The conversation around Rob Bell’s recent career move has been interesting. Many are fascinated at what the Oprah Machine will turn out. Some are skeptical, and others are quick to defend. It seems that Bell has now been “claimed” by the progressive camp, and anyone who questions his sanctity must be rooted out and destroyed, much like the Inquisition that the progressives (claim to) abhor. Enter an article published by Relevant under the hysterical title, “What the Continued Crucifying of Rob Bell Says About Modern Christianity,” which defends the founder of Mars Hill thus:
“Bell is no fast food, arm-chair theologian, remember.
He’s a Bible geek whose experience with and understanding of the ancient Scriptures was one of the main reasons for his rise in the first place. This wasn’t a guy who skimmed the easy passages. This wasn’t someone who preached from the cozy confines of the Creation story, or the Psalms, or the Sermon on the Mount.”
He also charges that Bell’s critics now are the same as those before: those vile heresy-hunters are now coming out of the woodwork to crucify (side note: I despise these histrionics) Bell all over again. But not so fast.
I’m a fan of Bell’s, as I established in my previous post. I never called him a heretic. I still don’t think he is one. But I seriously question his association with Oprah. Why? Because she destroys those she touches. Like Midas, the mythological king who turned what he touched to gold, Oprah turns those she touches to shit.
Consider Dr. Mehmet Oz. A legitimate surgeon before Oprah put her stamp on him, Dr. Oz has faced growing criticism for his seemingly un-scientific, medically-questionable claims. He’s even had to go before Congress to defend himself. A new study has found that more than half of his claims have no basis in medical science. More than half! Just made up.
So it’s not that Bell is some heretic who should be thrown into the outer darkness. It’s that he’s associating with someone who corrupts, someone who brings commercial success at the price of dignity, integrity, and ultimately the truth.
And I, for one, appreciate Bell’s gifts too damn much to be okay with that.
I hope it doesn’t happen. I hope that Rob is able to resist lure of the limelight, the temptation to so popularize one’s message that all credibility is sacrificed. As a New York doctor said (quoted in the Post article above),
“Mehmet is now an entertainer…And he’s great at it … [But] sometimes Mehmet will entertain wacky ideas — particularly if they are wacky and have entertainment value.”
Will Bell make the most of this opportunity, and use his platform to represent Christian wisdom and charity well, or will he sell out a-la Doctor Oz, dispensing theological prescriptions as corrupt and false as they are easily digestible?
Only time will tell.
Update: A friend passed on this clip from the Rob Bell Show, featured on the OWN website, which seems to indicate that, at least to a degree, Rob is not going to shy away completely from robust Christian themes.