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Love Wins Loses Out

In the last installment of my examination of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, the focus was on the character of God.  Bell continues his questioning of the person of God in the remainder of chapter seven, “What is God like?”

Throughout Love Wins Pastor Bell struggles with the idea of a God who is just and punishes sin and a God who demonstrates His love by sending His Son into the world to die for our sins.  A quote from a sermon by Pastor Alistair Begg best summarizes the interchange between God’s holy character and love – concepts Rob Bell cannot swallow:

If God in His love . . longs to forgive sinners . . . longs to enjoy friendship with sinners . . and if in His justice He cannot ignore our sins, how then He display His love and execute His justice?  The answer lies in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the cross Jesus is an emblem of the Father’s love and Jesus is the one who bears the Father’s wrath. If He [the Father] were to excuse sin, He would not be true to Himself in the perfection of His holiness. Therefore, sin must be punished. But because of the magnanimous, unbounded nature of His forgiving love, He execute His justice on His Son so that those who deserve that judgment may find in the Son forgiveness, love and eternal life.

The Mars Hill Church pastor feels this kind of statement from Alistair Begg communicates a gospel that “subtly teaches people that Jesus rescues us from God” (pg. 182). Rather Bell offers his Love Wins Gospel as an alternative, “We do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin and destruction.” It is that Rob Bell  ha a foggy notion of the biblical doctrine of salvation. On this point alone Love Wins loses out. 

From the Old Testament we learn an innocent animal had to die in exchange for the life of the guilty sinner who offered the animal to find forgiveness of sins. Yes, under the Jewish sacrificial system an innocent goat had to die so the guilty sinner can have his sins atoned for.

In addition, much to Bell’s chagrin,we cannot escape the fact our sin earns God’s wrath as explained in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” and Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied the wrath of God against sin.  The nature of God is not separate from the “death, sin and destruction” He pronounces against our sin. In fact, the consequences to our sin flow out of the holy character of God and not removed from His character as Bell implies. It is because God is just in dealing with sin that there sin death, sin and destruction. The wrath of God against our sin is due to God’s just character. It is this wrath that Jesus had to deal with on the cross for us to be forgiven. (more…)

Does the Christian View of God Need Revising?

As kids we compared one another’s fathers to prove “my Dad is better than your Dad”.  When my son Justin was attending kindergarten, he informed me about a kid in his class who boasted his father played baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Since I am a baseball fanatic, I had to check it out.

After spending an hour investigating the Dodger website, I concluded Justin’s friend was lying.  In fact, the kid’s father did not even work in the Dodger front office as a business executive let alone as a baseball player.  I told my son his friend is making up stories about his Dad.  I then proceeded to tell my kindergartner that I used to play first base for the New York Yankees!

Speaking of dads, in chapter seven of Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins,  the Pastor compares our earthly fathers to God the Father.

The Theology of a Bi-Polar God

In light of Bell’s comparison, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan comes up with the reason why people  do not accept Jesus. Bell wonders, “If your God is loving one second and cruel the next, if your God will punish people for all of eternity for sins committed in a few short years . . . no amount of clever marketing . . . will be able to disguise that one, true, glaring, untenable, unacceptable, awful reality” (page 175).  In light of this statement the author sums up what his view of hell is:  hell is refusing to trust and refusing to trust is often rooted in a distorted view of God (pg. 175).

If we had a human father who like the God of Christianity was loving one second and then cruel the next, we would tag him an “abusive father.”

Therefore, the God portrayed by followers of Jesus is both loving and cruel.  Therefore, how can Christians expect anyone to accept the Christian message of a cruel, abusive God the Father after also being told God so loved that world that He sent His Son to die on a cross to save people from eternal torment? (more…)

Jesus: Here, There and Everywhere

Where were you when you accepted Jesus as your Savior? I was in the Mojave desert under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs crying out for God to deliver me. Regardless of my experience,  I refuse to tell others if they want to find Jesus, take several tabs of LSD, Mescaline and Psilocybin and He will appear to them. God forbid!

While I am aware Jesus comes to us in the strangest of places and circumstances, I am hesitant to say things like, “You can find Jesus in Hinduism, Buddhism or any religion that mentions the name of God or gods.”  Quite the contrary, each encounter we experience when we find Christ needs consistency and fundamental aspects.

Different Ways People Come to Know Jesus

In Rob Bell’s  book Love Wins, a work of exploratory theology, the pastor reports different experiences people had when they found Christ. One person was knocked off his chair and fell prostrate to the ground totally overwhelmed by God’s unconditional love for him (pg. 139).  I encountered the same exact sense of God’s love for me in the Mojave desert.  Yet as soon as I realized the depth of God’s unconditional grace, I repented of my sin before His holy presence.  (more…)

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