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Postmodern Ministry Takes Us Back to The Bible
David Posthuma @ Jun 3, 2005 02:33 PM
If you ask most church leaders what trait most typifies the Echo-Boomer generation (ages 15 – 33), the likely response will be that the current generation does not believe in absolute truth…that the young adult decides for themselves what is true.  Repeatedly, I have heard church leaders regale against the current relativistic generation because they tend to perceive such young adults as de-valuing Scripture.  I believe this perception is inaccurate.

It is very true that today’s young adult wants to judge for themselves what is true…and this includes the process of knowing God.  The Echo-Boomer has no love for the know-it-all pastor who tells the congregation what to believe and how to live.  At the same time, the Echo-Boomer displays little long-term appreciation for topical talks we label as “Seeker Services”.  They know intrinsically that God is much more complex than these feather-weight talks convey.  The Echo-Boomer, above all things seeks authenticity.  They are marketing savvy.  They can smell a packaged presentation a mile away…they have trained themselves to disbelieve any thing that does not display true authenticity.

A Severe Impact Upon Church Services

The impact such cultural distinctives will have upon our worship services are severe.  The presentational and programmed model of ministry that has been so prevalent over the last 35 years is now finding waning support among young adults…particularly those who have not been raised within a Christ-centered faith community.  As one young adult communicated to me some time ago: “It doesn’t take a real Christian to put on a Christian show”.  And, from the perception of many Echo-Boomers, that is what many of our churches have become…merely a show, a performance, filled with a live band, drama, multimedia, lighting and entertaining talks.  

If It Was Good Enough for Us, then….

Ministry leaders make a fundamental error in believing that the model that was good enough for the Boomers must be good enough for the Echo-Boomers.  The labels themselves should help us understand that the two cultures are very distinct from one another.  An “Echo” occurs when sound bounces off from another object.  In the case of the Echo-Boomer, there are many facets of the Boomer’s values that the Echo-Boomer reacts against (i.e., bounces off from).  Below are but a few documented traits:

Boomers value how things look…they believe a professional corporate image and presentation adds credibility.

Echo-Boomers value how things feel…the perception of normal authentic life is far more important than image and presentation which is viewed as always false.

Boomers value independence and control.  The Boomer generation has been fundamentally a rebellious culture.

Echo-Boomers value the group and group-think.  They seek to be inclusive and participate as a valued member of a team.

Boomers tend to be culturally self-serving, creating the systems and structures they value for themselves.

Echo-Boomers tend to be self-effacing; they will tend to “walk away” from a community that does not fit them, rather than try to transform the community to their needs.

Boomers create mega-church empires through their neo-institutionalism; they may have rebelled against institutionalism in the 1960’s, but have consequently created their own institutions that they can control themselves.

Echo-Boomers have a fundamental distrust of any organized institution.  In January of 2005, CBS held a focus group study of the Echo-Boomer generation.  Their study revealed 0% trust in organized institutions.  Influenced by the flat-structure of the internet, Echo-Boomers tend to value decentralized structure and authority.


Postmodern Ministry has Raised Discipleship from the Dead
The stresses of the presentational and programmed ministry model have resulted, over the past 35 years, in a devaluing of Biblical discipleship.  There simply has not been enough time nor energy to offer meaningful and in-depth Biblical and Spiritual Formation training.  The traditional Sunday school format is dominated by those younger than twelve and older than 55 years of age.  The absence of the Echo-Boomer from the classroom has caused some pastoral leaders to believe that today’s generation is not interested in the Bible.  I believe such a perception is inaccurate.  The Echo-Boomer simply learns and relates differently than any previous generation.

Today’s generation is starving for God.  They want to know God intimately.  In April of 2004, the Pew Internet and American Life study demonstrated that the #1 search category on the internet was “Spirituality and Religion”.  In fact, 65% of online Americans have used the internet for spiritual research purposes.  Today’s generation seeks God, but they highly distrust packaged religion.  If your ministry seeks to “package” God and the Christian life in every Sunday service, the young adult will avoid your ministry.  But if your ministry can adopt an attitude and atmosphere that communicates “we are all learning together”, and are able to facilitate Biblical learning…by allowing the Bible to speak for itself…then the young adult will have open ears and open hearts.  

Facilitation also implies personal participation.  To facilitate Biblical training and application requires that our services become much more interactive.  A common methodology utilized is in-service journaling.  Through the use of journaling, while providing moments of quiet introspection, prayer and reflection throughout the learning process, the participant has an opportunity interact authentically with God.  The old preaching paradigm told people how to live and expected them to apply the teaching once they exited the church doors.  The postmodern preaching paradigm enables the individual to spiritually participate in the immediacy of the moment.

An excellent example of a postmodern "Biblical Facilitation" ministry is Mars Hill of West Michigan.  Much has been written about this 10,000 attendee ministry and its bleached blond, barefoot pastor, Rob Bell.  But if you were to visit this church, you would be taken back by how basic and raw everything is.  The atmosphere is warehouse like.  The band plays on the floor and there is no visible worship leader.  There is no drama, no staging and no special lighting effects.  The heart of Mars Hill is Biblical facilitation.  Rob Bell will open the Bible and guide the participants through lengthy passages of Scripture.  He permits Scripture to speak to Scripture.  Rob is also an excellent facilitator.  He consistently utilizes journaling and participatory dynamics to enable the individual to meet with God in the moment.

