1) David could possibly be accused of professional jealously. Both he and Rob Bell had books come out last week. Both claim to say something fresh about God and the future of the faith. Rob has been on Morning Joe, Fox News, and many other outlets. David, uh, has not. (I have recently been accused of professional jealously of Rob and other authors, so I know that this accusation stings.)
2) David and I and others have a right to be frustrated by Rob’s style. I started reading Rob’s book this morning. 90% of the paragraphs are one sentence. It’s typeset in a san serif font. There’s a double carriage stop between each paragraph. There are no footnotes — Rob doesn’t show his math. Who is he reading? Who is influencing him? We’re left to guess and surmise. It’s not how I write books, but it works for Rob.
3) David and I and others have a right to be frustrated that Rob doesn’t engage with us. David and Rob and I are all the same general tribe of Christianity: post-evangelicalism. I engage with David (here) and he engages with my work in his book. Rob doesn’t engage with either of us, at least not in his writing. I got word to Rob this week that I’d like to interview him about his book on this blog, and I heard back that he’s not interested. That’s fine. That’s his prerogative. But it doesn’t engender warmth either.
Nevertheless, Rob Bell matters. Here’s why: