Sorry Rob Bell, But You Are A Theologian.

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I have had numerous people ask what I think of Rob Bell‘s new book, “Love Wins”. That was before the book was even published. I eventually broke down and bought a copy that I have just started reading. So if you are looking for a complete, provocative response to the controversial book, you will have to check back. But in conjunction with reading the book I came across an article  on CNN.com and on which I needed to give a quick take.

Leaving aside for now the question of whether his new book is heretical or not, I want to comment on something the article did point out. “He will tell you again and again he is a pastor, not a theologian or a biblical scholar.” I understand what Bell is trying to say, “I am not a trained specialist in theology or biblical studies so cut me some slack”. Sorry Rob but you are a pastor and preacher, by definition you are something of a theologian and must be something of a biblical scholar. Your job as a preacher/pastor is in part to equip people from the truth of God’s Word. Average people view you as a person who understands the Bible and Theology better than they do. They expect a pastor to have a handle on things like, who God is, how you get to heaven, and what eternity will be like. Each week you speak to them and you are doing theology and biblical scholarship. Writing “A Book About Heaven and Hell, And The Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”, as your subtitle declares, is shouting loud and clear that this is a book about theology and the Bible.

The simple truth is, we are all theologians. We all have ideas about God and do theology. We all have a picture of God. For some the picture is an empty frame because they don’t believe God exists. But they still have a theology. For others it is a smorgasbord made up of various things they have heard along the way and fits their world view. For some there is a small amount of biblical and theological investigation. The difference for you as a pastor is that people actually look to you as someone who should be better at theology and biblical studies than they are. They expect that you devote some significant part of your life learning and studying in order to give them some guidance in truth.

I don’t know what I am going to think about “Love Wins”. What I hope I find is that Rob Bell lays out what his time in the Word has led him to believe and what his study of theology has convinced him to be true. I may or may not agree with his conclusions and teaching. But at least we will have a foundation to work from, to dialogue over, that foundation will be the Bible and collective wisdom of the great theologians of the church throughout history.

Comments
  1. steve says:

    Rob thinks God loves all and will save all. His error is not knowing the Word of God as a pastor should. If God loved all then Jesus would have prayed for all and He didn’t:

    I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

    Rob is preaching to the world things that are not true. I guess that makes him a false prophet.

  2. Dave says:

    Maybe, just maybe Rob is attempting to stretch our “in the box” thinking of God? Rather than defaulting to “this is the only way it can be” thinking, we should engage in honest discussion and be willing to open our hearts, and minds, to a loving God. I don’t know if Rob is correct or not, but I’m a little tired of the in trenched christian thinking that believes their way is the only way. We cannot even agree on predestination.

  3. Raymond G Schwedhelm says:

    I would rather listen to God’s still small voice as I read Scripture than read someone’s highly marketed book by a questionable publisher on a subject the author admits he knows little about.

    A flower gives me more understanding of God’s love, and a glimpse of the heavens gives me more wondrous joy of His awesomeness and power.

    Who can understand the majesty of Our Heavenly Father?

    When I see Jesus on the cross in my attempt to comprehend His love and suffering for me, I leave it there. I need not look anyway else, other than in His precious Word.

    His Spirit has given me peace; a peace no man, and no theologian, can offer.

    There are many shepherds in the world. There is only one Shepherd’s voice that quiets my heart and offers me love, peace, joy and eternal life with Him. His grace is overflowing and more than sufficient. I need no other.

    What is precious to God is His Precious Son, His Precious Word, the Precious Blood of His Son, and the Precious Saints of God who have sought refuge and are covered by Jesus’ Blood.

    We have free will to choose our own destiny. He loves us that much! Love must be freely given and freely received through repentance of our sin to be love. Jesus gave 100%. We are encouraged by Scripture to do likewise in presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. To take up our cross and follow Him. No one else.

    The answers to all of man’s questions can be found in the Word of God. Jesus promised we would find Him there when we seek Him with all of our hearts.

    Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 says “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

    The Apostle John says, “I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written…” about the things done by Jesus if they were wrote down.

    In that regard, I have found His Word, and His Word alone, to be sufficient in revealing His way, His truth, and His life.

  4. Dan Lacich says:

    Dave,
    I have no problem with stretching the box we often put God in. The vastness and mystery of God are so beyond us that we should never think we have Him all figured out and we definitely need to be open to perspectives that we had not considered. My work with Christians from cultures across the globe has taught me that. My only issue with Bell at this point is that he needs to just step up and say that as he does theology and biblical study, this is what he concludes so far. That way we can have an honest discussion. It’s to easy to fall back on, “but I am not a theologian” when people disagree with you. That is a discussion killer.
    Dan

  5. Raymond G Schwedhelm says:

    We have to define and tell the truth.

    Excellent interview of Martin Bashir who interviewed Rob Bell: http://www.godandculture.com/blog/msnbcs-martin-bashir-on-the-paul-edwards-program

  6. James Bullock says:

    If that’s what pastors are supposed to do, American Christians really suck as Christians. Lol.
    You should read Acts.

  7. Dan Lacich says:

    James, I am not sure I understand your point. Would love to have you expand on that.
    Dan

  8. Bob in KS says:

    Steve, you write that Jesus prayed, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours…,” and you know this how? Because “John said so? Was John present to transcribe the prayer? Let’s at least be honest, and admit that this is somebody claiming to be John, writing about what he imagined Jesus to be saying during this intimate time with his father. Or, perhaps what he had heard handed down to him through oral tradition. Maybe he didn’t get it word for word? Do you think John might have been writing with a particular bias? Just asking.

  9. Dan Lacich says:

    Bob,
    My conviction is that John was there and wrote later wrote down what Jesus said. And I do believe that God worked through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to make that possible.
    Dan

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