And now (at long last) the timecode topical summary for Part 2 of this interview!–featuring Dr. Michael Horton and Rob Bell.
0:00 to 0:55 – re-introduces the hosts (John Musik is the director; Tony Jones the guest host), explaining the show, where Doug is, etc.
0:55 to 2:12 – introduces Michael Horton (teaches apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California, editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation Magazine, etc.); he’s a cheerful, good-humored guy.
2:12 to 3:16 – the topic of Rob Bell and Love Wins and their controversy are introduced. MH is asked to describe Reformed theology for the audience first for context.
3:16 to 4:43 – MH talks about Reformation theology, but not in much detail because he emphasizes how broad the topic is–broader than the famous 5 Points of Calvinism
4:44 to 6:29 – Tony mentions Greg Boyd, also from Twin Cities area, who “got in trouble” with Calvinist Reformationists several years ago. (Doesn’t say why; but Greg went Arminian Reformationist from being Calv; became an annihilationist; changed God’s omniscience from certainly knowing all things to only knowing possibilities about the future.) Tony can’t imagine Rob web-blogging on any Calv (or Arm) books, not to the extent people have been oppositionally blogging on his book. Is there something inherent in Reformationism that seeks to challenge deviations from doctrine?
6:29 to 9:39 – "Uh, kind of a leading question, Tony! There was lots of interest in Rob Bell’s book from people other than Reformed people!” He means Arms are interested, too, for praise or for censure, not only Calvs. Also media interest in the controversy and issues. “There’s a tendency to stir up the hornet’s nest, and then when the bees come out to analyze what’s been done, to play the martyr.” (I liked this comment a lot. ) “My critique was an engagement! I feel honored when someone takes the time to read one of my books!–and for the most part gets me right and disagrees with me!” “I think people need to develop a thicker skin when they’re going to stir things up, and interact with people who disagree with them.” Tony totally agrees. “That’s a valid critique of the ‘emergent’ movement, that too often leaders are willing to throw theological grenades and then not be around to do the cleanup work, show their footnotes, show their work.” Rob doesn’t show the math, leaving critics (pro or con) having to read between the lines.
9:39 to 10:30 – Tony sets up next part of interview before going to break: “What’s at stake?” Dr. Horton: “The core concern I have about Rob Bell’s approach, is what it does to Christ’s person and work, and the revised view of Who Christ is and what He came to accomplish that results from it.”
10:30 to 12:55 – outro to commercial reminding what the program is about, plugs Rob’s speaking appearance at a local church (coming the next night), intro back from commercial reminding who the hosts and guests are, what the topic is about.
12:55 to 13:59 – Tony leads back to Dr. H’s concern from before commercial, “any kind of Christian universalism really denudes Christ’s power on the cross” (Tony’s way of putting it).
14:00 to 15:34 – Dr. H somewhat incoherently starts talking (in stutters and phrase chunks) about how the view of the cross involves Who God is and what He does. (That’s the smoothest I can summarize it. He doesn’t actually go into detail here, except for implying a schism between love and justice, “Does love overwhelm justice on the cross, or is God both just and the justifier of sinners?”) Rob’s position is 19th century Protestant liberalism. “It really does sound to me like Rob Bell has not made any serious advances in the view of God’s character and what God did at the cross in Jesus Christ, any advances beyond what you might find in [various 19th cent. theologians like Schliermacher].” (insert many uhs and pauses in that quote.)
15:35 to 16:51 – Tony says Rob promotes the idea, popular among emergent Christian theologians, that the Reformation idea of atonement is one of many that are equally valid. (Tony also says Rob treats them all as metaphors.) Asks Dr. H’s opinion on this.
