Rob Bell, Saint Aidan, and the milk of less solid doctrine

Apparently there has been a bit of a fuss on the net about some comments that Rob Bell made in a newspaper where he was questioned about Evangelicalism. See here for instance.

I must admit I missed the furore until now, must have been doing something other than reading blog feeds… shock horror. But I do want to make a quick point which will doubtless be ignored by those involved but is important anyhow (I think).

Rob Bell is being criticised in fairly sharp terms for his ‘easy gospel’, a charge which I dont quite follow, seems to me there’s a lot of easy gospel going around, and at least Rob does seem to want people to challenge their lives and consider whether they are really following Jesus. It seems like people want him to use the word Jesus more, and talk about the environment less, seems to me they really think he’s a universalist and cant quite get him to say so.

But here’s the thing, the old story about how England received the good news (ignoring the anglo Saxon church which everyone does – LOL) goes a little like this, the king of Northumberland asked the abbot of Iona, an old warrior called Columba, to send a missionary to his people. He sent a guy who came back fairly quickly with his tail between his legs, complaining that there was no hope for these recalcitrant Northumbrians. A bloke called Aidan spoke up (according to Bede) and suggested that what they should do was take the ‘milk of less solid doctrine’. To cut a long one short, he did it, it worked, mucho conversions, Christianity reaches England… etc etc.

Aidan then was the archetypal cross cultural missionary, using the language which he knew would get him heard. I think that this is perhaps the best way to look at what Rob Bell does, those who prefer a bit of hell fire and brimstone wont like it, but that’s not really the issue, he’s being true to his calling.

Aidan is a hero now, I bet people moaned about him then. One thing I do hold against you though Mr Bell, what was the whole bodyguard thing at Greenbelt all about?


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