In an emotional interview with Sally Quinn, Rob Bell says that he has been misunderstood and slandered. There is much that could be said in response to this accusation. I think Quinn followed-up with the most obvious response. In what way does he feel misrepresented and slandered?
Bell’s answers, however, really miss the mark in my view. First, he sort of alleges that his critics are accusing him of not being a “serious follower of Jesus.” I don’t know anyone who is saying that he is not a serious follower of his version of Jesus. Second, he suggests that his critics don’t understand that he is simply trying to present Jesus to people who need him. But this is begging the question. What Jesus is he presenting to them? Is he calling people to the Jesus of the Bible? Or to some other Jesus? That is what this conversation has been about (“the question behind the question” as he puts it). I think we will all concede that he is calling people to Jesus. The question is, “which one?” (see 2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
I think it would be helpful to know, for instance, if Bell is calling people to the Jesus of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, who promises to give â€œretributionâ€ and â€œeternal destructionâ€ to those who â€œdo not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.â€ Many of us donâ€™t see the Jesus of 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 in Bellâ€™s book. Is he saying that he does believe in this Jesus and that his critics are wrong to suggest that he doesnâ€™t?
If he is going to say that he has been misrepresented and slandered, I would like to hear some substantive engagement with his critics. Maybe subsequent interview snippets will tell more (Why is “On Faith” releasing the interview in pieces?). We’ll see.