Rob Bell’s Balls

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Submitted by: Slowfo

Bell’s got balls. I have to admit that I’m only 1/3 into Rob Bell’s new, controversial book “Love Wins” but already I have to give the guy a lot of credit for his courage. The beginning of the book is full of questions…legit questions that have wandered through my mind numerous times and that the Church needs to start talking about out-loud, not in hushed conversations outside her walls. With a 10,000+ attended church, a history of strong book sales, and regular speaking engagements at large conferences around the country, Bell puts it all at risk with this book. Some would say that he’s just catering to what the culture wants to hear, but the truth is that he’s jeopardized his entire ministry career (google Tulsa’s own Carlton Pearson as an example) with this writing. There is now a percentage of his congregation that is wondering whether they really should be following this guy anymore. The same can be said about faithful Christian readers and whether they will spend dollars to read his books going forward. Last, it will be fascinating to see which Christian conferences will still be interested in choosing Bell as one of their speakers. By inviting him, they will be seen as putting their stamp of approval on his message. Rob, you’re about to find out who your real friends are.

Most impressive to me is that Rob Bell, with his public proclamation against the traditional view of hell, has succumbed to what I believe is the Church’s greatest temptation: universalism or some form thereof.  What I mean is that if there is a “sin” that could possibly be the loftiest of sins to indulge in, surely this is it. “Love Wins” tells me that Bell has run across too many broken, non-Christian people that he deeply cares about that he has begun to wonder: If I love them this much and God loves them even more than I do, how can He send them to burn in hell in eternal, conscious torment based on this short life we live and our choices that are so heavily influenced by personal context? The issue is too complex to cover in a short blog entry so I encourage you to run to the bookstore or your local library, read the book for yourself and develop your own conclusions.

With all of the media coverage about Bell’s viewpoints, my real question is not: Why does this “universalist” Rob Bell have to stir up so much controversy for the Church? But instead, I wonder why it’s so controversial to begin with. Why is it so uncommon for Christians to see so much value in people that believers are tempted to jump onto the Universalism bandwagon? Right or wrong, universalism should be a serious debate in the Church. Followers of Jesus should have such a love for humanity that they are desperate to find new ways to connect people with our loving God – even if that means that at times we are tempted to question or act outside of our traditional views. If we’re serious about the core of Jesus’ message – to love our God with all that we have and love our neighbors as yourselves – then trying to connect our loving God and the love we have for the world should be a regular habit. Kudos to you Rob Bell for having the balls to make this debate public and giving the Church a swift kick to the testes to think through how much love we really have for the world (alright, since the Church is the Bride of Christ, the testicular reference doesn’t really jive, but you know what I mean).

  1. what the fundagelicals who get so worked out about rob bell fail to mention is that leading evangelicals like john stott – who believes in annihilationism rather than eternal conscious torment – have “nontraditional” views of hell as well.

    i haven’t done much reading on hell, but my guess is that there are a wide diversity of views about hell throughout church history. this diversity – if it indeed exists – would make the concept of “a” traditional view rather suspect.

  2. I agree that we tend to get too hung up on the details and you did a good job of bringing it back to the more important issue, how much do we love the lost. It’s crazy that Bell will from now on be defined by his stance on this one issue regardless of all the other great contributions he’s made. There the lack of grace in both secular and christian community alike causes me to try so much harder be the opposite. or maybe it’s just easy to have grace toward people we have face-to-face relationships with , and be harsh towards people who are removed from our personal lives…. eitherway.. thanks for the thoughful response

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