Rob Bell, Oprah, And God’s Word


The below is taken in entirety from In The Line Of Fire by Michael Brown. While, I am wanting to write my own response to recent Rob Bell comments. My thoughts are many, and time is…. limited. So, for now, the below will have to suffice.

My quick response before I turn it over to Mr. Brown.

May our hearts grow in conviction for this 2,000 yr old book and its absolute relevance in our lives today!!  Is there anything more relevant than the God of the Universes revealing Himself and Redemption to us?!? Rob Bell thinks God’s Word to be irrelevant…. Does that make Rob Bell irrelevant?  

Michael Brown

For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as “letters from 2,000 years ago” when God’s Word contradicts his views on same-sex “marriage.”

Bell appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their “whole hearted affirmation” to same-sex “marriage.”

That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.

But on Oprah’s show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.

Explaining to Oprah why they included “gay marriage” in their book, Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Of course, he’s absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.

God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.

And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation.

In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God’s very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of “love.”

To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.

Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage,” to which he responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.”

Rob then explained, “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments … ,” at which point Oprah chimed in, “Moments away from the church accepting it?”

Rob’s answer said it all: “Absolutely … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”

So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be “relevant.” (For my thoughts on the idolatry of “relevance,” click here.)

And according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.

I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.

I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.

That’s similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex “marriage” after his son came out as gay but would “absolutely” have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.

Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)

But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay “relevant,” dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.

Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: “There are churches who are moving forward,” she said, “and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.”

How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!

How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.

How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.

How dare they hold fast to their position that God’s ways are best.

How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.

The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.

The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.

That’s why I pray for their repentance today.

 Michael Brown

Ear Tickling Relevance



I begin this post once again stating that I am not for irrelevance!

The church must be relevant and as I said in the last post – Truth IS relevant.

Read the last 2 posts here:

The Cry For Relevance

Truth IS Relevant


My concern is when the church, pastors, and believers lust to be relevant today. And in that lust there lies a warning or concern. Is it possible that in the lust for relevance that we lose sight of truth and in so doing we become “ear ticklers”?

Is it possible in the name of wanting to add people to the church that we water down the message of the Gospel and ones need for salvation?

And, if we water down the gospel and yet we are “relevant” don’t we need to ask: “What exactly are people being saved to?”

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Paul has been exhorting Timothy to preach the Word. Why? Because the Word IS relevant.

It is a sad day when pastors concern themselves more with political correctness than bible correctness. It is dangerous when we study cultural relevance without seeing how relevant the Word is to our culture.

In the name of love, we don’t want to offend. We allow culture to define what is love. This then silences or edits the believer from saying anything of value at all.

The gospel my friend, IS offensive.  The Word, speaking of itself, says it is “folly to those who do not believe….”

The Word calls us sinners. Sinners need to repent. Because, hell and judgement awaits the un-forgiven sinner…..

And that is offensive! It is offensive to sinners, but it is relevant to sinners!

The Christian, the pastor, the church that says nothing of sin, repentance, and our need for a Savior…. well that is like a Dr. who will not tell the patient he is chronically sick. The Dr. is by no means showing love by withholding that information. No, we call that malpractice. And the Dr. gets slapped with a lawsuit for that lack of love!

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”  Jesus  (John 15:18-20).

I do not hear Jesus saying here, “Be relevant so everyone will be attracted to you and your church!”

In Mark 10 we see Jesus being relevant to the rich young ruler. And the result of His relevant truths caused this man to walk away sad.

Be careful, Christian.  A wrong understanding of relevance might render you silent and thus irrelevant in a culture that needs truth and love. If cultural relevance is your guide, well, you are on shifting sand. Today’s cultural relevance will be irrelevant tomorrow. Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever….

God, help us to grow in our understanding of your Word. Let us see how incredibly relevant it is to a lost and dying world. And help us to speak without fear and with much relevance, love, and care.


“Truth Speaking” IS Relevant


Isn’t “The Cry For Relevance”, by pastors and churches an effort to attract people to our churches?

And….. attracting people to our churches…. that is good, right?

But, in so doing, don’t we have to be extremely careful about our motives?

If we are seeking to build “our” kingdom come, Rather than “HIS” Kingdom come…. then perhaps not. But if Jesus is the King and it is His Kingdom that we are seeking to build…. perhaps, yes!?!

Recently,  Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Brian Houston, (founder of the very popular Hillsong movement) a very simple question:

“Can your pastors preside at same-sex marriages?”

