Now that Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins is on sale on both sides of the Atlantic and many other comments have been made, I am feeling like I cannot avoid engaging in the controversy, or at least should read some more material to understand it better. I did not seek out such involvement, as you can see from my post which ironically listed Five Reasons I hadn’t previously blogged about Rob Bell. Since then I have posted a couple of highly relevant articles without directly addressing Bell’s work. These are:
- Why a belief in hell is so practically important (John Piper)
- The folly of imagining hell is not real and sin is not deadly (Charles Spurgeon)
- Mark Driscoll’s sermon on hell taken from the Rich Man and Lazarus.
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the folly of thinking God is only love.
I have now found a very helpful round up post on Gary David Stratton’s blog that lists some of the major posts on each side of this vociferous debate. He says that over 400,000 responses are now available online, so reading every post is clearly not an option! I have been following some of the posts he lists, and have finally succumbed and am in the process of reading the book. If you have been following things more closely, and there are critical posts you think I should read that are not on Stratton’s list, please let me know. There is one additional page that I have found to be interesting, a transcript of an interview by Lisa Miller with Rob Bell.
Finally, also in Stratton’s blog is a suggestion that we should use the Apostle Paul’s blogging checklist. I have adapted this somewhat from his version, which he took from 1 Corinthians 13. I commend this list as we consider blogging about this issue or others. For not every blog post on either side of this debate has kept within these wise boundaries. So, before you hit send, grade yourself on this list:
Is this blog post I am about to publish
- Demonstrating patience towards those who disagree with me?
- Kind in its tone and content? Would my “enemies” agree?
- Free from envy in it’s motivation? Rather than secretly wishing I was as popular as the person I am condemning?
- Full of humility and not boasting? Rather than implying I have all the answers and the monopoly on the truth?
- Wanting others to do well and highlighting good comments elsewhere rather than arrogantly seeking more hits for my blog?
- Polite and not rude?
- Not insisting on my own way? Have I acknowledged that there is a chance, however small, that I might be wrong about this?
- Calm and not irritable?
- Avoiding even the hint of sounding resentful?
- Rejoicing with the truth, rather than taking joy from pointing out others error? Have I struck back at those who have been hurtful to me or brushed over and endured any perceived wrongs from them, have I thought the best of others?
If you cannot honestly answer yes to all of these bold questions, it is time to save the draft, pray, go and make yourself a cup of tea, and come back to re-edit the post later. There is a time for boldly speaking the truth. But we must always do so in love. The above checklist is demanding. It requires careful examination of our hearts. We will all no doubt fail at times to follow it fully. I know I have.
Fortunately there is grace for us, as well as opportunities for public repentance when needed! I believe that none of us can have the insight into our own sinful hearts to fully achieve such high standards on our own. I do thank God that I have people who watch over both my soul and this blog and are not afraid to point out when they feel I have erred. I trust that you also have those who can help you to follow Jesus online. May God help me, and each of you to blog as Christ would want us to, and to treat others online as we would want to be treated. Those of us that love grace must be sure to demonstrate it to others.