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December 3 - Rob Bell Tells How 'Love Wins' Led to Mars Hill Departure
Article: Emerging Church
Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell, founder of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., recently shared how his 2011 book, Love Wins, led to a fallout with the congregation and forced him on a "search for a more forgiving faith."
Bell details this search in a recent interview with The New Yorker, and discusses his invitation to Christians interested in a different kind of church, "one that can keep pace with the rising 'waterline of culture.'" "Bell is now loosely aligned with a cohort of pastors worldwide who are searching for ways to move beyond old-fashioned worship," Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker wrote in an in-depth, Nov. 26 feature on Bell, entitled "Hell Raiser."
The main issue discussed in Bell's recent interview regards Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, in which the former pastor questioned the existence of hell and the evangelical teaching that only those who believe in Jesus Christ go to heaven. Bell received a vast amount of criticism for his book and even lost members of his Mars Hill Bible Church congregation. The New Yorker writes that "word went out that a prominent megachurch leader had rejected Hell, thereby embracing heresy." Critics accused Bell of being a heretic, a political liberal, and a Universalist, among other labels.
Bell told The New Yorker that the publication of his book resulted in a 3,000-person decrease in membership at Mars Hill Bible Church, which he founded in 1999. "Congregants reported that friends and family members were asking why they were allowing themselves to be led by a false teacher," the magazine continues.
As The New Yorker points out, although many viewed Bell's Love Wins as a form of evangelical dissension, others view Bell as "a reassuring figure: proof that it's possible to challenge certain articles of faith without leaving behind faith itself." Along with Love Wins, Bell is the author of The New York Times bestseller Velvet Elvis. In 2011, Time magazine named Bell one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
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