Posts Tagged ‘Love Wins’

I just watched an interesting (and helpful) interview (HERE) with N. T. Wright on the recent controversy caused by Rob Bell‘s “Love Wins.”  I’d be interested to hear your responses to Tom.

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Rob Bell’s Love Wins is kind of old news in the internet world, yet its effects in terms of online and classroom discussions continues to be felt. Things having cooled down, it’s probably a better time for some level-headed reflection on what Bell had to say in the book.

That level-headed reflection won’t come from me, because I still haven’t read the book. Instead, I will redirect you to Ben Myers’ thoughts on the book, posted a couple of days ago. It’s a great article and I’m having difficulty choosing a portion to quote here.

Myers notes that Bell’s book calls is indebted to Eastern Orthodox theology, in particular the notion of Christ descending to hell and setting its captives free–effectively breaking the power of hell.

Some critics have questioned Bell’s orthodoxy – especially his emphasis on the universality of salvation. But the most striking thing about his approach is its deep indebtedness to Eastern Orthodox tradition. The Orthodox churches have always emphasised the universality of Christ’s work – not only his death and resurrection, but also his descent into hell. The Orthodox liturgy proclaims that hell was emptied by Christ: ‘Hell’s gatekeepers trembled before you; you raised with you the dead from every age.’ In another part of the liturgy, Orthodox Christians sing: ‘Rising from the tomb, you broke the bonds of Hades and destroyed the sentence of death, O Lord, delivering all from the snares of the enemy.’

…As [Russian Orthodox] Archbishop Hilarion argues, the universal scope of Christ’s work doesn’t necessarily mean that all will be saved. But it means that even hell itself is no longer a place of separation from God. Christ has penetrated into the depths of hell, flooding its darkness with the light of love. Hell has become a site of divine activity, a venue of divine love. ‘If I make my bed in Hades, you are there’ (Psalm 139:8). Thus the torment of hell can only be understood as the torment of love. Hell’s power is abolished – but someone might still reject God to such an extent that even love becomes a torment, an unbearable ‘scourge’.

I recommend the entire post. It’s refreshing.

And yes, I can connect this to Barth. Says Myers:

The hostile reaction to Bell among North American evangelicals reminds me of the way some people responded to the great Reformed theologian, Karl Barth. Barth placed so much emphasis on God’s grace that his critics called him a universalist. But in Barth’s view, both universalism and its denial are errors. The important thing is to uphold the absolute freedom of grace: if grace is free, then we should neither deny nor affirm universal salvation. It’s not our decision to make – ‘salvation belongs to the Lord!’ (Psalm 3:8). Yet Barth thought the ferocious condemnation of universalism exposed something pathological in the Christian mindset. When he was accused of promoting universalism, he once replied: ‘Strange Christianity, whose most pressing anxiety seems to be that God’s grace might prove to be all too free …, that hell, instead of being populated with so many people, might prove to be empty!’

Barth’s reply expresses precisely how I feel about the whole universalist/Rob Bell issue: heaven forbid the thought that Christ save everyone!

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