Note from Jim Hamilton: I have gone back and forth on the propriety of allowing this guest post from Bill Z. Bull. There is no love lost between Lord Bull and myself, and I do not count him a friend. In the end, I decided to allow the afreet to put up his post because of what it reveals both about the author he defends and about the nature of those who would undertake his defense. For corroboration of the statement I just made, one need only look at the latest book of the author defended below. Wisdom’s cry rings in the street.
In Defense of Rob Bell
A Guest Post by Bill Z. Bull
Are there not serious problems with this site, the views of its author, and is not the very title of this blog most offensive? What kind of person would take the perspectives articulated here? Is this my task, however, or should I not proceed to the burden of this post, the defense of one who has done so much good for our cause? Shall I, Bill Z. Bull, not take up the defense of Rob Bell?
You thought God told Adam not to eat of that tree? You thought he said that in the day he ate of it, dying he would die? Even if the collector of the foreskins did create this world (Really? He did? We have confirmation of this? Somebody knows this? Without a doubt?), would that give him the right to take it upon himself to make restrictions on what people could do? Even if he were so presumptuous, who is to say that he would ever follow through on his word? After all, did Adam die that day? What will you say, that we are to take Adam’s eventual death as proof that the one who claims omnipotence will do as he says? Would you consider that just? What does that mean, that this self-appointed judge is to be trusted?
Is there not a better way? Can we not imagine an arrangement we would prefer? Can we not invent a system that would be more palatable to people as sophisticated as ourselves? Would we not prefer to be led by one more like ourselves?
Should there not be a category for a ruler who, even if he said he was going to punish the opposition, would never actually do so? Would we have to conclude that such a magistrate were unworthy of trust? Could we not simply turn it into an interpretive issue? Would we not prefer one who would conduct the affairs of the universe more in the way that we ourselves would? Would we ourselves not alter the state of affairs in order to cast ourselves, for instance, in a better light? Would we not change the terms to our own advantage when necessary? Would not a ruler with such powers be preferable to one who would first presume to make rules and then be so impetuous as to enforce them?
Do I, Bill Z. Bull, not serve just the master I am describing?
Has not, in fact, the majority of the world’s population chosen to rule with us in our empire rather than serve the one who failed even to protect his own son? Does our majority not show that our cause will triumph? Shall we not prevail? More have chosen our way of thinking, does this not serve as proof that our views (however we may nuance them when the need arises, however they may “contradict” one another, and however “incoherent” they may appear on analysis) are in fact “true”? What, after all, is truth?
Shall I not come to the question that will vindicate Rob Bell once and for all?
Who defines love?
Shall we allow the one who claimed to create these predictable spheres, the one who failed to protect his own son, the one who claims to “keep his word” about punishing transgressors and then forgives those who “repent” (is that just?), shall we allow him to define this most important word, love? Would he not claim that if there were no justice mercy and love would have no meaning? Would he not explain that if he did not uphold his standards against those who refused to repent, he would be unworthy of trust, unrighteous himself, and unworthy of worship? Would he not claim some lame bromide about not despising broken spirits and contrite hearts?
Are we to believe that it would be unloving for justice to be abolished? Would we not prefer a world without justice? Are we to believe that it would be unloving for this so-called God to prove himself as unreliable as those who first took the bold step of crossing his so-called boundaries?
Has not Mr. Bell started down the right track with his questions? Has he not horns like a lamb, and yet has he not begun to speak like a dragon? Does there not appear to be the heart of a wolf under those clothes of a sheep? Have we not cause to take much pride in the steps he has begun to take?
Be honest, reader, do you not prefer the alternative vision cast here for you to the one articulated by the author of this site?
Do we not have sufficient evidence against this site’s author? Has not the author of this site claimed that hell glorifies God? How? Who would make such a claim? Has not the author of this site claimed that only those who trust in the executed criminal will be saved? What about those who never hear the gospel? Has this contemptible author not gone so far as to argue that the self-aggrandized one who claims even to sustain my own existence—me, Bill Z. Bull—glorifies himself most particularly in his displays of justice that would highlight, I spit the foul word: mercy?
Shall I not rest my case in favor of Rob Bell against all those who would hold the views espoused at a site such as this?
Do I not invite you to continue this conversation with me at www.billzbull.com? Or could you not email me at email@example.com?
Study Notes (in case they’re needed)
Pronounce the name Bill Z. Bull out loud. If you still don’t get it, look at Mark 3:22.
Look up the word “afreet” at Dictionary.com.
Does Lord Bull speak other than in the interrogative? After the first paragraph in which he attacks God’s glory, are the first questions in his second paragraph reminiscent of questions that have been asked before? For a strong hint, see Genesis 3:1, 4.
“one more like ourselves” – see Psalm 50:21.
“chosen to rule with us in our empire” – see Paradise Lost, Book 1, Line 263: “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.”
“What . . . is truth?” – see John 18:38.
“failed to protect his own son” – compare Romans 8:32.
