Is Rob Bell a Provocateur, or a Surfer?

A letter in the New Yorker following up on the Rob Bell profile:

Kelefa Sanneh’s Profile of the ex-megachurch pastor and ersatz theological liberal Rob Bell provides a fascinating glimpse inside the struggles of American evangelicalism (“The Hell-Raiser,” November 26th). Bell’s “evolving faith” in many ways mirrors my own: I graduated from Wheaton College several years after Bell, and his formative experiences with Christianity and his subsequent efforts to come to terms with the strengths and weaknesses of an evangelical subculture resonate deeply with me, and perhaps with many others of my generation.

But I wonder if Bell is truly the “provocateur” that Sanneh portrays him to be. Is he a catalyst for meaningful change, or is he riding the crest of a larger movement that has been developing for some time? One need look no further than the recent documentary film “Hellbound?” or the writings of Christian thinkers such as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones [cough, cough], and John Shore to realize that a modern Christian reformation is already well under way. For many people, Bell has come to represent this movement, but his struggles with faith, though refreshingly honest, hardly place him at the forefront of theological change.

What seems clear is that evangelicalism has come full circle, and is now being forced to come to terms with its fundamentalist roots. Those who cling to the failed religious beliefs of the past will slowly fade into irrelevance, and those who struggle to embrace a new and more meaningful faith, as Bell seems to be doing, will carry on a tradition that is anti-establishment, radically inclusive, and deeply loving.

Daniel Wilkinson

Great Falls, Mont.

via The Mail: Re: The Hell-Raiser : The New Yorker.

Why Did God Prefer Abel to Cain? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

David tweeted a question into the series asking a question about one of the most troubling passages of the Bible:

Leave your answer below and I’ll proffer an answer on Friday.

Richard Mouw, Timothy Dalrymple, Same Sex Marriage, and the Common Good

It seems that I disagree with Tim Dalrymple on lots and lots of stuff. Nevertheless, it’s been interesting watching him publicly wrestle with the question of whether his evangelical abhorrence of gay sex should be codified in anti-same-sex-marriage laws. First, he asked, Is it time for evangelicals to stop opposing gay marriage?

the question at hand is not whether we should abandon the historical Christian teaching on marriage.  The question is whether we should contend for laws and regulations that give this vision of marriage the sanction of government.  And to make one more distinction: the question is not whether Christians have the right to promote their views, just like everyone else does, and to support or oppose laws on any grounds they wish, including religious grounds.  There’s nothing categorically wrong with supporting laws and politicians who recognize and affirm what marriage actually is, even if your view of marriage is religiously informed.  The question, rather, is whether it is still wise to press for American law to recognize only heterosexual unions.

There are about a million and one caveats in that post. Tim knew he was going to be hammered by his fellow evangelicals. He furthered his questions and clarification in a second post, Ten things I believe about evanvelicals and same-sex marriage:

[Read more...]

Gay Conversion Ministry Sued for Fraud

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that they’re suing a “conversion ministry” of defrauding clients by claiming they could “cure” people of their gayness:

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) fraudulently claimed to provide services that “convert” people from gay to straight. These services, known as conversion therapy, have been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the New Jersey conversion therapy organization for fraudulent practices. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, charged that JONAH, its founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that their counseling services could cure clients of being gay.

The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive practices.

Customers of JONAH’s services typically paid a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling sessions and another $60 for group therapy sessions. The lawsuit describes sessions that involved clients undressing in front of a mirror and even a group session where young men were instructed to remove their clothing and stand naked in a circle with the counselor, Downing, who was also undressed. Another session involved a subject attempting to wrestle away two oranges – used to represent testicles – from another individual.

via Michael Ferguson, et al., v. JONAH, et al. | Southern Poverty Law Center.


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