“Rob Bell And The Fate Of Every Author Who Refuses To Answer Questions Directly” (To Quote My Friend Steve McCoy)
I know that I’ve already been pegged as an “anti-Bellite” by some because I expressed concern over Bell’s book before I had read it (despite the fact that his promotional video and blurbs gave more than enough to be cautious over, but that’s not the point), but that’s certainly not the case. I have long had concerns about Bell’s fuzzy theology but I also think he’s had a lot of really insightful things to say.
I was actually a little hopeful when I saw that he was to appear on MSNBC with Martin Bashir. I was excited that, now, a reporter without a theological dog in this fight (as far as I know) would use actual journalistic tactics (I’m not saying Bashir actually did, just that I was hopeful) to get straight answers. It was the perfect opportunity for Bell to bring some clarity to the situation, despite the fact that, even after his book has been published, no one can seem to agree on what it actually says. In the end, because I love, I wanted Bell to win.
If you haven’t watched the video, here it is (yes, I know I posted it yesterday but I know what a hassle it can be to click somewhere, watch it and then come back without interrupting the train of thought. You might say I’m all about your convenience):
One of the things I know a lot of people appreciate about Bell is that he asks a lot of questions. He is great at inciting thought and asking us to think deeply. He is oftentimes careful not to insert his own position, instead, he wants us to arrive at certain conclusions on our own (even though he is certainly guiding us in the process). Sometimes I appreciate this about Bell.
But sometimes, being coy with straightforward answers is not only unhelpful, it is damaging. Theological dialogue is one of those places and you can clearly see Bashir’s frustration when Bell does not directly answer questions. But what else should we expect, Bell, over his career, has asked a lot of questions without giving a lot of answers. This explains both his popularity and people’s frustration with him. It’s like trying to pin jello to the wall. It may be entertaining for a bit, but it proves pointless and frustrating after a bit.
I appreciate Bell’s heart but it’s time for him to let his “yes be yes” and his “no be no” (James 5:12).