Monday, April 25, 2011

The Rob Bell Controversy - What is this about?

I have just a few comments today as other matters are pressing upon me from every side it seems. What is this controversy really about? What is the core heartbeat of the matter? We can talk about Bell's views of eternal punishment and how they differ from tradition, and certainly from the teachings of Scripture. We can talk about his hermeneutic. Indeed, I spent a good deal of time doing just that in my dissertation. We can talk about the post-modern influences and the liberal theologians that clearly emerge in Bell's world view. I could go on and on about the number of issues we could talk about as it relates to the Rob Bell controversy. As far as I am concerned, this really isn't nearly the controversy it appears to be. Before you misinterpret my comment, please give me a little space to elaborate. As John MacArthur pointed out in a recent blog, this is nothing new. There is no new information in Bell's comments. If you have read Bell previously, AND PAID ATTENTION to what he said then, you should not be surprised by what he is saying now! He rejected the traditional resurrection then and he rejects it now. By traditional resurrection, I mean the one where some will raise to everlasting life while others will raise to everlasting shame and contempt. This is nothing new as far as Rob Bell is concerned.

So what is this about, really? I say it all the time: this is about human autonomy. As one theologian put it, God created man in His image and man has been trying to create God in his image ever since. Read Romans 1 very carefully and you will see Rob Bell described perfectly by a man who never even met him. Paul said that man perverts the image and truth of God into a lie. He does this out of an insane lust for absolutely autonomy. Man does not want to submit to God completely. He wants to pick and choose where he will play and where he will not. Rob Bell is re-engineering God. It is that simple. He doesn't like the God depicted in Scripture and has said so repeatedly! If cannot accept a God who pours out His wrath on people in the Old Testament period, should we be surprised when he rejects the idea of a God who will pour out eternal wrath on evil men in eternity future? I think not. Rob Bell's number one nemesis is Scripture, not evangelical theologians. he has to find something to do with Scripture. He must come up with an explanation for Scripture that makes sense and is consistent with his idea of God. And so he reshapes the Bible into a product mostly of men who did the best they could with what they had. But as Brian McClaren says, our understanding of God is vastly improved since the ancients wrote about God from a bloody and violent culture. Make no mistake about it, Rob Bell's issue, and everyone of our issues are indelibly connected with an insane lust for absolute autonomy. Let us pray and watch, lest we fall into the snare of Satan and be consumed by our own desire to be independent from the God who created us. We were ALL made BY God FOR God. Let us never forget that!

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