Some quick thoughts on the seminar "Can Love Win and Hell Still Exist?"
As was mentioned yesterday, I attended this seminar Sunday night which focused on the recent book put out by Rob Bell called "Love Wins". First of all, go read the book and you will be ahead of 197 of the 200 people which attended the seminar. That's right, only 3 people, including me, had read the book.
This seminar was put on by Dr Bobby Conway Who is a really nice guy and someone whom I respect. You can go watch some Apologetic videos by him here.
Having said that, You could pretty much Go and read any anti-rob bell or anti-emergent website or blog and you will get the idea of what was said during the seminar. The accusations that Bell doesn't know how to handle scripture(in other words, he doesn't come to the same conclusions as I do), the book is poorly written, and he takes everything out of context. These are opinionsand not facts, and I have read reviews from other Dr's and theologians that would say otherwise.
The seminar was more about hell being a real place where people will spend eternity than it was actually about Rob's book. The book has only one chapter on hell but then again, it's hard to discuss a book that no one in the audience has read. You are forced to stick to what everybody wants to hear.
There were a few obscure passages read from the book and then a rebuttal of those particular passages using several different scriptures on hell.
Which brings me to problem number 1. It's seems as though the very thing Bell is accused of theoughout the seminar was being committed during the seminar. For instance. Matthew 25 was mentioned several times, but only the the last verse of the chapter was ever read or discussed which reads,
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life".
The problem I have here is that one argument that was made throughout the seminar was how we have to read and interpret scripture within context. I totally agree, however, quoting one verse at the end of a long parable to suggest that if you do not believe in the name of Jesus you will burn in hell for eternity, is hardly context.
In this parable (as well as "The Rich Man And Lazarus" parable Of which several verses were also taken from and used throughout the night) there is absolutely nothing about theology, faith, or belief in Jesus. In fact, the sheep and the goats are judged solely on how they respond to the "least of these". At the very best they are judged by works.
In fact there isn't one place in the Bible where Jesus directly claims someone will go to hell if they do not believe in him. You have to read into certain scriptures a presupposition of hell. Example, John 3:16 is used quite often though it nor the book of John mentions hell.
There were several more instances such as the ones mentioned above where I found myself disagreeing with the way scriptures were handled but that was to be expected and is something i attribute to simply a different view and understanding of the Bible and interpretation.it happens and we can disagree. It's all good.
However, There were two statements throughout the conference that really bothered me and I thought were really out of line. The first coming from Mr Hatfield (can't remember his first name, my appologies) when he compared Rob Bell to a suicide bomber who's goal was to kill and send people to hell. In my opinion, the comment was way out of line, distastful, and completely unnecessary. I don't know anyone who I would compare to a terrorist suicide bomber no matter how much I disagree with their theology.
The other comment came from Alex McFarland when he suggested that Rob Bell merely wrote the book in order to make money. Again, an assumption that was uncalled for and merely an assumption. Not to mention the reason the book is doing so well is partly because there are people holding seminars about the book all over the country which actually promotes the book. I am sure, however, rob bell would be thankful that 200 people were gathered into a room in Davidson NC and encouraged to go buy his book.
Both instances were an attack on the character of a man that neither McFarland or HatField know personally.
I do want to say that I really appreciate the way the seminar, as a whole, was handled. I met and spoke with all the participants including Dr Bobby Conway after the seminar, and they were very kind and welcoming especially Conway, I actually think he and I would get along quite well and would love to get together sometime.
There are one or two more "accusation" or assumptions rather, that were discussed Sunday night and throughout the whole controversy that I want to address in a separate post all together.
It's the claim that A book or a belief such as Rob Bell's, doesn't provoke one to share the gospel, and also the accusation that people like Bell are merely playing it safe and merely do not want to offend anyone by preaching condemnation. We make the gospel palatable.
I will address these issues tomorrow speaking from experience.
Until then, grace and peace.