…and, do we have to keep talking about homosexuality?
Good strategists know that an important aspect to winning a battle is to pick the terms on which the battle takes place. Unfortunately for Christians, we sometimes don't have that luxury. We often find ourselves forced to fight battles on terrain that we might not choose, talking about things that are not our favorite topics. We are forced to respond quickly to things that are hard to communicate in quick sound bytes.
Personally, I’m tired of talking about Rob Bell. I’m tired of talking about homosexuality. But this week, both of those topics have come front and center once again. And, whether we like it or not, it is important for the church to continue to face the issues the world demands we address.
For those who don't know, Rob Bell, former pastor at Mars Hill, recently expressed his support for same-sex marriage. I posted a few comments on a blog post that was asking whether or not we can engage in civil dialogue with Rob Bell. This is what I first posted:
If we believe that practicing a homosexual lifestyle is sinful, then there are going to be times we must break fellowship with those who disagree (e.g., Rom 1:32; 1 Cor 5:1-2). Sexual sins of all kinds are so damaging for those we love. In a sexualized culture in which any kind of deviation from God’s design is celebrated (divorce, pornography, homosexuality), may we, the Bride of Christ, clearly and lovingly call people to a better, more joyful path of obedience.The conversation on the blog continued and I sensed a false dichotomy...um, emerging: will we embrace the good in Bell or will we insist on name calling? Here’s what I wrote, addressing one post in particular:
There is still a place to disagree without ugliness. Your example of area churches is good. There are issues like eschatology, baptism, ecclesiology where strong disagreements exist, yet we enjoy sweet fellowship together as brothers and sisters in Christ
It seems that your more specific lament is: can Rob Bell still “be in the club”? Or do we throw him aside due to _____________ (fill in the blank: position on hell, homosexuality, being too cool for school).
I think we’d all agree that there are those who articulate some truth but, by their rejection of other core, biblical truths, force us to conclude that they have fallen into the category “false teacher.” For example, let’s take the other end of the extreme. The people who are part of Westboro Baptist articulate, by their words, the gospel message. But because of their failure to have any understanding of how to rightly apply that gospel message, it is clear that they are not part of the true church. We don’t ask: “Is there still room to glean the good stuff from Westboro without all the name calling?” Their “ministry” demonstrates a blatant rejection of the character of God and lack of submission to His word.
My opinion is that Rob Bell sometimes asks really great and challenging questions about how to relate to the culture in which we live. But after asking those questions he: (a) fails to provide any concrete, orthodox answers, or (b) attacks those who are offering orthodox answers, or (c) provides answers that are heretical/play with the edges of heresy), or (d) some combination of the above.
And while Bell’s ministry does well at sometimes exposing the ways in which the evangelical church has replaced true submission to God’s Word with submission to modernism, his ministry seems to replace submission to God’s Word with submission to a post-modern mentality.
So what are we to do with that? Glean the good? Sure, by all means. But Bell seems to be loudly proclaiming to all who are still listening that he doesn’t want to remain a part of the church.Do we need to keep talking about Rob Bell? Sadly, yes. But my hope is that as we talk about Rob Bell we can expand the conversation to the Gospel…to the Good News that God’s plan for one’s life is glorious and that the obedience He calls us to is not burdensome but a blessing.
By His Grace,