Sunday, February 27, 2011

Did Justin Taylor jump the gun?

Justin Taylor has been come under fire for rendering a provisional value judgment on Rob Bell’s forthcoming book. As Justin explains, “I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me.” This is in addition to Bell’s now notorious video teaser.

I find the attacks on Justin misdirected. Why would Bell’s publisher send someone like Justin a sample preview of the book in the first place?

I assume publishers do this to gather glowing dust-cover blurbs for the book. “Pre-reviews” which plug a forthcoming title.

Therefore, the publisher (with the author's consent, I assume), is inviting someone like Justin to offer his initial impression of the book.

So it’s difficult to see how Justin wronged the author when his publisher is, in fact, soliciting Justin’s opinion of the book. Isn’t that the point of sending representative chapters of the book? Justin is a prominent figure in Christian publishing. He also runs one of the A-team Christian blogs.

Presumably, then, the reason Bell’s publisher sent Justin this material in the first place was to garner a high-profile recommendation. Something to juice sales or preorders.

Assuming that’s the case, it’s passing hard to see how he did anything untoward by offering his admittedly provisional judgment of the book.  

If it turns out that he misjudged the book, that’s the fault of the publisher for sending him misleading material on which to form a preliminary assessment. 


  1. "Something to juice sales or preorders."

    Good insight. I don't think anyone has made this connection in all the commenting going on. Good call.

    Rob is bad news. I checked him out, as much as one can with such a marketing mysterious fellow, and found him wanting. He is shallow and actually makes things up as he goes along.
    I don't need this guy for sure with so many of God's fine and genuine pastor-teachers around, not to mention my own local pastors.

    Justin is a fine brother in Christ, and fear the Lord, and loves the truth. And so he ministers to the Church with his gifts. He shines as a genuine "child of light".

  2. Absolutely. Thanks, Steve. All kinds of people have been saying that Justin will need to apologize if the book turns out not to advocate universalism. No one seems to be saying that it's the publisher who should apologize if the book doesn't advocate universalism. Justin is responding to a publisher's promo description, a publisher's promo video, and a publisher's promo chapters. Thanks again.

  3. I think you make a fair point and a good defense of Justin Taylor.

    However, Jesus Christ did indeed die for the sins of the whole world and there is a biblical case for believing that everyone is going to heaven:

    This does not mean that there is not wrath and judgment, for indeed there is and every one of us should live a life of repentance before the Lamb. If we do so, our souls will be blessed on earth. Moreover, our final judgment in heaven will find more mercy.