“AN ANCHOR TO DOUBT FROM”

There has been a lot of publicity and sparring in the last few weeks about the new book by Rob Bell entitled Love Wins. It is a book that questions the judgment of Hell for people who do not profess to have a relationship with Jesus by asking questions about the nature of God. Rob Bell is a pastor of a Michigan church that draws a large number of young adults. He has been involved in an excellent DVD series that has been used in thousands of churches, entitled Nooma. I would describe Nooma as thought-provoking, and media excellent.

Love Wins is thought-provoking as well. Actually, it probably is thought-provoking taken to a new uncomfortable, and highly-controversial level. I haven’t read it yet, but from comments that I have read about this new read my reactions span from “I need to read it!” to “I shouldn’t read it!” The purpose of the book, and the controversy, took it to the front copy of this week’s Time magazine. There is no hiding it any longer. It’s out there.

Perhaps I’ll get the e-book. That way, it wouldn’t stand out on my hard copy book shelves.

What hits me about the controversy involves two thrusts, or observations, if you will.

The first is that the church is increasingly becoming a divided camp. There have always been divisions, mind you. We have verbal wars over the type of coffee that is served at church functions, what translation of the Bible we use, who can and can’t partake of communion, what the Sunday ushers should wear . . . and not wear, and, of course, worship music. We have a history of dividing more than we conquer.

But this division is one that is rarely talked about, and yet stands out like an over-grown neon pink elephant is a room that is filled with people in folding chairs. It’s not a division based on Rob Bell’s book. It’s a division based on openness to dialogue, or, closed to dialogue.

It seems that many people in faith-based buildings and structures are hesitant about openness. Is it wrong to question a Biblical principle? Or, does it sometimes take the journey of questioning and doubt to finally bringing someone to a point of belief?

I was raised on the saying “The Bible says it! That settles it! I believe it!” And whereas such a motto conveys the belief of my heart, soul, and mind, it also is ineffective in helping someone move along in their quest to arrive at ownership.

It’s interesting that in recent weeks I’ve had conversations . . . dialogues . . . with several people who long for an environment of “searching,” but are afraid of pursuing such that search as a part of a church. They are literally afraid of being ostracized if they raise the doubts they are trying to work through.

Can the church fertilize the soil that will grow dialogue amongst the seekers?

The second thrust is that each of us must ask what it is that we are anchored to. Do we believe that the Bible is the Word of Truth? Is it a firm foundation to help us keep hold when we stretch ourselves with questions?

Who is Jesus? Is He personal? Is He who people make him out to be? Can I see Him kneeling at my feet to wash them, as He did to His disciples? Is Jesus Truth; and if I believe He is, how close am I to the Truth?

I could go on with other examples of “anchors,” but the point is that there are those who aren’t anchored to anything or anyone. When a new idea comes along they hurry to it like chickens who have some feed thrown in a certain direction of their pen. Being able to differentiate between truth and half-truths are beyond them, because they aren’t sure what base their lives can reach out from.

I think it’s important to believe because I believe it, not just because someone else has told me to believe it. I’m troubled when people don’t feel they can say “I don’t believe . . .” because of a fear of chastisement and ridicule. It only creates a lack of searching.

Some might say that I should end this piece of writing with a chastisement of Rob Bell. I can’t do that, because I haven’t read his book. And even if I read it I will tell people what I believe about the things he writes from the basis of the anchors I hold firm to, and not what they must believe. I will walk with them in the journey of spiritual dialogue, believing that Truth will become apparent the more we talk about Him.

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3 Comments on ““AN ANCHOR TO DOUBT FROM””


  1. Bill,
    Appreciate your thoughts/words here.
    I’ve not read “Love Wins” yet either, but plan to at some point. Rob’s creativity has inspired me over the years. And whatever his conclusions in this book, I respect him for asking hard questions, many of which are not encouraged to be asked within the confines of the evangelical community.
    I hope things are well in your world these days.
    Scott

  2. Friar_Tuck Says:

    Wow Bill. My favorite blog post yet.


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