This Is a Long Post, But it Has Outfits AND Controversy!

April 11, 2011

There is SO MUCH TO DO on the bloggy today, you guys! I think we should get right to it.

First things first. Here’s Friday’s outfit in case you missed it.

And here is Saturday’s outfit. I would like you to know that those earrings were $2.80 from Forever 21. They were not on clearance. I love that store.

And what is happening below? I look like I’m trying to engage in the miracle of flight.

Anyway. I think it’s best if we move on to Sunday.

Sunday’s outfit felt a little schoolmarm-y, but I went to church and then wrote all day, so I guess I was schoolmarm-y. Also, what are you gonna do? I gotta create 30 outfits.

So, Rob Bell was at my school on Friday. It was apparently Quite an Event. Most of the school was there, and they had overflow rooms and live feeds and all kinds of craziness. There was also a protestor outside who apparently had a sign that said “Believe in Hell, Not Rob Bell.” It was a little disappointing that the protestor was there, because one of the things I really appreciated about the event was the way the seminary handled it. It was quite clear that the seminary faculty doesn’t agree with Bell, but they held a very good discussion so that all of us could think critically about this issue. So the protestor put a slight damper on that. Although, I will admit — I was chanting his little slogan in my head the whole time. Not necessarily because I agreed with it, but it was kind of catchy, you guys. I mean, say it to yourself right now; “Believe in Hell, Not Rob Bell.” It’s clever.

Anyhoo, I have a few thoughts, but here’s my disclaimer. I have not yet read Love Wins, which is the book causing all the controversy. This is why I haven’t commented on it so far — it bugs me when people have all kinds of opinions about things they haven’t read. So, I will just comment on his talk, which I attended.

Also, if you’re not familiar with all the goings-on of the Christian subculture then 1) the Lord has apparently decided to bless and keep you and 2) let me catch you up on what’s been happening. A lot of people think that Bell’s book promotes universalism — the idea that God will sweep everybody into heaven, no matter what you believe or what you’ve done. This idea came from the very provocative video teaser that Bell put out before the release of his book. (And let’s not kid; he and his publishing company are all about the Benjamins baby, because that book is selling like hot cakes because of all the controversy surrounding it.) Anyway, lots of bloggers and Tweeters and John Pipers have been saying that the book is full of heresy and Rob Bell has officially gone off the deep end. (And most of these people decided to say these things before they had ever read the book.)

So, Rob Bell came in to talk about the book. Again, I’ve not read it yet, but I have read his other books, and I’ve heard him speak before. Here are my thoughts:

1. He’s a very good and entertaining speaker. He’s clever and funny and disarming. He’s aware of this and uses it to his advantage (not necessarily saying that’s good or bad; it’s just true).

2. He gave a little 20-minute talk before doing a Q&A time with one of our theology professors, and it was good. I didn’t disagree with anything he said. He talked a lot about God’s love — that it’s big and amazing and beyond what we can imagine. And it is.

3. Next came the Q&A. It would be easier to get Charlie Sheen to admit that he’s losing than to get Rob Bell to directly answer a question. Of the 15 or so questions that Bell was asked, I feel like he actually answered two of them. When asked a question, Bell starts telling stories or reminiscing about something or talking about something else completely. He just doesn’t answer questions. I actually have a whole theory on why he does this, although I could be wrong. He’s studied a lot about Jewish culture and thought, especially during the time of Jesus, and I think Bell thinks he answers questions in a “Jesus-y” way. Jesus often answered questions with questions or told stories instead of giving a three-point answer. Jesus wasn’t a very good systematic theologian. It’s Bell’s goal to follow in that vein, which in a way, I’m fine with. But in another way, his audience is not made up of 1st-century Jews. It’s made up of 21st century Americans, and we don’t think the way the Jews did (although, I am all for us starting to understand the way the biblical writers thought — it’s amazing when you start to look into it; I’m with Bell there). I have always thought that Bell needs to have more clarity, simply out of a sense of responsibility to his audience (this is where my degree in journalism has influenced me).

