‘Too Much God Talk’: Rob Bell’s ‘Progressive’ Successor Steps Down from Leading Mars Hill

Dobson-compressedGRANDVILLE, Mich. — Kent Dobson, who took over the leadership role at Mars Hill in 2012 after controversial author and speaker Rob Bell left the congregation he founded, has now also decided to step down, stating that “being a pastor is not who I am.”

“My place here has not felt right, like I was wearing someone else’s suit that didn’t quite fit and I tried to get it tailored and maybe I had shoulder pads from the 90’s or something. I don’t know,” he told the congregation on Sunday. “It just felt like it didn’t quite fit me so well.”

Dobson said that he feels restless and uncomfortable around “too much God talk.”

“I’ve felt restless, but I’ve always felt restless and a bit homeless when it comes to church and when it comes to God talk,” he explained. “When I hear too much God talk, I start to feel like (shudders) [it’s] too much religion. I don’t know; it gives me a restless feeling. A lot of times I feel like an outsider at my own party.”

“I have always been and I’m still drawn to the very edges of religion and faith and God,” Dobson continued. “I’ve said a few times that I don’t even know if we know what we mean by God anymore. That’s the edges of faith. That’s the thing that pulls me. I’m not really drawn to the center. I’m not drawn to the orthodox or the mainstream or the status quo.”

Dobson, the son of Ed Dobson, who formerly pastored Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, said that while Mars Hill is not “in alignment with [his] own passions,” he is not leaving the congregation because he doesn’t think it isn’t “progressive enough” on the issue of homosexuality. Dobson’s brother Daniel identifies as homosexual.

“It is true that my views are progressive, … but I’ve never felt that Mars Hill needed to think like me,” he stated. “I never felt like Mars Hill, like other kinds of churches, that I needed to come down the mountain like Moses and draw a line in the sand and say everybody’s gotta be like me or they can hit the road. … I am open and affirming but I always have been.”

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Dobson said that he is not sure what is next, but that he will be transitioning out over the next few months.

“Mars Hill is going to have to find some new teaching voices. It’s just time,” he stated. “I feel called to a greater mystery that I do not know, that I do not understand.”

Rob Bell, who founded Mars Hill in 1999, left the congregation in 2011 shortly after releasing his book “Love Wins,” which was criticized by many for its teachings that claimed the majority of Christian doctrine on Hell is “misguided and toxic.” However, he asserted that his departure had nothing to do with controversy over the book.

Dobson is formerly a teacher at NorthPointe Christian School, and has appeared on broadcasts for the History Channel and Discovery Channel. His 30-minute announcement to Mars Hill may be viewed here.


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  • Davy Buck

    He sounds very much like a lost soul to me.

    • Sandi Luckins

      how can one not be when one is supporting homosexuality? Either you support Jesus, or the world, but it is very difficult sitting on the fence.

  • Teresa Geib Bacon

    so many deceived folks under that church and leaders, everywhere now. we are in the itchy ears of Scripture. Calvary Church itself, which i was a member of in another State, has gone under their own share of deceit and corruption, and false teaching. Its very hard to find a church who does not do that, you have to find a NON 501 Church.

  • D Sims

    At the very least he is being honest. Following Jesus is not an easy path. It is very much like paddling up a raging river. Only dead fish go with the current. Jesus consistently reminds us that the way is hard, the gate is small and those that find it are few.

    • tyler

      probably because Jesus was a human that died 2000 years ago and hardly anything is known about him

      • D Sims

        So then rejoice, you are in the majority.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          And he is going with the current. 🙂

          • Sandi Luckins

            lol

      • The Last Trump

        A common belief among the uninformed and the ignorant.
        Might wanna look into that a little bit.

    • afchief

      Happy Thanksgiving to you Mr. Sims!

      • D Sims

        Wow, hello again afchief! Thank you and have a great day of thanks and rest to you and all your family!

        • afchief

          Me and a bunch of others have been banned from Charisma. They want more “civil” conversations i.e. political correctness.

          • http://biblewordstudy.org Adam in Christ

            Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, afchief!

            I’m done w/ Charisma, for the time being. I got fed up with them deleting, and even editing, my comments pointing out their double-standards.

          • afchief

            Happy Thanksgiving Adam. I read some of the articles and comments the other day and I can see why.

