Tuesday, April 26, 2011
People Worshipping in Glass Churches Shouldn't Throw Stones: The Outrage About Rob Bell
In considering the subject of arguments, it occurs to me that there are two major ways in which one or another of the participants could approach a resolution. One would be to handle it in a diplomatic manner, where the two parties begin from points of agreement and work towards addressing the differences. The alternative would be to argue from diametrically opposed positions, make no effort to move to the middle, and try and shout each other down until one person gives up. It's this latter option which appears to be the dominant method of discussing Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins.
Over the past several days, as I've read numerous Tweets and blog posts attacking both the book and its author, I couldn't help but wonder how many of those throwing stones had actually taken the time to open the book and read it - even if it was just a few pages. One of my pet peeves is seeing someone arguing against a position without the slightest bit of knowledge or evidence to back up their points. It strikes me as being highly lazy - and exceedingly uninformed - to rely on what someone else has to say, rather than taking time to investigate and draw your own conclusions.
If I understand the main thrust of the opposition correctly, the contention is that Bell has tossed aside thousands of years of traditional thought on the subject of heaven and hell, and how many people go to one or the other. The author, many say, is casting a very wide net in his interpretation of what the New Testament says about hell, and in his attempt to get at possible answers to questions that many of us have (how does one get to heaven; what sort of life does one need to leave; is there a hell; how can I avoid going there) he is completely stripping away the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. And a large majority of opponents are tossing out the "u" word - universalist.
Is it just me, or are those who are least confident in their beliefs and position are the ones who argue the loudest? And aren't those Christians who are the most objectionable in terms of their approach to those with whom they disagree the exact opposite of the way Jesus would handle similar discussions?
I want to see for myself and form my own opinions, so I will be beginning the book tonight and blogging my thoughts. Admittedly, I am coming into this with a blank slate; until last week, when his book caused the collective heart to stop beating and he appeared in Time magazine on the list of 100 influential people, I had never heard of Rob Bell. I have no idea what his beliefs are, what he preaches, or just what goes on at Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan. And to me, all of this is good - I have no preconceived notions and (aside from the rantings of an earnest few) no idea what to expect.
Might I end up throwing stones myself at Bell and his book? Certainly - but I should be careful that I'm not throwing them through the walls of my own glass church.