10 things we can learn from one of Christianity’s biggest controversies.
Finally someone has written what I think is the ultimate wrap up of the Rob Bell “Love Wins” controversy. Not surprised that it is biblical scholar, best-selling author, award-winning blogger, and friend, Scott McKnight. Enjoy!
What Love Wins Tells Us About Christians
by Scot McKnight in Relevant
Everyone knew in advance that Rob Bell’s next book, Love Wins, would surely raise eyebrows and create some debate. But no one, including the author and his agent, expected what did happen. From the momentJustin Taylor uttered that opening warning and John Piper tweeted “Farewell Rob Bell” until many of us had a week or two to read it, Rob Bell’s book was at the forefront of American Christianity’s sensational tabloids. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it may well be a one-of-a-kind brouhaha for the next generation or two.
But what can we learn from what happened? I want to suggest we can learn 10 lessons.
First, social media is where controversial ideas will be both explored and judged. We no longer read books patiently, type out letters to denominational offices, find common agreements and then summon the Christian leader behind closed doors to ask questions and sort out concerns. It’s all public, it’s all immediate and everyone weighs in because social media is about as radical a form of democracy as exists. To be sure, this means the uninformed heavy-handed can weigh in as easily as the patient, careful, critical and balanced reader. But social media is not going away, so we should realize what we are getting into before we walk into the room.
Second, megachurch pastors are being watched closely. “Who says what” has always mattered. But because of social media, the who-says-what takes on new significance: megachurch pastors—and this applies to Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley and Rob Bell—are being watched, and their critics only need one off-line comment to stir into action. John Piper has been hammered for some of his comments, Bill Hybels has weathered criticism and Rob Bell is in the same world. Robin Parry, a skilled and careful scholar, wrote a book called The Evangelical Universalist. He was an editor at an evangelical publishing house. His book barely drew attention, but when Rob Bell said even less than Parry, Bell was scorched by many.
Third, tribalism pervades the American religious scene…