Way of the Masters’ Todd Friel on Rob Bell and Salvation

Todd Friel

Todd Friel has a radio show called Way of the Master. A lot of people know him as the guy who did the Bullhorn Response video to Rob Bell’s Nooma Bullhorn. The following is a conversation with a caller named Sara on the January 12, 2007 show:

Todd Friel: So what’s happening today, Sara?

Sara: Um, well I’m wondering exactly – and I’m glad you brought up all this Rob Bell stuff because I’m just getting, like, I posted your, uh, Bullhorn Response on my Myspace, and I’m just getting this flood of comments just completely freaking out cause’ all these people love Rob Bell and they’re just flipping out on like your video. And what exactly is the line between, like, bad theology and heresy?

Todd Friel: That’s an extremely important question, Sara… (talks about T.D. Jakes not believing in the Trinity…)

Sara: What about, um, like I had an email conversation with, uh, Nate Dawson from the Mars Hill Bible Church, Rob Bell’s church…

Todd Friel: Right.

Sara: And, like, they believe in holistic salvation, and just, weird things like that…

Todd Friel: I don’t even know what that means.

Sara: Would that be heresy, like…?

Todd Friel: Is holistic salvation, that, what, he heals every part of…I don’t even…

I actually like Todd. He’s a funny guy and I think we’d have a fun time hanging out. But I also think he’d be wise to look a little more into the Bible’s broad concept of salvation rather than preaching the version that’s been passed down to him.

Nothin’ but love for brother Todd.



  1. Could you explain to me what exactly is “the Bible’s broad concept of salvation”? I have always believed in “The way to salvation is narrow…etc.” What exactly is your broad definition? Thank you.

  2. For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery.
    The longer that I’ve gone on as a New Testament scholar and wrestled with what the early Christians were actually talking about, the more it’s been borne in on me that that distinction is one that we modern Westerners bring to the text rather than finding in the text. Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you. You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work.

    Christianity – Not For This World?

    Our Western culture since the 18th century has made a virtue of separating out religion from real life, or faith from politics.When I lecture about this, people will pop up and say, “Surely Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.” And the answer is no, what Jesus said in John 18 is, “My kingdom is not from this world.” That’s ek tou kosmoutoutou. It’s quite clear in the text that Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t start with this world. It isn’t a worldly kingdom, but it is for this world. It’s from somewhere else, but it’s for this world.

  3. That all sounds pretty good, but it doesn’t answer my question. How does the Bible present a broad way of salvation? Are you saying that Jesus’ death and resurrection provided salvation/redemption for all and sundry, no requirements on anyone’s part? Or are you stating that Jesus meant more by His death than simply eternal life? In other words, is there more emphasis on such teachings as the Sermon on the Mount than there is on His death/resurrection?

  4. “Salvation has to do with freeing-up a person to be all that they were meant to be – right here, right now – in this life”
    Where does this come from-what book or part of the Bible? If in fact this is true, what did Jesus’ death and resurrection have to do with that concept? I can’t see how His death was necessary if “being all you can be” is salvation. If that is all there is to it, the Sermon on the Mount was the end of the matter. No further need for the rest of the New Testament, Paul’s writings, Peter’s letters, Titus, Jude, etc. If this life is all there is to it, then why does Jesus speak of mansions in Heaven? Why is there so much emphasis on living for Christ for the eternal reward, not the temporal reward?

  5. Jim, regrettably I will not be answering your questions. It’s difficult for me at this point in my journey to have conversations that remind me so much of my old way of thinking. Your questions aren’t bad, they just come from a particular point of view that I believe is unhelpful in understanding the Scriptures. Plus I know there are people out there who would be able to answer your questions with much more clarity and grace than I could. I’m glad to see that you really are looking for answers; I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help in this area.

  6. I’m sorry, too. You seem to be more able than many I have “spoken” with. I hope you will examine what I have written and have your own questions answered. Because, sad to say, I get the distinct feeling that I’m not the one who doesn’t understand. I hope you come to understand the true Christ, the One who died for us, the One who gave His own perfect life so we could have life, not just now, but forever, reigning with Him in Paradise.

  7. Jim

    I notice that you changed ‘Broad Concept of Salvation’ as you direct quote in the first post, to ‘Broad Way of Salvation’ in post 3. This is a distortion (I’ll assume accidental). A Broad Conept of salevation would be about seeing salvation as a ‘whole’ thing – body, soul and spirit, and having a direct consequence to actions on earth, A narrow view would be about getting a ‘conversion’ or ‘being born again’ (a bad translation of phrase anyway) and then being in the club waiting for heaven. God wants us who are following Jesus to transform this world – to, in the words of James, care for the widows and orphans because God loves the world.

  8. Salvation is whole-istic. That means all of creation is saved through the Messiah. All creation is groaning with pains as is child birth…. The redemption of “all things” is whole-istic. Also, your total life, both now and in the world to come, is saved. It’s a complete salvation. The prophets speak of this continually, as does Paul and John.

