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Tyler

Rob Bell--Love Wins

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I just read the article and would like to put up a short response if that's alright.

I think that's great, but would be better served as a response on Challies' site.

I did put it up on Challies site but I can't get back on to the site

right now to see if it was posted. Either it's to do with my

web-browser or his site is getting to much traffic. I'll try again

later and if it isn't on the site I'll re post it.

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Yet if the word was translated as "age" then the translation would be "ages of the ages" which would make sense in context.

It would mean that there are several ages in God's plan for the human race and during at least one of these ages the unrepentant

will be punished.

I don't see how that follows.

Here is my limited understanding.

In a nutshell some people have been studying Bible translations which translate aionos as "age" or "eon" and found

that there are 5 ages in Gods plan for humanity. We are living in what the Bible says is "this present wicked age".

In the future is the ages of the ages, meaning several ages which are part of the greater number of ages, one of which

is the "present wicked age" in which we live. Before this age was the age of the Abrahamic age (without the law), and before

that was the age where mankind lived in Eden before the fall.

So when Jesus talked about judgment using the word aionos he was said that the wicked would go into age-abiding correction

and the righteous into age-abiding life. This is referring to the age that comes after the one thousand year reign during which

Christians will live with God in the "Holy City" and the unrepentant will be corrected. At some time they will walk into the

Holy City through it's gates. Have a look at Rev: 21: 22 where it says that people walk into the gates that are always

open; if the Christians are already in the Holy City as we see from the start of Rev: 21 then who are the people that are walking

into the heavenly City, and where are they coming from?

As well the language in Rev: 21: 22 is the exact same as Isaiah 61 which talks about the salvation of the nations through judgement.

When everyone (the nations) have been corrected and repented they will walk into the City of God, where no evil is allowed, through the gates that are never shut.

This is just as the nations walked through the gates that are never shut in Isaiah 61: 11. Then Jesus will have accomplished his salvation purposes and will hand all back over

to the father, and God will be all in all.

Essentially Rev: 21 (with it's references to Isaiah 61, along with some other Isaiah passages) are prophetic teachings on an age or more to come when

the unrepentant will be judged and Christians will live in the Holy City with God. This is the "ages of the ages" that I had mentioned earlier.

Does that help make some sense?

Edited by Attica

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Hi Ryan

I'm not quite sure what your meaning but here's my best response.

Tim Challies had said:

:Now here’s the thing: aion and aionos definitely can mean “age” or “period of time,” they also mean “eternal.” The word’s context helps us to determine its meaning.

I was working with what he said about the words context helping us to determine it's meaning, to show that in the context of those scriptures

I believe the obvious or best interpretion was that they mean "ages" instead of "eternities". So essentially I'm saying that when thought through,

what Tim Challies said actually gives strength to Rob Bell's argument, according at least to how Tim has interpreted it.

Therefore it seems to me that according to the logic in Tim's response it can actually be proven that his view on aionos meaning eternal in the "hell texts" is wrong,

and that it must mean "age". When aionos is translated as age, which in Tim's view is a possibilty according to context, then the concept of eternal

hell falls out of the Bible.

I was using Tim's reasoning on the word aionos to argue that there is no such thing as an eternal hell, but instead an age of correction which I believe

that Revelation teaches. Revelation talks about the lake of fire which is burning for the aionos of the aionos, which I think should be interpreted as

ages of the ages. Therefore this isn't an eternal fire but a corrective fire. After or during this "baptism in the lake of fire" people will

be able to repent and walk into the Holy City.

Edited by Attica

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Ryan H said:

:I'm not sure that's true, actually. It may give things more ambiguity, but the concept doesn't dissipate into thin air.

:Why does the phrase "ages of ages," first off, suggest a limited time? I could see "age" by itself suggesting a more

certain sense of limited time, but "ages of ages," a more ambiguous phrase, does not seem so neat-and-tidy, and

could easily be construed as a kind of poetic way of representing eternity/infinite future time, which, to the best

of my knowledge, is how it has generally been understood.

Since Augustine it has generally been understood as meaning eternal and not an age, so the concept of age

hasn't been very widely studied. The only way "ages of ages" could be ambiguous is if someone was to say that

there was an eternal amount of ages. But then why wouldn't the bible just call it eternity? As we see there

is some argument over the meaning of the greek word aionos, but there is at least one other greek word that

absolutely does mean eternity, yet which is barely used in the Bible, and never used in Hell texts. So it would

make sense, that if their were an eternal amount of ages for punishment to just use the word that means

eternity. As well the use of the word age (aionos) in other parts of the scripture point to the fact that

this correction is only for an age. As mentioned before Jesus used the wording Aionos Kolasis which

could be better translated as age-abiding correction which of course fits in with the idea of the "ages of the ages"

not being as ambiguous as it could be seen. Jesus words are not the only uses of aionos that when translated

as age point to age-abiding correction.