“if there were no justice mercy and love would have no meaning” – cf. Exodus 34:6–7.
“not despising broken spirits and contrite hearts” – see Psalm 51:17.
“horns like a lamb . . . speak like a dragon” – see Revelation 13:11.
“the heart of a wolf under those clothes of a sheep” – see Matthew 7:15.
How does hell glorify God? My answer.
What about those who never hear the gospel? My answer.
Note that Bill Z. Bull’s email address identifies him as the Lord of the Flies.
Wow. That was difficult to read! All thise interrogative’s were throwing me off!
Do you “get it”?
Great piece of writing Jim! It took me a few moments to get it, but I got it and thought it was well done and creative.
Brilliantly, cleverly written. Point well made.
Hey, he’s just asking questions.
Isn’t that always good?
“Would he not claim that if there were no justice mercy and love would have no meaning? Would he not explain that if he did not uphold his standards against those who refused to repent, he would be unworthy of trust, unrighteous himself, and unworthy of worship?”
Great piece, if only those who see not, would see.
I have been reading a lot of comments on the news blogs regarding the Japan tragedy and anytime there is any reference to God the “venom spewing” of the unregenerate begins…..so Bill Z Bull they are out there thinkin “we” have it al under control……it’s laughable…
Again great piece!
This is quite brilliant. It should be amply obvious by now that people can teach and convey their ideas of truth through questions.
Where’s the hermeneutic of charity/sympathy you so often speak about? There’s a way to disagree with him without essentially calling him Satan’s right-hand man. I find it quite disturbing, Jim, and think you don’t practice what you demand of others when one of your conservative colleagues or heroes gets called to the carpet for something they’ve written or done. The book was claimed as heresy long before it was published, reviewed, or advertised, and I find the behavior among evangelicals quite embarrassing. It’s in our DNA to constantly give heresy trials and argue what we’re against, and this latest altercation has shown that all too well. Ironically, a letter from “Bill Z. Bull” can be written defending the behavior of yourself, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and a host of others. That’s the definition of irony, and there’s no “protecting Christianity,” “defending truth,” or “guarding Scripture” about it. You may not be Mr. Bull’s friend, but you sure do make him look good from time to time.
NB: I did not call him Satan’s right hand man. I presented Satan’s right hand man defending him.
I have applied the hermeneutic of charity/sympathy. Rob Bell is attacking the God of the Bible with his questions. I submit that I have heeded Proverbs 26:4–5.
Jesus said that his opponents were of their father the devil. Jesus said that we would know the wolves by their fruit.
Look at the fruit: those who attack the teaching of Jesus are not for him but against him.
I’m not sure what to make of the charity police saying you make Bill Z. Bull look good from time to time. Perhaps he finds Bill Z. Bull attractive.
Ironically, a letter from “Bill Z. Bull” can be written defending the behavior of yourself, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and a host of others.
Sure it can. But the real issue is whether is can be done without relying entirely on sheer falsehood. That, I seriously doubt…
Devilishly clever. Pun intended. Seriously, well done!
I thought C. S. Lewis died:)
Wore out the shift / keys, did you?
I loved this. I’ll confess it took me a moment to get it.
“It’s in our DNA to constantly give heresy trials and argue what we’re against….”
If that’s true, then what are you complaining about? Mr. Hamilton apparently did exactly what his genes dictated. What he did wasn’t mean or mean-spirited. It was just the way things are. Quit being so flustered about it.
And quit chopping your legs out from under yourself with your own words. That’s embarrassing.
Is this not the most clever response to the Rob Bell controversy yet? Thanks Jim, and all the other reformed bloggers for standing by the truth, encouraging a young, restless, and reformed Wheaton College student (me) by their passion and love for the one true God.
You might be encouraged and helped by reading this post: http://www.baylyblog.com/2011/03/tim-on-msnbc-martin-bashir-does-the-nasty-job-the-elders-of-mars-hill-church-apparently-cant-summon-the-courage-or-insight.html
I thought Eugene Peterson’s remarks about Rob and the book were interesting….When asked, Do evangelicals need to reexamine our doctrines of hell and damnation?
Yes, I guess I do think they ought to reexamine. They ought to be a good bit more biblical, not taking things out of context.
But the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything. They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not. But that’s not what it means to live in community.
Luther said that we should read the entire Bible in terms of what drives toward Christ. Everything has to be interpreted through Christ. Well, if you do that, you’re going to end up with this religion of grace and forgiveness. The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees. But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment. There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.
Shows us a lot about Peterson, doesn’t it?
Last I checked, nobody talked more about hell than Jesus, and he offers the only way not to spend forever there–by repenting and believing in him.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Peterson has ever been known as a defender of the faith.
This is like 90 shades of awesome. That’s a ridiculous amount of rhetorical questions. I am completely impressed. HarperCollins should publish THIS as a book. The Gospel Coalition, specifically Taylor and DeYoung, should simply post a link to this in their blogs and say, “Yea, what he said.” Love. This. Post.
I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!
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