The face of American Christianity is in transition, and Rob Bell, with his evolving look and artistry, has opened a window on this hybrid horizon. Known to many for his Nooma films, a series of twenty-four twelve-minute sermons and his controversial 2011 book, titled Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, his person and work provoke visceral reactions that range from adoration to repulsion, while raising profound questions. In 2011 he was named to the Time 100 list—the 100 most influential people in the world. That same year, Bell left Mars Hill, the megachurch he founded in 1999, to pursue broader opportunities in Hollywood to, as he explained, “Compellingly share the gospel.”
As a pastor and an artist, Bell exhibits the irrepressible spirit of the American religious entrepreneur, but his story also serves as a frame to explore deeper patterns within the seismic shifts in modern American culture. His story and life function as a leading indicator of what it means to be a Christian in the changing modern American religious landscape.