If your interested here are some studies of aionion

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/asw/Chapter2.html

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/asw/Chapter5.html

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/PowerOfLifeAndDeathInAGreekFourLetterWord.html

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion.html

Ryan H said:

: But less supported, I think, is this understanding of final judgment as a kind of purifying fire. Even if hell can be construed to have some kind of limited run,

it doesn't follow that it would function as a kind of purgatory for unbelievers. The final judgment--whether it is annihilation or place or what have you--

is spoken of in very decisive, final terms; there is no indication that the "second death" of which Revelation speaks is just a passing trial.

It wouldn't be considered purgatory according to the Catholic understanding. Some feel that the view of a "baptism in fire" which some of the

early Greek Christians, as well as others had, was what eventually led to the Catholic view of purgatory. To be honest I don't have much knowledge

into whether or not that is historically true.

When Jesus said that he came to baptise by water and by fire he put both water and fire into the context of baptism.

We know that the baptism of water wipes away the evil in a person and cleanses them confirming them as Christ's own. That is what the sacrament

of baptism does in water, so I don't think it's a stretch to say that a baptism by fire would do the same. I also don't think its a coincidence that the

Revelations use of the wording "LAKE of fire" has an obvious connection to water.

I'm going to take some time in order to help put some of my thoughts into a more appropriate reply than I can reason through on the

spur of the moment. ::blushing:: I'll post again soon. :)

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But then why wouldn't the bible just call it eternity?

Poetic license, perhaps? There are many different ways to say one thing, and when we human beings communicate with one another, we do not always do so in the most obvious, unambiguous terms, in part because language offers such rich possibilities when we move away from the entirely concrete.

As mentioned before Jesus used the wording Aionos Kolasis which could be better translated as age-abiding correction

The question of "eternal" vs. "age-lasting/age-abiding" aside, the choice of the word "correction" doesn't strike me as contextually very warranted, and more motivated by wishful thinking than anything the text itself suggests.

The reasoning on display in these articles strikes me as pretty suspect, taking verses out of context (these articles make the enormous assumption that different Biblical authors had the exact same understanding of the word whenever it was used), and then doing very focused word-studies that seem to rest in fairly tenuous interpretive claims. I'm speaking of arguments along these lines:

The eon of the eons refers to the final and greatest of all eons. That it cannot refer to "eternity" is shown by the statement that there will be "generations," which implies procreation, which will not happen in eternity since we will then be like the angels.

For one thing, it isn't necessary to understand the citation of "generations" in that passage as implying procreation.

It wouldn't be considered purgatory according to the Catholic understanding.

I know, which is why I called it "purgatory for unbelievers."

I also don't think its a coincidence that the Revelations use of the wording "LAKE of fire" has an obvious connection to water.

Doesn't really square with the notion of second death, though.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Ryan H said:

:Poetic license, perhaps? There are many different ways to say one thing, and when we human beings communicate with one another,

we do not always do so in the most obvious, unambiguous terms, in part because language offers such rich possibilities when

we move away from the entirely concrete.

I'm not sure that eternal damnation is the place where someone would wax poetic. ;)

:The question of "eternal" vs. "age-lasting/age-abiding" aside, the choice of the word "correction" doesn't strike me as contextually

very warranted, and more motivated by wishful thinking than anything the text itself suggests.

κόλασις (kolasis, pronounced KO-lah-sis)

Literal meaning: corrective discipline, chastening

The renowned New Testament scholar, William Barclay, in his book William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography, pointed out that "kolasis"

originally referred to the pruning of trees, and never denotes anything but remedial discipline. The word “punishment” is thus a bad translation,

because it implies punitive discipline rather than solely corrective disciple.

:(these articles make the enormous assumption that different Biblical authors had the exact same understanding of the word whenever it was used)

Remember they are using the Greek language which was one of the most precise complex languages known to mankind. We think and speak in

English which is one of the least precise languages in history. We use our words have many different meanings, and the Greek language most certainly

wouldn't have done this to near the same extent as us, if at all. That being said you might have a point. I don't have the understanding to know

for sure.

:I know, which is why I called it "purgatory for unbelievers."

My bad.

:Doesn't really square with the notion of second death, though.

That actually fits with what I'm planning to write in a later post.

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Ryan H said:

Doesn't really square with the notion of second death, though.

Here is a rough explanation of my understanding touching on the second death.

Romans 6:23

Yet now being freed from sin yet enslaved to God you have your fruit for holiness. Now the

end is life age-abiding (aionos). For the wages of sin is death, yet the gracious gift of God

is life age-abiding (aionos), in Christ Jesus our lord.

