It Has Begun

Justin Taylor has a post up about Rob Bell’s upcoming new book, and at 432 comments (!) the knives are out. Even before people have read the book, they are throwing around the “H” word.

So my questions:

Just because we call someone a heretic does it make it so?

Who, in an individualistic church culture like North America, has the authority to declare someone a heretic?

Does having a different theological position automatically justify the label of heretic?

Of course, for all the hoopla over at TGC, it might have the opposite effect than the critical comments intend. The controversy will probably serve the publishers best, as it will push sales of the book quite high.

Edited to add: Kevin Young also has a post up about Rob Bell and universalism. Check out: To Hell With Hell. (HT Craig)

Edit #2: Jon Coutts offers his reflections here. I especially appreciate this comment:

Undoubtedly this is one of the more difficult questions in theology. I am not sure if I admire Bell’s boldness or find his promotional teaser a bit flippant. Regardless, this is not an open and shut theological issue and it deserves careful consideration and gracious dialogue, and I imagine that is what he’d hope for. You can’t reduce everything to principles, label everyone by those principles, and then proceed as the guardian of truth rather than a person in communion with faith seeking understanding. At this point Bell raises questions, but does not merit condemnations. If anything, the main question we might ask is why it isn’t called “Jesus is Victor”?