A good friend sent me an article via Facebook last week that prompted me to finally get back on the blog after a long absence.
Here is what I would like for you to do, just for fun. Read the article and find all of the things that are wrong in the “picture” that it creates: http://tinyurl.com/4564pjl.
Now, feel free to post comments with your own thoughts on the matter. I find three glaring flaws in the article.
The first one is Rob Bell himself. Bell is a smart guy who some might consider a “rebel.” He knows how to push people’s buttons, which is part of what makes him a good speaker and teacher.
But he used that ability here to market his book. Maybe it wasn’t his idea. Maybe his publicists or publishers thought that releasing potentially controversial material from his book was a good “stunt” to boost sales. Either way, everyone involved knew that this would create a firestorm, and they let it happen. Rob Bell is therefore responsible for instigating controversy within the larger Body of Christ.
His thoughts on the nature of various Christian “Hell” theology is really not the issue. He allowed passages to come out prior to the release of his book that make it SEEM as if he is denouncing the existence of Hell, because he (or someone in his “camp”) wanted to generate publicity for the book. I cannot help but be disappointed at a Christian leader, known around the world, using controversy within the Body to make sales. As for Bell’s view of Hell, I will wait until I read the entire book with the comments in context.
That brings us to the second problem here. Bell set up the pins, but Justin Taylor, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll were more than happy to knock them down. Taylor took on Bell in his PERSONAL blog two weekends ago, and that blog was then “Twitter-bombed” across the Twitter-osphere by Piper and Driscoll. While Taylor accused Bell of flirting with heresy, other bloggers picked up the ball and threw it right at Rob Bell. According to the CNN article, he was accused as a heretic.
But that’s not even the biggest issue with Taylor, Piper, and Driscoll. This quote is:
Taylor has not read Bell’s forthcoming book in its entirety. His blog post was in response to the description released by Bell publisher HarperOne and a promotional video that features Bell.
Not only was it naive for these men to give Bell the free publicity that he desired for the book that they supposedly despise, but they also did so without actually reading the book. How can so-called “leaders” act in such an irresponsible manner?
The “Three Amigos” who stirred up this cauldron are no strangers to blog controversies and “cat-fights” with other ministers. They are more than happy to call out anyone that they deem to be wrong (a fact that Bell and his publishers surely knew when releasing the information). That is their prerogative, but one would think that reading the entire book and approaching Bell directly might be the first step to a valid argument.
That brings us to the last thing, and the worst thing, that is wrong with this picture.
“Rob Bell hasn’t sinned against me personally,” Taylor said, which is why he did not go to Bell before making his comments public.
It’s hard to begin dissecting what’s wrong with this statement. This is an extremely lame “cop-out” by Justin Taylor. It’s much easier to rail against someone in a blog or a tweet than it is to contact and directly confront them. Would it be so difficult for Taylor to have a conversation with Bell, in order to fully understand his purpose and context? Isn’t that the LEADERSHIP that Christ demands of us?
Bell didn’t do anything directly to the “Three Amigos,” but they are accusing him of an attack on traditional, orthodox Christianity. If they are followers of Christ, and they feel Christ is being attacked, then isn’t this by definition and attack against them?
Even if you disagree with that logic, it’s hard to argue that the most Christ-centered steps would be to contact Bell before making public comment. The Bible that these men claim to defend makes it pretty obvious:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or tow others along…If he refuses to listen to them tell it to the church…” Matthew 18:15-17
Perhaps Taylor, Piper, and Driscoll need to watch more Seinfeld. Then perhaps they would realize that they are “step-skippers.” I am firmly convinced that many issues in the church could be resolved if believers would take these steps to hear. But if ministers and renowned Christian leaders do not follow Matthew 18, then how can the larger Body of Christ be expected to model such behavior?
It’s time for Christians to stop reveling in their controversies and start thinking about how to model Christ-centered behavior to the world.
Got other ideas about what may be wrong with this picture? Post a comment and let’s keep the conversation rolling.