Below I present an MP3 of a teaching by Rob Bell.  I present this teaching for one purpose alone…to illustrate how radically different postmodern Biblical facilitation is from the Seeker-Sensitive Topical Talk model so prevalent within our churches today.  I encourage you to listen quietly and reflectively to the entire teaching.  Do what Rob asks you to do.  And when the teaching is concluded, consider for yourself whether you feel as if you not only learned about God, but more importantly, met with God.  I believe that if our pastor's can re-educate themselves to utilize Biblical facilitation, they will find that both young and old, as well as seeker and leader, will highly value and appreciate the methodology. Additional teachings can be found on the Mars Hill website.




(click here to download into a new window)

Comments
Hello

I listened to Rob Bell via your website. I do not attend a church anymore for many of the reasons you listed in your opening article, but I do read the Bible and I do sit quietly many times throughout the day. During my quiet times I tend to be objective to all the many thoughts that come to me then I bring myself out of those thoughts when I see them dragging me in. I do not practise ignoring thoughts, just being objective to them. I do not use music or candles or mantras, nothing. God has shown me many things about myself.

Whilst I thought Rob was helpful I hope you will take my comments into consideration based on the many years I have come to know God.

Firstly, I learnt that God did not love me as I was. I used to think He did for many years because a pastor told me this and consequently I suffered terribly for this. God has however in his mercy chastised me and corrected me. He has also allowed me to suffer. Some of this suffering was vital in order to correct me. I had to see what I did wrong and not excuse myself in a breath, I had to go to Him and wait, and in this patience and longing for Him forgiveness came. I also had to suffer at the hands of others for many years and I did so thinking I was being a christian and not standing up for myself. God showed me how to stand up for myself and not make friends with evil, but I suffered for many years appeasing people thinking I was being a christian person.

God does not love us as we are. He does however love us enough to save us from what we have become.

The problems we write down and breath out will quickly return to a mind that is swept out, and it will bring others with it if we think for one moment that God loves us as we are

I would add that I have noticed it is anger and resentment that the whole world suffers from stemming from injustice. It is deeply embedded, and it is this that keeps us away from our Father. God will not be present until all of that is left.

In the first instance when I could see that I had some anger in me because a phone would not work, I would notice quickly that there was something in me that was prideful. Rob did that, but quickly passed it off. When you work on these little things after years the big things dont touch you much. You can stand in the face of injustice, or the Sanhedrin, and not respond.

Whilst I appreciate he is trying to help people, and many of the things he said were good, there were many things that were very wrong. You can write things down till all your life, until you get rid of anger my observing every little dot of it inside you, you'll continue to suffer.

When Jesus taught he used parables that had a deep truth in them. This truth spoke for itself in a wordless way, and you had to hear it in the silence. It does exist in silence.
The use of music towards the end of the tape however very subtly pulled the person into a sensuous side of their nature in order to break them down to accept a message. This is classic brainwashing technique. The moment I hear this I walk away from any type of service.

I do not like to be seduced into accepting something and music is very good at doing this. You have to be quite a strong person not to be controlled by it.

You can get a message over about anything when you use music in the background.

Rob Bells message looked good, tasted good and felt good and were all very sensory devices that appealed to the ego. We as people are not great beyond what we could know. Only God is great, and we have to get Us and our Will out of the way. It takes some doing.

All my very best. Shirley



comment by Shirley Edwards — Oct 11, 2006 06:05 AM (UTC-4)
I listened to part of the tape but could not continue when I reached the part where he started telling me breath deeply and to invite the breath (spirit) into me. He said I should ask God to take care of each of the problems separately.

Well all this is well and good, but there was something wrong in the feeling of ibreathing the spirit into me. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I just cannot accept that part. It is more like I am inviting whatever spirit to guide me and I don't mean the spirit of God, even though that is what he said. I can not believe that the spirit that will come in and dwell will be the spirit of God.

We receive the Holy Spirit when we come to Christ and that is all the spirit filling I need. I did not feel that "breathing in the spirit" was breathing in the spirit of God.

I realize I may offend some, but that is my feeling and my opinion.
comment by Mary Singleton — Oct 11, 2006 09:29 AM (UTC-4)
Pastor Rob's teaching has NOTHING whatsoever to do with what the Bible teaches about getting rid of anger and sin. It's yoga cloaked in religious language and put into a bible-like wrapper. The biblical approach is not to look within, to pump it up with a lot of air. It is to look without, to look at Christ and Christ alone, at His atonement which propitiated the wrath of God, and to find therein forgiveness and life eternal.
comment by jose — Oct 11, 2006 10:21 AM (UTC-4)
Rob Bell and 'his message' actually made me not want to breathe!
What a master manipulator of God's Word. How dare he use God’s Word to falsely teach these young impressionable minds this garbage.
I'm tired of men like this perverting the Word of God....I for one am not going to take this and plan on taking this man straight to the Lord.

Pray for Discernment!

