All my facebook friends are arguing about Rob Bell. I don't want to get dragged into the fray. But I almost can't help it. I grew up in a conservative religious tradition that I have left theologically and emotionally, but not yet completely physically. There is still a tiny part of me that thinks if I just hang in there long enough, say the right things, give the right input, stand the right ground that I might be able to change things. But that's an illusion. The system is old and huge. Thinking I can change it seems rather arrogant. Wanting to destroy it doesn't respect those who believe and benefit. But still... but still... I want to comment. I've mostly avoided the conversations, only encouraging a few friends to keep asking questions. I'm not a Rob Bell fan per say, but I do like his tag line. Love wins.
I posted this comment on Elissa Elliot's blog today:
What if there is no need for redemption? What if the message Jesus actually tried to bring to the world was a recognition of the inherent worth of every life? What if his living challenged religious systems and authority and showed ordinary people that they were not beholden to those systems in order to ensure their fate? What if his death was the heroic death of messenger sent from God that points us to the sacrifice necessary to bring God’s kingdom here to earth each and every day? What if the texts quoted out of the bible to disprove any of the above were cobbled together by the very system Jesus came to disempower? What if we all chose to spend our lives in love instead of arguing about absolute truth?
Maybe it’s a risk. The system I grew up in would have me believe that’s so. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
A workshop I attended this weekend, for helping professionals, closed with a statement that it is our job to help people achieve self-love. I think a huge part of the reason we resist loving others is that deep down, we do not truly love ourselves. Those who oppose Bell would cast humanity as depraved and set up a gruesome sacrifice to appease a "just" God. Working with human suffering and beauty on a daily basis, I no longer believe in that theological premise. Jesus offers us an example of how to love. If I can learn to love myself in the presence of love, and my love can help another to wholeness, and so on and so forth, well that looks like redemption to me. And love wins.