I recently came across an article questioning one particular historical statement which Rob Bell made in his book, Love Wins.
The article was written by Carl Trueman and the offending statement is a quote from Martin Luther, which Carl says is taken out of context.
The accusation: Rob is using Luther’s remark to suggest theological ideas which Luther’s context does not entertain or allow. To use Carl’s words…
It is illegitimate to take a small quotation from a single letter and use it to extrapolate to a person’s general theology.
Carl does admit that taking remarks out of context is not an error of grave proportions and he refers to Rob as mischievous not malicious but that begs the question. If he really thinks that, then why would a notable figure such as he give public attention to a trivial issue?
Before I say more you need to know something about Carl. He is a highly qualified individual to be sure. In fact, it is his educational and professional “context” that give us pause. Why would such a highly qualified individual question Rob on an historical issue when the whole world is livid over Rob’s theology? Although qualified to do so, Carl mentions no particular theological topics and humbly bows out deferring to others:
Now, I do not wish to comment on the theology of Bell’s book. Others will no doubt do so with much greater competence and insight than I could ever muster.
False humility? Possibly.
Make no mistake about it, Carl is well informed theologically. If he wanted to speak to these issues he is more than able and since theology is the problem it makes one wonder. There may be motives behind the motive.
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Before he actually makes an argument about Rob’s contextual misstep he plainly says:
My interest…is historical and concerns a specific claim he makes relative to the thought of Martin Luther.
I’m not convinced. Read on and you will see that Rob’s remark was not misleading, did not misrepresent Luther’s belief and it didn’t ignore the elephant in the room which Carl’s criticism almost hypocritically does do.
Here’s the scoop on Carl. [Read more…] about Carl Trueman On Bell’s Reference to Luther