Without commenting either way on the whole “Is Rob Bell a universalist?” brouhaha, I would say it is rather interesting to read the endless defensive posturing of Bell’s admirers against the relentless offensive posturing of the (cue scare-quotes) “neo-Reformed.” John Piper says “Jump” and we say “How high?” We are lockstep with the Gospel Coalition. Calvinism is the Borg and we’ve been assimilated, no longer thinking for ourselves.

Does this happen? Undoubtedly. Yet a bit of self-reflection might have Bell’s many self-appointed PR managers wondering if they are doing the same. Four fingers pointing back at you and all that.*

What I mean is, it is interesting to read the accusations of mindless, lockstep fandom against some from the eager fandom of another. John Piper has “minions,” one of Rob Bell’s minions defenders said.

Just ’cause you’re not “of Cephas” doesn’t mean you’re not “of Apollos,” is what I’m sayin’.

* We should all do this introspection.

Print Friendly
View Comments

Comments:


8 thoughts on “Ad Hominem: or, Rob Bell Needs New PR”

  1. Bill Blair says:

    Well said Jared. I've noticed quite a few judgements tossed at "judgmental Christians" and vice versa. In some ways the new fundamentalists are the anti-fundamentalists who rise up against anyone who tells them no. Then the minions chime in and away we go…For me, when this Bell thing started I had to wait until you chimed in to respond because I am not of Piper or Bell, but of Jared. ;-)

  2. Jared says:

    Bill, that makes me shudder. ;-)

  3. Josh Cousineau says:

    Thanks for this Jared. Although I posted on my blog about this, and I even quoted Piper in it, I totally sense what you are saying. I honestly think that this whole neo-reformed (as you called it) [ie. Gospel Coalition, Piper, etc..] thing is becoming more of a problem. I can see where the current trajectory may lead to more problems then contribute good. I believe that these things were started for good, but they can, and might be? moving to a place where they cause problems not solutions. I think what you have hit upon in this post just scratches the surface of some of the issues that will arise in the years to come.

  4. Tim Bertolet says:

    I appreciate what your saying. I agree there are fanboys for all the angles.Neo-Reformed can be a scare tactic word.I wonder though: is the concern for Bell coming particularly because one group follows another person or because one group follows a different idea.Is it so much because people are jumping on the Piper et al bandwagon, or because there are people who are generally concerned about right doctrine –and not necessarily all in a doctrinal obsessive kind of way, but in a pastoral epistle sort of way.No doubt some people justify themselves by how many wolves in sheep clothes they can spot. But I can't help but think weeding out who is doing that and who has purer motives is much tougher.As a Calvinism and a Trek fan, I gotta just laugh and love the Calvinism/Borg reference. Irresistible grace: resistance is futile?

  5. Jared says:

    Josh and Tim, good words.What I'm saying is that toe-the-line fandom is not a neoReformed problem any more than its an emergent problem. It's a human problem. No one tribe has the monopoly on idolizing dynamic leaders, and it would behoove us all to realize this if we want to have good conversations, even debates, on this kind of thing. Saying Bell's critics just pant when Piper (or Taylor or whoever) blows his whistle isn't any more true than saying Bell's fans will eat up anything he writes and defend it zealously.We have to be able to both point out false teaching and defend our brothers from false criticism without doing this stupid ad hominem, "you're just saying that because you're a fanboy" type of thing.

  6. Josh Blackstone says:

    I think (coincidentally enough) Piper spoke to this issue recently in a little video. Can't find it right off this morning, but warning the "new Calvinists" that we had the potential for much genuine change, but also the potential for the "next big thing" and fizzling out. Both sides need to strike at the heart of the issue… what is the main driving factor? Is it the gospel?

  7. Anonymous says:

    "What I'm saying is that toe-the-line fandom is not a neoReformed problem any more than its an emergent problem. It's a human problem. No one tribe has the monopoly on idolizing dynamic leaders, and it would behoove us all to realize this if we want to have good conversations, even debates, on this kind of thing. Saying Bell's critics just pant when Piper (or Taylor or whoever) blows his whistle isn't any more true than saying Bell's fans will eat up anything he writes and defend it zealously."Thanks again Jared for restating this. I don't know how many times one has to state this clearly, the other side will continue to only think that their enemies do this. Just the fact that Bell's questionable theology has turned into a 'Calvinism' issue shows that 'neo-Reformed' people aren't the only ones guilty of this.

  8. Steve says:

    Not to prove your point about being a "minion", but I like what Kevin DeYoung says here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/02/28/bell-brouhaha/Sometimes, people are gifted at saying what you already believe – not that you get your belief from them!

Comments are closed.

Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

Jared C. Wilson's Books