Rob Bell support same-sex marriage, say Evangelicals need to 'repent'". MLive.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  50. ^ "Rob Bell returns in 'The Heretic': New film follows former pastor's 'revolution'". Retrieved October 3, 2018.

External links

* * * * * * * * *

Dear readers, I include the article below on Rob Bell to show how the evangelical church had treated him when he first came on their radar. Though written a year ago his remembrance is still unkind and treated with an air of indifference as if evangelical theology is the only game in town. It isn't.

I find it especially hard to find God in the very church structures and officious institutions which proclaim God when God's love is far from God's Self whom these Christians say they proclaim. 

Which is why I included this last article on my friend and brother in Christ, Rob Bell. His ideas differs from the mainstream ideas of God even as mine own do in other ways. And yet, we rightfully doubt the proclamations of men who say God is this or that, or does this or that.

If God's Love is not seen in the words or teachings of the church then they are looking at the wrong God whom Rob and I know and love.

R.E. Slater
April 28, 2021

What’s Rob Bell Been Up To?
An Update From 2011-2020

by Dustin Germain
March 10, 2020

For many people, the last they heard from Rob Bell was in 2011. He had risen to prominence in the early 2000s, fueled by his popular NOOMA video’s which kickstarted his mainstream fame, and later on with a series of books like Velvet JesusSex God, and Jesus Wants To Save Christians. Imbued with a gift for speaking and a propensity to

write things

deep things

in this style

he gained a massive following before social media really took off. He founded Mars Hill Bible Church in 1999, and within two years it had grown to one of the biggest churches in America, averaging almost 10,000 each service and making him a sought-after speaker. He was a rockstar in Evangelical circles whose materials were a mainstay for mainline youth groups. Seen as a thought-leader and a key player in the emergent church, it was believed that his influence would only grow.

He was also fodder for nascent discernment ministries who took some early potshots at him for aberrant theology. They would point to a throwaway line in Velvet Elvis where Rob Bell said that the virgin birth wasn’t that important, or the vagueness in which he spoke of the gospel and Jesus’ death on the cross, and hold these words up to scrutiny as proof he was unorthodox. Still, there was never really enough to convince most people that he was dangerous. His words weren’t great, but they were no smoking gun for the masses to see. He was just too vague and a little too nebulous that his defenders cried foul, dismissed the critics, and nothing really stuck.

Then, at the height of his fame, he released a book in March of 2011 titled Love Wins, which served to function as a full-throated defense of Universalism “Inclusivism” . The book essentially made the case that in the end, all people are ultimately saved because God is love and “love wins.”

The release of this book finally served as a big flashing light to many who were either ignorant of Rob Bell’s beliefs, or who had been wary of labeling him a heretic and continued to view him as a brother; being regarded as possibly a bit of provocateur, but our provocateur . They were able to explain away and needlessly give him the benefit a doubt for a lot of things he said, but this was one step too far. It made national news and was the talk of Christendom for weeks, prompting John Piper to infamously tweet “Farewell Rob Bell” as Rob was cast out of the kingdom.

To get an idea of the cultural impact this book wrought, In June 2011, Time Magazine named Rob Bell as one of the Top 100 most influential people in the world. Due to the book’s release he became even more famous, for a season, but it also had dire consequences at home.

A lot of his congregants supported him, but many did not. Before his book launch, Mars Hill had 10,000 attendees over two services on a Sunday morning. By the time he stepped down in September, six months after the release of the book and after months of hemorrhaging people, attendance had dropped 65% to less than 3500 people. His last day was January 8th, 2012, and after that, he vanished off the face of the earth. 

For a while

But what has Rob Bell been doing since? 

He moved his family out of Michigan and to the East Coast. Making his home in Los Angeles he has kept busy within the entertainment industry, becoming more and more forceful in his heretical beliefs and spreading forth his profanation far and wide without the constrains of his local church to more or less keep him in line.

In 2013 he was interviewed by Oprah for her Super Soul Sunday television program about his new book What We Talk About When We Talk About God, which she recommended in her “Book of the Month” club. Bonding over similar spiritual beliefs, he went on the road with her in 2014 on The Life You Want tour, gaining even more exposure and speaking on vaguely spiritual things with a distinct new-age feel. He mentioned God on occasion, but nothing that resembled biblical Christianity, which would have been an affront to Orpah’s audience. 

More to his degeneration, whereas before he stepped down he had been vague and coy on questions of biblical sexual ethics when asked by interviewers; Rob Bell came out openly in favor and acceptance of same-sex marriage in 2013. He spoke favorably of it during his 2014 book tour “The Zimzum Of Love” and likewise when appearing again with Oprah in 2015 during an interview, saying 

“One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.

I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life.”

In 2015 He started The Robcast, a popular podcast with over 265 episodes of occasionally spiritualish stuff, but not always, that is still going strong to this day. (He might interview a rabbi one day then talk to a celebrity about anxiety another day). He’s been touring extensively all over the world- France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, – visiting these countries and doing workshops, speaking at events, and teaching people how to be creative.

