Universalism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by mandym, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. mandym

    mandym
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    Here is a link to a video Bell created to market his book, I suggest watching it first.

    https://www.robbell.com/lovewins/

    Here are some questions we can discuss about the video that I found here: http://www.dennyburk.com/rob-bell-outs-himself/


    1. Ghandi’s in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure?

    2. Will only a few select people make it to heaven?

    3. And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?

    4. And if that’s the case, how do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe? Or what you say? Or what you do? Or who you know? Or something that happens in your heart? Or do you need to be initiated or baptized or take a class or be converted or be born again? How does one become one of these few?

    5. And then there is the question behind the questions. The real question: What is God like? Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus, is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God?

    6. How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?

    7. This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith. They see it has an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies, and they say, “Why would I ever want to be a part of that?”

    8. [You] see, what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.
     
    #1 mandym, Feb 27, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2011
  2. MojoTurbo

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    Those questions in the video are directed at a non-believing world who would hopefully pick up his book. Those are the questions that connect with this generation - they are not Rob's questions for you and I.

    I can’t wait to read Love Wins. I know it won’t be apostate, because I know Rob’s teaching. I know it won’t be universalist, because I know Rob isn’t a universalist.

    … or is he? I mean… wasn’t Jesus a universalist? After all, what was the “good news” Jesus preached? Don’t kid yourselves, it wasn’t “the cross saves” because the cross had not happened, and it wasn’t that Jesus was the messiah, because he constantly dodged those claims… no, the gospel was about the Kingdom of God. And who was Jesus’ audience?

    Read Luke 4, Jesus said…

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”


    The message was for the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed. No longer was freedom and grace for the insiders, now the grace of God was for anyone. Jesus’ message was “outsiders are welcome.”

    And it was the religious leaders who took issue with that, because that was a dangerous and heretical message. “A come one come all” ministry threatened everything they felt was orthodox. Surely God’s gospel is not universal… it can’t be good news for all?

    Luke 2

    The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

    Jesus’ birth was good news for who?

    So I guess I have a question for Rob’s critics.. how do you reach “all people” for Jesus? How do you share the grace of the cross with the outsiders? Is your good news “all are welcome?” or is it a message of exclusivity and limited grace? Does your Jesus have his arms wide open?

    Life makes love look hard. We place limits on love, we hold it back, give it boundaries and we each make our claims as to how love should and should not operate.

    But Paul tells us how Christ’s love operated in Romans 5:8

    God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    In other words, while we were still in a state of exile, in sin, unaware, unknown, outside and “not elect.” That’s when Jesus died for us. Before we were born, before we made a decision, before we said a prayer, before we confessed, before we admitted, before we were chosen - Christ chose us.

    When we were all outsiders – that’s when Christ brought us inside.

    Love is as easy as reaching our hands across the invisible line of “insiders and outsiders” and bringing people in. And if love is universal, than so am I.
     
  3. mandym

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    When you reject hell then there is nothing left but universalism
     
  4. Robert Snow

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    I've never heard of Rob Bell, but I would certainly like to read this book. As a added plus, Piper has dismissed him. This, in my opinion speaks well of Bell.
     
  5. Rippon

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    That's goofy thinking there Mr.Snow.

    I was, and still am, a big fan of the TNIV.(the 2011 NIV is very much like it). But when Rob Bell endorsed the TNIV,I cringed. There were many more solid Christians endorsing it like D.A.Carson and others. But Rob Bell?! My theological perspective is much more in line with John Piper who has a distinct distaste for all things NIV.

    I have pages through some of Mr.Bell's books at bookstores, items such as "Velvet Elvis." What a waste of paper. If evangelicals can't see through the heresy of Rob Bell all discernment has departed from them.
     
  6. mandym

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    Do you reject a literal hell?
     
  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Thats why Snow like him. LOL
     
  8. Robert Snow

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    Did anyone here read what I said? I said, I have never even heard of Rob Bell. Then you assault me with cute little lies and ask my view on hell!

    I was intrigued by the video, but it seems to me that you folk know a lot more about Bell than I do. As far as Piper is concerned, I know he is a Calvinist, enough said.
     
