...A loving heavenly father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would, in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormenter who would ensure that they had no escape from an endless future of agony. If there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities...If God can switch gears like that, switch entire modes of being that quickly, that raises a thousand questions about whether a being like this could ever be trusted, let alone be good...And that is the secret deep in the heart of many people, especially Christians: they don't love God. They can't, because the God they've been presented with and taught about can't be loved. That God is terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable.
Let's be very clear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer. This is crucial for our peace, because we shape our God, and then our God shapes us.First, I would like to note that Bell sees God as "changing gears" from loving to wrathful, which means that he struggles to see God's love in His wrath. I wonder how Rob views verses that speak of God crushing His own son, his perfect, sinless son who deserved none of the wrath He received... Can that God be trusted? Although, since to Rob "love demands freedom" I guess if Jesus freely chose to take that penalty for sin it was loving for God to give it to Him. What if God isn't changing gears, though, what if the plan all along has been the punishment of sin with forgiveness offered through Jesus in this lifetime? If that has always been the plan, and if that is who God is, then he's not changing gears and it would seem to me that if we don't love him that's our problem, not his. Please understand, these are just my thoughts, I'm not saying they're right or wrong, but its just an interesting dilemma. What I DO know, though, is that I don't want my understanding of God to be based upon what is comfortable or makes me or others feel good or even what seems to make the most sense (based on my perspective), rather I want my view of God to be based upon God's revelation of himself to me through his Word, both written, lived out (in Jesus), and communicated to my heart (through the Spirit).
Anyways, here's some stuff from my post when I was struggling through this in the beginning of the year:
And do you know what my conclusion was? God, I get it, I see it, like, I can't even describe to you, the reader, how clear all of this was in my eyes, but I said to God, I don't like it. In fact, I realized that this is a piece of God that I don't love. I don't love his wrath or his jealousy. I don't!I want to be clear. I respect Rob Bell, I understand his points and I know he's trying to be Scriptural, I agree with him that too often we've painted God as an angry god and portrayed Jesus as rescuing us from God, and I also understand and agree that we shape our god and our god shapes us, however I don't think that the answer then is to think of what type of god would give us the most peace and then shape God to be that, I think that the answer is to try to get rid of all of our preconceived notions about God and truly encounter Him through His Word, through service, and through life and only then will we experience true peace and joy and come to a more complete knowledge of who He is.
And so my prayer is, Father, teach me to love you as you are. Teach me to see your manifold wisdom in choosing some for life and others for death. Teach me to see your love in you wrath and your mercy in your justice. Teach me to see you for who you are, to be amazed, and to love and worship you, because I know you are worthy. I don't want to just know the answers, I want to love the answers, and more than that, I want to love the one behind the answers.
To His honor and glory; may His name be praised forever and ever.