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Can Modern Christianity Be Too Loving?

Is is possible that a Christian can be too loving?  Can a follower of Jesus emphasize the love of the Lord so much that he or she leaves out other essential qualities of the Lord in their theology?

In Lynne Hybels’ recent blog on God’s Politics she asks, “What is an evangelical?” In one of her summary statements, Hybels notes:

I am a Christian today because of what I found in Jesus.

In the lover of my soul and the radical activist, I found the Christianity my mind and my soul had longed for.

In my humble opinion this is what it means to be an evangelical.

But whatever the label, I believe it’s the Christianity that our world desperately needs to see.

Hybels focuses on God’s compassion for others and the compassion of Christians towards other people as the true meaning of what it means to be a Christian.  In essence I agree with her.  Still I question any Christian writer who focuses mainly on love as the main description of Christianity.

Focusing Only on God’s Love Can Be a Formula for Theological Disaster

If  the most important expression of God is love, then what shall we make of the afterlife?  Will a loving God go so far as to express His love in such a way as to make sure everyone enters heaven?  If God’s chief character is love and His sense of holiness and justice is ignored, then what else can one conclude? If that’s what a person believes, that person is a universalist.  He or she believes everyone will be saved.  There is no other alternative. How can a God who is all loving send anyone to hell? 

Rob Bell, in his book Love Wins is a universalist as I understand him. In the fourth chapter of his book, he asks whether God gets what He wants? If God wants everyone to be saved, as Bell asserts, then the all powerful God will make sure everyone will be saved. If not, then either God is powerful enough to save us all despite His loving desires or He is not truly loving if He refuses to exercise His power to guarantee everyone a spot in heaven.

Since the Bible does not teach universalism, I interpret this belief as one in which the Christian ends up being too loving.

Since ScriptureSolutions is committed to biblical teaching and preaching, it is important that Christians are hearing the truth being taught from the pulpit. If one’s pastor is teaching universalism then the congregant has every right to ask whether their minister is being faithful to the Word of God.

Salvation Calls For a Personal Decision to Drink the Water of Eternal Life

To prove his position on universalism, Pastor Bell gathers together all the passages that refer to the Lord’s intent to ultimately restore “everything and everybody” (pg. 107). For instance, he quotes from Colossians 1:19-20: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  To Bell this verses and others like it provide us the evidence God will be reconciled with all people. (more…)

Can’t God Do Anything Right?

In a recent post on the God’s Politics blog by Lynne Hybels, wife of mega church Willow Creek pastor, Bill Hybels, she asked, “What is an evangelical?”  It’s a question that has graced the cover and inside pages of Christianity Today for several decades. I am not sure why we as Christians keep asking this same old question.  Yet I predict if we keep making the same inquiry, eventually someone will come up with a new definition that will radically change the meaning of what it means to be an evangelical.

It was bound to happen.

Joining other theologians like Brian McLaren, author of “A New Kind of Christianity” (HarperOne, 2010), Pastor Rob Bell climbed aboard the bandwagon of redefining Christianity in his recent bestseller Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. 

One area where Christianity is refined with these “progressive theologians” is the inclusivity of salvation, also known as universalism.  Is God going to  permit everyone to enter heaven regardless of their acceptance of Christ or do individuals need to ask Jesus into their lives to receive eternal life?

In chapter four Bell wonders, “Does God Get What God Wants?”  In other words, if God desires everyone to experience salvation according to 1 Timothy 2:3-4, then everyone will be saved.  Read the passage, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the [knowledge of the truth.

He starts off by explaining the sad plight of people who do not accept Christ as their Redeemer. No disagreement there.

Bell goes on to describe the doctrinal statement of several churches as found in their weekly bulletin or websites, in which the reader is told “he or she will suffer conscious, eternal torment in hell unless they accept Jesus” (pp. 95-86).  Pastor Bell pokes fun at these congregations, “Welcome to Our Church!”  Bell’s a real barrel of laughs about a matter that should not be ridiculed.

Yet on these same church websites, according to Bell,  are “extensive affirmations of the goodness and greatness of God” (pg. 96).  Bell sets up the reader when he conjectures, “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 is written in the Bible that ‘God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2). (more…)

Those Stubborn Bible Passages About Hell

Some things just won’t go away. For Pastor Rob Bell, author of Love Wins, the scriptures that mention “hell” and God’s judgment and punishment are a thorn in his side.

Slickness is Bell’s middle name when it comes to slithering out of having to sign a doctrinal statement that adheres to the Christian orthodox belief in hell –  a doctrine he rejects.

To water down the heated controversy over “hell,” Bell claims Jesus didn’t use the threat of hell to warn people of the serious consequences of not accepting His message of salvation.

Only Hypocritical Religious People Are Sent To Hell

Bell argues Jesus was mostly speaking to very devout, religious Jews who saw themselves as God’s elect people and thought they didn’t need to accept Christ.  In fact, when Jesus spoke about hell, He addressed individuals who “considered themselves ‘in,’ warning them that their hard hearts were putting their ‘in-ness’ at risk . . . ”  In other words, the religious people.

The people who would qualify as people who hardened their hearts during Jesus’ time were the Jewish religious leaders – the Pharisees, the scribes and teachers of the law. In Bell’s vernacular Jesus was not like most Christians today who use hell to warn people they’re going to eternal damnation because they aren’t Christians (pg. 82). Instead, Jesus used “hell” to speak to people who considered themselves spiritual and saved. In today’s world that would be “Christians.”

A few problems exist in Bell’s attempt to excuse himself from speaking about hell to non-Christians. (more…)

Hell No!

Hell is a serious issue.  Make no mistake about it, there’s no room for theological mistakes when it comes to what you believe about hell.

On the subject of hell, it’s Rob Bell’s questioning of the biblical teaching on hell in his book Love Wins that earned him the notoriety of being on the cover of  Time magazine

In his introduction to the subject of hell, Bell breaks down traditional Christianity into one simple formula:  If you sin, refuse to repent, harden your heart, reject Jesus, and when you die, it’s over (pg. 64). You’re going to hell.

A Loving God Would Not Send Anyone to Hell

The writer then sets up the reader by reminding us that God is loving and kind and full of grace and mercy, and then hints it would be out of character for God to send anyone to hell. What a classic set-up!  Here’s another more creative way of saying the same thing: “Why would a good God send anyone to hell?  After all, people are good and no one deserves to be assigned to hell by a loving God.”

Does Bell even consider the fact God sent His Son to the cross to due for our sins to keep us from going to hell?   I hope so.  (more…)

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