There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent Day Fourteen - It's a World Gone Mad

     There’s a Pastor named Rob Bell, who is the leader of a church called Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I have read several of his books, most recently a book called Love Wins.   In his book, he tells us essentially that all people will eventually go to Heaven.  That when Jesus declared “It is finished”, He meant it.

      My understanding has always been that there is a definite Heaven and Hell.  An in group and an out group,  although there are many opinions as to who makes up those two groups.  But I figured this pastor’s message would probably be met with some controversy and when I searched online for responses to this book, I learned quickly that I was correct.

     Many religious leaders have offered their opinions about this book.  Some are quite vehement, going so far as to call Rob Bell a heretic.  A heretic?  Like…Galileo?  Some didn’t like his message about all being saved and nobody going to Hell because they believed that without the fear of judgment people would not choose to behave morally.  What a sad commentary on what that message says about human nature.

     My own father was a strict disciplinarian.  When I was a teenager, I was afraid of my father. So the more he laid down the law, the more I rebelled.  But as I matured and started to see my father in a different light,  I understood that he loved me and that he wanted to teach me things about life.  It wasn’t until I was able to let go of the fear of my father and embrace the love he had for me that I wanted to please him. In fact, I even wanted to be like him.

     I find love to be a much more powerful motivator, but I am not a theologian so I continued to search for responses from people who were much more educated than me.  I have been following Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle on podcasts because I enjoy his sermons. I figured he would have an opinion and a quick google search led me to his video response of Rob Bell and others like him.

   As I listened to this video clip of Mark Driscoll I was impressed with his big words and fancy theology, but the message that I kept hearing from him was “who does this guy think he is talking about God in such a loving way”.  He was clearly upset about Rob Bell and it reminded me of another time when the religious leaders were up in arms about someone’s message and I think it was about 2000 years ago.


  1. An excellent priest I know believes that we will be very surprised by those we see in Heaven. :)

    Really and truly, there is NO way we can know who goes where and why and there is just no limit on God's mercy so to me, to argue the point is senseless (I mean on behalf of religious leaders, not you!:).

    Heaven and Hell do exist but as to who goes where? Who knows aside from God?:) You'd think though, we be rejoicing at the idea of no one going to Hell, that we'd be praying for it with all our hearts and souls.

  2. Colleen, I would actually take it one step farther and say that to argue the point is senseless even for me:) But I continue to wrestle with these questions, much like Jacob did in the Old Testament. I think its how I know my relationship with God is alive and well. I don't claim to have all the answers or even to think that any person, priest, pastor does, but something Rob Bell said was very thought provoking. He said that he is engaged in a discussion about God. We all have the right to be a part of that discussion.

  3. We absolutely do Deborah.:)

    Have a great week and just to let you know in case you didn't, I really love reading your daily posts. Like really love it!:) Your blog is fantastic and one I genuinely enjoy visiting.

  4. Colleen, thanks so much for telling me that :) Your so sweet, and I truly enjoy your blog as well...especially your poetry!!

  5. I haven't heard of Rob Bell but I'm wondering, as Jesus so aptly said many a time in the Bible if he is one of those false teachers we should be on the lookout foor. Whenever I hear things that send a little alarm up in my mind, I judge what was said by the only true litmus test and that is the Bible. If I can back what someone said with what is in the Bible, then I tend to think it has some validity. While I can certainly agree Jesus said "It is Finished" without taking it in the whole context of the Bible and the whole context of why he said "It is Finished" I find it just a hard stretch to think all will eventually make it to heaven. I think Jesus is pretty clear we need to believe in him and accept him as our Lord and Savior and make that commitment ourselves. He finished the work, but we need to accept the work he completed.


  6. okay, I was doing some thinking about this and as always, because God is faithful in revealing his word to those who seek him, I was reading in Luke about the thieves on the cross next to Jesus. One thief acknowledged that he (thief) was being punished justly for his sins and acknowledged Jesus was being unjustly punished. He (thief) knew enough to call out to Jesus (Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom). And Jesus tells him "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise". He doesn't say "today you two (both thieves) will be with my in paradise".

    When Jesus said It is Finished, I believe he said "I paid the price for people's sins, I took the wrath of my father" but he didn't say "now anyone can live as they want and they will still be with me in heaven".

    John 3:16-18 says it well:

    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

    Believes in Him! that is said several times, either believe or not believe, but that is the matter of whether one is condemned or whether one is saved and does not perish.

    So I have to think Rob Bells message is off just a bit.

    What I do know is to trust God and God's word over the words of men and to trust that God will always lead those who are actively seeking him to the truth of him.


  7. Betty, thanks so much for your comments, and I love that you have been thinking about this. Again, I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm just trying to make some sense out of all the paradoxes I see. I don't believe that even if everyone does go to Heaven that that means we can live how we want. God does make it clear in his commandments how we should treat others. And Jesus modeled that for us. I just wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in the afterlife, we forget to live properly in this life. Loving others, respecting differing opinions, etc.
    My blog is about creating discussion, not necessarily finding answers, and I really do appreciate your input. It always gives me something to think about. And I do agree that we should trust God :)

  8. BTW, Betty, have you read Rob Bell's book? I would be interested in your opinion about it :)

  9. I haven't read his book, Deborah. Not sure if I will or want to, but I will check out his web site (I'm sure he must have one).

    Life is full of paradoxes indeed!