Bell contends that part of Jesus' message was "what do you with the people who aren't like you? Bell takes Jesus' statement to be all-inclusive. We are wrong to exclude those who are not like us. But is this really even close to Jesus' intended meaning? My first problem in answering this question is that I am not at all clear about the text Bell is referencing. I wonder how Bell would feel if we took him literally. I mean, what about swingers? If sex is love, then swinging is now an acceptable form of sharing your love with others in the most intimate way. Of course, Bell would say that such a lifestyle is not one of fidelity. But he would be wrong. So long as both partners know, then what is the problem? And certainly both partners would know. And if sex is love, why not have an open relationship where the husband and wife can share their love with whomever they please so long as the other spouse is informed?
My biggest gripe about the Christian Post is that they still referred to Bell as a "Christian author." There is nothing Christian about Rob Bell. I am reminded of John's admonition, "They went out from us because they were not of us." The only document qualified to define the term "Christian" is the Scripture. Christianity is a religion of the book, of God's divine revelation in the pages of Scripture. Destroy this book, and you destroy Christianity. Abandon this book, and you abandon Christianity. The question once again comes down to authority. The issue once again is human autonomy versus divine authority. That, without any doubt, is the heartbeat issue of Christianity versus the culture. It has always been the issue, beginning in the Garden all the down until this very day.
In addition to Bell's affirmation on gay marriage, Matthew Vines, the unregenerate pseudo-Christian is launching a new initiative designed to train gay Christians how to help Churches open their doors to those who practice the detestable lifestyle of gay sex. He is calling the project "The Reformation Project." What is going on in Christianity? What is going on is that the false Church is far more visible, and quite frankly, far more attractive and interesting than the true Church. However, to think that these issues are not creating issues even in the Church of Jesus Christ would be overly naive. One has to look no further than the Tim Keller controversy to recognize that the issue of authority is no longer far off in the distance. Like a forest fire, the flames have gone unchecked and they are now within striking distance of the ranch.
I recently had a philosophical exchange with someone about the merits of philosophy, specifically the relationship between ontology and epistemology. The discussion turned in a negative direction when I insisted that Scripture was our sole authority for reality and that revelation is our theory of knowledge. Eventually we finally arrived at our fundamental difference: his ground of authority is fallible human logic and mine is the revelation of Scripture.
What is my big gripe with all this, you ask? I am not worried about gay marriage. It is coming. Personally, I believe it will eventually force seminaries to forgo accreditation, and threaten the tax-exempt status presently enjoyed by religious institutions. There are bigger problems facing the Church than these issues. My gripe is that we Christians do absolutely nothing to deal with these internal matters forcefully and effectively. We ignore Jesus and Paul on the matter. When Christians are taken by a sin, we are to act, in love, with urgency! Our goal is twofold that can be summed up in one word: purification. In love, we seek to restore our wayward brother, knowing that we are no different and it could be us in need of correction tomorrow. We seek to purify their behavior by lovingly confronting them with Christ's word.
Second, we are concerned with the purification of the body of Christ. If we love the body of Christ, we will NOT tolerate the arrogant obstinance of those who profess to love Christ but deny Him in their works. We will love the person and the body enough to DO SOMETHING! I am convinced that you do not love the body of Christ if you sit by and allow rebellion of any kind to thrive in the life of that body. In addition, how can we love Christ if we do not love His body? Yet, here we are. We are tolerating all sorts of wickedness to exist within the community of Christianity, doing very little to engage in the battle that Scripture so often talks about. We tolerate immoral behavior, unloving and malicious gossip, division, confusion, and ungodly men who sneak in planting doubts in the minds of believers under the guise of academic scholarship. I am reminded of Al Pacino's indignation in the move, "The Scent of a Woman." He made the remark to the court that if he were a younger man, he would take a flame-thrower to the place. All I am saying is that there are times when I can completely relate to Pacino's attitude. I make no assertion that it is right, mind you. I am simply saying that I can identify.
Loving God means we also love our brothers and sisters by serving them when we see they are in spritual trouble. It also means that you love the Church more than cultural tolerance or political correctness. At a minimum, we must stop calling men who abandon Scripture "Christians." We must stop recognizing scholars who deny the Scripture as godly, or Christian scholars. The Christian community has to take the term "Christian" more seriously than ever. Otherwise, the term Christian will become forever undefinable.
One way to define a term is by Genus and Difference. Two steps are necessary in order to do this. First, the genus must be named - the genus of which the species is designated by the definiendum is the subclass. Second, the specific difference must be named - the attribute that distinguishes the members of that species from members of all other species in that genus. (Copi, Logic) The very first rule seems like a good place for the Church to start: A definition should state the essential attributes of the species. In other words, the Church needs to return to stating the essential attributes of a Christian so that we can distinguish between those who are and those who are not. Indeed, we need to start this process yesterday.