No compromise (Rob Bell, hell, faith & theology)

March 1, 2011 — 8 Comments

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Canto 34 (Dante's Inferno) | Image via Wikicommons

This weekend, Twitter and the blogosphere were a flutter over the idea that a Christian pastor might lean towards universalism. GASP!

You can read more here, here, here, here, here and here.

All these folks getting their debate on — over a book that hasn’t even been released yet — and one in which the vast majority of commentators haven’t even read.

A promotional video for the book:

Whatever conclusion Bell comes to in his upcoming book, Love Wins, (which I’ve already pre-ordered) the idea of universalism and Christians who deny the existence of hell is nothing new in Christian theology.

Origen of Alexandria, whom many consider one of Christianity’s first great theologians, and who had a major influence on our current Biblical canon, was cast as a heretic for his denial of hell.

…for Origen believed that God’s love is so powerful as to soften even the hardest heart, and that the human intellect – being the image of God – will never freely choose oblivion over proximity to God, the font of Wisdom Himself.

In fact, even those who would hold fast to their belief in hell, may differ on their interpretation of hell.

Some may see it as a place of eternal torment. Others may believe in annihilationism (all sinners are destroyed rather than eternally tormented). And others believe hell is more of a punishment or prison, where we “work off” the bad things we’ve done, until we can be accepted into heaven.

And as I think through some of these issues, I wonder if any one of these beliefs would actually prohibit someone from being a “Christian.”

Does agreement with universal reconciliation mean someone is automatically condemned to the hell they don’t believe in?

Does a belief (or disbelief) in annihilationism mean someone will most certainly face that punishment?

In high school, I remember countless people warning us to never compromise our faith. But what is really required of “our faith?”

I have a feeling Bell’s going to address a lot of these issues in his book (or at least his understanding of them), but in the mean time I’d love to get your input.

What are the NO COMPROMISE requirements of your faith?

Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or any others… what are the key elements of your faith that you refuse to compromise?

P.S. I’m not looking for debate here, just conversation. What are the key elements of your faith?

Jonathan Blundell

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8 responses to No compromise (Rob Bell, hell, faith & theology)

  1. Perhaps you’ve seen this:
    http://donteatthefruit.com/2011/02/love-wins-and-truth-prevails-but-speed-kills-‘em-both/

    Not really a commentary on the theological question but on the way the debate has (d)evolved.

    Your question as to what are the essentials of the faith is a good one, one that every Christian would do well to carefully think through.

    For me, a person is a ‘Christian’ if they adhere to the following core doctrines:
    – The Triune God
    – The salvific work of Christ’s death
    – The Resurrection of the dead
    – The return of Christ
    – The inspiration of Scripture

    Now there are a great many things I believe beyond these (inerrancy of Scripture, premillenial return of Christ, eternal judgement, etc) but I think historically these 5 core beliefs have formed the basis for Christian doctrine (see Apostle’s Creed, the Nicean Creed).

    While ‘hell’ doesn’t make the cut into the top five, I think it is nonetheless important. In my mind the best argument against universalism is the gospel imperative of Scripture. In other words, if people aren’t headed down the wrong road there is little room for good news. You could argue that the gospel offers a better life in the present, but then what do we make of the ‘deathbed conversion’ account of the repentant thief on the cross (Luke 23)? Now the gospel should never be preached as ‘fire insurance’ and the avoidance of hell should not be the prime motivator of the soul. But God is holy and set apart and only through the blood of Christ can we hope to be recounciled to Him. Perhaps God will apply the blood to all after death. Yet again, there seems little reason to go to the ends of the earth and risk life and limb.

  2. Perhaps you’ve seen this:
    http://donteatthefruit.com/2011/02/love-wins-and-truth-prevails-but-speed-kills-‘em-both/

    Not really a commentary on the theological question but on the way the debate has (d)evolved.

    Your question as to what are the essentials of the faith is a good one, one that every Christian would do well to carefully think through.

    For me, a person is a ‘Christian’ if they adhere to the following core doctrines:
    – The Triune God
    – The salvific work of Christ’s death
    – The Resurrection of the dead
    – The return of Christ
    – The inspiration of Scripture

    Now there are a great many things I believe beyond these (inerrancy of Scripture, premillenial return of Christ, eternal judgement, etc) but I think historically these 5 core beliefs have formed the basis for Christian doctrine (see Apostle’s Creed, the Nicean Creed).

    While ‘hell’ doesn’t make the cut into the top five, I think it is nonetheless important. In my mind the best argument against universalism is the gospel imperative of Scripture. In other words, if people aren’t headed down the wrong road there is little room for good news. You could argue that the gospel offers a better life in the present, but then what do we make of the ‘deathbed conversion’ account of the repentant thief on the cross (Luke 23)? Now the gospel should never be preached as ‘fire insurance’ and the avoidance of hell should not be the prime motivator of the soul. But God is holy and set apart and only through the blood of Christ can we hope to be recounciled to Him. Perhaps God will apply the blood to all after death. Yet again, there seems little reason to go to the ends of the earth and risk life and limb.

    • Thanks for the input Lee!

      Not to agree or disagree but it’s interesting that right off the bat I can see even multiple views or ways of seeing the doctrines you listed. I think those of us familiar with “christianeze” would generally know and understand what you mean, but if we wanted to we could probably sit and debate the specifics and understanding of each of them.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what others add to the conversation as well. Thanks again for kicking it off!

  3. Hey Jonathan,

    I’ll be short and sweet on the question ‘What are the NO COMPROMISE requirements of your faith?’
    I will not ever compromise on the necessity of being in Christ and confessing His name (specifically) as Lord to be saved from the just punishment of Hell.

    If Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ translates as ‘God saves all anyway’ then Bell is denying the Holiness and just nature of God. This is what he appears to have been working up to with his ‘bigger Jesus’ speeches.

    Davy

  4. I am saddened that Rob Bell has accepted this lie. Jesus said we must be born again. He said the way is narrow and only a few find it. He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus. How can someone like Rob Bell be so blind to what Jesus taught?

    • Stan,

      Thanks for the comment, but I’m sure it would be best for all of us to actually read the book before jumping to any conclusions about Bells belief system one way or another.

      However, I’d love to get your input on the actual question at hand…

      What are the NO COMPROMISE requirements of your faith?

      Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or any others… what are the key elements of your faith that you refuse to compromise?

  5. Love..so simple..yet so confusing to those who think they are ‘wise’. ;)

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