In the wake of Rob Bell’s new book being released and his perfectly-timed-to-coincide-with-new-book-release statement affirming gay marriage, the Internet is full of opinions about him. Here’s a little round up.
Adam Walker Cleaveland agrees that Rob Bell matters:
I believe Rob Bell still matters. Whether you agree with his theology or not, whether you get frustrated that he doesn’t include footnotes for every little reference he makes and writes in a more casual style than you…all of that side, Bell does, in fact, have an impressive platform and he is reaching a generation of folks who aren’t comfortable with more traditional ideas and models of Christianity.
Tim Ghali also stated that Rob Bell still matters to him:
Community is not determined by your current attendance record but by identification and participation. Rob Bell may not be part of your local church community, but it’s safe to say he’s part of the Church. And he still is accountable but there are different levels and forms of accountability. From what I can see, the chatter out there from the week is at the very least evidence from those who are trying to hold him accountable and Tony is right, in this case, the readers (as well as the publisher/book sales) will hold accountable to a certain degree.
Tripp Fuller mused about various big-name leaders supporting gays:
Bell is the most interesting to me because he took a stand AND continued to embrace his evangelical identity. At some point the evangelical community is going to have to permit some diversity around this issue and not continue to excommunicate the messenger. Ask former evangelicals stuck in a Mainline situation because of a justice issue like this and many still wish they could go home.
Bo Sanders argues with David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw (differently than I argued with them):
Actually – I can’t think of a single example of Jesus discerning communally. and then it hit me:
Jesus is an unaccountable Cowboy without a community.
He never listened to anyone else – he always knew the right answer and was unwavering in his confident conviction.This is a terrible development!
He never went and humbly sought advice.
He never had someone change his mind in the midst of a conversation.
He is the consummate winner – the rogue hero – the wild-man philosopher bucking the system – forging his own way on the frontier of faith..
Not only does Holsclaw’s thesis not hold water … Jesus is actually the example of the exact thing that Holsclaw is trying to move away from!
Deb Arca interviewed Rob for Patheos:
I am a big fan of the church and I will always be. When people are gathered together and they find each other and find God, and they gather around the bread and wine, and they try to talk people out of killing themselves and build micro-finance banks and help single moms pay their rent . . . it’s just a beautiful thing. There’s nothing like the church when it’s humming on all cylinders. It’s amazing.
Doug Pagitt interviewed Fitch and Holsclaw on his radio show. He had them on to talk about their book, but they started out by talking about Bell. And, if you ask me, they only confused matters more by chastising Bell for making a public statement about sexuality, when their book has a whole chapter on sexuality.
It seems that most conservative evangelicals are ignoring Rob’s book, loathe to make the same mistake that Justin Taylor and John Piper did when they brought massive attention and sales to Love Wins. But if you want a taste of what they’re all thinking, read the totally predictable post by Asbury Seminary president Timothy Tennent:
Bell finally answers the question which his book title raises when he says, “so when we talk about God, we’re talking about our brushes with the spirit, our awareness of the reverence humming within us…” (p. 91). This could just as easily be said by a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Sufi Muslim. What makes Bell’s answer a distinctively Christian statement? Is Christianity just one of many options on a global religious smorgasbord, or has something uniquely occurred in Jesus Christ? For the Christian, truth doesn’t just rise up within us, it is revealed to us by God in his Word and, supremely, in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Resurrected One who suffered on the cross for us and is now the living, ascended Lord. Bell seems to be willing to trade the priceless pearl of the gospel for a mess of pluralist porridge. He is clearly uncomfortable with the exclusivity of the Christian claims. Bell has chosen to find his spirituality in a Jesus of his own imagination. Indeed, Bell would not insist on any particular outward forms or divine conceptions as long as one gets in touch with their own “humming spirituality.”
If you’ve run across other reflections on Rob, his new book, and his recent affirmation of gay marriage, please post them in the comments.