Monday, March 7, 2011

400-408 –Views on Hell –

Universalism – the "everybody's in because all religions worship the same God" view.

Christian universalism – the "everybody's in because Jesus died for the whole world" view.

Evangelical universalism – the "everybody in hell will get a do-over and then hell will be empty" view.  Only Christ-followers are "in", and those who are "out" are those who have rejected Christ or have never heard of Him, BUT, hell is only temporary – once you've paid off your sin debt, Jesus extends another invitation to "get in," everyone will say yes, and eventually, hell is empty.

Annihilationism – the "God would rather annihilate you than punish you forever" view.  Only Christ-followers are "in", and those who are "out" are those who have rejected Christ or have never heard of Him, BUT, hell is only temporary – once you've paid off your sin debt, Jesus annihilates you.  There's no everlasting punishment of your finite sins, there's just the eternal consequences of your sin, i.e., God just pops you out of existence.

Inclusivism – the "God grades on a curve" view.  Only Christ-followers are "in", and those who are "out" are those who have rejected Christ, BUT God will also allow "in" those who have positively responded to whatever message they got.

Traditionalism – only Christ-followers are "in", and those who are "out" are those who have rejected Christ or who would have rejected Christ had they been given the opportunity to hear via God's Middle Knowledge.

413-423 – • Jonathan Seidl (The Blaze, 3/6/2011) No Hell Below Us:  Evangelical Pastor Stirs Theological Turmoil With New Afterlife Arguments.

• Justin Taylor (Gospel Coalition, 2/26/2011) Rob Bell: Universalist?

• Erik Eckholm (NYT, 3/4/2011) Pastor Stirs Wrath With His Views on Old Questions.

// One leading evangelical, John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, wrote, "Farewell Rob Bell." R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a blog post that by suggesting that people who do not embrace Jesus may still be saved, Mr. Bell was at best toying with heresy. He called the promotional video, in which Mr. Bell pointedly asks whether it can be true that Gandhi, a non-Christian, is burning in hell, "the sad equivalent of a theological striptease."

Others such as Scot McKnight, a professor of theology at North Park University in Chicago, said they welcomed the renewed discussion of one of the hardest issues in Christianity — can a loving God really be so wrathful toward people who faltered, or never were exposed to Jesus? In an interview and on his blog, he said that the thunder emanating from the right this week was not representative of American Christians, even evangelicals. According to surveys and his experience with students, Mr. McKnight said, a large majority of evangelical Christians "more or less believe that people of other faiths will go to heaven," whatever their churches and theologians may argue. //

// As the controversy exploded last week, HarperOne moved up to March 15 the publication date of Mr. Bell's book, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived."

Judging from an advance copy, the 200-page book is unlikely to assuage Mr. Bell's critics. In an elliptical style, he throws out probing questions about traditional biblical interpretations, mixing real-life stories with scripture.

Much of the book is a sometimes obscure discussion of the meaning of heaven and hell that tears away at the standard ideas. In his version, heaven is something that begins here on earth, in a life of goodness, and hell seems more a condition than an eternal fate — "the very real consequences we experience when we reject all the good and true and beautiful life that God has for us."

While sliding close to what critics consider the heresy of "universalism" — that all humans will eventually be saved — he never uses the term. //

428-437 – • Ben Witherington (3/2/2011) Rob Bell's New Book— Love Wins.

// I must say I am hugely disappointed in people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, who also haven't read the book yet, and yet are prepared to condemn Rob— one even saying dismissively— 'Farewell Rob Bell'.   Frankly this is all too typical of the hyper-Calvinistic wing of the Evangelical world.   Shoot first, ask questions later.   They've even given a Reformed Evangelical like Tom Wright this sort of treatment in some cases.

And what should be said to them is— shame on you for prejudging a brother in Christ.  Shame on you for being prepared to pontificate and judge before you have even read what the man has to say.   IS THIS THE SORT OF BEHAVIOR JESUS WOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT?   I think not. //

(2:45) Bell- Love Wins Full. (Rob Bell, pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, talks about his forthcoming book coming out March 15th with Harper Collins entitled, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" YouTube here.)

