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Could Someone Tell Rob Bell What the Real “Freak-Show” Is?

Bell is indicting far more than just Christians who condone Trump's sins; he's condemning all evangelical Christianity.

Rob Bell is the former Christian minister who years ago wrote a book declaring that the testimony of Scripture was wrong – that Hell is not a place where God’s righteous retribution is poured out on those who chose eternal rebellion to Him. It was a bold strategy for him, given that it left his congregation with two choices:

  1. Bell is right, and there is no eternal consequence for our sin, only inevitable death that comes regardless of what we do here on earth. Thus, why get up on Sundays and come listen to someone tell us how to live when it doesn’t ultimately matter?
  1. Bell is wrong, and therefore is a false teacher that is endangering the souls of anyone who listens. Thus, why get up on Sundays and come listen to someone who is leading them and their children astray.

Unsurprisingly, Bell’s ministry is now over. In its place, Bell has embraced an entrepreneurial strategy that combines his effective communication skills and notoriety with a marketing scheme of exploiting his heretical teachings. He is literally coming out with a movie about his own life (who does that?) called “Heretic.”

And as part of the marketing for this movie, Bell has thrust himself back into the headlines by going after Christians who support Donald Trump. They’re the real heretics, you see:

He then argued that large evangelical support for Trump has revealed what the Gospel means for many.

"One of the gifts of this presidency has been that that's all now out in the open. It said morality, it said faith, it said trust in God, it used the word 'Jesus'. But it wasn't serious: it was all a giant charade, and now way more people see it than saw it before — and that's important."

Don’t get me wrong, what Bell is saying isn’t completely false. There is an unhealthy portion of American Christendom that has equated the flag with the cross and has elevated the president to the level of demigod. It’s not Biblical. Neither is the willingness of too many evangelical leaders to downplay the seriousness of sin when it manifests itself in a leader that they have cozied up to as a political ally.

But Bell is condemning far more than just these sins. He is indicting all of evangelical Christianity which is both irresponsible and, ironically, the very offense he is condemning. Bell believes he was regarded as a heretic because he didn’t go along with the politics of conservative Christians. In response, pretending there is no room for Christian believers to renounce Trump’s sins but still support policies he is enacting that they view as good for the nation (as I wrote about here), Bell is declaring heretical those who don’t go along with his liberal politics. It’s all exhausting.

But Bell actually goes a step further this time, insulting those in evangelical churches personally:

"Even when I was a pastor in a local church, that seemed like a strange freak-show," he said.

I can’t possibly put myself in Bell’s brain to figure out what this is supposed to mean. But I can tell you that from the moment he started denying the full counsel of God to precious souls tempted with the urge toward homosexual romantic and sexual relationships, I’ve longed to see Bell’s influence deteriorate. When a man acting as a representative of the Gospel of Jesus withholds from a group of people he sees as beneficial to politically exploit and manipulate, the power of that Gospel to transform us beyond our urges and lusts, his motives and methods become immediately suspect.

Creating your own gospel and pretending it’s more virtuous and holy than the one found in Scripture? That’s the real freak-show.

The Bible nowhere teaches that everyone should sell all they have to the poor. This command was given specifically to one person by Jesus, a person who thought that they had been able to keep all the commandments from the time they were young. In asking him to sell all he had and follow Him, Jesus was pointing out that he hadn't kept the commandment to have no other god's before Him as he had made money and possessions an idol in his life. Jesus interacts with multiple other wealthy people without asking them to give all they have to the poor, including Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha and Zacchaeus. Look especially at Zacchaeus, who stated that he would give half of all he had to the poor and pay back four times any amount that he had cheated anyone. Jesus didn't rebuke him for giving only half of his wealth to the poor, but rather praised him and said that in he had found salvation. This is because salvation isn't found in our good deeds, but rather in our faith in Christ. Zacchaeus's generosity was a result of, rather than the cause of his repentance.

@Onlylivingboy
Strait from the Savior's mouth in Matthew 25, note especially verse 41 and 46:

The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

42 For I was hungry
and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43 I was a stranger
and you didn’t take Me in;
I was naked
and you didn’t clothe Me,
sick and in prison
and you didn’t take care of Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

@ Alex Wilson, Sorry but taxation is not "fundamentally theft. The govt taxes you and in return provides public goods like roads, policing and education. Thieves just steal your s**t and walk off.

@ArtCroft

Someone could break into my house and do the dishes before they steal my TV. The fact that they didn't take everything from me and even did something for me (that I didn't even ask them to do) doesn't change that it was wrong for them to take my TV. Is it any different if more than one person breaks into my house and steals from me? Does it change if they wake me up and the three of us vote on whether or not they steal from me? At what point is the group of thieves large enough and the unasked for benefits good enough to justify using force to take someone's property without their voluntary consent? I would argue that this is never the case.

I'll also add that in opposing taxation, I'm taking a stand against my immediate interests. I went to public schools Kindergarten through my Associates degree and only spent a little over 2 years at a private university to get my B.S. partially funded by government grants and loans. I've almost always either come close to breaking even or actually received more money back than I paid in taxes, and my primary source of income is from a job at a small publicly funded college. This is all before we get to the universal benefits of roads, police, courts, and military that all citizens benefit from somewhat. So why do I take a stand against something that provides me with tremendous benefits? Because I recognize that ends don't justify the means, even if I benefit from it. I also recognize that even though I receive a lot of benefits from the current system, I'm likely missing a lot of opportunities because of the opportunity cost of taxation as well.

(edited)

Or more humorously:

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