What saddens me is the instant judgement that comes from people who have not read it. I have always heard, don't judge a book by its cover, but apparently it is fine to judge a book by its hype, media coverage, and the random stuff one has heard through the rumor mill. Once again this doesn't surprise me but still saddens me.
While in a meeting with fellow clergy I made a joke about the non-existence of hell in reference to this whole Bell controversy. Simply to be funny. Five minutes later the group was back on track after a rant on the FACT that Bell has to be crazy and wondering what Bible he was reading. I sat there quietly because I haven't read the book so I don't have anything factual to say about the topic but the little rabbit trail we went down has stuck with me for the last 20 hours and I have finally figured out why.
Each person has a unique and different view or interpretation on the Bible and Theology. That is what makes it so wonderful and the Living Word. When we disagree we quickly dismiss that person as reading a different Bible because that interpretation is different than our own. To me that starts to head down a scary road. It is scary because we assume the other doesn't know what he is talking about and that all of our theology/Scriptural knowledge is perfect and concrete. This makes us very closed minded and easily targeted as hypocrites.
Maybe it is my lack of confidence in my own Biblical knowledge but I always listen to a person's ideas or interpretations of scripture because I personally want to understand the Bible better. You never know when someone will say, "I look at what Jesus is saying at this point from this perspective," and it completely opens the story up and it can be seen in a new light. If we close our minds to looking at the Bible from a different perspective then we will never be open to learn more about who God is. We will snuggle up with our view of who God is and put him in a nice little box. We do this in order to boost our own confidence and feel comfortable in our roles as religious leaders.
Listening to another person's interpretation doesn't mean we have to agree with it or that it even makes them right. But what is the harm of listening? What is the harm of hearing a person out and seeing what their world view is? I'm a fan of Rob Bell and have been for years. He has a unique way of looking at the world and God. I have seen that he always does his homework and has more biblical knowledge in his little toe than I will ever have. I'm open to what he has to say and I will like to hear him out. Even if I disagree with him in the end I will have a better understanding of MY interpretation of scripture and the way I see and understand who God is.
I guess I was saddened by the fact that we ministers were being no better than the religious leaders of Jesus' time. "Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites."