The logic thought of great twentieth century evangelical intellectuals such as Francis Schaeffer, Herman Dooyeweerd, E. L. Hebden Taylor etc… was very modernistic in it’s outlook. They argued till death with modernism and it’s thinkers but they did it, ironically and probably unknowingly, in a modernistic way. They all, of course, loved their saviour, but their word view, one could argue was not a Jesus follower one but a modernistic one and they battled against modernism using modernism’s own intellectual tools rather than a humble Jesus from Nazareth way.
Rob Bell by going down a different route to the last generation of evangelical thinkers is not a heretic just for coming up with new post-modern approaches to intellectual dialog. He is simply doing what the previous generation did and what, of course, Paul did at the biblical Mars Hill! (Acts 17) One must engage the thought of the day to present Jesus as a personal saviour and as a universal redeemer.
I have been very much influenced by Mark Driscoll’s sermons since I first listened in 18 months ago. But if I think about it he doesn’t introduce any different ideas or emphasis from the emphasis I was taught growing up in a Conservative Evangelical Church here in Aberystwyth. He does it in a more cool/hip/rad/street-cred/cussing way, but content and emphasis wise it’s nothing new for me.
Bell on the other hand balances me off nicely from an emphasis that was missing in my conservative evangelical upbringing. I became a Christian around the age of 14 I think – but for many years after that I didn’t grow in the faith because the only thing I was taught was sin management theology – I already got that and what I needed was a deeper understanding of the Cross, a deeper understanding of the restoration through Jesus, a deeper understanding of His Kingdom. From the age of 18 onwards I saw that there was more to Christianity than sin management theology and by the age of 23 when I first got hold of books by people like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell I discovered that there were other Christians out there who had been through the same journey as me!
Sure, some things Bell says I don’t agree with but are there any people out there who would agree that men like, say, Martyn Lloyd-Jones got it right on every single issue? Of course not.
Ok. Testimony over. Thanks for listening!