(:31) Love Wins 1.

(:40) Love Wins 2.

(:25) Love Wins 3.

(:25) Love Wins 4.

(:37) Love Wins 5.

443-452 – • Kevin Shrum (Christian Post, 3/7/2011) Universalism: For Whom the Bell Tolls? – It Tolls for Thee.

// My questions are rather personal, as well: "Rob, if Love Wins in the way you are reported to say that it does, why be a Christian at all? I don't get it. If, in the end, nothing really matters (how I live or who I serve) because God will save the worst of us even if we refused to follow Jesus in this life, why follow Jesus in this life at all? Why live holy or make any attempt to really love my neighbor? This is one thing I've never understood about universalism. If there's nothing at stake, if everyone wins, if God's holiness is actually meaningless and can be co-opted by my hubris, if love alone defines God apart from His holiness, righteousness, wrath, and judgment, then why make any attempt to follow Jesus in this life in the first place? By the way, Rob, if universalism is true don't ever speak of church discipline to your church members or your kids – in the end, it doesn't matter. Don't ever speak of truth – it doesn't matter. Please don't tell me that following the 'Jesus way' will make my life smoother, easier, or better in this life. Who cares? If universalism is true, then truth is determined by the autonomous self that will get the good side of both time and eternity no matter what."

But, Rob, I have more questions. If universalism is true, I'm going for the best of what both worlds have to offer – eat, drink, and be merry in this life for tomorrow I will die, and when I do die I get heaven no matter what happened this side of eternity. And what's my reward? I get away with it! Fantastic! Again, please don't tell me that I should still follow Jesus in this life because it will make my life better. Are you kidding! I'm a 'stinkin' sinner' who is already uninterested in and struggling with changing my ways, so if I don't have to and I can still get heaven and if thumbing my self-important finger in God's face has no eternal consequences, this is awesome and I for one am all about it. If universalism is true I may or may not be faithful to my wife, depending on if it benefits me; I may or may not love my kinds, etc. You get the picture. Oh, by the way, it's nice that Jesus lived, said some amazing words, 'died for sinners', rose from the dead, etc. – if you still believe all that stuff. But if universalism is true then I'm not going to miss whatever 'it' is in this life because I'll get 'it' in the long run. I must say, your orthodoxy has truly become generous."

"I join John Piper in bidding you farewell, Rob Bell. Let me be prophetic. The crowds will still attend your church and your conferences, your book will sell (I bought one myself), and you will become even more rich and famous than you are now. But you have become what Jesus said of the Pharisees of old (Mt. 23:13-15): 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.' Be well and be safe on your journeys across the universalistic high seas. So long, Rob Bell, so long. Only remember but one question: For whom does the bell toll? Rob, it tolls for thee."

• Albert Mohler (3/1/2011) Universalism as a Lure? The Emerging Case of Rob Bell.

• Scott McKnight (Patheos, 3/2/2011) Waiting for Rob Bell.

• Denny Burk (2/26/2011) Rob Bell Outs Himself.

458-508 – Keith Matthews, is Professor of Spiritual Formation & Contemporary Culture at APU, and also is the Chair of their Graduate Ministry Department as well (  He was a pastor for 20 years, he serves on Dallas Willard's supervisory council, has taught alongside him for years, and even designed and co-wrote The Divine Conspiracy Study Guide. 

512-523 – Keith Matthews,

528-539 – Keith Matthews,

544-554 – Keith Matthews,

558-608 – Keith Matthews,

612-623 – Keith Matthews,

628-639 – Keith Matthews,

644-656 – Keith Matthews,

• New York Times ( 3/6/2011) Where Raucous Is the Norm, Bible Study. Calls: Can Christians be a part of sororities and fraternities and still stand apart? What is the norm, that a Christian who has joined gets pulled down or pulls others up? What boundaries or warnings do you give your son or daughter who is a believer but is thinking about joining? How do we teach young people to be in the world, but not of it?