Time Magazine, in its December 6, 2007 edition, has an article on Rob Bell. Credit to Justin Taylor from Between Two Worlds blog for finding the article. The Time profile is largely a puff piece that is very flattering to Bell and his ministries at Mars Hill Church in Michigan and his Nooma video series. The entire content of the article can be read at Time’s website.
There are a couple of items in the article that bear mentioning.
First, the writer notes that Rob Bell “thinks that only those who have gay friends are positioned to judge homosexuality.” Interesting. Using that line of reasoning, no one is in a position to judge murder, short of having a friendship with a murderer. And since homosexuality is ostensibly a sexual sin, by Bell’s reasoning, no one is in a position to judge adultery or other sexual immorality, short of having a friend who is engaged in those behaviors. (Sadly, with respect to adultery and immorality, we may all have such a friend or acquaintance.)
Bell’s point of view is troubling. But let’s assume just for a moment that he is right. What are we to do? Well a good default position might be to simply see if God has anything to say in Scripture about homosexuality, murder, adultery and any number of other types of conduct and behavior that God might find to be out of bounds. If we look, we will find specific teaching on each of these matters. And it would take considerable effort to conclude those types of behavior are acceptable to God. So, in what was probably an unintended way, Bell was right. People don’t NEED to judge homosexuality, or murder, or adultry…God already has.
Rob Bell’s arm’s length approach to dealing with what God obviously calls sin may be a cordial way of dealing with his congregation. But his lack of confrontation on such serious matters may also be subjecting his membership to an unfortunate eternity. As much as Bell and others of similar theological bent like to avoid the discussion of a future judgment, there will be such a day.
I must say that there was a refreshingly honest perspective offered of Bell near the end of the article. He has just completed his second national bus tour. He concedes that “the exertions aimed at large crowds and good book sales” can be at odds with his teaching ministry. At least he honestly admits to a striving for audiences and sales.
In that same conversation, he then uses the unfortunate messianic metaphor of the Eucharist to describe his teaching, whereby he “breaks himself open and pours himself out.” While I really do understand what he is intending to say, it seems that the sacredness of the image really ought to be reserved for the Savior, and not be used by a man who doesn’t have the courage to agree with God and declare that which is SIN, to be SIN.