A Friendly Atheist Critique of Evangelical Acceptance of Gays

Fellow Patheos mega-blogger, Hemant Mehta, watched my video on evangelicals like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis coming around on marriage equality, and he has some thoughts of his own:

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Jim Wallis, Rob Bell, and Gay Marriage

Odyssey Network asked me what I thought of Christian leaders like Jim Wallis and Rob Bell coming out in favor of marriage equality now, after being silent (Bell) or against gay marriage (Wallis) in the past. Here’s my response:

Rob Bell Round-Up


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.

I blogged about Rob’s affirmation of gay marriage and about why Rob Bell Matters.

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):

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Why Rob Bell Matters

My dear, curmudgeonly, friend David Fitch posted the above on Facebook yesterday. Before I respond to David’s question at face value, let’s get some things out of the way:

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:

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