God Is Using Rob Bell for His Glory
There are a ton of blogs that are currently bashing Rob Bell, labeling him as a universalist, bewailing that he’s walked away from the orthodox Christian faith, and written him off as a heretic.
I see Rob Bell being used of God in unimaginable ways to His honor and His glory.
Bell has jumpstarted the conversation on heaven and hell—who gets to those places and who doesn’t. His recent book, Love Wins, and interviews have challenged Christians to coherently defend what they believe (I Peter 3:15) on this issue. It used to be easy to say “Those who believe in the gospel of Christ go to heaven; those who don’t go to hell.” But now Christians have been challenged to put an attitude of love behind this statement or whatever they believe about hell, and that’s not so easy.
I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Bell on many aspects of this issue. (I’ll reserve definitive judgment until I complete my reading of his recent book.) I believe Scripture is clear that hell exists in some form: whether it be the literal torment of hellfire and brimstone or simply eternal separation from God (which would be a colloquial description of “hell” compared to heaven in God’s presence) as exemplified through C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Perhaps Mr. Bell believes this too.
Mr. Bell’s aims, however orthodox Christians may interpret them, are noble. (Some may use the terminology “sincerely wrong” here.) Bell, with Love Wins, is attempting to bridge that nasty gap between Christians who seem to say “Nanny nanny boo boo, I’m going to heaven, and you’re going to burn in a lake of fire” and unbelievers who think “even if I live a good life, remain a law-abiding citizen, and don’t blaspheme God, I still go to hell? That’s just not fair.”
It’s not. And the truth is, God isn’t fair.
But Christians need to be sensitive to the fact that the doctrine of hell is an offensive doctrine and any explanation of it should come from an attitude of love and not one of haughtiness. This is what Mr. Bell is attempting to do. I give him tons of credit for the attempt. Whether the execution comes off well (in my opinion) will remain to be seen.