So there you go: What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne, March 2013).
We’ll see what this book ends up doing. It looks like it will be another epistle for the “spiritual, but not religious” crowd, and at least the book trailer is–well, confusing. I’m guessing the book will be about getting in touch with God without all the trappings of organized evangelicalism, all the unpopular stuff. Love Wins redefined biblical love and justice, leaving no place for the holiness of God in matters of salvation and judgment. It offered a heterodox view of salvation and a confused doctrine of the cross.
Rob Bell is clearly a creative, deep thinker. But here’s what we have to realize: the Bible, and the local church, is already in touch with the dynamism and power and mystery and beauty of God. The great creeds, confessions, and theological contributions of the orthodox evangelical past put our feet on sure footing, and allow us to breathe in the glory of God. There’s beauty and power in the truth, far more than in non-truth.
In point of fact, there is no beauty and power in non-truth, in error, in confusion. It’s a mist that vanishes.
I see the logic of Rob Bell’s tragic choice. If you want mystery and the ethereal stuff of faith without the burdens of inerrancy and orthodoxy, you could go his way. I do happen to love the “numinous” nature of Christianity, too. But I find it, and see my senses most come alive, not when I’m plumbing uncertainty (which leads ultimately to destruction), but when I’m peering into the mind of God in Scripture. This is why I so love Jonathan Edwards: because his vision of God, thoroughly biblical, is so transcendent, captivating, grand, large, deep, soaring, and exciting.
So, know this: you don’t have to choose between mystery and truth. The mind of God is knowable but also beyond us. We will never master God, as it were. And yet we can know him, and worship him, and obey him as he desires and declares in his Word. This figures like Augustine, Calvin, and Edwards understand, and Rob Bell does not, it seems.
In all that, we can get utterly lost in God, which is what the “spiritual not religious” types desperately want. But we may lose ourselves in God only when we know him. And we may know him savingly and surely only through his Word, every jot and tittle of it.
Then we can abandon ourselves to the Creator and Redeemer and Remaker of all things.
There I am, and love to be.
(HT: Luke Moon)