Friday, September 16, 2011

A Plunge into the Discussion

This is not my review of Rob Bell's book "Love Wins".  For my review click here.

I must say that I heard many bad reports about Rob Bell's most recent book "Love Wins", which is why I got a copy of it.  I am a firm believer in not bashing anything until you've read it, so I decided I would not make any comments, positive or negative, until I have completed the book.
Also, since I am working towards the pastorate I thought that this would be an important book to read as Bell is a very popular pastor and this book has made some waves in the Christian community.  I think that it is important to be up-to-date on current issues and it just so happens that this is one of them.  As such, I am reading this book as I do any book (Christian, secular, fiction, non-fiction), with the premise that the author is not perfect and will therefore say imperfect things and come to imperfect conclusions, but the author is also a thinking, rational human being and as such may say things that inspire honest thought and the pursuit of the truth (whether actually found in their words or by way of the questions it raises in my mind which I then seek to answer through Scripture and thereby come to a fuller understanding of God and His workings in the world).  So I am reading "Love Wins" with two purposes in mind 1) to raise questions in my mind which send me back to Scripture in order to better understand who God is 2) to better understand the issues at hand in order to help others also walk these difficult paths of thought.
I must also say that I have struggled to understand and grasp the concept of the limited atonement for a long time.  It was somewhere around 8 years ago that I asked Pastor Jeff if there were any Scriptural strains of Christian thought that embraced a universal atonement view (he actually referred me to some influential theologians, whom he quotes with some regularity, who do not hold to limited atonement.  I have since forgotten who they were and he does not remember the conversation).  As recently as this year I spent some time again struggling with the idea that God could create people knowing, and even willing, that they would spend eternity in torment.  I understand that sin against a holy God deserves an eternal punishment, I don't have space here to explain why, but I understand that, however there is something that still doesn't sit with me that a holy God would therefore create people knowing they would sin.  In any case, I say all of this to say that I give Rob Bell some props.  He has guts.  Whether he is right or wrong to publish his questions and contemplations, I'll leave that for others to discuss, but I can say that I have struggled through the same questions, have come out with anything but adequate answers, and am typically very cautious as to who I tell that to and how I say it.
So for what it's worth, right or wrong I have a certain level of respect for Rob Bell.  Right or wrong I have a certain level of respect for "Love Wins" (on multiple levels).  Right or wrong I think that it is healthy to ask questions, even when they stray from what is "religiously correct" to ask, so long as we return to Scripture as our guide.
I will finish the book "Love Wins" soon hopefully.  I am about half way through it and already have some thoughts (negative AND positive) swimming around in my head, but as promised, I will not voice them until I have completed the book in its entirety, at which point I will most definitely post my review (as nonacademic and informal as it may be) of Rob Bell's book "Love Wins".

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