Bell on the resurrection 6

Here’s Rob Bell explaining why the resurrection as historical fact is really not necessary (from his Velvet Elvis book, approvingly reproduced by a Bell supporter):

it is important to remember that we rarely find these first christians trying to prove that the resurrection actually occurred. for one, a lot of the people who saw jesus after he rose from the dead were still alive, so if people had questions and doubts, they could talk to somebody who was actually there. but there’s another reason: everybody’s god in the first century had risen from the dead. to claim a resurrection had occurred was nothing new: julius caesar himself was reported to have ascended to the right hand of the gods after his death. to try to prove there was an empty tomb wouldn’t have gotten very far with the average citizen of the roman empire; they had heard it all before. this is why so many passages about the early church deal with possessions and meals and generosity. they understood that people are rarely persuaded by arguments, but more often by experiences. living, breathing, flesh-and-blood experiences of the resurrection community. they saw it as their responsibility to put jesus’ message on display. to the outside world, it was less about proving and more about inviting people to experience this community of jesus followers for themselves.

Here’s how Bell’s reader applies the lesson:

people today could care less about the “proof” of our arguments, the “logic” of our evidence that demands a verdict, or our “cases” for faith, christ, easter, christmas or whatever else. the only evidence demanding a verdict people care about these days is how i live my life.

How, exactly, does Cooper’s retweet contradict this? The language is almost exactly the same, down to the emphasis on personal change.

This is why Cooper’s tweet is so foolish. There’s a dangerous movement in churches that look a lot like NewSpring to deny the necessity of the historical resurrection. Cooper’s message to his tweet peeps, many of whom have probably read Velvet Elvis, endorses Bell’s garbage.

UPDATE: Perhaps Cooper really has no idea what kind of doctrinal dynamite he’s playing with here. Earlier this year, one of his blog readers asked:

Brad, what are your thoughts on the whole Driscoll/Rob Bell ordeal that went down around this time last year I believe.

For context, Driscoll called Bell a heretic. Even though Cooper says he listens to Driscoll, he didn’t know what to think:

i definitely have convictions about Jesus… and i definitely have convictions about His Word— and i def think both of these men are being used by God— im not savvy to all the happenings of the Driscoll/Bell stuff.

Bell is “definitely being used by God” for what? An example of error, perhaps?

6 thoughts on “Bell on the resurrection

  1. keitho Aug 12, 2009 12:51 pm

    From Bell:

    “everybody’s god in the first century had risen from the dead.”

    If that’s the case, why was Paul sneered by the Athenians when he told them how God appointed Jesus to judge the world and as proof of this he raised Jesus from the dead? Reference Acts 17:29-34.

    To Paul, resurrection was central. You don’t believe it, you don’t go any further in your faith.

    The time I wasted reading this trash from Bell is time I am not ever going to get back!

  2. JT Aug 12, 2009 1:00 pm

    There is a problem with Bell’s experiential argument for faith in Christ. While it is true that the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives should be a witness to the unsaved, there are plenty of other religious groups that have had success in proselytizing through kindness, self-sacrifice, and love. Love-bombing is the weapon of choice in cults.

    Years ago, a professor of mine put it this way, “If you convert based upon your feelings, what happens when those feelings go away?”

  3. MW Aug 12, 2009 1:44 pm

    1) Bell is a false prophet, no doubt

    2) Bell’s statement “no one was trying to prove the resurrection in scripture,” is a load of horse crap. Paul preached the resurrection everywhere he went. Paul was huge on proving the historical Jesus and the resurrection.

    3) Bell is a false prophet, stay WAY away from that guy. He is not doing anything for the Kingdom of God. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing. If we lived a few hundred years ago, Bell would have been tarred and feathered for saying stuff like that.

  4. Albert Aug 12, 2009 11:19 pm


    Yep. Plain as day heretic.

    Did you ever read his velvet elvis book (not that I would ever recommend such filth)? He says you don’t need to believe in fundamental doctrines like the virgin birth to be a christian.

  5. Jared Aug 13, 2009 12:41 pm

    Bell needs to read some N.T. Wright, probably in The Resurrection of the Son of God. No other religion believed in bodily resurrection, and the Jews only saw it as a future event at the Day of the Lord, not something the Messiah would die and experience.

    So, yeah, it was crucial that the resurrection be a historical event and the early Christians believed it was (and we should to) b/c it was a unique, groundbreaking claim. They wouldn’t have made it up for the very reasons people abandon belief in it today: it sounds ridiculous.

  6. MW Aug 14, 2009 12:30 am


    Did N.T. Wright just get a plug?! nice! I don’t like everything from that guy but he gets a worse name than he should. He has an awesome “perspective” on a lot of key stuff like that. Are you a Doug Wilson fan too? Wilson is one of my favorites.


    Yeah, I read most of it and then couldn’t handle reading much more. It was more than I could take.

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