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In The News
   
 
 

 

In The News

 

December 3 - Whatever Happened to Rob Bell? Ask Oprah 

Article: Emerging Church
 

Rob Bell was once the evangelical It Boy, the hipster pastor with the thick-rimmed glasses and the skinny jeans whose best-selling theology was captured in books with names such as "Velvet Elvis" and "Sex God." By 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham. And then he went to hell. In 2011, his book "Love Wins" pushed the evangelical envelope on the nature of heaven, hell and salvation. Many dismissed him as a modern-day heretic, unwilling to embrace traditional evangelicals beliefs about the hereafter.

While evangelicalism has always wrestled with the pull of its fundamentalist roots and a desire for a modern-day openness within certain boundaries, for many, Bell had gone too far. "Farewell, Rob Bell," retired megachurch pastor John Piper famously tweeted.

Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people isn't even attending an organized church. Instead, he surfs the waves near Hollywood and has teamed up with the goddess of pop theology, Oprah Winfrey.

Does he still consider himself an evangelical? "If we mean Jesus' message of God's revolutionary love for every person, and we can surrender and give our life to acts to loving kindness, then man, sign me up," said Bell, 44.

"It seems like marriage is one of the central things in life that needs all the help it can get," Bell said. For anyone looking for any hints to his theological shift, his new book, "The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage," is likely to disappoint. He came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013, and few evangelicals seemed surprised. If he could question the existence of hell, they said, why wouldn't he shift on his views about sexuality?

Bell says he would conduct a same-sex ceremony, and he encourages churches to welcome gay members and allow them to be ordained. "This is a justice issue," Bell said. "We believe people should not be denied the right to have someone to journey with."

 
 

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