Tag Archive: rob bell


so plagiarism has been on the menu of late, in christian circles anyways…

first up it was Mark Driscoll and various questions relating to work he copied or used from other sources… starting with a radio interview and then exploding into all sorts of articles and even some friendly tweets from ‘I kissed Rob Bell farewell’ tweetster, John Piper.

then David Rudd wrote this piece ‘In Defence of Plagiarism’ which referenced a recent occurrence of Rachel Held Evans work being plagiarised [the person later apologised] and Rachel jumped into the comments section of that to make it quite clear that she was not okay with people ‘stealing her work.’

various other celebrities and non celebrities jumped into the fray in different ways and forms and probably the best comment i have read in the whole conversation slash waging war was the one that said ‘the problem here is not plagiarism, it’s idolatry’ which resonates so closely with me – to me ‘christian celebrity’ is an oxymoron, or should be – any time we put anyone else on a pedestal that is not Jesus, we are bound for trouble soon. so maybe the problem here is not plagiarism, it’s celebrity? [runs and hides]

at the risk of being accused of plagiarising David Rudd, i should say that this will likely sound a lot like his, simply because i think to some extent i think the same thing, but i would love to air my two cents largely because i am just so bored and frustrated and ridiculoused out by all this online conversation and hopefully you have been able to miss the whole thing and so excuse my little rant.

i know this is not a popular opinion rant. especially among those who benefit off being the people able to call “Plagiarism.”

[and let me disclaim with the fact that i do feel that using someone else’s words and pretending they are your own is bad and silly and wrong and illegal for sure]

HOWEVER, my stance on this whole thing as far as i am concerned, is and always has been – if you want to use any of my stuff, go for it.

If it is Godly and worth using then i want as many people as possible to be reading what i write.

If it is all me and not worthwhile then i want as few people as possible to be reading it.

Problem solved.

And i have heard all the arguments and questions of ‘Oh yes, would you like someone to come and steal your car?’ and posturing and logic and so on, or it feels like i’ve heard them all – feel free to prove me wrong – but for me i have to ask what the heart of the writing is about?

If it is for the kingdom, then let go of the pride and the glory and the fame and the need for your name to be on the bottom of it and just celebrate that the kingdom is being preached.

And if it’s about making you look good, then at least be honest about it. Own the pride. Own the good feelings and identity and worthfulness you get from saving the world or transforming lives or whatever it is you are building up or breaking down. But just be honest.

My favourite book is a book called ‘No Compromise’ – the life story of a guy called Keith Green who i completely believe would be with me on this stuff – he used to infuriate ‘good, christian, musicians’ and worship leaders by giving his music away because, i don’t know, he believed [like i strongly, strongly do] that worship should be free. silly man.

i have written a book, which i do hope to somehow get published someday [called ‘I kissed hating [the church] goodbye’] and in the intro i pretty much disclaimed the likelihood of unintentional plagiarism in its covers simply because when i hear a good idea i often grab it and use it in a preach… and then after a while i have used it to often it suddenly starts to feel like it’s mine and i have no idea where it came from. can you imagine Jesus overhearing Paul referencing one of His parables and whispering down from heaven, ‘Hey Paul, don’t forget to mention you got that from Me?’ Nah, didn’t think so.

i love the notion of what Derek Webb has been able to do with Noisetrade in terms of music, where bands offer their music for free or a donation or even just a shout out – and so everyone has easy access to some great and often new music and there is the opportunity to pay-what-you-can or even to enjoy it for free but be telling others about it.

so, in summary:

taking someone’s stuff and pretending it is your own is bad [because i am such a not big fan of lying and that’s what that is, really]

writing stuff or creating art or music or poetry – be open-handed with it and let it get out there – why should just the rich and money-laden and privileged be able to get hold of your stuff

stop putting people on pedestals and christians, stop following the example and pattern of the world – we were called away from that. we can do so much better.

best worship song of the year? don’t get me started…

so yesterday was one of those fun days when i posted what i thort was a random thort on some global happening and turns out it wasn’t…

not that i am new to this or very much surprised – from not joining the save the orangutang group on facebook which eventually [after much patient messaging and reasoning and trying to be nice] scored Justine from Australia the prize of being the first person i had to block on Facebook [she was seriously stalking me and commenting on every single thing i did on how i had time to change my status but not to save the orangutangs] to wondering if Rob Bell maybe had a point with some of his questions [altho to be honest, this debate just got long and dreary, I can’t remember being personally attacked for it] to not making a big push to save the World of Birds [because christians apparently hate animals and proved it once again] to promoting two township cyclists riding the Epic [because it’s such an expensive race, can’t they ride the Argus and what about the bird people?] to writing about moving to the Simple Way in Philadelphia [cos we have poor people here, how dare you help poor people there] i have been bombarded by a group of people [different every time strangely enough] who have taken up the cause of telling me what a terrible person i am and what i can or can not write on my blog.

