Controversial Author Rob Bell Who Questioned Hell Turns Self-Help Guru on Oprah Winfrey Network

Bell II

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The former head “pastor” of Michigan’s Mars Hill Bible Church and author of “Love Wins,” a book questioning the orthodox Christian view of Hell, is set to debut his own self-help television talk show this month on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a move that may raise additional concerns about the already controversial speaker.

“The Rob Bell Show” featuring the former spiritual leader comes on the heels of Bell’s appearance at Winfrey’s “Life You Want” tour, which also featured speakers like New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

“Considered to be one of America’s most influential and progressive spiritual leaders, New York Times best-selling author Rob Bell shines a bright light on the topics we most want to talk about but often don’t know how to even approach,” a description of the broadcast reads. “Through riveting conversations with a live audience, and by incorporating creative on-camera storytelling, Rob—as only he can—explores themes such as owning your story and wonder and awe.”

In March 2013, in making a return visit to the Michigan church he founded over a decade ago, Bell announced the making of the new program.

“We want to talk about the things that matter most,” Bell told the congregation of Mars Hill Bible Church. “We want to talk about our brokenness and our struggle. We want to be inspired. We want to hear stories.”

“I want to take elements of this, what you’re experiencing here,” he said. “I want to put it all in a blender, and throw in a little ‘Lost,’ maybe some TED Talk and maybe some Letterman and do something that’s never been done before.”

Some state that the program will focus less on theology and Bible teaching and more on self-help topics. Bell had appeared on Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday in September of last year to discuss his book “What We Talk About When We Talk About God,” a broadcast in which Bell “explor[ed] themes and issues including happiness, personal fulfillment, wellness, spirituality and conscious living.”

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Winfrey praised Bell in a post on her website, entitled “What Oprah Knows for Sure About Spirituality.”

“When Rob Bell—pastor, best-selling author, provocative thinker—recently joined me on the show, we talked for two and a half hours, and I could have kept going,” she wrote. “The ideas Rob sets forth in his books Love Wins and What We Talk About When We Talk About God opened my heart and my mind. People like him are the reason I set out to build OWN in the first place: to be able to gather a global community of like-minded seekers.”

Bell had left Mars Hill in 2011 shortly after releasing his book “Love Wins,” which was criticized by many for its universalistic teachings that claimed the majority of Christian doctrine on Hell is “misguided and toxic.” However, he asserts that his departure had nothing to do with controversy over the book. Bell relocated to Los Angeles and recently told reporters that he no longer attends a Sunday assembly, but rather meets with others in his own way.

“We have a little tribe of friends,” he said. “We have a group that we are journeying with. There’s no building. We’re churching all the time. It’s more of a verb for us.”

However, he said that he is not against church fellowships.

“Churches can be places that help people grow and help people connect with others and help people connect with the great issues of our day,” Bell said. “They can also be toxic, black holes of despair. My thinking is, it depends on where you are in your life. One of the most extraordinary things I’ve done since I left Mars Hill is be with people and engage with people who would never step foot in a church.”

In addition to raising controversy over his teachings about Hell, Bell drew criticism last year when he came out in support of same-sex “marriage.”

“I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man,” he said. “I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs—I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”

Bell likewise opined that many evangelicals can no longer be classified as conservatives because their beliefs have changed with the times.

“I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. … You sort of die or you adapt,” he asserted. “And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

In light of his controversial views, some have said that Bell is leading many down a dark and destructive path.

“Plain and simple, Rob Bell’s teachings are not true to the words of Scripture,” Eric Ludy, pastor of Church at Ellerslie and president of Ellerslie Mission Society in Windsor, Colorado told Christian News Network. “They are a sly attempt at blending the philosophies of our post-modern age with the vernacular of pop-Christianity. The end product is highly dangerous to the human soul because it is the forging of a golden calf god—a God of our culture’s making—and certainly not the God of the Bible.”

“The Rob Bell Show” is set to air on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. on OWN.


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  • Gary

    No. But thanks for asking.

  • Frank

    Hey Rob what an idea you have there; Tell God He’s wrong in numerous ways and teach people that God is wrong.

    Who wins, God or Rob Bell? For some reason… Bear with me… It’s coming to me now…the winner will be….. Here it comes….. GGggOooDdd. That wasn’t too difficult now was it? God wins. Rob loses. Marriage Supper TBA.

