2.27.2011

Obligatory Rob Bell post

Rob Bell has a new book coming out.

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Here are a few articles worth your reading regarding this new book coming out:
I believe in hell. Jesus (his spoken words and in Revelation) said these things about hell:
  • Hell is "of fire" (Matthew 5:22).
  • "It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29).
  • God can destroy "soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
  • Snake-like, religious sinners are spoken of as being "sentenced to hell" (Matthew 23:33).
  • Hell is an "unquenchable fire" (Mark 9:43). 
  • Satan is said to be "tormented day and night forever and ever" in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
  • The second death is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).
  • "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). 
  • The eternal judgment place of many is described as a "lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).  
It is a very serious error to deny the doctrine of eternal punishment. Hell will be horrible, this is certain. God's wrath will be poured out "full strength" on those condemned to hell and they will not be apart from God, but they will be in "the presence of the Lamb" (Revelation 14:10). To be sentenced to hell is to receive the right verdict for one's sin and to face the wrath of God forever. There is only one way to escape eternal wrath and that is by being saved by the only one who could fully absorb the right penalty for sin: Jesus. 

It is not shocking that God would send anyone to hell, it is shocking that God would save people who rightly deserved hell by giving the beloved Son of God, Jesus, to atone for sins. 

Amidst all this talk about hell, I have a confession to make: I struggle with hell. I struggle not with the existence of hell, God's word makes it very clear. I struggle with the magnitude of sin and my humanist tendencies. I don't grasp the magnitude of sin as an offense against God, the being with the greatest value and worth. Denny Burk provides a helpful analogy in regard to feeling moral outrage against sin and God's value:
Sin will always appears as a trifle to those whose view of God is small. If you were to discover a little boy pulling the legs off of a grasshopper, you would think it strange and perhaps a little bizarre. If the same little boy were pulling the legs off of a frog, that would be a bit more disturbing. If it were a bird, you would probably scold him and inform his parents. If it were a puppy, that would be too shocking to tolerate. You would intervene. If it were a little baby, it would be so reprehensible and tragic that you would risk you own life to protect the baby. What’s the difference in each of these scenarios? The sin is the same (pulling the limbs off). The only difference is the one sinned against (from a grasshopper to a baby). The more noble and valuable the creature, the more heinous and reprehensible the sin. And so it is with God.

If God were a grasshopper, then to sin against Him wouldn’t be such a big deal and eternal punishment wouldn’t be necessary. But God isn’t a grasshopper, He’s the most precious, valuable, beautiful being in the universe. His glory and worth are infinite and eternal. Thus to sin against an infinitely glorious being is an infinitely heinous offense that is worthy of an infinitely heinous punishment.
I am not quite there yet. I don't realize the full magnitude of my sin or others' sin. I tend to struggle with the fact that multiple family members and friends who have died will, barring their unknown salvation to me, suffer rightly for their offense against God. I will only fully realize the heinousness of sin in the age to come.

If Rob Bell's book does advocate that hell will "be empty" as all marketing for it seems to indicate, I can only muster a hint of sympathy for him, for his denial of eternal punishment. I say a "hint" of sympathy because I realize, in my finitude, that my humanistic feelings and incomplete sense of the heinousness of sin does not override Jesus' clear words on hell. That said, assuming the worst for this book, I hope that few who call themselves Christians will be lead astray by this book and that Bell would repent of his heresy. It would be a delight to see that this book would not propagate false doctrine, but let's just say I am not getting my hopes up. All false doctrine must be strenuously opposed.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Trevor. I'm not a fan of Bell's so I'm quick to accuse probably. Let's hope it's not as bad as is being advertised. Oh, and thanks for that Burke analogy. Man that is a convicting couple of paragraphs and I'll be thinking about that truth very hard.
    Mike

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  2. If anybody takes anything from this post, I hope it is Denny's analogy. Just shared it with my small group tonight.

    And I'd love it to not be as bad as it seems to be, but if we think about it, Bell is notorious for making his points through obfuscation and rhetorical questions, so therefore it seems that he may have already made his point, if he follows his own rhetoric in the commercial.

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