Hell’s Bells and Bell’s Hells: Legion (01)

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Hell’s Bells and Bell’s Hells: Legion (01)

i just finished reading the Kindle edition of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, hot (very hot) off the print and e-presses March 15th

this is my first (01) post in a series of serious and not-so-serious, even playful and hopefully artful theological-biblical-anthropological critical interactions with Love Wins and its main thesis and other crucial issues it raises

let me say at the outset (and i will repeat this each time i post…if i forget, remember i said it first here):

i love Rob Bell


i love him…love ya Rob-bro

and because i love ya i want to speak truth-in-Jesus-love (eph 4.15-25) in these posts, having some lyrical and poetic and theo-poetic fun along the way…

and i’m calling all of my Christian brothers and sisters to love Rob Bell well…all may not love Love Wins, quite understandably so, but all must really love him who wrote it, for love covers a multitude of sins, both ours and his (1 Pet 4.8)…remember, he is our brother and he is made in the image of God…so let’s watch our tongues and pens!

now many of my brothers and sisters in Christ may be offended that i’m saying this about or to Rob or doing these posts in this manner (might sound flippant or not appropriately serious), but the serious stuff has been written (see DeYoung below) and Martin Bashir has already bashed Bell and rained on his glorious “wrecking ball” coming-out party to the mainstream media with his love wins thesis (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg-qgmJ7nzA&feature=player_embedded)

so i don’t want to engage in the nitty-gritty of speaking Jesus-truth-in-love that’s already been done so well…i want to have some theo-poetic, hopefully artful fun like Bell has when he writes and talks in his mystical Barthian-style theologizing (Rob: if you read this, i hope you like the performance, the art of it…as such an esteemed Christian art critic…your poor grandma…i would welcome your critique of the artful, lyrical, poetic, performative aspects of these posts)

…thankfully, Bell’s writing is not nearly as effusive as brother Barth tho…well, now that i think about it i think i really like Barth’s writing better despite his pre-mortem modern tendency to write 7 million words in his unfinished Church Dogmatics…the post-modern penchant of Bell and others to write less and allow the blogosphere and appearances on Good Morning America to fill the gaps and de-mystify the mystical in the writing is just so…well…hellaciously frustrating!

but at least Bell’s speaking is much easier for my ears than Barth’s…when we’re all on the other side i’ll be able to hear Barth as well as i hear Bell now, and i can ask them both to clarify whatever they didn’t clarify and retract on this side ’cause they both have written so much that mystifies…

btw: i think all of us who write and publish theology should commit to do what Augustine did so wonderfully: write our retractions of errors and clarifications of mists in our theological reasonings before we port over to be with God in Jesus awaiting the very real and material coming of heaven-to-earth that Bell talks about in Love Wins with such clear dependence on NT Wright

anyway, here goes with some theo-poetic fun…

why “Hell’s Bells and Bell’s Hells”?

first in this post (01)…about “Hell’s Bells”…as i was hearing all the pre-pub chatter i started hearing all those bells you hear in the AC/DC songs lodged in my head from my BC days…i rarely listen to AC/DC any more, but those who know me well know that i still listen to Pink Floyd alot…just really love The Wall…brilliant stuff…and i loved Bell’s mention of Pink Floyd in Love Wins

but i can’t really explain why these AC/DC songs kept coming into my mind…songs like Back in Black and Highway to Hell and TNT…stuff i used to listen to in various altered states of consciousness with my friends in high school and college BC…

well, maybe TNT comes to mind because Love Wins has dropped like many tons of dynamite exploding on American Evangelicalism’s theological playground…very much unlike Barth’s Romerbrief that exploded on the theological playground of the liberal theologians of his day…no, Bell’s is exploding on the conservative theologians’ playground and working the other way…whereas Barth (with others, esp. Bonhoeffer) literally unmasked the heresy of theological liberalism in his day, Bell’s efforts of trying to save Christians from Christians seems to be a conscious effort to work the other way…he certainly is being interpreted that way by many Christians, as being “at best neo-liberal” and “at worst heretical”

but i’m not convinced he’s neo-liberal…he seems to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus after his bodily death along the lines of NT Wright’s masterfully orthodox defense of the resurrection…so this would clearly make him not liberal theologically…remember, the liberals in Barth’s day denied the resurrection wholesale as a myth and did a bunch of crafty re-working of this all-important biblical-historical-anthropological-eschatological-pneumatological-christological-theological truth…

and i’m not convinced Bell is heretical in his view of hell, because it sounds like he may be close to C.S. Lewis, Barth, NT Wright and perhaps even Tim Keller…i’m not sure about this yet, because i’m in the process of doing my own research on these brothers as to their views of hell…

now many of my conservative brothers and sisters may point out other places, as DeYoung does, where they claim Bell is “liberal” and “heretical”…i think DeYoung uses “heterodox” which i think is a quite good label…of course, we are all probably heterodox in some way but probably not in a damning way because we are not aware of all of our errors and inconsistencies and falling short (rom 3.23)…

don’t get me wrong tho…i think there are tons of problems with Love Wins and i think DeYoung nails all of the salient ones…

well, that’s enough for now…

as i said, there’s been lots of chatter and tweeting and blogging and critiquing going on…the best, fairest and most balanced and irenic critique i’ve read is DeYoung’s at  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/

pastor DeYoung saved me alot of time…writing everything really that needs to be said about the pastoral, biblical, theological, christological, eschatological and logical issues that Love Wins touches on on myriad muddled ways…go there and read it

my next posts will talk further about why “Bell’s Hells” and “Legion” come to mind when i think about Love Wins…and about why images of Al Pacino as the devil in The Devil’s Advocate as well as AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and Back in Black (Velvet) come to mind…

until then, many blessings and cheers

and try to chill a bit over Bell’s Hells in Love Wins…take a run, work out, pray, have a beer or glass of wine…whatever we need to cool our heads and think calmly, coolly and critically…less heat, more light is what we need…and the love that covers multitudes of sins…walk in love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…be completely humble and gentle, forbearing with one another in love (montage of eph 5.2, 4.1-3)


mk 8.34-35

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