yesterday it turned out that i have to love the royal wedding [because one day somehow those two people who got married are going to be my king and queen and will i respect them then? – wrote the south african boy from stellenbosch, south africa] but it is okay if i don’t love sport [cos it’s boring and stupid and real friends do outdoor things]

all of these things remind me of one of my favourite monty python skits from the flying circus series [flip, am i allowed to love british comedy?] which is where a person played by graham chapman walks into the room and announces “there’s trouble at the mill” – when his posh ladyfriend asks him a bunch of questions he eventually gets flustered and says “i was just told to come in here and say there’s trouble at the mill. i didn’t expect a kind of spanish inquisition” – the doors burst open, there is a musical fanfare and three red cardinals come in announcing “Noooooooo-body expects the spanish inquisition. our weapon is fear, that’s all fear and surprise. our TWO weapons are fear, surprise and a ruthless efficiency to the pope, our THREE…” and so on until he changes it to, “Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as…” – ah you should just go and watch it here.

so some of what i have learned from these various blogs is the following:

[1] you have to like what i like and so much so that you must support it and if you don’t like it then keep it to yourself and don’t you dare mention that you don’t like it – that will somehow lead to what i like being irreparably damaged forever somehow

[2] if i disagree with what your blog is about i will tell you so, many times, and rush as quickly as i can to making it a personal attack on you, what you like, who you spend time with and what you spend time doing, or don’t

[3] when you write about positive things like creating better relationships or making a difference to the poor i will be very, very quiet because it is a lot harder for me to rant on those things and i prefer the easy targets

[4] some people, like Caryn and Brits, come around and we move to a place of being able to interact quite positively and be mutual encouragers which is why i always will try to take the time to reason and explain and love and try and be patient and engage…

and [5] my friends rock! as someone who likes to believe that i don’t get affected much by what people say and think about me [which is true to a huge extent] i do realise that at the end of another long day of slogging it out with people i don’t know, that a kind comment from Cara or my extended family members or Kleinfrans or Sammi and a bunch of other people who i know and love [or a nice defence/take on by my beautiful wife Val] let’s me realise that actually a barrage does tend to wear one down – so thank you friends and family for your comments when they have come, cos they have brought life and encouragement and strength and helped me to carry on.

and to close off with words from another amazing scene, “Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.” [Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers, The Germans]

yes, like you, i am over it.

and yes, i still have not read the book, altho mostly because i have not had the opportunity to yet.

however, because my friend sean du toit posted the link i had to at least check it out [i trust sean] and this really does seem to be the most balanced view of the new rob bell book that i have read as it highlights stuff rob gets right and then critiques [with a lot of explanation and referece] the bits he is not in agreement with quite strongly. probably what i like most of all is that he doesn’t judge rob bell, he judges the book.

so for anyone reading or who has read the book, mark has some great wisdom and caution for you which i really think you should check out [which you can do by clicking here]

here is the last paragraph from the article so you can get an idea of the kind of tone and emphasis the article takes, but i encourage you to read the whole thing – it has some good stuff to say:

“Now, having said all that, I want to be clear. I am not saying Rob Bell is not a Christian and standing in judgment over him. My own writings and theology are open to the same critique. None of us is a perfect teacher, leader and free from false ideas. To be fair to him too, he does not quite in the book emphatically state that he is a universalist, but poses a lot of questions. However, as he does so, he clearly sides with the idea arguing it is a better story. I disagree, the gospel as we have it in the narrative and text is the only story and we need to ensure we handle it carefully and accurately. I am contending with his ideas, I think he is reading the gospel wrongly. I would still encourage people to read the book, but do so with a Bible in hand, and don’t just read the texts he refers to. If you do, you might find yourself agreeing too easily. Read the whole NT again and again, pen in hand, notebook at the ready, note what it says about life, death, hope and eternity. Consider the whole story and don’t write off the bits you don’t like. See if there are ways that you can make sense of the story, but hold all its elements in balance. I think as you do, you will find that you will hear a similar but different story to the one painted by RB, but don’t worry, God wins.”


