- Before we say, “I disagree,” we should be able to say, “I truly understand.” There’s no point in disagreeing with something we haven’t made sure we fully understand. When we disagree prematurely all we’re really saying is, “You’re not going to change my mind; don’t confuse me with the facts.”
- Some people get offended by criticism no matter what. There have been good-critical reviews of Bell’s book. There have been bad-critical reviews of Bell’s book. The trick is to understand the difference, not just throw all criticism together in the trash-heap of “Rob-Bell-Haters.” And the other trick is to be able to take criticism without always seeing it as a personal attack. Criticism, when done correctly, can only make us better people.
- The word “heretic” is almost useless the way we use it. As are the words “orthodox,” “conservative,” and “liberal.” In the end, the way we use these words essentially says more about us than they do about the person we’re criticizing. In the Evangelical world, “heretic” and “liberal” are simply those who disagree with “me.” And “conservative” and “orthodox” are those who happen to agree with me. In other words, we’ve abandoned the actual definitions of these words for uses of these words that are polarizing and promote distrust and misunderstanding instead of understanding. Therefore, our uses of these words make them ultimately useless.
- Some people are heresy hunters. They’re looking for ways to denounce people who don’t agree with them as apostates to the gospel. I attribute this to a messiah-complex whereby they see themselves as the last true Christians on the planet. This kind of elitism is unfortunate and will ultimately lead to their irrelevance in our culture. And this makes me sad because their passion could be beneficial to the kingdom of God.
- Some people are just naïve. People will tack themselves to personalities instead of the gospel. They will defend a person regardless of what they say, simply because they like the person. Rob Bell could’ve denied the gospel and some people would’ve followed him because they love Bell more than the gospel. On the other side, Kevin DeYoung could’ve been an absolute jerk in response to Bell and people will defend him with scripture because they loved his polemics over Paul’s call to unity in I Corinthians.
To all such people, I ask this: Was Rob Bell Crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Kevin DeYoung?
- John 17 is completely ignored by most American Christians. We prefer disunity over unity. We prefer schism to an appreciation of diversity. We prefer ousting people from both heaven and the church over opening our arms as wide as God’s. And, guess what! The world was watching. And you know what they saw? Christians fighting…again. Isn’t it funny how every time we make national media it’s because we’re fighting for, over, or against something? So much for them knowing us by our love and unity.
- We are sheep. This whole saga was a marketing ploy by HarperOne. And it worked. We did exactly what they expected. They, and they alone, are the true winners in this. And boy did they win – last I heard Bell’s book was #6 on Amazon.
- We pastor’s have done a terrible job of teaching our people that the goal of salvation isn’t a good after-life in Heaven, but that Heaven begins in this life….salvation begins in this life. We aren’t waiting for Heaven; we’re co-workers with God bringing Heaven to earth. Until we get this straight, we will continue to misunderstand the gospel.
- Those who use the keys of death and Hell are often trying to unlock the doors of power. Do you want power over a person, a culture, or a movement? Just threaten to unleash Hell against all potential deviants. Not only will you end all rational discussion, but you’ll effectively control both those who are already convinced you’re right AND those who don’t think you’re right, but are afraid of you. People throughout the centuries have believed that the threat of Hell holds the potential to control empires. And they are right…until they are wrong. People can be controlled by the threat of Hell for a short time, but they can’t thrive under the threat of Hell…and sooner or later they will be so desperate for real, thriving life that they won’t be manipulated by fear anymore. The power of the gospel, then, is not in the threat of Hell, but the beauty of Jesus Christ.
- Rob Bell is apparently more of a danger to orthodox Christianity than a tsunami is to the Japanese coastline. Since we’re talking about Hell and all, I find it interesting that in the separation of the sheep from the goats, Jesus is clear that one’s eschatology (doctrine of the Last Things) is not the deciding factor in where people spend eternity, but rather, one’s response to human suffering is. I am saddened by myself and others who followed this saga more closely than we followed the tragedy in Japan, who have fretted over this saga more than we’ve fretted over dead babies in Japan, who have prayed more about Rob Bell than we’ve prayed for God’s presence in Japan. It’s time for me to repent.
Is there anything you’d add to my list?