1. I think DeYoung, and everyone else is reading into Rob Bell’s meaning. They are seeing it through their own lens. This is especially harmful because I feel like this is the purpose of the book, to question our lens’ of understanding the bible.
2. I find it condescending of DeYoung when he goes off about rhetorical questions. Yes, I would agree that there is meaning in those questions, as there is meaning in all questions. But I disagree that Bell is trying “to undermine—nay, to ridicule—the reality of eternal conscious punishment, the wrath of the God, and penal substitutionary atonement” with his questions. I think what Rob Bell is teaching with this questions is that there are inconsistencies in our doctrines, and we should look at them. I definitely don’t think Bell is preaching that Hell will be empty, or that universalism is true, and I think that because he says in the book that isn’t true. He is asking us to look outside of our outdated and inconsistent categories, and instead he is being forced back into those categories by those who are critiquing him.
3. Bell is trying to talk about these issues in a different way than our current modernist thought. DeYoung’s critique is that he i s “unclear”. I think he is on purpose, and when has clarity become the most important thing? We need clarity when we are anxious because it makes us feel better. But if something is too complicated to explain it in a soundbite, it doesn’t help by trying to make it clear. Heaven and Hell are more complicated than we think. Talking about it of course will be complicated. Because something sounds like heresy not only doesn’t mean it is heresy, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.
4. DeYoung constantly calls Bell a universalist, then calls him inconsistent when he says something that doesn’t sound universalist. It is as if Deyoung decided that Bell is a universalist and doesn’t take any evidence to the contrary. Like when Bell says “I am not a universalist.
5. “sometimes Bell just ignores the verses that don’t support his thesis”. I completely agree. And so do you. Everyone does. Everyone has primary texts that they base their systematic theology and other texts that don’t fit as well, and so are explained in another way. What I like about bell’s primary texts is that they are new to me and they challenge the universality of a more modern set of primary texts.
6. “No one I know thinks God is loving one minute and cruel the next.” Pastor DeYoung, maybe you should get out more. Maybe that is true in reformed circles, but that has never been true anywhere I have been.
7. “Yes, Bell admits several times that we can resist or reject God’s love. But there’s never any
discussion of the way we’ve offended God, no suggestion that ultimately all our failings are a
failure to worship God as we should. God is not simply disappointed with our choices or angry
for the way we judge others. He is angry at the way we judge him. He cannot stand to look upon
our uncleanness. His nostrils flare at iniquity. He hates our ingratitude, our impurity, our Godcomplexes,
our self-centeredness, our disobedience, our despising of his holy law. Only when
we see God’s eye-covering holiness will we grasp the magnitude of our traitorous rebellion, and
only then will we marvel at the incomprehensible love that purchased our deliverance on the
What about john 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
We are condemned for our rejection of God. That is it. It is not our failure to worship, or our uncleanness, or our self-centeredness or disobedience or anything else on his list. Yes, God is Holy, but that doesn’t mean he has to hate looking at us.
8. “you will see that the Bible’s story is about how a holy God can possibly dwell among an unholy people.” This is the real difference going on here, and my real difference with DeYoung. Yes, there are lots of verses that say this, but their are a lot of other verses that can back up another story, like Bell’s, or really anyone else. In the history of Christianity, there have been countless number of summarys of what the real bible story is. Deyoung’s is only worth noting because it is kind of mean.
9. “The pain of hell is our
fault. But it’s also God’s doing”
I guess I understand what he is saying, but he might of changed the wording. That sounds awful to me. And yes, I know, sounding awful to me is no judge on its “truthiness” but this is also the person who claims “words matter” so I am asking him to be a little more creative.
10. “Bell’s god is wholly passive toward sin.” I agree. I think the message is that it never was about sin. Ever. Sacrifices never cancelled out sins, it was always Jesus. People don’t go to hell for their sins, but as John 3:18 says, for their lack of belief.
I don’t know how to make sense of God judging all those people in the old testament on the spot. But how does DeYoung make sense of the current age? Does he still believes God judges people actively, even by killing them? Is he believing, like Piper that God still uses natural disasters for his judgment?
There is an inconsistency, and, as I have said before, every group decides which side of the inconsistency to focus on. DeYoung focuses on the judgment and old testament, (and a few passages in the old testament) while the other side focuses on the rest of the new testament and the church age, or whatever you want to call the last 2000 years.
11. “Bad theology hurts real people. So of all the questions raised in the book, the most important
question every reader must answer is this: is it true?’
I find it ironic that DeYoung accuses Bell of being modernistic. I don’t believe it is biblical that the most important question is truth. It is not enough to believe with your head, it has to effect your soul and body. Again, there could be countless “most important questions” for this book, but mine would be “What will I do with this book?” This book really challenged me in that question, but the idea that I should reject or accept the whole thing based on the modernist view of “truth” (which is different from the biblical standard of truth, which was never about just head knowledge) is something I am unwilling to accept.
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