Ok, so I guess I should update the blog with the fact that I have read Love Wins at this point as well as both supporting and refuting arguments from different people about it. And my conclusion…? I’m sad.
I’m sad that the people that claim to follow Jesus are so divided against each other. I’m sad that so much of Christianity has become about ideas and systems and theologies rather than about celebrating and moving towards the miracle, the event, the life-changing reality that is God. Jesus prayed for us in the garden that we would be one, and here we are fighting about what happens to us when we die. Our pastors get up in the pulpits and take sides and proclaim their biblical interpretation as the true revelation from God. And we are secure and safe in our little bubble of self-righteous knowledge. And it all just makes me sad.
As far as the theology goes, yes I do think that people like Rob Bell, N.T. Wright, Eugene Peterson..etc are telling a pretty different story of God than people like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, the Gospel Coalition…etc There’s part of me that wants to try to keep all the family together and agree to disagree about a lot of this stuff, but the reformed and fundamentalists are right in seeing that it’s pretty much an entirely different story they are telling. Most of the “left side” (if you must) is generally just too polite (or maybe afraid?) to call out specific names and why they are wrong like much of the “right side” seems to enjoy doing.
I don’t know. Maybe Christendom is getting ready for another major split like the protestant reformation or something. It’s happened every 500 years since Jesus, and it’s been about 500 years since the last one, so maybe we’re due for it.
All I know is I feel like on both sides of the argument, so many people have lost the point. I don’t think the point to any of this is to have concrete human ideas about God, the Bible, salvation, heaven, hell…etc as much as it is to live in a different kind of way in the world. I don’t think that Jesus came to start a new religion.. He was Jewish, remember? Jesus is the “rupture of our religion” (Peter Rollins).
Remember, it was the religious people who had God figured out, and were threatened by any word that challenged their place, power or authority that were the ones that screamed out “crucify him.”
This is of course not meant in any way to compare to Rob Bell to Christ. I’m not even saying that I think that Rob Bell’s arguments are correct. Rather I’m comparing the fear and the vehement ugliness that the religious community is demonstrating right now in their vicious defense of what they think is true to that of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They have their book. They worship it. God is understandable to them. The afterlife is clearly laid out. Anyone that dares question their view of it should be called out as a false teacher and a heretic. (interesting that the founder of many of these people’s religion, John Calvin, used to burn the people that he considered heretics at the stake)
Whether Rob Bell is correct or not correct, so much of the Evangelical community’s response to it is not. Perhaps Jesus would offer some “woe’s” to the evangelical church today. Woe to our dead churches and shallow theology. Woe to Lifeway and Mardel’s, and other “Christian” bookstores for their fear in not even carrying a book that people might want to read in an effort to wrestle with questions like these and think for themselves. Woe to the preachers that have gotten up in their pulpits and spewed their own arrogant judgment into the hearts of their congregants. Lord have mercy on us. May this old dead corpse that is modern American evangelical Christendom burn up in the fires of God and blow away into oblivion, and then let your glorious bride rise from the ashes. Amen.