16:51 to 19:07 – Dr. H’s problem is that Rob “says we have to find new metaphors to fit our time and place” (comparing Rob with Rietschl in passing) “basically he makes the atonement window dressing.” Penal sub and all other ideas of atonement are thus reduced to being, not complementary doctrines, but communicative strategies. Dr. H agrees that penal sub isn’t the only thing happening at the cross in regard to atonement. It seems to Dr. H that Rob, in his book, not only denies penal sub (and other atonement concepts?) is relevant anymore, but goes so far as to deny that Christ really did that atonement (or any other) at all.
19:07 to 19:51 – Tony, “You’re not saying the other ideas about the atonement are invalid, you’re just saying they aren’t necessary or take back seat or something like that…” “No no no! I’m not saying they’re unnecessary! What I’m saying is that none of them are possible unless vicarious penal substituion is true.”
19:51 to 20:10 – Tony, “So, someone needs to believe that penal sub theory is primary to be an orthodox Christian, would you say that?” “Yes!” “So that’s one of the litmus tests.”
20:10 to 20:37 – Tony’s running out of time, thanks Dr. H for helping listeners understand what’s at stake theologically.
20:37 to 22:03 – outro to commercial; intro back from commercial; who the hosts and guests are, what the topic is, plug for Rob’s appearance, welcomes Rob for phone interview.
22:04 to 23:39 – Tony starts to ask if Rob expected this kind of response (maybe?), shifts to talking about huge response on Tony’s blog, such as Bashir being kind of a jerk; kind of sort-of asks Rob if he expected Martin Bashir to be that jerky; Rob briefly laughs but doesn’t comment on that; Tony says he doesn’t have to, but can if he wants to, Rob clearly doesn’t want to; Tony jokes about the typo in the last line of the book and people picking on this, hopes Rob has a sense of humor about it; Rob does have a sense of humor about it, says it’s like a crescendo to a symphony and the violin player has fallen over or something; maybe he was just giving nod to the great tradition of native rug weavers who intentionally leave in an error and just didn’t realize it.
23:40 to 24:20 – Tony goes back to asking if Rob thought the book would hit so big; mentions again that in past years he (Tony) has been predicting that the question of Christian universalism would be huge, just about ready to burst open; then kind-of declines asking if Rob was expecting it to be so big (“You’ve been asked that by many people, I won’t ask you that again”), switches to “It’s so important to people right now, isn’t it?”
24:20 to 25:38 – Rob takes a moment to catch up with this (rather incoherent) line of questioning and then laughs, “Yes, apparently it is!” Much of the interest comes from him asking the questions other people ask which have prevented them from following Jesus: if they convert they have to be sure they know where a huge number of other people are going and it isn’t good. Switches to “that phrase, ‘all things’” being very conspicuous in the NT, including with Jesus: “this is central to the Christian story, the big wide expansive possibility that many people haven’t heard [of] but feel it in their bones.” All lot of opponents somehow think that the scope of “all things” makes Jesus smaller, but Rob thinks it makes Jesus bigger.
25:39 to 26:51 – Tony recaps back to show’s first hour with Christian philosophy professor Keith De Rose; specifically that if universalism is true then Christ’s work on the cross has maximum potency. Whereas (per Tony) Michael Horton (in previous segment) says those (like Rob and like Tony) who claim multiple notions of atonement, “we may actually make the cross impotent, because we don’t understand there’s one reason Jesus came to die and it’s only for a certain select number of people.”
(Note: I am reporting how Tony puts it here. I want to add in fairness that this is not actually what Dr. H was saying in regard to the number of reasons for the atonement; besides which Dr. H never bothered to mention the limited number of elected people.)
Rob: “Well that certainly takes the fun out of it!”
(Note: it is possible that Rob was not where he could hear Dr. H’s side of the discussion, so only has Tony’s description to go on.)
Tony: Easter Sunday opened up salvation to a vaster number of people than was traditionally understood in the world Jesus lived.
