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Rob Bell--Love Wins

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Well, I'm not sure he really considers that point for himself in this particular sermon, as much as he is aiming a barrel at YOU PEOPLE.

If he's making the argument, even to other people, it seems fair to make the assumption that he has considered that argument himself, no?

However, these type of sermons all run on a very safe little track and no matter how sincere, I see a tremendous disconnect in many of the underlying philosophies.

Well, I didn't post it as an example of perfectly consistent argument or as something for you to accept. Just as a way of challenging your "those guys didn't really consider/believe that stuff" suggestion, a suggestion which strikes me as a little too convenient, perhaps even arrogant, way of dealing with this issue. We have no reason not to take Edwards at his word, even taking into account cultural considerations.

Sin is a crime guilty of infinite punishment-- our conscience is supposed to confirm this obvious reality, but I've never known anyone for whom this was so.

Just saying, this is actually true of me, at least as far as myself and my own sin is concerned; I feel more uncomfortable about this notion when I consider other people and attempt to weigh their sin, something I couldn't possibly hope to do. Feel free to speculate, though, as to whether this instinct is somehow natural or just bred into me after years of Christian teaching, 'cause I'm not sure, either.

Whereas Acceptance of Jesus in time = blessings for eternity doesn't? Just askin'.

To be fair, the blessing of God through Christ Jesus is unmerited. That's kind of the point. There's a difference with punishment, which is supposed to merited and match the degree of the crime committed. So the question remains, "How severe is ultimate, final, unrepentant rejection of God, and what is the fitting penalty?"

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Whereas Acceptance of Jesus in time = blessings for eternity doesn't? Just askin'.

To be fair, the blessing of God through Christ Jesus is unmerited. That's kind of the point. There's a difference with punishment, which is supposed to merited and match the degree of the crime committed. So the question remains, "How severe is ultimate, final, unrepentant rejection of God, and what is the fitting penalty?"

Agreed. The further question is "What does ultimate, final, unrepentant rejection of God look like, and who are we to judge what it is?"

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Thanks for the fascinating discussion! I'm enjoying reading it, and not participating in it very much. :)

But I will mention, because I think it's interesting in this context, that in his film Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky imagines Andrei Rublev as very conflicted over his commission to paint the Last Judgment (I say "imagines" because AFAIK the historical evidence, as to what Rublev thought or believed, is minimal to nonexistent). I blogged about this once:

The ascetic severity of Byzantine spirituality is certainly an integral part of the film (and it probably helps to understand the historical and theological context for it), but I think it’s clear that Andrei himself is consistently at odds with it. He argues with his mentor, Theophanes the Greek, when the latter rails against the stupidity and baseness of the Russian people and declares “We’ll burn like candles.” He frustrates his friend and fellow monk-painter, Danil, by agonizing over their commission to paint a fresco of the Last Judgment, because he can’t figure out how do it without the usual terrifying images. Even though Andrei has witnessed horrifying cruelty, like the Grand Prince’s blinding of the stone masons, he can’t bring himself to accept the “black” Byzantine view of things. There is a tenderness in his heart that is simply incompatible with it.

At a crucial moment near the middle of the film, in the midst of his painter’s block over the Last Judgment, and which also corresponds to the arrival of the “holy fool,” Andrei remembers how he, Kirill, and Danil sheltered from the rain by standing under a young oak tree in the middle of a field (I discussed this sequence in a prior post). Emerging from his reverie, Andrei confidently states that she (the holy fool) is not a sinner, even if she doesn’t keep her head covered (Sergei, one of Andrei’s assistants, had been reading from I Corinthians). And then Andrei declares that his Last Judgment will depict a feast!

...

In a general historical sense, the “pagan holiday” episode has rightly been faulted as anachronistic. Historians tell us that pagan enclaves like the one depicted by Tarkovsky are extremely unlikely in fifteenth-century Russia. But I think that including this episode was a stroke of genius, and bespeaks the deeply rooted conflict in Rublev’s soul (and, I would argue, in Tarkovsky’s too) between choosing an ascetic, world-denying path, and a bounteous, world-affirming path. Despite what I said before, about Rublev being at odds with “black” Byzantine spirituality, it’s important to remember that he always remained – sometimes more, sometimes less – within the tradition. In my view, his masterpiece, the Trinity icon, is his eloquent attempt to reform it. Working within an incredibly prescribed art form (icon painting) Rublev has achieved, in the Trinity icon, the seemingly impossible. He has created something completely new, yet completely recognizable as belonging to the thousand-year-old tradition. Rublev has chosen the world-affirming path, yet has not rejected the other path. This may appear to be an intolerable paradox for those who worship logic. But for those who worship the living God, all things are possible, even “illogical” things. The Last Judgment is a feast (or holiday)!