yes, flip we’re so over Rob Bell ‘Love Whinge’ controversy, this is not that post – what it is though is the best article – that starts off with a link to the Rob Bell whinge but goes much broader – that i’ve read on or near the matter [don ‘Blue Like Jazz’ miller ‘Love Wins’ parody notwithstanding] and well worth a read…

so click here to read it

or be less lazy and go here – this way uses up more calories – http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2011/04/flexibility-heretics-and-love-wins.html

okay, this made my day [and it had a lot of work to do] but Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame finally jumps on the bandwagon and offers his brief but frank review of the book ‘Love Wins’ – an absolute gem and will hopefully settle any controversy once and for all.

check it out here and pass it on.

i write a weekly email message called ‘Thort for the Week’ and i thort this week’s was an appropriate one to add here:

Dear friends

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” [James 3.9-12]

In light of the online Rob Bell ‘discussions’ that have been raging all over Facebook and Twitter and beyond this week, i would like to add a paraphrasing of this verse for modern times:

‘With our Facebook statuses/discussions we praise our Lord and Father, and with them we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same blog comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this can not be!’

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have to guard your tongue, and your pen/typing finger. This passage from James really nails it on the head and is something a lot of Christ followers are needing to hear right now [all the way from John Piper – who publically tweeted his “Farewell Rob Bell” message linked to the Justin Taylor link on the upcoming Rob Bell book – to the average pleb, like myself, who loves to have his two cents aired on Facebook].

Are you honouring God by the way you speak?
Are you living like Jesus did in the way you write your statuses/blogs and comment on other peoples? In the way you engage with people online and off it?
This is crucial stuff because those outside of the church are watching – is the message they are receiving in line with “you will be known by the love you have for each other” [John 13.35]

Gossip, in general, is such a destructive force. But in the church it can be lethal. It is an area i know i am easily prone to and so i need to watch myself and i do sadly get it wrong a lot still, but hopefully am getting better. It is bad enough when you are sharing a story that is true. But lately i have witnessed people hearing a story that is not true and spreading it around their cell group or church which has resulted in a lot of people believing something that is actually a lie – which results in breakdown of relationship and judgement between them and the people the gossip was about. So at the very least we should ensure that the stories we are hearing and passing on are true. But there are a whole lot of stories that just don’t need to be passed on either way.

Gossip is usually about me. I gain acclaim and fame for sharing the story and so i feel good. And often others suffer because of it. So i really need to start holding my tongue and before sharing news/stories/situations of other people check my motives and ask what the purpose of sharing the story is – to build up or to break down? And then choosing to keep a lot more stuff to myself.

And as a community we need to really start shooting down gossip in love. When someone starts telling you a story about someone else and that person is not there and it is likely to be a negative thing, then jump in and say, “Excuse me, i don’t think it’s cool that i hear that if the person is not here” or something like that. The enemy uses this in a huge way to divide and conquer and we need to start getting on the offensive and fighting to protect those around us.

Consider your tongue this past week? Anything to confess or be ashamed of? Anyone you need to go and apologise to? Look to the week ahead and choose to speak life and love and unity.

In His strength
brett anderson

[if you would like to receive TFTW email brett at brettfish@hotmail.com with your email address and ask to be added]

i am completely over the whole rob bell public bashing, public defending, long back-and-forth status comments thing and so i am hoping this will be my last post on the matter, but i think this is a valid point [and the title which i thort of as i came in here to write is pretty relevant as well]

i recently read this comment at the end of another long rob bell – is he a universalist or isn’t he back-and-forth um… let’s be nice and say ‘conversation’ :

“Game set and match, Jonathan. Well put.”

and responded with this:

“see when you start using “i won the tennis match” language it really emphasises the fact that for so many people this rob bell crap [cos let’s be honest] has become a lot less about standing up for God’s Truth and become a lot more about being right… or having the appearance of being right.”

and that is sadly what it feels like it has become for a lot of people – whereas, right or wrong, the bible is very strong about the fact that Rob Bell is our neighbour and our response needs to be that of love, and 1 Corinthians 13 lists a whole bunch of amazing things we can do and achieve but if there is no love, it means nothing, it achieves nothing, it counts for nothing.

and something about us being the clanging bell… a lot of noise, but no point.

yes, if his theology is publically bad it does need to be dealt with (publically i think, the Matthew passage about ‘if your brother sins against you’ doesn’t apply here because it is not a brother sinning against you – note how Jesus responds publically to bad theology a lot) but it does need to be done in love and the end point hope is that he will always be restored…

i’m not sure how much of that is evident in “Farewell Rob Bell” and various other sentiments that have been expressed this last week.

how bout we all just wait til we can read the book now? [excepting for those of you who are running away completely from the book because, um i can’t remember why, but something]

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