Why it's good for Christians to have unsettling conversations

In a recent blog post, Mark Galli, senior editor of Christianity Today, makes an excellent case for having unsettling conversations within the Christian community. Rob Bell comes out with a controversial book. Why is it controversial? Because a lot of people like it or like parts of it, and a lot of other people think it's close enough to orthodoxy to attract people but in the end flat out heretical and dangerous. Bell's particular theology aside, Galli looks at the bigger issue. Christians need to be able to talk freely about our beliefs. It's good for us. Here's an excerpt from Galli's post:

... we live in a time when we must engage afresh all these permutations of orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy, paganism, and apostasy. I for one welcome the opportunity, and want to hear the best cases that can be made against historic Christian faith, and the best cases for alternate views. If the historic Christian faith cannot stand up to such arguments, we should abandon it as soon as we can. But this is hardly likely, because when it comes to doubts about this historic faith and alternatives to it, well, there is really nothing new under the sun. What we have now is a divinely ordained opportunity to clarify again what we believe in the midst of a highly pluralistic world. It isn't as if the church has never been here before: the world of the earliest church was the just as pluralistic as ours, and the church managed very well, thank you.
But there is a point when discussion needs to give way to settlement and action. Galli also says this.
Our job is to prayerfully read Scripture, talk with one another in the bonds of love, and, yes, when the time comes, make the tough calls. Again, a congregation or a denomination has the perfect right and responsibility to say, "This conversation is over for now. This is what we believe. Let us move forward in mission grounded in this article of faith."
Bell is a gadfly within the Christian community. He stirs the pot. Galli is correct that the pot sometimes needs to be stirred. How much value will be added by Bell's controversial views about hell and salvation will be known over the next few months. Does the postmodern Christian or God-seeker need to engage this conversation in this way? Either Bell has touched off an important conversation or he has just stirred the pot. Galli's point is that we neither try to shut down the conversation too quickly nor let it go on indefinitely with no resolution.


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