          • maxine

            I am so happy to know you are all right. We didn’t exchange many comments but I always enjoyed your input and was concerned when you disappeared. I’ve been deleted by Charisma occasionally for reasons I don’t understand. it’s usually been for posts that contain scripture. God bless you.

          • Ax2root

            Yes…. I also read some

            Bert farias and Matt barber sounding the alarm on Islam and ” fake ” Christian compassion

            Eve thought she was desiring GOOD but she opposed GOD

          • afchief

            I like those two. They tell like it is!

          • Ax2root

            I wonder if they got fed up with me exposing the one world religion / chrislam

          • http://biblewordstudy.org Adam in Christ

            Howdy, Ax!

            From my observations, I think afchief hit the nail on the head in that their moderator staff is favoring political correctness over taking a firm stand on the truth.

            It’s certainly not them wanting to get rid of “offensive” posters. They’ve proven that in allowing TT to stay under his new account (as well as all the others who keep returning under new accounts, as well). They’re operating under a clear set of double-standards over there, and apparently did not like me exposing that on their forums (hence, all of my deleted and edited posts).

          • Ax2root

            Agreed Adam

            Still many excellent t posters. BUT
            They allow the chrislam and compromising to stay and kicked off the uncompromising posters .

            I have no desire for spiritual compromise P/ C which opposes TRUTH

            you are a valuable oracle of God in speaking Truth Adam

            Shalom and GRACE.

          • http://biblewordstudy.org Adam in Christ

            To you as well, Ax 🙂

            I’m just a servant, striving to sow every day into God’s Word 🙂 He’s magnified His Word above His own Name (Ps. 138:2). It’s higher than Heaven and deeper than Hell.

          • Ax2root

            Agreed… Amen

          • http://www.thelivingword.org.au JoshFX

            Shalom Adam…..I feel the same way.
            Many of my posts are ‘deleted’ in C.N, mostly if/when I do a ‘reply’ to someone, like T.T. It seems to me, that if you shout too loud in C.N. they simply get rid of you, with many who have strong anti-biblical views posting diabolical rubbish, unhindered, almost with a hedge of protection around them and their views. If i post a view that is anti-romanism, anti-pope, or anti any of their ‘friends, like Mr. B. Hinn, and others, they simply remove everything that I have posted….!

            Doesn’t make it worth the effort, so, I also, like yourself and others, make very limited comments in CN any longer.

            When, surely, as will we all, stand before The Lord, who ‘will’ see into the very heart of the subject standing before Him, Judgement will be measured out with Divine Justice having the last, and final say on Sin.

            Bless you Adam. I hold you up in Prayer, along with many of the other Born Again Saints that post in the public forums. It is also my prayer that the ‘blinkers’ that have blinded the people who run C.N. will be pulled down, enabling them to see…’The Light’.

          • http://biblewordstudy.org Adam in Christ

            …that was a good way how you put it Josh; it’s as if those certain folk have a ‘hedge of protection’ around them.

            It’s caused me to be fed up. I just responded to a post on C.N. by fellow brother D Sims (via my ‘Latest Comments’ feed), but other than that I’m not interested in going back there. Just plain hypocrisy occurring.

            Thank you for holding me, and others, up in prayer 🙂 I’ve been experiencing an increased season of lucid-dream encounters with demonic spirits, here lately. I’ve had dozens of such encounters, over the past two years–even after repenting and renouncing of all occult sins, that I’m aware of (and removing cursed objects from my home, etc.). From this altogether, I’m convinced that this is somehow part of my ministry. If could further pray for my edification here, it would be much appreciated!

            Shalom! I’m happy to have met all of you on here 🙂

          • Ax2root

            That would include me Afchief … Hahahaha

    • Ax2root

      It’s good not to be a round peg in a square hole .

      It’s bad not to know the pegboard.

      Blessings D

  • Emmanuel

    He needs to find and define his own relationship with Christ before getting on the pulpit to help others with their relationship. It’s good that he’s stepping down to prevent hurting others and leading others the wrong road. I hope he finds Christ soon.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      Amen!

  • Michael Link

    And here I thought the problem with churches today was not enough God talk…

  • Hitgurl Smn eu Hitgírl tm eu

    Hate to be mean, but not sure how this is actually a news article. A pastor who is stepping down because he is uncomfortable talking about God probably is following the age old “Doctrine Christianity” rather than seeking a relationship, but I can barely judge this man, I have had my own miles walking in the wrong direction, and as Emmanuel says, he’s doing less harm stepping down, I just do not see why it is any of our business.

