April 19, 2017
Rob Bell is a Heretic!
For some of you, that annoys you. Sorry! Some have Facebook messaged me and cited your frustration and asked why I don't cite my source and I thought I'd explain why in a blog post.
As I started regularly sharing quotes from things I was reading, I found that more often than not, many of the comments on the post reacted more with the source than they did the content. Quite frankly, I got sick of comments about "Rob Bell is a heretic, " or "Be careful with Dallas Willard," or on and on with why I shouldn't be reading or sharing what I was.
So I stopped citing my sources most of the time and a really funny thing happened. The same people who were commenting and bashing the author or expressing fear about who I was reading, actually started commenting positive things about the quotes. Literally, there was a person who expressed her warning and caution about my reading Rob Bell one week and then a couple weeks later, simply by taking Rob's name off of the quote, commented how much she loved the quote I shared and that we needed more religious leaders saying stuff like that!!
Within our Western culture, we spend a good deal of energy idolizing people, in both good and bad ways. This is especially true within the church. Whether we want to admit it or not, unconsciously, and even at times consciously, we don't really put our faith emphasis on the Gospel of Jesus, but on the Gospel of Person A. We look to our pastors and our spiritual leaders to have all the answers and to have faith all figured out. And once we identify who we want to follow, we then begin to segregate the rest of our relationships based on this person's theology: Christians and non-Christians, sinners and recovered sinners, truth tellers and false teachers, and Godly and heretics. Anyone who fits the mold is in, and anyone who doesn't is out.
We tell ourselves that we're protecting our faith, that we're being wise and being careful about what we're taking in. But in reality it's solely based on fear, and that doesn't lead to any kind of growth but actually stagnation. And stagnation is another word for death.
The term used for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is "paraclete" and when you dig down to the meaning of that term it suggests "one who comes to walk alongside of us." Walk alongside of, not stand there with us. Our faith is supposed to be moving, growing, taking different shapes and evolving. And the only way that happens is by embracing diversity. That's what the entire beginning of the book of Acts is all about. Here was a faith that was reserved for the Jews, that was all about only certain people having access to the Temple and to teaching, but Christ's death and resurrection changed that. Pentecost is all about many different people hearing the message of Love in their own language. And that was only the beginning as the story of Jesus spread all over the known world and invited many different people and backgrounds to join in this new kind of community. That's why most of the New Testament was even written: how can people in these diverse communities get along, love another and join together around the truth of Jesus!
The fact of the matter is that even the people who we may disagree with on a number of things, still have things we can learn from them. And if you can't read or interact with someone that you disagree with because it's going to destroy your faith, well, you may want to double check what you've placed your faith in because it's not Jesus.
Instead of being quick to label a person or to shut down a conversation or a book because of fear, lean in to it. Ask what you can learn. Be honest about your feelings of fear and be open to the fact that you may be projecting something on to a person that shouldn't be there. Train yourself to interact with people's content and emotions and life experiences and enter into a faith journey with them.