Lea Carrion
Rob is going to a local Yoga class there in Michigan? There is NO Holy Spirit involved with this practice! We must pray for him to see he is calling upon demonic powers to "center" him and innocent sheep.
What a heart breaker.
comment by Onesimus — Oct 11, 2006 12:06 PM (UTC-4)
If I had of been there and had a piece of paper given to me to write down what was really making me angry, would be the satanic apostasy, new age if you will being preached from false teachers that Paul warned us of, who have thrown out the goopel of Jesus Christ for mystism, lies of Satan, the new religion is humanism all signed up under the Catholic Cult to bring Christians, Muslims and Jews, Hindu, budism and all religions together under Mary most high..the one world government church who will ride the beast ! I am appalled of the falling away of some of the well known teachers who have fallen and are being followed draging much of the world with them. G-d tells us, His Kingdom is NOT of this world,and Paul was like crying when he warned of wolves coming in sheeps cotheing, who think they replaced Israel..How sad, when we are told as scripture tells us that Israel is future, a seperate people who have a everlasting covenant with G-d. He is NOT a Covenant breaker. and if the churches of today think He is, why do they believe in the cross covenant..? Apostasy comes just before the rapture..No one sits on the fence. and genesis 12:3 stands forever..think about that !!!!!
comment by kim segar — Oct 11, 2006 12:24 PM (UTC-4)
Rob is so unchristian in his thinking and teaching that it dangerous. He is leading people down the broad road, and one day he will answer for this.
He needs the wisdom, guidance etc. he gives as examples of what God will give us. A true man of God would never refer to Our Heavenly Father as "the big guy".
We receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ as our personal Savior. Until that time, all the deep breathing in the world will not fill anyone with the Spirit of God.
Rob Bell is a messenger of Satan, a wolf in sheeps clothing.
I pray he will see the error of his ways and repent and deny all of this new age mystism while he still can, while there is breath left in him.

















comment by Kay Griffith — Oct 11, 2006 02:19 PM (UTC-4)
If anyone listened to, and paticipated in the little breathing/new age/yoga (a.k.a. SATANIC LIE FROM THE PIT OF HELL)... I'm sure you DID have some sort of spiritual experience. But which kind of experience did you have?
When God seems to withdraw His Presence and hide His face from us, it is so we will grow up in faith and seek Him wholeheartedly; it is so we will lay aside our worldliness and pride. Instead, you have people seeking more emotional experiences. Rob Bell has made "feelings" the focus of worship. THIS IS NOT RIGHT! IT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!
Anyone who reads this who disagrees and who thinks they know better should go into a locked room and get on their faces before God until He answers and either get saved or repent of their self-indulgent ways.
comment by tyler — Oct 11, 2006 02:46 PM (UTC-4)
Christainity is not a method. Rob reduces our lifestyle to that. A facilitator of the Bible? Jesus is OUR TEACHER. We should strive to be as He was-asking questions, speaking in stories, proclaiming truth, glorifying the Father, etc. I read Scripture, live by it, proclaim it, just as Rob does. We will both be in heaven because we both call upon the name of the Lord. There are some major differences in our theology, however. Jesus never taught me to breathe deeply, He didn't have to. The Life Source was already given. I don't have to conjure up freedom-the price has already been paid. I don't have to practice yoga to obtain a centeredness. I don't have to journal or write down my angry thoughts. I do repent when I get angry and sin, though. I do ask for forgiveness when I am out of balance and disobey the Word of Truth. There is a dangerous teaching coming from Mars Hill Ministries. The 10,000 people attending that you speak of in your article need to think, rethink, and rethink again their thinking! Rob would do well to do the same. Let us remember that the first voice Jesus heard after His forty days in the wilderness was Satan himself. Rob teaches his followers to put too much trust in man alone-opening the door for a serious intruder. One that will rob, steal, and destroy. Paul warns us about the false teacher. The emergent church is producing a few that we should all beware of.
comment by libby — Oct 11, 2006 03:54 PM (UTC-4)
Rob Bell has a very hypnotic voice and uses it masterfully along with the timed silences.

There seemed to be an emphasis on human beings designated as a 'clod of dirt.' We must remember the Bible also tells us we are made in God's image. Jesus did not die for 'a clod of dirt.' Is this part of the philosophy of 'tearing down and then building up?'

I was distracted once or twice during the teaching, however I became concerned about half way through the 36 minutes. I could not remember the name of Jesus being mentioned. Was His name mentioned at all? The emphasis of the speech was not on Jesus and yet the Bible tells us "There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Jesus himself said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me." No amount of breathing in or out will change those words for anyone.

Rob uses the term 'the spirit' frequently. There are many spirits in the world today and we must be very careful in 'breathing in a spirit.' The Holy Spirit comes to live within us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What spirit then is breathed in and out?

And finally, Yoga is an ancient Hindu philosophy. Hinduism has many gods.

Yoga's primary purpose is a mystical union of the human soul with the universal spirit! Need anyfurther further be said?
comment by Stella — Oct 11, 2006 04:26 PM (UTC-4)
I don't know what you are all talking about, the things that Rob said are right at the heart of Christianity. They are also to the heart of Judaism. Any Pastor or Rabbi would tell you the same things about Ruach and Pneuma, as well as any christian counselor (one who provides pastoral care) would tell you the wholistic approach to our relationship to God is essential.

Your fears of spirits that are not from God, demonic activity and apostacy are nothing more than myths, vodoo, and fundamentalist lies. You are taking Rob out of context and placing your own anxieties, fears, insecurities, and biases on what he is telling these kids.

We cannot be in-authenic to God. God will know our devisiveness if we attempt to hide those parts of ourselves which are sinful.

Martin Luther spoke of authenticity to God in a passage that is also taken out of context more often than not. He said that if you are going to believe in Grace, then believe in true Grace and not fictitious Grace. And “If Grace is true, you must bear a true and not fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are in this world, we have to sin…[but] no sin will separate us from the Lamb [of Christ].”


