Friday, January 23, 2009

Am I a Rob Bell fan?

So that little video below has gotten some attention both here and on my facebook page. A couple of people have asked if I'm a "fan" of Rob.

The simple answer is "no." But that has nothing to do with Rob Bell. It's just that I don't consider myself a "fan" of any preacher, theologian, or pastor. I'm a fan of a writer or two (fiction), and a fan of a musician or two, but I don't consider "fan" to be the correct adjective to use when relating one's feelings about pastors and theologians and inspirational writers.

With that out of the way, I'm generally favorable of Rob Bell. I think he does a good job of speaking in language today's generation understands. I think he does a good job of bridging history and the postmodern world. Bell works hard to understand Jesus and the early church in their own context, rather than read both through a 21st-Century lens. Rob works hard at using the texts correctly, and not as jumping-off points for his own opinions. And Rob truly seems to have a pastor's heart; he seems to care about the people who God brings into his life.

I do think Rob gets a bad rap at times - I think he's asking some questions that are uncomfortable, and I think he's attempting to restate things in postmodern language, which can, at times, sound dangerously close to heresy in the ears of modern listeners. For that, many simply dismiss him is a heretic, and those how listen to him as wayward sheep. But I think those people misunderstand him.

However, Rob Bell is human, and as such will make some mistakes, will say things incorrectly, will hold to some beliefs that, in the end, will be proven to be incorrect. Which is true of all of us, whether we're honest enough to admit it or not. Ben Witherington posted some thoughts on his blog regarding Rob Bell a few months ago, and the most negative critique he could bring was that Bell didn't have a full enough understanding of the lifestyle of the 1st Century Rabbinical world. I think Rob probably uses the work of Ray Vander Laan a bit too much - not that Ray is all that mistaken; I just feel he sometimes works a bit too hard to force archeological and historical evidence into a particular mold, rather than letting them speak for themselves. But that's all a minor quibble.

In the end, I've seen Rob Bell speak, and the sermon he preached was one of the most biblical and historical talks I've ever seen preached to a bunch of high schoolers, and he kept them spellbound throughout. So I hold him in high regard, and have no trouble recommending his books and videos.

I'm just not a "fan."

1 comment:

Kurt said...

I am not a 'fan' either, although i think that Rob's podcast has been one of the most influencial in my recent spiritual journey. I am grateful for his creativity and commitment to the biblical text. Thanks for the thoughts!