Thinking Out Loud

June 25, 2011

When We Allow Our Instincts to Inform Our Theology

Tucked away on Rachel Held Evans’ blog is a rather landmark post which is worthy of greater attention than it is already receiving; and it is actually receiving a lot.

She brings together three seemingly disconnected elements:  Rob Bell’s Love Wins, the Southern Baptist Convention, babies and toddlers.  I know, it’s like a gag on a late night talk show, and you’re waiting for the punchline.  There isn’t one.

Basically, the recent SBC convention, in its predictable denunciation of Bell’s controversial book, birthed this comment from Rustin J. Umstattd, assistant professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: “The majority of evangelicals who hold to the orthodox understanding of hell…are troubled by its implications. But being troubled, even deeply troubled, by the implications of the biblical text does not give us a reason to abandon the text or force it into a mold that rests comfortably with us. It should be our goal to let the Bible be the source and shaper of our doctrine.”

And then, out of left field comes the zinger: The doctrine of the “age of accountability.”  Except that it’s not Biblical doctrine.  Hmmmm.  The idea that kids of a certain age are “safe” if they die without having made a profession of faith is in Rachel’s mind what Bell’s book is to adults who die outside of the faith.  In her view, you can’t have this both ways.

But she says it better than I can repeat it here

You really need to read this.  (It’s actually the same link.  I really want you guys to click through on this one.)

And then, for a variety of reasons, you really need to read the comments, most of which are in agreement with her. (Yes, it’s the same link; you should be there right now, not here!)

Apologies ahead of time I’m sure to people who have or have had small children who have wrestled with this.  That’s always the risk with a topic like this one.

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