One time Rob Bell said this:
“Be careful of people who grab a line from an interview with me and wave that one line around. “What about this? He said this.” Understand that an interview is hours of talking, and that the media can write anything they want. Does that make sense? Please understand that you can take any line, isolate it from its context, and make the person be saying all kinds of things that they never intended to say. Or at least isolate it from the context of the words.
Please understand that there are blogs, and rumors of blogs, and people on blogs can write anything they want. People can write anything they want, and they can be as unbelievably hurtful because the internet is a safe, anonymous place for cowards.
And so please be careful of taking things that are being said as if they’re etched in stone. They’re not. It’s a website. It’s an Amazon.com review. That’s all it is.
We need to be careful that we don’t get dragged into things.
For those of you who take heat, here’s a phrase that I think is very helpful. Four words: Historic Orthodox Christian faith. Perhaps a simple line that would be helpful to people is, “At Mars Hill, we are trying to live out historic orthodox Christian faith. Where do you see that we’re not…”
“Well, you talk about questions.”
Show me where questions aren’t central to the Scriptures. Show me – whatever you’re talking about – where it’s not part of historic orthodox Christian faith.
So the real question is how are we going to respond, because we’re just getting started. There will be more praise, and there will be more Pharisees. I would respond with two words: love wins.
I deeply appreciate some of you who have entered into the public fray. I don’t read any of this, I’m told that some of you have written letters to the editor, you’ve gone on the internet, and your love and support for this place and for me personally, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Some of you are like, “Come on, what are you saying about us?” That means more to me…but I might ask you to reconsider, simply because I don’t know how much it helps. Some people, no matter what you say, have a hardness of heart and aren’t going to change.
Please be very, very careful who you engage with.
Some people simply have questions, and simply want to discuss. Wonderful. But some people are miserable, and they use religion as a crutch to avoid dealing with their misery and their pain. And what gets masqueraded as Christian faith is not. And we need to be careful spending all sorts of energy engaging with people who don’t have any interest in coming along on the journey with us.
I would ask you before you engage – and there’s nothing wrong with engaging – to perhaps ask, “Could I redirect the energy I’m about to spend towards somebody who’s never, ever heard that God loves them?” And let us be the kind of community who engages in the right kinds of discussions, but otherwise we’re too busy loving people with the transforming love of Christ to engage in the mudslinging that goes on. You are too valuable to me, and your time and your energy, you’re too valuable in our community to end up in some sort of theological kung-fu with somebody who ultimately thinks they’re right. There will always be Pharisees. God’s on the lookout for disciples.”
–Rob Bell, 9.11.05
I actually think that most of it is brilliant and flows nicely. He is after all a near genius communicator. Here is the problem though: isn’t it all rather easy to silence your critics by calling them all pharisees? I mean isn’t it rather simple to pop in and say “I was taken our of context, my critics are loser fundies…I’m out.” I mean after all this is a man who is quoted nearly weekly by the local press here. If the comments are that far out of context why keep giving the interviews? And what if those who are critiquing aren’t pharisees but rather fellow Ministers of the good news to a post-Christian world? What if they aren’t people who hate everything new, but rather people who just love the King and His book and just think that Rob is plain old wrong about some things? What if they are people who care deeply about justice and mercy and the poor, about the fact the the Christian life is made to be lived now, about the fact that our lot of of forebearers reduced the good news to a formula for how to get to another world..what if they are all those things and still disagree? Do they then become Pharisees?