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So the question remains, "How severe is ultimate, final, unrepentant rejection of God, and what is the fitting penalty?"
I think scripture tells us plainly, in the old and new testaments, what the penalty is and exactly what it looks like-- DEATH! Not to be flippant, but ya know,... brain activity slows, breathing falters, heartbeat stops, lights fade and eyes close.

Well, I didn't post it as an example of perfectly consistent argument or as something for you to accept. Just as a way of challenging your "those guys didn't really consider/believe that stuff" suggestion, a suggestion which strikes me as a little too convenient, perhaps even arrogant, way of dealing with this issue. We have no reason not to take Edwards at his word, even taking into account cultural considerations.
Who am I to judge Edwards? I love the Puritans and have gleaned much from their writings. I take issue with his words... and his belief in hell. I have the large Banner of Truth volumes of his life's work and every now and then will crack them open. In his private devotions he had (to use a puritan word) a most melting sense of affection for God.

My point has been, the traditional doctrine of hell-- when viewed clearly-- presents us with a God who I doubt any human could truly love. Despite the proponent's faux-resignation that this God can "do whatsoever He pleases", this deity remains infinitely cruel, unjust and unmerciful. How does one worship and "enjoy" this Being?

Sin is a crime guilty of infinite punishment-- our conscience is supposed to confirm this obvious reality, but I've never known anyone for whom this was so.

Just saying, this is actually true of me, at least as far as myself and my own sin is concerned; I feel more uncomfortable about this notion when I consider other people and attempt to weigh their sin, something I couldn't possibly hope to do. Feel free to speculate, though, as to whether this instinct is somehow natural or just bred into me after years of Christian teaching, 'cause I'm not sure, either.

You really believe you deserve infinite punishment for the evils you've committed? Dude, I'm sorry. But then again, maybe you've done some really bad stuff. I would bet the farm you haven't, though. Still... INFINITE punishment... really???

This reminds me of the Puritans. David Brainerd and John Bunyan in particular. In the Diary and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, respectively, both men go on and on about how wretched they are... how vile and despicable and deserving of hellfire etc. Even sympathetic commentators have noted the over-the-top quality of their self-flagellation and protests that they "deserved the deepest bowels of hell for their transgressions".

We know from history that both of these men were actually very quiet and pious individuals, with sensitive dispositions. There are two ways to look at this-- either the Holy Spirit had so deeply convicted them and plumbed down to the root of their motives that they felt like an abomination in His eyes, i.e. perhaps wrestled with some compelling secret sin like homosexuality, OR they simply aped the Puritan self-hatred and self-renunciation that was virtually a religious requirement of that time. I lean toward the latter. Either way, they werent nearly as bad as they thought they were.

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I think scripture tells us plainly, in the old and new testaments, what the penalty is and exactly what it looks like-- DEATH! Not to be flippant, but ya know,... brain activity slows, breathing falters, heartbeat stops, lights fade and eyes close.

As you've said.

Despite the proponent's faux-resignation that this God can "do whatsoever He pleases", this deity remains infinitely cruel, unjust and unmerciful. How does one worship and "enjoy" this Being?

By denying that this deity is "infinitely cruel, unjust, and unmerciful."

You really believe you deserve infinite punishment for the evils you've committed? Dude, I'm sorry. But then again, maybe you've done some really bad stuff. I would bet the farm you haven't, though. Still... INFINITE punishment... really???

Yes. INFINITE punishment. Don't get me wrong, I don't have some crazy guilt complex, and neither have I committed any sins that anyone would find so particularly egregious. But yes, in those occasional moments when I do contemplate with my sin, I do in fact feel as though an infinite sentence is precisely what is deserved.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Greg P said:

:I think scripture tells us plainly, in the old and new testaments, what the penalty is and exactly what it looks like-- DEATH!