This is not a new idea that Luther came up with. God told the Israelites a similar thing through the prophet Isaiah. God Said, where is the certificate of divorce that separated us? There is none. Or to which of my creditors have I sold you? I have not. Why was there no one there when I came? Why did no one answer when I called? Is my hand so short that I cannot reach you? My hand can dry up the sea and make rivers into deserts. I clothe the night sky in stars and blackness. And I give you words to sustain one another when you are weary. Morning after morning I waken your ear to hear. I the Lord God will help you. Do not be disgraced. Do not be put to shame. I will help you. [Isaiah 50]

The people who are the most reactive to this presentation by Rob are the ones who need to hear it the most. I pray that the Spirit of God, the Pneuma, the Ruach of God, would enter into them, dwell within them, and allow God to touch their lives. For the sake of Christ, it may be the first time they have been touched by God.
comment by Pastor Dan — Oct 11, 2006 04:45 PM (UTC-4)
The "deceit' continues in all avenues. I did not hear anything about the Finished Work of Christ. Christ at Calvary, provided all that we need in life and godly living. It is His Holy Spirit that has been given the job of glorifying Christ, Sanctification of the Believer and revealing Truth to His People. Its all in the Cross! It is not a body made of dirt, its the "sin nature" that causes us to behave in ungodly manners. If we keep our Faith focused on the Finished Work of Christ, it allows the Holy Spirit to do His Work in us of Sanctification. and that is the only way. The unbeliever is bound by the Law of Sin and Death, whereas the Believer is under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. We should not be controlled by the sin nature. Christ came to pay for our past, present and future sin. We sin because we have lost the focus of our faith. Christ is the Source, the Cross is the Means and the Holy Spirit is the Power Source. We receive the Holy Spirit at conversion and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a separate Work of Grace when we seek Him to receive it. But it doesn't come by "breathing" Him in. He is already within us, the Word tells us that is true. For those of us that desire the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, what John the Baptist spoke of for one place, we must be born again first. Our Heavenly Father will not give us anything demonic. That is all the Bible tells us we need. Sadly, too many do not read their Bibles, and some who do have no understanding. Some of what Bob said in the way of the Hebrew and Greek is correct but misused as he did the same with the Scripture. The enemy perverts and attempts to bring us to accept "another Jesus" that the Apostle Paul spoke of in Galatians. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived in this last hour. The Lord tells us even the very elect, which is Israel, but we are candidates for deception as well. Adam was named Adam because he was created by God from the earth, all names were given then according to the character or characteristics of the person, thus Adam was named after "red earth" which is what his name means. The names of people in the Bible are told to us, in some instances, why they were named so. To understand why we act the way we do, read Romans 6-8, understanding that the "definite article" was used in the origional text. Meaning that "sin" used as a noun (person place or thing) is the sin nature as the word "the" is before it, reading "the sin nature." The sin nature is mentioned some 16 ro 17 times in Romans 6 alone, meaning the sin nature, not acts of sin. If the word "sin" is used as a "verb", or an action word, it is acts of sin. If you read a Youngs Literal Translation, you can see exactly what I am saying and it becomes much clearer that the problem is the sin nature and how the Holy Spirit works in us. Youngs Literal gives the word for word as written. It doesn't read as smoothly as our English but is will show you some things. Words in our English are not in the Hebrew and Greek and sometimes substitutions are used. Youngs Literal Translation can be founf at Bible.com if anyone is interested. We need to pray for all lost sinners, we were once in that group. Most importantly, we must be ready to give all who will hear, the reason for the Hope that is within us. Jesus warned us of perilous times and the deception, we must be wise as the serpent and gentle as a dove. Blessings..........

comment by Sandra Trank — Oct 11, 2006 04:53 PM (UTC-4)
I can't believe what I am hearing, this is New Age Occultism in it's subtle form. This is a seduction into the occult. I know because I was saved out of this and now it is coming into the Church. I think that this is God cleaning out His church.

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Sandra has done a wonderful job of clarifying the confusion, ignorance and mythology that has arisen in the outskirts of the Christian faith. In other words, the only thing cultic is the tangental forms of vodoo-christianity that people here are trying to justify.

Christ's work is not finished, there is no culmination. To say that God acted difinitively in Christ's death would be to say that God is no longer a living God, one who was and is and will be. We put God in a box. The moment we define what God can and cannot do, we become just as bad as those to whom Christ was preaching to in his day. Look, God is doing a new thing. Do you not yet perceive it in 2006?

Everyone seems to say here that they have no sin once they are saved, that they are under the Law of the Spirit. Yet if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sin, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We cannot not sin. It is impossible. Daily we must die with Christ and Daily we must be united with him in his resurrection.

The kingdom of God is both here and not yet. These are not the end days! This is the kingdom of God in the hear and now. Yet these are the end days, and we maintain the vigil for the return of Christ. It is not difinitive.

We become the body of Christ and continue God's work in this kingdom just as Christ did when he walked among us. We should rejoice that we can breathe the Spirit of God, that we Eat the Body and Blood of Christ, and that we live in the very creation of God. Remember, God created everything and said it was Good! God did not create breath, thought, life, air, etc. and say it was bad or possessed with spirits of darkness.

