Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heated Responses to Rob Bell

The truth is, the further I get from the Christian community, the more satisfying life is. There are a number of reasons for this, but case in point presently is the weekend ho-ha over Rob Bell.

A video was released by Rob this weekend promoting his new book - Love Wins. It addresses the idea that maybe much of Christianity has been looking at eternity through a very pessimistic scope and that, perhaps, St. Paul was right when he said that Love gets the final word.

Blogs and Tweets began to spring up by Pastors and Theologians condemning Bell. Rob was in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter Saturday.

Christianity has been around for over 2,000 years. One of the skills we have yet to get any kind of a handle on is how to deal with disagreements like adults.

Someone holds a different view?

Off w’their head!

This attitude comes from thinking God is going down a checklist of what you believe as of primary importance. One misplaced belief… and it results in an eternity of torture!

With a view of god like that, I guess one can't blame the more conservative wing of Christianity for being paranoid and a wee’ bit jumpy. Navigating life for such Christians is like being a long-tailed cat in a world full of rocking chairs.

I would suspect that Rob Bell is offering an alternative view with this new book.... a way out of this theological bondage.

The vitriolic rhetoric he has already received is testament to how much people love their chains.


Unknown said...

I've not read this offering from Mr. Bell, though I have read some of his other missives. On the topic, however, I'd agree that Christiandom has offered a God in the form of a 'Cosmic Traffic Cop," ready, willing and somewhat enthusiastic to write tickets for minor seatbelt infractions, whose penalty is, you know, eternal.

The irony in all this, of course, being that it would appear that Jesus had in mind an entirely different paradigm to offer - that of a relationship, rather than religion. Paul points out that the purpose of the "law" was to show us what we are - twisted and bent away from God's character - and reveal our need for a way to restore and repair that broken relationship (what Christians call "Salvation.")

In the context of relationship, what we do (or don't) is seen through the lens of being relationally healthy, rather than ironclad dogma of success through willpower and being "right." Regarding eternity and entry into "the kingdom," Jesus says that "not everyone who cries 'Lord, Lord' will be there, nor even those who did great works in God's name - but those whom He "knows." Relationally.

I'm not certain if Mr. Bell is espousing the views of Dr-I-Can't-remember-his-name from Atlanta, who teaches that, because God is Love - no one who ever lived will face an eternity apart from Him, thus - no one "goes to hell," which is decidedly contrary to scripture.

Without going into a lengthy exegesis on the topic, my view (subject to the fact that I'm spiritually retarded) is that "sin" (a state of brokenness and imperfection as a result of being bent against God, visa vis original sin) cannot coexist with God in perfection, therefore when "all things are made new," those who are still bent that way cannot continue to exist. C.S. Lewis states that there are two kinds of people, those who say "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Alright, then, have it your way."

Though I can see how scripture can be read to imply an "eternal, burning tortuous hell" for "sinners," I read, rather, that when "the elements melt with fervent heat" etc. etc. - those who have chosen to remain purposed in self rather than in relationship (including **gasp** CHRISTIANS who love dogma and religion more than God) are consumed as well, the RESULTS of which are everlasting, not the 'torment.'

In other words, it is the ultimate act of love to allow us to choose how we live our lives, up to and including whether we want to continue and remain in His presence eternally (which, I think WOULD be a sort of hell for those who did not really like him that much.)

If, truly, it is revealed at "judgement" who we are, who He is, what we've done and how oft He tried to love us - should 'hell' be a 2 square foot hole of lava, the real torture for those outside relationship with Him, presented with full knowledge of His Glory and Awe, would be to have to stand at the back of the line to jump in.

My $0.02, adjusted for inflation, actual mileage may vary. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear, close cover before striking. No user serviceable parts inside. Part of a balanced breakfast.

Anonymous said...

What is bemusing to me is this comment (and others like it around the blogosphere):

“I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me… I think that the publisher’s description combined with Bell’s video (later in this post) is sufficient evidence to suggest that he thinks hell is empty and that God’s love (which desire all to be saved) is always successful.”

So is Taylor saying that God's love is NOT always successful?


Sammy said...

I'm not sure people love their chains, but that they cannot fathom living without them. They are terrified they will miss something important on the checklist and, like you said, be thrown into eternal torture.

If you have enough fear, you'll do almost anything.

irreverance said...

This whole reaction to Bell is frustrating to me, largely because I imagine where people have to be spiritually to react like that. I read the criticism (not much mind you) and and it is so far away from where I am, I don't even know where to begin in order to address it. All I feel I can do is sigh, shake my head, and walk away speechless.

Don said...

Been patiently waiting for Rob to "come out of the closet".

Anonymous said...

I agree with Don. The signs were there...I thought he'd come out as a liberal, universalist. Makes me love Rob Bell all the more.

The keepers of theological correctness are sure to attack him. I hope he tells them to go to hell. :)

Jon said...

A virulent attack on someone who disagrees with you is a sure sign of insecurity. To avoid frustration, reframe such attacks as a sign of hope - the frenzied firing of ammunition just before the fortress falls.

Anonymous said...

"This attitude comes from thinking God is going down a checklist of what you believe as of primary importance. One misplaced belief… and it results in an eternity of torture!" (Andrew)

That god is also a picky eater.

Good points, I must be out of the American 'made up' media loop because I never heard a thing in Canada...must of been too busy wondering if Libya was going to reach a state of independance. Must be a church blogger thing - I am not in the know per se on these things.

I say good for Rob, has a new book with a little bit of curfuffle - should launch another load of cash into his pocket!

That all being said, looks like a refreshing read.

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