A few weeks ago I said I was going to write a review on Bell’s new book Love Wins but there are already so many great (and not so great) reviews out there that I think I would rather dialogue on the issues that this book tends to bring up concerning theology, Church, and culture. Over the couple of years I have participated in a very insightful conversation on a blog called Not the Religious Type. I was fascinated by the blog and read it for a few months before I purchased the book on which the blog was base: Not the Religious Type by Dave Schmelzer (a Vineyard pastor in Boston). Not the Religious Type is one of the most helpful books I’ve read in many years in the way it helps Christ-followers to perhaps a more redemptive path of grappling with theology, Church and culture. The book is worth the price for the chapters on Stage Theory and Centered Set Christianity. I am posting a video on Stage Theory that Schmelzer produced which explains the basic idea as it applies to one’s spiritual journey. Please watch the following video as Schmelzer explains the theory much better than I do below.
Concerning Bell’s book Love Wins, it seems that reactions to his ideas very easily typify the different stages referenced by Schmelzer. So on the one hand you have a very Stage two reaction (rules based) by folks like John Piper and Justin Taylor and then you have an equally strong Stage 3 (rebellion against stage 2) by more of the emerging church crowd. I can only hope that these conversations can lead some of us more fully into the stage 4 understanding that truth is much bigger, deeper, profound, and mysterious than we tend to make it. As Schmelzer and company argue Stage 4 is truly the only way to reach our world that is increasingly characterized by a Stage 3 rebellion against the Stage 2 institutions which have ruled for hundreds of years. I would be interested to get feedback from anyone who has watched the above video (or is familiar with Stage Theory) on any insights that it might bring to the conversation that has been going on around Love Wins.