Re: Rob Bell's Love Wins
by tomtalbott » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:41 am
The reaction of the evangelical community to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, continues to be quite remarkable, in some cases even disgraceful, and reveals a lot more about today’s evangelical community than it does about Rob Bell or his book. So when a host of evangelicals began pointing to Martin Bashir’s interview of Bell as if it were a tour de force and had supposedly made him squirm, I decided to watch the interview for myself. I was stunned, not by Bell’s answers, which were both intelligent and appealing, but by the absurdity of Bashir’s questions, which were more like dogmatic assertions than real questions.
As the interview came to an end, I found Bashir’s approach merely bewildering—until, that is, I later learned that he was a member of a conservative Calvinist church at the heart of the firestorm.
i) Before getting around to my main point, I’ll make a parenthetical observation: critics of Bashir act as if this is the first TV interview they ever saw. But to anyone who’s not been living under a rock, there’s nothing unusual about Bashir’s style. As a rule, there are two kinds of TV interviews:
a) You have the softball interview, in which a gushy, sympathetic interviewer poses leading questions to help the guest make his case.
b) You have the adversarial interview, in which a pushy interviewer tries to put his guest on the defensive.
What Bashir did is nothing out of the ordinary.
ii) Now to my main point: Observe the palpable hostility of universalists like Talbott towards Calvinists and other exclusivists. For folks who believe in universal love and universal reconciliation, why do they treat exclusivists as their mortal enemies? Given their seething animosity towards Calvinists and other exclusivists, they convey the impression that universalists only love universalists.
No one is more exclusivist than your average inclusive universalist. But isn’t the acid test of universalism to love those who don’t believe in universalism?
Indeed, from the way they carry on about exclusivism, you have to wonder if universalists believe exclusivists are damned. Do they think exclusivists are going to hell, to purge them of their wicked exclusivist theology? Must the exclusivist practice postmortem contrition, to repent of his evil exclusivist theology, before he’s allowed to join the saintly universalists in heaven?
Does the eschatology of universalism entail heaven for universalists, and purgatorial hell for exclusivists? Will exclusivists be subjected to coercive torment until they recant their exclusivism and beg Thomas Talbott to forgive them?
Just spend a little time browsing the Misanthropic Universalist...uh...I mean, the Evangelical Universalist forum, and sample the antagonism, the resentment, the vindictive barbs directed at Calvinists and other exclusivists. Notice the whole in-group/out-group mindtrip. It's all about drawing lines. Us v. them. Bunker universalism.