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Love Wins…and Still Kind of Loses April 3, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity, doubts, Heaven, Hell, Rob Bell, The Church, theology, universalism.
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Welp. It took the entire Christian blogosphere commenting on one book to coax me out of my blog hibernation ( caused by the 60 hour work weeks I’ve recently had to endure). And while I sincerely doubt that many people will read this post because, let’s face it, this dead horse has been beaten just about as much as it can be while still being able to be recognized as a dead horse. But, still I feel it is my duty as a Christian blogger and wannabe pastor to review the most talked about  and controversial Christian book since the 1611 King James Version of the Bible (and yes, in 1611 that was quite controversial for several reasons).

First of all, let me say this: I like Rob Bell. If I had to go to war by his side or any of the “New Calvinists,” I’d easily choose him. He comes off as much more Christlike, even if his theology can be a bit wacky at times. Having said all that, I do believe that people who tend to like
Bell will like the book more than people who tend to dislike him. I also do not believe he is a universalist, at least not as I understand universalism.

As for the book itself, overall, I found it very enjoyable and I did learn a lot from it. It did stretch my faith in some ways. However, I did not agree with all of it. I think anyone who has a bit of knowledge about the Bible could easily point out the parts where Bell is deeply Scriptural, and where he stretches it a tad to match his thesis. We’re all guilty of doing this from time to time, I might add. My advice, as it always is, to people listening to sermons or reading books by pastors is to eat the fruit and spit out the seeds. I agreed with parts and disagreed with parts of the book. That’s not the issue. The biggest issue I have with what’s come out of this book is harshness with which people have discussed it. I’m guilty of being a little harsh myself in some of the discussions I have had about it. My problems being with people who claim that Rob Bell is a heretic and going to Hell himself. Personally, I don’t think anyone is a heretic who is honestly wrestling with God and the Scriptures to try to figure out the Father’s heart. What’s heretical about that? Just because someone comes to a different conclusion to what the Scripture is saying than you believe or has been taught for the past 1500 years does not necessarily make them a heretic. What makes a heretic is one who is trying to undermine God and the Scriptures just for the sake of undermining them. Bell is not doing this. I believe he really has studied, prayed, and wrestled with these issues and is simply teaching what he feels he has learned. That is in no way heresy.

The other problem I have with it is the people who are commenting on the book and on Bell personally without ever reading it. Most of these people just take the position their pastors take. This is typical, lazy, American Christianity. The saddest thing is that most pastors want their people to follow them blindly like this. If a pastor is gonna make a judgment on a book without ever reading it, and just wants their people to go along with him, how does he expect them to actually read the Bible for themselves? The secret is he doesn’t want them to. He just wants them to go along with what he says about the Bible and every other topic. Welcome to modern day conservative Christianity. Though let’s not pick on just the pastors. It’s the people, overcome by their own laziness and idol worship (their pastor is their idol) that force that away from reading the Bible and thinking for themselves.

This is my plea to you. If you decide to have an opinion on Love Wins,  or even on Rob Bell himself, please do so after reading the book and doing much research. Do not form an opinion based on news stories, blogs, book reviews, and especially not based on whatever your pastor says. You have a mind and Jesus said you were supposed to love Him with all of it. Not reading these books for yourself and blindly following whatever your pastor says is failing Jesus in that regard, because it is just plain stupid.

My Greatest Sin July 20, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Heaven, Hell, life, sin, universalism.
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I don’t want everyone to go to Heaven. I want some people to burn in Hell for the rest of eternity. I could play this off as wanting to see God’s justice prevail, but that’s not the case. The truth is: I just want to be right. This is my greatest sin. I read certain blogs by some people who might be categorized as “universalists.” A term meaning they believe that everyone will get to Heaven one way or the other. Some of these universalists just believe all religious paths lead to Heaven, others are Christians who believe that Jesus died for everyone and will bring all to Heaven based on what he did on the cross. I think that these universalist Christians believe this not primarily on any biblical doctrine, but on the fact that they love people and can’t bear the thought of anyone suffering in Hell forever. This makes me jealous of them, because I don’t share that same love for people. Do I want people to go to Heaven? Of course I do, but not before they admit they were wrong about some things and turn their lives around. I don’t like the thought of murderers and rapists, or even Muslims and homosexuals entering Heaven totally on the mercy of God’s grace before they bow the knee to Jesus on earth. And I should want that. I read something by Shane Claiborne one time that said something along the lines of, “You don’t have to believe that God will save everyone, but you should hope he does.” That statement floored me. That’s when I realized my greatest sin is not loving people enough. I wanted to be right about them going to Hell, more than I wanted to see them in Heaven. Even if I don’t believe that people will go to Heaven without first surrendering to Jesus on earth, I should want Jesus to bring them to Heaven anyways.

The fact is Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others. If I truly loved others, I would want them to go to Heaven no matter what. This is why many Christians put a priority on evangelism. They witness because they believe, like I do, that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, and that means turning your life over to him here on earth. However, for many evangelism  turns from being a sincere love for one who is lost, but an argument or battle to determine who is wrong or right. Even the term “apologetics” conveys a fight, as it means defense of faith. Now, I enjoy a good debate. I like the intellectual stimulation it brings, but I’ve come to realize that sound arguments will very rarely change someone’s mind, much less their heart.

I was eating at Outback Steakhouse with my mom last week. We saw a friend of my dad’s there and he stopped to talk to us. They talked about how they felt about the direction of the country was going in the wrong direction, to which made my mom bring up Charles Stanley’s July 4th sermon, in which he basically called President Obama wicked, without ever saying Obama’s name. I stated that I really didn’t think pastors should talk politics in the pulpit, to which they disagreed. That started a verbal war at the table which got quite loud and a bit angry. Afterwards, I felt pretty convicted. I should have just let that argument slide. For one thing, I’m not sure if our server was a Christian or not, and seeing three Christians squabble like that is never good for a non-believer to witness. That’s when I realized that my desire to be right was a sin. It violates the second greatest commandment. It’s not loving of others.

There is only one thing that I’m really sure of, and that’s when I get to Heaven, I’m gonna find out that I was wrong on some things. That being the case, why am I so worried about being right all the time down here? I hope I am wrong and that my universalist Christian friends are right. I hope everyone does make it to Heaven. Even though I doubt that is the case, I’m asking God to change my heart toward people who disagree with me. I’m asking him to help me to love others and not to be afraid of being wrong. Because loving others has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but it has everything to do with trusting Jesus.

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