Sorry, I thought this was a funny and appropriate title for this post. Maybe not.
I am doing the world a huge favor because I know that no one has heard about the brouhaha that transpired this past Saturday over some dude named Rob Bell or rather, a book he’s written that is yet to be released and Gospel Coalition, John Piper, and the legions of “new-Calvinists” that see it as their convictions to defend and contend for orthodox Christianity. [Read Part 2, The Most Important Thing.]
So…this blog post about Bell’s upcoming book pretty much declared Bell to be a universalist and that was the match that set off the firestorm. Perhaps, we should add Rob’s book to our list of Christian books that should NOT be published.
What are your thoughts about the fiasco?
As usual, here are some of my random & vomitaceous thoughts:
Rob is a friend…
Now, let me go on the record and share that I like Rob. I’ve blogged about him – with praise and pushback. We’ve emailed several times. He’s shown some tweet support for One Day’s Wages. In short, I’m proud to call him a friend and a brother in Christ.
So, it pained me to see so much venomous stuff being written about Rob.
Me like the Universalist Post
This might be hard for some of you to believe but I liked the original post by Justin Taylor that set off the firestorm. I actually think it’s important and on occasion, for people to “fight” and contend for our convictions.
I’ve gone on the record before that I’m cool with folks contending for the gospel but not being jerks in the process. And J. Taylor wrote a decent post. He wasn’t being a jerk in my opinion.
But there was a slight problem.
What the hell?!
The “slight problem” is that the author of the blogpost and to my knowledge, the countless others who were slamming Rob Bell hadn’t even read the book. Huh? What?
How can you devote 90% of a blog post declaring someone to be a heretic; disguised as an angel of Light, blah blah blah – but without having actually read the book?
You throw someone under the bus and basically declare someone – in your worldview – a heretic based upon a video vignette + a book jacket?
Did Piper really tweet, “Farewell Rob Bell”?
I have a great deal of respect for John Piper. As such with Rob Bell, I don’t agree with everything Piper but am humbled by his passion and commitment to the Gospel. His book Desiring God was incredibly influential in my younger days as a Christian. I’m going to assume that one of his staff who usually tweets on behalf of Piper. Again, I’d be shocked if it was Piper himself and if it was, I’d be so disappointed.
And if it was one of his staff or for that matter, John Piper himself…
Shouldn’t there be an apology for the poor taste in usage of these words?
Seriously, in hindsight, someone of Piper’s wisdom and maturity should see that tweet and assess it’s simply not godly or Christ-honoring. Whether it intended to be or not, it was simply wrong…and I am hoping a formal apology is made.
The Importance of Theology
Theology is important. No matter what others may say or think, it has great value and importance. In fact, I would contend that one of the aspects that ails the Church is the lack of theological depth and substance. The [C]hurch are a bunch of lightweight theological dummies.
But my point is that while theology is indeed very important, it’s not the most important thing. If theology was the most important thing, we’d be screwed as salvation would rest in humanity’s ability to understand with absolute clarity. [Read What is the Most Important Thing?]
Clarity & Mystery
There are some aspects that are absolutely essential to our faith. They are non-negotiables. They are the facets of faith that we hold as “closed-fisted issues”; matters of our beliefs that we are willing to fight on the hill for. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we can acknowledge that we don’t know everything; that we have questions and even doubts about certain things. While we might be attracted to absolute clarity, we must yield to the possibility that there are some things that are mysterious; they are not fully attainable – as of yet. I would say that while we cling to the essentials of our faith, we are not any less Christian by asking questions.
So, seriously, what the hell?
We’ll try to tackle that and the question of universalism for the next post. We’ll write a book together.
We’ll trend, baby. We’ll trend.
On a serious note, I shared above that I’m proud to call Rob a friend. But friend or not, no one exists on an island to themselves. We all serve a God, a Kingdom, a Savior, and a Gospel that is greater than us. And it may be possible that he may be drifting towards the trajectory of a “universalist” (or “inclusivist”) and as much as it “feels” right and good, I’d disagree with him. But the point is…we really have no idea from a video vignette or book jacket cover.
My closing thoughts:
The Gospel is greater than conflicts!