1st. Corinthians 20 - 28

Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. For since

in fact, through a man came death (the wages of sin- this isn't in the Bible I'm inserting it), through

a man also comes the resurrection of the dead. For even as in Adam ALL are dying,

thus also in Christ ALL shall be made alive. Yet each within it's own class:

(1st class - again my insertion) the firstfruit Christ;

(2nd class) - those who are Christ's in his presence;

(3rd class) - Thereafter the end when he may be giving up the kingdom to his God and father....

....... For he must be reigning until he places ALL his enemies under his feet. The last enemy

being abolished death (the wages of sin) For he subjects all under his feet.............

Now whenever ALL may be subjected to him then the son himself also shall be subjected

to him. Who subjects ALL to him, that God may be all in ALL

So here Christ destroys the wages of sin which is death, in three classes.

Christians (the second class) will go into age-abiding (aionion) life and everybody else (the third class)

will go into the Lake of fire (which is most likely metaphorical).

Rev 20:14 - 15

And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (death

being the wages of sin) the Lake of fire.

Yet in Corinthians Paul said

For he must be reigning until he places ALL his enemies under his feet. The last enemy

being abolished death (the wages of sin)

If the second death is eternal than Jesus will never place his last enemy death

under his feet. Yet according to Paul the last enemy that Christ will abolish is death (the wages of sin),

which must mean the second death, as at this point it's the only possible death that is left.

So eventually Christ will destroy the wages of all human sin, with the firstfruits being him (destroyed

death from Adams sin as of course he was without sin), then the Christians in his presence, and then

everybody else.

After they are corrected in the lake of the fire they walk into the City of God as seen in Rev 21: 24 - 27

(again I ask who do you think these people walking in through the gates that are always open are....

the Christians are already in the city, or are the city depending on ones view). Then comes the end

of this particular age, in which Christians have age-abiding life and the rest are corrected in

the lake of fire before the lamb.

Revelation clearly says that the lake of fire is before Christ and his angels, which throws out the whole

idea of eternal separation from God, as Jesus is right there..... it is before him. Yet if the Lake of fire

is burning before him then that also means that he hasn't yet handed over everything to God, which

the bible says that he will do. As well if God is love, and they are never separated from God in the Lake

of fire, then that means that they are never separated from love, and the Bible says that love never gives up, and

love never fails. This of course adds to the argument of the Lake of Fire being corrective.

The judgements mentioned in the prophets were always with the point of correction.

Isaiah 15:5 and 16:7 even says that God weeps with Moab who is being judged. Issaiah 35: 4

says "Lo your God with avenging does come, with the recompance of God He does come to save you"

I believe that this is God's heart for mankind and God's character even in judgment, and that

God is unchanging.

When the correction is finished Christ the lamb will have finished his purpose of taking away the sins

of the world (as promised in John 1:29) and as well have destroyed sins wages which is death.

Christ will hand everything over to the father. Then God will be all in all.

1st. Timothy 4:10

Faithful is the saying and worthy of all welcome (for this we are toiling and being reproached), that

we rely on the living God who is the saviour of All especially of believers.

Maybe tommorrow I'll post on why I think the Lake of fire is a sacrament of baptism.

Edited by Attica

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I guess Rob was on Good Morning America today. I'll post it when a clip shows up.

I'm just going to go ahead and post this, looks like it's from church yesterday. We didn't make it in -- we were going to go into an "All In" kids week (I was going to get to look into how they're treating my boy, 5, she was going to spend the day in our eight year-old daughter's Sunday School)... But due to Daylight Savings Time we were late -- first time I ever remember that happening. I heard Rob's teaching from the week a little bit and it sounded awesome as always, dipping into the book of Revelation for the next few weeks on the way to Easter.

Anyway. I guess this was from yesterday, before the teaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg0mkooAqiU

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Oh, and I guess my House Church has begun reading the book. Unfortunately, due to personal complications, I can't attend. My wife has read a part of the book and basically says, as I assumed, there's not a lot that's new here for people that already attend the church.

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Greg "Letters From a Skeptic" Boyd, who has spoken at Mars Hill GR twice that I remember, has reviewed the book Here.

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I guess Rob was on Good Morning America today. I'll post it when a clip shows up.

I'm just going to go ahead and post this, looks like it's from church yesterday. We didn't make it in -- we were going to go into an "All In" kids week (I was going to get to look into how they're treating my boy, 5, she was going to spend the day in our eight year-old daughter's Sunday School)... But due to Daylight Savings Time we were late -- first time I ever remember that happening. I heard Rob's teaching from the week a little bit and it sounded awesome as always, dipping into the book of Revelation for the next few weeks on the way to Easter.

Anyway. I guess this was from yesterday, before the teaching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg0mkooAqiU

Hi Persona. Thanks for this and the blog link. I like that Rob Bell is thinking about some of these things.

