It frustrated me because seems to operate on an unspoken premise that many, rather than a few, will be saved and then goes about wildly proof-texting the Bible in a way that ignores context and genre of scripture to suggest the premise without ever conclusively affirming it. That is frustrating because one could reverse the premise – that a few will be saved and many will be lost – and use a different selection of proof-texts, flattening out scripture to make the reverse premise plausible. I know because I grew up in a church tradition that became well known for doing this. Bad methodology is bad methodology.
I’m not saying Bell or anyone else (myself included) cannot reference scripture. Just don’t do so in an ad hoc fashion.
The chapter itself seems to create a tension and leave it hanging. So I have some thoughts/questions. The se are not so much a push back as they are just a continued critical dialogue.
The tension is in the question of whether all will be saved, which God wants (1 Tim 2.4), or will some perish. Again, we can line up proof-texts to answer each question in the affirmative and still resolve nothing. Bell’s suggestion on the other hand:
Those are questions, or more accurately, those are tensions we are free to leave fully intact. We don’t need to resolve them or answer them because we can’t, and so we simply respect them, creating space for the freedom that love requires (p. 115).
Bell leaves this tension hanging and I can understand that somewhat. At the end of the day, neither I nor anyone else except God gets to be judge. For me, I simply am called to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means proclaiming his death and resurrections as the means of God’s redemptive work.
Yet in the pictures at the end of Revelation, the new heaven and new earth are clearly portrayed as a reality where wickedness is no longer. After reading Bell’s chapter on heaven, Bell would seem to agree. But then in this chapter, Bell seems to paint a picture where two or more people are living in proximity with the choice to choose between God’s heavenly way of life or a hellishly destructive way of life. Ok. So what happens to the one who choose the hellish way of life?
The more I read this book the more I realize that Bell is raising more questions than answers. That can be a good thing. As I’ve read along in the book I have also be stopping at places and picking up my Bible and reading it. For instance, I read the last four chapters of Revelation tonight. That is always a good thing. Also, as much as I want to hear his definite answers, I also like his ambiguity because it forces us (the readers) not just to settle for his answer but to try and answer the question ourselves (if we can).
I’m also realizing that just as each chapter is an inductive dialogue, so the entire book seems to be. That means that some of the answers to the questions being raised will have to wait until we read further on.
What are your thoughts?
- Rob Bell “Love Wins”: Opening Thoughts
- Rob Bell “Love Wins”: The Flat Tire
- Rob Bell “Love Wins”: Here is the New There
- Rob Bell “Love Wins”: Hell