Well.... you see. While the doctrine of annihliation isn't nearly as horrifying as the doctrine of eternal hell. It does have it's own

set of problems.

It has been estimated that in history (what with the exponential growth rate of the human race) there have been around 600 billion

people who have rejected Christ, and about 5.5 to 6 billion who have become Christians. Now I know this is only an educated

estimate. But I think it makes a point.

The Bible says that Jesus died so that all might have eternal LIFE, and that his will (purposes) are to save all.

The Bible also indicates that God (being eternal love) never gives up in trying, because love never gives up in trying.

So even with the annihiliation theory there are some humps to get past. A couple of these being

1) If the annihiliation or the eternal hell theory are true, then Satan will have won, over God, with 600 billion people (about 90% of humans)

2) God's love has ulitimately failed with these people

3) God has ulitimately given up on these people.

But the thing is. Besides the idea of love never giving up, there is also the Abrahamic covenant to think about. The new covenant

is linked to, melded with, came over, the Abrahamic covenant (according to whatever ones theology would be on the subject). But needless

to say, that Christ is the seed mentioned in the Abrahamic covenant.

I'm sure you know these things, but in order to help convey what I'm getting at. Here is the covenant.

Genesis 19: 2 - 3

That I may make you into a great nation, and bless you, and make great your name, and become to you a blessing.

That I may bless them that bless you. But him that makes light of you will I curse.

So shall be blessed in you all of the families (nations) of the ground.

Part of this covenant is conditional, but the part that says that all of the families of the ground in not. It is an

unconditional covenant.

Genesis 22: 18 says........ So shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed in thy seed (being of course Jesus.)

You see many theologians look at this covenant and say. Oh Jesus' death on the cross was a blessing for the nations

in that the free gift is now open to all who want it. Or they say... Oh that means that God has promised to save at

least some people out of every nation on the earth.

But that's not what the following passage says.

Acts 3: 19, 24 - 26

But ideed all of the prophets - From Samuel and those following after, as many as have spoken, have announced even

these days. You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God covenanted unto your fathers, saying in

Abraham. And in thy seed shall be blessed all of the familes (nations) of the ground..

Unto you first (being of course the Jews) God has raised up his servant - Has sent him forth ready to bless you,

When you turn away, each one, from his wickedness (repent.)

Therefore in the Abrahamic covenant, God has covenanted to bless everyone in Christ Jesus, and this blessing happens

after repentance to Jesus (when they fall under the new covenant.)

If God was to give up on or walk away from the Abrahamic covenant he would essentially be committing divorce. So therefore

he has to bring all of the nations of the earth into repentance in order to bless them, this first being offered to the Jews.

Some would say, oh that means that only some people from the nations will repent. But look closely, when he is

talking to the Jews (being a nation) he says... when you turn away each one from his wickedness. If he means

every single person within the Jewish nation, then he obviously means every single person within the other nations as well.

In other words God has made a blood covenant that every single person in the nations will, receive a blessing,

after coming to repentance to Jesus Christ. God can not back out on this covenant, otherwise that would

mean he has committed divorce.

Therefore he has to, and is going to eventually, bring all people to repentance, which of course means eternal life.

Now one could say..... that people can choose not do their part to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, so God doesn't have

to do his part in this covenant.

But he didn't make the covenant with us. He made it with Abraham, who is the only possible person that could ever do

anything to break this covenant....... And he's dead.

Edited by Attica

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Yes. INFINITE punishment. Don't get me wrong, I don't have some crazy guilt complex,...

No, not at all! ;)

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Seeing as this forum is filled with a bunch of folks who are interested in the arts. Maybe this

will fit in with my above post.

worthy is the Lamb - painting

Edited by Attica

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Yes. INFINITE punishment. Don't get me wrong, I don't have some crazy guilt complex,...

No, not at all! ;)

The thing is Ryan H. You don't deserve infinite punishments. You deserve to be judged under the law.

As we know those who have never had faith in Jesus are under the law.

So.... lets say, just for point of conversation. If you had committed a murder, you would deserve to be stoned to death under the just punishments of the law.

And nothing more.

As I'm sure you know, in the Bible God puts forth the principle of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth".

This principle was to teach God's people to behave fairly and just. It was saying...... If somebody does you wrong, it is wrong to pay them

back more than they deserve according to what they have done.