4. Because he doesn’t answer questions, it’s sometimes difficult to decide if you agree or disagree with him. He speaks very vaguely, so you can kind of decide for yourself what he means. This is why two people can read one of his books — the exact same one — and one will decide that he’s a complete heretic and the other will decide that he is fully orthodox. Rob Bell talks a lot, but he doesn’t always say that much.

5. One thing that bugged me a bit was his response to a question about if people are responding so harshly to his book because his views are anti-Calvin (Calvinists, or people who have reformed theology, believe that God has predestined everything and everyone. That was way too simple of an explanation, but this post is already way too long and boring.) Bell’s response was that he just writes and talks about what is true and half the time he doesn’t even know what different denominations believe. Umm, I don’t buy it. I don’t care that his views don’t line up with Calvinism; that’s fine. But Bell’s undergrad is from Wheaton, and he has an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan which is like the most Calvinist area in the U.S. He knows what Calvinists believe and he knows what all other denominations believe. There’s no need for him to pretend like he doesn’t.

6. I agree with Bell that the idea of hell that is represented in the Bible is a bit shady. In the Old Testament, the concept basically doesn’t exist. There’s a place called Sheol, but it seems as though both good and bad go there after death, and you’re not conscious when you’re there. In the New Testament, hell is talked about in terms of fire or darkness. The word that Jesus often used, that we translate “hell,” is “Gehenna,” which was a trash dump in Jerusalem. So, hell is definitely a real place presented in the Bible, but it’s unclear exactly what it looks like. Sometimes we think we know what things look like (the devil wears red and has a goatee and pitchfork), but they’re visuals that we’ve created. So, Bell says that he is in no way denying the existence of hell, but he is saying that the Bible gives us a fairly unclear picture of exactly what it looks like.

7. From what I can gather, it sounds like Bell posits in his book that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but God will allow people to choose Jesus even after death. He will continue to give people chances to accept Jesus, and they can choose Him or continue to choose to reject Him. Because I haven’t read the book, I don’t know how he backs this idea up or if he supports it with Scriptural ideas, etc. If you’ve read the book, let me know.

8. Bell talked a lot about God’s love. His love allows us to choose Him. This is true. But what seemed to be missing, was the aspect of God’s love that brought Christ to die for our sins. There wasn’t any talk of God’s holiness — of the fact that our sin has permanently marred us and separated us from God because He is holy. Because of Jesus, we can be made clean and acceptable before God. We get to choose Him and accept His love, but there’s no getting there without the sacrifice of Jesus, without the blood of the Lamb to make us righteous before God. Bell may believe all of these things, but because he talked solely of choosing God’s love, I felt like that truth got left out.

9. Overall, I think Bell sounded a bit off, but not as off as some have been screaming about. According to what he said, he does believe in heaven, he does believe in hell, he does believe in judgment, and he does believe in salvation through Jesus Christ alone. He asks a lot of questions, and he doesn’t always answer them. I don’t know if this is to try to get people to think more critically or if he just hasn’t decided on an answer for himself. He claims that he’s not trying to be controversial; that he’s just trying to be truthful.

Anyway, it was interesting, and I was grateful to Denver Seminary for bringing him in. It was a good discussion and it’s gotten a lot of us putting our theology skills into practice. I’ll read the book as soon as I don’t have 90 other school books to read. Have you read Love Wins? What do you think?

Oh my goodness. This was way too long, and I’m so sorry. Some people seemed interested, though, and I am painfully long-winded. Forgive me.

Hope you have a lovely day and don’t run into the protestor. Joves!



5 Responses to “This Is a Long Post, But it Has Outfits AND Controversy!”

  1. Suzanne said

    I love both outfits so much! But Sunday is my fave! Sometime during this challenge would you like to get together (meet halfway or something) and get some photos together? 🙂

  2. denisemorris said

    Yes, that would be so fun! I might actually be down eventually too, to come into Cook or for some other random reason. But we can also meet up somewhere. Sounds like fun!

  3. Suzanne said

    Awesome! Let me know when you’re coming down and I’ll work around your schedule! I know a great brick wall near Cook! 🙂

  4. […] which I appreciate. He came to my school last spring during all the Love Wins controversy, and I blogged my thoughts on his visit — he is a good speaker, but it’s hard to figure out exactly what he’s […]

  5. astrapto said

    I’m curious…have you read it yet?

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