My Summer Lair Chapter #74: How You Ever Been Accused Of Heresy?
The penny dropped as I watched The Heretic the Rob Bell documentary directed by Andrew Morgan. The heresy Rob Bell is accused of propagating is basically eliminating hell from classic Christian rhetoric. In his book book Love Wins Bell writes: “It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief (in hell as conscious, eternal torment) is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
Like many I read Love Wins when it was first issued and at the time that idea…the stark rejection of hell I didn’t know how to sort out such a radical idea. So I understood the controversy and why the church was so up in arms over it. (I understood the controversy but I didn’t damn Rob Bell. I’m cool with heresy.)
But I what I clued in watching this doc and revisiting that sky-is-falling-controversy is the book’s title…Love Wins. Meaning that the church as a conservative organization was desperately defending hell as a hallmark of the church. Like think of the church and you should instantly think of hell. Oh.
Rob Bell is saying think of the church and you should instantly think of love. Oh! I was so busy grappling with the book’s concept I missed the meaning of the book.
History confirms we go through this cycle of going too far with an idea; so we overthrow everything and start over. We’ve seen that with civil rights and capitalism and everything else. The problem though is nothing ever just goes away so the side that got overthrown becomes more conservative more entrenched. It doesn’t want to go through that again (it’s the feeling of when you have been dumped and have to go back to being single and finding somebody). So the more history we have the harder it is to push back. Which makes heresy fascinating.
I close this interview with a quote from page 320 of Rob Bell’s latest book What is the Bible?: “Also, you may be kind and gracious and generous, and you still may lose friends. You may be labeled something crazy and untrue. You may find that certain people avoid you. This can be disorienting, to say the least. In those moments, when you are feeling the cold, stiff breeze of loneliness, ask yourself this question: Would I rather go back?
Would you rather be alive and free and open and thrilled with all that is happening in your heart, or would you rather go back to who and how you were before? I didn’t think so. Remember that.”
Andrew Morgan’s response to that quote, to Rob Bell’s 3 year struggle he documented with his cameras (a struggle that existed before the documentary and will continue after the documentary) is powerful: it’s a gut punch. Yes this is a Rob Bell documentary; it’ll clearly be marketed this way. However it really is a documentary about us and our ugly responses to our heretics. It’s not pretty. Hopefully…Rob Bell is right: Love Wins. I can only hope he is right.
We…as a society and as a church…are only as strong as our heretics:
Host Sammy Younan
Recorded: Monday February 26, 2018 at 3:00pm
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