Controversial former evangelical pastor Rob Bell recently wrapped up his “Bible Belt Tour,” which included two stops in Tennessee.
Bell, whose teachings are considered heretical by conservative Christians, made appearances earlier this month in Knoxville and Memphis.
“If evangelicals had a black list, Rob Bell would be on it,” wrote Megan Briggs in a review of Bell’s latest book, What Is the Bible?, for ChurchLeaders.com.
Bell, 46, was once a rising star in evangelical circles as the pastor of a megachurch he founded in his native Michigan. But he eventually left the church as he began gravitating toward a far less orthodox belief system. Today Bell lives in Los Angeles and continues to promote himself as a spiritual leader, but his views are now more in line with those of Oprah Winfrey, with whom he toured the country in 2014.
In his 2011 book Love Wins, Bell raised eyebrows by questioning the existence of hell and promoting a more inclusive form of Christianity. In What Is the Bible?, he concludes the Bible was inspired more by humans than by God and is not infallible.
“According to Bell, Jesus came to earth to put a human face to the words of Scripture, and not necessarily to atone for sin,” writes Briggs. “Bell also postulates that Jesus was murdered—that he didn’t give his life willingly—and that the New Testament writers were interpreting the events through the lens of the sacrificial system they knew from the Old Testament.”
Bell has said the book is for people who might not otherwise be inclined to study the Bible, but Briggs says “one has to wonder where Bell is leading these people he reaches. When Jesus isn’t who he says he is in Scripture, who is he, exactly? And what is the good of leading people to him if we don’t really know who he is and what he did for us?”