So while watching from the sidelines of the current Rob Bell dust up I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Rob Bell supporters (Bellites? Bellions? NoHellBellistians?) argue exactly like my 11 year old daughter.
Daughter Argument step 1: Deny and Define
Daughter: I haaaatttttteeee my brothers
Me: You can’t say that! Go to your room.
Me: You said you hate you brothers.
Daughter: No I didn’t.
Me: Yes you did, and that is not nice.
Daughter: You have to understand my nuance, what I meant by hate, dear father is that when my brothers behave in a particular way it distresses me to the core of my being and makes me, in the temporal moment, not feel the love for them, which so clearly exists in my deeper being.
Bellposed that would look like this:
Rob Bell Questioner: Rob seems to be questioning some of the historic beliefs of the Christian Church
Bell Supporter: What. No he is not.
Bell Questioner: Did you see his latest video where he said _____________ or read his latest book where he wrote ________________
Bell Supporter: No he didn’t
Bell Quesitoner: Yes he did look here__________________________
Bell Supporter: Oh dear friend if only you we as enlightened as Rob you would see that what he really meant when he said ______________ was that ________________ and ____________________.
Which leads to phase two:
Daughter Argument step 2: The Big Meany Argument (Oooohhh how terrible it is to be misunderstood)
Me: That is not what you meant, and either why it does not matter because that is not what you said.
Daughter: YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!! (insert 11 year of girl wailing here) No one understands. No one loves me.
Me: We do love you, but you need to realize that words have meanings and you need to show self control.
Daughter: You are so mean. So so mean. Sob. You. Sob. are. Sob. So. Sob. Mean.
In the Bell world:
Quesitoner: I am not sure, he really does seem to be saying _____________________
Supporter: Oh you are one of those, I bet you have never even met Rob Bell, I bet you never even went to church at Mars Hill, I bet you a not even blood related or currently married to Rob Bell…and if you are not how can you even suggest such evil things.
Questioner: Um, I am just saying I am not sure that what he is saying is Biblical.
Supporter: YOU JUST DON”T LOVE JESUS (insert college age fan boy wailing here). NO one understands. They didn’t even take the time to raise a child with Rob Bell! No one else loves Jesus.
Questioner: I am just asking a question why is that so bad?
Supporter: You are so mean. So so mean. Sob. You. Sob. are. Sob. So. Sob. Mean.
Step three: They Started it/ I Was Acting in Justice
Daughter: We would not even be in this situation if they had not started it.
Me: It does not matter who started it, you can not just say things like that
Daughter: I told you he started it. He is a little brat, you should have raised him better. You let him get away with everything.
Me. He is an infant.
Daughter: That is always his excuse. I don’t care if he is not old enough to hold his own head up..he should not have looked at me that way!
Questioner: It seems like you get very worked up in these conversations, if what he is saying can stand the test why not discuss it clearly.
Supporter: OH I GET WORKED UP! I GET WORKED UP!!!!!! This is all John Pipers fault. He started it. I would like to kick that dude in the face.
Questioner: Ummm you want to kick a 63 year old man in the face?
Supporter: I wouldn’t care if he could not hold his own head up…he should not have used the Bible against Rob that way…
Step Four: I am Sorry you are so Wrong, Lets agree to disagree
Me: You will have to stay in your room until you are ready to aologise to your baby brother.
Daughter: I am sorry that he looked at me like that.
Me: Truely apologise
Daughter: I am sorry he is such a brat
Me: Seriously, stop being mean.
Daughter: I am not being mean, I am sorry you see it that way.
Questioner: So you have no problem with the fact the he said __________________ or ______________ or ________________________
Supporter: I’m sorry I am not a judgmental as you.
Questioner: I am not judging, just trying to have a conversation, seriously it does not bother you?
Supporter: I am waiting to draw any conclusions.
Questioner: Waiting for what?
Supporter: Waiting for Rob to say clearly what he believes.
Questioner: Seriously, don’t you think his “questions” point to some sort of belief?
Supporter: Wow. I’m sorry you feel the need to judge like that.
Supporter: OK, you are an idiot who knows nothing, lets just agree to disagree (insert smiley face)
My point here I guess is that whether with my daughter or with an adult this method of fighting annoys me…I don’t want to agree to disagree under these terms. I feel like the terms are dishonest, because at the end of the day any questioner is being asked by agreeing to disagree to assent to the idea that RB’s ideas are acceptably evangelical. I can not agree to that. If in fact any supporter wants to say that these ideas fall outside of evangelical orthodoxy then we are on honest grounds and I would be happy to “agree to disagree.” But even in agreeing to disagree that does not preclude honest and rigorous discussion which it seems to me is what the RB Posse hates more than anything.