“Rob Bell is in the news again.”
My wife mentioned this to me the other day. I wasn’t aware of all the details in that moment, so I simply sighed.
Bell made headlines this week via an interview he and his wife took part in with Oprah Winfrey. The Bells promoted their new book on marriage, while poking at its definition and Christianity in general. Their book includes a chapter for gay couples.
Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”
Charisma Magazine responded:
God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.
And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).
He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation… according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.
The first question in the Bible begins with “Did God really say…”
The first question a human asked in the Bible asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
I see a theme there.
Rob is great at asking questions. It’s what made him largely popular among many Christians early on in his ministry. I sat under him as my pastor for a season when he was theologically sound. I realize that sounds like a summary statement, and it absolutely is. It’s the kind of statement that Rob himself might say, “Who’s to say what theologically sound even means? Is it because someone agrees with you?”
Notice, that would be simply asking another question. Still, Jesus said to evaluate people and teachers to make sure the fruit they were producing was healthy because it was in agreement with God.
Unfortunately, I’ve watched Rob build a career and new theological platform on asking questions…
which is like saying, “I’m going to jump up in the air. About midway up, I’ll jump again simply in my own power… and then, midway up from there… I’ll jump again, again in my own power.”
(Maybe a little much Mario has influenced this thinking.)
You’d have to construct something artificial – a platform, perhaps – to make any subsequent jumps.You might become so used to using your platform and seeing others use it that you’d actually begin to feel like you redefined what it means to jump.
Which perhaps is why when speaking on the attempt to redefine marriage to accommodate gay couples, Bell added, “…the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”
Hang on… “Did Rob Bell really say…?” And because he did, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Here’s the irony – and this is what I’d really like to point out.
Bell is kicking at biblical values using biblical values. You see that, right?
I noticed this pattern in a review I wrote for his book Love Wins. Bell talks about the beauty of marital love from a perspective that God blessed us to have… while at the same time he’s questioning the very Source material by which he even knows that to begin with.
Tracking so far?
If there are any takeaways you can offer to people you know who are processing this, help them to understand this point.
There will always be someone in our midst on this side of heaven who perhaps with good intention is attempting to make sure we’re not missing something. Such individuals can either be helpful accountability to Christianity, or become so focused on potential errors that they create new ones in the process.
Thankfully, there will always be a God in our midst, too – both on this side of heaven and on the other side of it. He’s not threatened by Rob Bell’s comments… nor should we.
What we do need to do is remove the stumbling blocks it puts into the paths of others.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)