There’s been a lot of hoopla in the evangelical community over Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins.
Don’t get nervous if you haven’t heard about; I promise you’ll survive.
I’m almost done with the book & can confirm that Bell has simply repackaged an old teaching known as ”universalism.”
Universalism is that doctrine which asserts that all men will eventually be reconciled to God. A universalist believes that the efficiency of the Atonement is not limited and therefore extends to all….There are about as many varieties of universalists as there are people writing about it; no two appear to be exactly alike.” -J.R. Root, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2d ed.
In a nutshell: Bell believes God has provided salvation for every person; therefore, no one will face God’s judgment regardless of their beliefs, lifestyles, etc. In Bell’s view, any other conclusion is incompatible with the biblical concept of a loving God.
Among the thousands who have chimed in, my favorite critique of Love Wins is found here.
In my personal opinion, Bell is brilliant–but wrong. Nonetheless, personal attacks against the man are even wrong-er (yes, I wrote “wrong-er,” — get over it).
I believe the appropriate response is the same as that of the Bereans: “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth” (Acts 17:11).
I’ve searched the Scriptures and adopted some universal doctrines of my own:
- All of us have sinned; the Bible portrays sin as a form of rebellion & treason against God.
- We are universally guilty & universally incapable of changing our condition; being a “sinner” describes who we ARE–not simply what we DO.
- God loves all people–including you, atheists, Muslims, Rob Bell, and everyone in-between.
- Because God loves all people, he doesn’t want anyone to perish; so he sent his son, Jesus, as a divine substitute (to take the punishment for the sins of us all).
- Salvation through Jesus Christ is universally available to anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus.
- All people who accept Jesus Christ, regardless of their personal sins, are divinely pardoned.
- All people will stand before God and be judged.
- Eternal separation from God awaits all people who rejected Jesus Christ; this is hell–and it’s a real place.
- Heaven–which is also a real place–awaits all people who chose to follow Christ.
- When it’s all said and done, God will create a new heavens and a new earth (i.e., “a new universe“) that will be eternally and absolutely free from the sin, suffering and injustice of our present world. I hope to see you all there (including Rob Bell)!
In the End, Love Wins.