  • 54blueroses

    He isn’t a pastor of God. Anyone who teaches contrary to the very Word of God is NOT annointed by God . I feel very bad for this man because there’s a verse in the bible that clearly is written to all who teach the word of God to the people: “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1. Those who teach the word of God to the people are judged for more severely because they can either make disciples or lead them astray and deceive them.

  • James Grimes

    Apostasy comes in many forms.

  • 4everlife

    This is a very sad case of “dead man walking”.
    Without the True and Living God, there is falsehood (false doctrine) and death.
    Only in Christ can one be raised from the dead (in this particular case, spiritually). Let us pray for this individual featured in this article and for others who have left the Lord to be
    made alive (I Cor. 15:22) unto Him again, in Jesus’ Name.

    • Scott R

      Wow, I don’t think he has claimed to left the Lord? Did you and Rob meet? Thank you for the gossip, why don’t you do a google search, how many times the bible talks about gossip and how many times it talks about hell, oh, gossipers do go to hell according to the bible, some people might want Rob to be right.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        Scott, he does not have to “claim he left the Lord.” He left the Lord when he embraced universalism. No one spoke more about Hell in the Bible than Jesus. While it is uncomfortable to discuss, not talking about it does not make it any less real – or deadly. If Bell is a believer, he needs to engage his viewers in less self-help and more Jesus-help.
        Also, your comment about gossip is self-refuting. You are claiming that those who make comments on this story are gossiping, but you are also making comments on this story. That makes you a hypocrite. Please give up the false liberal theology of universalism. Wanting something to be true does not make it so. God bless, Scott!

        • 4everlife

          Amen. Thank you.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Keep up the hard tough work of speaking for Truth and Life and the One Who is both! Keep being a shining light unto darkness. You are doing great, and may the Lord bless you with abundant rewards!

  • Monica

    Why is Eric Ludy a pastor, but Rob Bell is the former ‘pastor’. And why same sex ‘marriage’? Are inverted commas really required? Or do they merely point to the bias of the author of this article?

  • http://theunderfold.com/ Brian Russell

    Everything about this title and the way this post was written is factually incorrect. But, you know, whatever.

  • railhead

    When you think about the millions of people going to hell while false teachers like this tell people it doesn’t exist, “don’t worry, everyone is fine”, it makes you wonder how harshly he will be judged. I’m glad I’m not in his shoes. Enjoy the money and riches while you can, sir.

  • Daryl Carlson

    Interesting… Eric
    Ludy, pastor of Church at Ellerslie said. “They (those like Rob Bell) are a sly
    attempt at blending the philosophies of our post-modern age with the vernacular
    of pop-Christianity”

    What Mr Ludy fails to recognize is
    that much of what Christians believe today is also not in line with the God of
    the Bible. Christians today have accepted a Biblical Interpretation on issues (Hell and Gays) that was blended centuries ago with the philosophies of
    Plato and Aristotle (modernism) with the vernacular of John Calvin
    and Jonathan Edwards. At least Rob Bell has the courage to
    point out this fact and question tradition. Both Hell as eternal punishment and the Gay issue can be shown to be later developments
    not connected to the intent of the Biblical author or audience. Establishing that intent properly is a foundation rule of Biblical interpretation.

    • Frank

      Calvin has done a lot of damage. For sure. Calvinism is another Gospel which is no Gospel at all.

      • Magister_militum_praesentalis

        Are you part of the IFB movement?

        • Frank

          Nope. I don’t follow movements.

          • Magister_militum_praesentalis

            Would you have said if you do?

          • Frank

            Why wouldn’t I have? But like54blueroses pointed out, we follow Jesus, not a movement or a man.

          • wandakate

            FRANK: Yes b/c following a movement or a man will not get anyone into the Kingdom of GOD ever. JESUS said, “I am the way, the truth and the light, and NO MAN can come to the FATHER but by me (through me). We must love, obey and trust JESUS as He is our only way to GOD the FATHER in Heaven.

          • 54blueroses

            We follow JESUS 🙂

    • railhead

      Mar 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
      (46) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

      Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

      Ok, call me a simpleton, but don’t these verses clearly teach hell is an everlasting punishment? I mean the Bible just flat out calls it everlasting punishment.

      And the “Gay issue” was dealt with way back in Genesis 19 when God rained fire and brimstone on Sodom….which is where the term “sodomy” comes from. Genesis 19 is a long time ago.