  9. mandym

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    What is wrong with asking your view on hell? It was not a question intended for offense. If it did I ask your forgiveness. I had no way to know it would.
     
  10. Robert Snow

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    It's not what you asked, it's the other comments by my fan club that I was talking about. I am running late for church. I will try and get back to this and answer your question later.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Actually annihilationism is another option.
     
  12. Allan

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    No, not biblically.

    But it is a option, like a multitude of other opinions that are not based on scripture.
     
  13. Earth Wind and Fire

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    your tongue was in your cheek with that fan club comment, right.:smilewinkgrin:
     
  14. Baptist Believer

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    I was simply responding to mandym's assertion that a rejection of hell leaves one with only universalism.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    Wouldn't it be nice if Christians actually waited to read Bell's book before spreading rumors all over the Internet that he advocated universalism?

    Wouldn't it be nice if influential Christian leaders such as Piper would show some Christian maturity and caution and not Tweet, "Farewell, Rob Bell", and lend his influence to the people who are jumping the gun to condemn?

    I haven't followed the controversy very closely simply because it makes me angry and puts me in the position of listening to listening to idle talk which is condemned in scripture, but I did read an article in Christianity Today last week that quoted someone who had actually read the book and said quite plainly that Bell did not advocate universalism.

    If this is true, I suspect there will be few, if any apologies, and the charges will not go away because, in my experience, Christians of influence rarely back off of public assertions they have made because it might undermine their credibility.

    We are not to be people of lies (like the father of lies) but to be people of truth (like Jesus, Who is Truth).
     
    #15 Baptist Believer, Mar 6, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  16. MojoTurbo

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    Rob Bell believes in a literal hell - he says so in the book - and before you bash someone you better be sure you know what they believe. Check out his church's belief page: http://marshill.org/believe/ (click the bottom link)

    One of my favorite quotes from a theologian is from Brennan Manning and he says, “The great cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who proclaim Jesus on their lips and then walk out the door and deny him with their lives. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (if it sounds familiar, this quote was in a DC Talk song)

    So yes, the world is watching… all the while asking, “Who are Christians?”

    Sadly, we’re people who often pass judgment, we’re finger pointers, we’re crazy, or we’re just like everybody else; and if that’s what the world thinks of Christians, I’m scared of what the world thinks of Jesus.

    In a book I read a while back, there was a quote from an atheist named Penny that went something like this, “Eastern religions are more attractive to me, because they focus more on being kind to others, loving other people of other spiritual beliefs even if they are different from you, treading lightly, and being humble. I think that was similar to the message of Jesus, but that’s the opposite of what I experienced from church and Christians.”

    Now, an ubelieving world might read that and nod approvingly, but a conservative Christian will read that and shake their head in disgust… “That’s universalism” they would say. And in a nutshell, universalism is a “no tolerance policy” towards other faiths our outside thought. And just to be fair, the bible does make very exclusive claims.

    And here is where I want to spend a few moments… I don’t want to talk about how Christians “judge the world,” and are the critics of all thing secular. I believe Paul takes that head on in 1 Corinthians and he says it much better than I can.

    No, I want to turn the accusing finger ironically in and talk about how Christians judge other Christians.


    It seems another of “us” have taken it upon themselves to pick up the first stone - and hurled it – at yes, you guessed it, Rob Bell.

    Justin Taylor submitted a “book review” (if you can call it that) of Rob Bell’s “unreleased” book, Love Wins. In a nutshell he admits that he has not read the book, but is merely judging it (and Rob) by a few early “wiki-leaked” chapters and publisher blurbs; and in the review he calls Rob a universalist.

    Why is that so bad? Well it has started a chain reaction of Christian judgement across the twitterverse that according to Jason Boyett has “more than 20,000 Facebook recommendations and 1,000 comments.” So much so that the accusations floated all the way up to “Christian Super Hero,” John Piper who then perpetuated the rumor by tweeting three words…

    “Farewell, Rob Bell”

    Which I assume is John Piper calling Rob an apostate. You don’t think so? Consider the definition…

    Apostasy is what we call people who have left the faith either by their own volition or who we deem “too radical” to be included. The word derives from the Greek αποστασία (apostasia), meaning a defection or revolt, from απο, apo, “away, apart”, στάσις, stasis, “stand”, “standing”. It literally means someone who “stands over there.”

