According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future
aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater
Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma
It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds
assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rob Bell Is NOT A Universalist

The Promised Response to Bell’s Love Wins

by Roger Olson
Posted March 25, 2011

Discussion of Bell’s Love Wins is now allowed here for those who can truthfully say they have read it. If you post a comment about Bell’s book be sure to say whether you have read it.

I finally received my copy yesterday. (Sometimes I think mail has to arrive in my city by Pony Express!) I read it last evening and this morning.

First, it is obvious to me that early critics of the book were wrong and they owe Bell an apology. Nowhere in the book does Bell affirm universalism. (Let’s not quibble about what “universalism” means; we all know what the critics meant–that Bell was saying everyone will eventually be saved, go to heaven, and leave hell empty. He nowhere says that.)

Bell does say it is okay to “long for” universal salvation. So did Pope John Paul II! I’m sure some critics who jumped the gun and attacked Bell for promoting universalism without reading the book will come back around and use that to support what they said. But they are not the same. To long for universal salvation is not to affirm it.

On page 114 Bell says “So will those who have said no to God’s love in this life continue to say no in the next? Love demands freedom, and freedom provides that possibility. People take that option now, and we can assume it will be taken in the future.” And nowhere else in the book does he say that eventually everyone will say yes to God’s love. His emphasis on freedom as necessary for love requires him not to say that. Can he hope for it? Who is to say he can’t?

The point is – universalism is the assertion that eventually all will be saved. Nowhere does Bell assert that.

Bell continues in that chapter to say that hell is getting what we want. This is simply another way of saying “Hell’s door is locked on the inside” – something I think C. S. Lewis said. (Or it may be someone’s summary of Lewis’ The Great Divorce.)

Chapter 6 is about what is usually called inclusivism – that salvation through Jesus Christ is not limited to those who hear his name. (I’ve discussed problems with restrictivism here before.) I find nothing in that chapter that Billy Graham has not said. (Go to and look up Graham’s responses to questions from Robert Schuler.)

While reading Love Wins I kept thinking “This sounds like C. S. Lewis!” In his Acknowledgments Bell thanks someone for “suggesting when I was in high school that I read C. S. Lewis.”

One thing I disagree with in Love Wins (and I disagreed with it in The Shack) is Bell’s affirmation that God has already forgiven everyone through Jesus Christ. I believe God has provided everything for forgiveness, but forgiveness depends on acceptance of God’s provision. I don’t know how to reconcile universal forgiveness with Jesus’ statement that the Father will not forgive those who refuse to forgive. Of course, if “forgive” means “forgive everyone of the guilt of original sin,” then I can accept universal forgiveness (which is how I and most Arminians interpret Romans 5). But I don’t think that’s what Bell means.

Those who accused Bell of teaching universalism based on promotion of Love Wins jumped the gun and owe him an apology. I won’t hold my breath. Vilifying anyone based on what you think they are going to say is clear evidence of bad judgment; it breaks all the rules of civil discourse. It is part of what I mean by “evangelicals behaving badly” and illustrates what I call the fundamentalist ethos.

Perhaps the time has come for moderate and progressive evangelicals to say “Farewell neo-fundamentalists.” There’s no point in prolonging the long kiss goodbye. We are two movements now–fundamentalists and neo-fundamentalists, on the one hand, and moderate to progressive evangelicals on the other hand. This painful parting of the ways happened between the movement fundamentalists and the new evangelicals in the 1940s and 1950s. It is happening again (among people who call themselves “evangelicals”) and the time has come to acknowledge it as, for all practical purposes, done. It’s just a matter now of dividing the property.


The videos below have been added to this blog post 
to reinforce Dr. Olson's assessment of Bell's position.

Rob Bell Responds to Charges of Universalism
before the release of his book, Love Wins
March 13, 2011

Part 1: Rob addressing Mars Hill about his new book Love Wins before it is released.
[March 13, 2011] [Live Shadow-cast]


Rob Bell Thanks Mars Hill for helping him write Love Wins
March 13, 2011

Part 2: Rob thanking Mars Hill for inspiring his new book Love Wins before it is released.
[March 13, 2011] [Live Shadow-cast]


Rob Bell "What I Believe" after the release of his book, Love Wins
March 27, 2011

~ both videos are similar but each begin and end differently and together
give a fuller presentation of Rob's Introduction to the Churches of Revelation ~!

Rob addressing Mars Hill about his new book 'Love Wins' after it was released.
[March 27, 2011] [Live Audio]

Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.1
April 22, 2011

Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.2
April 22, 2011

Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.3
April 22, 2011

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