My Response to John Pavlovitz’s article, “The Continued Crucifying Of Rob Bell, And What It Says About The State Of Modern Christianity”

Peter Enn’s posted John Pavlovitz’s article on his Facebook page. My assumption is that Enns posts it approvingly, though he offered no opinion one way or the other.

Here is my response to Enns’ post.

I have been a Rob Bell fan. I have bought his books, his Nooma series, listened to his sermons and paid to see him on his last speaking tour. He has done some amazing work. He has made a difference in me and my son’s lives.
I do not find it within me to be a part of the theological mob rushing the stage to get him off. I am not one of THEM. But please allow me to move away from Bell as a “go to” carrier of the Gospel.
Can I still be a man of good conscience who believes there are theological boundaries and that one can color outside the lines in a way that the church has found obscures the Gospel and indeed even contradict it. That’s fair isn’t it? I believe that good men can teach that which is false. That’s fair, isn’t it? I believe that some of Bell’s questions have been rightly answered by the Church already. That’s fair isn’t it? To quote the article you posted, “He’s simply reached conclusions that he isn’t supposed to reach.” I agree. He, in some important ways, took a road at the fork that put us on two different paths. This does not make me unreasonable, unfair, prejudiced, narrow, a Bell-hater. I am not crucifying him. I disagree with him. As he has gone public with his “questions,” I feel justified in going public with my questions about his stances and status as a teacher of God’s Word.
I do not question his motive, his intellect, his heart, his goals. I do not post “Farewell, Rob Bell” on my blog nor sponsor book burnings. Please do not stereotype those of us who draw boundaries in a way that Bell does not. I don’t think I checked into the “party line” before I formed my opinions, and I don’t think I do not love and honor. You, too, must move beyond the straw men and welcome those who are people of good conscience.
Argue for Bell being welcomed. Argue for his positions – rationally, biblically, historically. But do not tell the church it has no right to excise a view or a person who espouses that view. This does not mean the church is unloving or prejudiced. It might mean just the exact opposite.
I am deeply sorry to see Bell’s trajectory. Evangelicalism needs questioning, pushes and shoves, and honest boundaries. Bell joins a number of people who I had hoped would balance out the maddening elements of my Evangelical tradition, provide us with some cultural credibility, and offer us some additional paradigms for doing our ministry. I have put my own credibility on the line by speaking well of these men and women and offering their thoughts to others. I am saddened to find that what others predicted of them has come in some measure true. There is no delight in this discovery but a crushed hope.
Yes, there is a farewell said in my heart to Bell. But I believe I have been fair, judicious, controlled and gracious.

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