Recently, a friend sent me a link to an article in Christianity Today by Mark Galli titled, “Rob Bell’s ‘Ginormous’ Mirror.” In it, he criticized Bell for believing “our knowledge of God is grounded not in doctrine, the Bible, the preached Word, the sacraments, our institutions, or even what Jesus revealed…but in our experiences and our intuitions.” This theological system is what Mark calls “the religion of experience” that “tempts us to make feeling an idol” and “leads nowhere except the barren desert of the self.”
As proof that this dangerous emphasis on experience has spread farther than Rob’s reaches, he points to Margaret Feinberg and her new book Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God. This immediately caused confusion because I’ve read both Margaret’s and Rob’s most recent works. Anyone who infers that these two authors are cut from the same theological cloth or believes that Margaret is promoting an experience-based faith simply isn’t paying attention. Her books and sermons are always grounded deeply in scripture as the ultimate source of knowledge of God, though she believes as most Christians do, that knowing God should lead us to experience God regularly.
Since this forum is a place of civil dialogue on matters of faith and culture, I asked Margaret to offer her response to Galli’s piece. She graciously agreed:
Over the past few years, Rob has become a lightning rod of controversy. Wherever his name is mentioned the Internet snipers come out to play, and I’m allergic to haterade. That’s why whenever I tackle controversial topics on my blog, I try to do so with gentleness, grace, and respect—attempting to ask the questions people aren’t asking, reflect on the irony, and offer a different perspective on the matter. (Though admittedly, I don’t always do these things as well as I’d like. Insert sad emoticon).
But most of all, I always make sure that I’m returning again and again to the Bible to mine the rich wisdom we find there as the foundation and filter for our lives. I’m an author and a Bible teacher, not a mystic. In fact, I haven’t even been able to read Rob’s book yet because I just finished leading people to read through the entire Bible in 40 days for Lent. The stacks of unread books at my house are out of control.
So how did Wonderstruck get lumped into this article?