Disclaimer: I’ve yet to read Love Wins, (but I have read some good analysis of the the text on “teh intarwebs,” the best of which–I think–is here: Larry Shallenberger) so take the following with copious amounts of large grain salt.
In my not-so-humble opinion, in the past few weeks the entire blogosphere has seemingly gone to Bell in a hand basket! 😉
That humorous statement aside, I think it best–whether we agree, or disagree, with Bell–to remember C.S. Lewis’s words (I’m paraphrasing) about a fellow parishioner: that he (the parishioner) was someone whose shoelaces he (Lewis) was unworthy to untie. I share this because I see a decided lack of humility in this discourse–especially in American Evangelicalism. There’s a “spirit” (if you will) of arrogance that seems to have seeped into the church from the larger American culture. After all, we’re the best nation in the world, right? Manifest destiny, and all.
Yet I thought Paul counseled us to consider others better than ourselves? Indeed, where are the conditional statements in: Taylor, DeYoung, Piper? The “I think I’m right,” or “I could be wrong on this,” or even “here’s why I think I’m right.” (In fairness, though not having read the book, I think Bell is guilty of this, too: he assumes he’s right).
Within the context of the church, it seems we’ve forgotten that we weren’t converted to the Evangelicalism, but to Christ. In my estimation, there are great deal of errors of transposition taking place, i.e., folks frequently mistake their convictions for the faith once delivered to the saints–and project these assumptions onto others.
In all of this, let me go on record as stating that I’m not an ecumenist, or a universalist, but as stated here, I am a Christian inclusivist. That said, in the context of the present controversy regarding Rob Bell, what other than Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, and bodily resurrection, are actually worth dividing over? What other essentials–fundamentals–are there?
I really think that we, as a culture, and as a church, have generally lost the ability to have civil discourse, i.e., to disagree civilly about these things–while still offering the right hand of fellowship. We’re far too busy defending our little squares in God’s tapestry to really hear one another. I’m not saying that contending for the faith is not important, but rather that we should spend far more time, Jacob-like, wrestling with God than we do with each other. I blogged about this notion here: Contending For The Faith?.
I say pray for Rob Bell, and those whom his book impacts, those who disagree with him, but leave it to God alone to decide, in the end, just who’s wheat, and who’s a tare.