    Also, Shalom (ie. Peace) is not just a place where there is no war. Shalom is a place where everything in your life is where is ought to be, relationally (with God, yourself, family, community, nationally), you are in perfect health, you are basically who you were created to be. In the world to come, you will experience Shalom in its fullest.

    In the same way, salvation is more than simply fire insurance. It is not simply getting you personally right with God. That is one BIG part of it, it is the start, but complete salvation recognises that all things were created good and need to be reconciled to God and re-newed.

    I use the term whole-istic because the word holistic is often has bad associations for some people.

    Does this help?

  9. You know, I find it slightly amusing that Todd Friel calls prosperity preachers, faith healers, modern-day prophets and televangelists heretics. After all, the WOTM television show airs on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) which is absolutely inundated with those kinds of material. It seems to me, WOTM neglected to take the high road on this one. In the end, isn’t revenue all that matters?

  10. Former Follier, I understand your point and agree that a lot of what TBN promotes is hogwash. I also don’t include WOTM in my list of favorite groups. But I’m not sure it makes logical sense to say that since TBN is bad, if anybody associates with TBN then they’re bad, too.

  11. You don’t? So, if I’m a pro-lifer and work at a women’s clinic, you wouldn’t see any conflict of interests there?

    As I stated before, they have sacrificed their principles in pursuit of a wider base of support and a heavier stream of revenue.

    One strong clue-in to the fact that I do what I do from genuine concern: I hold down a full-time job, raise a family and am involved in my community yet I still find the time to try to help people see the lies they are being fed by WOTM. I don’t get paid a dime for it and will continue to publish as long as there are readers.

  12. “all of creation is saved through the Messiah.” – Satan is not going to be saved, and he was created. Neither will unrepentant sinners be saved, as shown in Matthew 25:

    “And before Him shall be gathered all the nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a sheperd divideth his sheep from the goats….Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire”

    So no, all of creation is not going to be saved.

  13. Patrick…

    Romans 8:18-21
    Ephesians 1:9-10
    Collosians 1:19-20

    Those are the Scriptures that i can remember off the top of my head. They speak of all things being reconciled and restored by God through Jesus.

    I know this doesn’t answer the question ‘how can all of creation be restored if some people are going to live(or die) in hell’? Nor does it answer the question about Satan. I don’t have everything worked out myself, but I just wanted to give you something to think about before you make such hasty conclusions.

  14. Well if you don’t have everything worked out let me help you a bit with that, if I myself have enough knowledge to do so. all of creation has not been restored, “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. THEY WILL PERISH, but you remain; they will wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be DISCARDED” (Pasaml 102: 25-26)(Enphasis added) That is, from the time you were born, you were doomed to die because of your natural sinfull nature. And you would die, and go to hell, if your debt to God hadn’t been paid through Jesus, and you accepted that and very very importantly repented of your sinfull nature. People do die and go to hell, because they are naturally sinfull and God can’t have that in heaven. Nobody at all has been reconnciled till they accept Jesus having paid their debt and repent though. That’s why us as chirstians have the so very urgent job of witnessing to non-christians. Rob Bell’s frowning upon evangialism and deciet in his Nooma video “Bullhorn Guy” is what first alerted me to how wrong he is. And how much of a false teacher he is. Check out this site: http://www.apprising.org/archives/2006/02/rob_bell_salvat.html

    The fella who wrote that did all the work of explaining things for me. So I can get back to actually doing schoolwork like I’m supposed to lol. I advise you to read through that carefully, and the related article at the end. I seriosuely urge you to put some good consideration into what it says.

  15. Jim –
    I think you might be drinking too much Emergent koolaid. You might want to consider a serious study of scripture rather than listen to commentary by folks like Mr. Bell. You only need two things to know the truth – God’s Word, and His Holy Spirit is provide interpretation. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you through it. With no Holy Spirit, there’s no revelation of truth. With no Holy Spirit, the scriptures will be nothing more than confusion. If you have not been indwelled by the Holy Spirit, then you should consider submitting to God, accepting Jesus as your personal savior, and then get down to the business of finding the truth from Scripture and not the “wisdom of men”.

  16. I don’t understand how one can not see the cosmic salvation aspect. Look at Romans 8:18-27 Paul directly links creation longing for deliverance with us as individuals longing for deliverance from our present suffering. The consequence of sin wasn’t just on humans now having a broken relationship with God, but it also brought a curse upon the earth. If Christ came to redeem what happened through Adam, Christ redemptive work is about more than souls. Yes souls are a part of it, but Christ’s salvation was for all of creation. We as humans have a graver consequence because we have free choice. By our natural state, we can only use free choice to choose to turn away from God, hence why Jesus saves us as humans(from our sinful nature) as well as redeem all of creation of the effects that sin brought upon it. This is why there is the focus on the new heavens and new earth in Revelation. It is not new in the sense that the old one was totally destroyed, but rather new in the same way that we in Christ are a new creation.

