So, with the release of Rob Bell’s controversial new book earlier this week, along with his Livestream interview with Lisa Miller and various appearances on cable news shows, the hoopla continues. Early in the aforementioned interview, Bell claimed that he was primarily interested in helping people understand the truth of 1 John 4:8, 16 that God is love. And that’s good! I want people to understand and experience that truth as well. But this whole thing has raised some other questions for me. So, at the risk of trespassing on Rob’s favorite literary form, I’ve got a few questions of my own:
So, God is love. I’m with you. But what else does God say about himself? Doesn’t the Bible say that God is holy (Lev 19)? And what does that mean? And how does it relate to “God is love”? Does one take priority over the other? If so, which one? And how do we know? How does anyone know? Is God holy love? Or lovingly holy? Or both? Is there a difference? What interpretive principle ensures we pick the right emphasis? And what would people rather hear about? Holiness? Or love? Do popular preferences affect what books get written? Published? Purchased? Read? Doesn’t the Bible also say that God is just (Deut 32:4)? What is the relationship between love and justice? Justice and holiness? All three? What if someone wrote a book called Holiness Wins? Or Justice Wins? Would a book like that get published? Purchased? Read? And how do our presuppositions shape the way we raise and phrase our questions? And the way we read the Bible? Are questions neutral?
But hey, I’m just asking questions.
Or am I?