Saturday, March 05, 2011

Bell Strikes Two: Boyd on Robbing Hell

Greg Boyd, who unlike most people in the conversation has read Love Wins, has weighed in on Rob Bell's heresy trial. In sum, the book really doesn't affirm universalism, and it's more about raising questions on hell than answering them.

Boyd's point is largely as Scot McKnight has already made it, but Boyd makes it nicely nevertheless.

Meanwhile, we haven't heard whether John Piper, guru of the neo-Puritan/Calvinist resurgence, has offered any qualification or retraction of his "Farewell" tweet that seems to have got the evangelical world talking about this. Piper plays a tune that leads many out of the town of Hamelin, namely, a firm and eloquent statement, absent of argument that acknowledges even the existence of counter-argument, that only Reformed Christianity is True Christianity. He appeals to those who long for a kind of theological certainty that grants them membership to an exclusive church that is small and pure. Call it the Elitism of False Radicalism.

For Piper, folks like Bell, McKnight and Boyd (indeed, SWNID too, if Piper ever had reason to take notice) are already outside the True People of God because they aren't sufficiently Reformed. If election is not unconditional, then God is not God, Jesus' death meant nothing, and people are left to save themselves, per Piper. Piper prays for those who disagree (though why is a bit of a mystery, as their "unbelief" is apparently predestined) and urges them to change their minds (see mystery above). But in the end he can easily dismiss one dissenter's defense of another precisely because that one is a dissenter, not because he engages the arguments or the evidence.

Now, some reflection. In the last couple of years, we've witnessed the rise and disappearance of emergent/emerging churches, the rise and ongoing decline of the neo-Calvinists, and the rise and near-burning-at-the-stake of Rob Bell and hipster Christianity. The pace of ecclesial trendiness is far, far too rapid for our taste. Christians, can we stop rushing about from one fad to the next, at least long enough to share the Lord's Supper or something?


BarryD said...

Bell should have a solid defender in Boyd, since both have been unjustly attacked by the Mad Piper. I am very familiar with the Piper/Boyd saga having lived somewhat close to the action and infrequently attending Boyd's church during the time that Piper tried to get him thrown out of their denomination.

I'm not a fan of Bells by any stretch (in fact, I can barely stand listening to him, not because of his views, but because I just can't stomach the artsy/hipster/unwillingness to commit to anything nature of his material). At the same time I don't think we should prejudge his book until it has actually been read. On the other hand, if Bell is not a Universalist, his (and the publisher's) ads for the book are misleading at best.

One more thing -- I can't remember the exact book, but I'm pretty sure Boyd himself takes a position on hell/suffering that is very closely aligned with conditionalism. I don't think that makes him a heretic, but I wish he'd just say that up front.

Why all the mystery behind these guy's views? Why don't they just say what they believe and back it up? I'd have a lot more respect for them if they did, even if I didn't agree with them.

Joe said...

The title of this post scared me. I thought you caught me in a heresy...luckily you were talking about the smarter Boyd.

Anonymous said...

Jon, New is not good.
I think you choose to associate with "new" things in the realm of Christianity because your denomination (sorry "brotherhood") verily do not have very much history, so you may believe "new" is good. You all only have 185 yrs or so.( all can't claim the Anabaptists as your heritage, they pursued holiness and separation from the world, and none of them were baptismal regenerational)
But why always seek the good in the new anything new and hip? Why are you interested in "new" forms and conversations in Christianity? I think it's because you are new. Your whole brotherhood has no lasting theological foundation. Because of this, your school only begets christianette ministerettes. Many of them don't know anything about historic Christianity's doctrines. (Forensic Justification first, sanctification subsequent, even any depth of the fullness of the Person of Work of Jesus for sinners, or the Inerrancy/Infallibility((both!))).
Instead they hear "form criticism" and Bultmannism while "learning" the Book of Romans!!!!!! Atrocious.

So, you're speaking of Boyd as if he has some understanding of scripture! He also is neglecting the tried and true historical doctrines of scripture.
Open theists do not understand scripture; they impose their free will protecting grid upon its holy pages and create something "new". Why? Then again you have these type "scholars" right up there at your seminary---one) of your oldest and most respected theologians (in your own circles that is) is one.
And this comes as no surprise. You all despise even the concept of a predestining God. Both your young and your old profs there work tirelessly to evade "determinism". Why? Why so offended at the concept? Could it be that freedome if your god? You all theologically demand freedom. And if God is a predestining God, you don't want Him.
The Campbellites will never be taken seriously because of your "newness", your neglect of historical doctrines, and consequently your excessive, biblically disproportionate fascination of Acts 2:38. (Have you noticed your much hated "determinism" in the very next verse???)
Come on. Grow some antiquity. Yes Christians go back to the apostles and the Catholic "reign" was hideous and the reformers didn't reform enough. The Anabaptists have the trail of blood thread throughout history, but if they didn't rejoice in imputed righteousness as their only hope for heaven, they weren't Christian; that is the defining mark of a true believer. Go back to the puritans, go back to Luther, Calvin. They had justification right. get some forensic righteousness, get some substitutionary atonement. If a professing believer doesn't have these, they are only a professor. Tell your students: Stop with "ministry" for the Lord for a second. Rest in Christ. Selah. Then "minister", knowing your salvation has already been made sure. your labor/ministry adds nothing to your standing before God. Christ is all of the Righteousness the Father requires.
Be assured in Him.

Saved by the blood of the Penal Substitute. That's why He came.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. Where's is my post that "continues the 'conversation'"?


Anonymous said...

Did you remove my post?


Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

We've removed nothing. Perhaps a technical problem. Say it again if you care to.

Jack said...

Since no one critiqued the book before it was released, your complaint about that isn't justified. But it's easier to defend Bell from imaginary injustices by conservatives, than to defend what was actually being critiqued, which was the youtube video that he released.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Joe, Piper tweet-critiqued Bell himself on the basis of a brief video and prepublication blurb that teased the subject before the full book was released. One may criticize Bell for teasing in the video, but it's a mere technicality to say no one critiqued "the book" before it was released. And is teasing worse than publicly jumping to conclusions about someone else's orthodoxy?

Our point, and McKnight's and Boyd's and many others', is that Bell was tried and convicted on insufficient evidence. The cliche phrase is "a rush to judgment."

We don't want to claim special knowledge here, but the first time we saw a sentence from the prepublication blurb cited as evidence the Bell is a universalist, we noticed immediately that the statement was patient of other interpretations. We think that others could've seen that too. The fact that Piper shares an educational background much like our own should suggest as much.

If just one or two people would say, "Maybe we were a bit hasty," the Body of Christ would be well served.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Jack, we called you Joe.

Sew sari.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Thau, your post was trapped by the spam filter. You can decide whether that was predestined or not.

In any case, we've graciously restored it.

And let us say that we Campbellites want nothing more than the respect of all the fine, Reformed Christians out there.