There’s some buzz on the neoReformed blogosphere (Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung) today that megachurch emerging celebrity pastor Rob Bell is finally coming out as a universalist based on the above video and the publisher’s description of his forthcoming book:
Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.
- Bell’s video is excellently produced and asks legitimate questions that every Christian and non-Christian wrestles with, or at least should. Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung may choose to bury their heads in the sand all they want and ignore any such questions, including when believers and non-believers ask them. That’s real missional and pastoral.
- Neither the video nor in the publishers’ blurb affirm universalism, the belief that everyone goes to heaven or that there is no hell. In fact, the publishers description merely affirms with Bell that God’s love wins out over his wrath (which is the orthodox Christian position. See: Jesus Christ.) and at most, the Arminian evangelical position (which was Christian and not heretical, last I checked, unless you want to posthumously go after C.S. Lewis as a heretic, too) that God does not willfully condemn anyone to hell — he merely gives humans the ability to choose freely. Even such theological softies as R.C. Sproul (please note irony – he’s one of my theological heroes and should be for any Calvinist) loudly reject the notion that God willfully and wrathfully condemns anyone to sin and hell positively in the same manner that he saves and elects.
- If people like Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung devoted even a fraction of the energy to sharing the Gospel that they currently devote to speculatively policing it, perhaps the Church would truly rise up in ways unimaginable.
- Bell could still come out as a univeralist and I’ll sound like an idiot, and I am slightly uncomfortable with some of his positions, missiology, and disdain for propositional truth… but I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that he’s not a heretic, that he’s a partner in the Gospel, and that accusations of heresy are thrown around far too lightly among neoReformed blogosphere prima donnas.
- Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung going after Rob Bell for his supposed heretical doctrine is as if Britney Spears and Justin Bieber went after Sara Bareilles for lack of musicianship. Whatever happened to theological discourse in this country… or music, for that matter. I need to stop making such a fuss about pseudo-celebrity fundamentalist wannabe-theologian bloggers and megachurch celebrity pastors. But so do American Christians.