  • Dan Newberry

    I guess Rob Bell’s loafers were just too light to fill. :p 😀

  • Reason2012

    Probably summed up here:

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
    2 Timothy 4:3-4

    • Names_Stan

      I didn’t read him saying he has tired of too much doctrine. What I read was too much “God talk”.

      It seems pretty obvious that he’s tired of self-righteousness. “God talk” today isn’t “sound doctrine” as much as it is a doctrine test. Those two things are different, because the latter is focused on the wrong in other doctrines rather than faith, hope and love.

      Being a pastor in a huge church must be a nonstop misery of fielding requests to preach against this or that sin (oddly, a sin that’s never an issue for the one submitting the request)….

      It’s much the same as here…pride in being right, “proofs” of rightness, and pointing out the wrong in others. And it’s “highly esteemed” among the like thinkers who cheer and offer me-too’s.

      And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

      I hope his decision brings him relief and peace. He can certainly rest on Jesus’ assurances that his public religiosity, or his “doctrine”, has no bearing whatsoever on his standing in the Kingdom…other than potentially a negative one.

      Grace is not a doctrine.
      And Grace is foreign only to those who believe they have earned it.

      • Reason2012

        A person called to be a preacher would not find it misery to preach God’s truth, which includes preaching against sin – but many churches hardly ever preach against sin, if they even mention sin at all. Bell’s teachings made it clear he’s not teaching God’s truth, but his own version of truth that he’s more comfortable with – have to assume this guy was following in those footsteps.

        Being a pastor is a calling – most were not called to be preachers.

        Grace is one of the doctrines/teachings of Christ – not sure what you mean it’s not.

        • Names_Stan

          Grace transcends “doctrine”. A person who depends on their doctrine for righteousness is no different from one who bows before an idol.

          As for the rest, thanks for a nice real life illustration of what I’m talking about. I wonder if CS Lewis is going to be right in your case…will you refuse to enter heaven when you see all the riff-raff God lets in. In this case, namely Dobson and Bell.

          • Reason2012

            Doctrine means “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group” – grace that God offers is one of the many beliefs we have about God and His truth: one of the doctrines about God.

            We depend on God’s grace to be saved – so in effect we are depending upon God’s promise in His Word. This is what we mean by the doctrine (teaching – set of beliefs) about grace.

            God is not a respecter of persons, the Bible tells us – in most cases it’s the most unassuming people who will end up in heaven. Why would I refuse to enter into heaven just because so and so is in there? That’s a might bold judgment you’re making about me. If a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, they are my brother/sister in Christ – I couldn’t care less for their background otherwise.

            Thank you for posting.

          • Names_Stan

            The judgement comes from your post regarding this pastor…that he’s going to be turned into a fable.

            Maybe you think he can be a fable and also in heaven…I don’t know and don’t pretend to.

          • Reason2012

            My judgment has nothing to do with “riff-raff God lets in” that you claimed I would “refuse to enter heaven over” – it has to do with a pastor finding it “misery” to preach about sin as you put it, or as he puts it “I’ve said a few times that I don’t even know if we know what we mean by God anymore.”

            I didn’t say he can be a fable – the verse says instead of turning TO God’s truth people instead turn TO fables.

            If a Christian “doesn’t know what we mean by God anymore”, it sounds like there’s no way they could even believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

          • Josey

            This man sound thoroughly confused and can find the right way as he puts all this other garbage taught by men aside and gets to seeking Christ for he who seeks shall find and if he takes this time gets alone with God and into His word and decides that God’s word is the only truth, he will find his way out of this.

          • jennylynn

            It Does not, what Bible are you reading from, the Message?

            2 Timothy 3:16…15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

      • jennylynn

        This is biblical grace, not cheap grace the church has bought!

        But the true grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, you should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age.
        Titus 2:11

        • Names_Stan

          I’m familiar with both verses you’ve posted, but I don’t know what you’re meaning to say.

          If it is that grace is earned, then that’s a hetero-orthodox view. Which is fine by me, don’t get me wrong.

          But “cheap grace” I presume would be the kind that someone hasn’t earned, correct? So it stands to reason that “expensive grace” would be earned.

          Earning God’s favor isn’t my understanding of the gospel. However, I do think it’s a much more honest approach, for those who believe they have earned it, to admit they think so.

