I am very familiar with Rob Bell and his clever and creative books. I have engaged his Nooma videos in a wide variety of ecclesial settings and ministry forums. I have tuned into and am a subscriber to the Mars Hill Bible Church podcasts, where he is the teaching pastor. I read his interviews and have attended one of his "tours," The God's Aren't Angry, at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. This is not because I have some sort of fanaticism about his method or have been won over by his somewhat iconic Christian status, especially among my generation (I actually find this quite annoying). Instead, I believe that Rob Bell is able to raise questions, tackle tough issues, and explore the Christian tradition, the Biblical witness, and serious theological discourse in a way that is thoughtful, honest, and deeply concerned about the gospel that is for the whole world. This is not to say that I have always agreed with all of what he has to say. Thanks be to God that the Christian faith and related discourse is "modest" and dialectic in nature (thanks Karl Barth). Rather, I do believe that Rob Bell's contributions to the Christian conversation are important, especially as he often uncovers historical teachings of the church that have been overlooked, overshadowed, and forgotten by the dominant voices of (Christian) culture and reflection. While Bell's newest book, Love Wins, is certainly not ground breaking, it is significant.
LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.
The questions raised in this video, along with the soon-to-be released book, have been foci of some of my previous posts. It has been suggested by some, to include Karl Barth, who has often been pigeonholed as a Christian Universalist, that to teach such doctrine (even if one believes it to be true) is unwise at best, disastrous at worst. Is that true? Origen, Moltmann, von Balthasar, and many others (even some writers of Scripture?) beg the question. This is not to say that any or all of the "conclusions" drawn by the above mentioned are once and for all representative of mine or the content of this blog, although they could be ;) Instead, I find this to be a very significant conversation and deeply Christian inquiry for the formation of missional church communities and individual interpretations of vocation. In other words: why Jesus? what is the gospel? why the church?
I hope you join the conversation, not in hostility, but in hope, that the God of the Resurrection can, and maybe will, make all new and right...
Here are some other helpful links:
CNN: Belief Blog
Bell's Book Judged Before Read?
Scot McKnight on Rob Bell and Christian Universalism
A Great Post by a Seminary Friend
My Related Blog Posts
Christian Universalism: An In-House Debate
The Hopeful Elect
Thinking, Being, and Validity of Generous Orthodoxy
Jurgen Moltmann and Theology of Hope