Christianity 201

November 21, 2011

So Which Christian Authors Rank Highest on Your “Don’t Like” List?

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In the Christian blogosphere, many blogs are characterized by the number of authors, churches and movements they are opposed to, rather than the ones they like.  And in an age where clicking a “like” button is all consuming, I suppose that’s actually a little backwards.

I’ve often expressed passion here for certain authors, but am extremely unlikely to devote a blog post to condemning an author; while for some blogs, this is their entire reason for being.

So I wade into this one with fear and trepidation, but I think it’s important to not only be aware of who or what movements are influencing us, but also how these authors or movements are casting influence.

For that reason, I was very intrigued with an article by C. Michael Patton at Credo House, Why Do We Love C. S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell? (A sentiment I don’t share, by the way.)

Some answers Michael put forward:

  • re. C. S. Lewis: “…With all of these foibles, I seriously doubt any evangelical church would take a second look at his resume were he to apply for a pastorate at their church today. In fact, this list alone would be enough for many to call him a heretic. However, we still love him. We still read him. We still defend him. We still hand out his books by the dozens to friends and family who are struggling with their faith.”
  • re. Rob Bell: “…From what I have read and seen, he seems to have far fewer theological problems than C.S. Lewis. In fact, on paper, he is probably more evangelical than C.S. Lewis. He might even make it through the interview process at most evangelical churches. He, like Lewis, has written many works about the Christian faith… However, evangelicals don’t like Rob Bell. He is not beloved. “
  • re. C. S. Lewis: “…You see, while C.S. Lewis has a great deal of theological foibles, his ministry is defined by a defense of the essence of the Gospel. The essence of who Christ is and what he did are ardently defended by Lewis, saturating every page of his books. His purpose was clear: to defend the reality of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All other things set aside, this is what you leave with every time you read Lewis. The problematic areas are peripheral, not central…”
  • re. Rob Bell: “…However, with Rob Bell, the essence of who Christ is and what he did seems to be secondary. One has to look for those things as they weed through his defenses of non-traditional Christianity. Whereas Lewis’ ultimate purpose is to define and defend “mere” Christianity, Bell’s “mere” Christianity is but a footnote to a redefined Christianity. Bell’s focus is to challenge, question, change, reform, and emerge from traditions that bind us. Traditional apologetics, orthodoxy, and foundations are brought into question from beginning to end. Christ’s reality, deity, exclusivity, and the hope of the Gospel proclaimed receive an occasional footnote (if at all) from Bell.”

Patton’s central thesis:

  • “Another way to put this is to say that in the ministry of C.S. Lewis, the central truths of the Christian faith are the chorus of his songs, with the occasional problem in the stanzas. However, with Bell, the chorus of his song is filled with challenges to traditional Christianity and if you listen really closely to the stanza, you might get an occasional line of orthodoxy.”

Sample of reader comments:

  • …Who says “we” like C.S. Lewis. As a Fundamentalist Baptist C.S.Lewis was not a genuine Christian. He was a Heretic. Bell is an impostor and not a genuine Christian either. These men do not represent Biblical Christianity but a counterfeit type.
  • Lewis’ writings bear fruit among non-believers. For example, I have a relative who was a non-believer, and he credits Lewis as having a big role in convincing him of the Christian faith. Lewis gets a lot of rope because of examples like that. We’d rather a person become a believer and perhaps disagree with us on certain doctrines, than for that person to not become a believer at all.
  • It’s always interesting to read the Evangelical take on people like Rob Bell or Brian McLaren. For me, if people like that did not exist, I would be unable to be a Christian. I have never been able to subscribe to Evangelical Christianity, nor do I want to. C.S. Lewis was a great discovery for me years ago because he was like a breath of fresh air in a “traditional” faith that didn’t provide answers to questions I was asking, nor support for those questions. Since, I have graduated to greater “heresy” even than Rob Bell, and I find my faith and my life and my thinking all enriched as a result.
  • I appreciate the writings of Lewis and Bell because they say the same things I am thinking, or ask the same questions I am asking. It is their transparency and honesty at the risk of offending what is “true” or the “right answer” that draws me in. When I read “A Grief Observed,” with Lewis’ description of God behind a locked door, this cold, foreboding silence from Heaven was exactly the experience I had with God. Likewise, in “Love Wins,” Bell asks questions he has asked as well as questions others have asked him. It is an invitation and a conversation many of us want to have. That struck a deep resonance with me.

Read the whole article and add your comment at Parchment and Pen blog.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks much for pointing me to Patton’s article. Gonna spend some more time on your blog checking out your informative posts…

    Comment by robstroud — February 15, 2012 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

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