I also loved it when he talked about peeling back the layers to find that some peoples view of the good news isn't

really such good news.

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Bell-friendly commentators have been asking why evangelicals would have a problem with the concept of "love winning", but I gotta say: I think it might be more profitable to ask why anyone would have a problem with the concept of love LOSING. I mean, love doesn't win just because love is love, does it?

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Bell-friendly commentators have been asking why evangelicals would have a problem with the concept of "love winning", but I gotta say: I think it might be more profitable to ask why anyone would have a problem with the concept of love LOSING. I mean, love doesn't win just because love is love, does it?

Well to my understanding the Bible says that Love never fails, and God can't lie. Obviously in this world it seems that love fails and loses, and

we all probably at least somewhat view the world through that lense, but does it in God's overall plan? I think that our failures and God's seemingly failures in

this life will only help people to see that the terrible judgement is needed, just as the Judgements in the Old Testament were needed. I think they were God's last hope.

To my mind when the judgement is done people will see that it was good for them and will glorify God, just as after the judgements in the Old Testament.

That being said... the question of having a problem with the concept of love losing IS a good question.

For several years one of my questions has been...... when people hear of the concept that Christ will eventually save all why do they recoil so hard against it.

Shouldn't people be saying.. Gee I hope it is so, and I'm going to search the scriptures, pray for truth and research the subject in hopes

that I can believe in it?

Edited by Attica

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Bell-friendly commentators have been asking why evangelicals would have a problem with the concept of "love winning"

I was thinking about making a bad Charlie Sheen joke here, but someone beat me to it.

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Attica wrote:

: Well to my understanding the Bible says that Love never fails . . .

Does this necessarily mean "Love always wins", though? The Amplified Bible says the words "Love never fails" in Corinthians 13:8 basically mean "Love never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end", and sure enough, in the verses that follow right after this passage, Paul goes on to talk about how prophecy and tongues and knowledge, unlike love, will "pass away". I don't think Paul was saying that love "always wins" while prophecy, tongues and knowledge "lose". That's not the dichotomy he was working with.

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And now Byron Borger chimes in with part one of his thoughts (his full book review is still to come):

http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/booknotes/booknotes_reviews_love_wins_by/

He mentions in his review that he posted a comment on Challies review (which already had 50,000+ views by the time Byron wrote his post), and it was a little hard to track down, scrolling through all the comments, so I'll copy it here:

friends in Christ,

I wrote this a few days ago and then chose not to post it. Yet, you've gotten so many positive remarks that I figured I should offer these concerns about your review. Hope it is helpful.

Thanks for this informative review. I’ve read an advanced copy too and appreciate your concerns about Bell and about the book.

However, I think you fall short at a few points, misrepresent Bell a few times, and take a few uncharitable shots. The review could have been very helpful, but I’m afraid it is less reliable than it should have been.

I’m not prepared to comment much on Bell’s case. Here, now, I’m only concerned that we review him fairly and responsibly.

Firstly, I suppose I was frustrated early on when you chided Bell for framing the debate the way he did. Well, that is his concern---and, surely, the concern of many; those of us who do evangelism and apologetics hear this asked all the time. Why fault him for asking the tough question. “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t” you say. Well, this is a tough concern and as Francis Schaeffer used to say, we should answer such tough questions “with tears in our eyes.” I’d wish you had applauded his framing of the question in such clear terms, and not whine about it.

I agree with you that Bell too often didn’t follow through with his thoughts, although I think you are wrong to call them illogical. His views are mostly undeveloped and inadequately argued, but that doesn’t make them necessarily illogical. You say it couldn’t stand “cross examination” and has little internal strength. I’d invite your readers to read the book for themselves to determine that. I know some who have read it who found it very cohesive, with much “internal strength.” That is not to say he is correct, but your accusation that his arguments “break down” and he “simply walks away” seemed somehow not quite right to me. He does have this punchy style of asserting things and not developing them---his books read just like the Noomas, and that is both their appeal and their weakness. I, too, wished for much more development (and footnotes!) but to wish for more and better explication is not the same as saying he’s “walking away” and isn’t “pursuing logic.” He’s laying his ideas out there, with plenty of Bible proof texts (an important feature that you failed to tell your readers.) I suspect Bell isn’t as deeply committed to “logic” as you may wish, but he’s citing text after text after text, in all their admitted ambiguities and complexities, laying ‘em out, honoring their resonance and seeming contradictions and their trajectories within the overall Biblical narrative as he sees them. Your readers deserve to know that he cites oodles of Biblical texts including each use of the word hell in the whole Bible.

I was sad that you took the cheap shot of using the phrase about his work “your best life now” as if Bell’s hermeneutic or conclusions could be likened to Joel Olsteen. That’s just weird. And to suggest his view doesn’t lead to worshipping Jesus? That was below the belt and utterly unfair. Bell would say--in fact he does say!---that this view invites great and true worship of Jesus. He and you want to worship Jesus. As he asks, directly, "which Jesus." He thinks he is honoring the Jesus of the Bible. He may be wrong. To suggest he doesn't want to worship Jesus enough is out of bounds.