    Apostasy is an “outsider.”

    And “Farewell” is what we say to people who are leaving. (cue Steam)

    But unlike Simon the stylite, Rob has not been hiding from a watching world, far from it. He is one of a very small group of celebrity preachers. And Rob might cringe at that title, but it’s true. He is an author, sought after public speaker, pastor of a mega-church, innovator, creator, mover, shaker and purveyor of fine salsas. And when any celebrity comes under fire by the critics of the world, history has shown us that it’s par for the course.

    There is a Japanese proverb that says, “the stake that sticks up, gets hammered down.” It Sounds very similar to our American saying, “Anytime you poke your head above the crowd, someone will take a poke at it.”

    America has made a business out of celebrity-bashing. And it’s no surprise that sometimes the easiest way to make a name for yourself – is to tarnish somebody else’s name.

    Rob has spent his life being a Eucharist to others – he has literally broken open his life and poured it out for others – and that’s a costly thing.

    Fortunatly there is another wise saying from Epicurus, ”I have never wished to cater to the crowd; for what I know they do not approve, and what they approve I do not know.”

    In other words, “if you don’t get the joke, maybe it’s not for you.” If everyone else around you is laughing, but you are not – it doesn’t mean that it’s not funny. You might not have “got it” but obviously a lot of people did – so the joke was not for you.

    I would argue that Rob is writing and speaking for Penny and the universalists of the world. Rob doesn’t write to appease his critics. I bet you a million dollars he didn’t write this new book for Justin Taylor or John Piper. Rob is speaking for the outsiders and the people who don’t “get it.” And sometimes to reach that audience – you need to use that language – and pose those same questions; and I guess the price for this is – to get lumped into that same crowd as well.

    I seem to remember the religious leaders of Jesus day making those same accusations about Jesus (Matthew 11:19). They called him terrible things and accused him of hanging out with the wrong crowd (Mark 2:13-17). And sadly this happens to modern prophets as well.
     
  17. Allan

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    I wasn't saying YOU believed it.. I was saying as well that it isn't a 'biblical' option.. yet there are other options apart from scripture in those peoples minds.
     
  18. mandym

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    From the publishers description of the book:

    http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Love-Wins-Rob-Bell/?isbn=9780062049636
     
  19. preachinjesus

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    Rob Bell is very good at framing questions a lot of people under the age of 30 are asking. This is another example.

    It is impossible to know his position in the text before the book has been released. All of the conjecture is akin to "old wives tales" and is gossip.

    Now I'd love to see all those who are openly questioning, or impugning, Bell's position take a moment and go to him biblically and confront him before their ad hoc blog posts, tweets, and/or chatter.

    As for the question of Hell, I believe Hell is a real place where real people go to spend a real everlasting existence after really denying Christ throughout this life.
     
  20. Baptist Believer

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    1.) Book blurbs are made to be provocative, and the author of the book rarely has any say in them. (FYI, I used to be in book publishing.)
    2.) Media companies know that they can build sales for a product by creating a controversy among Christians because so many are unthinking, knee-jerk reactionaries who are happy to whine and protest instead of investigating things carefully and soberly. If that is what they are doing here, I wouldn't be surprised if Bell switches publishers after he fulfills his contract.
    3.) Many theologians and Christian thinkers have noted that those who reject the grace of God willingly choose hell. God in his love does just about everything possible to keep humankind from destruction except to violate human free will. Unless you are a hyperCalvinist, God does not sentence souls to hell - people choose it because they cannot bear to come to God. C.S. Lewis' analogy, "The Great Divorce" is a brilliant depiction of this truth. The door to hell is shut from the inside.

    Absolutely. Eternal life begins when we enter into the Kingdom of God that exists among us now. We enter the Kingdom of God through Christ (John 14:6).
     
    #20 Baptist Believer, Mar 6, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011

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