Hipper-than-thou pastor

So, if you know me personally, or if you even read this blog very regularly, you know that I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Rob Bell.

And right off the bat, let me tell you that I hate that, because self-righteous ‘christians’ who think it’s their goal in life to tear down everything their brothers build in the name of ‘constructive criticism’ drive me insane.

And to be totally honest, I’m somewhat of a hypocrite when it comes to this matter…

About a year ago, I read “Velvit Elvis”, and I like it so much that I read it again and then bought the audio from iTunes so I could make Stephanie listen to it :0)

(I wrote this about a year ago when I was thinking through the book)

The whole concept of interpreting what Jesus said through the grid of first century Judaism was amazing to me. And Rob really shed some light on some passages of scripture that never quite made sense.

I started listening to the Mars Hill Bible Church podcast. And for my birthday, I asked for the book ‘Sex God’, which I got and eagerly read…

This whole time, I had some questions I was holding out to find the answers to. But I felt like the good outweighed the bad, and I really wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

Then came the ‘Convergent’ conference at Southeastern seminary, and Mark Driscoll used his teaching time to speak about the ‘Emerging Church’, which I found really interesting. He singled out Rob along with a couple other teachers as ‘dangerous’. His explanation on why was fair and it caught my attention: It seems like the dude NEVER actually teaches the Gospel. And I got to thinking about it. And I started listening to Rob’s podcasts more carefully. And it’s my conclusion that after listening to a year’s worth of sermons, I still haven’t heard him teach about the cross one time! I have never been to Grand Rapids, and I don’t know what kind of systems/groups/processes they have in place there. But based solely on the Sunday morning teaching, it seems like you could have gone to Mars Hill Bible church for a whole year, been involved, paid attention, and never heard the Gospel articulated… (and I fully aknowledge that I’m really not qualified to make that assessment based on some podcasts…)


So, having said all that, there’s an article in Time magazine this week titled “The Hipper-Than-Thou Pastor”.

Some quotes from the article:

Polling by the evangelically oriented Barna research group shows that at least half of regular churchgoers ages 16 to 29 think their church is too judgmental, too political and too negative about homosexuality…

“He could be one of the most important 21st century Christian leaders,” says Bible professor and evangelical blogger Ben Witherington…

His stagecraft is legendary. To illustrate a passage from Leviticus on sacrifice, Bell brought on a live goat, which he released–underlining Jesus’ role as the last and greatest sin offering–intoning, “The goat has left the building.”

Hmmm… that last quote seems to come from a sermon that I missed…

Justin Taylor pointed to this story a couple days ago, and as of this morning, there are 44 comments, but the conversation there is awkward, because it seems like a couple of self-righteous religious people must be poised at their computers, waiting to explain to every Bell supported why they’re wrong….

The truth is, folks, that 11,000 people come to hear Rob preach every week. And even though I have my questions, I think I would much rather be a part of the community he’s helping to build that 99% of the churches within 30 miles of my house…

So what do we do with all this?