Sunday, March 27, 2011
Rob Bell - “Love Wins” Dialogue (Part 1)
I’ve always stood by the belief that God never predestined people to hell. To accept the converse is to condone fundamental flaws in a holy belief system. Does God stamp a ‘hell’ label on certain people at birth and ‘heaven’ on others? No! However, God does know every possible outcome of every possible decision we face. Of course, this is just my heart speaking on the matter. Like many others, I’ve also questioned the origin of free will. Did God create this? Or is it linked to his nature? I would submit God didn’t need to produce free will, but rather imparted it to humanity from his essence – the truth of His being.
Rob Bell opens his book with provocative questions concerning our eternal destiny. In doing so, we uncover a notable divide among the faith: what ultimately saves a person from everlasting separation from God? Though Rob captures this well with a parade of ponderous inquisitions, he doesn’t present enough biblical truth to support Christian unification.
I anticipate sharper disagreements as I proceed through the book, but I do agree with Rob when he notes that though prayers are important, they can only go so far. For many, salvation starts with a declaration of truth. But is that enough to get a Kingdom pass? After all, the felon dying on the cross next to Jesus punched his ticket into heaven by simply asking Jesus to remember him in paradise. No repentance, no statement of faith, but instead, a powerful acknowledgment in Christ’s true identity. So this begs the next question: Is a rightful response to truth the real key to a heavenly home? As Rob Bell states, “…all that matters is how you respond to Jesus.”
Anyone can recite a conversion statement, but to maintain life in Christ should be our true aim. Our eternal future is a gift that is given to those who are committed to believing AND living for Jesus as Lord AND Savior. If one truly believes, then how they live will flow in sync to faith. So clearly, knowing the character and heart of Jesus is imperative, since afterlife destinations can be largely dependent on how Jesus is reflected in our lives.
Rob Bell detests legalism, so it is no surprise he attacks culturally warped perceptions concerning eternal security. Numerous notions, rejected by the Word yet emitted from the mouths of so called “Christians”, have turned people away from accepting Christ. What happens when a redemptive opportunity comes, but is squandered due to a false portrayal of Jesus from those heaven-bound?
I understand Rob Bell is simply setting the table for the reader to pause, think, chew, and digest. But let’s remember that we can’t possible fathom the immense heart and mind of the Father. Despite a boatload of negative vibes emanating from the church today, God is raising up enough faithful evidence so each person can tap into free will to make a determination on who they want to follow. God is fair, just, and never absent of love. It’s how we interpret and depict this love that makes all the difference. It’s all in the response.
In my next note, I will discuss Rob Bell’s dangerous philosophy on the nature of hell, and how he may be trying to “over-please” man by sprinkling of falsehoods on top of Scriptural realities.