If you weren't aware Rob Bell has released a new book (Love Wins) and of course there's controversy because that's what he does, that's what sells books, and that's the only reason he is relevant. I've seen a few of his Nooma videos and haven't read a single of his book. Really not interested. Just too trendy & not my style. It grabs me more as steps to sell controversy rather than appeal to an honest discussion.
Reminds me of this:
There's a Veridian Dynamics feel to it.
Bell is accused of being a universalist. And he accuses most of the rest of the church of being heartless and sticking too much to the set number of saved Christian souls.
I'm bothered by both views (I'm not getting into disputing Bell, shop around; that is adeptly argued many places). They are both trapped on the same point - a determinist view of eternity.
One side sees all as being saved forever, the other sees a locked Heaven. I really think both are demotivational for ministry work. The end of that thought process is: Give people long enough and they will be won over by God, or they don't need anytime God has it resolved.
There are basic questions that I think resolve much of this. Or at least clarify what is being debated.
Question 1: Is there a Hell?
Question 2: Who ends up in Hell?
There is debate (none of which is new) on who might be condemned - deathbed believers? Gandhi? Hitler? those who've never heard? Suicide? Mormons? Jews? Muslims? Catholics? Baptists? Salesmen?
If you are confident on having all of the answers and every minutia worked out - good for you. Carsalesmen still have me boggled. I think there is plenty of room where God's ways are above & beyond me and I'm okay with that. I just have to plow the field in front of me. Jesus, God's son, died on the cross for my sins. You too? Welcome to the family.
I'm mostly struck how much all of this reminds me of the creation discussion. Materialists are stuck needing to explain every step of every critter and allow no gaps. Possibly with the caveat that the gaps are To Be Determined. A comprehensive theory from soupy, slimy crystals to mankind. One of their basic premises for geo-age is that the explanation only contains factors that are still present/possible today. The earth is changing at a constant rate. So - Step 1, no miracles. No one time events to describe the biggest one time event.
There is a strong effort to explain everything ("Answers in Genesis" and others) over six days and counter every finding with a literal Bible translation finding. 24hrs means 24hrs. Step 1, no time miracles. These 6 time events to explain the biggest event to start it all.
Once again, I'm bothered by both views. Basically science says "give me long enough & I'll explain it all." And creation-science says I don't need any thing, it is all clear from Genesis 1&2.
First question: Are there miracles?
Miracle (as I'm using it) - Things that defy scientific explanation. OR God intervening and occurrences outside the normal natural behavior. Do miracles happen (or have they happened)? Defying scientific explanation. They cannot be tested or repeated. God enters into his world and moves.
If this answer is "No". Congrats! You're a materialist and go forth never letting one sliver of things lie beyond explanation with natural laws. Continue to explain the joy of a puppy with endorphins and smell of the first spring day with pheromones.
Question 2: Is Genesis to explain how the miracle worked OR why the miracle was worked?
Whether it takes 6days or 60million years it is no less a miracle. Then to jump thru just as many hoops to explain 6000years as the other side does to fill all of the gaps seems like saying all of your tools are flawed and your house is unsafe but let me pick them up and build my own house with them.
I think I give up on these discussion because both "debates" (hell & earth) center on arguing "how" rather than "why". There is a way to get stuck on spiritual mechanics and determinism and to be stuck fighting them. Some one (or group) starts explaining the "how" and the other side starts fighting back (Bell against "classical orthodoxy", or Ken Hamm against Dawkins). One side only stuck on explaining "how?" seems to draw out a response which is more passion than substance for the discussion. Not that a discussion can't happen but realize what is on the table for a carving discussion.
The gauntlet of "how things work" shouldn't be picked up for the sake of fighting. I think as Christians we are free to go as far down the explanation road as we can, but realize the road is longer than our legs can carry. Dawkins can be screaming "okay then, you explain it" and my simple answer is it's magic. God does it how he wants. Rob Bell may ask where is "the love for Ghandi? he must be in heaven" and the answer is still - it is magic. God does it how he wants.
Knowing the final answer (more trusting the author) I can look at some of the "how" and marvel at the craftsmanship that pours through. Wonder at the beauty (material and spiritual) that is just overwhelming. I curiously pursue more out of it being a way of knowing God more & enjoying him forever.