[UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF POST]
Carl Trueman, of Westminster Seminary, has written an excellent piece, posted at Reformation21, interacting with the historic, rather than merely theological, claims of Bell’s, Love Wins; particularly in terms of how Rob Bell interacts with Martin Luther.
I would, however, like to suggest that the book seems to fall short in one very obvious way, of which the use of this Luther quotation is a good example. Popular books written for popular consumption are vital in the church; and Bell is to be commended for seeing that need. Further, when such books simply put forth an unexceptionable position, there is no real necessity for any scholarly apparatus; but when they self-consciously present themselves as arguing for significant or controversial paradigm shifts, the author really does need to cite sources. This is crucial because such citation allows the reader to engage in a conversation with the matter at hand. Indeed, the failure to do so actually prevents the reader from checking such for herself. In short, such an author does theology by fiat, adopting a dictatorial and high-handed approach which precludes constructive dialogue, whatever “conversational” rhetoric the author may use to describe his intentions. The message is not one of dialogue; it is rather ‘Trust me: everyone else is wrong, though I am not going to give you the means to judge their arguments for yourselves.’ That kind of approach lacks any real critical or dialogical integrity.
CLICK HERE to read the post in its entirety.
(HT: Ligon Duncan)
Carl Trueman has posted more thoughts concerning the Rob Bell “hoo-hah”, as it concerns the sudden firestorm over false teaching/teachers. He writes:
“It strikes me that, amid all the hype and hoo-hah this week surrounding a certain author, we need to remember that promise. Teachers — true and false — come and go; they have done so for centuries, and few have made any lasting mark, let alone those who write paperback potboilers. But the church has survived; the gates of hell shall still not prevail; and the church will be built. Yes, we must defend the truth, with learning, passion and fortitude; but we should remember that the battle is not won through our efforts, and we must not be caught up in overestimating the importance of the present moment. After all, how many `defining moments’ do we hear about in a typical year? And how many of such moments truly define anything at all?
If we really believe Matt. 16:18, I would suggest that we will not panic with every wind of false doctrine which comes our way, nor will we be intimidated by astronomical sales figures for bad books or tickets to hear false preachers. We will rather focus on what we should be doing: humbly preaching and teaching and believing the word. Sometimes, I suspect the over-the-top panic and outrage of the orthodox when faced by the latest challenge are really functions of self-importance and an impoverished doctrine of God. They seem to imply that our age is unique, the future of Christianity really does depend solely on us, and the church is really jeopardised by the latest heterodox blockbuster.”