Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Love Wins: A Cage Fight for Truth, Rd 2

Round 2, Chapter 1: What about the flat tire?

Rob Bell enters Round 2 exactly like we knew he would open up at least one round. He fires questions and returns no answers. He does this in interviews. He gets asked questions and he doesn’t answer them. He responds with another question that doesn’t help at all.

This chapter is no different. In fact it’s worse. Bell fires off over 100 questions in this chapter. Many of which are phrased in an insinuative ways so as to communicate an answer without actually giving one and then being accountable for it. Almost all the questions he asks go unanswered he just let’s them hang in the balance.

So the hope and the dream is that Bell will answer all or at least most of these 100 questions over the next 7 chapters. Because if he doesn’t, we have a major problem. Why? Because you can’t ask questions about weighty things that the Bible clearly answers (i.e. the character and nature of God, salvation, and hell) and then just leave people wandering aimlessly for truth. Especially after you make grand claims in the Preface of your book that Christianity is about answering questions and not shirking them. So it would be embarrassing if you shirked questions.

So just based on those facts alone we can consider Bell to be somewhat irresponsible if he doesn’t accurately answer these weighty questions from Scripture in this book. Also, it’s just bad as a communicator to ask 100 questions before addressing a single one of them clearly and thoroughly.

Sidebar: Now there were some bright spots: Bell had a few really good paragraphs that I thought were really insightful—but unfortunately he doesn’t clarify those things. With guys like Bell, we must beg for definition. For instance, in a recent media sound bite, Bell claims that he does believe in “hell.” He’s responding to those of critics who accuse him of not believing in hell. Well, he says does believe in ”hell.”

Okay? Wait…it’s Rob Bell. What do you mean by “hell”? Because if he believes in “hell” and his definition of “hell” is a bunch of people hanging out playing shuffleboard and eating cashews—then clearly we don’t have the same idea of “hell” and so although he may claim to believe in “hell” it’s still possible that he really doesn’t. So a clarification of terms is totally necessary. Unfortunately, he didn’t clarify and so all of my “orthodox” friends who have read all of Bell’s previous stuff got really excited over Bell’s proclamation that he “believed” in all of these cool little phrases and words that appear really Biblical and historical.

Calm down and for goodness’ sake, use some discernment. He said nothing. He said a whole bunch of stuff that literally means nothing given his track record.

Back to the book…

Here’s the summary of chapter 1:

-Bell asks 3 questions about hell and God and words them in such a way that indicts the character of God until he actually answers them from the Bible. Don’t ever indict God. It always ends with him powning you. Read the book of Job.

-He asks some more questions, he doesn’t answer.

-He mentions “the age of accountability” and then drops the ball.

-Plays on the hearts strings of readers and unwittingly pits people against the justice and holiness and sovereignty of God. Sweet move.

-He finally says some things that make sense.

-Then he reverts back to things like: claiming that the term “personal relationship” isn’t in the Bible when referring to our salvation and relationship with God. Which is true but the idea is very clear in scripture, so although the term isn’t explicitly in the Bible, it is quite implicit and the textual exegesis of this idea is everywhere.

-He then claims a woman wrote the book of Hebrews. I literally think he only believes that to bolster his edgy, emergent image.

-Bell then displays an incorrect understanding of Luke 18.

-He rips Matthew 10 out of context.

-Oh and then he does the same to 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Timothy 2.

My favorite part of the chapter is when Bell writes, “But maybe all of these questions are missing the point.”

My thoughts were literally: “Oh thank goodness.”

But then he spends another whole page asking questions.

But once again…a glimmer of hope!

He writes:

“But this isn’t a book about of questions.

It’s a book of responses to theses questions.”

Once again I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

Overall, this chapter is bonkers. I highly doubt he’ll answer all of these questions because he literally asked over a hundred of them. But I’m hopeful!

I’m forced to initially award this round to “Love Wins” for this chapter due to the thoroughness of Bell’s questions and concerns as well as his promising ending. But he gets penalized for ripping Scripture out of context so much, which brings the round to 9-9. But he gets penalized another point because he leaves a potential indictment of God hanging in the air. Round scored 9-8. Lastly, Love Wins gets deducted one point for practicing such poor exegesis in a few, but basic texts. Round 9-7.

So, on a 10-point must system I’ll give Round Two a score of 9-7, NOT in favor of Love Wins/Bell. I have high hopes he can easily turn this thing around with some shockingly strong arguments and exegesis of Scripture to completely flip he’s current standing.


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