Friday, March 11, 2011

Rob Bell John Piper Controversy


Mad Magazine fans will recognise Sergio Aragones' style of illustrating hidden motives. An important formative influence in my thought, perhaps.

I have little or nothing to add to the theological discussion. But I may have something of my unusual perspective to bring in. I know nothing about either of the participants - I'm not up on this. But this smells like a cultural conflict, not a theological one, at least from someone. Maybe, maybe a political one, but I think I would have heard of these guys if they were big hitters left or right. Politics come into cultural conflicts of course, so one or both of them probably has a political agenda in disguised form. Disguised even from themselves, I'll bet. This is tribal, and I don't think many of the players know that.

As with my NCAA bracket, I will strive to know little about the surface of the debate, so that I might perceive the hidden motives better. I have some initial thoughts, but for now, I would simply ask you to play along. If you know what is up with this controversy, try and unlearn it for the moment and simply look at the symbols and presentation that people are bringing to the debate. I don't mean to imply that either is manipulating symbols - I mean only to notice what type of person they want to look like and sound like. For example, I am pretty certain Bell is Emerging Church and Piper is midwestern Reformed. I don't know if they are pastors or academics or writers or what. But you can tell at a glance what cultural image they want to be seen as.

13 comments:

Anna said...

Rob Bell thinks that it doesn't matter if Jesus was God or not, that it only matters if you try to live your life like him.

That view kind of boots him out of Christianity altogether. Epic theology fail!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

No, no, don't tell me theology. My hunch is that it doesn't matter - that this battle was going to play out on one field or another eventually. But I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Or more precisely, I want to see if my initial hunch holds up.

jaed said...

Interesting the websites of the two men. The aesthetic, the colors and layout, I mean. What is and isn't shown on the front page. The choice of domain name, even. Many messages there.

Jonathan said...

Anna, is that statement in his new book, or an older quote? I can't find it online.

Anna said...

Jonathan,

It was in one of his Nooma videos if I remember correctly. I will try to find which one.

Kitten said...

To the best of my knowledge, I've never heard of either of these people so I guess it'll be easy to play along.

james said...

Wow. I hadn't thought to look at their home pages, jaed. I assume the authors approved them even if they didn't create them. Very different messages indeed; and different purposes.

jaed said...

The first thing I thought about the websites was "these are made by/for different social classes", which I think is a coarser way of saying AV's "different tribes".

(I actually didn't think to look there - having not heard about this controversy, I googled the names and came up with their sites, among others - but the difference is striking.)

karrde said...

Huh.

I had some tangential interaction with John Piper (his book on fasting, titled A Hunger for God) and Bell (if he's the author of Blue Like Jazz, as my friends claimed he was).

By the titles of the books alone, and by the images they cast in my memory, I see the two men as belonging to different tribes. One is all Word, and one is all Cultural Relevance.

I have a few simple thoughts about the theology of heaven and hell, but I will save them for another day.

karrde said...

Gah!

I was wrong about Bell and the book Blue Like Jazz, which means that I know even less about him.

Except what I've heard, which is that (1) he's some sort of mega-church-sized leader in the emerging church movement, and (2) he's shown signs of dabbling with the idea of universal salvation.

I don't know what credit to give to either charge, since I know so little about him.

Anna said...

Found it, sorry it took me so long.

In Rob Bell's NOOMA video #15 "You", he says that Jesus's death and resurrection wasn't the thing that caused such a stir in the world, it was his teachings on compassion etc. And then he says mush like "you are the gospel", and "live like this, it's important."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It was Jesus's teaching on compassion that were so controversial? He really said that? Sure, the Jews had never heard anything about generosity and compassion before that, had they...

If he's not a political liberal already, he will be soon. Not that they are the only ones who believe that crap, but it has the fuzziness that eventually leads there among earnest young Christians.

I'd better do a repost on some older comments of mine about the New Testament and generosity.

Thomas said...

This will be a long term bull agricultural run, and it has been extended, rather than hurt, by the temporary economic slowdown. This seems simple but it is one of the biggest and most common mistakes players make. go into the green cannon spot, and go into another subterreanean area. Most companies will give you a discount when you combine their products.What about Cable TV, Internet, and telephones.