          • jennylynn

            Grace is a free gift, that doesn’t make it ok to trample the blood of Christ as many liberal churches do, like Mars Hill. Hyper grace is another term. Grace never gives us licence to do as one pleases. We were bought at a price therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are Gods. I hope that makes sense.

          • Names_Stan

            Where is any mention of someone wanting or having “license to do as one pleases”?

            Don’t you see that you give lip service to the “free gift”, but then immediately dismiss it by inferring you (and presumably non-liberals) really deserve your grace because you’re so good?

          • Josey

            God’s word makes it clear in Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. and in Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
            we are all guilty and in need of Christ. He is the only way God made for men to be saved, there is no other way!
            It follows that once one accepts the free gift of salvation and they are born anew, they have a love for Christ because they finally understand the cost of the cross He made for them but there follows fruit that is pruned again and again over one’s lifetime by our Heavenly Father. If you love me Jesus said you will obey my commandments, it is not earning salvation but deciding to follow Christ’s and remain in the True vine and abide in Him, salvation is not a license to sin tho. we will sin even after being born again and will have to repent when God shows us our err and do the Father’s will here on earth, and that is obeying His word in the bible, the truth He gave us, we are all at different stages of this in our walk with Christ but He does the finished work in us as we yield to obey Him daily and step by step. I don’t always succeed and am not perfect in it all but I strive daily with the Power and help of the Holy Spirit to help me. I don’t consider to have obtained yet but look toward that hope when I will be transformed and will see Him (Christ) as He is and be changed but that doesn’t excuse me to live anyway I please in the meantime, God’s grace and the sacrifice Christ made on the cross was a heavy price He paid for my freedom from satan and sin and death, I don’t take that lightly! No one should! And I don’t consider myself any better than an unsaved person in as superior, I am a sinner saved by grace and I know where and what Christ saved and set me free from, from some of the stuff those who do not know Christ are captured in right now in which if they surrender to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent and accept what Christ has done they can be set free from that darkness they are in and be transferred into Christ’s Kingdom just as all who have accepted Christ have been. God is no respecter of persons.

          • jennylynn

            Amen! Well said.

          • Josey

            I just reiterated what you said, I totally agree with your posts to stan. God is so good!

          • Names_Stan

            It’s fine that you or she or anybody takes pride in their good works. It just has no relevance to the conversation.

            Maybe it frustrates y’all that I won’t brag, or even comment, on my own goodness, or even claim to have any. But it’s my understanding that public recognition of works, prayer and religiosity is reward in itself, and of no interest to God.

            As to her post, if you think through the logic, I’m correct in what I said. A person who resents someone’s “cheap grace” must, by definition, believe that they have earned their not-cheap grace.

            I don’t think that belief will keep anybody out of heaven. (While I regularly experience other posters condemnation to hell on God’s behalf, you won’t see me roped into that type of attitude).
            But I do believe that expressions of worthiness are counter to the gospel message…and on a more foundational level than the “sexual sin” she throws around.

            In my own understanding, the fact that I’m heterosexual would make it utterly ridiculous to throw stones at a homosexual. Come to think of it, that’s the very incarnation of “cheap grace”, as she calls it…throwing venom at those whose temptations aren’t shared by her, as though she has no plank in her eye.

            If she was as worthy and favored as she implies, she wouldn’t be so angry.

          • Josey

            “It’s fine that you or she or anybody takes pride in their good works. It just has no relevance to the conversation.” stan

            Come on stan you are making up things now, neither she or I said we take pride in our works, I give that glory to God for any good in us as Christians comes because of the work God is doing and that glory is HIs alone! And no one is worthy of the great salvation God provided, there is none righteous no not one but we are each and everyone in need of what great salvation was paid for by Christ on Calvary and by accepting that grace and salvation in humility and repentance that is the only way to get into Heaven is by Christ. He is the door, the gate, He is the life, truth and the only way. But good works follow those who have accepted Christ and the desire to do right and what is pleasing to Christ. As paul said in Romans 8:12-14 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
            14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans is a great book to understand how all this works. But you will not understand it if you have not taken that first step in giving your whole heart and life over to Christ and accepted what He did on Calvary for you. Turn to the Cross and repent and believe in Christ, this is the first step and then ask God for wisdom and understanding of His word and of who He is.

          • jennylynn

            Your the one who threw the grace card. This was in response to your liberal use of the Word. You liberally used it for an apostate church and false teacher. The guy condones sexual sin. This is no place in God’s church. God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts. You misused grace as license to trample the blood of Christ. I think Christians don’t understand true grace. It’s not license to do as one pleases. Christ bought us with blood.

