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How to Respond to a False Teacher (like Rob Bell)

Posted by | Friday, April 15, 2011 | 11:35 am CT


“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

I went to hear pastor Rob Bell speak at a church in the Minneapolis area last Monday night.  It was an illuminating evening on many levels (which I’ll share with you this weekend on the radio program) but one thing was abundantly clear: Rob Bell is what the Bible calls a false teacher (2 Peter 2:1).

He’s not just a teacher with a few errant beliefs, he’s a false teacher preaching a false gospel that will lead people to hell.  Consider just one quote from “Love Wins”, his wildly popular book that rose to No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list:

“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided, toxic, and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” (p. viii)

The heresy of Rob Bell is not some insignificant, inside-the-church petty squabble.  This topic is the cover story of this week’s Time Magazine with the headline, “What If There Is No Hell? A popular pastor’s best-selling book has stirred fierce debate about sin, salvation and judgment.”

So what should the Christian response be to Rob Bell and false teachers like him?   Should we just be happy that he’s bringing more people, especially young people, into “Christianity” through his edgy books and videos?  Should we pray for him, be kind, and “not judge”?  Or should we name false teachers by name and expose their heresies?  And what actually qualifies someone for “false teacher status”.  Tune into The Christian Worldview this weekend to find out and be sure to read articles listed below.

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