Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heresy or Hope?

Rob Bell is getting a lot of criticism for his new book, Love Wins. He was on Good Morning America this morning explaining his view of universal redemption, how he believes that one's destiny is not fixed at death, that even in Hell people may be given an opportunity to repent and trust in Christ. The result is that one day "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Christ as Lord."

This could be classified as a theology of hope. No one hopes people will end up in Hell (I hope no one wants that). Before using the "H" word (Heresy, not Hell), let's be charitable and remember that evangelical universalists (not Unitarians) believe the critical Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, creation, sin/the Fall, the atonement, the inspiration of Scripture, the return of Christ, and salvation through Christ alone, by grace alone, with faith alone.

God can save everyone if He wanted to...does He not want to? Should we limit the scope of God's love? If Hell is eternal conscious torment, how does God console the intolerable loss of believers who have non-believing loved ones? Will we get a lobotomy or make us callous to their torment? Does this mean He loves me but not my mother? And does human choice end at death? These are but a few questions that arise from this debate.

Bell is likely going to lose a lot of followers for his controversial book. "Gregory MacDonald" published The Evangelical Universalist under a pseudonym out of concern over backlash. I realize that wanting something to be true doesn't make it true, and that Scripture is our only authority. While we might disagree with the paradigm, are these individuals heretics, or simply hopeful?

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