I've not read Rob Bell's book. I'm not sure if I will any time soon. My list of books to read is far too long and I'm no where close to being caught up on the research I need to do right now for the various projects I am writing. But all the hubbub about this book has caused me to reflect on the way various leaders in the church have responded to it. Today, I read on Twitter that a few Christian bookstores have even refused to carry the book. The reaction of reviewers is fueled with a great passion and very strong opinions, both for and against.
While sitting back and watching all of the "conversations" I began to ask a different set of question: What would happen if church leaders responded as passionately to books that promoted a heretical Gospel that clearly embraced American consumerism at its core? What if we responded just as strongly to teachings that promote individualism and personal success that seem to come out under the banner of "Christian" every year? What if we challenged the church literature that promotes the separation of races and the marginalization of the poor, all in the name of building large church memberships?
I have strong reactions to many "Christian" books that I see coming out in bookstores. Many of them--some of them quite popular--promote subtle forms of heresy, but they use language that is accepted as orthodox. When something like Rob Bell's book hits that overtly challenges--that's what I read in the reviews anyway--our standard language and thought patterns, it stirs the pot. But have we become so accustomed to the marriage of the church with the thought patterns of consumerism, individualism, and vestiges of church success that we no longer see the problems?
Part of me wants to start a blog series that challenges books along these lines, but I just don't have the energy to invest in that. I'm more interested in investing an a constructive alternative. Lord, ... your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.