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.


Justin Freeman said...

Wow. Just...wow. I came here this morning excited to have a little laugh at this whole thing, but this is probably the best criticism of Piper and Taylor I've read so far. Don't get me wrong, I laughed, but that was a fantastic article. Thanks for posting Awesome Carson.

Anonymous said...

Phew..... Finally the last word. I had been pondering all of these questions and had concerns about the nature of Piper and Taylor's criticims. But now, I see the err of my ways and realize that I should be praising them for what seemed like, only on the surface, un-Christ like outbursts.

Thank you Dragon for setting me straight once again. I have been lost these last three years without you.

Jennifer Ellen said...

Great commentary. I half wish you'd named it "The Last Word" as a tip of the hat the McLaren's book on the same topic.

Welcome back to the blogosphere! I hope you're able to stick around this time. :)

Anonymous said...

I was a TEDS student when this blog launched a long time ago. We used to read it over stifled giggling in the White Horse Inn out for fear of getting in trouble.

This was an excellent piece; very thought-provoking.

Jonathan Brink said...

I applaud you for your humor Don. I was expecting something very different and you surprised me. Well done.

Michelle Van Loon said...

Bulls' eye.

Anonymous said...

In true Stephen Colbert fashion. Great read. Even better messaage.

Stephen said...

Okay, great article. I wanted to ask a serious question, though.

You titled the last section of the article "The Bell Tolls for Thee." Obviously the word "Bell" was meant to be a play on Rob's last name, but did you also have another reason for using that phrase? Don't know if you're actually answering us in the comments, but thought I'd ask.

Anonymous said...

Add another reader to your blog. Great!!!!!!!!!!!!Don't you realize the John Piper is the one off limits, not Rob Bell's questions.

Robert said...

Meeeeeeoooooow! Ouch!

AT said...

It's fun to gang up on the opposition isn't it?

Anonymous said...

You sure are quick to expose what you consider to be hypocrisy in Piper's comments when you yourself can't even keep your own word about closing this blog. I guess it's a lot easier to point out the specks in other people's eyes when you can hide the planks in your own eye with the anonymity that your little blog provides.

And now that Bell's book is out, I don't see anyone "Piping" up to defend his heresy. Maybe you're the one that should've waited for the book to be published before jumping on Bell's little band wagon!

Anonymous said...

Tell me, D.A., should I also say "farewell" to C.S. Lewis?

Obviously he is just as universalist as Bell.

Take for example this from his Narnia series The Last Battle: "But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? "

Anonymous said...

Wow! Somebody didn't really want this blog to come back to life. Now, let's see, where is that pesky cat at?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I'll have to demur from the accolades lauded upon this comeback post.

For one thing, while I can appreciate the wit and humour on one level, FakeCarson's characterisation of the Don doesn't ring true enough to the actual Don, which is important when one attempts parody. There has to be at least some sense, however vague, that this is meant to be the Don. That this is how the Don would actually speak or write. But be that as it may.

More importantly:

1. Contrary to FakeCarson's strained depiction, I believe the real Don Carson would support John Piper and Justin Taylor on the Rob Bell matter.

2. Also, the suggestion that one can't form a preliminary judgement on a book (which is what Piper and JT originally did) despite not having read it is facile. For example, it's possible to more or less fairly size up a book based on its reputation. I don't have to have read the Satanic Bible to know it's not exactly espousing biblical Christianity.

Or to take another example, it's possible to criticise a piece of work based on, say, the testimony of trusted, reasonable scholars or the like. I may not know whether a particular book on cancer research is accurate but let's say I have a reliable and keen friend who is an oncologist. There's no reason I can't base my own opinion of the book on his studied, expert opinion.

3. It's similarly jejeune to think asking questions is always solely about asking honest or at least neutral questions. One can ask leading questions, for instance. One can likewise ask questions in such a way as to plant doubt in a listener's mind. In fact the serpent in Gen 3 is the prototypical example of this. So to think Rob Bell is simply asking innocent, value-free questions is rather naive at best.

But why listen to me? I'm not FakeCarson. My word isn't final. I'm just an anonymous commenter. Ho hum.

Ryan said...

Please come back fake Carson. We need more of your humor.

Anonymous said...

What's the deal man? Come back and post already!