I’m always fascinated by the evangelicals’ reaction to Rob Bell.
I do not know Rob Bell. We’ve never communicated. Even when I announced our marriage on April Fool’s Day in 2013, he never sent me congratulations. But I don’t mind because he’s a busy man and I’m an understanding spouse.
Anselm said “Faith seeks understanding”, and I’m going to assume that this is what Rob Bell is trying to do… understand his faith. He will sometimes get it wrong. He will sometimes get it right. I also think he cares about the church, the welfare of Christians, and even people in general. So I’m guessing he’s writing not for fame or money but because he’s genuinely trying to contribute value to the conversation and improve the life of the church and people. I’m also guessing he’s concerned for human rights and freedoms. Basically, what I’m saying is that I think Rob Bell is a decent man trying to faithfully serve his God in such a way as to make the church and the world a better place.
R.C. Sproul disagrees. When I read this clip of one of his sermons, I didn’t know whether to be amazed or sad, so I chose both. In just 8 minutes Sproul states or suggests Bell is:
- not an Evangelical;
- not a Christian;
- intentionally trying to mislead Christians;
- a wolf in sheep clothing;
- an object of God’s wrath;
- in need of repentance;
- going to Hell.
Here’s the killer quote:
”What Rob Bell thinks of gay marriage, I’m not concerned about. What the Bible says about it, that’s the truth. The immovable, unshakeable truth, that will still be here and still be true when Rob Bell’s body is rotting in his grave, and unless he repents, when his soul is just beginning to suffer the wrath of God for all eternity.”
I think Sproul showed his hand a little when he said Bell’s body would be rotting in his grave. A little over the top. Oh ya, he’s a preacher!
Actually, the problem is that Rob Bell doesn’t employ the same hermeneutic as Sproul. Bell’s is inclusive while Sproul’s is exclusive. Bell’s hermeneutic hopes that somehow, even though we can’t understand it yet, we are all connected and united at a deep and invisible level. Sproul emphasizes the apparent separateness and division we think we see between us and in the world, so his hermeneutic demands that all those who don’t subscribe to it are not only wrong but the objects of God’s wrath destined for destruction.
I believe Bell’s world is getting larger while Sproul’s will be getting smaller.