Heaven, hell, the fate of everyone

March 19, 2011 at 9:12 am (Random) (, , )

Rob Bell’s controversial book, Love Wins, hit shelves on Tuesday. But not Cornwall’s. So I bought it online and read it in two days.

It was an interesting read. He writes exactly like he preaches – I could hear his voice with each chapter. There were no jaw-dropping moments or times when I wanted to close the book in frustration. That said, certainly don’t subscribe to everything he had to say.

In case you weren’t sure from the book, Rob Bell is not a universalist. At least, he doesn’t think so. We all make our own choices – whether that is to accept Christ’s sacrifice for us and live in the peace and joy of his life, or reject it and embrace the hell of all that is wrong with the world.

I agree with his explaination of how we are all capable of creating heaven and hell on earth. While both are also part of what we call “the afterlife”, there is a very real now quality to them. By our choices, by the way we live our life, we bring pieces of either into this temporal world. Through it all, God is desperately loving us, with that all-compassing, unconditional, eternal and ever-faithful love of his. I have no doubt of that, or his urgent desire that we all know him and love him in return. It is our choice. His love allows us to decide for ourselves.

But then I differ from that Grand Rapids pastor. He implies that God, in his ability to get what he wants (and what he wants is that all are saved), puts no deadline on acceptance of his love. I believe in a God that is love. But I also believe God is just, and I have a hard time with the concept that there will not be consequences for the rampant evil in the world but that instead that the option of heaven or hell continues to be available for all of eternity. Or that the consequences will be limited to being at the party, but not participating – as Rob Bell seems to argue in the book. And yes, he seems to believe there is no literal place of eternal torment that we refer to as hell. He even reviews all the uses of the Greek and Hebrew words for “hell” in the Bible … pretty interesting stuff.

I have a hundred more thoughts about the book, but I won’t bore you. I’d love to hear your reactions to Love Wins and/or what I had to say about it.

In conclusion, this book did not shake my faith in the earth-shaking love of Christ or in God’s desire that all experience that love in a deeply personal way. It didn’t really change my beliefs at all, but rather provided clarity for many of the perspectives out there – even if don’t agree with them. I think far too often, church cultures are based on what Rob Bell calls the “in” group, who believe they have it all together and everyone else is wrong. But the debate, the discussion, the questions are crucial to us experiencing more of who God is and what he means to us. We should be able to talk about these things. And we have. And I still like Rob Bell.

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1 Comment

  1. Jon Martin said,

    I’m just about to start the book so glad to see a good reference for it :) In terms of justice, in seminary we spent a lot of time talking about the difference between justice and vengeance. Theologically we would suggest that God’s justice (getting what we deserve from God’s point of view) is very much about talking the time for everyone to “get in” as God’s point of view may be that what we all deserve it to be who we were created to be and however long it takes for our brokenness to worked out is perfectly fine.

    This is contrasted with vengeance (human concept of getting what we deserve and rooted in punishment) where as human who are limited in their ability for compassion, mercy and forgiveness so we want the bad guys to get what they deserve…God is not and so may not actually be interestedin punishment…simply reconciliation…no matter how long it takes.

    If you haven’t done so already, I would recommend The Shack…it’s a great book that tackles some of this quite well.

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