>#RobBell, Discourse, & Humility

randomlychad  —  March 23, 2011 — 8 Comments

>DropsLikeStars 013photo © 2010 Paul Williams | more info (via: Wylio)

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.




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Dave

    Great job, Chad. It's always important to remember that we are so limited in our ability to understand and comprehend God. We must remain humble, and open to listen. We must always test the spirit of everything, including our own long-standing beliefs, in order to combat pride of our own intellect.

    • Thanks, Dave! I agree: we must always challenge our presumptions (the whole log/eye thing), because we could be wrong.

  • Well said. I think there's always going to be an element of thinking we're right — I mean, that's why we have our opinions. I don't really mind people saying that they believe they're right. What I don't like is when people start using words like heretic or false teacher when they disagree. I find that really distasteful and overused. And ultimately, they do not make us awesome representatives of Christ to the world outside of our little churchy box.
    My recent post Celebrate Women- Wait- Shes a GIRL!

    • Alise,That's something I've been wondering for awhile, namely what does the onlooking world see, and think, when they see the body of Christ squabbling over matters they (those outside the “churchy box”) have no, or little, knowledge of. We must seem a very contentious lot.

      • Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist) addressed this a bit in his book I Sold My Soul on eBay. And it's pretty much what you would assume. He spent a year attending different church services and giving his thoughts about it. It's an interesting, quick read. I definitely recommend it. Plus, Hemant is just a good guy.
        My recent post Celebrate Women- Wait- Shes a GIRL!

        • Thanks for the recommendation! Have to look that one up.

  • I think Rob Bell is as guilty as any for the discourse being what it is. He got to frame the conversion in the first place! The control of book info while releasing controversial statements made for genius buzz making. It was red meat for those who he and others were already waiting to take the bait.

    • Good point! He frames debate, and others react. But nobody said they had to take the bait! But they did! Which is why I said in the post that the blogosphere's “gone to Bell.” Because all press is ultimately good press. Thanks for your comment!