Saturday, April 19, 2008

what bell said at soc

For links to the video excerpts and transcripts, which seem to be accurate from my own viewing and listening to the videos, go here

There are three video excerpts on that site to things Bell said, mostly in answers to questions given to him.

The first was a kind of "tell us a bit about yourself" type of thing, and his response is in answer to a question of that sort, so I'm willing to give a bit of a pass on that one, even credit him a little with a decent insight.

The second is, well, weak. He's answering a question from someone, I think a kid, about how to not be so hard on oneself when one has made a mistake.

Bell makes this observations...

Rob Bell: I think, I think that many people, ah, are—pick up along the way that life is about destination. So they’re taught it’s about arriving; it’s about having all the answers, it’s about creating a nice box that you sit in and defend.

But my fundamental understanding is that life is journey. And journey, is a fundamentally different way to understand life, than destination.

Rob Bell: And on a journey, [Roshi Joan Halifax: That’s right] all I have, am responsible for, is the next step. And that’s all I’m ever asked for—is the next step. [Roshi Joan Halifax smiling and nodding in agreement] I don’t have to have it all figured out; I don’t have to defend it all—I don’t have to have it all nailed down.

And if you can shift from destination understanding, to em[brace]—to journey; it frees you to take life as it comes. Let it be what it is, and then do the next right thing.

For a while, in my signature area at the forms, I had a phrase which went something like this, "To say that the journey is more important then the destination is nonsense. A road's sole value is that it takes you where you want to go".

I think that Bell's idea about life being about journey rather then destination is nonsense on a grand scale.

Consider when God called Abram, and told him to leave Ur. What did God promise to him? That He would lead Abram to "a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). God told Abram about the destination, that was what He wanted him to focus on, not the journey itself. The journey wasn't the end, it was the means to the end.

If fact, it's in Hebrews, where the author talks about the OT faithful, where mention is made that Abraham was destination-oriented, that he "look for a city...whose builder and maker is God".

Consider when God lead Isreal out of Egypt in Exodus. What did God have Moses tell the people? God told them about "a land flowing with milk and honey". God didn't tell that their freedom from Egypt was only about the journey to the Promised Land, but that it was about getting to and taking charge of the land God promised to them. The journey wasn't the ends, it was the means to it.

Consider when Jesus' disciples asked Him to show about the way to the Father. Jesus' answer was "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except by me". What Jesus didn't say was that their desire was off, that should be more concerned about the journey to see the Father rather then actually seeing Him.

In II Timothy 4:7-8, Paul tells this to Timothy

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not to me only, but to all those that love his appearing.

One may note, and rightly I think, that Paul does view his life as having been like a course. In that way, viewing life as a journey is not a bad way of viewing it. My problem with Bell, though, is that he uplifts that journey, and denigrates the idea of destination.

Paul doesn't. He looks toward to destination, what awaits him, and encourages Timothy to also look to that destination, that crown of righteousness, and perhaps more then that to the Lord who will present it to him and whose appearing he is to love and look forward to.

The journey of Paul's life wasn't the ends, it was the means to the ends.

What could Bell have said? He could have pointed to Christ, to His death for our sins, to the need for repentence and forgiveness. He could have said that there is forgiveness for sins, not in denying them and not in striving to do better, and not even in getting over them and taking further steps along an unspecified road, but that in Christ is the forgiveness that this kid was looking for.

Instead, he fed that kid garbage.

But why denigrate the idea of destination for the idea of journey? What does it mean that Bell completely disregards where whatever road one is journeying on is leading? Could it be because he thinks that which road one travels on, be it Muslim or Buddhist or Christian, is unimportant? He is one of those, after all, who has poo-poo-ed the idea of hell. If in his mind there is no hell, then it follows that whatever road one is on is irrelevant. There are no real consequences, except maybe in this life and to this planet and physical plane, to what we believe.

The third one is in response to a question about responding to evil acts.

Rob Bell: Ah, when somebody wrongs you; when they commit and injustice, when they do evil—whether it’s something petty or whether it’s the oppression of millions—it’s as if they have handed you this injustice, or evil.

And so you can hand it back, that’s called revenge, that’s when you take the wrong, the evil, the injustice, the hurt, the betrayal, and you simply respond in kind. There is, next to revenge, another option, which is not to hand back the pain, which means that you’re going to have to bear that pain.

And when you choose not to respond with revenge or retaliation, but you choose to respond with forgiveness—and you choose to take it and bear that pain—it is going to be heavy, but it is going to lead to your freedom. It is going to feel like a death, but it is going to lead to a resurrection. It’s gonna feel like a Friday, but a Sunday is going to come.

And I think what we see [motions toward the Dalai Lama] with Archbishop Tutu, and his Holiness, is when people choose not to hand it back, but to bear it, it will always lead to suffering and it will—you will unavoidably become a better person on the other side. An’ I think that’s what we respond to; is that is what changes the world; when somebody chooses not to hand it back.”

If one were stretching, one may almost think that Bell was trying to sneak in something Christian when he talks about resurrection and Sunday coming. I don't know, maybe he was. If so, it was weak, but what the heck, let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he was.

Some people have made a big to-do about him calling the Dalai Lama "his Holiness", and they should. The Dalai Lama gets a pass because of Tibet's situation with China, but we are true Christians, let us not put on blinders. Buddhism is a false religion which leads people to hell, and while we may sympathize with DL and his people, we shouldn't let their troubles cause us to say that their religion is ok.

So, for Bell to call the lead man of a false religion "his Holiness" is inexcusable and borderline blasphemous.


Ken Silva said...

*psst* Hey Jazz.

I won't tell anyone that you and me *ahem* agree here. ;-)

jazzact13 said...

Ah, I already hit the 'publish' link. Darn, Mr. Silva, now it's not a secret anymore :-)