Al Mohler has a lengthy essay regarding Rob Bell’s book and he correctly places his review in light of the larger historical context. As the title of his essay states, We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology, we have been down this road before. There is nothing new under the sun and those who seem convinced that they have found a new and innovative theory are always merely parroting a very old heresy.
I loved this paragraph (emphasis added)
Like so many others, Bell wants to separate the message of Jesus from other voices even in the New Testament, particularly the voice of the Apostle Paul. Here we face the inescapable question of biblical authority. We will either affirm that every word of the Bible is true, trustworthy, and authoritative, or we will create our own Bible according to our own preferences. Put bluntly, if Jesus and Paul are not telling the same story, we have no idea what the true story is.
Paul and Jesus are on the same team people! When we start to carve up the Word based on what we find palatable, we may as well chuck the whole thing, claim to have received a special revelation that trumps the Bible and follow the path of Joseph Smith. This holds true in so many places: hell, justification by faith, gender, etc. and there are plenty of people willing to take a Sharpie to certain passages and a highlighter to others. I don’t think any of us are immune to this but that doesn’t excuse us from continuing to study the Word and hold what we believe up to the light of Scripture.
This conversation is not really about Rob Bell at all, although his book is the trigger. Long after Bell has faded into obscurity and been replaced by someone new, more winsome and more hip, these conversations will continue because they get to some core issues about the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures, about the sovereign nature of God, about the urgency of the Gospel in light of our brief lives and a limitless hell. These are conversations we must have and not so that we can find a lowest common denominator. All of Christian life must start with solid doctrinal footing. When the footing is squishy the results will be bad, no matter how well intentioned they may be. While I think that (based on the reviews I have read) Rob Bell’s book Love Wins sounds like a dangerous work for the Scripturally unsound, I do appreciate the conversations and thinking that it has spurred.
Give Dr. Mohler’s essay a look, it makes for deep and intellectually stimulating reading as all of his works do.