If you have ever attended a session with Rob Bell, such as his “Everything is Spiritual” tour, or watched a “Nooma” video with your small group, you know that Rob Bell is a talented communicator.
Bell has come out with a new book that is the talk of Evangelical Christianity called “Love Wins” in which it appears that he comes out with a Universalist version of the faith in which it doesn’t matter what you decide on this earth about God and Jesus Christ - in the end God is Love, thus, all people will eventually be won over by God.
Watching this video, however, Bell politics his way out of answering the question of whether he is a Universalist or not. The debate started even before his book was released when John Piper and others read the promo summaries of his book and Piper, a reformed Christian leader, wrote the tweet “Farewell Rob Bell”. A twitter firestorm erupted (seeing that Bell is a pretty hip guy and lots of people follow him there) and hashtags surrounding Bell actually trended as Christians talked back and forth for and against a book that hadn’t even come out yet.
Book reviews are starting to come out, and traditional theologians are starting to speak against Bell’s views that seem unscriptural. We all, out of ignorance or sometimes purposely, we emphasize different parts of scripture. Probably because comprehending God’s vastness, we tend to want to fit God into a box. Bell here, wants to emphasize God’s Ultimate Love, or God Being Love itself.
It is hard to follow his reasoning, however, when you strip away the modern notions of love as being merely a Romanticized Love in the vein of The Song of Solomon, and realize that true love involves Refining and Discipline and Justice. The different aspects of love need to be held together in tension - not even as a Paradox, but as parts of a whole.
While we hate to think that someone that is a good person by our standards may end up in a state of being totally and completely alone, separated from God and the Righteous forever, we have to remember that with Free Will and the ability to decide how we live our lives, there are consequences to our actions. See the Gospel of Matthew on the Sheep and the Goats - there is a stern warning to decide here and now.
It is plain that the world was created for us to enjoy. God created the world and humankind was to tend it for the Lord. Never our own possession, but a gift. But rebellion against God and living for ourselves - even when humans do good for others benefit. If we live our lives with Humanity or any part of Creation as an idol before our Creator - we are separated from God already. We make a choice every morning who or what we will serve.
Christ died for all, and all may accept Him as Lord and be washed of our injustices, our sins, our rebellion - but God set it up so our decisions matter. That is part of human dignity. We decide and God delights when we decide to live for Him.
Rob Bell really needs to grasp with this a little bit more, and perhaps when more have read his book, he’ll say it was just an exercise in Conversation, but right now we all need to decide scripturally where we stand on the Doctrine of the Afterlife.
What are your thoughts?