      • 54blueroses

        The Word of God aka The Holy Bible is very clear, but sadly some like to change it, add on to it, and/or take away from it. Thanks for posting these verses Railhead, maybe there’s someone out there who needed to know straight from the Bible God’s Truth.

  • Scott R

    I don’t know why all the harsh comments, except that you forgot about the most important commandment of all. If you Christians (well people who think they have God figured out) are so sure about hell you don’t do much about it.(when is the last time you made a sacrifice for you faith, oh, be honest. Thanks for caring about us. Most of you have never read his book, and are speaking from the puppet that has been placed in you. The church is dying and Rob Bell is trying to tell you that. Its all about hell, now do something about it and stop sitting in your mega buildings casting stones on other people. Rob is most likely doing more for the kingdom by engaging with other believers than any of you.

    • railhead

      In part you are right about people sitting in mega buildings, but Rob Bell is part of that whole genre. The church is dying because there are VERY few churches that have a heart for the lost. The Biblical method of going out two by two and preaching the gospel is so foreign to most Christians, they think it is a Jehovah’s Witness invention. If more pastors would stand up and thunder from the pulpit about the Bible’s warnings about hell, which are numerous in both Old and New Testaments, maybe the people would get motivated to go out and share the gospel with someone. Maybe Christians would shed a tear for their lost relatives and beg God for their souls…..and then go give them the gospel..
      People like Rob Bell lull Christians into spiritual sleep, causing them to not take hell and salvation seriously. I mean if everyone is saved, why obey the great comission? That’s where my harsh comments come from, the same harsh comments I have for any false teacher who teaches lies. Rob Bell is aiding and abetting the dying church and turning into another worldly self-help therapy session rather than a group of baptized, born again believers with a heart for the lost.

    • Frank

      Sacrifice for my faith as you say, much closer in time than you might think. But details and all that is between me and God. But I will say I rest secured in Christ. Thanks for asking. You can speak words and sprinkle buzz words all you want but Truth and the Way it does not make. Nor does speaking unbiblical doctrines such as Bell. Conversations with people and teaching them unbiblical doctrines will not save them from hell. Means your a false teacher not sent by God.

  • Its_Your_Brain

    Interesting… Eric Ludy, pastor of Church at Ellerslie said. “They (those like Rob Bell) are a sly attempt at blending the philosophies of our post-modern age with the vernacular
    of pop-Christianity”

    What Mr Ludy fails to recognize is that much of what Christians believe today is also not in line with the God of the Bible. Christians today have accepted a Biblical Interpretation on issues (Hell and Gays) that was blended centuries ago with the philosophies of
    Plato and Aristotle (modernism) with the vernacular of John Calvin
    and Jonathan Edwards.

    At least Rob Bell has the courage to
    point out this fact and question tradition. Both Hell as eternal punishment and the Gay issue can be shown to be later developments
    not connected to the intent of the Biblical author or audience. Establishing that intent properly is a foundation rule of Biblical interpretation.

  • Amor

    I actually feel sad for this man…This shows how Mammon (the god of money) is making strides in getting souls. We should pray for him. Shame.

  • jason

    Read Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Study other parts of the Bible and those of you who want to knock men of God will be in for a surprise if you follow every law, every saying in Proverbs, and truly follow what Jesus says. He is no more a false prophet that any of you dark thinkers are experts. Those people who use the Bible as a weapon to try to destroy a brother or sister in Christ will also have to answer to God in God’s kingdom.

    • Frank

      I thinks you need to read many many many times 1 Corinthians, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Titus, 2 Timothy, Revelation and please don’t forget the rest of the bible God’s Word. But you have to read and believe the whole thing. It’s All written by God. He don’t lie. He defines Himself, not man. Peace be with you.

    • wandakate

      JASON: People like that won’t make it into GOD’s Kingdom. They will be with the evil one. Either he tells the “TRUTH” of the word of GOD, (the Bible) or he doesn’t. There is no middle ground there. What he says vs. what GOD’s said.

  • 54blueroses

    This is end-times prophecy being fulfilled right before our very eyes! God warned us of false teachers preaching false doctrine. True Believers are fully aware of this, it is not a shocker to us. For His sheep know His voice and we follow Him, Jesus, our Shepherd, our Lord and our King. I am saddened for the many lost souls who will be/are deceived this man, Rob. Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, now is the time to study your bible- read it daily, fast and pray, put on the armor of God that our brother Paul told us of! Because the times are getting worse. Fight the good fight and finish the race for soon we will see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ coming through the clouds with all of the angels and he will take us to our Home!!! Hang on!!!!

