Is Rob Bell a universalist?

A friend on facebook posted an article by Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition.  I enjoy reading Mr. Taylor’s posts, though I don’t always agree with him.  The last few days his article has been bombarded by comments from both ends of the radical spectrum, seasoned with a few rationale voices.

Without having read Rob Bell’s new upcoming book, he makes the statement that Rob Bell is a universalist.  What is known as “Christian Universalism” can be summed up by Dr. Ken Allen as:

Christian Universalism”, in its simple and proper theological sense, is the doctrine of universal salvation; or in other words, of the final holiness and happiness of all mankind, to be effected by the grace of God, through the ministry of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The idea is that salvation (getting to be with God in heaven) happens through the death of Jesus Christ; but, people don’t have to believe in that to get in.  That God in His graciousness saves everyone from hell (living for eternity without Him) despite whatever they believe.

I don’t know if Bell is a universalist.  I admit that I do read his books and watched his Nooma series; but not because I agree with his theology.  I feel that I need to as I discuss with young adults who are so enraptured by his teachings where I believe what he is saying is contrary to Scripture.  I will be buying his next book and hope to have a better understanding of what he is trying to say.

Below is a promo clip for the video.  It does seem to indicate where he is at, but we won’t know for sure until the book comes out.


Here is a link to Kevin DeYoung’s thoughts about all the “Rob Bell brouhaha”  created over the last few days.  Bloggers from both sides of the theological spectrum have been going at it and Kevin humbly, graciously, and boldly discusses it.  Thanks Tricia for the link.

UPDATE March 18, 2011:

Here is a video interview of Rob Bell concerning his book.  I don’t watch MSNBC so have no opinion of the interviewer Martin Bashir.  His first question on Japan has nothing to do with the book and I felt it was a bit unnecessary, like he was trying to bait him.


5 responses to “Is Rob Bell a universalist?

  1. Be interesting to read his book and see exactly where he stands. Though I am not sure if that is the Bell style. -Scotty

  2. Flak? For what? You didn’t actually say anything. You just told us that some people think Rob Bell’s might have some funky theology.

    • Hey Jim, I have some friends that are die hard Bell fans. Anytime I raise a question of his theology, I am labeled a conservative nut. I tried hard not to be absolute, though as Kevin DeYoung points out, he seems to be saying some wrong things. Bell can be dangerous, he is “hip” and “trendy” and many young evangelicals buy into it hook, line, and sinker.

  3. Hey Jimmy – that’s too bad – you’ve said nothing more than that some people think such and such – I looked high and low for what you actually thought about the issue, and you stayed noncommittal.
    Being anyone’s diehard fan is a slippery slope – reminds me of a joke I heard – “last night Focus on the Family had an event at our church,
    and 32 people came to a saving knowledge of James Dobson”

  4. Hey Big Jim,
    Then let me clarify, I am totally against universalism. I think it devalues the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. It also devalues His holiness.
    What I am “noncommittal” on is to say that Rob Bell is a universalist. I tried very hard to not brand him as such since I have not read the book yet. Hope that clears up where I am at.

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