Some of you are asking if I think it is every appropriate to criticize the beliefs of fellow Christians and especially fellow evangelicals. I can’t imagine where that question is coming from. I thought I made clear that my concern is with premature criticism. A basic axiom of all criticism is “Before saying ‘I disagree’ be sure you can truly say ‘I understand’.”
I have experienced so much misunderstanding among evangelicals that I am very wary of most criticism I hear unless it is based on clear understanding–unless the person leveling the criticism has gone to great lengths to understand before criticizing.
Initial reports about open theism were that it is “Socinianism” and belief that “God gives bad advice,” etc. Also that it is process theology. These people clearly had not studied open theism carefully.
I have very little patience with anyone who criticizes an author or book without reading all of it first. But the problem is that in certain segments of evangelicalism people get rewarded for jumping on suspected heresy and labeling it that so there is a sense of urgency to be the first to pronounce someone a heretic or a book heretical.
Whatever happened to careful, thoughtful, balanced and generous reading and responding to books? But that can’t even begin until one has read the book in its entirety.
Now some here have said accusations of heresy are valid based solely on what Rob Bell has said in a video. I haven’t seen it. Perhaps they’re right. But so far they haven’t quoted him. Has Rob Bell said outright “I do not believe in hell in any sense” or something tantamount to that? Not that I’ve heard or read so far.
I ask–why not wait until the book is published and then respond? Where’s the urgency to criticize a book before it’s even published? I can’t think of any justification for that. EVEN if the author lets something controversial about the book out in an interview nobody should review a book until they’ve read it.