Monday, April 11, 2011

Doctrine and Discussion

I <3 questions!

Rob Bell. Universalism. Heresy. Love Wins.

There's a few words that should hit the search engines! There's been a lot of discussion in the Christian blogosphere over the last month, and much of it was related to those points above. The discussion has ranged from rancorous to gentle, and has often generated more heat than light.

I've been an interested observer during this. I haven't read the book, I'm not afraid to read it, but I don't know if I'll get around to it (as a friend has said before, my "to be read" pile threatens low-flying aircraft). What I have been reading compels me to share a few thoughts.

There's been a lot of critique over Love Wins, and there's been backlash over this. People have been critical of those raising objections to some of the theology in the book. At times, it has seemed to be a push-back against the questions. I've seen posts on Facebook and Twitter talking about legalism vs. love, as if we are only dealing with a dualism in this. Those who ask questions whether Rob Bell is theologically correct are being likened to the Pharisees. Can't we reason together without it denigrating one side or the other?

Paul, when writing the pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus, keeps hammering a theme home: the need to teach sound doctrine. When a book of the Bible repeats a subject, it is a clue to us that it is important. When three books do that, even more so. I was amazed reading through these books how often he stresses this to Timothy and Titus. Didn't these guys spend a lot of time with Paul? Wouldn't they see how important it was by then?

Obviously it is important to Paul, because there are several mentions of the idea of "sound doctrine/instruction/teaching." The qualifications of an elder including holding on to the trustworthy message (Titus 1:9). They are to pass the teaching on to reliable people (2 Tim 2:2). If he mentions it this much to two men who stood with Paul to the end, then the idea of sound doctrine is an important idea, even if our post-modern age likes to ask questions without many answers.

I don't pretend that the Church has God totally figured out. He is so grand and majestic that there is a mystery to Him. As John said, books on end could be written about Jesus and they wouldn't cover enough about him. (I'm also reminded of the Teacher who says "Of making many books there is no end.")

Still, we have the Word of God that is reliable and God-breathed. We can know Him, and we can understand principles of right doctrine. Paul admonishes us repeatedly to hold to sound doctrine. It may not be in favor, but I'll stand there instead of quelling any criticism. We should be able to discuss issues like Love Wins in a way that honors Paul's teaching fully...

Which is why I've got a follow up post tomorrow with more on this point! See you then ;)


  1. Anonymous2:18 PM

    What I find interesting is that Bell supporters will say there's nothing wrong with him asking questions. But when his views are questioned, it seems to be a different story. Hmmmm.


  2. When asked directly about Jesus in one of his televised interviews, Rob Bell says "He's important . . ." Excuse me?