I was particularly disappointed in the way you twisted his understandable frustration with those on the internet who attack and defame and slander. You take this to mean that he “appoints himself as a martyr...and anyone who disagrees with him is preemptively silenced.” You accused him of this plan in an unwarranted manner, saying it is a “useful technique.” Did you read the same book I did? He invites conversation, admits that not all will agree, calls for robust conversation and I did not pick up any sense that he was “silencing” “anyone who disagrees with him.” He did protest unkind and unfair slander, and he is proper to do so. (Do you disagree? Surely we can agree that unfair and unkind attacks are unacceptable for Christians in theological debate.) He has been “the victim of hateful, toxic, venomous” attacks and it certainly isn’t wrong for him to ask that his views be treated honestly. I think you mostly did that, but not with this accusation that he was disallowing any critique. Nonsense. He said no such thing, and your readers should know that you misrepresented him on this point.

I think you were nearly mis-representing his view by the glib dismissal of his insistence on hell. You say he believes in hell, but you don’t think he does. Whew. And you accuse him of not developing his arguments! I think you are on to something here, and it is close to the crux of the matter. But he repeatedly says he believes in hell "now and later." If you are going to review this book and just say he’s “clever” in redefining things, you do us all a disservice. Your readers need to know that Love Wins isn’t merely a “clever” ploy, but an attempt at a Biblically consistent view of what hell is and isn’t, its power and longevity. Bell says he believes in hell, your quick dismissal notwithstanding. He may not be correct in his descriptions, but he says more about it than you let on. Why is this, I wonder?

Another place I believe you mis-characterized his view: I have pondered what Bell says about the nature of the human condition, about the horrors he has seen (in the third world, and in his pastoral office) and about whether or not the sinfulness of our hearts is terminal. I think you are simply wrong to say that he believes “people are essentially good.” I do not recall a place in the book where he said that. As you have pointed out, he is a master at questioning, re-defining things, shifting the categories (that is, he makes us think and pokes at our too-often unquestioned assumptions) so I am not sure what he thinks about the fundamental human condition, but he sure makes it look bleak, horribly bleak (without God’s intervention.) He sure doesn’t say that people are good. If folks are to be saved it isn’t because of their innate goodness but through the overwhelming graciousness of a good and mighty God who desires to heal His cosmos and “gets what He wants.” I think you have mis-read him seriously on this point and have given an inaccurate impression to your audience.

And, I take exception to the last line. It preaches well and it is a statement with which I agree: we should love people and must love God enough to be honest about Him. In the rhetoric and flow of the paragraphs, though, it seems as if you were making a huge suggestion that Bell doesn’t love God enough, because he isn’t honest. Ahhh, but there is the rub---wouldn’t he say the same thing about you? That is, you are being less than honest about some texts, less than honest about the complexities, less than honest about the full love of God? Why not just say we disagree (and say it forthrightly) without an underhanded punch below the belt, as if he is feeble in his warmth for God. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his motives and piety (unless you have reason to know he is lukewarm.) You disagree with him and he could be wrong in his interpretation of some Greek words. Maybe he takes some of the “universalist” Bible texts too literally (it would have been helpful to hear you refute his Biblical citations about God’s saving intentions.) Whether he loves God enough----as if you do?---isn’t something you should dare to write about.

Lastly, you end with the call to great clarity, for preachers and teachers to be honest, even if the truth is hard to swallow. I agree. However, one of the great truths that is hard to swallow---or so it sometimes seems to me---is that the incredibly complex and messy Scriptures God has given us aren’t as systematically and logically simple as we evangelicals sometimes think. God can not be contained and the gospel is described as a mystery. You say Christians do not need more confusion. Many days I agree. Other days, though, folks I know and preachers I hear and books I read are so utterly confident in the tight little box they have god in that it seems like they’ve made an idol of their own prideful knowledge. Maybe a little more humility, if not confusion, in these times of over-confident but thin theology would do us good. Maybe Bell will get us thinking and pondering, driving us to our knees in humility and grace.

I share many of your concerns about his perplexing book but I am afraid the over-reaching effort has lead you to misrepresent him and to mislead your readers. Of course tmost trust you and applaud you, so the damage is done. Bell hardly stands a chance of being taken seriously when even our most reliable critics fall short.

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I've been working odd shifts lately and posting a little less (some in this forum consider that a blessing!)... anyway, here's the interview from Good Morning America.

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I loved this Tweet from Good Morning America:

Authors Rob Bell and Sammy Hagar on the set this am talking about their new books

What a pair.

