Love Wins Analysis: Chapter 4: Does God Get What God Wants? (Part I)
[This is part VI of a multi-part series on Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins. Note: Chapter 4 has been broken up into four parts. Chapter 4, part II can be found here.]
Bell starts off this chapter with actual statements from church websites:
“The unsaved will be separated forever from God in hell.”
“Those who don’t believe in Jesus will be sent to eternal punishment in hell.”
“The unsaved dead will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment.”
Then Bell notes what I’m assuming he considers a paradox:
“Yet on these very same websites are extensive affirmations of the goodness and greatness of God, proclamations and statements of beliefs about a God
‘full of grace and mercy,’
Bell seems to pit these statements as either/or as though they contradict one another. God can’t be all of this good stuff and then do all this seemingly bad stuff that these websites claim. But the Old Testament God was a wrathful, violent (yes, I said it) God who also possessed immense mercy and love. When he brought judgment, it wasn’t because He did it out of spite or was a temperamental woman suffering from PMS; He would send out repeated warnings for repentance before executing judgment. There is justice for wrongdoing, and Bell seems to overlook that God is not only a loving parent but a fair and just judge. Later on, he writes:
“I point out these parallel claims:
that God is mighty, powerful, and “in control”
and that billions of people will spend forever apart from this God, who is their creator,
even though it’s written in the Bible that
‘God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2)
So does God get what God wants?
How great is God?
Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do,
or kind of great
great most of the time,
but in this,
the fate of billions of people,
not totally great.
Sort of great.
A little great. …
Will all people be saved,
or will God not get what God wants?
Does this magnificent, mighty, marvelous God fail in the end?”
First of all, why does God’s greatness need to be defined solely by our view of what great should look like? Just like the Bible verse that says that God will give us the desires of our heart… well, no. I haven’t gotten all the desires of my heart. God changes my heart to make my desires reflect his. I can’t inject my view of what my desires should look like and allege that God has failed me on this. In this, I think Bell’s view of God and His greatness is actually too small.
Bell continues on with scripture verses that support God’s affirmations of love and determination to save everyone. He quotes Paul in Philippians 2:
“‘Every knee should bow . . . and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.’
Every person, every knee, every tongue.”
Agreed. But those actions may not necessarily be done willingly.