Rob Bell's 'Hellology'?
That rogue evangelical preacher Rob Bell, whom I blogged on some days ago, is apparently getting a lot of attention these days for his quasi-universalist doubts about Hell -- he has now made the cover of Time, as you can see above. A large number of people must be reading his book Love Wins, I guess, if it's featured in that weekly's main article, "Pastor Rob Bell: What if Hell Doesn't Exist?" (Apr. 14, 2011). The writer, Jon Meacham, poses an interesting question:
Is Bell's Christianity -- less judgmental, more fluid, open to questioning the most ancient of assumptions -- on an inexorable rise?Bell himself wonders about much the same thing:
"I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian," Bell says. "Something new is in the air."I'm not sure what Bell means by this, for the article doesn't speak explicitly about the point, but Meacham does go on to cite another evangelical who might be onto the answer:
"He's trying to reach a generation that's more comfortable with mystery, with unsolved questions," says [Fuller Theological Seminary president, Richard] Mouw, noting that his own young grandchildren are growing up with Hindu and Muslim friends and classmates. "For me, Hindus and Muslims were the people we sent missionaries off to in places we called 'Arabia,'" Mouw says. "Now that diversity is part of the fabric of daily life. It makes a difference. My generation wanted truth -- these are folks who want authenticity. The whole judgmentalism and harshness is something they want to avoid."I've noticed that a lot of the music sung in churches these days, even in strict evangelical denominations, is largely 'praise' songs that are doctrinally thin, and evangelicals don't seem to know the Bible as well as they did when I was growing up. Evangelicalism has always been a religion of the heart, but that heart these days seems less tutored.
The untutored heart is perhaps not as committed to some traditional doctrines if these seem 'unfair'.
But I'm just guessing . . .