You cannot be saved or born again unless you admit your sin. When you deny your sin and claim to live in a Law of the Spirit **only** you live a lie. We must live under the Law of both Sin and Spirit. It is only through the Law/Gospel can even begin to understand our relationship with God and with one another.
comment by Pastor Dan — Oct 12, 2006 11:26 AM (UTC-4)
This is insanity. Bell is opening up believers to Kundalini yoga, one of the most dangerous forms of yoga there is, that inevitably leads to demon possession, regardless of the ridiculous claims here that fear of demon possession is voodoo Christianity. You need to go look at the facts about Yoga and you'll understand how deadly this all is:
http://cana.userworld.com/cana_yoga.html
I have BEEN in the occult. I know how Bell is opening the gates of hell into the hearts of ignorant people. This is WRONG!
Gregory Reid
comment by Dr Gregory Reid — Oct 12, 2006 02:44 PM (UTC-4)
I listened to the audio presentation. We are poweful beyond measure? He likes that. God is All Poweful, not humans. The light that is within us? Without Jesus, the Son of the Living God on the inside of us and in our lives, the only light that we have is darkness. Anyone who is truly born again and listening to the Voice of the Good Shephard, will not listen to or follow any of what I have heard on this audio. May the Spirit of the Truth and Living God, convict this young mans heart. He needs to fall on his face before God, repent and ask for forgiveness. Then make sure He comes back to the Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

C.J.
comment by C.J. — Oct 13, 2006 10:36 PM (UTC-4)
This is definetly not scriptural. He is just caught up in the ways of the world.
comment by Daniel Ayotte — Oct 15, 2006 09:38 PM (UTC-4)
God isn't doing a NEW thing, the new thing is for those who don't care how they get spiritually high, as long as they get jazzed.

Interesting though how it is always those who don't study the WORDS God BREATHED out for our instruction and sanctification that are so quickly and easily deceived. Humanity never ceases to amaze me.... I just wish they would stop calling this stuff Christianity!
For Rob Bell and all who reject those who study God's word, God speaks loud and clear.

John 6:63
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth NOTHING: the WORDS that I speak unto you, THEY are spirit, and THEY are life.

1 Timothy 4: 1The Spirit clearly SAYS that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with SOUND DOCTRINE. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears WANT to hear.

My prayer is for those who aren't sure about this and/or feel uneasy, it is the Spirit telling you to RUN! Listen and make haste!

comment by frmdeath2life — Oct 17, 2006 07:06 PM (UTC-4)
I had heard comments to the effect that the “Emergent” leaders displayed a tendency to syncretism. Bell’s approach, however, is not a “tendency” but a full-tilt running leap. I spent years in the “counterculture” with its enthusiasm for occult/eastern disciplines and its embrace of man-centered “spiritualities” such as yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation, climaxing (so to speak) in what is euphemistically referred to as “sacred sexuality” (that is apparently the subject of Bell’s next book, so he’s right on schedule). This is appalling. This is worldly spirituality. Except for the veneer of Christian God-talk, there is no difference between Bell’s proposals and the practices of hippiedom in Haight-Ashbury circa 1967.
comment by Brooks Alexander — Oct 19, 2006 06:38 PM (UTC-4)
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household.

Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,

1Jo 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Jud 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jud 1:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life.
Jud 1:22 But pity some, making distinction.
Jud 1:23 But save others with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment having been stained from the flesh.
Jud 1:24 Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy;
Jud 1:25 to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty and might and authority, even now and forever. Amen.
comment by Bob Perkins — Oct 19, 2006 06:40 PM (UTC-4)
Rob Bell does not use very good exegesis and has poor historical conclusions not to mention a poor grasp on the concept of scripture revelation. He uses way to much analogical language to make propositional statements.
comment by mac davis — Oct 25, 2006 07:23 PM (UTC-4)
This is supposed to be an example of how "postmodern ministry takes us back to the Bible"? Call it a pep talk, call it group therapy, but don't call it Biblical ministry.

Some may protest otherwise, but if this is typical of pomo Christianity, then its ministers are continuing in the grand old Boomer tradition of topical "messages." There was no mention of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just a bunch of blather about "breathing out" stuff that ticks you off. No different than going to a shrink, really.
comment by tigger — Oct 25, 2006 10:26 PM (UTC-4)
Guys, upstanding religious people in the first century who knew Scripture said JESUS was a drunk, a glutton, demon possessed, and that his ministry was empowered by Satan ("he casts out demons by the ruler of demons.") Almost makes you think that maybe today, maybe sometimes, God could be at work and religious people could think it's of the Devil.

Can we invite evil spirits by engaging in OCCULT activity? Sure. But if, in prayer and meditation, you are inviting the HOLY Spirit, don't you think God's serious about "what father among you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent? So God will give the Holy Spirit to whoever asks him!" If you're inviting the Holy Spirit (even if-- horrors-- you take some deep breaths) you're not going to get a demon. So let's leave off superstition, ditch the critical spirits, lighten up and trust God.

