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No Blog is an Island – 4.29.11

04.29.2011

I know I promised a review of Love Wins, now that I’ve finally finished it.  But I just can’t see it being worth the effort for a stand-alone essay post.  Better writers than I have been expounding on the merits of the inclusivist/universalist theology hinted at by Bell, and I’ve linked to those as they’ve arisen and will continue to do so.

As for the merits of the book in itself, the only reaction I had that differed from the mindset I brought into it was an acknowledgment that most of the controversy has arisen because theologians have tried to read this book as a book on theology.  That is, Rob Bell has written a book that has less to do with the specific ins and outs of salvation and eternity and more to do with reaching a non-church audience that has reacted against a skewed cultural Christianity because of the judgment and puritanism that they’ve seen there.  Yes, I think he is ultimately misguided in suggesting that Hell will eventually be emptied as people come to see their error or that belief in a broad range of Christ-like entities can be a substitute for an acknowledged relationship with Christ Himself.  But if a seeker or ‘anti-Christian’ came to me for a resource other than the Bible on what the message of the Gospel is, I’d likely hand them this book before any other.

I still think that there’s a theological discussion worth having on universalism and inclusivism, which Bell has brilliantly kick-started, but I think it’s ultimately missing the point to see Love Wins as an argument against the more orthodox view of Heaven and Hell.  That’s just not the book that he’s written.

That said, here are some more posts with interesting insights on the theological debate behind it all:

  • Ross Douthat in the New York Times weighs in on the universalism question, coming down strongly on the orthodox side.
  • Trevin Wax calls out what he sees as the ‘arrogance’ of inclusivism.
  • Daniel Ouellette picks up one of Wax’s threads and discusses how inclusivism hinders evangelism.

And here are some more general links:

  • Trevin Wax’s post on the common urban myths that pastors tell in sermons has rightfully been getting a lot of attention.
  • Roger Olsen wants to know what happened to the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
  • Michael Patton responds to one of the more popular criticisms of the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura, which minimizes the role of the church and of tradition in revealing God’s will.
  • Kevin White explains how we come up with the ever shifting date for Easter each year and why the Western and Orthodox churches do it differently.
  • Michael Kelley explains the sin behind the sin, the reason that we struggle with the various things we do: dissatisfaction with and lack of trust in God.
  • Michael Patton has constructed a chart on what he’s calling the life-stages of church history.

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