Thanks to my good friend Wes Trevor, today I watched an MSNBC interview with Rob Bell. Now, I hate to add to the "theological firestorm" any more than I already have (two posts ago), but I had to make a comment on this. Go ahead and watch it first...
First of all, whose idea was it to interview Rob Bell for less than seven minutes? Sorry, but the guy's just not wired to be so brief. Secondly, I'm amazed that a journalist would try to sum up an entire history of Christian theological reflection in an "either-or" question. I mean, how would you answer that first question? Of course it's a paradox. And it's not just the first question. Most of Bashir's questions were presumptuous. Why Origin and not Arius? Well, why any theologian over another? Nobody can deal with them all in one book. Silly question. I think, although in a setting like this the interviewer always "wins", Rob Bell actually handled the questions quite well.
I'm still very excited to read the book and I hope all this argument around it doesn't manage to spoil it. I don't think Rob Bell's doing anything new and I don't think he thinks so either. We could have had the same interview with Karl Barth and he's remembered as one of the greatest theologians in history.
The problem, as I see it here, is that Bashir is a terribly antagonistic interviewer. This is not an attempt to discover truth, but to beat up Rob Bell. How many times did Bashir simply quote a critic's categorical denouncement and then say, "That's true, isn't it."
Plus, in the first half, he was really pushing Bell from completely contradictory angles - first, he wanted Bell to say what's important "in this life," but then he also wanted Bell to emphasize the priority of "eternal salvation" - the next life.
Of course, Bell could've helped himself by talking about "how we live" in this life after we make a commitment to Jesus, rather than letting Bashir imply that faith is all and only about saying "I love Jesus" and then you're done....
I think you're right. There were some thing I wanted Bell to say that he didn't. But, then again, I wasn't the one in the hot seat. I am amazed how many people there were commenting on the Youtube page who praised Bashir saying things like, "I love it when a journalist does their job" and "now that, my friends, is how you do an interview." It seemed so obviously biased and antagonistic to me.
Needless to say I haven't heard the last of this. After all, I live in Ramona... and I hang with lots of church people.
That interviewer was just an idiot. I read on wikipedia that Bashir was accused of yellow journalism during the Michael Jackson trials and such. He apparently was accused of deliberately doctoring footage to make it seem like Jackson was saying stuff he wasn't.
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