comment by Jessica — Oct 26, 2006 02:04 PM (UTC-4)
As a person living in the Michigan area who very briefly attended Mars Hill bible church, I would like to give you my first hand experience of Rob Bell. Rob Bell is a highly intelligent, persuasive, funny and engaging individual. I found myself extremely drawn to his charisma and fast paced style. However after attending once my husband and I found ourselves asking each other "Did you agree with what he said today?" After much discussion we agreed that maybe we were just taking things out of context and that we were probably just caught up in the excitement of the "mega church" environment. I mean how could so many people be wrong? People we knew had been raving about Mars Hill and how Rob Bell was the most amazing teacher they had ever heard. After our next time in attendance however the conviction of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming, and I went home to research one of the terms I had heard at Mars HIll - narrative theology. I found myself reading for hours about, the emergent church movement, Rob Bell and his hero Brian McClaren. To be perfectly honest after reading what this movement is all about I was embarrassed to have ever been in attendance. I found myself deeply grieving the fact that so many people could be fooled. Jesus came full of grace and truth. Truth is not being taught at Mars Hill. When I e-mailed them some very basic questions pertaining to the Christian faith they would only answer them with responses such as" we don't want to waste our time arguing about such trivial things." Grace without Truth is not what Jesus practiced or taught. Please pray with me for correction and wisdom for this congregation of people who are being deceived.
My wife and I heard this talk yesterday. I am writing about my concerns not on paper but on a computer and SHOUTING them rather than breathing them out.
1. In all fairness Bell’s efforts to relate to a post modern generation in an interactive way are appreciated. We must not see Christianity only through our own locked in cultural paradigm.
2. The limited information on the Holy Spirit was helpful.
3. The interactive style has some merit. However, excellent communication techniques are of little value if the message is confusing or inaccurate.
4. Bell asks people to express what makes them angry. It’s OK to be angry about some things around us - God himself was angered by the tower of Babel, the lifestyle of the people of Noah’s day, what was happening in Sodom, the golden calf, the leaven of the Pharisees and the Laodicean church to name a few examples. (I suspect he is angered about much of what he sees in the church today.) The anger we need to take to Jesus primarily relates to personal offences.
5. The deep breathing exercises Bell teaches are also taught by my wife in her prenatal instruction to provide relaxation and to lower blood pressure. My daughter has learned such yoga style exercises in some New Age thinking she is into presently to get rid of bad stuff and get in touch with her ‘real self’. Bell’s deep breathing does not deal with the offence that one’s sin is to a holy God, nor does it result in receiving of the Holy Spirit.
6. Bell does not discriminate between the two different situations to consider as one comes to Jesus for forgiveness and cleansing (as previously noted, Jesus is not even mentioned.) Sin of course is simply, “me first, I will be the God of my own life”.
(a) If a person does not have a relationship with God he/she needs to recognize and confess that his/her actions and very bent to sin are offensive to God and a barrier to any relationship. Then he/she can receive the forgiveness available through Jesus Christ. At this point a new relationship with God is established.
(b) One the other hand, if a person already has an established relationship with God, then he/she only needs to confess the unconfessed sins that have cluttered his/her life and has tainted the relationship, and receive Christ’s forgiveness to reestablish harmony and communion with his/her Heavenly Father and lover. The issue of the sin nature was dealt with back when the relationship was established.
7. Bell refers to the writers of scripture as the ‘ancients’ who came to believe certain things. In fact they were much more than that. They were the agents of God whose words the scriptures assure us were God breathed.
My wife and I have been alerted to some concerns about the use of Bell’s material for the youth at our church. We are reading the Velvet Elvis book and gleaning information on the Emergent Church movement. Hearing this talk of Bell’s heightens our concern level considerably and tends to confirm in our minds the issues raised by credible critics of this movement. -Earl-
comment by Earl — Nov 13, 2006 11:09 AM (UTC-5)
-4 years undergraduate at an evangelical institution majoring in religion.

-seminary, evangelical, studying masters in divinity.

i listened to this message and found nothing wrong with it. i find it biblically solid, historically accurate (with regards to early church father's spiritual and monastic practices of breathing and meditation), and spirit led.

frankly, i am amazed at the responses i'm reading here. however, i will not claim to have a greater unerstanding of truth than the previous posters. i am just amazed and wondering if we even listened to the same message. since listening to this sermon, i have proceeded to listen to at least 30 hours of mr bell's messages. all of which i have found critically sound. beyond this, i have been encouraged to continue to return to the scriptures and dig deep where i have taken issue with mr bell.

are the people posting expecting to just be given 'answers' by a preacher? i hope not. i hope there is a desire to grow close to God through study of scripture. i rarely agree with anyone wholeheartedly...yet, i won't throw them under the 'religious' bus claiming to have a monopoly on the vastness of who God is. Paul continues to remind us in the New Testament that for now we 'know in part'. God have mercy on those quick to judge. Please God.
comment by brad grinnen — Dec 15, 2006 12:37 AM (UTC-5)
Amen Brad!

It has become hard to tell who is proclaiming Christ from envy and rivalry, and who is proclaiming Christ from goodwill. It has become unclear who is defending the Gospel out of selfish ambishion and who is defending out of sincerity. (Phillipains 1:15-17)

While I find Rob Bell's message well within the bounds of God's word and our Christian tradition, I trust that God will use it for his will and not Rob's will. And while I find the comments listed here mostly filled with heresy and fear, I trust that God will speak to those following these ideals in much the same way. God will use anything to proclaim Christ, for better or for worse. (Phillipans 1:18)

