Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Bell for Whom Richard Mouw Tolls

Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary has recently commented on Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins and the divergent rhetoric about the ideas posited.  I have not read it, but from internet chatter Bell's position is that anyone who is not openly hostile to God and his revelation will be accepted when brought before the judgment seat.  This thinking has been promulgated over many years, especially recently within the effort for making the gospel relevant to a sin-filled world through postmodern paradigms and seems to be have become a mark of the emerging/emergent church movement of which Rob Bell and Brian McLaren are fixtures.

President Mouw himself supports the book and told a USA Today reporter
I basically agree with his theology.  I knew that the book was being widely criticized for having crossed the theological bridge from evangelical orthodoxy into universalism.  Not true, I told the reporter.  Rob Bell is calling us away from a stingy orthodoxy to a generous orthodoxy.
This seems innocuous enough, and one might naturally ask how Mouw sees Bell adhering to the scriptures.  Sadly, that never occurs.  Mouw's defense is built on C. S. Lewis' understanding of heaven and hell.  In other words, human philosophy is given authority over divine revelation.  As much as I enjoy Lewis' work, the use of faulty, limited, sinful understanding to trump what came through the apostles and prophets by God's command is disastrous and self-defeating.  Mouw also goes on to give statements of a rabbi and Billy Graham that seemed to agree with the basic tenet of Bell—only really bad people like Hitler will go to hell.

Where was Mouw's biblical defense of Rob Bell?  It was nonexistent.  I did not hope for a fully formed outline: just give us something.  What was served up was a plateful of philosophy with a side of straw man.  My Lone Star Steakhouse hamburger and salad at lunch were far more satisfying and beneficial.  I expected more from the president of a seminary.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

You have to remember that Mouw has also kow-towed to the Mormons, and Fuller is a very liberal seminary. So I see only what I expect!