Question: I read a blog by Greg Boyd recently that took to task guys like John Piper who tweeted, when Rob Bell’s book on hell came out, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” He said that the greatest heresy in Christianity was failing to love as Christ loved, even and especially more so than having wrong doctrine.
Answer: I would agree that Boyd makes a good point but would suggest that his point is not explicit enough. What does he do with Jesus’ denunciation of the Pharisees (Matthew 23) or Paul’s wish that those who taught that circumcision as necessary for salvation would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12) and that if they preach a gospel other than what Paul preached they are eternally condemned (Galatians 1:9)? Sometimes love means loving those who would be endangered by a false gospel enough to warn them of the voracious and hateful attacks of the enemy. This means exposing the false teachers’ falsity and making clear what is at stake if you embrace their false gospel.
However, Boyd is right that we are too quick to use the term “heretic” when it applies to someone who really doesn’t compromise the gospel. We ought to engage those who teach things like Bell has on hell to make sure they are not compromising the gospel. He claims that he still believes that he must preach Jesus as the only way. He is, in my opinion, dangerously near the edge, but not over it yet. Here is where Boyd is right on about how we fail to engage one another lovingly and as brothers and sisters before we shoot off about how heretical they are. To be fair, Rob Bell has been on the doctrinal edge for many years now in the opinion of many. Great caution is warranted when embracing his views. But until he repudiates the core of the gospel, he is our brother and needs our love.
- Review: LOVE WINS: A Book about HEAVEN, HELL, and the Fate of Every Person who Ever Lived by Rob Bell (mitchdiemer.com)
- John MacArthur: Rob Bell Is Heretically Wrong! (antagoniz.wordpress.com)
- Rob Bell Heresy Costs Pastor His Job (hambydammit.wordpress.com)
- Rob Bell is a Universalist – He Said it Himself (compassiondave.wordpress.com)
- Doug Wilson on the arrogance of Rob Bell (justaftersunrise.wordpress.com)
- Video interview with Rob Bell on Justin Brierly’s apologetics radio show.
- Review of “Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins” by Douglas Phillips