Martin Bashir to Rob Bell: “You’re amending the gospel…”

A friend of mine attended HarperOne’s “Live Global Event with Rob Bell” in NYC the other night, where Bell discussed (and signed) his book Love Wins. My friend wasn’t impressed, and among his multiple tweets about the evening he said this:

“Haven’t seen that much bobbing & weaving since Ali v. Frazier. Next time, have theologian do interview, not lightweight lackey journalist.”

Well, Bell followed up the event with an interview with MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, who is neither “lightweight” nor “lackey.” It didn’t go well for Bell. In fact, it was devastating.

Here are the cliff notes, Bashir’s exposing and scolding of a rather defenseless Bell:

Bashir: “What you’ve done is you’re amending the gospel, the Christian message, so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach. So here comes Rob Bell, he’s made a Christian gospel for you, and it’s perfectly palatable, it’s much easier to swallow. That’s what you’ve done, haven’t you?”

More on the interview from Justin Taylor and Denny Burk.


11 Responses

  1. Devastating is absolutely right! That was one of the worst defenses of the true gospel that I have ever heard (probably because what he was defending wasn’t the truth), along with one of the most insightful interviewers that I have heard. Great questions and a greatly missed opportunity to share the true hope of Christ. Martin Bashir seemed to have a clearer understanding of the Christian message than Rob Bell did.

    It is unfortunate that love and truth seem to be continually placed in contradiction to one another. Just because love wins does not mean that truth loses. God can be just and loving, and He is.

    Thanks for sharing Chris. Grace to you.


  2. I don’t believe there has been such a dramatic example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing in a long time. Makes me sad.

  3. Wow. Just…wow.

    Luke 13:5 — “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

    That’s the answer, plain and simple.

  4. Bell is shameful.

    The beauty of this particular interview is that I’ve heard that Bashir has perhaps recently converted to Christianity (perhaps through the ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC). One of the posts over at SI mentions this possibility. Whether or not that is true, he was without a doubt the one more concerned with understanding the purity of the Christian gospel in this exchange.

  5. So I’m intrigued, Chris, is it that you view God as not all powerful, or do you think he is uncaring?

    I think you are blinded by your distaste for Bell that you would apparently take joy in a frankly heretical questioning simply because you think it “devastated” him. Pettiness rules the day, I suppose

  6. Supe,

    The thrust of the interview was Bell’s unorthodox view on eternal punishment and the exclusivity of the Christian gospel. I don’t deny my distaste for Bell or my gratitude that his views were here debunked. That’s not pettiness.

  7. Answer to Supe, picking up on Chris’s response and adding in my own “Two Cents”. Don’t think it’s bashing, but rather bringing to light heresy and carrying out Romans 16:17-18 — “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” And clearly there a many out there who are “simple” and need the warning. As far as God goes, He’s our infintely wise, all powerful, holy Creator who is guided always by His perfect character of love, justice, mercy, compassion, holiness, etc. Thus, combining His perfect character with all the facts, which only He has, He makes decisions and carries out acts that we as finite human beings will never understand this side of eternity. Does that make Him uncaring? No. It means His ways are past finding out. Romans 11:33 — “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Job 9:10 — “Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.” Carol

  8. Was Jesus Human or was Jesus God? … Stop deflecting the question. You can only answer Human or God. Not both. Yes or No.

    Come on guys…that was essentially what Basir was doing. Basir wanted black and white answers to questions that could not be answered with yes or no. The interview was bad – not because of Rob – but because Basirs questions left no room for true discussion and insight.

  9. If I may, I would like to chime in with a brief response to Supe and Matt. It seems that Bashir set up an either/or question that, if answered biblically, strikes to the heart of Bell’s thesis. The correct answer is that suffering neither proves God uncaring nor impotent. Rather, suffering is the just consequence of humanity’s depravity. If Bell admitted this, his objection to hell would not only evaporate, but would be unmasked as obstinate rejection of God’s justice. Bell’s refusal to answer the question did not allow the conversation to go down that path, but was revealing, none-the-less.

  10. Excellent, Steven. Thanks for commenting.

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