Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rob Bell... and games of Yahtzee

190310_ Rob Bell (and me) (078/365)

If you know me... you'll know I am a big fan of Rob Bell and consider his book Velvet Elvis to be a foundational text in the re-imagining of my faith. I've heard him speak twice and consider him to be a exemplary communicator.

Recently he's been getting a hard time from conservative commentators / preachers / bloggers for the content of his latest book... Love wins.

Now... I haven't read the book and will not comment on what some people say it says. I will be my own judge after I have read the book. I may even post my thoughts on the ol' nanolog. I will make up my own mind. I will not rely on anyone... even if I consider them to be "a trusted source".

The point I will say... however... is that the furore that has surrounded Bell's new book is downright shameful and embarrassing. Big "name" preachers willing to condemn him as a false teacher and heretic because they don't agree with his thinking... based on their judgements shaped by quotes and a promotional video made by Bell himself.

Surely there must be a better way to disagree... especially in public. Are we not meant to be know for our love?

Also, aren't we the people of the second chance? If so, why are we so willing to condemn others... so easily? Why can't we give people the benefit of the doubt and... you know... actually read their work for ourselves? Why are we so willing to act like a Pharisee and go for the speck in someone's eye instead of tackling the big plank in our own?

Most days I spend my lunch hour in Starbucks drinking coffee... chatting and playing Yahtzee with my dear friend @myopicaardvark. He is an agnostic (borderline atheist) and very critical of the institutional elements of church. He likes to think for himself and we can have some spirited conversations... where we chew over numerous ideas... including ideas of faith.

What I really dig about our friendship is that we can and do agree to disagree... and can continue to converse over the roll of virtual dice. He displays an openness and acceptance that is a continual inspiration to me.

I believe he judges me on who I am and the fruit I produce... and not who I claim to be or the ideas that are attributed to me. He has taken the time to get to know me... and I have benefitted from this.

I really wish some Christians could do the same... or at the very least they could take the time to study first hand before getting their metaphorical stones out to throw.



Neil said...

I appreciate your generosity of spirit and your desire to see the good in what Bell says. But in the Mars Hill FAQ’s on LoveWins they confirm the following

‘He (that is Bell) is proposing that God’s love is so big that the invitation to God’s grace may extend into the next life so that all could be saved.’

How can it be good or loving to suggest to people that God gives people a second chance in hell and that there is the possibility of post-mortem salvation when Jesus and the Apostles taught so clearly the opposite. c.f. Luke 16 and Hebrews 9:27.

I’m ready to recognise as a brother someone who believes that maybe God might save people who cry out to him without ever confessing the name of Jesus but the gospel demands that I can’t recognise someone as a brother who speaks of a second-chance in hell – that becomes a different gospel.

Phoce said...

Great post Thomas. Would encourage you to watch the live stream he did last night which covers some of the points on the book. Some good stuff in it and there are some powerful moments.

Angus Mathie said...

I agree Thomas. I listen and read widely so that I can consider carefully what an individual is communicating. I retain the right to say that I do or do not agree and I trust that I do so agreeably. I have not read his latest book but have benefited from having "Velvet Elvis". I think it is essential that we voice what we believe but we are on very dangerous ground when we seek to judge who is a Christian and who is not. While it is Biblical to choose with whom we associate, it is ultimately God and God alone to whom Rob Bell answers.

Jonathan Blundell said...

@Angus- I think you're right, and I think perhaps (having not read the book) that that's what Bell is getting at more than anything... no one else can be the judge.
Or as the t-shirt says... "Only God can judge me."

@Neil- Perhaps its the optimist in me, but reading the statement you shared, the "could" really stands out to me.

God's love IS so big that all COULD be saved... but that doesn't mean all WILL be saved.

Also, you might be interested in these reviews from folks who have read the book...



And I'd like to throw out a couple related posts on my own blog if Thomas will let me ;-)



Thanks for the conversation guys!

Anonymous said...

I have read a few reviews of the book, and I am worried about some of the direct quotations. I like a lot of Rob Bell's stuff, but I am honestly concerned that he may have actually over stepped the mark.

Ultimately the question is whether or not we still believe in "orthodoxy".

I understand the desire to avoid becoming the Pharisee in a situation, but likewise I think we need to acknowledge that large swathes of the New Testament were written to prevent the church from listening to false teachings. I'm not saying that Rob Bell is a heretic - that's a different question. But I think that the church as a whole needs to be careful that it becomes so afraid of being "judgmental" or "pharisaical" that it never stands for anything.

Anonymous said...

Hey Thomas,

As usual, a well thought though post. I find that so many people are just jumping to too many conclusions on what has and has not been written or said about Rob Bell's upcoming book. I'm looking forward to the book, so I can read what it actually says!

Cherish your friendship with @myopicaardvark Friends like this are so hard to find. I have one like this who I can bounce ideas off of. We don't agree on everything, but at the end of the day still remain good friends. I'd trust him with anything and I don't have to be guarded in my conversations with him.

Thanks again for your post. We need to talk soon

Johnny said...

I recognise the wee fellah in the anorak, but who's the bloke with the specs on?


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