Rob Bell recently made a big splash with his book Love Wins. Firestorm might be a more appropriate way to describe the ensuing reaction.
He was lambasted by fundamentalists like Justin Taylor in a blog post written before Taylor even read the book. The post was linked to via Twitter by John Piper….with the sentiments
“Goodbye, Rob Bell.”
Take note. That is how quickly some Christians will kiss your ass goodbye if you don’t share the beliefs they hold the nearest and dearest.
People wrote books refuting his book. Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell, Mark Galli’s God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News Is Better than Love Wins, Is Hell for Real or Does Everyone Go to Heaven written by a group of theologians including J.I. Packer.
None of the ensuing controversy seemed to affect Bell’s employment status. Even though he resigned from his church near Grand Rapids, Michigan to move to L.A…..and peddle his wares on a broader scale, it was his own choice. He wasn’t handed a pink slip for his beliefs.
Others have lost their ministries….their jobs….for questioning the status quo.
Most everyone knows about Carlton Pearson….former megastar of the charismatic chuch and Azuzu Street fame. One day while watching a program on TV, God tapped him on the shoulder and changed his entire belief system. He naively thought that if he simply educated the church folk, they would skip along in lock step belief. Ah….no.
He lost a huge chunk of his membership….lost his church and finally ended up in a mainly gay congregation. Now he is the pastor of a mega new thought church in Chicago.
Another pastor, Chad Holtz, posted a supportive note on Facebook about Bell’s book and ended up fired over it. From Marrow’s Chapel…a United Methodist Church no less. Perhaps his congregation missed the official United Methodist stand on the very question Bell raises in his book….right there on the official United Methodist website for all the world to see…..
There are persuasive arguments that include the faithful, thoughtful, and respectful use of Scripture on both sides-- affirming and denying universal salvation. The Book of Discipline, which is the only official printed voice of the UMC, does not make a statement specifically about universal salvation. This places the question in a possible gray area, but the Discipline says what it says. One must read the doctrine there and attempt to understand it as well as possible.
Rev. Dr. Diana Hynson Director of Learning and Teaching Ministries in the Congregation General Board of Discipleship
And now today, an acquaintance on Facebook, Jackson Baer, posted a video on his wall talking about how he was fired from a church where he ministered for 3 1/2 years as a youth pastor. How come? Because he refuses to renounce his belief in universal reconciliation. He has a new book out called “What the Hell”….and he is wondering that exact thing….what the hell just happened? He loved his church, he loved the people there….and now he is on the outside looking in.
Christians are loathe to let go of their hellfire and brimstone….and they are quick to kick to the curb anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs about an angry, vengeful God who is more monster than savior…..
Next post, I’ll include links to several other books I’ve come across that discuss the nonexistence of an eternal hell. It’s a question God settled in my heart a long time ago, shortly after I became a Christian at the ripe old age of 40 something. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it….and like William Barclay, I Am a Convinced Universalist…..