Infinite punishments for the crime of murder is way worse of a punishment than being stoned to death. It is paying back a person

more than they deserve for their crime, and therefore is not fair or just, according to the laws and regulations that God has set forth in the

Old Testament.

Yes, I know that God himself may not be necessarily bound by the "and eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" rule. But it does set forth God's views on fairness and just

dealings.

I hope you will not be taken aback by this post.... but instead see what I'm trying to get at, as being a very positive thing. :unsure:

Edited by Attica

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Yes. INFINITE punishment. Don't get me wrong, I don't have some crazy guilt complex,...

No, not at all! ;)

It isn't a guilt complex, it's his bad opinions on certain films. And yes, God is very mad, Ryan.

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Attica wrote:

: If you had committed adulterly, you would deserve to be stoned to death under the just punishments of the law. And nothing more.

Well, not even THAT, arguably. I mean, if the complaint is that hell is "barbaric, cruel, torturous," etc., then how is stoning any different? And while we might agree that death is a reasonable penalty for killing someone, how can death be a reasonable or "just" punishment for a mere act of sexual intercourse?

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Attica wrote:

: If you had committed adulterly, you would deserve to be stoned to death under the just punishments of the law. And nothing more.

Well, not even THAT, arguably. I mean, if the complaint is that hell is "barbaric, cruel, torturous," etc., then how is stoning any different? And while we might agree that death is a reasonable penalty for killing someone, how can death be a reasonable or "just" punishment for a mere act of sexual intercourse?

Oh... I agree completely. The Old Testament punishments are barbaric to my mind. I guess I'm trying to say that it wouldn't be just for them to be

any worse than this, not that they should be this bad.

I would never agree to such a punishment in any society. But judgements like these were in the Old Testament under the law. Even if I don't like or completely understand them.

Maybe I'll change it from adultery to murder, in order to make what I was getting at clearer.

Edited by Attica

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It isn't a guilt complex, it's his bad opinions on certain films. And yes, God is very mad, Ryan.

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" ;)

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Attica wrote:

: If you had committed adulterly, you would deserve to be stoned to death under the just punishments of the law. And nothing more.

Well, not even THAT, arguably. I mean, if the complaint is that hell is "barbaric, cruel, torturous," etc., then how is stoning any different? And while we might agree that death is a reasonable penalty for killing someone, how can death be a reasonable or "just" punishment for a mere act of sexual intercourse?

Technically it's intercourse with someone elses spouse that merits capital punishment under OT law, not just sex. The adultery aspect is exponentially more egregious... I'm all for stoning!

Yes. INFINITE punishment. Don't get me wrong, I don't have some crazy guilt complex,...

No, not at all! ;)

The thing is Ryan H. You don't deserve infinite punishments. You deserve to be judged under the law. As we know those who have never had faith in Jesus are under the law.

I agree. Ryan probably needs to try a lot harder if he wants his punishment to be infinite. Get busy, man!

Things become unnecessarily convoluted if you believe the soul lives on after death, because you then have to invent a place for the damned to live in. Conditionalists have no such quandary. That soul that dies without grace is as silent as a stone. Mercy and justice are equally satisfied.

Traditionalists believe the soul has everlasting life, regardless... and I take serious issue with that premise. It diminishes the resurrection to a mere upgrade package. It also attaches attributes to the human soul that belong only to God ("who alone hath immortality") This assumption is the cause of all the confusion and tension over the nature of hell.

To rightly understand that everlasting life is only a supernatural gift and that without it one cannot so much as bat an eye or count sheep after death, makes the resurrection of Jesus and his promise of a resurrected life to those who believe, all the more powerful

Edited by Greg P

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Greg P said:

:To rightly understand that everlasting life is only a supernatural gift and that without it one cannot so much as bat an eye or count sheep after death,

Yet doesn't the Bible indicate that the unrepentant will be resurrected, in order to at least stand before the white throne judgement? At that point this isn't the spiritual life

that one can have in Jesus, but it seems to be some form of existence after bodily death.

:makes the resurrection of Jesus and his promise of a resurrected life to those who believe, all the more powerful.

I think it's pretty cool.

:I agree. Ryan probably needs to try a lot harder if he wants his punishment to be infinite. Get busy, man!

