Christianity Today (CT) recently interviewed Rob Bell about his book Jesus Wants to Save Christians.  And at the end of the interview, Galli asked Bell how he would present the gospel on Twitter.  Bell said:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

That’s the gospel?  Really?  That is not anywhere close to the gospel.  What Bell said had nothing to do about Jesus Christ’s person and work.  His gospel is not saving.  It is not God-centered or biblical.  If you had to Twitter the gospel, keep it short and sweet, how about this:

I would remind you of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1, 3-4).

Mark Galli, the interviewer, wrote at the beginning of the article that his book is “nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation — written, paradoxically, in Bell’s typical sentence-fragment style.”

That might even be more concerning to me given that CT calls themselves a magazine of “evangelical distinction.”  If Bell’s gospel is “evangelical,” then please, don’t call me that.

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7 thoughts on “I Might Be Giving Up on Christianity Today

  1. I am not a Bell fan to be sure, but I would say that his statement that the “the tomb is empty” could be the single most important part of the Gospel. Had Jesus come and died and the story ended there, there would be no good news. Without the ressurrection there is no Gospel. I think Bell is at least touching on this, but he doesn’t say it plainly enough. Remember he wants to be cool… mesh well with all the hipsters out there. Poetic and stuff.

    Keep up the good work James, you’re a great witness to those who know you.

  2. Stacey,

    That part is important, but he failed to mention Jesus’ name, haha. Also, the tomb is empty, yes, but what about atonement for sins? What about the bruising Jesus took to satisfy the wrath of God? What about the fact that we are ill-deserving people who get to enjoy the greatest Treasure because a Man met the righteous requirement of the law (Rom. 8:4)? These are important things that Bell doesn’t just miss–he completely ignores.

    Anyway…thanks for the encouragement!

  3. I agree, a gospel without defining sin and transgression against God and the need of repentance is no gospel. There is no good news if there is not bad news. Satan belives in the empty tomb or is at least well aware of it. I have given up on CT and as a matter of fact, I think of it now as Un-Christianity Today.

    The good news of hope and heaven is not the message of the empty tomb. Heaven is a wonderful by product, but the reason man needs to repent and be saved is that he is condemned, judged, and God is angry with him. The good news is that he did determinen to bruise and crush his own son in order to be satisfied and to dispense grace and forgivenss. Alas, I preach.

  4. Here’s mine:

    Jesus died to bring sinners to God.

    7 words. Proper grammar. More gospel than Rob Bell’s entire paragraph.

  5. Bell avoided answering the question to be sure; I’m wondering if there might be something more substantial in the actual book than what was articulated in the interview (although, I frankly doubt it).

    CT’s been doing a fairly decent job of being balanced in general, which can be incredibly difficult at the best of times, and almost impossible when dealing with someone like Rob Bell.

    Maybe it’s best to give them another shot before writing them off?

  6. Aaron,

    I have been giving CT a lot of shots, but I won’t give up on them quite yet. However, it still concerns me that the author of the interview wrote that “his book is “nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation — written, paradoxically, in Bell’s typical sentence-fragment style.”

    The truth is that it’s not biblical theology.

    Nevertheless, I know that Tim Keller writes fro CT every now and then. They do have other quality, biblical authors like him, too. I just have to be careful if I suggest CT to others because, honestly, I just don’t agree with everything they publish.

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