    But Christ’s salvation is not just about future for us as humans. We believe that becoming a Christian changes the way we live now. But that does not mean we do not do good works as Christians. Rather our salvation is not tied up in good works, but as Christians we are created to do good works when we are in Christ.(Ephesians 2:10)

    When Christ gives us the Holy Spirit, it is for holy living, yes. But Holy living is always bound up in giving and engaging people. In this way we bear witness to Christ’s salvation, not just in words, but also in deeds(James says that pure religion is to care for orphans and widows, the early church in Acts was known for its compassion and that those in the church would freely give to be able to support each other).

    Frankly I believe it is sad that as Christians we have gotten away from caring for the poor and social justice as being important issues for Christians, and it seems that it is mostly due to the conflicts of conservative/liberal Christianity in the early 1900’s, in essence conservative Christianity said “fine if you liberal are going to be about social justice, we are just going to throw it out as something we care about.” We avoided social justice so we wouldn’t be guilty by association with liberals. And in doing so we missed a key section of the Bible.

  17. taylor, on 1. March 19th, 2007 at 11:04 am Said
    “the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world.”

    No, satan is lord of this world Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–
    Also, Jesus’ temptation, how could satan offer Jesus the kingdoms of this world if Jesus already was reining as king? And were was the thousand years of peace? What about these verses that make it clear we are not part of this world?
    Mar 4:19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
    Joh 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
    Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
    Jas 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    The gospel is the good news offered to the humble of heart, and the law is are schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.(Gal. 3:24) Law to the proud and grace to the humble.(Jam. 4:6; Pro. 3:34)

  18. Not that it matters much, but my name is actually spelled with an h on the end (like in the bible!).

    I can’t believe I found this. I don’t even know how!!! I wasn’t even looking for this.

    That was me that called in. I was a really new Christian, and I was also looking into all that emerging/emergent church stuff/Rob Bell stuff because my church was showing the NOOMA videos. At the time, Todd Friel, as well as a number of others hadn’t quite classified Rob Bell as a heretic yet. He was really hard to pin down.

    HOWEVER… after extensive research, the email conversation that I had between Nate Dawson and myself became more and more perspicuous.

    When Mars Hill Bible Church says they believe in holistic salvation, it’s sort of a universal salvation… universalism… but not quite universalism. They believe that you can choose what “reality” you want to live in, and all sorts of weird things like that. So we are to help people “choose a heavenly reality.” And that nobody is going to a “literal” hell. Then they sort of mix it up with particular atonement (that Jesus also died to lift the curse from the earth… and yet they deny original sin…). It’s kind of a big mush fest.

    If you want to read the email, check it out here: http://threehappypenguins.googlepages.com/emailconvo

    And… do I really say “uh” and “like” a lot? I was uhhh… really nervous!!!

  19. Sarah, I apologize for spelling your name wrong. How odd that must have been for you to find on the internet a conversation that you had on the radio a couple years ago!

    Holistic salvation is not so much universalism as it is a whole-istic understanding of Jesus’ work on the cross. This line of thinking comes from, among other places, Colossians 1:20 where Paul says that “all things” are being reconciled to him.

    Mars Hill believes in original sin. Their statement of theology on their website says this: “The enemy tempted the first humans, and darkness and evil entered the story through human sin and are now a part of the world.”

    As far as being saved from this original sin, Jesus is our only hope. Later in the theology statement it says this: “Jesus is our only hope for bringing peace and reconciliation between God and humans. Through Jesus we have been forgiven and brought into right relationship with God.”

    The entire statement can be found here: http://marshill.org/pdf/narrativeTheology.pdf

    I noticed you’re a musical person. I enjoyed your “variations in g minor” piece – very cool. I love when Christians get creative. I can’t quite create music like you can but I do still feel its power. There’s a song by Cindy Morgan called “Make Us One” that never fails to pull me towards remembering how beautiful the unified body of Christ is, despite some of its members’ differences.

    I hope you will be able to see that Mars Hill is not as strange or different as some people would try to make it sound.

    Grace and peace to you.

  20. thirtythousandpeople,

    I completely forgot about this webpage, and then I stumbled upon it AGAIN! LOL

    Anyways… I realize that it’s been almost two years since you last responded, but hey, it’s the internet; it’s never too late!!!

    I don’t know all that much about Mars Hill Bible Church, but I sure do know a lot more about Rob Bell. Every time I read/hear something that he says, it makes me cringe all the more.

    One of the things that is REALLY bad news with him is “The gods aren’t angry” tour.

    This first link is a letter to Rob Bell from an emerging pastor (who also does denies substitutionary atonement) regarding “The gods aren’t angry tour”. Please read the entirety for context: http://e-merginginindiana.blogspot.com/2007/11/letter-to-rob-bell.html

    The second link is Rob Bell’s response to this pastor. Please also read both the response, as well as the letters back to Rob Bell: http://e-merginginindiana.blogspot.com/2007/11/conversations-with-rob-bell.html

    I think it’s pretty clear that Rob Bell falls under the “heresy” category. Mind you, a person does not need to know the term “substitutionary atonement” in order to be saved, but they MUST believe the simple, childlike idea that “I am bad. I deserve to be punished. Jesus took the punishment that I deserve.” That is the essence of substitutionary atonement.

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