An Appeal to Rob Bell: Come Home, If it Ever Existed

In 1992 I visited Wheaton College and met the members of a really cool student band called “____ ton bundle“. These young guys, only five years older than me, were indie before there was indie. Their shaggy hair, quirky glasses, and almost hipster grunge-style, before there ever was grunge, brought an edge to an otherwise white male middle class Midwestern band.

I still have my cassette tape of their only album, “Taking My Donkey to Town,” even though I no longer own a cassette player. Fortunately, the album is online including one of my favorite songs, Decorations of You.

The song’s lyrics are personal, raw, humble; the melody, sweet. The singer croons about his heart being a home, a home full of fear that he asks to be changed, cleaned, and renovated. He invites the God of the Bible into his home. God enters, strips it bare, and begins redecorating. After renovation begins, he sings:

“Let my hallways always lead me to see Your grace,
 and let my windows open up so I can see Your face,
 Decorate my life,
 Oh Lord, from my ceilings hang,
 simple chandeliers that give off light in Your name.

“If my heart is a home, I want it to be true,
 That you came in and filled it all with decorations of You.”

Words to live by—wanting our hearts, the way we live as Christians to be rooted in truth that points to who Jesus Christ is. Our home is decorated by Him and for Him.

Why is this song, or this band significant? Because its leader and singer is Rob Bell.

Soon after my visit, Bell gave up his dream of singing in a band to preach. He founded Mars Hill Bible Church, one of the largest non-denominational churches in America, which he pastored until 2012.

It was also in 2012, twenty years later, that our paths crossed again when we spoke at one of his presentations, “Everything is Spiritual Tour,” following the publication of his book, Love Wins.

(In Love Wins, Bell argues that emphasizing Jesus’s teachings about hell 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.” Obviously Bell completely ignores the description of “Faithful and True” in Revelation 19, what Jesus said about himself, or that Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible combined.)

Since then, Bell has outspokenly supported gay marriage. His latest book confirms his move deeper into apostasy, knowing full well what he claims is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. By doing so he does a great disservice to both Christians and non-Christians.

Bell harms the gay community by promising gays “freedom to love.” By endorsing the “depravity [to which] they are enslaved,” Bell ignores the very claims he uses to negate hell: that Jesus forgives, restores, rebuilds, and offers freedom from all enslavement.

The timing of Bell’s “coming out for gay marriage” right before four upcoming Supreme Court rulings on marriage is no coincidence. And choosing now to speak with Oprah who has made clear her rejection of Christ is even more telling.

Bell’s advocacy is selfish, unloving, and negates the purpose of the gospel, which offers far more than what Bell claims about gays who “love each other and just want to go through life.” Just going through life is not the purpose of life.

Bell mocks the witness of Jesus Christ by suggesting to Oprah that the church “will become irrelevant if it rejects gay marriage.” But far worse is his actual suggestion that the church no longer use the Bible (“quote letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense”) for moral reasoning or right living.

If there ever was a definition needed, this is sadly a clear example of heresy.

Which is why I appeal to Rob Bell to come home—to the home you sang about in Decorations of You.

Return to the newly decorated home “the world may criticize,” in which your “beliefs are so different from the world’s.” Return to where you hoped that if the Lord walked through “this house of mine I hope my Lord is proud.”

Jesus and his followers clearly warned of what would happen to those who “introduce destructive heresies… seducing the unstable.” Jesus promised that preachers are held to a higher standard and will receive a greater reward or a greater punishment.

The “blackest darkness is reserved for” false teachers; they “will be judged more strictly” and “punished most severely” (2 Pet. 2:8-13, 17; Matt. 23; Luke 20:47; James 3:1).

False teachers “are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2 Pet. 2:20-21).

Rob Bell, return to those hallways you once sang about, to Seek His Face, to find God’s grace—if that home ever existed and any doors are still open.

Otherwise, the home you sang about was never more than an imaginary one.

February 20, 2015

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