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Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote a post criticizing Rob Bell. Her opinion is summed up in the title, Whatever happened to Rob Bell, the pastor who questioned the gates of hell? Implicit is that Bell has deviated and gone Hollywood, is no longer a pastor, doesn’t even attend a church, questions orthodox theology, and doesn’t believe in hell. Not good!
Danielle Shroyer responds to the wave of criticism leveled against Bell in her post, Why Rob Bell is A Better Evangelical Than Evangelicals. Similarly, her opinion is expressed in her title. She believes Bell is reaching the very people evangelicals want to but aren’t because they’re caught in their own introspective, self-interested theological whirlpool that excludes the world.
I fondly remember arguing the finer points of theology. Theology is important and can be life-giving. I loved, and still do love, Reformed theology. Barth is and always will be my favorite theologian. I appreciate the intellectual rigor required to work with theology. But I have witnessed that the more precise our theology, the more exclusive it becomes.
There is a new kind of rigor at work if one is open to it. That is exploring and discovering a way of thinking that includes rather than excludes, unites rather than divides, gathers rather than separates, and loves rather than condemns. Some theologians would like to argue that this is an irresponsible relaxing of theology, lazy and sloppy. It is labelled Hollywood, west coast cultish, new agey, showy, eastern, greedy for popularity and money, and so on.
But I would claim the opposite… that it takes far more rigor, and more than just intellectual, to finally see, know, and experience the oneness of all things and to promote this oneness in our fractured world that so many Christians and theologians would like to perpetuate.
Love does win!