Christian author Rob Bell, the former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, admitted at a recent event in Nashville that talking about God can be tricky and "get ugly."
"You have to do or believe or say the right stuff, or it is going to get ugly," Love Wins best-selling author Bell said Thursday at Vanderbilt University's Benton Chapel. "It is about who is in, who is out, who is right and who is wrong."
Bell is currently one of the most talked-about religious figures in America and has stirred wide debate for his views on the afterlife, and questioning the belief that only Christians can go to heaven and the belief in an eternal hell. Many have praised his attempts at trying to reinvigorate faith in America, but others have warned that he strides far from traditional views.
The former megachurch pastor said at Vanderbilt University that he doesn't believe God is some far away notion that people in the real world need to always be reaching out to, but that the whole world is filled with God's presence.
"God is with us. God is for us. God is ahead of us," the author said.
During his speech, Bell shared of AA meetings he attended as a young pastor that greatly affected him.
"While he is not an alcoholic, he said that in those meetings he was able to stop pretending that he had life figured out. Instead he could simply accept that God cared for him with all his flaws," The Tennessean reported.
Bell remarked: "God is on your side at exactly the moment you are aware that you don't have it together."
Bell is currently on a book tour for his newly released What We Talk About When We Talk About God. In a video preview for his new book, Bell expands on those themes and compares "outdated" beliefs on God to Oldsmobiles, cars which used to serve people well but have not moved on with the times.
"Is God going to be left behind like Oldsmobiles? I don't think so, because I believe there are other ways, better ways of talking about God, understanding God, because I believe God is with us, and for us," Bell says in the video, warning against beliefs that homosexuals go to hell or that the earth was literally created in six days, contrary to scientific understanding.
"I believe God is actually ahead of us, calling us, drawing us, and inviting us, pulling us all into a better future than we can ever imagine," the author stated.