And in both cases, I too am challenged to dig further into the scriptures to see what God is saying about all this. One thing is clear to me, in passages too numerous to quote. God is our salvation from fear. Jesus tells us not to be afraid. God's people write hymns and psalms which talk of worshiping without fear. Fear is what God saves us from. Fear, and bickering, and arguing. We become liberated to worship and praise God in all his glory. When our attention is focused in that direction, all else falls away.
comment by Pastor Dan — Dec 27, 2006 02:17 PM (UTC-5)
I am not amazed at the fear-filled and angry comments I have read here about Bell's message. Evangelicals who have been raised to believe that here is only one way to think, all other ways are evil, wrong, of the occult, demonic, etc, are likely not to engage Bell constructively or openly.
I'm reminded of John 20:21-23. The breath to which Bell refers is the breath of life given by GOD to all people. Tat same breath, the holy Spirit, is breathed into the disciples by the risen LORD Jesus. How else do you understand these words, except within the reality of the act of breathing? I was not offended by any of Bell's teaching today. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Pentecost reminds us that Christ has breathed the Holy Spirit into our bodies, that we are indeed HIS risen body in the world. maybe if some people took the time to breathe with GOD, they wouldn't be so hung up in their own selfish misunderstanding of the Spirit's abiding presence. I breathe and GOD is there. We rbeathe and GOD is present. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
comment by Pastor Matt — Feb 12, 2007 12:37 PM (UTC-5)
Wow... i had a long message but decided not to type it out. All im going to say is you guys seriously scare me, i think he made a mistake by mentioning yoga, but you guys are making up conspirousies about this poor guy. If i said somthing wrong in a conversation would you lynch me? Ithink if God told us to live by vengence i'd have to stalk some of you people and go SATAN SATAN SATAN!!! DEVIL WORSHIPPER!!! YOUR GOING TO HELL!!! I hope you don't try and share the gospel that way. I think alot of you need to move away from the christian hate movement that gives us all a bad name.
comment by Connor — Feb 13, 2007 10:40 PM (UTC-5)
While I appreciate the many comments and discussions posted to my blog regarding Rob Bell's teachings, I want to encourage us all to focus upon my purpose when I posted Rob's teaching sample...[quote] "I present this teaching for one purpose alone…to illustrate how radically different postmodern Biblical facilitation is from the Seeker-Sensitive Topical Talk model so prevalent within our churches today."

While I can appreciate the sincere concerns regarding Rob's personal theology, my intent in this specific case was for us to focus upon the "method" more than the "message". I do not wish to involve myself in the discussion regarding Rob's theology. However, I do believe that it is entirely possible for Bible teachers to be 100% sound in doctrine, and still have nobody remember the teaching a week later. Our message is crucial! In fact, I would suggest that our message is so crucial that we need to ensure that the "method" we use for communicating the message is as effective as possible.

Biblical facilitation is simply a process by which we may help people interact with God's Word, in the moment, by allowing time and opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work in the life of our congregation members. In my own personal ministry, I have felt convicted that pushing through my highly polished 30 minute topical teachings may have made me look good on stage, but "looking good" should never be my motivation for teaching God's Word. In my opinion, the only healthy motivation for biblical instruction should be a desire to help people interact with their Lord by supporting the work of the Holy Spirit to illumine the Biblical text to the hearts and minds of God's people. I believe that sound doctrine, combined with culturally relevant communication methogologies, when surrendered to the control and purposes of the Holy Spirit, will produce life-changing and lasting spiritual fruit (Galations 5:22-26).
comment by David Posthuma — Feb 19, 2007 04:56 PM (UTC-5)
Brothers and Sisters,

Here is the thing that you need to understand about Mars Hill that 99% of you don't know. While you are arguing about how wrong he is over trivial things, that most of us do not know anything about and have not been to school to study them intensivley, is that Mars Hill Church is changing their community for Christ. I am not talking about the Christ of the Mormans or the Jehova's Witnesses but the Christ that I believe that all of us believe in. They are doing what 90% of the churches in America do not do and that is taking care of the poor and widows. If all you can do is complain about preaching then you have missed the point of what we are called to do and what Mars Hill IS doing. They are living out the Bible, doctrine is always secondary to true Jesus like Love. One day I hope that our American Church will come out of our comfortable christianity and live a little bit more like Mars Hill, or should I say live a little bit more like Jesus asked us.
comment by Josh — Feb 19, 2007 05:22 PM (UTC-5)
Thank you Josh! I only know of Mars Hill and Rob Bell through their Nooma DVDs. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 40 years, and therefore, I should be among the many that criticize this "new" approach to ministry. But for some reason, I love it! Could it be because after being raised in a fundamental christian home and attending the fundamental Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, that I came to a point where I decided to stop believing things simply because someone told me that is what I should believe. For the past 30 years, I have been on a quest to simply study God's Word and allow His Spirit to instruct me. I am so thankful that my path following Jesus has brought me to the ministry of Rob Bell. I believe if Jesus had chose to come to earth in this age, His teaching would be very similar to Mr. Bells . . . only better.
comment by Dave gage — Mar 17, 2007 11:19 AM (UTC-4)
"They are living out the Bible, doctrine is always secondary to true Jesus like Love." was posted above by Josh. We live our lives based on what we believe (our personal doctrine). What we believe and how we live our lives cannot be separated from each other even though some try this approach. When somebody doesn't live their life according to what they say they believe, we call that person a hippocrite. Doctrine cannot simply become secondary in our lives. When it does, we open ourselves up to a dangerous position. When you compromise doctrine, your life will soon follow that compromise if it is not corrected. I am not saying that Rob has definitely compromised, but that is a danger that we all must be careful of in our own individual lives. Taking care of the poor and widows is important and sometimes the church as a whole does miss that point. However it is only one piece of the life that we are called to live. The challenge that is made to all who call themselves "Christian" is in both word and deed, doctrine and lifestyle. That is indeed a real challenge, that we all sometimes fail at, but should continue to strive towards.
comment by Bill — Jun 22, 2007 09:44 AM (UTC-4)
My biggest problem with people like Rob Bell is this idea that he somehow has knowledge that we don't have access to ourselves. This is very Gnostic in concept.

