- - Monday, November 30, 2015

Ed Dobson served as one of the lieutenants of the Moral Majority in the late 1970s and early 1980s, helping Ronald Reagan defeat President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.

Later, Mr. Dobson (not be confused with James Dobson) penned a book with his fellow Moral Majority intellectual leader Cal Thomas, calling for Christians to get their eyes off politics (“Kingdom of Man”) and back into ministry through the local church (“Kingdom of God”).

Mr. Dobson left behind his work for Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and pastored a church in Michigan for 18 years. While doing so, he mentored many young men who were headed into ministry.

One of them, Rob Bell, became the pastor of the megachurch called Mars Hill Bible Church (in Michigan, not the other big one up in Seattle). Though the church and Mr. Bell began within evangelicalism, their trajectory was veering off that course even as Mr. Bell published his famous/infamous (depending on your perspective) 2011 book, “Love Wins,” which challenged the traditional orthodox doctrine of hell.

As a result of the brouhaha over the book, Time magazine named Mr. Bell as one of its “100 Most Influential People” in the world.

The next year, Mr. Bell left the pastorate to pal and partner with Oprah and move to California.

Kent Dobson, son of Ed, succeeded Mr. Bell as the pastor of Mars Hill. But now, Mr. Dobson decided that “being a pastor at a church is not really who I am” — as he told the congregation over the weekend.

“I have always been and I’m still drawn to the very edges of religion and faith and God,” Dobson said. “I’ve said a few times that I don’t even know if we know what we mean by God anymore. That’s the edges of faith. That’s the thing that pulls me. I’m not really drawn to the center. I’m not drawn to the orthodox or the mainstream or the status quo.

“And I think all churches have to have a center. It helps them define who they are, but I’m always wandering out to the edge and beyond.”

Mr. Dobson is right about how “all churches have to have a center.”

And, to give him credit, he is right to step down from the pastorate now that he realizes his own heart’s desire to walk on the edges — or even outside — orthodox theology.

James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

And the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, his young pastoral protégé, Timothy: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).


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