Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bell Interview and Salvific Stinginess

There has been much buzz about Rob Bell's book Love Wins, which apparently, according to a number of reviewers, depicts some sort of universal salvation. Many people have already written about it, so many that I don't know if I'll even purchase the book (which I had originally planned on doing out of curiosity and making an informed decision myself). 

This interview below is worth the price of admission for sure. Martin Bashir continues to allege that Bell is simply trying to present a picture of the gospel that won't offend people. Bashir finds that offensive, and reasons that it doesn't matter what you do with Jesus in this life. I doubt that Bashir himself believes the gospel, but even he can smell a 'sell job' from a mile away. He continues to try to get a squeamish Rob Bell to admit he's just trying to placate people, and deal with some evangelicalism induced, repressed childhood memories. Priceless.

Yet there's still another response from the Rob Bell responders that surprised me in both positive and negative ways.

Richard Muow, president of Fuller Seminary, speaks positively about the book. He is not a universalist and claims Bell isn't either. Other folks seem to have a different take. Maybe I'll have to read it after all......

But on the very positive side, Muow cautioned Christians away from not simply picturing Hell too empty but also from picturing it fuller than it may be. This line is beautiful.
Why don’t folks who criticize Rob Bell for wanting to let too many people in also go after people like that who want to keep too many people out? Why are we rougher on salvific generosity than on salvific stinginess?
Theologically conservative folks might need to be careful about "salvific stinginess." Or in other words, slicing the pie of who's in and who's not, too thin. Jesus says that only he can save, and Paul gives a list of folks, like greedy or swindlers, who won't inherit the Kingdom of Heaven without repentance (I Cor 6:10). But people don't have "saved" tags on them. Revelation reminds us that the one who "conquers" (Rev 2:7) or remains faithful to the end will taste the fruit of a new Heaven and Earth.

The best we can do is make educated guesses based upon Christ and the fruit of His Spirit. It's probably best to speak in terms of levels of confidence instead of being dogmatic when dealing with people who claim Christ, demonstrate some fruit, and persevere until the end.

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