Why Mainline Christians Don’t Care about Rob Bell

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Rob Bell is leaving Mars Hill Bible Church, which he founded, in Grandville, Michigan. He’s moving his family to California and developing a television show for ABC.  Knowing Rob as I do (I don’t), I’m guessing he’s also working on a movie script, a tour, and probably a time machine.  He’s a person of unique aptitudes.  Thinking that he would stay indefinitely in a parish church situation is akin to thinking that Steve Jobs should have been the manager of an Apple Store.

Zach, a mutual friend of Rob and me (see, I’m only one degree of separation from Rob Bell!), has written a provocative post in the face of criticism that Bell’s departure has received from conservative Christian leaders like Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren.  Zach writes,

In a nutshell, more conservative folks seem to be more skeptical when a successful, well-known pastor decided to leave their churches behind.

Then he continues,

Nowhere have I seen any prominent liberal voice object to Bell moving on. (If so please point me to it)

Well, I’ve got an answer for Zach:

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We’re All Evangelical Now

When I first signed on to blog at Patheos, I expressed my hesitation at being siloed.  Nevertheless, I was put in the “Progressive Christian” Portal, formerly called the “Mainline Christian Portal.”  I asked that my blog also be listed in the “Evangelical” Portal, and beginning today, I am listed there.  And I’m grateful for and happy about this.

Notwithstanding the fact that I’m identified in places like the Washington Post as an “evangelical pastor,” I write about lots of things that are of interest to evangelicals.  In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say that about half of my readers are evangelicals.

Of course, that’s a disputed word.  What, exactly, is an evangelical.  I’ve spilled a lot of pixels on that question, as have Scot McKnight and others.  Insiders, like Scot and me, tend to think of evangelical as a theological category.  In that sense, I probably am evangelical: I have a high view of the Bible, I have a high Christology, and I believe the the spread of the gospel message brings hope and reconciliation to people.

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The Proto-Blogger

Scot wrote about Montaigne this week, and I heartily agree with his appreciation of the inventor of the essay.  I first read Montaigne as a freshman in college, and have been a fan ever since.  “Of Friendship” is my favorite essay by Montaigne, in which he contrasts same-gender friendship with the father-son relationship, the brother-brother relationship, and the fires of romantic love.  In contrast to the lattermost, he writes,

Whereas in friendship, ’tis a general and universal fire, but temperate and equal, a constant established heat, all gentle and smooth, without poignancy or roughness…

Friendship, on the contrary, is enjoyed proportionably as it is desired; and only grows up, is nourished and improved by enjoyment, as being of itself spiritual, and the soul growing still more refined by practice.

Montaigne would have been a great blogger — in fact, I’d argue that he was the proto-blogger, and his invention of the personal essay has evolved into what I and tens of thousands of others do every day on blogs.

If you never have, I encourage you to get your Montaigne on!

Get My Latest Book for 99 Cents!

Paraclete Press is having an awesome sale for a limited time: You can get my book, The Teaching of the Twelve, plus other Paraclete titles by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Jon Sweeney, Scot McKnight, and Peter Rollins for $.99 on the Kindle.

If you don’t have a Kindle, no worries!  You can download the Kindle App on your computer or smartphone and read the book there.  Of course, you can also buy a Kindle for as little as $114 — I was given one as a gift, and I love it!

Below the fold, you can see a short video about my book:

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