Saturday, March 12, 2011


One oddity of our tribal nature, and who we find ourselves in alliance with, is how we are influenced by those we share a foxhole with.

It sounds dangerous for Christians - of for any creed or opinion one finds correct on its own merits - that we should be swayed. But as a practical matter, those who are uninfluenced by such tend to be the paranoids and fanatics.

Yet influence by others who only partially share our aims has been death for Christians. Some of us have fallen in too easily with those who promise to make the young people smarten up, be respectful, go to work, and stop swearing in the streets. Others of us have swooned for anyone who says they care about the poor.

So Rob Bell is going to find himself with unexpected friends and unexpected enemies just now. It is a hard time for anyone, and I wish him well - I don't think I'd like him personally very much, but I like his approach in some ways, and I would prefer him to hold focus on his current issues until he feels the dust has settled, rather than drifting around picking up whatever is fashionable among young evangelicals.

If you hear him talking about "But Jesus challenged the socioeconomic system of his day,” and “God judges a society in terms of how ‘the least of these’ are treated*," you will know that the pressure was too much for him and he has retreated to the safer ground of what's general and superficial and easiest. Sin boldly, Rob. (Which BTW, is one of the most completely misunderstood bits of Lutheran theology. Not because Lutherans are stupid, but because Luther was not very clear exactly what he meant by this. Still, it's one of the treasures of the church, suitable for many occasions.)

*Ooh. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit actually having to type those out.

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