First, I invite you to consider the video…
And with that, Rob Bell opened up a can of worms within Evangelical Christianity.
If you don’t understand what the big deal is, you’re better off for it. Just move on and don’t worry about my musings here.
For my part, during the last couple years I’ve been trying to replace some of the Evangelical stuff that lurks in the back of my mind with something more evangelical:
For true evangelical faith…cannot lie dormant; but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it…clothes the naked; feeds the hungry; consoles the afflicted; shelters the miserable; aids and consoles all the oppressed; returns good for evil; serves those that injure it; prays for those that persecute it.
– Menno Simons (1539)
In this case, I’m trying to lose some of my ideas regarding hell. But do I want to replace those ideas with Christian Universalism (the proposition that maybe, just maybe, in the end God saves everybody)? That’s the can of worms that Rob Bell was opening.
Now – understand that this was a promotional video for a book that hadn’t been released yet. But even this little hint of universalism was enough to get Bell dismissed as a heretic before anyone had actually read the book.
I suppose the concern is this:
If hell exists as a place of eternal torment for those that don’t accept God’s mercy, then we have to do everything that we can to keep people out of it. Therefore, to suggest that everybody gets into heaven in the end – in other words, that “love wins” – is a very dangerous thing. It will make everyone complacent.
But is it wrong to hope that maybe – just maybe – Bell is right? Shouldn’t it be the longing of every Christian in the world that in the end all of us will be reconciled to God?
In the same way that I began to question how I understood the nature of the cross and atonement, I also began to question the relationship between God and hell. To quote the video:
What is God like?
Will only a few select people make it heaven? And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?
Does Jesus rescue you from God?
What kind of God is that, that we would need to be rescued from this God?
How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted?
How could that ever be good news?
So… what is my answer to all of these questions? I’m not entirely sure yet, but I do agree with the final thought from the video…
What you discover in the Bible is so surprising and unexpected and beautiful that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the Good News is actually better than that – better than we can ever imagine.
The Good News is that love wins.
Up next: Considering universalism…