Posts Tagged ‘Rob Bell’

Not to Read Love Wins, by Rob Bell

  • The imbroglio surrounding the publication of Love Wins, by Rob Bell, has all the trappings of what will lead to the creation and application of litmus tests, which the guardians of evangelicalism will use to decide who is “in” and who is “out” of the groups they purport to lead.
  • It will be difficult, however, for the guardians of evangelicalism to apply these litmus tests to those who cannot have an opinion of the book.
  • One cannot have an opinion of the book, if one does not read it.

To Read Love Wins, by Rob Bell

  • Each guardian of evangelicalism probably will interpret one’s refusal to read Love Wins as an admission of one’s failure to pass the litmus test which that guardian promotes.
  • Not to read the book, then, runs the risk of being excluded by everyone in evangelicalism.
  • Reading the book, however, will allow one to endear oneself to at least one group within evangelicalism. However, the group to which one endears oneself may not be the faction in which one wants to hold membership.

Not to Read Love Wins, by Rob Bell

  • One should choose the evangelical faction in which one wants to hold membership.
  • Then one should formulate an opinion about the book which the guardians of that faction hold.
  • Then one should broadcast that opinion or at least express it without equivocation when asked for it.
  • Finally, in an attempt to hedge one’s bets against wrongly navigating these treacherous waters, one should also state that if he or she can be proven wrong, the opinion will be revised.

Lessons from Japan: Flee the Inevitable Fallout

  • Hunker down at home with plenty of canned food and bottled water.
  • Shut and seal the doors and windows, draw the shades, and turn on your newly purchased HEPA air purifier.
  • Cancel your internet and phone service for the next year or so.
  • Turn on the TV, grab a beverage, tear open a bag of chips, and watch basketball until the baseball season begins.

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  • Authors want to be understood in the way they intended to be understood. Therefore, readers should seek to understand a book’s contents in the way the author intended it to be understood.
  • If one has not read a book, one should not comment on the book.
    • One who violates this principle has the difficult burden of defending his or her action, since it seems to contradict accepted canons of scholarship, common courtesy, and biblical love. In other words, it bears an essential likeness to gossip.
    • Consider the following questions that help illustrate this point:
      • How should one regard a movie review based on either viewing only the movie’s trailer or viewing only a portion of the movie?
      • How should one regard the practice of assigning grades to student papers either without reading them or after only reading portions of them?
  • If one wants to know the contents of a book, one should carefully read the book. One should refrain from reading comments on the book before reading the book for oneself.
    • Comments written by others do not reveal the book’s contents. They reveal the commentator’s interpretation of the book’s contents.
    • Reading someone’s comments before reading the book for oneself will likely prejudice one’s reading and prevent one from understanding the meaning the author intended.
    • This action, then, seems to deny, in practice, the affirmation that every believer is a priest, since it likely will elevate the “decree” of the “priest” above the reader’s own conclusions.
  • Readers benefit from conversations about the contents of a book with those who also have read the book.
    • Conversations increase the likelihood that readers will approach an understanding of the book that approximates what the author intended.
    • The most valuable conversations will be with those people whose evaluation of the book differs from one’s own.
  • Readers may carry out conversations about the contents of a book in written form. The following guidelines should direct these conversations:
    • Principles for written conversations:
      • The mode of one’s interaction with a work is just as important as the content of one’s interaction with a work. In other words, character and creed are inseparable; each informs the other.
      • Love must characterize written conversations: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4 – 7).
    • Rules for written conversations:
      • One must clearly reveal one’s presuppositions and preunderstandings.
      • One must fully disclose any possible conflicts of interest.
      • One must adopt the following goal of written conversations:
        • It is not to win an argument.
        • It is to conduct a serious engagement that  . . .
          • Seeks to understand the meaning of the book intended by the author and that
          • Helps conversation participants to conform their convictions and behavior to truth.
      • One must focus on the content of literary works, not on the people who compose them or on their suspected motivations.
        • Avoid: “X believes _____,” “X is guilty of _____,” “X is a _____,” or “X is _____”
        • Barely adequate: “This position holds _____” or “X’s position is that _____”
        • Better: “This position appears to hold that _____” or “X’s position appears to be that _____”
      • One must be gracious and fair: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
        • One must give authors the benefit of the doubt.
          • One must portray an author’s work in a way that satisfies the author. If the author disagrees with a portrayal of his or her work, one must apologize and immediately revise the portrayal.
          • One should always point out a book’s positive contributions.
        • One should cite the precise place and language in the author’s work to which one is referring.
        • One should avoid labels. Labels short-circuit understanding by creating stereotypes that tend to impugn authors and that lead others to dismiss not only the work under discussion, but the author and his or her entire body of work.
      • One must reject potentially inflammatory or emotional language. Three examples that seem to violate this rule coming from the same author within the last three weeks:
        • Blog post headline: Universalism as a Lure? The Emerging Case of Rob Bell
        • Blog post headline: We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology
        • Characterization of Love Wins in a panel discussion: Velvet Hell.

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