Recently there has been a bit of controversy over a new book by the pastor, and writer, Rob Bell. In writing a book about heaven and hell, talking of Gandhi and damnation, Bell has managed to get people worked into a bit of a tizzy.
What saddens me about this whole issue is not that people disagree and not even that they are angry, it’s that they disagree in such a disrespectful, and Jr-highish way. Some examples:
@John Piper: Farewell Rob Bell (he then linked to Justin Taylor’s blog article Rob Bell: Universalist?)
@HarrisJosh: There’s nothing loving about preaching a false gospel. This breaks my heart. Praying for Rob Bell. (linking to same article)
@between2worlds (Justin Taylor’s blog) Universalist?: John Piper once wisely wrote, “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches…
@CindyCook12345 :Rob Bell, Rob Bell, so glad u took off ur sheeps clothing and glad I threw ur book in the trash years ago!
The spectrum of religious- more specifically Christian- belief is as diverse and varied as landscape or music tastes. We have baptist, Catholics, Methodists, Nazarenes, Anglicans, Reformed, Non-Denominational, Presbyterian, and so on and so forth. According to a Christianity Today study, there are 38,000 christian denominations in the world. 38,000! You know why there are that many? Because there are 38,000 different ways that people see God, and 38,000 ways God has met with his people.
Back to the Bell twitter-tizzy
Because there are so many different denominations, I understand that there are disputes and debates over theology. That’s an inevitable reality of life in the Christian world. Kevin DeYoung cited that it was Biblically okay for Piper to call out Bell via Twitter (or call him out publicly…not using the steps to reconciliation in Matthew 18). I wont argue that. Bell made his video public, and so he should be willing to receive public criticism…but criticism is different that public damnation over an issue which is at best, debatable.
Really, its no secret that Christianity has an image problem in the West. To quote the man who’s being included in a video started this whole issue, Ghandi, he one said that “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” We, as Christians, are on display and people often do not like what they see. People are watching to see how we treat one another, and as a result, will make judgments as to whether or not this Christ business is worth their effort or their time.
It’s a common proverb that when you start dating a new person, you should look to see how they treat their family, because how they treat their mom and their dad, their sister or their brother, will inevitably be how they treat you.
People use this proverb to measure Christians, as well.
So what makes me sad is not the disagreement between to very intelligent people (those will happen until the end of time), rather my disappointment comes from denominational divisiveness… And our divisiveness is keeping us from living out John 13:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We are to live out a life of love, and this must first happen among family (all Christians, and all denominations). After all, the world is watching, and they will know we are Christ’s disciples by our love…not our brash, and pointed tweets.