Saturday, March 1, 2008

Jumping on the Trampoline

Rob Bell, oh, Rob Bell.

I've always liked him as an author, and NOOMA narrator. He's engaging, his writing is so refreshing in both style and the innovative ideas he's trying to use to enlighten the dissatisfied Christian and non-Christian alike.

But, I was alerted today to a frightening tidbit about his doctrine. Now, I've scouted around the internet a bit to try and find some answers, and I think I've got to the bottom of it. Here is what I think (if you care!).

Rob compares what Christians call doctrines (the fundamental building blocks we use to define just what we believe and why) to springs on a trampoline. His point is that doctrines are not faith; they should not be a rigid, unyielding brick wall, but a collection of tools we use to jump higher in faith - the mat, I suppose, being God. Sounds reasonable. Now, the problem comes in when we regard Jesus's divinity and the nature of the trinity. Critics have criticized (ha, just doing their job I suppose!) Bell for taking this view. However, I think that Bell isn't suggesting that Jesus was not divine, that he was not both fully human and fully God - the perfect sacrifice. I think he's saying we need to question WHAT we believe, and why. We shouldn't just blindly follow the doctrines of our elders, not bothering to investigate for ourselves the claims of Christ and the Bible. I don't think Bell is suggesting that the trinity is just another spring, that can be taken out and discarded, still leaving a perfectly operational trampoline. If you start removing springs from a trampoline, what will happen? Without the springy-ness, your jumps become shorter and more unbalanced, and the whole structure will soon collapse under your weight as you bounce. That's because you've removed all the support (the doctrines, the church, the Bible) and all that is left is YOU. This is the scourge of the Christian faith. It is not all about US, what makes us feel good, what fits with our preexisting viewpoints and schedules. Faith is full reliance on Jesus, not on yourself.

If you remove all of the springs, it all falls apart.

I think what Rob is suggesting is that the individual springs are flexible - they can be examined, probed, investigated, and they SHOULD be. If you are sincere about your investigation, allowing the Spirit to lead you as you search for truth, you will find that the essential doctrines - the strongest springs, the ones firmly rooted in scriptural truth - these will endure, you will keep these springs attached to your trampoline, and they will help you bounce higher and higher as you abide in God's love and truth. In your search, the faulty springs that you had previously blindly accepted will be exposed in the light of the Bible. You can discard these - they were hindering your jump anyway (rusty, perhaps?).

I don't think God gets exasperated when we probe his word and seek for him to inspire discernment in us to discover what he truly desires to be the foundation of our faith. It proves that we are sincere, we aren't lazy about our faith.

Phew! So, that's all I have to say about that. I still like Rob Bell. :)

In other news - I just bought Jon Foreman's solo cds (the first two) today, the Fall & Winter EP. It is AMAZING. You need to listen to it. Seriously.