Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rob Bell's Upcoming Book on Heaven & Hell Stirs Blog, Twitter Backlash on Universalism | Liveblog | Christianity Today

At times it seems that there are Christians who have made it their life goal to point out the "heretics" and "false teachers" among us. I am not defending Rob Bell here since I am not sure what his position on hell is, but I rather would like to caution us about labeling people "false teachers" merely because they disagree with our position.

Rob Bell is somewhat of an enigma for me. On the one hand he has helped me rethink "Church" and I think he has some very good things to say in that regard. On the other hand I think that his doctrine can be a little suspect at times, and therefore it is very hard for me to endorse what he has to say.

What I am concerned about is not so much whether or not Rob Bell is a universalist, but rather how eager and flippantly some Christians leaders were in making the proclamation. What is even worse are those individuals that cloak their judgment in religious language: "I'll be praying for him." No, you just wanted to come off looking like a nice guy.

We live in a public world where we have access to millions of people because of the internet. The easiest thing in the world, especially if you see yourself as a guardian of correct doctrine, is to pass judgment on people via the web. This judgment then gets picked up and passed around (especially if you have a large following), all the while the real issue is never addressed. Notice how Rob's book isn't even out yet, but people want to comment on it even though they have not read it.

If these Christian Leaders were really concerned about Rob Bell, his teaching, and his salvation then instead of blogging and tweeting about him they should set up an appointment to visit with him, to pray with him, and to discover what the real Rob Bell thinks. The easy way is to make a declaration behind the comfort of a computer screen. The hard way is to engage the man personally. May we follow the example of Acts 18:26.

Rob Bell's Upcoming Book on Heaven & Hell Stirs Blog, Twitter Backlash on Universalism | Liveblog | Christianity Today

4 comments:

Stan said...

"If these Christian Leaders were really concerned about Rob Bell, his teaching, and his salvation then instead of blogging and tweeting about him they should set up an appointment to visit with him, to pray with him, and to discover what the real Rob Bell thinks."

Isn't that a suggestion (at least) that "these Christian leaders" are lying about being concerned about Rob Bell?

As to the recommendation of private response, I don't know. Since they are responding not to his book, but his video, and since the video was put out in public, I'm not sure that a private meeting is called for. The public message needs to be addressed publicly. The call to Acts 18 is nice, but I notice that Paul didn't rebuke Peter privately in Galatians 2. And in this day of false doctrines run amok, I'm not sure a swift and strong public response isn't needed.

(Please note that I laced this comment with lots of questions, "I don't know", and "I'm not sure".)

Paul Steele said...

You are right Stan that these public teachings need a public response. That I understand, what I guess I was reacting to was the John Piper and Joshua Harris tweets. To me it just seemed to be piling on Bell without saying anything of value. There has to be a better way of dealing with this than just tweeting about it.

Stan said...

This is just wondering out loud. Do you suppose, if John Piper or Justin Taylor called up Rob Bell and said, "We're concerned about the theology you're offering and want to talk to you about correcting it" that he would do it?

Paul Steele said...

I don't know if he would do it or not, my gut is that he probably wouldn't. To be honest they may have extended that invitation to him before and I don't know about it.

I realize that this is not necessarily a well thought out post, since I can see the inconsistencies in it. If I wrote it today it would read differently. That being said I do think Church Leaders need to be very careful in how they use social media, especially something like Twitter, in expressing their thoughts. If they mean to or not what they post there can come off to be very flippant and condescending.

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