People should just read their Bibles and believe what it says, not what a man says it means. There are many good books out there that will edify and encourage you, but don't let men's knowledge be a substitute for God's revealed knowledge.

Bell's signature "saying", for me is "Faith is about asking questions and seeking answers." I totally disagree. In fact that is a backward view of what the Bible tells us. Faith is believing God in spite of appearances, situations and the self-interests that try to make us doubt Him.

This is psycho babble that Rob "preaches". Next will be the inclusion of Transcendental Meditation. How about just spending more time in prayer asking what God wants in our lives instead of asking Him to give us what we want?
comment by NWP — Sep 6, 2007 04:10 PM (UTC-4)
It seems they already practice TM. And helping feed and clothe the poor is a good work; but more importantly, we need to help them prepare for eternity. Solving a temporary problem is great, but we need to think eternally.
comment by Blockhead — Oct 28, 2007 12:00 AM (UTC-4)
Rob Bell is clearly asking PhD level questions and you guys (and girls) are responding like arrogant third grade twits. I have never seen a blog with so many responses from foolish morons. Have any of you ever actually read your bible? Rob clearly has. Perhaps you should try shutting your mouths and then try paying attention to your betters on the subject.

God help you folks when the judgement day comes.

comment by Mark — Dec 2, 2007 04:17 PM (UTC-5)
Ay! DIos Mio!! .First time hearing a message from Rob. I must say It's a Bit confusing. Does God need a new thing? The only time I needed a breath of life was when the Holy spirit entered into my life. Any other breath does not come from him. God has nevered changed: the alpha and the omega. Has God inspired a new Bible? if he has please let me know where to get it. I dont judge the man.
IF you doubt he's message then its not from the Lord. Remenber my third sentence " its' a bit confusing ".
The instructions to this life and how to live it in christ are in that book. The one under your arms every sunday.
Pray for discerment and assurance of what and who you listen to.
Blessings
comment by oscar — Dec 4, 2007 06:03 PM (UTC-5)
The characteristics that you list of the "echo-boomer" are the characteristics of EVERY new generation in the ages from 15-33. It is a particularly youthful conceit to suggest that this is somehow something new. When the boomers where 15-33, they displayed all the characteristics you list for the "echo-boomers." To suggest that this is some new thing is a naive conceit that results from Immaturity. When the current generation is in their 40s-60s, they will reflect the same characteristics and attitudes as their parents. They are not different, they are the same. Saying they are different just proves how much the same they are.

Further, simply because the echo-boomers don't yet have a complete handle on life doesn't mean that they can't do positive things. However, trying to reinvent the faith "once for all delivered to the saints" isn't one of them. Just live it, people.
comment by Mike — Dec 10, 2007 05:05 PM (UTC-5)
Author says "Do what Rob asks you to do". No thanks. Rob is headed somewhere I don't want to go. His wishy washy, vague, and dodgy sermons make me so happy I have found a Bible teaching Church. I hope the author would seek out the same.
Isn't God the creator of life? Didn't He breathe us into being? "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

Have you never had your world shattered around you? Have you never felt the depth of pain where only emptiness resided? Numb to everything and everyone. Have you never been ashed of where you are and what you are the things you've done and the person you've become? Broken, empty, hopeless, distraught. Have you never been to the place where there are no more tears because you physically can cry no longer? It's a place where all you can do is breathe. All you can do is literally sit and breathe. There are no thoughts of the past, no thoughts of the future - all that is, is now and all you want, all you desire is the breath of Christ to fill you once again, to fill His presence in and around and throughout. "Be still and know that I am God", our Creator says. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" He calls. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night" He commands.

Living, loving, singing, breathing - it's a praise and a celebration of life and freedom and salvation we have in Christ. How can something God created, God did be bad or evil? God BREATHED us into being. HE did it. Every breath should be a reminded of His everlasting, undying, ardent love for us! It is not by our own works or deeds or desires or will that we are here, but by His gracious and infinite love. And as every molecule of air is breathed into our nostrils and reverberated into every fiber of our being we are filled with life. Life that is a gift from God. Breathe it in and breathe deeply of the Father who has redeemed you.
comment by Sarah — Oct 13, 2008 03:36 AM (UTC-4)
Having scanned, very quickly these responses, I am so encouraged to see the discernment that is shown in them, to expose a false teacher.
comment by Keith — Apr 18, 2012 02:12 AM (UTC-4)
Sarah,

Your final 2 sentences said, "And as every molecule of air is breathed into our nostrils and reverberated into every fiber of our being we are filled with life. Life that is a gift from God. Breathe it in and breathe deeply of the Father who has redeemed you."

These, and in particular the final sentence reveal how deeply you are confusing a physical act (nothing more than the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide and waste products) which is a function designed and given by Almighty God, with God Himself. Air is a physical commodity. God is an eternal spirit. To confuse the two is nothing less than idolatry.

This is the thin end of the wedge, and its destination is a cocktail of Hindu/New Age/occult teachings that have been insidiously introduced into the Church by innocuous sounding names such as "Lectio-divina", "Centreing Prayer", "Contemplative Prayer", "Soaking Prayer", and "Breath Prayers". These are all classic contemplative mysticism. Each of them refer to practices designed to “empty the mind” by means of a mantra, and they lay the mind open to external, spiritual forces.

Authors and preachers who advocate these practices are either false shepherds and teachers, or they are entirely devoid of discernment. Either way, they are a danger to the flock and should be given a very wide berth!
comment by Keith — Apr 18, 2012 02:48 AM (UTC-4)

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