I like John Piper. I do.
I respect his teaching, his leadership… his poetry.
I confess, I haven't read too much of Rob Bell. You know those never-ending reading lists students have? He's in there somewhere… I think. Yet I have heard little but controversy about him, either people trying explain his teaching or people denouncing his teaching. If you like labels, here you go: fundamentalists would say that they are part of a Remnant clinging to the Truth, and Rob Bell's controversial storms only show he is a heretic. Progressive believers claim he is being slammed because he is speaking the Truth and no one wants to hear it.
I've spoken my share of slams too. There are certain teachers and preachers who expound on doctrine, but when I look into Scripture, my stomach goes queasy. "Jesus didn't say that, so how can the teachers explain this is what He stood for…?"
Chris' blog brought out questions for me.
I'm not the only one with these kinds of questions!
I will admit it straight out: sometimes I am afraid of asking the tough questions in life because I know I'll get torched. Either someone already has the answers altogether and throws Scripture at me, or someone tries to encourage me to stay true to the faith (aka, "you're walking into dangerous territory").
So we're all just supposed to shut up and take whatever is spoon-fed us?
No… we take what we're taught, use the teachers' own tools to prove their points, and miraculously come to their conclusions. Interesting how that goes…
Yes, there are gifts of teaching and there are many teachers. But golly… if Jesus is The Truth, how the heck can an elite group of any denomination or label claim to perfectly know all doctrine we'll ever need?
I am true.
I am faithful.
But I'd like to think that God makes room for questions… and that He won't hurt me for asking them. I'd like to think that when I disagree with certain teachings, perhaps there can be open dialogue. When public figures like this call down more attention on a pithy evangelical argument than worthwhile support for the Egyptian people in crisis, I stare at our priorities in shame…
Chris makes a good point: a hope is not a doctrine.
Will everyone go to heaven? I hope so. I know what Scripture says, I know what various monopolizers on the Truth have said, and my time in prayer and the Spirit says "no". But I can hold to the hope that God knows all things perfectly, and I can be encouraged to share Christ enough that everyone will be saved.
I have so many questions… and you know what? I'm not a heretic for it.
What about slavery?
God makes it clear about His heart for the oppressed (Isaiah 58), but also outlines the way slaves ought to act (Philemon). Some believers are adamant that sex slavery is wrong, but labour slavery is perfectly Biblical.
What about homosexuality?
What about violence?
What about peacemaking?
Before you start reaching for your Bibles, know that I'm not looking for answers. I'm just saying that I wrestle with God. I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I have total faith in Him that He is producing a worthy woman of character in me. Can't we all simply talk about these questions and still love each at the end of the day?
John and Rob can work out their own issues. They're big boys.
I look at some of the Scriptures in the Bible about slavery, study them, pray over them… and yet am still compelled to end the buying and selling of people in our world.
Will God hate me for that?
I don't think so.
I don't think so at all.
But there are days people like me ache only for an open, safe place to ask those though God-questions without being burned at the stake.