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I've been working odd shifts lately and posting a little less (some in this forum consider that a blessing!)... anyway, here's the interview from Good Morning America.

I will say, as much as I am concerned about the possibility that Bell may be a universalist, the pop-up questions/comments on that video were unfair and took Bell's words out of context.

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Attica wrote:

: Well to my understanding the Bible says that Love never fails . . .

Does this necessarily mean "Love always wins", though? The Amplified Bible says the words "Love never fails" in Corinthians 13:8 basically mean "Love never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end", and sure enough, in the verses that follow right after this passage, Paul goes on to talk about how prophecy and tongues and knowledge, unlike love, will "pass away". I don't think Paul was saying that love "always wins" while prophecy, tongues and knowledge "lose". That's not the dichotomy he was working with.

Hi Peter. Here are some thoughts which are going to be in a long response. I'm new to these boards, so if this it to long or "preachy" or inappropriate just let me know.

"Love never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end". With this understanding love is always and active, moving, undying presence, which of course fits in with the scripture that says that love never gives up.

So in essence God's love is always working or in existence but people will always have the freedom and ability to reject this love, which in theory means that people WILL be able to reject this love for eternity, and

that love could in a sense lose.

From my limited understanding this idea would be closer to the dominant view in Eastern Orthodoxy, which was never influenced (or at least as influenced) by Augustinian thought on the subject as Western Christianity. This dominant Eastern Orthodox view being something along the lines of those who choose to reject God's love spend eternity before this love, which they hate, and it is thus to them a living hell. That is of course a very basic explanation.

From reading some of your earlier posts I've noticed that you attend an Orthodox church, so feel free to correct me where I'm wrong.

This view might not be all that different from my understanding, as the lake of fire described in Revelation is quite likely allegorical. The fact is most of us (if not all of us) don't really know what the lake of fire will be like in the literal sense.

But I think we can know from scripture what God's purposes and intentions are in Judgement, including the judgements in Revelation. Therefore in this sense I would take my understanding of the Eastern Orthodox view a step further, so to speak, to the point of saying that this love is the sacrament of judgement (the lake of fire) with the purpose of bringing those who reject (or hate) God to repentance. Issaiah 4: 4 speaks of God's judgement in sacramental language, which of course at that time would probably have been understood more along the lines of such things as the cleansing of leprosy in water, which of course many Christians see as a foreshadowing of the Christian understanding of the sacrament of Baptism.

But anyhow..... I digress. I think that Issaiah 4: 4 shows God's heart and intentions in that judgement, being that of the "spirit of judgement, and the spirit of thorough cleansing". It was not punitive in nature, even though I have no doubt that God was angry. So here the judgement has a cleansing effect and uses language that is very similar to that of Paul's teaching on baptism, which is that of evil being cleansed away.

In one of your previous posts you had mentioned that Eastern Orthodoxy has had saints with a univeralist hope, and I have seen this as well in my studies. One of the main western writers in Orthodoxy Bishop Kalisots Ware (whom I'm sure you are aware of) has expressed this hope. I've also read a book called "Christ the Conqueror of Hell" that looks into Orthodox tradition when it comes to this subject. Here's a link to the book.

Christ the conqueror of Hell

On a side note I'm not Orthodox per-say, but I do have some Orthodox leanings especially when it comes to a sacramental wordview. At the moment I'm attending an Anglican church.

So in a sense I agree that there is always a chance for people to reject Christ's love, yet I think that when God created the ages he created them with the purpose of bringing all to him, and foreknew that all would eventually repent and accept this love. Getting back to the word "aionos"; as mentioned before I think aionos should always be translated as eternal but just for the sake of arguement I'll look at in context, in Ephesians.

Ephesians 3:9 (from the concordant Bible)

...... and to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret (that of course being the Gospel), which has been concealed from the eons (aionos) in God.

Here if the word aionos was translated as eternal the text would be saying that the Gospel is eternally hidden in God, which of course cannot be, as then we would never have received the Gospel. My N.I.V. Bible translates aionos here as age, because in this context aionos cannot possibly mean eternal.

Paul goes on to say.

Ephesians 3:10

Who creates all, that now may be known to the sovereignities and the authorities among the celestials, in accord with the purpose of the eons (aionos), which he makes in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Of course this is the text that directly follows Ephesians 3: 9, in which aionos absolutely has to mean ages, yet pick up an N.I.V. bible and you'll see that they translate aionos as eternal in this passage, even though they translate it as age in 3:9. But yet I don't think that this really makes sense in the context of what Paul is writing. We know that Paul says that the gospel is concealed from the ages, wouldn't it make sense that in the very next sentence he would be talking about these ages, instead of suddenly changing the meaning of the word to mean eternal?

At the end of Ephesians 3 Paul uses the words aionos again.

