Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Open Letter to the Entire Evangelical World

It's not often that I use my Evangelical clout and rock-star status to reach out to the entire world, but every now and then a situation will arise that clearly calls for the irreproachable and utterly infallible "Final Word of the Don."

Folks, I hope you understand the gravity of this: once I've spoken on an issue, that's the final word. So I'm about to give it to Rob Bell once and for all, and make no mistake: there will be no need for anyone else to blog or write on this issue ever again.

You're welcome.

A Little History

Most of you are probably aware of the need for me to step in and pass final judgement on the Rob Bell / Justin Taylor / John Piper fiasco. However, for those of you who have other things to do than go heretic hunting, let me give you a basic timeline.

On February 23, Rob Bell released a video on the Vimeo site promoting his new book, Love Wins. Since February 26, Justin Taylor, John Piper, and a cadre of Calvinists have been trying to show that it doesn’t.

There has been a lot of ink spilled over the issue in the last week. And while many people were simply happy for the distraction from Charlie Sheen, the noise coming from Evangelical circles has been loud enough that the New York Times published an article about the debacle just yesterday.

The Bell Tolls for Thee

So in the midst of all of this debate, accusation, and heresy flinging, the Don has arrived to set the record straight and to put an end to the mayhem.

First off, I’d like to applaud John Piper. Without even reading Love Wins, he sent Rob Bell packing from the world of evangelicalism. That takes some major guts, my friend, but you were willing to do the hard work when so many people wanted to actually wait and see what Bell had written.

Now I realize that some of you will say that this was a brash thing to do. Some of you will point out how ironic it is that Piper’s message this last Sunday was titled Neither Do I Condemn You. Some of you might even point out that what John tweeted last week even seems to go against some of the articles on his blog asking us to consider the motivations behind one’s actions before judging or to judge out of love instead of “a condescending disposition.” Some of you may even feel like Piper’s quick dismissal of Bell is illegitimate because it goes against things he’s written in the past, such as in Desiring God on page 113 where he states that Scripture teaches us to “not just do acts of mercy, but to delight to be merciful or to want to be merciful.” After all, you might ask, wouldn’t being merciful to Rob Bell at the very least include reading the book you are prepared to cast him out of the faith over?

But you’d be wrong. You see, Piper’s quick dismissal of Rob Bell is worthy of applause precisely because it goes against Piper’s own belief system. It takes true courage to dismiss someone so quickly that you don’t even crosscheck it with your own beliefs. Thankfully, for the sake of the Body of Christ and the millions who might hear the heresy that might exist in a book that hasn’t been published, John Piper was courageous enough to preemptively do away with Bell before that book ever hit the stands. It’s the theological equivalent of attacking a country that might pose a threat to the United States. I, for one, salute Piper.

And what of Justin Taylor? Well I hardly need to stand up for Taylor because Kevin DeYoung has already done such an outstanding job. Taylor had every right to launch a nuclear attack against Rob Bell because Rob was asking the wrong questions. Don’t get me wrong, we want people to understand their faith; like Kevin DeYoung, I want people to ask questions about their faith. They just need to ask the right questions, and Bell was asking the wrong ones. Questions about the nature of heaven and hell, though they have been pondered and debated for centuries, are simply out of bounds these days.

Now, Rob, I realize you may not have understood that. That’s okay; we accept your apology. For future notice, here are some appropriate questions you can ask and still be evangelical:
  1. Young earth or younger earth?
  2. Passion of the Christ: great movie or the greatest movie?
  3. What’s the best way to donate to Desiring God ministries?
See, stick with the basics, Rob. We don’t need your heretical questions muddling the minds of people we’ve trained not to think for themselves.

After all, because of Bell's questions millions of people around the world are now discussing and wrestling with issues of salvation, Jesus, heaven, hell, and what it means to be in right relationship with God. And we simply can't have that.

The Don has given his "Final Word." Leave a comment or email us to leave your own word.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rob Bell Brings The Don Out of Retirement

I was done. Gone. Finished. The Don had shut the door on the blogosphere and discontinued patrolling the internets. I was perfectly happy with writing 27 books a year, teaching my Trinity students the art of awesome, and looking like a vampire in my Amazon.com bio picture.

And then Rob Bell had to go off and disappoint John Piper. And much like he used to do when we were kids, Piper displayed his disappointment by taking his ball and going home.

So mark your calendars, folks: I've got a special blog entry coming next Tuesday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. central time to deal with Rob Bell so that John will stop texting me his complaints about Bell's new book every 30 minutes.

Bell will curse the day he was born for making me put up with this whining.

In the meantime, feel free to completely ignore 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 and pick up one of these T-shirts.