10 Things We Learned from the Rob Bell Controversy
I got tired of the Rob Bell discussion pretty quickly, so I’ve generally been avoiding posts related to that controversy. But, Relevant Magazine has a great post today from Scot McKnight that is well worth reading. In the post, What Love Wins Tells Us about Christians, McKnight offers an interesting reflection on the current state of evangelicalism, the way evangelicals respond to controversy today, and how our changing social/technological context shapes all of this.
Here’s his list 10 things that we’ve learned from this controversy:
- Social media is where controversial ideas will be both explored and judged.
- Megachurch pastors are being watched closely.
- Tribalism pervades the American religious scene.
- Hell remains a central Christian conviction and concern.
- Christian views of hell are both incomplete and in need of serious examination.
- Pressing questions require serious thinking.
- Missiology remains the center of gospeling in our world.
- Low church, non-denominational evangelicalism, of which Rob Bell is an exceptional representative, carries its own dangers.
- We are still asking a big question: What is the Gospel?
- What is evangelicalism and what is orthodoxy?
Make sure you read the whole post, but I thought his comments on the Gospel were particularly interesting. McKnight argues that the Gospel is still the centering reality of evangelicalism:
You can talk all you want about eschatology and about atonement theory and about evangelism and about worship, but the moment you cross a line others perceive to be too far in the wrong directions, you will be called out on it. The essential line in Christianity is the Gospel, and all theology is measured by its fidelity to the Gospel or its denial of the Gospel.
But, he then goes on to point out that we still don’t have a widely accepted definition of the Gospel:
How odd, I muse at times, that so many claim “gospel” for what they think but at the same time don’t recognize that the word “gospel” seems to be a contested term and category that demands careful words and definitions.
No wonder modern evangelicalism is having an identity crisis.