...how it aches to meet the day
I actually enjoyed Love Wins and didn't really find it all that controversial. I didn't agree with all his conclusions, but he hasn't really said anything that hasn't been expressed before by others...
I'm muddling my way through Love Wins... Bell's writing style sort of drives me crazy. I like half of what I've read, but some of it frustrates me. He doesn't cite his sources, he uses a fair amount of strawman arguments, and at times I feel like he's just really into hearing himself talk. BUT, I do agree with a fair amount of his ideas, since I consider myself an inclusivist. And I think a lot of his musings are just a extrapolation of CS Lewis's theology. I think the post I linked to above is pretty much just pointing out that while a lot of people see their own brand of Christianity as the "right Christianity," there's a 'generous orthodoxy' in Christianity that allows for an incredible amount of disagreement, tension, and opinion.
He does cite bible verses when he quotes them, but not his ideas and extrapolations of his verses, which I didn't find original. A lot of his thoughts are almost the exact same as those of Karl Barth(early 19th century Christian philosopher - really good stuff). But even Barth's is just echoes of the same debate that's been going on for the last 6 centuries. That's why I was confused that so many people seemed so heated in their debate of Rob Bell's book - if they know their literature, then they know that he really doesn't add a whole lot of original thought to the discussion. But maybe therein lies the problem - not reading up on the subject.I do wish people have more grace for each other when it came to disagreements about lots of things. No one really knows for sure what will happen after we die, so getting angry at each other over different theories isn't very fruitful. Or, as Rob Bell might say, "it's a giant exercise in missing the point".
It is difficult to disagree with a spirit of grace. I have heard far to much name calling recently (heretic, asshole, idiot, antichrist) and it's certainly not building anyone up. It's hard to see how some people come to their conclusions, but as the article above points out, most of the time they ARE Biblically backed; it depends on which verses you elevate and which you choose to ignore. I do think we need more ecumenism in Christianity, more unity. We need to be able to agree to disagree and still see each other as brothers and sisters. People need to stop "hating the Church" or being "hurt by the Church" because the Church is far too big and confounding and diverse to be one specific thing or another. It's possible to not like a certain congregation, or to disagree with a denomination, but there's a generous enough orthodoxy that most (maybe not all) can find a place to belong and thrive, if they try.Derek Webb (who I LOVE, especially his "Stockholm Syndrome" album) wrote the song "The Church" based on this encounter:"the reason I wrote it was because people were coming up to me (after shows) and saying, “Yeah, I’m right with you man…this whole church thing’s (not for me). I can’t stand the church…”, And I hated that. I hated the idea that people who seek to church bash would see me as their champion. Because I am not that. The reason that I have, after all these years, decided to put my energy into a solo project…is because of my love for the church. There’s none that can replace her. There’s none that can do the job of the church…so I wrote this song to hopefully communicate that."This video is pretty darn goofy, and it's one of his more traditional "christian" songs, but here's the song if you want to hear it:http://youtu.be/JbnX92DvRIw
Thanks for the link. I'll listen to it.I understand where people are coming from when they say that they hate the church. I understand that many people been hurt and that those feelings are often completely legitimate. It doesn't always register to people that there are different schools of thought within the same religion; the tendency is to make a blanket statement because it's easier to wrap your head around a cohesive thought rather than a thousand fragments.But I am so often struck by the fact that the God they have rejected is also one I've rejected. They see God as an unjust being for one reason or another, and they see the church as the personification of that idea. But I think that people who have allowed themselves to become disillusioned by what they see never really had a clear idea of what they think God and church SHOULD look like instead (or maybe were unable to articulate it). They allowed their perception to become reality, instead of working to make their ideals reality.My beliefs now are not the same as those I had when I was a kid, but my perception of God as a good being has been strong enough to last me through that time of turmoil, and is the reason I choose to live as I do now. I so often want to say to people, "Okay, so you're angry. That's good. Now what's going to happen next? If this isn't how you think church and God is supposed to look, then how DO you think it's supposed to look? And what are you going to do about that?"
I definitely think it's easier to make blanket statements; I think that happens a lot. I do think that claiming those blanket statements is extremely limiting, for those who claim and those in their life. It's hard to argue with "I hate the church" because there is little room for discussion. I'm hoping that as people see the differences in Christianity, especially since the whole "Love Wins" debate, they'll see that the church is huge and diverse and open to discussion and debate.I think the questions you are asking are exactly the right ones... "If this isn't how you think church and God are supposed too look, then how DO you think they are supposed to look? What are you going to do about it?" Because opinion without some sort of action is just nothing. I know that I would have never seen myself going to an Episcopal church, but it's the church in the area that most closely follows what I believe. AND, I know if Bryan and I become involved in their young adult ministry, especially their Emergent Gathering services, we'll be a part of that team that helps to mold the church. And that's pretty awesome. And I think that's exactly what we are called to do as believers.