Houston replied (in part), “It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. Because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them.”

He continued, “So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So that’s a vexing thing. You think, ‘How do we not become a pariah?'”

Yikes, it was a “yes” or “no” question….

Well, those statements kinda blew up and so……before the week was out, Pastor Houston issued a follow-up statement saying, “Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage…. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”

Hmmmm…..ok, good…. I think…..  Much could be said here, but this post is not about the content of what he said.  Rather, the point I am seeking to address is this Cry For Relevance.  So, I press on…..

A few thoughts:

1.  I am NOT for:

  • I am NOT for irrelevance.
  • I have NO desire to drive people away from Christianity, the church, or Jesus Christ.  I don’t want to be pariah, either!
  • The goal is not to be as non – relevant as possible, offend people, or create a greater divide in our conversations.
  • I don’t want to unhelpfully create any more road blocks in ones understanding of true Christianity than already exists.
  • In light of the above, it needs to be said……  I do not hate gay or lesbians!
  • While, I disagree with that lifestyle choice, that does not mean I hate them nor does it mean that I discriminate against them.

My concern centers on this lustful desire for relevance. A problem which, Jesus Himself, did not concern Himself. Jesus never watered down His message.

Why? Because, Truth is…. truth.

While I am at it, I might as well potentially offend some Christians:  I take issue with those who shout from the street corner to the passerby’s with a pronounced arrogance and a lack of compassion and love, and do so in the name of truth. There is a reason that our culture, when speaking about Christians, say we are filled with “hate speech”. (Though that phrase is often tossed around to mean: hate speech is anything someone speaks out against what I am engaged in…)

That said….

2.  I AM for:

  • Speaking the truth in love
  • The above does not mean that the Christian should be silent!
  • Paul, in Ephesians 4 calls the believer to maturity when he says:

…..that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…  Ephesians 4:14-15


  • Does a person who is not living for Christ need relevance or truth?
  • Does one exclude the other?
  • Isn’t truth…..well……. relevant?

Ultimately what is needed most is not my relevance, we need truth. And, that truth just so happens to be extremely relevant to the world we live in!  Where do we find truth?

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever!


The Cry For Relevance


The cry for “relevance” in the Christian community today is deafening.

Consider: The cry for relevance is often louder than the cry for God’s Word or the Gospel!

Don’t misunderstand:

  • I am not for Christians being irrelevant in society and culture!!
  • To be irrelevant in todays society, is to have no voice.
  • No voice is neither, wise or necessary.
  • I DO think the Bible IS relevant!!!
  • Whether a person realizes the relevance of the Bible does not determine IF the bible IS relevant.

Is their any caution to be given in the midst of the cry for relevance?

Relevant churches

Relevant evangelism

Relevant music

on and on it goes…..

Sometimes, Christians are not comfortable in their own skin…..

Paul to the Corinthians:

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:22-24).

The gospel IS a stumbling block, it IS folly to the unbeliever.

Which means:  We must be careful that our desire for relevance does not = compromise.

Ours is a day that can easily be captured up in the desire to “reach” people, at the expense of remaining faithful to the Word.  And…. if we are reaching people, while NOT remaining faithful to the Word…. then what exactly are we reaching people to?


Our opinions?

Self- Authority?

Our hope is in the Word of God itself!

“And by neglecting the Scriptures, we lose track of what we are reaching people to. If it’s to a savior other than the holy, triune creator God of the Bible, or if it’s to a God other than the one in the Scriptures who died to appease God’s wrath toward sinful men, justifying completely those who repent and believe, then we’re no longer offering salvation at all, and we’re not building a ‘church.’  We might have gathered a good group of people who do good things, but it’s not the bride of Christ.”  Matt Chandler

There is such a lust for relevance today.  We want to be liked, accepted, thought well of in society.  And it is this lust that (potentially) waters down biblical truths in the name of “reaching people”.

In the end, doesn’t it boil down to what we believe about the Bible? Is it the very Word of God??

Paul says to the Romans – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the is the power of God to salvation.

Do you believe that?

Or does God’s Word need some “props” – do you feel the need to take the “edge” off?

Or to quote Bono of U2 – “stop helping God across the road, like a little old lady….”

“The issue of sin and depravity is as old as the fall of man. Likewise the Word we live by is just as relevant today as it ever was. God is not in catch up mode when it comes to being abreast of current trends, trials, and temptations.”  David Ravenhill  Read full article here.

The Word of God is where our convictions MUST lie.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever!