The name calling and heresy hunting these last few days around Rob Bell and anyone else who decides to venture out into an individual faith has made me queasy and sick. This is the ugly side of Christianity that makes me want to walk away from the whole thing.
Personally, I believe a bunch of things that would make me unorthodox and I stopped believing in many ideas that I used to have when I was still in the mainstream church. I guess that makes me a heretic, or an unbeliever, or a backslider, or a whathaveyou. It doesn't feel like heresy or backsliding to me. If anything, my beliefs are more alive now that I have stopped trying to ram square pegs into round holes.
I don't agree with those who believe it best to "step back" and stay away from the stonethrowers. If we remain neutral when the stonethrowers are pummelling the weak, we are taking the side of the oppressors. That's how oppression works, just ask Mugabe or Gaddafi. You can get away with murder if good people are prepared to stay silent.
If there was one idea I could impart to a younger version of myself, it would be that love is compassion and understanding - it is not feeling the need to "correct" or "save someone from hell". Jesus showed us a standard of love. It was compassion. Do we bring water to the thirsty? Do we help the strangers and outcasts in our midst? His example was not the "loving correction" we see so often in the church. If anything, his anger was directed at religious leaders who believed that they exclusively knew what God's truth was.
And yes, if taking the side of gays, immigrants, the unorthodox and individuals makes me a heretic and a backslider than so be it. I have to take their side, one day I will need someone to take my side too.