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Unacceptable Irony

Author and theologian John MacArthur posted an entry on his blog about the new Rob Bell book Love Wins.

Rob Bell’s book has created a great deal of controversy and the blogging exchange has been frantic. Rob has been on several news programs, interviews, and created a catchy web presence for the promotion of this new book.

If you have not read the posting by MacArthur click the link and read it first.

I am not writing this post in defense of Rob Bell; nor am I looking to castigate John MacArthur, rather I’m interested in highlighting some of the sociological ironies that occur because of materials and thoughts such as MacArthur’s. Neither of these two Christian representatives should be promoting an activist campaign, this “creating of sides” will automatically determine a winner; unfortunately the winner is a “loser” – the Evangelical Worldview. If representatives do not pursue in engaging differences (as should MacArthur) or adapt an intellectual rigor (as should Bell), the outcome necessarily becomes anti-social and anti-intellectual worldview reputation – the two major problems of today’s Evangelical reputation.

No Logical Proportioning

This article is an epitome of the major hurdles that the Evangelical community needs to first recognize, and then work really hard at solving. This isn’t a “wolf is sheep clothing” or “extreme fundamentalism” problem, these are the results of two people not knowing how to construct arguments and then civilly express these arguments for the purpose of persuasion and understanding.

  1. There is real irony in this article… it is the MacArthur’s of the Evangelical community that created the Rob Bell’s of today. Rob Bell clearly pursues his theology from a bad and misinformed past; his existential history is scarred from an abuse of doctrinal and moral demoralizing. In essence then, MacArthur is rejecting and banishing his masterpiece. This conduct is displayed in the post through the use of labeling, doctrinal whipping, and imperialistic positioning (what MacArthur interjects as the “Christian” responsibility) that rightfully drives many like Bell to search for true love in a Christian understanding.


  2. If MacArthur, from this imperialistic proposition, is able to claim Evangelical as “one of Our Lordstrue disciples able to spot spiritual imposters“, then even more rightfully so, Rob Bell, in a confused interpretation can also be an Evangelical. Why do we think the sociology of the church has gravitated rapidly to anything seemingly more “lovingly” or “socially correct”?


  3. In-order for MacArthur to have the right to accuse (as opposed to critique) Rob Bell he first must have certainty that Rob is in fact purposefully “false prophesying” in his fake sheep’s clothing” and purposefully indoctrinating with what he knows is false doctrine” as opposed to misinterpretation or having false epistemology. But the rational conclusion is MacArthur does not know the Soul condition of Bell but continues to make pseudo-inferences. In other words, there is a difference between false prophesying and just plain advocating bad theology thinking you are correct.


  4. “Is Rob Bell truly a Christian, or is he one of those dangerous deceivers Scripture warns us about repeatedly

    It’s a fair—and necessary—question.

    A careful examination of Bell’s teaching suggests, however, that his profession of faith is not credible. His claim that he is “evangelical and orthodox to the bone” is, to put it bluntly, a lie.”

    I think I know what it is to be fair… and for anyone to determine, make an effort to determine or infer that one of their fellow creatures is or is not a Christian is far beyond the epistemic capabilities we possess. To make this claim then is not only unfair but megalomaniac to God, therefore an immoral judgment.

In Rob’s book he has a story of someone who put a sticky note on a painting in a gallery saying “Reality check, Gandhi is in Hell”. Although the following questioning Rob introduces lacks in logical consistency, a part of the context within his problem is not so misguided… was that an appropriate thought and was that an appropriate median of dispute? My point is, it is these kinds of needless “MacArthur reality checks” that will continue to destroy any revealing of the comprehensive worldview both believe it to be. Both are foolish – instead of determining Christianity as primarily a doctrinal led purifier or some social reality builder, we should be really learning to understand the rich complexity Christianity offers.

The problem here is much bigger than Bell and MacArthur. If we do not learn to logically construct thoughts, pursue the art of persuasion, carefully pursue an understanding of the others ideas, understand the context of unity in diversity, and construct our rhetoric for the advantage of the listener in mind, we will continue to be megalomaniac, anti-intellectual, anti-social, philosophically inept, and existentially unattached, though more importantly, our relationship with God will be impeded.

For Bell, searching for understanding from a heart and zeal of frustration, hurt, and disgust of this false representation will only give you a theology that develops an understanding of God that resembles the very person doing the searching.



2 thoughts on “Unacceptable Irony

  1. 1) I respect that this initial letter from MacArthur appears to be a full on one sided tirade without reasonable dialogue – and that the tone seems to be very harsh – but perhaps it’s important to recognize a few things. First Rob Bell has:
    a) Never agreed to discuss/debate any of his fellow evangelical leaders (If you place Bell in that category) yet continues to go on major media outlets and play a victim like role in the promotion of his new Christianity. Numerous evangelical leaders have reached out to Bell to step through the scriptures and discuss and he has chosen to refuse.
    b) Written numerous books, culminating in his most recent one “Love Wins” that completely ignores biblical doctrine and denies hell and the need for justice from a holy God
    c) A tremendous – TREMENDOUS – voice in the religious community within the United States today and with that voice a remarkable responsibility based on scripture to be sound in his teaching according to the Word of God. Which he clearly sees as irrelevant as he redefines Christianity to his worldview.
    2) John MacArthur has a very REAL responsibility based on the same voice he has within the culture and the Church to denounce false teaching and clearly communicate to his flock (Which is quite sizable in the age we live in today) that Mr. Bell is spreading heresy and leading believers to a false understanding of God’s holiness and the Gospel message. (Why need a Savior for justification from our sins if our sins mean nothing and there are no repercussions?)
    3) Does not scripture give us a clear example of how critical it is for those called to leadership in the church to denounce false teaching and keep the body of Christ protected from such poison to their faith? Would you put the Apostle Paul in the same category as John MacArthur? I would almost guarantee you would not. How much different is what MacArthur is doing then Paul when you read the following and see how Paul addressed this type of issue?


    4) Finally – I think it’s off base to state that Christian leaders who teach strict Biblical doctrine and call the Church to be accountable to the teaching of scripture as the way God has instructed to live as believers -have led people like Rob Bell to their viewpoints and insanity of today. Sin has led Rob Bell to his viewpoint and warped marriage of modern secular culture and scripture. Rob Bell’s own pride and intellect have led him to the position of a modern day gnostic of sorts. John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, Alistair Begg and other evangelical expositors of today – who do not water down the teaching of the word of God for fear of insulting young Rob Bell’s but in trusting God’s inerrant word should be applauded in this culture of today – not derided for their lack of tolerance and dialogue.

    Summary: I appreciate your view that the lack of dialogue and what would appear to be a one sided yelling match is counterproductive – but when one side has a large audience, will not debate and instead chooses to cry victim – church leaders must teach the truth, expose false teaching and instruct their flock to avoid such teaching.

    Posted by JJ | 04/15/2011, 9:10 AM
  2. One last point – there are two different approaches to dialogue at play here as well. One would be a letter to the “Church” (MacArthur) and the other would be debate with Bell – which Dr. Mohler and Meachem are attempting through logic. Both – in my opinion – are appropriate:


    Posted by JJ | 04/15/2011, 9:43 AM

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