26:51 to 29:09 – Tony, “Tell us what was so radical about Jesus’ message and Paul’s interpretation of that, in relation to the world in which Jesus was preaching?” On one hand Jesus makes unique claims about himself (such as being the way the truth and the life), but Jesus also makes “mind-blowing” statements of openness about who was going to get into the kingdom; hard for contemporary Jews to agree to that. “Even to this day, what’s so compelling is his inclusiveness and his exclusiveness, and if you lose either you lose something about [Jesus’] potency.” Rob also talks about how striking it is that people totally outside of any church or Jesus tradition somehow have encounters with Jesus: “I don’t have a bucket or category for those stories! They just blow away all the pieces and categories we’ve created!”
29:09 to 31:57 – Tony, “I get the sense [in all Rob’s work] that you don’t seem to have any desire to relieve that paradox that Jesus sets up.” Rob laughs. Tony, “A lot of people want that paradox relieved, give me a black or white; your writing is agonizingly frustrating to some in the Christian leadership world because it doesn’t relieve the paradox.” Rob: “That’s really well said!” We were born in an either/or world, so the authority was who could resolve that tension; that was how they gained power, by saying we’re going to go with this one not that one and “we’ve actually got answers”. An example of needing the paradox is justice and mercy: we want justice to clean up the world, but we want mercy because of our hand in jacking up the world. The justice crowd wants to see all sinners burn, but they end up in an odd situation because they’re part of that lot, too; the mercy crowd says it’s no big deal, but rape and greed and other things are a big deal. Some churches are big on social justice, some are big on personal cleaning and meeting a Christ Who transforms; lots of people are now saying wait, both are necessary and we need it all.
31:57 to 33:25 – quick question before commercial, what can church crowd expect tomorrow night (at Rob’s appearance there)? Rob, “I believe God loves everyone everywhere and Jesus came to show us this love so we can live in it and give it to others.” We need to return to our roots, the simple beautiful message that God loves everybody and came to give us that love.
33:25 to 34:00 – Tony takes the last word: he knows Rob has said he’s a pastor not a theologian, and he knows what Rob is trying to get at; “But we can agree, my friend, you are a theologian. But we’re all theologians!” “Beautiful! In that sense, yes, well done!”
34:00 to 35:21 – outro from John Musik to commercial, intro from commercial; who hosts are, what hour has been about.
35:21 to 42:24 – Tony gives quick topical recap of who talked and on what. Tony thinks Rob is saying in his book that some people will still permanently choose against God after death; Keith De Rose is saying people won’t say no to God once God reveals Himself in His fullness. (Which Tony guesses he agrees with.) Tony reports Michael Horton as saying the single most important thing to believe about Christianity is that when Jesus died in order to lift the curse of death. There may be other ways to understand it, but this is the primary way, and if you don’t understand it that way you really aren’t Christian. Reports on Rob saying God’s mercy is wider than we can guess; scratching the itch of many people in this age on how God can be good with (in effect) hopeless punishment. Tony, “Philosophers are just the people who say what everyone else is thinking deep in their subconscious.” John, “What do you think is happening that younger Christians are losing their grip on what their parents are teaching in the church and are willing to look into it?” Tony, “I think people have been explaining it as, there can’t be love without hate, there can’t be light without darkness, there’s no good news unless there’s bad news: what does Jesus come to counteract?” Tony thinks this made more sense to people who lived in a much more black and white world. As we live more fully into a more radically plural context, not only world religions but within Christians, “more than ever before Christians have the opportunity to avail themselves of enormous differences of opinion. For some people that’s a great threat; for others that’s a great promise.” Tony briefly references Tom and Robin (but not by name) saying the same things before, with more footnotes, in books published by university publishing houses, “but that’s not Rob’s angle.” He’s saying it in a way people can understand. The itch: I believe Jesus matters, I believe what Jesus did on the cross is fundamental to Christianity, but maybe it doesn’t necessitate a bad news. Maybe an eternal lake of fire isn’t necessary for other people’s eternal happiness.
42:24 to end – John outros.