You do realize that your encouraging Ryan to do worse things than murder. ;)

Edited by Attica

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FWIW.

I noticed that in a post awhile back I had said that for God to go back on

his covenant would make him an adulterer. This was a mistake. I think I should have instead said that

this would be kind of like committing divorce.

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Here's the review I've been waiting for: David Dark reviews Love Wins for The Other Journal. And he starts off his review with a story I heard him tell a gathering last night in his backyard, a sort of pre-Wild Goose Festival conversation that also included a couple stories from Gareth Higgins.

http://theotherjournal.com/2011/04/20/bell-rings-true-a-review-of-love-wins/

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I so wish I could have been there, Stephen. David *and* Gareth in the same backyard. Amazing.

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Lauren Winner had an essay on this topic, including thoughts about the book, in yesterday's New York Times Sunday Book Review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/books/review/an-evangelical-pastor-opens-the-gates-of-heaven.html

Historians of heaven will tell you that we tend to sort out our most urgent social concerns in part through our visions of the afterlife. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps described heaven for a generation saturated in Victorian idolization of the family and devastated by the carnage of the Civil War: for Phelps and her readers, it was impossible to imagine an afterlife in which intimate family reunion was not central. So, too, Rob Bell is articulating the concerns of a generation of Christians schooled in toleration, whose neighbors and coworkers and siblings are Muslim or Buddhist or agnostic, a generation whose pluralist social commitments are at odds with theological commitments to limited salvation. Bell speaks for those Christians who take the Bible seriously but can’t imagine their secular friends aren’t going to heaven, too. He speaks for that woman in the pew who can’t bear the thought of spending eternity apart from her atheist brother. The tweeting gatekeepers of conservative evangelicalism may also share these concerns, but for them, the solution is to convert the unbelieving neighbor. For them, confident optimism that Jesus simply saves everyone is evasive at best, and heretical at worst. But, then, the gatekeepers called Phelps an infidel, too.

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The gates are open in the New Jerusalem. People wander in and out. I've finally read Bell's book. I've appreciated it and am exasperated by it, moved by the insights and impatient with the shoddy exegesis that casually dismisses or ignores a couple thousand years of objections to his argument. That said, the gates are open. And the implications are staggering.

On a slight tangent, it turns out that musicians have been exploring these ideas for a long time. The songs noted below were first recorded in the 1930s, and are Negro spirituals, written by some unknown bard and embellished over time. The first song is best known from a recording of the Carter Family, the second from a recording by Uncle Dave Macon. Tom Waits borrowed more than a few ideas from the second song in his song "Down By The Train."

FIFTY MILES OF ELBOW ROOM

Twelve hundred miles its length and breadth

The four-square city stands

Its gem-set walls of jasper shine

Not made with human hands

One hundred miles its gates are wide

Abundant entrance there

With fifty miles of elbow room

On either side to spare

Chorus:

When the gates swing wide on the other side

Just beyond the sunset sea

There'll be room to spare as we enter there

Room for you and room for me

For the gates are wide on the other side

Where the flowers ever bloom

On the right hand on the left hand

Fifty miles of elbow room

Sometimes I'm cramped and crowded here

And long for elbow room

I want to reach for altitude

Where fairer flowers bloom

It won't be long til I shall pass

Into that city fair

With fifty miles of elbow room

On either side to spare

WHEN THE TRAIN COMES ALONG

Some comes walkin' and some comes lame

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Some comes walkin' in my Jesus' name

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Chorus:

Oh, when the train comes along

Oh, when the train comes along

Oh lord, I'll meet you at the station

When the train comes along

Sins of years are washed away

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Darkest hour is changed to day

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Chorus

Doubts and fears are borne along

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Sorrow changes into song

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Chorus

Ease and wealth become as dross

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

All my boast is in the cross

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Chorus

Selfishness is lost in love

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

All my treasures are above

Gonna meet you at the station when the train comes along

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Tangent:

Lauren Winner is fantastic - an excellent writer and an inspiring speaker with a distinct personality. She's just joined the faculty of SPU's MFA in Creative Writing, which Greg Wolfe directs. And she's teaching memoir-writing at The Glen Workshop in Santa Fe again this summer.

