Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent article responding to many accusations that the Gospel Coalition guys are jumping the gun in their response to Rob Bell. I want to share this quote and I encourage you to read the full article.
I know many young evangelicals barely have any stomach for controversy, let alone strong words about a serious topic. But if there is no way to be simultaneously bold and humble; if there is no way to be a gentle, caring person while still speaking in clear tones about hurtful error; if there is no way to correct those who oppose sound doctrine without being a moral monster; if there’s no way to love truth and grace at the same time, then there’s no way to be a biblical Christian. Judgmentalism is a sin and Calvinists can be jerks. But not every judgment is sinful and not every truth is cruel just because Reformed people teach it.
I love that DeYoung has said it better than I could ever begin to say it. When it comes down to it, many Christians today have no guts. A necessary aspect of being a Christian is being a guardian of truth, yet at any moment when one wishes to stand up for truth, he is labeled an arrogant jerk. Allow me to qualify this by saying Reformed guys can be jerks (Gospel Coalition guys are not jerks), but I have seen those in other camp be just as mean, especially a tweet I read from Drew Holcomb that said, “Rob Bell might be a universalist but John Piper is a pompous ass.” So let’s be honest, Reformed guys are not the only ones.
My response to the whole Rob Bell thing can take different shapes but my final feeling remains to be seen. Thus far, here are my thoughts:
1) If Rob Bell IS a universalist, my heart is saddened. He has redefined who God is by taking away his wrath and justice, thereby constructing a whole new god that is no god at all. I’m sad for him and for those who will follow him into this line of thinking. By doing this, Bell has departed from the community of faith by his unwillingness to submit to historic Christian orthodoxy.
2) If Rob Bell is NOT a universalist, his video is incredibly misleading. If this is just a marketing ploy, this makes me mad. Rob Bell is not just a communicator and author—He is a pastor and he should know better. Pastors have a responsibility to lead their people in truth and shepherd them, not confuse them. Ambiguity helps no one and in his ambiguity, he is teaching something about God (again, see DeYoung’s full article).
I’m not going to call Rob Bell a heretic simply because of his ambiguity, but I am going to call Universalism heresy. So I guess time will tell because he is not going to be able to dance around this forever. Sooner or later he is going to have to come out and be blunt with his position. If then he refuses to be corrected, then I will call him a heretic. I guess time will tell. Either way, false doctrine is worth fighting over. I don’t think we have to be mean or nasty, but telling someone they are wrong for holding a non-Christian belief is ultimately loving, not hateful. If the Gospel Coalition guys didn’t care about Rob Bell and other people, they would have kept their mouth shut and talked about something else. But they didn’t because preserving a correct view of God is worth fighting over.