One of the gambits played by Rob Bell in the recent controversy is that he is only asking questions that other Christians have asked over the millenia. But of course, that's just a canard. Watch his teaser video again and ask yourself if these are genuine questions or simply rhetorical devices to make a point?
Now that the book is out and people have had a read it's become obvious to us all that these aren't genuine searching questions – they are direct challenges to what is actually written in the Scriptures and what Christians have therefore believed for almost 2,000 years (and longer, since these themes are dealt with consistently in both the Old and New Testaments).
But does that mean that we can't ask questions about these difficult matters? By no means. For an excellent example of a genuine struggle with the issues that Bell has so dangerously opined upon take this next video. This is Michael W. Smith from his 1995 album “I'll Lead You Home“. The video is all kinds of cheesy, but the lyrics express that struggle that many have to understand God's ways, without the impudence of so brazenly overturning His revelation.
What of the noble who are searching for the truth With truest of intentions And yet they're jaded by Hypocrisies behind cathedral walls What of the humble and the meek that knew despair And never got their moment But sacrificed a life of comfort So that others knew no pain
You can't deny the sincerity in those questions. But also consider how Smith finishes.
What of the ones who call you Lord But play the field With faithless indecision Forgive us Father for we truly Do not know what we have done
Smith calls us back to introspection. He might not have all the answers, we might not even like some of the answers that he does try to give elsewhere, but he's a million miles from Bell – he wants us to look inside ourselves and plead for the true love of God, a love that Bell has left far behind – the love of underserved mercy that is only properly understood when we first understand our own sin.