This post got me thinking. So I didn’t a follow up post about how I appreciate John Piper. My thought is this: If I truly disdain the division among evangelicals over secondary and tertiary issues, then I need to, not just bemoan that, but work against that. This is my way of doing in that by affirming to very controversial people on the opposite ends of the evangelical spectrum. So, please, check out the other post as well!
I appreciate Rob Bell.
Right out of college I became a youth pastor at a church about a mile away from Rob’s church at the time, Mars Hill. A lot of the kids in youth group would go there. I went there at times. Rob’s teaching was new. It was inspired. He communicated ideas that I would think about all week long. He taught the Bible in such a way that brought it to life.
In other words, I learned. A lot.
Through Rob’s teaching I learned about resurrection. Not for the first time. I heard a lot about the resurrection every Easter growing up. But the was really the only time I heard about resurrection. At Mars Hill resurrection was talked about often. Like every week often. I began to believe that the resurrection might just be as essential to the gospel than the cross. The themes of beauty, and grace, and kindness were the liturgy of his talks that broke into the deep down places of my soul.
I became interested in the artistic side of life. That’s saying a lot for a guy who majored in chemistry.
So I appreciate Rob Bell.
That isn’t to say I agree with everything he does – or does not do. Like other people, I agree with him about some things and disagree with him about other things. I, like both the conservative and liberal sides of Christianity, am often frustrated by his ambiguity. And yet I love his ambiguity because it sparks debate and questions and dialogue and blogs. And that’s good. Some people maybe frustrated by it, but it isn’t bad. Debate is not bad in and of itself. The manner of our debate, well that is another whole thing. Debate can be civil or it can be, well….not. And Rob Bell sparks a lot of debate helping us parse out what we really believe.
He did it again in this conversation regarding homosexuality. You can watch the video below
Now, I am not going to comment on the topic of homosexuality. Much smarter people – on both sides of the issue – have done much better work on this than I will ever do. For me, the most stirring part of this video happens around the 16:00 minute mark. The host asks Bell what he does when people disagree with him and his response is beautiful.
“Well, Andrew is my brother. Like, if we got out the bread and wine we’d both take it. So I don’t…I understand it one way, I read it one way and he reads it another way. Is that it then? Did we just, like, part ways? Or do you take the bread and wine and does Christ hold us together? Is there something that trumps whatever differences we have? That’s the question.
That is the question. It grieves me deeply that Christians are so deeply divided on particular issues. So much so that many will not come to the table because of issues like this. Or baptism. Or women in ministry. Or _______________. Yes, I fully understand what people believe to be at stake. I understand this is a question about the authority of scripture, hermeneutics, grace, and loving the marginalized. But those things mean nothing if we cannot gather around the table with people who can together confess Jesus is Lord. Regardless of where you fall on this particular issue, or any other contested issue these day, if you declare “Jesus is Lord” then come to the table with other Christians who make the same confession and let’s break bread. Something in that is beautiful. Something in that is right. Something in that might just proclaim the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and principalities.
Something in that might just be church.