Archive | July 25, 2011

An Open Letter To My Progressive Evangelical Kin: Remember Who We Are

July 25, 2011


We’ve been played.

My inner skeptic roared when HarperOne launched its pre-release publicity campaign this winter for Rob Bell’s Love Wins: “With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly hopeful – eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And, ultimately, Love Wins.” That’s raw bait, nurtured and bred for remonstrating bloggers, tweeters, and columnists and their free publicity. And they chomped. John Piper issued his now-famous tweet, “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to a critical Justin Taylor review, and John MacArthur delivered one of his typical broadsides. All unwittingly read their lines from the marketers’ script. Some progressive evangelicals raced to Bell’s defense and, on cue, cried that many hadn’t read the book. Nor had many of them, but they still snarled at the critics while reciting their buzz words: “dialogue,” “understanding,” and “conversation.” Who can disagree? Except that the snub-like calls for civility reeked of incivility: there was constant second-guessing of motives. Few addressed the merits.

Surely the publicity stunt was a cynical ploy. Of course I liked Bell – especially his innovative NOOMA videos – and anyone needling finicky heresy watchers can’t be all bad. But I refused to buy the book. Don’t we see that script? Doesn’t everyone know how this play ends? We’ll discover harmless shibboleths cloaked in hip, “with-it” lingo. Eggs will drip from the faces of the heresy watchers while HarperOne laughs its way to the bank … Right?

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