Ephesians 3: 21

..... according to the power that is operating in us, to him be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of the eon (aion) of the eons (aionos).

Here my N.I.V. Bible translates this as for ever and ever, which again doesn't really make sense in the context of Aionos having to mean age in Ephesians 3:9. As well in this passage Paul says "for the generations of the eon of the eons". The word generations comes from the word "genea'" which means - A man, considered as a link in the genealogical chain, from his birth to that of a son, a considerable group or the mass of mankind during such an interval. So therefore generations has a time connotation (as we know in our own culture), which in Ephesians 3:21 would allude to specific generations (being periods of time) in the age.

Yet in this case if aionos was translated as eternal then Paul would essentially be saying "For all the generations of the eternity of the eternities" . This translation doesn't work on many levels...... 1) It doesn't line up with what Paul has already written about the ages in Ephesians 3. 2) If "eternity" is eternal, then an eternity of an eternity (or ever and ever) is impossible. 3) With the above understanding of generations then "generations of the eternity of the eternities" would mean that there will be intervals of time within this eternity of the eternities, and that these periods of time will be set forth by generations of humans, which of course comes from childbirth. Yet Jesus said that now one will be marrying in the ressurection, therefore it's a pretty safe bet that they won't be having children.

Translating aionos as eternities makes no sense.

Therefore in Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the generations of this age, which is part of the ages; and the fact that the Gospel has been concealed in the ages before this age, in accord with the purpose of the ages. This fits in with the interpretation of the "lake of fire" texts in Revelation lasting the "ages of the ages" instead of the "eternities of the eternities". I just don't see how aionos can mean eternities in this context.

So God has a purpose for the ages, the lake of fire lasting during one (or several) of these ages. We also know from Paul that death will be destroyed (1'st Corinthians 15:27), and that the lake of fire is the second death (death being wages of sin.) Accordingly when the lake of fire is abolished then the judgement age will have ended.

So anyhow........ Yes I think in theory love can lose as everyone has the freedom to reject it, but I also believe that this love will continually exist in Christ's purposes for the ages, which is to bring all to him.

My view is that this whole mess into which we were born will at the end of the day be seen as part of a greater love. If the human race had never fallen, and if we were never sinners, then we would have no way of truly understanding God's grace, and therefore no way of truly grasping his love for us. The New Testament says that after repentance the greater sinners will have more of a love for God because they will have a deeper understanding of his grace. Therefore I believe that the purpose of the ages is to eventually bring the human race into a deep love- bond (similar to Theosis I suppose) with Christ, and that when it's said and done we will look back and see all of life as sacrament. Although it is surely hard for us to see that now.

Just to be very clear. There is indeed a lake of fire (Hell), and everyone needs to repent and accept Christs sacrifice on the cross. I'm not denying these things

Does what I'm saying make any sense whatsoever?..... or am I just talking crazy talk? :unsure:

Edited by Attica

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I'm probably more sympathetic to Bell's position than not (we'll see when I get my copy of the book) but man that's a brutal interview, and I'm not sure that Bell's answers quite live up to the questions.

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Ryan H said:

:But there are other passages in Isaiah that would suggest otherwise. Let's not forget how grimly Isaiah actually ends.

Well... I was touching more on God's heart towards them not really the grimmness in Isaiah. To be clear I'm not saying that judgment isn't terrible.

There are Isaiah texts that are referenced by Revelation texts which are very positive. I'll touch on that in a later post.

:Yes. But here Paul is speaking of Christ conquering death through the resurrection of the dead as promised by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, specifically addressing the idea in the Corinthian church that some espoused that there would not be a bodily resurrection. That's a bit different than what you're suggesting.

Paul is indeed talking about the resurrection of the dead.... into life, which the first fruit Christ has. Those thrown into the Lake of Fire may be resurrected but they are not written into the book of life, as Rev 20: 13 - 15 says, which we know Christians are. Paul's text says that through Christ all will be made alive, him being the firstfruit, then those in Christ's presence, then the end. Not being written in the book of life, and spending eternity in the second death is not being alive according to how the firstfruit Christ is alive.

I don't think being resurrected into the second death is a resurrection into life, I think it's a resurrection into death.

I know that sounds kind of silly and vague. But I'll try and explain deeper.

1st Corinthians 15: 24 - 27

For he must be reigning until he is placing all of his enemies under his feet, the last enemy being abolished death.

Revelation says that the lake of fire is burning BEFORE the Lamb, not before God, so as long as the lake of fire exists Christ is judging the unrepentant and is therefore still reigning. The unrepentant are resurrected into the lake of fire but this resurrection cannot be the destruction of the last enemy (death) because when the last enemy is abolished Christ will give up his reign and hand everything over to the father, which he obviously has not done yet.

