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Rob Bell (b. 1970) is the founder and teaching pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. He is author of Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (2005), a somewhat controversial book appealing to Gen-Xers. Some associate Bell with the Emerging church movement, however, he purposefully avoids the label.
Bell is the son of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell, and played guitar in a variety of bands from high school through his time in seminary. He earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology in 1992 from Wheaton College, and also graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary before moving to Grand Rapids and founding Mars Hill Bible Church in 1999. Bell named the church after the location in Greece, mentioned in Acts 17. Bell is featured in a short series of direct-to-DVD devotional films called NOOMA, from the phonetic spelling of the Greek word pneuma, which means wind or spirit. He also has two tour dvds ("Everything Is Spiritual" and "The Gods Arent Angry") and has conducted a third one named after his second book "Sex God".
Quotes from his book Velvet Elvis
Inspiration and Hermeneutics
- "The Bible is a collection of stories that teach us about what it looks like when God is at work through actual people. The Bible has the authority it does only because it contains stories about people interacting with the God who has all authority." - p. 65
- "...it wasn't until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the 'Bible'. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that "Scripture alone" is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God's word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books." - p. 68
Heaven and Hell
- "Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God's." - p. 146
- "When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter--they are all hell on earth. Jesus' desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What's disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about Hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth." - p. 148
- "The goal of Jesus isn't to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here." - p. 148
- "I can't find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. Now this doesn't mean we don't sin; that's obvious. In the book of James it's written like this: 'We all stumble in many ways.' Once again, the greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve isn't that it happened, but that it happens. We all make choices to live outside of how God created us to live. We have all come up short." - p. 139
- "For a Christian, Jesus' teachings aren't to be followed because they are a nice way to live a moral life. They are to be followed because they are the possible insight into how the world really works. They teach us how things are. I don't follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, 'No one comes to the Father except through me', he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence. For Jesus then, the point of religion is to help us connect with ultimate reality, God." - p. 83
Criticism of doctrinal method
"According to Mr. Bell there are two ways to approach doctrine: as a brick or a spring. The brick approach to doctrine is solid, unmoving and unchanging. It has no life. It is the wrong approach. A spring has life; it is flexible, and it is constantly changing. Rob Bell believes all doctrines are springs. By embracing such a view of doctrine and truth Mr. Bell drives a wedge between reality and doctrinal truth. He creates a paradox where there isn't one. Bell views doctrines as 'statements about our faith that help give words to the depth that we are experiencing.'" 
- ↑ Ken Silva, Rob Bell, Yoga Masters and Jesus? at Christian Worldview Network, 10/31/2006.
- ↑ Postmodern Liberalism: A Christian Critique of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis from The Outlook, January 2006, Volume 56, No. 1, by Rev. Casey Freswick at Reformed Fellowship Inc. See also Vol. 56, No. 2.
- Bell, Rob. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Zondervan, 2005. ISBN 978-0310263456
- Bell, Rob. Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. Zondervan, 2007. ISBN 978-0310280675
- Bell, Rob. Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile. Zondervan, 2008. ISBN 978-0310275022
- Mars Hill Bible Church
- The Giant Story: Rob Bell on why he talks about the Good News the way he does, Christianity Today (2009)
- beliefnet.com interview with Rob Bell
- The Emergent Mystique By Andy Crouch, Christianity Today, November 2004. Interview with Rob Bell discussing the Emergent Church.
- The Next Billy Graham? (Sun Times)
- Find the Big Jesus: An Interview with Rob Bell
- Gilbert's NOOMA review (9Marks)
- Postmodern Liberalism: Repainting a Non-Christian Faith (I) A Christian Critique of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, Part 1, Part 2, by Rev. Casey Freswick
- Nooma Blooper, by Andy Naselli
- Rob Bell's "Feminine Images" for God: A Review of Rob Bell, NOOMA: "She.", by Christopher W. Cowan