Amidst all of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell and his book Love Wins, one thing has given me pause above everything else, and it involves the reactions from the Evangelical Christian world.
The release of this book is a good thing for Evangelicals, and here’s why:
Thousands of us are having our faith held under a light and exposed for what it is:
It has become apparent that what has been masking as faith, as Christianity, for some of us for a very long time, is revealing itself in Twitter updates and Facebook links for what it really is:
We’re actually quite a frightened group.
Our theological systems, constructed over the years with bricks of books from authors we agree with, is being tampered with; holes are being poked in our houses of theology; a strange wind is blowing in and we don’t know what to do, and so we react in the only way we know how: attack. Make fun. Look to friends who are saying the same thing for affirmation.
“Defend” God and the Bible.
Who is this weak God needing defenders?
Amidst all the Scripture that comes to mind throughout this ordeal, one has continued to press upon me.
The setting: a few men were preaching about God in a new way, and this angered the religious gatekeepers of the day, the ones who defined Orthodox theology. So much, in fact, that they wanted them killed (they’re preaching heresy, afterall!)
And then something amazing happened.
One of the religious teachers, a man named Gamaliel, stood up to reason with his Orthodox clan. He did not point to the Scriptures in this instance; he did not cite Bible verses to back up his argument. He did not try to defend God. He simply said this: Brothers, before you continue in your tirade against these new teachers, carefully consider this:
“Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you might even find yourselves fighting against God.”
This is calming wisdom.
Not, “These are heretics!” (Though they may be)
Not, “These people are misinterpreting the Bible!” (Though they may be)
Simply this: Leave them alone. If this is not of God, it will pass away soon enough. But if by chance it is of God, your efforts are in vain. In fact, you may soon find that you could even be fighting against God.
Are there religious gatekeepers–that group that defines what Orthodoxy is–in our day?