Tag Archives: rob bell

Bobby Conway: Contending for the Faith

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 3, NIV84

Clarke has been sharing quite a bit lately, through posts and comments, about religious pluralism and related topics. (Incidentally, one of my all-time favorite posts by Clarke is this one on particularism and the wideness of God’s mercy.)

Religious pluralism is a difficult and tattered topic. There are lots of recent bestsellers stirring up great controversies, but the song remains the same. There is no end to the number of writers who want to reinvent Jesus and conform Christianity to some type of “fair for all people” standard.

But do we really have that liberty? Would that liberty even make sense?

The Apostle John recorded in John 13:35 that the world will know we are His disciples if we love one another—so why can’t that be the bottom line on the Christian faith?  We should just love each other and everything will work out. You know, love wins. But…there are stern and passionate condemnations throughout the New Testament about not giving away the Gospel and the importance of contending for the faith that was entrusted to us. It all depends upon how we understand ‘love’.

This issue hits close to home for me. A friend from church recently told me how impressed he is with Rob Bell. While I can understand on a secular basis how Rob Bell’s teaching (‘doctrine’) appeals to a wide audience, given the plumb lines of Scripture it seems to me an insidious theological cancer. Our understanding of God is like a 20-year-old Oldsmobile? Really?! This is not a debate between creationists about how to interpret science and the Bible to determine the age of the earth. Nor is it a debate about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, nor whether baptism is a sacrament or an ordinance. It’s much more important than those questions. Why?

Here’s an excellent piece of on-topic teaching from Dr. Bobby Conway that lays out why it is so important to understand the Doctrine of Hell. It’s also a powerful example of why doctrine and theology matter.


Rob Bell and Don Draper – The Ad Man’s Gospel

As I was finishing up my blog post comparing songwriter Mark Heard to popular evangelical author Donald Miller, I was trying to figure out how to handle Rob Bell. Bell has been the most explosive figure in progressive evangelicalism today, though within the past few years he has gone out even further than many of his progressive evangelical colleagues are willing to endorse. Theologically speaking in my view, a confused ecclesiology is what unites the contemporary triune fellowship of Bell, Miller, and Brian McLaren. It is difficult for me to say this, because while I still know that these folks love Jesus and I can still learn some things from them, there have just been some other things there that continue to bug me. However, there could be more to the analysis. I think I have stumbled onto an idea, but I had to look “across the pond” to find it.

While some evangelicals in the U.S. still puzzle over the Rob Bell storm in recent years, a fire is currently raging in Britain. Recently, a debate between progressive evangelical Steve Chalke and more classic evangelical Andrew Wilson has intensely engaged thoughtful Christians. In reflecting on the debate, Andrew Wilson pointed to a specific problem in Steve Chalke’s argumentative method. In a nutshell, Wilson claims that Chalke sets up a type of “straw man” noting some extreme case, and therefore reacting to it with a different extreme case as THE solution, without acknowledging that there might be more moderate and alternative solutions that are being sidestepped. Wilson likens this to what Rob Bell is doing as a communicator of the “Ad Man’s Gospel”. Strangely, however, I do not think Rob Bell is alone in this. You can find folks equally on the more “fundamentalist” side of the evangelical movement who do EXACTLY the same thing in reverse. Wilson cites this post by Alastair Roberts as evidence. It says it better than I can.

On the downside, it does make me seriously question how viable the Internet; e.g. blogging, serves as an effective vehicle for thoughtful communication and dialogue. I am still doing it, but I have my doubts. Veracity readers: Are Andrew Wilson and Alastair Roberts right?

If you follow the whole line of thought, you will never think about Oldsmobiles the same way again….

Alastair's Adversaria

I find Rob Bell fascinating.

Sure, I disagree with his theology, but when it comes to engaging communication, the man is virtually without peer.

If you want to see a masterpiece in clever communication, look no further than a promotional video for a Rob Bell book.

This is Bell in his element.

Attention-grabbing.
Engaging.
Dynamic.

Take, for instance, this recent offering:

The dislocated camera shots.
The fractured statements.
It’s all there.

You start with the evocative image of the Velvet Elvis, reminding you of that summer you read through that book as a teen.

How that book resonated with you at the time!

Rob begins by telling us that a lot of people in our culture ‘can’t do the God-sort of belief system or idea.’ A ‘very, very popular movement’ tells us that this is all that there is. However, lots and lots of people, when they experience vaguely defined…

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