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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I've had something slowly forming in my mind in regards to the current discussion by Rob Bell and others around the idea of God eventually overwhelming almost everyone with His love and bringing them all into eternal life with Him. Besides the fact that it makes it sound like God is a bit of a creepy wimp ("I'll eventually get you to love me, I'll just outlast you like a stalking ex-wife"), I wonder if it also implies a form of salvation by works (or earned grace, if you will). Aren't ALL people enemies of God in their natural state and equally bankrupt in spirit? Then why would some resist God for eons and others for just hours? If I come to Christ early in life, according to Bell's logic, doesn't that mean I have a better heart and am less an enemy of God than some atheist who takes nearly forever to bend his knee to God? But that's not Biblical. In my fallen state, I am just as much a worm as Christopher Hitchens and other God-hating atheists. It is only through Christ that I stand righteous before God. The only reason I came to God at all was due to nothing in myself but God's work within my hard heart. It seems like Bell's theology and doctrine actually do more to set up a hierarchy of sin and evil than a traditional Reformed theology and ultimately undermines the concept of salvation by grace alone. God chooses some for mercy, He chooses others as "vessels of wrath." AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOME BEING MORE WORTHY OR OPEN TO GOD THAN OTHERS. Paul tried his best to make that clear in Romans, even by anticipating objections to it, yet still people deny it.


Charlie's Church of Christ said...

gotta say I wasn't really tracking with you on this one. I don't think God outlasting the hardest of hearts makes him a wimp - it's what he does already.

Darius said...

Maybe wimp was a poor word... pathetic perhaps?

Tony said...

I think the question I have for those on either side of this debate is this:

"Do we really understand the justice of God?"

We seem to have a pretty difficult time with His love. There are countless books and debates on that before Love Wins.

God's justice is equally important. Do we really understand it?

Am I okay that He would choose some for eternal separation? Is that justice?

Am I okay that He would save all at some point? Is that justice?

My understanding of justice is very earthly. I learn justice from my experience. But just like I have a difficult time fully grasping the perfect love that casts out fear, I have a difficult time understanding perfect justice (and the mercy that at times cancels it out).

Can we understand and have peace with the justice of God? That's the bigger question that I wrestle with. Both of the above scenarios hard to wrap my mind around if I'm honest about it.

Darius said...

Tony, I agree that it isn't easy to wrap our heads around it. That's why we MUST check everything we think and say with what the Scriptures tell us about God. Our hearts are deceitful, our culture and social upbringing inculcates certain prejudices in us that aren't necessarily true or Biblical. It doesn't really matter if you or I am "okay that He would choose eternal separation." What matters is if the Bible says it, then we must accept and believe it. God tells us in His Word that all deserve eternal death. That is our default state. He also tells us that He has chosen to show mercy to some and wrath toward others. That may make us uncomfortable due to our natural inclinations toward a man-centered theology, but God isn't concerned with our doctrinal comfort. He is concerned with His glory. As Paul said in Romans, who are we, His creation, to question what God does or doesn't do?

Anonymous said...

I think somebody should ask Rob Bell, "So Rob, if somebody who disagrees with you were to write something saying, 'Through the years that Rob Bell has been in the ministry, his ideas have proven to be misguided, toxic, and subversive. The more he writes, the more obvious it becomes that he is hijacking the true gospel message.' What do you think your response would be?"

And if he went off on one of his lectures about being judgmental, I would gently point out that I was really just quoting from his own book, except I was replacing "evangelical Christians and Christianity" with "Rob Bell and his teachings."

Little double standard there, no?

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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