Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can Love Win and Hell Still Exist? A Few Thoughts

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.


A Boy and his God said...

it's intriguing to read your thoughts. even though we see these ideas differently.

out of curiosity, do you label yourself anything? emergent?

1 Peter 1:22 said...

"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." check out matthew 11:20-24

Jkub said...

"A boy and his God"

I don't necessarily label myself anything, however I do co-run/facilitate/organize the Statesville Emergent Cohort. Soooooo....:)

And "1 Peter 1:22"
There is nothing in the text you provided that says anything about a "belief in Jesus". I see the whole text as referring to, but not literally describing judgment. (I do believe in Judgment). Unless whole cities will actually be condemned together and "hades" is really "down" in the earth somewhere.

Also, Rob Bell points out the reference to Sodom here... And that there still seems to be hope for Sodom... He refers to Ezekiel where it talks about all of Sodom's treasures will be restored. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the speakers at the LIFE seminar on Bell's book and wanted to address some the the comments in Jacob's blog.
As I am not really a blogger, I wasn't sure how the "rules" work. That is, my response was too long to fit in the allowed space. So... I have attached the link that you can go to to read it.
To see the response, you will need to scroll down the page.




Jkub said...


I want to try and clear up a couple of what I think to be misunderstandings.

first of all, thanks for reading and and taking time to comment on the blog. Second, so sorry I couldn't remember your first name. I looked every where trying to find it.

I hope I will have more time in the near future to comment in more depth but I want to make clear that in my post, I didn't call the seminar itself "anti-rob bell" or "anti-emergent". I said you could google any anti-rob bell or "anti-emergent" website and find most of the claims that were presented at the seminar. I actually thought the over-all seminar was in good spirit (with exception to the two comments I made reference to) and didn't take it as a degrading of bell or emergent folks.
Also, I think when you read that I disagreed with the way scripture was handled you took it to mean I disagreed with bells book. Though I don't necessarily agree with EVERYTHING in the book, I was actually referring to how some of the scripture was handled at the seminar, such as Matthew 25 and Luke 16. I wasn't suggesting that "it's all good" so whatever one comes up with in the scriptures is indeed all good. Which is something I meant to bring up which is the accusation that Rob Bell, or people like him, are indeed saying, "live however you want because it's all good". I do not see how anyone could come to that conclusion who has read the book.
Also, yes Rob Bell is not your typical uptight pastor in a three piece suit, and yes he speaks well and would by many be considered cool, but so is your lead pastor Dr Bobby Conway with the Rob Bell glasses and messy, yet stylish hair cut. Maybe some do follow Bell for superficial reasons, maybe some follow Conway for the same reasons, and many probably follow Mark Driscoll because he has a faux hawk, wears shirts om buckle with designs etched in them, and likes to watch (and maybe even participates in) cage matches where dudes beat each other up. I don't know, but I think to write off someone because they are not the typical pastor is a little off.
Again, I want to seriously thank you for engaging in the conversation (that's emergent talk) and wish you and your ministries the best. Also look forward to future discussion as I am sure I will think of more I wanted to say, and judging by the length of your first comment I am sure you have more to say as well. :)

Grace and Peace,


Jkub said...

Oh yeh, and I would like to know the source of your stats that 9 out of 10 theologians disagree with Love Wins.

Postmodern Negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.