yesterday morning, the theological wing of the twittersphere exploded when audio surfaced of rob bell affirming same sex marriage. while speaking at grace cathedral—an episcopal church in san francisco—he was directly asked about his stance on gay marriage and he offered the following response:
“I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”
since departing mars hill church in grand rapids and relocating to los angeles, we’ve heard very little from rob bell. that changed yesterday afternoon when bell, with no fanfare or forewarning, tweeted a link to a new video.
whether or not you’ve read rob bell’s love wins, you’ve heard about the book. and you’ve likely heard that in said book, rob bell has done away with hell. and unfortunately, if you’ve heard that, you’ve received false information.
bell’s book is actually an affirmation of the theology of hell. but it’s a very different hell than the fire and brimstone you grew up hearing about.
quite a few years ago, i attended a seminar led by tony jones in which he discussed the blurred lines between what we label as sacred and secular. at that point in my faith journey, i had a particularly difficult time buying in to his fundamental thesis. my way of thinking about and engaging god was far too dichotomous. either/or was much more appealing than both/and. even more than that, i feared a worldview where decision-making couldn’t necessarily be eased by the label “christian”.
you likely don’t know the name mickey maudlin. i certainly didn’t until recently when he spoke out about the reaction to rob bell’s controversial bestseller love wins. so why is he speaking out? because he’s the executive editor at HarperOne—the publisher of the book—who worked alongside bell throughout the writing process.
so, um, yeah. the whole rob bell thing.
you know the whole rob bell thing, right? i’m way too over it to type out a lengthy explanation, so if you don’t know about it, you can read a relatively brief overview here. over the last couple weeks, i’ve literally written two separate blog posts about it that i ultimately decided not to publish because i was sorta sick and tired of the whole thing (the first one was a doozy, titled when calvinists attack: the social media crucifixion of rob bell…yeah, that would’ve been fun…).