Friday, April 24, 2009

Rob Bell Can’t Tweet the Gospel
Chris, you said it right (and points for the 3 syllable word ;-). Bell is really good at talking (or twitting/writing) long enough to a) sound like he said something and b) say it in a nice way even if it was empty.
I disagree that Bell's cynicism comment is a recognition of sin and brokenness. To me, it seems avoidance at best and ignorance at worst*. I think it has to do with the “pet” words to which you referred. People don’t like to be called sinners. Or, to personalize it, I don’t like to say I sin. I like to say it was an oversight or that I’m just in a bad mood or that I’m just naturally cynical. All of which subtly work together to allow me to overlook sin. It’s justification if I use words other than what God calls it. Sin is a very powerful and polarizing word. You must be here or there with it. It’s not a bad mood or cynicism or pick the euphemism. We sin and we’re sinners and we HATE to say that outside of admitting it to a supreme and sovereign God.
That, I think, is a great challenge to Bell’s presentation (or lack there)of the Gospel. From what I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot of what he has online and only extended excerpts of his other writings), he sees no need to polarize. It’s almost as if he wants to trick people into the Gospel. Cajole them (different from doing so with gentleness). I suppose with Bell, if this was one interview, then great. The, um, oddity for a pastor is that it seems every interview is like this. Just kind of wander around, throw in the random “empty tomb” remarks and leave the audience with meringue.

New Comment:
Just to continue to tack on, I agree with Jessica, et. al. The Gospel can be twitted. More or less (as it should never be relied upon or a replacement for personal conversation). Perhaps what seems to be missing is that it seems too many people have a message focused on here, now, earthly, me and you (twitter and facebook are all about me with few exceptions). But that’s not it at all. It’s Christ and His power, God and his love and grace and the Holy spirit and his moving and guidance. It’s not about us. It’s about Him. Here, in a tweet (OK, almost), is what seems to be today’s current shot at a Gospel message:

If there is a God, some sort of Divine Being, Mind, Spirit, and all of this is not just some random chance thing, and history has some sort of movement to it, and you have a connection with Whatever—that is awesome.

I like the tweets (hey, why didn’t they call it twits…oh, wait….) about the Gospel y’all mentioned. To borrow from Erik Raymond and expound upon the gospel (though this wasn’t a tweet) in perhaps two tweets:

The truth is that too many of us do not smile large enough upon the realities of sovereign grace because our pride is not appropriately smashed by the reality of human inability.

Or, in one tweet:

In other words, we think highly of our own merit and think lowly of diving grace.

(from Irish Calvinist)

New Comment:
I’m kind of reluctant to interject in the conversation, but not overwhelmingly. To offer a thought, I would say that the issue isn’t that Bell is verbose. It’s that Bell spends hours on questions, but never answers them. There doesn’t ever seem to be the Gospel message, just hints of it at best (above he does say there is an empty tomb). Be verbose. Talk for hours, great. But if you’re preaching in particular, make sure Christ is there and not hidden.

Again, the Gospel is polarizing (shouldn’t it be? It’s foolishness to those perishing, etc.) and it seems like folks like Bell want more to be like be someone and in someone’s life and never cause a ripple. Maybe an occasionally provocation of thought, but even then, just make the thought and never give the answer.

New Comment:
Sorry for the lack of an editor. That should have been “folks like Bell want more to be liked by someone”.

Just a question that may be a bit bombastic, but I would say that any message that Bell lays out is drastically different (in content) to one that Driscoll, Piper, Nelson would lay out. Would anyone agree? If so, that difference is trumpeted as Bell being seeker-sensitive. Should messages from Christian pastors be that drastically different? It seems like calling something seeker sensitive (or the dreaded and feared Emergent) somehow allows a lack of concentration on Christ and the triune God (Bell in particular is very into “hey, man, if you believe in God or a God-like thing, that’s great, keep it up”). That’s a generalization, so I suppose, then in general does [insert remainder of question].

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