We know that the lake of fire will still be burning before Christ after the unrepentant are placed into it, and that it was Christ who was given the power to judge mankind. Therefore if Christ is reigning until the last enemy is destroyed, yet also reigning in judging the unrepentant after they are resurrected, then this resurrection cannot be the abolishment of death.

Also if the lake of fire is eternal, then Christ will be judging those in it eternally, which of course means that there will never be an end to his reign when he hands everything over to his father, which when thought through must mean that God will never abolish all of his enemies.

But if the lake of fire (being the second death) lasts for an age and is the last enemy to be destroyed, then eventually Christ will no longer reign over the lake of fire. At the destruction of the lake of fire the ages will end, Christ will hand all over to the father, and God will be all in all.

1 Corinthians is talking about the resurrection into LIFE the firstfruit of which is Christ, the next being Christians who we are told have age-abiding life in the City of God. But those who are resurrected into the lake of fire are those who are not found in the scroll of LIFE, of which the Christians are found (Rev 20: 15)

Revelations 21: 1

and I perceived a new heaven and a new earth for the former heaven has passed away, and the sea is no more. And I percieved the Holy City Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.

Rev. 21:22

For the city has no need for the sun and the moon

We know that Christians are placed into the City of God (or are the City of God) in a future time after the earth has passed away and the sea, sun, and moon are no more.

We also know from Rev: 20: 13-15 that the unrepentant are in the lake of fire.

As well In Revelation 21 God talks about placing the City, being the bride (Christ's people) adorned for her husband (Rev. 21: 2, 9-10), and that the unrepentant will be outside of it in the second death (Rev: 21: 8). Therefore at this point the goats have been separated from the sheep.

But now look at Rev 21: 23 - 27

And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon, that they should be appearing in it, for the Glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lambkin. And the nations shall be walking by means of it's light, and the Kings of the Earth shall be carrying their glory into it. And it's gates should by no means be locked........

This text clearly says that people will walk into the City of God, which exists at a point after the heavens and the earth, and the sea are no more. Which means that people will be able to walk into God's city (being the Bride of Christ) in the afterlife, because as long as this present life or age exists there will be an earth and a sea (and a need for the sun and moon).

Also as mentioned earlier we know that at this point there are two camps of people being the goats in the lake of fire, and the sheep in the heavenly city. Everybody believes this part especially those that believe in eternal hell.

So with this in mind my question is. Who are the people walking into the city throught the gates that a never locked in Rev: 21: 24 - 25, and where are they coming from?

They have to be coming from the lake of fire because at this point the lake of fire and the City of God are the only places that exist, and the people who are in the lake of fire are the only people who are left to be able to walk into the City of God. Christians can't walk into the City of God because they are already in it (or are it depending on ones view).

Rev 21: 27 says that no one will walk into the City of God except those who are written in the Lambs scroll of life. So therefore those who are in the lake of fire must be having their names written in the Lambs scroll of life in order to walk into the City of God, which means that they will have resurrected LIFE just as Christians in the present will, the firstfruit being Christ. As we know, one has their name written in the scroll of life through repentance and faith in Christ.

Rev 22: 14

Happy are those who are rinsing their robes, that it will be their license to the log of LIFE that they may be entering into the gates of the city.

On a side note if Rev 21: 27 talks about the scroll of life being the Lambs (belonging to him) then Christ hasn't yet handed everything over to the father.

Rev 22: 5 says that people in the city shall be reigning for the ages (aionos) of the ages (aionos). Lets say that aionos is to be translated as an eternal length of time........ that then would mean that people are reigning in the City for eternity. But this isn't possible, because as mentioned earlier in Paul's texts Christ will be reigning until he places all his enemies under his feet, and eventually will hand all over to his father when God will be all in all. If Christ will be giving up his reign and handing all over to the father then obviously those in the City of God will not be reigning for eternity, because if this happened then according to what Paul had said God could never be all in all. This of course adds to the view that aionos cannot mean eternity.

Therefore I believe that Christ and Christians are going to reign after the resurrection. It would also seem clear that both of these reigns last for an age (aionos) and cannot be eternal as that would mean that God would never be all in all. So then accordingly, the lake of fire (being death) cannot be eternal and must be the last enemy to be destroyed. ::blushing::

Edited by Attica

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I'm probably more sympathetic to Bell's position than not (we'll see when I get my copy of the book) but man that's a brutal interview, and I'm not sure that Bell's answers quite live up to the questions.

Yeah, that was a bit painful to watch. I'm not familiar with Martin Bashir, but from that clip he seems to be one of those "hard journalist" types who "ask the tough questions." But as is so often the case with that bunch, right off the bat he loses me by asking in regard to the current crisis in Japan whether God can be all powerful and uncaring or caring but not all powerful. Those two options are not mutually exclusive in context and it's rather silly to think forcing anyone to choose between them is good journalism.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

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