Bell's Editor Speaks Out

Rob Bell’s editor (and Senior VP at HarperOne) Mickey Maudlin speaks out on the book he helped publish:  Love Wins:

As a young evangelical, I was socialized to see the biggest threat to the church as theological liberalism. But now I think the biggest threat is Christian tribalism, where God’s interests are reduced to and measured by those sharing your history, tradition, and beliefs, and where one needs an “enemy” in order for you to feel “right with God.” Such is the challenge facing the church today and what the reaction to Love Wins reveals. So the success of Love Wins fills me with both hope and fear. But it has also made me thankful that I work for a publisher that is independent of these church wars and allows us to concentrate on books that offer hope and light. Because, with Rob, I really do believe that love wins.

You can read more here...

What do YOU think?  Is ‘tribalism’ a big concern for you?




  • Robert Barnes July 8, 2011 Reply

    It’s almost always the chant of those who want to change the church one way or the other that those who do not take on their goals and presuppositions are guilty of sin.

    In this case, everyone who opposes the Love Wins worldview is guilty of tribalism. We have made Bell and “enemy” so we can feel “right with God” and so forth.

    Fortunately, the Scriptures tell us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us and for those religious people who think they are doing God a favor by calling us names. So this only gives Tribalists more reason to pray for those involved with Love Wins.

  • steve miller July 8, 2011 Reply

    Mickey has some interesting but odd views.

    I don’t see anyone attacking on the grounds of tribalism, most objections have been closer to attacking theological liberalism. I’m confused why the negative reviews didn’t reinforce his belief theological liberalism was the problem facing the church, unless he had already determined to ignore the theological liberal slant of Love Wins.

    Most negative reviews I’ve read have been careful to make a distinction between Rob’s person and his writing; they are saying parts of the book are heretical, not Rob-Mickey seems to lose site of this key point.

    Also what is Bell’s camp’s fondness for the word “corrosive”? Why is every critique, critic, and opposing view termed corrosive? Why can’t they just be an opposing view? It is almost like tribalism or something.

  • Peter July 8, 2011 Reply


    Tribalism has absolutely nothing to do with my serious objections to Rob’s book. Way to deflect from the real issue… which is that Bell’s teaching in his book is clearly contrary to Scripture.

  • J. Barry Watts July 8, 2011 Reply

    Tribalism (the new word for “Division” in the Body of Christ) is a problem. But the problem won’t be solved by a digression into theological error.

    People don’t want to give up sin and get saved and the culture is hostile to Jesus’ exclusive message, so, let’s just “change our understanding” to reflect the pervasive and more palatable cultural belief that “if there is a Santa God everybody gets a present.”

    I don’t think so.

  • Jim July 8, 2011 Reply

    I agree with those who point out that disagreement is called for with books that undermine the authority of God’s word.

    Take for example Mr. Bell’s argument that there isn’t a hell or eternal punishment, I imagine that Christ would be very perturbed to find out that there is no hell or eternal punishment for the Christ rejecting individual. To imagine that He-Jesus-went through all he did to save us from eternal punishment and separation from God, and then to discover that He didn’t have to endure all He endured because it wasn’t necessary, that would be the worse bad joke in all of the history of heaven and earth. Personally, if I was Christ, I’d be ticked!

    In other words, if there’s no eternal punishment or separation, then Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t necessary.

    • Keith July 12, 2011 Reply

      Jim, you misunderstand or mis-characterize Rob’s belief. He doesn’t say there is no hell in the afterlife, he says there is – it’s just not going to be eternally populated because the damned will eventually repent, which allows them to escape hell and enter heaven. And he insists that Christ’s sacrifice WAS necessary – Christ’s sacrifice (he believes) payed for all sins, and thus forgiveness will eventually be applied to all.

  • Ken July 9, 2011 Reply

    1 Timothy 6:10 and 2 Timothy 4:2 are about the only response necessary to this kind of tripe.

    • Mark Hunter July 17, 2011 Reply


      “1 Timothy 6:10 and 2 Timothy 4:2 are about the only response necessary to this kind of tripe.”

      Really? Jesus on the cross saying, “Father forgiven them….it is finished”, is the sort of response necessary to your kind of judgemental, tribal, un-Christlike tripe.

  • Daniel July 11, 2011 Reply

    When you can’t defend your position scripturally or factually, try name calling – tribalism! Another smoke screen….

  • Tim Wright July 11, 2011 Reply

    Bad news Mickey, your not in the Christian tribe, your in your own hell right now, navigating a false reality while calling yourself Christian. Please come back, no secret handshakes just faith in what Jesus said. I will pay your bus fare.


    • Keith July 12, 2011 Reply

      So, Tim, you’re saying he’s not saved because he doesn’t believe people go to hell forever? Is that what defines a Christian? Aren’t you proving his point?

      • Tim Wright July 12, 2011 Reply

        Hi Keith, No I don’t think I am proving his point. I think Jesus has a much clearer view of reality than you or I. But Mickey has taken the off ramp out of Biblical Christianity and its up to him how long he follows the wrong exit, like Brian Mclaren, who is way down the that road. Lets see where Rob Bell is in ten years and see what other lies he has swallowed. Rob is in very dangerous ground because of his influence and leading people astray. Like friends who don’t let friends drive drunk, Rob needs some friends telling him in LOVE, you heading the wrong way. Come Back!!!!!

  • Jim July 11, 2011 Reply

    Amen to this responses! Rock solid. Maybe the art of liberalism is to redefine and twist truth to get your way.

  • Keith July 12, 2011 Reply

    For the record, I believe Mr. Maudlin is WAY off the mark. He’s pretending Rob’s some kind of victim.

    He writes, “Why would leaders attack as a threat and an enemy someone who shares their views of Scripture, Jesus, and the Trinity? What prevented leaders from saying, “Thanks, Rob, interesting views, but here is where we disagree”?”

    It is true there’ve been some hateful things blogged about him after the publication of Love Wins (and some before that, too) but not all that much, and a lot less than others have endured. Other than failing to say the “Thanks, Rob” part, leaders in the Christians world (authors, theologians, pastors and book reviewers) pretty much said exactly that, pointing out where Bell was wrong.

    Mr. Maudlin is trying, IMHO, to gin up additional controversy on an already controversial book, and possibly also trying to make himself feel better for the part he’s played in it.

    But at the same time: let’s not fall into the trap of doing exactly what he’s whining about. Criticism doesn’t have to be critical; attack the ideas not the person.

  • JR July 13, 2011 Reply

    Right, so if you disagree with Bell and defend Christian orthodoxy you are a tribalist. Bell, on the other hand, is not tribal. His viewpoints are somehow above the fray. His followers do not constitute a “tribe”.

  • Mark Hunter July 17, 2011 Reply


    2 Timothy 4:2-3
    New International Version (NIV)
    2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    Does this cut both ways? How does anyone here know for sure that teaching a doctrine of eternal punishment in a burning hell *isn’t* SOUND DOCTRINE and that those who want to hear this doctrine are just having their ears tickled as it’s their DESIRE to believe in such a teaching?

  • Ken July 18, 2011 Reply


    First, from your response I gather you’re saying the words of Jesus trump other inspired Scripture (as in Paul’s words). . . interesting hermeneutic if one believes in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture.

    And if my “assessing” the false teaching of someone you like is upsetting, I’m sorry to you for the offense, but I’m more sorry for those who are led astray by it.

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