I've been reading a lot of Rob Bell recently, his books 'Velvet Elvis' and 'Sex God' are inspiring, encouraging and visionary.
I've also read a lot criticisms of him. Saying that he's a heretic, he's preaching false doctrine, that what he is saying in on the verge of denying the basic tenants of our faith.
But what this really is to me is questioning our right to question scripture, to engage with it, to ask questions of it.
For what its worth, Rob Bell affirms the basic tenants of our faith, he agrees with the Nicene Creed and the authority of scripture.
All he does, is question the Bible, question God.
Now some will say we should never question the Bible. It says what it says and that's it. No arguments.
To me, that's a shallow reading of scripture.
Look at Job. He constantly questioned God. He engaged with Him, to get a better understanding of what God was doing, why He was doing it. It was a time when he grew and got closer to God than ever.
I believe in some basic Biblical truths which apply eternally.
Jesus is the divine Son of God who died and rose again for our sins
Jesus and Christianity are the only way to God. No other faith or belief system.
God is above all, sovereign over all and the creator of the universe.
That God is at work in the world and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit and calls us to serve and glorify Him, and build His kingdom on earth.
These are fundamental truths for all time. Unquestionable. Look at the words of Jesus, look at the work of God and what He says and does. Those truths cannot be questioned.
Because what is true is true, whether you like it or not.
However, the teachings of the Bible are different.
We should question those.
Not in the sense that we should deny them. But rather to enquire of God and ask questions.
'What does that really mean?'
'What are you saying through that passage or that line of scripture?'
'How can I practically live this out today?'
'What does this mean in today's culture?'
'Why are you saying or doing this and what does that say about how I should live?'
These and many other questions help us learn. They help us grow. We get a better understanding of God's character, nature and power. We get to know Him better.
The reason is that when we ask questions, He will respond. He will tell us what it means, how to live it out, why its a good to live this way and how its relevant and can be explained today. He will reveal the answers.
When that happens, we learn something. We get closer to God. We understand more of what it is to be a Christian. We know how to be a better follower of Jesus in today's world, in today's culture. We understand the Bible better.
The basic truths never change. How will live them out will always change, depending on the culture and society we live in.
One of the ways Jesus helped people understand Him was by posing questions for them to ponder on. The idea I think was not just that they then asked those questions of themselves but also of God, so that He could reveal the answers to them.
Isn't that what relationship is all about? Engaging with the other person, challenging and questioning, having dialogue before coming to a conclusion.
Its about honesty, about truth and about love. its about learning and growing.
That's what our relationship with God is and can be like, if only we engage with God.
In doing that, we can draw closer to God, have more intimacy with Him and understand better how to be a Christian and what God is really saying through His word.
We're not questioning who Jesus is, or the truth of Christianity or the authority of Scripture. Certainly, that's not what Rob Bell does.
All we're doing is trying to understand God better and become more like Jesus.
That is definitely a good thing.