Okay, okay… some Rob Bell-related comments (part one).

18 Mar

Well, on Tuesday I was nearly refusing to post about Rob Bell—mostly out of frustration that Love Wins has created so much, in all likelihood, needless attention. 

Now, only a few days later, I’ve hit my limit of standing idly by.

Especially since, after another period of blog-reading and reflecting (and subsequent fuming), I had no less than five blog post ideas pop into my head. 

And so rather than continue to fight this urge, I now present to you, the reader:  five mini-posts about the now-infamous Rob Bell…. over the course of the next five days. 

Ugh… I mean seriously, doesn’t he just LOOK evil?  With that perfectly placed hair, always wearing glasses…. and those, uh, hands!  Hide the children, already!

mini-post #1: Really, Kevin DeYoung?

[…see me have a mini-aneurism, after the jump.]

As I have said a number of ways over the past few months, I argue that doubt, questioning, and having your clear-cut, pat-theological answers is a good thing for the church— because it forces us to remember what faith really is, and frees us to search to make better theological connections without fear, knowing that in the end it is God who holds the cards and not us. 

There is little chance that fellow RCA pastor Kevin DeYoung and his compadres over at Gospel Coalition would agree with this assessment- and this is certainly demonstrated with DeYoung’s scathing review of Bell on his GC-based blog.  

It’s difficult to write a response to someone’s review of a book, especially when said review… IS a book.  But as this blog of mine is in part an exercise in writing brevity, allow me to offer a “short” response (at least in comparison):

1) Okay, my fellow loquacious friend, I appreciate in a sense the devotion to, um, thoroughness…. but REALLY?  20 pages?  For a BLOG review?  Really?  You even offer people a formatted PDF-version of this “post,” for obvious “handout” purposes.  I know you feel like the Gospel’s at stake, but let’s just call this what it is… this isn’t a “review.”  So don’t call it a review.  Your post is a polemic against Bell, an attempt to systematically dismantle Bell’s entire project and to dissuade people from ever reading it themselves to form their own opinions, biased from the get-go.  Nothing wrong with that; just call it what it is.

2) You’re welcome to your different view, but why is believing that hell is only a temporary state (which is what you say he says; I didn’t get an advanced copy of the book; I’m waiting for Amazon to stock it just like everyone else) have a possible “devastating impact” on souls?  Really?  So people who previously believed in Jesus out of fear of eternal damnation suddenly thought, “Oh boy!  You mean there’s no consequences to my sin? [Which is not the same thing that Bell is supposedly saying] Well, forget all this ‘love God, love neighbor’ crapola!  I’ll do whatever I want, now! Thanks, Rob Bell!”  Or that there’ll be droves of non-Christians saying, “Well, I’ve always thought that God loves me no matter what, and now that this guy with awesome glasses says so too, then I must be right! Thanks, Rob Bell!” [Never mind that, if his message is about being in relationship with God now, or about the compelling nature of God’s love, then the book might actually give those jaded to God an actual reason to believe and to live for Him now….]

3) Picking sources that solely reinforce your point do NOT prove your point.  That’s just proof-texting.  And I guarantee that proof-texts from Scripture and theological historians alike can be lined up on either side like toy soldiers. 

4) How come the “traditional, orthodox,” what-all-good-Christians-believe-and-have-always-believed, doctrines that you espouse, tend to be rooted in mainly Western theological sources, when the Eastern church (with “Orthodox” in its very name) is largely ignored? 

5) The greater exegetical point in John 14, to pick one of your texts—is that Jesus is Lord and has a special relationship to the Father, which is supported by the same texts you quote, but actually supports Bell’s reading just as well, if not better, than your own, of 14:6. 

And finally…

6) Mocking Rob Bell, by comparing him to a 13-year old asking questions about theodicy in youth group…Really?  That’s just bad taste.  And I’m sorry, but it’s arrogant.  Glad that you understand theodicy.  That makes one person in human history.  I guess the rest of us will have to just keep wrestling with it. 



Posted by on March 18, 2011 in love, theology


Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Okay, okay… some Rob Bell-related comments (part one).

  1. Tim Ehrhardt

    March 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Thanks, Shaggy. You pretty much put into words what I was thinking about this whole brouhaha.

  2. Linda Serio

    March 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Finally! Goodness! Someone presents a perspective and everyone has an attack that it might actually dismantle the faith. Sorry, the DaVinci code was a movie, and this is a book. Luckily, we have the ability to choose what we believe. Frankly, for those who feel compelled to stage a theological tug of war, they should be thanking Bell for opening interest and dialouge that was previously nonexistent in thousands of lives.

    • jlundewhitler

      March 19, 2011 at 6:46 am

      Linda— thanks for the comment. In medieval times we didn’t question authority; in modern times we questioned everything, and claimed our individual ability to know truth, even though many conclusions resulted. Maybe in the next epoch (whatever it ends up being called) we can find a middle ground: Belief, WITH humility regarding our own beliefs; personal discretion, WITH community discernment. If we could somehow keep the balance, I think better and more productive dialogue would result.


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