Before we dive in I want to be clear: I am not saying Rob isn’t a Christian—that’s between him and God; I am not judging whether he is “in Christ” or not.

I am addressing, however, whether Rob is Christian—whether what he believes and what teaches is what Christians believe and teach.

What’s brought about this rather pointed post is a recent gem-of-a-quote by Rob on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show. Oprah asked Rob when the church is going to get the idea that everyone “just wants to go through life with someone” and not be lonely—making obvious references to gay marriage.

Rob’s response?

We’re moments away. 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 just want to go through life with someone.

Rob said the Church of Jesus Christ is irrelevant when it quotes Scripture, an unfortunate turn of events for a former pastor of a “Bible Church.” In the process he dismisses both the authority of Scripture and God’s own authority over creation.

Rob dismisses the authority of Scripture.

I can’t read his remark any other way than this, especially in concert with his tacit support of gay sex and gay 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 … I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”

Except Scripture has never defined marriage in this way:

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Gen. 2:23-24)

Jesus made the same affirmation:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)

And let’s not forget the explicit ways these “letters from 2,000 years ago” condemn gay sex as punishable under God’s wrath:

Paul says the wrath of God is revealed against gay sex: “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Rom 1:26-27)

He says in 1 Corinthians 6 that “men who have sex with men” will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Gay marriage and gay sex is not the way God intended things to be. That’s what those “letters from 2,000 years ago” say. More importantly that’s what God is saying through them.

By dismissing the authority of Scripture Rob dismisses the authority of God.

Rob’s cavalier dismissal of God’s Word reminds me of another attack on the words of God. Recall with me a story from the beginning of God’s Story:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

Did God really say…Isn’t that exactly what Rob is saying? 

Rob is not merely challenging the authority of Scripture, he is shaking his fist at the authority God has to decide what is good and right and true.

I love how N.T. Wright defines the authority of Scripture:

the phrase “authority of Scripture” can make Christian sense only if it is a shorthand for “the authority of the triune God, exercised somehow through scripture. (The Last Word, 23)

The final and true authority for every aspect of life belongs to God and God alone, which he has graciously, lovingly communicated to us through the Bible.

God gets to decide what marriage is and how sex is supposed to work and be shared between two people. Not culture and certainly not Rob Bell.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s words in the garden, they were rebelling against his authority, and worse: they grasped after God’s power. They desired knowledge not in the scientific or philosophical sense, but practical knowledge.

This was a hunger for the right to decide what was good and evil. Adam and Eve were promised to be like God—not merely to know what was good but decide what was good and what was bad.

To decide this is the way things should be or shouldn’t be. That marriage and sex should be shared between a man and a man, a woman and a woman.

Adam and Eve didn’t eat the fruit because they thought it would fill her empty stomachs. They ate it because they wanted God’s authority. They grasped after the power reserved for God alone to decide how things should be. Every single person on the planet has been doing the same ever since.

Rob did it a few days ago on the Oprah show: He dismissed God’s authority over peoples’ lives through the living, breathing book we call the Bible; He grasped after the right to decide the way marriage and sex should be.

And that simply isn’t Christian.

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