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March 05, 2011



Thanks for taking the time to write this... well thought out. I am amazed how quickly this has created an immense controversy meanwhile, child-trafficking, poverty, and other travesties don't seem to even make a ripple. Like Karen wrote yesterday in her FB status, if only we cared even half as much about Rob Bell's "Heresy" as we did about the things that really matter... the things that break God's heart. The thing that really amazes me... no one has any idea what Bell is going to say. Only the 2 minute video which could never capture the idea of an entire book...

Right on, Josh. Amazing how we love controversy, isn't it?. Give Karen a big "you go girl!" for me.


THANK YOU! I'm linking your blog to my FB. I couldn't have said it better.

Thanks, Linda. I've been chewing on this one for a week. Lots more could be said...

Thanks Tim. I appreciate your time and thoughts on this.

I'm not sure this will come out as clearly as I intend so bear with me please.
I know that we need to be socaially involved, we need to be loving as others as Christ loved us. But we cannot neglect theology and proper understandin of scripture, especially the hard parts of scripture. Are we truly loving people if we meet their physical needs but do not lead them to the truth of Christ? What makes the Church,all believers in Jesus Christ, different than any other organization? Many, many organizations do wonderful works of meeting people's needs, but they cannot meet people's ultimate need.
I guess my rambling here could be summed up in this, there is danger in becoming so consumed by our social justice aganda that we are of no spiritual good. There is equal danger of becoming so locking into our particular breed of theology or dogma that we are no longer any social good.

Thank you for taking the time to post this.

I would hope as many people read this post and wrestle with it as have read the other internet craziness on the topic. Yeah, fat chance, I know..but I did give your post some buzz (i wish it was "The Colbert bump") here:

"Rob Bell on/in hell; Crises and sex sell books/Jesus":

Great thoughts Tim. I agree with so much you've pointed out here. People these days are so quick to 'judge from a distance'.

In reality -- I must deal only with the people I interact with each day, which so far has not been John or Rob.

I guess as I get older -- I'm focusing on the smaller things, like actually being a 'good friend', husband, and father, and actually trying to doing something about those roles each day. I meet a lot of people 'ranting' from one direction or another -- but when I ask them about their 'personal' stuff -- the 'rant' goes away.

One of my weaknesses has been to be too much of a 'thinker' than a 'doer'. I'm trying to change that.

Robb, you're welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Kim, what I try to say in much of what I write is precisely what you suggest, though, I think there is danger in siding with either "evangelism" or "social justice." Those are the two poles that the media are defining. I'm not going to play that game. Thanks for the comment.

Dave, If you know Colbert, hook me up!

Joseph, you have a really nice take on the discussion. You're really talking about "vocation," that is, what you and I are called to do. I believe we hear the calling of God in every minute of the day and in every contact we make with another human being. This makes Christianity something that is personal and practical, not abstract and distant. Thanks for the contribution!

Good article, I have said the same thing myself that I feel fine in my theology following and appreciating both these men. (even though most see them as opposites)

I knew you were a closet universalist, Tim!

David, so true. Thanks!

Josh, everyone gets in but you.

I would say one difference that is not as inconsequential as it may seem on the surface: one "side" in this debate shouts in rage, the other speaks with a smile. One "side" condemns the other as heretics and implies they're bound for hell; the other suggests that the boundaries of heaven are broader than we think.

I do not dismiss your suggestion that both are using theatricality and marketing buzz...frankly, I'm not all that crazy about the theatre of either "side" myself...but do you not think this contrast in spirit may actually be material to the discussion?

Hi Dan, I've thought about that too, but then I wonder if it matters where you stand (on which side)? Usually in conflict one side always feels victimized and persecuted by the other. I do have to admit, though, that Bell certainly isn't as dismissive as his critics are, and thus appears much more gracious. On the other hand, I can't help but think that Love Wins is a very pointed shot at the neo-Calvinists. Thanks for the comment!

Everyone gets in but me?

Well, hell.

Tim, Thanks for taking the time to reflect. Beverly, Justin and I read your post and reflected on it. we are reminded and convicted of the churches invitation to be a counter culture that humbly lives out the values of Heaven here on earth. We came to the conclusion that we are simply sick and tired of all the arguing and name calling. I'm with you, how does this model Kingdom living. Where is all this fighting really getting us? People often ask me if I follow the teaching of Rob Bell. My response is this... I enjoy the teaching of Rob Bell but I follow the teaching of Jesus.
We are reminded that God apposes the proud but gives unending grace to the humble. We desire to spend our time and thought humbling pursuing kingdom Values, primarily love of neighbor. So as soon as I am done commenting here, the three of us are going to watch the video you let us borrow, "Made in LA" to hear the voice of the oppressed so we can journey out of our ignorance and into the freedom that leads us to kingdom living where it matters how those who make our clothes are treated.

Matt, Bev and Justin, You all inspire me more than you'll ever know! "Peace to this house!" -Tim

Interesting point about crisis management leaders--I think you are on to something. It's important to keep in mind that the goal of the video was to create interest in (and sell) Rob's new book. Rob is provocative, he always has been. But he raises some interesting questions. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it's like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz

Until last night (3/16/11) I hadn't even heard of Rob Bell. A friend emailed me a clip of a recent interview he did on MSNBC regarding his new book. I found your blog upon searching for more information on Bell.

My impression based solely on that interview is that Bell is a universalist. He implied that people can still be saved after death. That may feel good to people now, but it's a dangerous lie. It's certainly not the gospel as found in the Bible.

This is a highly insightful post. I don't read/watch/listen to either Bell or Piper that much and I tend to be skeptical of megachurches and churches that revolve around their pastors, so it didn't bother me at all. ;)

Whenever I see this controversy discussed, I can't help feeling like Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." While we're debating about what people are and throwing labels around, let's at least use the correct ones.

Universalism is the belief that everyone will go straight to heaven, regardless of their faith or feelings toward the one true God. No repentance required either before or after. It's most similar to inclusivism (which is what you see in Lewis' The Last Battle), where sincere followers of a false religion can go to heaven because they unknowingly serve the true God.

The concept of people being saved after death is called divine perseverance, which suggests that the possibility for repentance continues to exist after death. It's what you see in another of Lewis' works, The Great Divorce. People start out in hell but have the option of turning to Christ, although most don't.

I saw Bell's promo video for the book and couldn't develop any conclusions about his beliefs from it (it's amazing what happens when you listen to someone without thinking you already know what they're going to say). However, I think it's far more likely that he believes in some form of divine perseverance than universalism.

Anyway, I'm just a bit of a stickler for proper terminology and that was directed at the controversy in general (including several of the comments here). Excellent post.

Interesting post. Thanks for your thoughts. I would be interested in what you have to say about the line between sensationalism and hyperbole, a technique that Jesus used a lot.

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