I've read many blogs and articles on Rob Bell. I've read all his books and listened to a lot of his talks.
Why are people calling him a heretic?
Maybe because he's questioning the Bible. Maybe its because he's saying things which challenge the traditions of the extreme-evangelical and conservative wings of the church.
He challenges traditional viewpoints. But how does he do it? He interprets the Bible in its original language, with an understanding of the Jewish culture in which the NT was written. He understands what it meant then, and he then goes on and applies those truths today.
He affirms the nicene creed - he believes in Jesus as the divine Son of God and risen Saviour of the world, the only way to be forgiven from our sins. He puts a lot of stall in scripture, he preaches from the Bible. He reads it in its original language, wording, meaning and context, not some new fangled one or one decided by the elite church rulers or King James centuries ago.
He challenges convention and tradition of church. He gets us to ask questions of God and His word to help us understand Him more and develop our relationship with Him more.
He preaches a gospel of action, rather than just words. Living like Jesus is the most important thing, being a Christian is living like Jesus in our every day lives.
I know someone else, far more important than Rob Bell, who 2000 years ago challenged the religious establishment and their traditions.
He lived out the scriptures perfectly, and challenged what was meant by different commands. He was controversial and it ended up being killed. He was effectively called a heretic too, He was told He was preaching what was of the devil.
Jesus was His name.
Called a heretic by the religious establishment - but the Son of God.
Rob Bell is impacting many lives for Christ today. His church in Michigan is impacting the lives of thousands and many people who were unchurched before are coming to faith in Christ. The NOOMA DVD's present Christian truths in a modern, easy to understand but challenging context, in particular for young people today.
Does what he say make us feel uncomfortable? Good. It might just be God challenging us to think outside the box, to really go outside our comfort zone rather than into one where we know what's going to happen at the end, where we already know all the answers.
Rob Bell wants us to engage with Jesus and ask Him scary questions we'd never thought of asking. Jesus got the disciples to learn by getting them to ask questions (which He had posed them). Children learn by asking questions. We are children of God.
I don't doubt the truth of Jesus as the risen Son of God and the Messiah who died for my sins, and I don't refute that the Bible is the divine word of God for us and contains fundamental truth for mankind.
But not to ask questions of God, so we can understand who He is better and experience Him more deeply?
The Bible doesn't say not to do that.
It says not to test God, but that's something different altogether.
Rob Bell isn't a heretic. He's merely trying to engage with God in a modern context, wants to find out the original meaning of the original text in its proper context and apply it today, to build a church how Jesus intended, to live like Jesus and isn't afraid to question God so He can know Him better.
Unless you're afraid to go out of your comfort zone beyond what you've always blindly accepted as a Christian, into the unknown, how are you going to grow?
Trust God and engage with Him. Go out of the comfort zone. Its the first step on to a deeper relationship with God