Home > Media > Why doesn’t Ed Dobson do something about Rob Bell?

Why doesn’t Ed Dobson do something about Rob Bell?

I have a very short list of spiritual heroes. Ed Dobson is one of them. Sources close to me who know this sent me a link to this rarely-watched YouTube clip promoting a movie by/about Dobson:

And I thought “Man that video looks really familiar. What does that remind me of?” It’s not just the color palette; the scene composition, the camera angles, the beats, the story-telling choices, etc. It’s almost as if the same person shot, produced, and edited another video I’ve seen recently.

I know what it was; it was the promo for that Rob Bell book everybody and his brother can’t stop talking about. If you haven’t already seen it I’ll spare you; if you have then you know what I’m talking about regarding the style.

I love Ed Dobson and there’s nothing he could do that would ever change that. I am grateful to him for being the pulpit speaker he was my first couple of years at Liberty University, and for having the good sense to leave Moral Majority and go back to the pulpit. I sorely missed him after he left. As most people know, Dobson left Liberty for Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI, and served there for about twenty years, until his condition (arterial lateral sclerosis) made it impossible for him to continue. During that time Calvary participated in the planting of Mars Hill Bible Church, now pastored by Rob Bell. Bell is the author of four books, is one of the public faces of the Emerging/Emergent Church movement, and may or may not be a universalist.

I have been puzzled why Ed Dobson has done some of the things he has done; his 2008 appearance on Good Morning America not least among them:

And I don’t understand why someone as solidly theologically conservative as Dobson, as close to Bell as he must be, and as special (for lack of a better term) as he has become during his illness doesn’t confront Bell in the manner appropriate: private, with witnesses, and if need be publicly, in that order. Perhaps his ongoing struggle with ALS makes that difficult-to-impossible. I don’t know.

The two are clearly close enough to use the same video producer, after all.

There are lots of things I can’t know about Dobson and Bell, obviously. But I am led to wonder if perhaps James White’s approach to Bell in a recent episode of The Dividing Line [link] isn’t close to the mark. White’s analysis, basically, is that Bell, having escaped from the fundamentalist fold, doesn’t know what to do exactly with his new-found freedom and in the process of taking it for a test drive has misapplied the theological concept of grace, etc. and ended up in the universalist ditch. I don’t know; I don’t much care; but it’s a helpful and cautionary explanation nonetheless.

This is a common problem; see e.g. Jason Hood’s recent analysis of grace misunderstood as antinomianism [link].

Regardless, I wish Dobson would take some of the precious time he has left and devote it to Bell. I’d hate to think he’d wandered off in a universalist direction too.

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  1. March 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm
  2. March 31, 2011 at 7:42 am

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