Read Relevant Magazine. It’s good thought provoking material. Here is an article that made my heart pound with excitement. Maybe things really are changing! Maybe we really can be a part of it!
As is often the case with Rob Bell, Don Miller and other guys like them, their diagnosis of the problem is spot on. We ARE so concerned with wealth and dynasty building that we forget about our neighbors. However, one problem I see with Rob’s method here is reinterpreting the Bible through the lens of the Exodus and applying it specifically to the poor and oppressed. While there are certainly implications for Christians to stand up for the oppressed, those implications flow from the gospel itself which is what the Exodus points to- Christ saving all peoples (rich, poor, middle class, black, white, hispanic, Arab, third world, even French), delivering us from the slavery to sin of our hearts.
Why make the Exodus so central to understanding the Bible, and not the gospel itself? A gospel centered hermeneutic looks very similar socially to an Exodus-centered hermeneutic, with the difference that our social activity is redemptive in goal.
For good examples of people who are socially aware and redemptive in goal see Tim Kellar, John Piper and Mark Driscoll. These guys are balanced in ways many conservative evangelicals are not, including yours truly. I learn much from them and seek to implement some of their methods into my own life when possible.
Here is the main difference between someone like Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll. This is my understanding, and I could be wrong.
When Mark Driscoll gives someone a meal, he does this as a means to relieve their spiritual hunger. When John Piper seeks to relieve the suffering of battered women, he wants to relieve their everlasting suffering as well by sharing with them the gospel that Christ has borne the wrath of God on their behalf. When Tim Kellar goes and talks to some doctors about how to help people who are dealing with the death of a loved one, he encourages them to deal with their own impending death and mortality so that they will be able to help the dying deal with their own. On the other hand, Rob Bell would probably not be as concerned with sharing the gospel with someone whom he was helping. I understand the concern here, he doesn’t want it to seem like there are strings attached to his gift, which is something that people like Driscoll, Piper and Kellar may fail at sometimes.
I’m just afraid that sometimes Rob and co. get close to losing the gospel in good deeds for the poor by majoring on secondary issues- which are necessary implications of the gospel. In a sentence- If we miss the gospel, our social activism will only relieve temporal suffering and overlook the deepest and most lasting suffering.
I hope what I’m saying here is clear, and I hope I’m not reading too much into Rob Bell’s words. It is certainly not my intent to misrepresent his positions.
I appreciate your posts below, they were as always poignant, candid, and relevant to where we all are, whether we want to admit it or not.
Love you guys,
EVEN THE FRENCH? WHAT?
I agree that the gospel is central to good theology.
I don’t know if I agree that Bell is “reinterpreting” the Bible. That seems a little strong, but I have decided you are a master at loaded language, and I mean that as a compliment. You can really drive it home, whatever “it” may be.
I have not read any Kellar, but I do read Piper and I (sometimes, when I remember) listen to Driscoll’s podcast. I like these guys a lot. I remember the very first time I read something (I don’t remember what it was) by Piper that I could not agree with and I was shocked. That was years ago.
Since then I have tried to approach any person, teaching, or philosophy with the understanding that I may not be able to completely agree and that’s ok. Honestly, I don’t know of any single person that I agree with across the board. I love Beth Moore. If any one teacher makes me want to know God, it’s her. But she teaches some things I cannot line up with. I constantly remind myself that I do not have the handle on Truth and then I try to line up new thoughts with whatever knowledge I have and believe to be true. To the best of my understanding, it’s a process, and I purposely don’t disclude anyone from it.
All in all, when I lay down at the end of the day and me and God finally get a quiet moment (that is somewhat lacerated by Scott’s snoring) I don’t rely on my own understanding. I rely on God.
That being said, I would love love love love love love (love times infinity) for you to keep my doctrine in check!
I have wanted for years to take an in depth theology class, learn as much as my brain could hold, and reveal in Scripture and its meanings. A certain hurricane messed up my chances of getting that in college and I actually asked an old pastor if he’s be willing to do some one-on-one with me, but he never gave me an answer. I guess that meant “no”, huh? Anyways, it’s something I long for. I do not tend to highly motivate myself without a guide.
Just a quick note about sharing the gospel with those people we are helping…it has to be done, but sometimes a relationship needs to be formed first.
Thanks for reading my posts and commenting, Jon. It’s encouraging. And helpful!
You’re right, “reinterpreting” is too strong. “Exodus centered” theology may be more appropriate. It does sound strikingly like some types of Liberation Theology popular in the 60’s and even today in some circles. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
If you want to have some theological training, I’m sure we can arrange that. If nothing else, maybe you and Emily and I could read through a book together and discuss it on Skype or something. hrfiasuhilryoUUROYQYGQutiuatrrtutewwwwwwwwgfeugeui- that was Addie’s contribution to our discussion.
Obviously, Scott would be welcome to read along as well.
We would love to do something like that. Let me know your thoughts, and hopefully we will make time to do it!
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