Multiple Choice Theology

I promised myself that I would not blog about the Rob Bell controversy, but fortunately I didn’t promise that to anyone else so I’m off the hook for this. I’ve read a few good posts (like here, here, and here) on Bell and his new book, Love Wins, and I watched the live stream of his interview about the book on Monday night.  I think I’ve got a grasp on the general idea of the book, but I haven’t read it (like most of those who have commented on it so far). Based on a couple of educated book reviews I’ve read, I think I will be more comfortable with N.T. Wright’s approach to the question of heaven and hell.

I heard about an interview on MSNBC where someone described it as Bell “getting drilled by Martin Bashir.”  Here’s the link if you would like to watch it (7:03 long), or you can just see my satirical summary…

It seems to  me that Bashir had an agenda and couldn’t keep it out of the way of the interview, so Rob was unable to finish explaining why he refuses to define things only the terms that Bashir wants him to use.

Summary of the interview:

BASHIR: Here is the way I frame this: It’s A or B. Which do you say it is?
BELL: It’s “C”, and here’s why… [Bashir interrupts]
BASHIR: You haven’t answered my question. Is it A or B?
BELL: [trying to smile through the frustration] Well, I don’t think your categories are sufficient.
BASHIR: Answer the damn question you heathen!
BELL: Love wins.

After watching this, I’ve had a few very good conversations about how we talk about what we believe.  I don’t know what Bashir’s theology is like, but his interview of Rob Bell made me wonder if he requires that theological questions be broken down into strict logical dichotomies, where we must choose our position as one would in a multiple choice test.

I am not suggesting that we eliminate categories when we talk about God.  In fact, I’m quite sure we won’t make sense of any theological conversation without an ability to link similar ideas together.   However, if we are so committed to our own ways of framing theology that we limit discussions to false alternatives, then we lose the opportunity to hear what “angle” someone else can bring to the table.

Fans and haters alike can unload in the comment section below.  Oh, wait, that was a false alternative.  Sorry.

5 thoughts on “Multiple Choice Theology

  1. Right on brother. My main reaction after the interview was frustration. I suppose if we want to get to the heart of anything, we shouldn’t be watching short interviews or soundbites.

  2. Missed opportunity to explore the subject at hand, for sure. But this was MSNBC, so they are all about selling soap. That was the kind of interview that accomplishes that.

  3. I meant to comment here after you posted this. I completely agree (and blogged about it too) – the interview/interrogation was frustrating to watch. Bashir was too attached to his pre-conceived notions and as a result, the interview lacked professionalism and I’d add, intelligence.

    To your point, Bashir attends Tim Keller’s Redeemer Church which is reformed. I have met some fantastic people there and I don’t think Bashir gets this baggage from Keller IMO.

    Further, I find his black/white thinking to be very contradictory to the nature of journalism (and thought in general). I’ll be the first to say that the B/Ws have contributed much to the Church and theology of course, but I praise the Lord for those that can think “gray” too.

    In any case, I hope these conversations continue.

  4. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I saw the title of your post and still intend to read that (along with your review of the book).

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue on this topic, whether online or in person. I’ve also realized that not everyone wants to have the conversation, and it’s best to be okay with that.

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