WHAT THE BELL?!
I still remember when I first began to hear about this Rob Bell character and the so-called “Emergent” movement. As it seemed outside of the circles I was moving in, I didn’t give it much attention. Eventually, I came across this movement more and more, and finally decided to do a little research.
Fast-forward a few years. I downloaded and listen to several of Rob Bell’s audiobooks. He read them himself for the audio recording. If you are not very familiar with Rob Bell, he has a very unique and likeable presentation style. In fact two of his video teachings that I watched, I still say are literally the best two public speaking presentations I have ever watched.
After spending about 15 hours with Rob Bell by audiobook, I understood what all the hype was about. The big fuss about Rob Bell has always been that he is ambiguous and asks lots of questions while not providing many answers. As a thinker, I appreciate this approach, although by itself it would cause frustration. Yet it stirs the reader to look for answers.
Bell’s Mega-wavemaking book, Love Wins (which I listened to by audiobook), was an interesting book, full of challenging questions and no dogmatic answers. Unfortunately for Bell, it seems that although he didn’t take a theological stance and simply asked provocative questions, his credibility and klout took a drastic beating by those in the church community that were not open to thinking through his questions and at least engaging in a discussion. Instead, close-minded people simply wrote him off without even reading his book, for example on the day the book was released John Piper infamously tweeted, “Bye bye Bell.”
As a fellow writer, I have felt for Bell, the fact of being treated mercilessly by close-minded brothers and sisters has a familiar sting (simply type Welton False Prophet into google and you will see the stuff that authors put up with).
In reflection, I have stated privately for a couple of years that I wish Rob Bell had used all that momentum and rapport to say something worthwhile about the Gay agenda that the Church worldwide is facing and what God’s heart and direction is in this arena. It seems that Bell made a huge splash with a book about hell, then resigned his megachurch in Michigan, moved to LA and hasn’t been heard from for a couple of years. In my humble opinion, I would have rather seen him say something important to my generation about a more important and divisive issue, rather than wasting that momentum on questioning hell.
Well, just this week, Bell has made it back in the news and he is talking about what I had hoped he would talk about. Homosexuality.
“In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, "I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs -- I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are." (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/rob-bell-comes-gay-marriage_b_2898394.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false)
While I expected Bell to be controversial and make waves, I didn’t expect him to accept and affirm gay lifestyles. Bell always goes back to treating people with dignity and love, which is refreshing and right, yet in this case it is a bridge too far. Bell has gone beyond simply loving people, but also saying we can affirm them in their lifestyle. I doubt Bell would say this to a drug addict, porn addict, a serial adulterer, etc. Yet the pressure is on to see this sin as affirmable.
I don’t believe it is right to pour shame on any person for any sin. I don’t believe that we treat people according to their actions but according to how their Heavenly Father truly sees and loves them. I do believe we are making a huge mistake when we rewrite the Bible through a distorted lens of what “we” think “love” looks like.
I live in a generation that is dangerously close to throwing the Bible into the trash can and saying let’s just love people like Jesus, which is then determined through one’s own filter without regard to what Jesus was really even like. I am concerned for my generation, although they are going after the Kingdom and the Supernatural like never before, there is a void of understanding the Bible, even among the up and coming Bible “Teachers.”
I am not speaking from a hopeless place, although disappointed, I still like Rob Bell, and I am hoping that some leaders in his life will challenge him to get back to valuing the Word.
I do believe it is time to reexamine the Word and right the wrong understandings. I will not idly sit by while women are oppressed by wrong reading of the Word, I will not allow another generation to be deluded into escapism by more bad endtimes teaching. I am not willing to see more people getting caught up in endless inner healing, endless intercession and endless spiritual warfare because they simply do not understand their true authority and identity in Christ.
Please don’t throw out the Bible when it confuses you. Don’t throw it out when it seems to contradict itself. People have been reading and studying for hundreds of years and maybe we don’t have everything figured out perfectly yet. Ask the Author to explain the book to you and give Him time to do so.
As for Rob Bell, I still hope he changes his position, but in the meantime, I am praying and asking the Lord “where are the leaders for my generation that will give direction and help us navigate this new world?”
As I have prayed many times, “Here am I, Lord send me.”
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