Rob Bell a universalist?


I’ve read lots of critics who accuse Rob Bell of being a universalist. Does anyone know more about this? Is this just people looking for something to criticize? I’d honestly love it if he was because I love his work and perspectives. I know this is sort of ‘celebrity-hunt’ stuff like “Is Bob Dylan still a Christian?” I know it doesn’t really change the truth. Still, I’m curious.


Oh, btw I do think Dylan is still a Christian…but that’s a discussion for another time!


I don’t even know who Rob Bell is. :confused: :blush: Sorry.

There’s a modern theologian named Bell who is certainly a universalist of some sort; but I don’t recall offhand what his first name is. (Gregory sometimes references him in the footnotes of TEU.)


Sorry I didn’t explain. Rob Bell is a very popular evangelical author and pastor in the U.S. He is the pastor of Mars Hill Church, one of the fatest growing churches in American history. He is the author of several books, in particular Velvet Elvis: Rethinking the Christian Faith. He also produced the widely-used spiritual short films called NOOMA used by many churches.

I suppose he would be associated with the Emerging Church movement, though I don’t think he subscribes to that title.



Isn’t Rob Bell the guy involved with the Emerging church?



Interesting. Mark Driscoll is also the pastor of a Mars Hill church growing very rapidly in the city of Seattle, and describes himself as post-emerging missional.

He’s not a universalist, though, but he has a pretty neat thing going on. I was going to his church for a little while.


I’ve also been interested in finding this out for a while now. I loved his book Velvet Elvis, and his Nooma videos are great. I’ve always thought he’s been inclined towards universalism, with his honesty about how christians can’t claim to have all the answers.

Although he hates labels, and would probably never give himself this label. It now appears he is one.

This book “Love wins” is set to be realeased in April this year. It is already available on pre-order through Amazon

I think this book is going to be a huge boon for the Universalist movement. Most christians I speak to haven’t heard of universalism, (including a leader of a 3000+ church my father recently spoke to). Rob Bell is easily in the top 10 list of the most widely read christian authors that are current. I think we’re in for some interesting debate as this doctrine begins to go mainstream.


Interesting, I hadn’t heard of Rob Bell before.

The blurb about the book says:

It seems contradictory to say that the traditional understanding of heaven and Hell is not taught by the Bible, and then say that he’s not offering a new view of heaven and hell. LOL I guess we’ll have to wait till the book is released to find out how that works!



Vewwwwwwwy interesting… We may need to invite him to be a guest author?

Most likely he means he’s offering the “old” view of heaven and hell “taught by the Bible”, unlike the traditional understanding.


Yes! Looking forward to this!

I agree, let’s invite him!

Found this interesting on wikipedia…

I think he is a kindred spirit with many of us here that feel like we’re rediscovering Christianity, the way it really is. And I happen to agree with him that truth can be anywhere and it all belongs to God.

If he can make time for us, I think he’d be one open to discussion.


Just found this on their church site about requests…

Doesn’t look likely he’ll have time for us. :frowning:


Also found this description of Mar’s Hill Church’s theology. They put it in the form of a narrative, which I like. This statement came first…

Seems like a universalist to me! :smiley: I suppose he could have said hell is redemptive, but with such silence on hell’s function and the admission that God reconciles all things, I’m pretty sure what we have on our hands here folks. :mrgreen: He couldn’t convince me he’s not with us. I’m usually so leary of mega churches, but I’m ready to jump on board! What do you guys think?

This is the narrative that followed…on their site…


Holy Christ. :open_mouth: Are they really a (trinitarian) universalistic congregation???

Sure does look like it…

Updated to add: whether or not he is, I have to say I love his narrative credo approach. :slight_smile: A great Biblical form to it, very reminiscent of OT prophets and NT apostolic preaching, which often featured similar narrative proclamations of faith.


Yeah, I take a narrative approach, too. Don’t have time to read that yet, though it looks good.

Rob Bell is just an open-ended type of guy. Makes it kinda difficult that both the church I go to (spread out over several campuses) and his are called Mars Hill Church. Not sure how that happened. :laughing: But the preaching pastor here, Mark Driscoll’s fairly well known, too. He’s more Reformed, though, and takes a slightly disparaging view toward Rob Bell (though not completely, from memory - but it’s been awhile since I heard/read anything about that).

Not that I carry that attitude. I know very little about him, but I did love the video I saw awhile back at a convention where he likened God to a parent carrying his kid in the rain on his back. I think this guy’s got alot of good heart.


:laughing: :laughing: When it hit me I was jumping out of my chair! (Actually I didn’t want to get too excited because I thought my eyes could be deceiving me. Seemed too good to be true.) It’s a mega universalistic congregation, of all things, which means our numbers just jumped WAY, WAY up! :laughing: Would it still be mega if he drops I’m an evangelical universalist bomb? Maybe he’s the smart one for staying so quiet? He doesn’t have us fooled! I know there are churches, though, that would not be happy with his theology. BTW,I love the narrative too!


He doesn’t have to do much besides make a post every once in awhile. He may already have some kind of writings already typed up somewhere. shrug


That does seem universalistic, and it’s a bit further than I’ve seen anyone else go, but I’ve also seen people make similar statements then disaffirm universalism. But the fact that he says “Our relationships with… others… will be whole” DOES seem to imply that everyone will be saved. It’s just so subtle and such a passing remark. Interesting!


I don’t know how they ended up with the same name? Who had it first? :laughing: On wikipedia it says this about Rob’s choosing the name…


Wow, Amy–thanks for finding that!! That’s fantastic! And I love the narrative approach too!



Yes–very subtle… he doesn’t try to knock down traditional doctrines, just stands on the truth–a positive approach rather than a negative one. I like it! But you’re right, too, about people saying universalistic sounding things (usually when talking about certain passages in scripture :wink: ) and then disaffirming universalism. Hopefully Bell really means it! It sure sounds like he does.



I know this could be the case, but if it walks like an evangelical universalist, talks like an evangelical universalist, and acts like an evangelical universalist, then you know what they say…it is an evangelical universalist!!! :mrgreen: :laughing:

I can’t stop smiling about this! :smiley: I guess it pays to be nosy!