Thursday, March 12, 2009

so close, yet so far...

It is usual for me and those like me to put the question to Rob Bell, and rightly so. Some of the things he's said and written have deservedly raised the eyebrows.

So, it was with something like surprise that I read these couple of paragraphs, not only for the position they seem to be saying he holds, but also for the insight he offers in them.

Who decided tha tkids--or anybody else for that matter--are unable to abstain?

In a lot of settings, abstinence programs are laughted at. So are those campaigns in which students commit themselves not to have sex until they're married. Have you ever heard a news piece on the television or read a magazine article about one of them that didn't at least subtly mock the idea of "keeping yourself pure for marriage"? People who organize and promote these kinds of campaigns are often viewed as hopelessly naive messengers from a far-off land that simply doesn't exist anymore. The criticism of the "sex is for marriage" view is usually presented as the voice of realism. Are people actually capable of restraint?

But it's not realism. It's the voice of despair. It's the voice that asks, "Aren't we all really just animals?"
Rob Bell, sex god, p. 54

It may be said that this, too, did raise the eyebrows, but for different reasons--that such as he should have seen through "We can't expect kids to abstain from sex" rhetoric to see even one of the hidden assumptions behind it.

And I think he is right, and very much so. The voices that say that we can't expect people to not have sex before marriage is the voice of despair. It's an insight that is almost like something Schaeffer would have said.

But a few pages later, any hope I may have had getting lowered a bit, by these words.

In the creation poem of Genesis 1...
p. 57

Yes, I'm reminded that Bell thinks the Creation account is something like a myth. Yes, he says that the voice of despair asks "Aren't we all really just animals?", but then he believes that we really are just higher animals who evolved from lower animals.

And I wonder how he can say that about the voice of despair, when he believe the real myth that feeds that voice.


Anonymous said...

this whole "creation poem" is a joke... i try not to get too hung up on it, but i just came from working at a church that pretty much believes the same about much of the OT, including Job and Jonah. liberal theology at its finest!

thx for the post, EP!

also enjoyed your "social justice" post. i thought i was alone on that. this gospel-less message of "love" is annoying.

i've struggled with this, though. in my youth ministry, i wanted our kids to be "mission-minded" by giving to Compassion. at first, this was a great idea to me. but now, i think we need to get more involved in our own community first. we need to be on a local mission before we can be on a global mission.

i love Compassion and what they are doing, but for now we need to focus on those around us.


jazzact13 said...

When people starting talking about "creation poem", or "taking the Bible seriously but not literally", I hear "Pick and choose", as in "Here's the parts of the Bible we like, so we'll keep them, and here's the parts we don't, so we'll come up with an excuse to not take them seriously".

I've been involved in missions, even spending a few years in another country working with a group of missionaries. My thoughts may be a bit different than yours, but not much so.

I do agree that involvement where you are is important, particularly for your church as a whole. On the other hand, things in any particular location are never going to be perfect, so if you're wanting to go beyond it to something like global missions, you'll likely need to do that while still doing things locally.

Saying that, I do understand that perhaps at a particular time, emphasis for local outreach may be more necessary.

Those are only my thoughts, a bit of advice if you would. If you can find wisdom in them, I am happy to have been of help.