For whom the Bell tolls

One benefit of the furore unleashed by the pre-publicity marketing of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, is that Steve Holmes has been spurred out of blogging limbo.

Over at Shored Fragments he has begun what is shaping up to be a detailed and likely unsurprassed series on Bell’s book.

What is so refreshing is:

the honesty and catholicity of his critique – of Bell’s detractors and of Bell himself;

how his wide knowledge of historical theology gives a much needed context to what has been mostly an a-historical and sometimes hysterical debate. I suspect ‘outside’ observers must think that Rob Bell has daringly thought up questions that no-one else in the history of Christianity has ever risked broaching before. Post 2 on how Bell is articulating, probably without knowing it, a long tradition within Reformed orthodoxy (that God will save most people, not just a few), is wonderful, especially since his most hostile opponents are self-appointed defenders of Reformed orthodoxy. It’s worth a quote ..

I suppose that Bell does not even know that the position he is defending is traditional Reformed theology – surely, he would have mentioned it if he did know this? It remains the case, however, that on this point, on the question of the relative proportion of the saved to the lost, it happens that Bell is on the side of historic orthodoxy and his many zealous detractors are not.

This is profoundly important, it seems to me. This is about who God is. A God who saves only a few is niggardly and ungracious …   The broad witness of Scripture is overwhelmingly to the generosity of God in salvation, or so Warfield, Hodge, and most others thought.

and his tone, which is fairminded and generous. Maybe not being an American is helpful here, he has no axe to grind or soul of American evangelicalism to fight over.

Worth checking out.

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3 thoughts on “For whom the Bell tolls

  1. Hi,

    Is it your contention that being an American makes it impossible to be objective in speaking theologically? Are you sure you do not have an axe to grind?

  2. Hello Mike and welcome. No, not at all (about your first question). I have huge respect and admiration for many American Christian friends and authors. More a passing comment, couched with a ‘maybe’, that such has been the level of emotion and polarisation surrounding Bell’s book in the US, that someone a bit removed from it might have a different perspective. No general insult intended – apologies if it seemed that way!

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