Q & R: McLaren is a Fool

Two good – and related questions recently came in relating to the big Rob Bell controversy. First, do I ever think “they” are right?

I just read Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins,” and it won me over. Then I started reading the online attacks on the book, and the venom and vitriol there staged a counterrevolution. Now I think love doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t you think you’re just making God in your preferred image to say that love wins? Don’t you fear that the critics could be right, and that God is as mean/nasty/arrogant/pompous as his/her followers? I think you and Bell are fools to fight against these guys. They have all the firepower.

Second, do I think unity is even possible?

It’s nice for McLaren and the so-called emergents to talk about love wins and give peace a chance, blah, blah, blah. But we know what really wins in the end. Money and fear. How can love and peace bring unity when they refuse to win through money and fear? Yeah, I know Paul wrote about the dividing walls coming down, but you’re fooling yourself if you think you can pull that idealism off in this world. McLaren is a fool, so forget big-tent Christianity and get some pup tents and warm sleeping bags. You’re all gonna need ’em ’cause it’s cold out there.

Here are my replies …

Thanks for these questions.
First, yes, not only do I sometimes fear “the critics” (of my work, Rob Bell’s, et al) are right, I’ve decided it’s too hard to fight them. I can’t muster the fury and pugilism to keep at it. So as of today, I’m throwing in the towel and switching sides. Love doesn’t win: condemnation does. Grace doesn’t have the last word: punishment does. Where grace abounds, the law of sin and death abounds all the more. Ah, I said it. I feel so much better.
And as for Big Tent Christianity, or Generous Orthodoxy, or a new kind of Christianity, you’re right: why bother? Having a small, narrow tent is much more cozy. And generosity is just another word for liberal. And a new kind of Christianity doesn’t have a chance when the old kind has a monopoly on both inertia and momentum. I agree with you: I think Paul was naive in 1 Corinthians 13. Here’s what he should have written, if he had any horse sense:

“Love is inflexible and uncompromising.
Love seeks to drive all opponents from the field, it expresses supreme and unflinching confidence, and avoids epistemological humility or uncertainty.
Love doesn’t give a rip about being politically correct, uses every opportunity to advance its own superior agenda, doesn’t hold back in expressing the holy wrath of God, and keeps careful track of every past infraction in its quest for absolute perfection.
Love does not rejoice when human conventions are overturned in the search for truth, but rejoices in exposing liberal heresy.
Love always excludes difference, always suspects error, always fears the slippery slope, and always is quick to nip anything unfamiliar in the bud.
Love never appears weak.”

Forget naked spirituality. In this crazy world, we need fully-armed, flack-jacketed spirituality!
Of course, that’s just how I feel today, April 1, 2011. Tomorrow I might feel different. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I will, and will respond then with a bit less foolishness.)