            I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you (teachers in the church) not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert. Remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish (warn) each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.( # 37 Greek hagiazo to purify, consecrate, be holy, make holy, purify, set apart for God, sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit)
            Acts 20:29-32

          • Names_Stan

            It’s not license to do as one pleases.

            I think I was clear that there was never any discussion of a “license to do as one pleases”.

            It’s not in the story, and it’s not in my posts. If I’m mistaken, feel free to point out my quote.

            Otherwise I’ll leave you to your anger. Whether this pastor, whom I never heard of until today, is the benefactor of grace, I know not. But your desire for him not to be due to your infinitely higher worthiness is actually your problem…not his.

          • jennylynn

            ” do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is the law of satan!
            Jude 1:4-7
            For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

            5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an [example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

  • Eddie frOly

    I say they’re not losing anything. How can you call yourself a Christian and have those kinds of views you can’t not honestly at least!

  • tyler

    Good for him! Move on from the dark ages and oppression of the church.

    • The Last Trump

      Yes, feel all that oppression as you continually seek out Christian websites to complain about.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        Haha! Nice one, Trump – I almost exited the page before I saw your comment. Way to point out his hypocrisy.

        Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

        • The Last Trump

          To you as well my friend!

  • robyn Hefferan

    “transitioning out”. That’s it, the steps away from God. I know this place, but I pray and work to regain faith, I know where acting on my feelings will get me.

  • FoJC_Forever

    People generally do not like talking much about what or who they don’t know, nor want to know. The world is full of false religion, and always has been. The institution of the church and the Body of Christ are not the same thing.

    Follow Jesus, find Truth.

  • jr61020

    LOL…so much for praying and listening to God’s direction. Nope I think it would be cool to be a pastor and have a good salary, what’s the problem? Is this guy even saved???

  • Greg Trujillo

    This man has no salvation.

  • billinghamboy

    New age mumbo jumbo,what future is there for Mars Hill unless a Bible believing Man of God gets the job?

    • Josey

      And that would be great but I think a real man of God would be cast out pretty quick, at least one who stands by God’s entire word and doesn’t change it to conform to this world.

  • violetteal

    It might be the God is calling him away from the mega church. Real pastoring is small and intimate.

  • jennylynn

    Matthew 24:9-11

    9″Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10″At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11″Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.…

  • upload

    So close to the edge, I think he’s fallen off and not realized it yet. What exactly does “too much God talk”? We are to do everything in His name and to His glory. I think this guy is seeking his own glory.

  • https://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com Lizzy

    We follow Jesus Christ through obedient faith. The hard part is putting to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit, resisting the lies of the enemy, and avoiding the allure of the world. Dobson is doing the congregation at Mars Hill a favor by leaving. How can one who despises the Word of God have the temerity to liken himself to Moses? I hope that church will get a genuine servant of the most High God who will encourage them through solid biblical teaching and exposition.

  • Josey

    From what I’ve read about Mars Hill, they are not following God’s word anyway, instead are fitting God’s word to conform to the world, won’t work. And since I have a relationship with Christ and God, and Christ is my Lord and Saviour and best friend, I tend to talk about the one I am in love with all the time, can’t help it, if people don’t want to be around me because of that so be it. This guy can’t handle all the God talk, not sure what he means by that, could be a lot of useless god talk he is referring to or religion that denies the power of God to deliver or that he doesn’t have a relationship with Christ in which you generally do talk about the love of your life. With that being said I don’t know this man or his heart only God does.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      “I tend to talk about the one I am in love with all the time, can’t help it, if people don’t want to be around me because of that so be it”

      I have actually had the same thing said to me: “Couldn’t you talk about Jesus a little bit less?!?” My reply: “Not when He rescued me from the gates of Hell!”

      Keep talking about Him, Josey – keep pointing the world to Him. Keep being light in the darkness. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Josey

        Happy Thanksgiving to you as well and amen.

  • jerry

    “They went out from us because they were not of us”

  • http://www.redletterbelievers.com/ David Rupert

    I feel so bad for this congregation. Rob Bell started out preaching the gospel and was a little edgy and very creative. And then he went south (literally) And now this…

    This church needs to shut down. Just like the West Coast Mars Hill that produced off beat Christianity on the right, this Mars Hill is doing the same on the left.