Rob Bell, Oprah And The Post New Testament Age



There is a new Bible, or should I say a “post” New Testament. You know, as in “post” modern. The cultural elite of our day have written it. They have received insight and revelation from God or maybe I should say permission in their minds from God to write this new teaching.  Now, it hasn’t yet been codified into one document that we all can look at and agree is there, but that is so passé anyway. It is the digital age after all. Besides, limiting this glorious new doctrine to one finite book is too restrictive and by definition goes against one of the main tenets of this post New Testament; restricting restrictions. But mark it down, there is a post New Testament being preached from and worshiped.

Now this supposed new canon is legitimate because some scholars who have religious type credentials said a few years back that we can have a post New Testament if we want it. They said since the New Testament corrected and cleaned up so many messes from the Old Testament there must be something to clean up the messes still left in the New Testament. These scholars championed something called the Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics or Trajectory Hermeneutics. “Say what?” you say. First, hermeneutic is a fancy term to mean how one approaches and interprets the Bible. Second, here is a run- of- the- mill Wikipedia definition of this approach, but it is a pretty good one:

 “A hermeneutical approach that seeks to locate varying ‘voices’ in the text and to view this voice as a progressive trajectory through history (or at least through the Biblical witness); often a trajectory that progresses through to the present day. The contemporary reader of Scripture is in some way envisaged by the Biblical text as standing in continuity with a developing theme therein. The reader, then, is left to discern this trajectory and appropriate it accordingly.”

“Say what?” you say again. Just focus on the last sentence, “The reader, then, is left to discern…” Simply stated you and I are writers of this post New Testament book; or least we can be if we want to be. We get to clean up whatever messes we think God just didn’t get to yet in the New Testament.

The landmark work on this hermeneutical approach came from William Webb in his book,  “Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals.” Webb argued that the trajectory of slave treatment was towards less slavery from Old to New Testaments. Therefore, the abolition of slavery along with a majority consensus from society denouncing slavery, completes the trajectory God intended. Likewise, the “treatment” of women in the Bible progresses from the Old to the New with increased rights and privileges. Thus, the varied woman’s liberation and equal rights movements of the last century again show that society has simply followed the trajectory God had begun in the New Testament.

Then there is the issue of homosexuality.  Webb argues there is an ever so subtle softening of the view of homosexuality from the Old to the New. He thus projects the trajectory of homosexual rights and privileges will also move forward but at a slower pace (keep in mind he wrote this book in 2001 before the rapid development of the LBGT movement).

Sounds reasonable. Sounds fair. Sounds politically correct. Sounds loving. No wonder it has gained so much traction even by millions who have never heard of William Webb. It is the philosophy of this age; we are so much smarter than anyone before us; we must be inspired by God to correct the mess He left for us to clean up. Surely God never meant for His revelation to end 2,000 years ago. He obviously has called us to complete what He started and we are more than happy to do so.

In particular, this is why you see the homosexual argument linked to the slavery argument or the role of woman argument. We are evolving, just as the Old Testament evolved to a New Testament, we are writers of an ever newer “post” New Testament. We are the ones truly fulfilling the law. Jesus, He came close, but didn’t get the job done. We on the other hand will pick up where He left off and take it from here.

This hermeneutical approach gives credibility to the idea that the Bible is antiquated for another era. It is a good book but let’s be real, there are just so many things in it that keep us from doing things we really like to do. It’s just, you know, too restrictive. So we must overwrite some of it and if we say we are being true to it by simply saying God wasn’t done yet and is still writing doctrine through us, well, we can feel pretty good about that.

Enter Rob Bell. Many of you reading this may not be familiar with Rob Bell, but he was this up and coming pastor in Michigan, drawing in a large number of young people with a hipster persona and a fresh way of teaching the Scriptures. Now, just a few years later he is considered a heretic by most if not all orthodox practitioners of the gospel ministry as he tours with Oprah Winfrey. What happened? He bought into the trajectory hermeneutic approach. This approach led him to write a book which renounced the existence of hell and the authority of the Scriptures. In his latest book, he embraces same-sex marriage. He believes that we are not bound by the Scriptures but rather we are to interpret the evolution of love that God started in the Bible against what we as a culture see as right and good. What we see as right and good surpasses the Scriptures because we are on this trajectory or redemptive movement through time. So, if most people do not believe in hell then there must not be one because how could a loving God have something His creation doesn’t want? And if most people believe in same-sex marriage, then that must be what God wants because God is for us not against us.

What is most insidious about all this however, is this faux attempt to justify these beliefs by tying them to a supposed “scholarly” understanding of the Bible. In other words, giving religious cover to that which is directly rejected by the Bible. This explains why people can say; “The Bible, as it turns out, really supports homosexuality.” Um, it doesn’t. But when supposed religious people like Rob Bell teach it does, via trajectory hermeneutics; it gives people what they want- a God who condones their personal desires.

That, my friends is called idolatry. But hey, idolatry is too restrictive and old fashioned of an idea so  let’s throw that out.  After all, the New Testament says the truth shall set me free and the truth according to the cultural majority is that my God wants me happy. So God, as it turns out, supports what I believe and that is the new and exciting gospel of our times. See how this works?

The apostle Paul warned of itching ears and boy do we have them. We are building our own Tower of Babel to our own heaven based upon the collective, so called wisdom of our age. Ironically, a guy named Nimrod was in charge of the first Tower of Babel and I think he might be in charge of this one too.

The canon is closed. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.


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