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Phlox said:

Would it make sense to call Rob Bell an inclusivist, rather than a universalist?

awhile back Peter T Chattaway said:

FWIW, I would not consider myself a "univeralist", but I *am* an "inclusivist".

[snip]

"inclusivism" retained the "imperialistic" nature of "exclusivism" by insisting that everyone still had to go through Jesus.

I'm not to sure if through Christ alone universalism is all that different from Christian inclusivism (at least as Peter and others have described it.) I guess the word inclusivism isn't a word that is as easily misunderstood,

or for that matter, has as many different understandings and implications, as the word universalism. Although, possibly the word inclusivism describes a belief system that isn't as open to repentance after death, or the idea

of the Lake of fire being ultimately corrective, as through Christ alone universalism.

One of the things that I've sometimes pondered when it comes to different cultures, is the fact that in western culture, Christians for the most part say that one can be saved through Jesus alone. Yet as many know Jesus wasn't the Messiahs real name. It was Yeshua.

Taken from a messianic Jewish site.

Yeshua is the original Hebrew proper name for Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is a mis-transliteration of the Greek mis-transliteration, Yeysu.

So anyhow, in regards to inclusivism, I've sometimes wondered if another people groups use of a separate name pertaining to Yeshua, is any more inappropriate than us using the name Jesus. God obviously acknowledges our

reference of Jesus as the Messiah because he knows that in our hearts and imaginations this pertains to the risen Yeshua.

Therefore I wonder if there is a possibility that other cultural groups (or at least individuals within these groups) have, now and throughout history, truly accepted and worshiped Yeshua, but we don't realize it because they are using a foreign word for the Christian deity, and culturally unique forms of worship. Likewise, of course, in our culture there are people who say that they believe in Jesus who haven't truly accepted him as saviour.

Just some musings.

Edited by Attica

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Phlox said:

Would it make sense to call Rob Bell an inclusivist, rather than a universalist?

awhile back Peter T Chattaway said:

FWIW, I would not consider myself a "univeralist", but I *am* an "inclusivist".

[snip]

"inclusivism" retained the "imperialistic" nature of "exclusivism" by insisting that everyone still had to go through Jesus.

I find this part of the conversation refreshingly interesting.

I wish Rob were here to answer that question for himself.

As far as this life is concerned, I think Rob and myself and the church (and probably most members of this board!) would like to think we are inclusive, always desiring to connect rather than combat. Like Aaron (ex-Mars Hill worship guy, amazing worship tune lyricist) used to sing, "Bridges are more beautiful than bombs... Love will change the world."

When a person that firmly believes in this position runs up against a traditional faith that puts the afterlife in front of this one and tends to create division based solely on belief of that afterlife rather than a union over the beauty and what we have in common in this life, it rubs the "inclusivist" the wrong way, it actually grates on that person, and it happens all the time. It creates division amongst Christians themselves -- I know for a fact that I am in that camp. I'd rather hang out with a non-Christian than a Christian who wants to separate these things so cut and dry like that. Inclusivism is about this life. We worry about the next in the next.

I think that is definitely a part of what drives this book. Yes, it is partially a reaction to traditional Christianity and that doctrine, but it is even more a reaction to how people use that doctrine to determine who is in, who is out, who I will pronounce a verdict on in this life rather than finding the commonality and letting God worry about it in the next.

I think the division or the wedge was felt first, and the book is Rob's attempt to try to back up his understanding of the wedge. The wedge was felt, but just because it was felt didn't mean there was a real understanding of why the inclusivists feel the knee-jerk way they (we) do, and it certainly didn't mean we could put words or scripture to it. "Love Wins" is the result of years of probing why the inclusivist feels that knee-jerk reaction in the wedge -- these ideas of finding the beauty and the commonality and probing for connection have floated around in our church's teaching for quite some time.

I don't think Rob or anyone have really arrived at an answer yet, because I don't think there is one (certainly not one that can be proven in this life), which makes the book simply a statement about some probing that's gone on behind the scenes for quite some time in this "new kind" of Christianity.

I find all the exchanges and the backlash from traditional Christianity ironic. That backlash is kinda the point.

Edited by Persona

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Persona wrote:

: As far as this life is concerned, I think Rob and myself and the church (and probably most members of this board!) would like to think we are inclusive, always desiring to connect rather than combat.

