Sunday, June 5, 2011

"If Bell is wrong shouldn't we condemn McDonald?"

Doug Wilson makes a good observation, McDonald was wrong but his context is different to Bell's.  Wilson says that McDonald, while believing something in error was determined to be godly and orthodox while Bell panders to the spirit of the age.


Alex Smith said...

Interesting interview. I'm not an expert on George MacDonald, but from what I've read, he was incredibly loving and insightful. Like any of us, I doubt he got everything right, however, I would happily join Lewis in having MacDonald as a mentor (although unlike Lewis, I don't write off his Universalism).

Also I'm disappointed that Doug, who is perceptive about many things, just dismisses Bell as pandering to the spirit of the age.

It finished with:
"The Grace Agenda"
"All of Christ, for all of life, for all of the world"

It's comments like this which make me sad. "All of the world" sounds inclusive, until you realise they actually only mean a few people :(

Alex Smith said...

Why the focus on holiness? Why not love? God's separateness only occurred when He created something to be separate from, whereas His love has always existed in the Trinity.

Luke Isham said...

We'll have to disagree about the Universalism versus Eternal Punishment in regards to Doug Wilson on George MacDonald in comparison to Rob Bell.

But about "world" and "holiness." "Kosmos" the Greek word translated as "world" sometimes means humanity in general, sometimes the planet, often it means this system/zone and once (Js 3:6) it means everything in total. To say it means, in every single context, "every single individual who has every lived" is wrong. Holiness can't just be reduced separateness, it includes separateness but it's also about God's character, God's moral quality.

Andrew Bowles said...

It's probably the case (from my limited knowledge) that George MacDonald's particular brand of universalism was influenced by philosophical trends of his time, eg. German Idealism, so there was a bit of 'zeitgeist sniffing' going on there as well (though that is quite an odious term).

I read 'Love Wins' a few weeks ago and Rob Bell seems as determined as anyone to be speaking the truth. Yes, the book isn't very good. But Bell's critics have gone a little off their heads. I saw an edition of 'Calvinist Cartoons' where they fantasised about Bell visiting their office so they could throw him out a third-floor window (yes, they actually drew this!).

Andrew Tweedy said...

I don't know who Doug Wilson is or what kind of audience this video is aimed at. To me he comes across as a bit smug and dismissive, of Stott as well as Bell and MacDonald. My hope would be that people might be encouraged to read these writers for themselves and not just blindly adopt Doug's view.

Luke Isham said...

Andrew Bowles,

Yes, that phrase made me hesitate in posting but I went ahead because the observation about MacDonald was worth it.

I nearly (But resisted!) posted a very funny cartoon about Bell and Osama Bin Laden. So I'm trying to keep my head!

Andrew Tweedy,

Sure he can come across that way sometimes but I'm just as annoyed by Bell's holier than thou manner and trendy let's keep it a vague style of doing theology while being certain that he's right. (But hey, each to his own!)

Alex Smith said...

After reading some more of All Shall Be Well last night, Luke I agree that holiness is more than just separateness, but also covers moral perfection (which has always existed within the trinity). This interestingly means that God would be desiring to make all of creation holy, which rules out ECT.

Who defines the scope of “world”?

Andrew B, I’m actually enjoying reading Love Wins at the moment :) And yes, I think the reaction from some people has been disgraceful.

Andrew T, Doug introduced me to optimistic premillennialism, which sparked my interest in Evangelical Universalism, so he’s not all bad ;-p But seriously, from what I’ve seen & heard from him, he’s level headed & keen for the truth. Although I agree, in this interview he seemed a little too quick to condemn people, or at least their theology.

Was MacDonald trying to be orthodox? Does Doug say that? Seriously I don’t know. Luke have you read the chapter on George MacDonald in All Shall Be Well yet?

Luke Isham said...

BDAG A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature

Andrew Tweedy said...

Point taken Luke. Bell can do "smug" pretty well too and I can see how he gets under people's skin.

ish said...

It's hard to get a sense of "smug" in Doug Wilson here. Is it in his clear summations, like calling Bell a "Zeitgeist sniffer"? The phrase seems apt.

Alex Smith said...

Wilson's "Zeitgeist sniffer" seems condescending to say the least, as Jason Pratt said, "most people's ears, in my experience, are not in the least "itching" to hear that they are contributing to hell right now in this life (even with small sins, and even if they're formally "Christian"), and that if they don't shape up they're going to keep contributing to hell in the next life, too, except that mostly who will be suffering then as a result will be themselves instead of other people. And unless they repent of their sins and submit to Christ, their torment absolutely will not ever end, ever."

From the interviews I've watched of Bell, has doesn't strick me as doing this book to win popularity, but rather out of a genuine love for people & truth.

Luke Isham said...

It seems though Alex the spirit of this age is for heaven and hell now. People would approve of Bell condemning social sins like greed but squirm if he mentioned idolatry. People want to hear that they can make the world a better place, people don't want to hear that the worst thing in the world is rebellion against God. Jason is wrong, by down playing judgement and focusing on the present (over-realizing his eschatology) Bell is shifting the focus away from our eternal destination and giving in to what the itching ears want to hear, for example the favorable write up in TIME magazine.

Alex Smith said...

I’ve heard other evangelicals talk about “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” and conversely “this present evil age”, implying that both heaven & hell are “now & not yet” concepts.

Where does him squirm at the mention of idolatry?

We can make the world a better place (love thy neighbour) because and through God’s love for us & ours for Him.

Jesus is very concerned about how we live in the here & now too. I’m not sure who said, “Some people are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good”, but I think that is also an concern. i.e. I’ve got my “ticket to heaven”, now I’ll live my life my own way, heaping contempt on sinners at the same time.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame Bell for getting a favourable TIME magazine review, it's the Media, no one knows their exact motives, and they tend to like controversy :|