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      Amen, Amen, Amen – beautifully put – thank you!!! God’s eternal blessings to you!

      • 54blueroses

        You’re very welcome and God bless you too my dear!!

    • wandakate

      54BLUEROSES: True Christians know the false prophets. I can spot them a mile away. I feel bad for Oprah. She doesn’t know who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. She listens to all of them including the new age guru and she follows every wind of doctrine out there. I hope she finds the truth and GOD before it’s over and married Stedman Graham, if she hasn’t already. She has lived with him for years unwed (fornication) which is a sin and there will be no sinners in the Kingdom of GOD. She needs to marry him or give it up and confess, repent and forsake it all. She won’t be in Heaven according to the scriptures and that is a shame.
      She has everything that this life can offer, fortune and fame, but she’s lost.
      What good would it do for a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?
      This man believes that homosexuality is fine, and he states he supports marriage either way, which IS NOT biblical and GOD hates that sin. I smell a rat, and I also see a Red Flag.

  • http://www.firstchevalier.com/ The Cavalier

    I am so very glad judgment does not rest with me but has been assigned to Christ Jesus. I completely disagree with Mr. Bell on a great many things, I will not walk his path, nor will I counsel anyone to walk his path. Read scripture for yourself and decide this day who you will follow, but as for me and my house, we shall follow the Lord.

  • James Rankin

    Another apostate false teacher.

  • delores_in_wa_state

    Satan is in most ‘church’s” today – too bad they are man’s religion and not God’s truth.

  • William

    The Bible! Believe it all! Or believe none of it! You can not pick and chose. It’s all or none! Your choice, I pray you chose correctly and wisely!

    • wandakate

      WILLIAM; People say that very thing, and yet they pick and choose the 10 Commandments. Do they “ALL” apply or are they “ALL” obsolete? People say we can’t steal, but we can kill if we are in the military or in self defense. We should obey one but not the other. The bible however tells us if we have broken one of them, then we have broken them all. What people preach is not necessarily what they do. It’s usually do as I say, but not as I do, in other words hypocrites.

  • Nora Shaw

    Read your Bible cover to cover and you’ll detect snakes like him, I fear for him!! It is a fearful thing to fall in the Hands of the Living God.

  • Tux

    Does anyone know what has happened at Mars Hill Bible Church since he left? Is it still as wayward as it once was?

  • Haqodeshim

    Yeshua/Jesus (Yahweh is salvation) came and died to fulfill the Covenant in Genesis 15 He made with Abraham -https://www.facebook.com/notes/george-walter-bratcher-iii/there-is-holy-and-then-there-is-holy/10150452285491373 – Rob Bell is not the first and not the last member of the clergy I find uneducated on Genesis 15, and this is sad, because it’s not being taught in our undergraduate or graduate religion programs in our colleges, universities, and seminaries, and so preachers are not discipling their congregations in the rudimentary Gospel message that begins in the OT and culminates in the NT, and so no wonder the Church as an institution is on the decline in America.

  • Galaxy Cat

    The Bible rarely mentions Hell, when it does it is by word “Sheol”, or the Grave (and also Perdition), but also the Furnace prepared for Satan and his angels of rebellion. In Isaiah is mentioned “The Hells”, and rarely do the Apostles or Our Lord Jesus mention Hell, as the Word of God is Redemption and Life. Ask the Holy Spirit for Discernment on these topics, you will see them for what they are then. “There is no Self-Help except Self-Discipline as taught by Paul the Apostle, where he states he disciplined himself that he would not be moved by temptation or sin. Also, and most importantly, God provides for us in Prayer and Supplication, though Faith which is a deeper mystery, but be as the Bureans, and line up everything according to Scripture, for God’s Word does not Change, He Remains the Same forever and always. It should ALL LINE UP with Scripture, otherwise it is distraction, euphoric entertainment, or confusion and misdirection, putting our faith in methods of improvement that have no bearing on our spiritual life in Christ Jesus; God does not Promise Prosperity for everyone, He Loves Whom he Loves and he Hates whom He Hates (this can be a hurtful passage if seeing with mortal eyes, ask the Holy Spirit to explain it!). Blending Popular Culture with Christianity is folly, for we are to be hated by the world for our Testimony, not welcomed into it’s embrace and teaching of limited sight! All my Love in Christ Jesus, may the Lord Bless you and keep you always!