Well, yes and no. I don't believe that non-Christians (or even non-baptized Christians) should be receiving communion, for one thing. (And this is a belief that goes back to my Mennonite/Anabaptist childhood. I was baptized when I was 11, for whatever that's worth, precisely because I *wanted* to have communion at my church.) If that makes me "exclusivist" in this life, then so be it.

: Like Aaron (ex-Mars Hill worship guy, amazing worship tune lyricist) used to sing, "Bridges are more beautiful than bombs... Love will change the world."

There's more to life than bridges and bombs. There are also fences and gates, etc.

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Persona said:

:"Bridges are more beautiful than bombs... Love will change the world."

You betcha

:I think the division or the wedge was felt first, and the book is Rob's attempt to try to back up his understanding of the wedge. The wedge was felt, but just because it was felt didn't mean there was a real understanding of why the inclusivists feel the knee-jerk way they (we) do.

My thoughts are that this wedge was created way back in early Christianity, and has made it through to our time. I would think that it comes from dualistic thinking inserted by those such as Constantine and Augustine and others. Ya know, the whole the church is the city of God, and everybody outside of it are just a bunch of barbaric pagans, type of thinking. I'm guessing that many Christians realize, and are coming to realize, that other peoples and cultures outside of Christendom do have great value and possibly have had a sense of God or at the very least Godly and good things, and we have a knee jerk reaction to the wedge, because we look at our societies and history, and see how damaging said wedge can be.

:that puts the afterlife in front of this one and tends to create division based solely on belief of that afterlife rather than a union over the beauty and what we have in common in this life, it rubs the "inclusivist" the wrong way, it actually grates on that person, and it happens all the time. It creates division amongst Christians themselves -- I know for a fact that I am in that camp. I'd rather hang out with a non-Christian than a Christian who wants to separate these things so cut and dry like that. Inclusivism is about this life. We worry about the next in the next.

rather than finding the commonality and letting God worry about it in the next.

Well hopefully some of my comments haven't grated on you (at least to much :) .) Just for the record I agree with what your saying, but my posts come at least in part, from the understanding that it's real hard, if not impossible, for many people to not worry about the next life, in this life, if they believe in eternal punishments. Many many people are tormented by this, and can't get past it. To me.... if the hope of ultimate restoration of all through Christ is true, then this belief can lead Christians to trust that God will continually work to bring people to himself, help them get past the troubling thoughts of others eternal destinies, give them a sense of relief, so that they can move to a place of rest and joy. It also, I think, opens up the doors to seeing the human race as more of a Global family that God has not forsaken, which leads to a person having a world view which is more inclined to connecting, and building bridges. I wonder if many Christians would also be more likely to move on to loving others.

I think how we treat others it entirely connected to our view of how God does and will treat them.

Make sense?

: these ideas of finding the beauty and the commonality and probing for connection to all have floated around in our church's teaching for quite some time.

That's kind of where I'm at, and one reason why I find the arts so interesting. There most certainly is art made outside of Christian circles that touches on the beauty and commonality. Of course I also belive there is secular art that Holy Spirit is touching people through. Although of course to my mind there is often a very thin division between Christian and secular when it comes to some of these things.

:I don't think Rob or anyone have really arrived at an answer yet, because I don't think there is one (certainly not one that can be proven in this life.)

I agree that there isn't any direct answer that one could put their finger on. I just think that it comes from a long history with various forms of stinkin thinkin, that has made it into the current Christian climate. I expect a lot of this thinking has come from fear of the other. Or fear that others beliefs and culture will lead us astray. As Christians this is often what we are taught, especially those who grow up in the church. The thing is..... I think there is maybe some small truth to that caution. I guess my view would be to raise up Christians who learn how to interact with people openly and thoughfully, without stumbling into things that are hurtful.

Peter T Chattaway wrote:

:Well, yes and no. I don't believe that non-Christians (or even non-baptized Christians) should be receiving communion, for one thing. (And this is a belief that goes back to my Mennonite/Anabaptist childhood. I was baptized when I was 11, for whatever that's worth, precisely because I *wanted* to have communion at my church.) If that makes me "exclusivist" in this life, then so be it.

This reminds me of my own caution against getting involved with other peoples occultic or dangerous interests, even if there is some hope of connection and bridge building through these things.

Edited by Attica

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