Michael Paulson Interviews Rob Bell

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rob Bell is one of the hottest names in contemporary evangelical life. He is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., but is better known for his books, and especially, for his road show, which combines preaching with performance art. He is much talk about among folks trying to discern what's next for American evangelicalism. Bell is currently touring in conjunction with a book, "Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering,'' and last weekend he appeared at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. I caught up with Bell by telephone in Ottawa to ask him what he's up to.

Q. What does it mean to you to be an evangelical?

A. I take issue with the word to a certain degree, so I make a distinction between a capital E and a small e. I was in the Caribbean in 2004, watching the election returns with a group of friends, and when Fox News, in a state of delirious joy, announced that evangelicals had helped sway the election, I realized this word has really been hijacked. I find the word troubling, because it has come in America to mean politically to the right, almost, at times, anti-intellectual. For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

Posted September 29, 2009 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. RomeAnglican wrote:

Second page of the article switches (in error) to another story.

But this was enough to read.  There’s not much evangelical—small or large ‘E’—about Rob Bell.  One doesn’t have to drill far before hitting politics—the same criticism of others his entire ministry seems to be built on.

September 29, 8:58 am | [comment link]
2. Utah Benjamin wrote:

It is one thing to state one’s position; it is another to state it and try (dishonestly) to make it sound as though you hold the same position with others who certainly do not hold that same position, as Bell does with the term Evangelical.

Book recommendation: H.G. Frankfurt’s On B******* (for the full title, look him up on Amazon, or here).  Believe it or not, it was a seminary text for me in a philosophy class.  It is written in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but in all seriousness addresses the subtle difference between outright lies (which at least have a respect for and knowledge of the truth by telling the opposite of the truth) and B*******, which has no respect for truth, only for the end result; any statement, true or false, is fair game in order to build a certain impression of oneself or one’s position.

September 29, 11:33 am | [comment link]
3. notworthyofthename wrote:

Reading farther into the interview, it seems to me that Bell is hijacking the word “evangelical” as much as religious conservatives have—indeed even more so. He voids the word of any spiritual content, any truly “good news” and turns it into what amounts to more than just another political movement. He is guilty of the same duplicity as those he accuses, and he appears to do it shamelessly.

September 29, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
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