On top of devolving into a mass of liberal, progressive new-ageism, one of the most prominent targets and themes of all his projects is the idea that the Bible is “literary, but not literal.” To put it more bluntly, he pretty much regards the scriptures as bovine scatology. 

He released a book in May 2017 “What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything: with the goal of explaining the scriptures to those confused by it. Gary Gilley does a great job of laying out several of Rob Bell’s theological convictions regarding the sacred texts in the following four paragraphs:

“Probably the main message drawn from What Is the Bible? Is that the Bible is a thoroughly human book. It “is not a Christian book”; it “is a book about what it means to be human” (p. 4). It is not about Jesus and a narrow way to God (p. 16). Rather the Bible is a book produced purely by people sans any direct revelation from God (pp. 116-117188243-246266-267291295-296).

As a result, the Bible has all the problems, errors, contradictions, and wrong values that can be found in any human literature: “The Bible was written by people. People with perspectives, grounded in their cultures and times and places” (p. 243). Thus “God didn’t set up the sacrificial system. People did” (p. 244). This leads to the invention of the crucifixion.

Bell writes, “God didn’t need to kill someone to be ‘happy’ with humanity. What kind of God would that be? Awful. Horrific. What the first Christians did was interpret Jesus’ death through the lens of the sacrificial system [which of course they created, not God]” (p. 245). We, according to Bell, have misunderstood the cross-story all along. “The truth is, the story as we read it is actually a giant leap forward. It’s a story about humanity growing in maturity, leaving behind the idea that the divine needs blood. That’s the giant leap that’s happening in the New Testament. The Bible is a reflection of a growing and expanding human consciousness” (p. 245).

In response to a direct question, “Is the Bible the Word of God?” Bell does his usual dance: “Yes. Lots of things are” (p. 266). The Word of God can be found through books, human words, and experiences. “There are lots of words of God and you can and should listen to them all” (p. 267). In other words, there is nothing unique about the Bible; it is just one source, of a multitude; that is God’s word (see p. 173). Biblical accounts are often exaggerations (p. 80) and pure fabrications (p. 103) according to Bell. Nevertheless, we are assured that we can learn something from the stories anyway (pp. 94103240).

Further, in a 2017 interview with Lewis Howes, Rob Bell says, as to why Jesus came to earth: “I think Jesus came to wake us up and remind us of the shared humanity- the brother and sisterness of all of us.”

On his belief of what the Bible is and how we should view it: “The Bible has caused so much damage. In many ways it has often been an agent of dragging everything backwards, and it hasn’t participated in the ongoing evolution of humanity. It’s been a voice for primitive, outdated, violent, barbaric forces.” 

At this point, there is much evidence to suggest that he doesn’t even believe in a literal resurrection. Given that he has continued to twist the meaning of words, it’s hard to pin him down, but you get the impression that he doesn’t believe the literal resurrection of Jesus is a thing. He writes in his book:

“He’s alive? (Interesting that the people who were closest to Jesus and spent years with him don’t recognize him post-resurrection. Hmmm. The next time you hear someone insisting that it was an actual, literal resurrection, make sure you add that bodily must mean that he didn’t look like he looked before.)” What Is the Bible? (pp. 184-185). 

In 2018, filmmaker Andrew Morgan released a film on the life and work of Rob Bell, entitled “The Heretic.” The documentary takes you behind the scenes of what he’s been up to and what it’s like to be him these past few years, filled with Rob Bell waxing eloquent on this piece of theology or that. It’s supposed to be about what he believes and about what the Christian faith is, but there is scarcely anything present. As the film winds down, Andrew asks Rob Bell what’s the ONE THING he wants people to know, and Rob says, instead of giving the gospel or speaking of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, “What the modern world does is cut you off from depth, from fullness. The truth is everything you are working and striving for, you already have. So often we’re working, grasping, striving to feel worthy enough, when the good news is waiting for you that, ‘You are loved.’

In 2019 and beyond, he continued touring and doing more workshops and speaking events, between 30-40 shows a year. That year he went on his “Introduction to Joy” tour, which took him across America and overseas all throughout the UK. He’s been on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday several times over the past few years, doling out Rob Bellisms to an eager audience. He also has a residency at The Largo- a comedy club in L.A. where he performs frequently. As to what those shows look like, a typical one might be “I’ll talk on the soul and curiosity and risk and the power of framing language and a bit about something I saw at my cousin’s house.” Sounds scintillating.

This year, in 2020 he’s touring a bit with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Eat Pray Love, and you can attend a weekend workshop on “How to imagine” in early May for almost 1200$. He’s making monthly appearances at The Largo and doing his routine there, including a play he wrote. He also has several two-day workshops lined up this summer under the “Something to Say” monkier which are about being creative and getting unstuck from your way of thinking, at the low cost of 750$ a person.

As to Rob Bell’s trajectory and what the future has in store for him, we’re thankful his influence has waned and flamed out within the mainstream Christian Church. He’s on a downward spiral and he doesn’t seem to care. He’s growing more and more emboldened, and we’re thankful that boldness has difficulty taking root in the lives of true believers, given he’s long been exposed for the God-hating, Christ despising, Holy-Spirit blaspheming pagan that he is.