Oscar the Grouch…

“The moral of the story is to listen to your mother.” ~ Tom Hooper upon winning the Oscar for Best Director

As a staff we are in the middle of the book Deep Church by Jim Belcher. It attempts to take a balanced look at the traditional church and the emerging church. He goes to lengths to stress the need for common ground and unity. Typically the church follows the righteous model of Washington DC – where there is little listening, but much pontificating! To say, we do not actually dialogue, instead we declare the other side to be liberals or fundamentalists (add hateful tones). And soon we declare the other side is bound for the pit – unless we happen to be universalists like Rob Bell (those poor guys will be stuck with everyone!).

Oh wait, did I just call Rob Bell a universalist? [Universalism: Theology that everyone is going to heaven.] The world wide web was all a twitter this past week over Rob Bell. It began with a blog by Justin Taylor**. He was responding to a video by Rob Bell promoting his upcoming book (see below or read my summary). In the video Rob talked about an art show. One of the pieces had a quote from Gandhi, but during the show someone attached a note,

“Reality Check: Gandhi is in Hell.”

To which Rob responded…

“Gandhi is in Hell, he is? And someone knows this for sure?”

The video went on to add a whole series of questions about Heaven and Hell. Of course it was a promo for the not yet released book, so Rob never answered the questions. But just asking the questions was conclusive evidence: Rob Bell is a universalist. And a twitter fire raged out of control…

“Farewell Rob Bell” ~ John Piper on Twitter

The fact that John Piper uses Twitter is startling and probably means I am  too far behind the curve… me only blogging on Tuesdays while an old Calvinist tweets… Twitter is a great way to be heard. But it is an even greater way to be misheard. The Piper quote is part of the reason I do not use Twitter. 140 characters, not words, is an easy way to create controversy. But it is a difficult way to create good thoughts.

But the tweet reveals my point. There is a great divide in the Christian world. And each side remains focused on themselves. Living inside their own vision for the church. A grouch when anyone interrupts, rather than dialoguing we are throwing stones…

But there is truth outside. Both in other churches. And even in the world outside. Just the other night the Oscar for Best Director was given to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. He retold how his mom found the subject for the movie and he told the moral I quoted at this blog’s beginning.

And honestly, if the church could take this advice, we would be better off. To remember to keep our rooms clean and to share with others. To make sure we wake up on the right side of the bed and to all gather at the table for dinner…

Because before the bread was broken, Jesus prayed for unity…

** A little self disclosure, Justin Taylor is my brother… at least in Christ. As is Rob Bell… Please, do not be surprised by who is in Heaven when we arrive. Instead rejoice, for it is only grace that any of us arrive... I am not a universalist – I doubt Rob Bell believes it. I do not find the theology in scripture. Still, I am ready to admit that I do not define or interpret scripture – the Spirit does! I do not have all the answers. So if I show up in Heaven and realize I was wrong and God is a universalist… well I am not going to complain. Hell is a terrible place – a place I deserve – and I would be glad if grace covered us all…

here is the struggle: Most of us cringe at my words. And we are convinced Hell is not only real, but filled with people… and if we looked in the dark of our soul, we would realize that we want those people there. And us in heaven… this is sin. We need to remember our place. The broken – remade. And we need to pray for grace that more find the narrow path…

2 thoughts on “Oscar the Grouch…

  1. Sean,
    You mentioned that we shouldn’t be surprised by the faces we see in heaven. I completely agree, otherwise, we’re keeping God inside the box (again). God is so much bigger than we can know while still here on earth. Rob Bell brought up a valid point (Universalist or not) when he said “Gandhi is in Hell, he is? And someone knows this for sure?” We cannot know what happened between Gandhi’s heart and God’s infinite grace, even upon Gandhi’s last breath of life. I was reminded of Landon Whitsitt spiritual journey when Rob said in his video that our vengeful and jealous God was prepared to send us to hell and that Jesus “rescued” us from God. Warped as it may be, it’s easy to see how some misguided and broken spirits could see it that was. Lastly, I’ve been looking thru “Deep Church” and looking forward to reading it (eventually). It mentions in the forward that Belcher is trying to call a time-out to the rhetorical shouting match so that both sides can hear each other. Why does this remind me not only of Chandler, but every church I’ve ever attended. Should be interesting.(and hopefully beneficial) Peace.

    1. Great Comment Rick! And I am glad you saw my point. I did not mean to make the blog confusing, but I have had multiple follow-up conversations concerning my views. God is the judge – not me (or you or anyone). As you write, “We cannot know what happened…” – Exactly.

      Which then moves to my bigger point, which again you understood. As a church – the whole church – we must gather around the table and break bread. Always in submission to His grace broken and shed for us…

      On Thursday we are going to discuss Mark’s depiction of the Last Supper. On either side it is marked by a prediction of betrayal. First by Judas, then Peter. Yet in the middle is the amazing moment of grace that will cover all who come to the table…

      God loves us, though we all have/will betray Him. If we could find this love for each other how strong the church would become…

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