Vacations always seem to screw me up something fierce. Patterns that I’ve established always seem to fall apart after being away. This is why about a month later I am finally updating my blog again. This post is saying that I am moving on from the subject I’ve been dealing with most recently, namely Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. So in honor of moving on from it I want to just give some final thoughts about it before I move on.
1. Bell does not appear to be an universalist. Despite the number of people who claim this, I find little basis to make this claim on. I will say that there are a couple of phrases that you could use to say that he is an universalist, but there are just as much if not more evidence that universalism is not what he has in mind. Honestly it seems that many in the evangelical community have found it easier to simply slap the label of universalist on Bell and dismiss him than actually engage his material. There may be exceptions to this, but most I’ve come across do this.
2. Does disagreeing with Bell mean that he is a heretic? I found things I disagreed with in his book. I’m not sure I buy the idea of a second chance after death, for example. However, I’m not sure I can say for certain that God is not able to do such a thing. There is part of me that hopes such a thing, but it is not something I feel that I should center my hope around. Then is it heretical of Bell to propose such a thing? When you’re dealing with a God known for the redemption of a people who never deserved it, I’m not sure you really can. As I said it isn’t something to lightly toss around and to allow for us to be uncaring about God now, but does my disagreement with it make Bell a heretic? No I certainly don’t think so.
3. Are we willing to let God do what He wills? This cuts both on Bell’s side and on those who are his detractors. If God decides there is no second chance and there will be a final and unchangeable judgment are we okay with that? I’m not asking if we’re okay in such a way that we begin to enjoy or relish the idea that people go to hell, but that we trust God’s character and judgment enough to let him do what he will. Or if God does allow a second (or third, etc.) chance are we open to that? Or do we act like the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 who say we’ve been here the longest and deserve more wage? Are we willing to trust God even if it goes against our uncertainties about judgment or our feelings of religious entitlement?
4. We have to be careful not to allow this discussion about hell cause our faith to be destination oriented. Is our faith simply an escape from hell or for a ticket to heaven? Personally I don’t believe so. I think we have to ask ourselves if there was no heaven or hell would we still follow God? If all we had was this life would God be worthy of following? Tough questions perhaps, but ones that I think we need to keep close to us.
5. It is okay if we discuss this issue, but I think it is important to emphasize the word discuss instead of words like debate. I think we need to create an environment of honest discussion and not simply debate. Debate does little but cause divisions or widen the gaps that are already there into chasms. Even discussion is not a surefire way to bridge gaps, but it is much more likely than going in with the mindset of debating. Even with discussion I think we need to make sure that we’re taking all members of the discussion within context and not simply taking quotes out of context which could give it a meaning it was never meant to have. Lets actually act like we want unity and not simply beating down anyone who comes out with ideas that we disagree with or maybe don’t entirely understand.
So here are my final thoughts on Love Wins. I thought it was an interesting read. Honestly, I’m not sure what a lot of the ruckus was about, but what are you doing to do? But anyways, goodbye Love Wins as of right now I’m moving on.