The other Rob Bell

March 10, 2011

Amid the apocalyptic to-do about Rob Bell possibly considering an idea that other Christians have considered for centuries, Rachel Held Evans had a fun idea: an interview with another Rob Bell, a web designer in the U.K.

This Bell is not a sometimes-controversial religious leader, but he's often mistaken for one--not least because he beat the American megachurch pastor to the Twitter handle @robbell. After Bell the pastor released his hell video, Bell the designer saw all hell break loose on his Twitter feed. In a striking contrast to his Bible-wielding attackers, this Bell--a universalist, but not the Christian kind--responded to them with humor and grace.

Some highlights from Evans's Q&A:

What sort of messages and mentions did you receive the weekend your name was trending? What was the meanest, the post perplexing, or the kindest?

The weirdest, before I knew what was going on, was the multiple "Farewell @robbell" messages. "I'm not going anywhere," thought I! Christians are a fairly respectful bunch, I've found - no personal insults, just a few cries of "heretic" and some denouncements.

. . . .

Do you know much about John Piper? 

I know he denounced me accidentally, intending it to be [the] other Rob, but that's it. Someone asked me to fight him, but I'm non-violent, so I asked a UFC fighter to be my stand-in.

How do you feel about the fact that the other Rob Bell claims to be the "real" Rob Bell? Can you make the case that YOU are actually the real Rob Bell? 

I don't think he's really claiming that he's the only real Rob Bell. He couldn't be robbell on most websites because I'm already that everywhere, so he had to choose a consistent name he could use everywhere. I bet someone advised him realrobbell would be best. He's realrobbell on Twitter and Facebook, which works fine for me. I get to be the Unreal Rob Bell, which sounds much cooler. 

. . . .

What, if anything, have you've learned about American evangelicalism through all of this? 

They don't look at Twitter profiles before sending out @ messages, and they come in droves... :)

Read it all.