i stumble a lot. and by stumble, i mean randomly come across various web pages, blogs and articles. i regularly keep tabs open on my computer of articles and whatnot that i will eventually read. i peruse Twitter nightly clicking on links to articles that interest me.
last week i stumbled upon a review to a book by Rob Bell that had yet to be released. the only catch was, that this blogger hadn't been privy to an advanced copy of the book - thus his review was purely speculative. this blogger - one Justin Taylor, questioned if Rob Bell was a Universalist. this set off a chain reaction in the 'Christian' blogosphere. the result gave surefire proof that hot air can be filtered through ones fingertips. so many words of hate spewed forth over speculation.
i don't intend to debate the ins and outs of Rob Bell. i don't intend to debate or speculate what his new book Love Wins is about, either.
what i am writing about is the response... the more than often visceral attack of his character and his theology and the quickness with which one can be condemned to hell, labeled a false prophet and a heretic - all by self proclaimed, self-righteous know-it-alls who claim to be followers of Jesus. that is my debate. that is what turns my stomach.
1) writing about how Bell is anti-Gospel in a manner that is also anti-Gospel is ironic in the worst of ways. you can't expect to be taken seriously when the crux of your disdain is defended by 'he's an a**.' name calling doesn't prove your point or win followers to your side.
2) when you take the time to stand on a soap box and condemn another man as a heretic - neglecting to remember Col. 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” & James 1:19 – “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” makes you a hypocrite. besides, when has shouting ever been a productive means of communication?
3) a proof text out of context is a pretext. shouldn’t the context always be considered? isn't that the fair thing to do? my dad taught me that. i've seen many critics of Bell take a word or a quote or a passage from a book out of the context it was written so as to make it fit into the mold they've already placed him in. what is a pretext? a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. that is not the Jesus way. nor is it fair. and using scripture out of context to make it fit into your preconceived ideas is ignorant and irresponsible.
4) since when did different opinions on the scriptures = heresy? theologians, preachers and peasants have debated the Word of God for centuries on end. why so quick to label?
but in today's free expression that is the internet ones words can be shared without fear. we can hide behind the computer screen. thus we feel a bit brave about what we say... yet - i wonder if there is a deep fear, deep within the hearts of those who shout so loud on this world wide web. fear of change? fear that the Good news of Jesus might manifest in differing ways - so that the Gospel might reach the masses, the lonely, the broken, the needy? All things to all men, Paul says.
i might be wrong about Bell. i might be wrong about my opinions. or i might be right.
maybe we spend too much time trying to prove how right we are.
i don't write this with expectation that anyone will change - this is just my self expression. but i do believe - and i think the Words of Jesus back me on this - that in the end, love wins. for Jesus came to save, not to condemn. (John 3:17)
praise God for that. because too many of us waste our time taking care of the condemning part. thank God Jesus saves - because apparently we don't have the capacity to love like that... or maybe we do but we choose to ignore it.
p.s. i appreciated Scot McKnight's response to this latest 'Bell' controversy.
Waiting for Rob Bell 2. i think he takes the high road. others, not so much.