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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Rob Bell and Universalism
Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I was again impressed with Rob Bell last night. He is a really good and clear speaker. And he answers questions well, and professionally.

Thanks for this SC - it helps to have a first hand account.

Out of interest, who do you think the audience was? I mean, was it full of people who were not Christians and unchurched? (Obviously only as far you can tell ... I don't mean I expected you to do a survey or anything.)

I ask the question because my hunch (confirmed by the hugely wide-ranging datum of one - i.e. you) is that it was mostly Christians who went.

I listened to a Q&A with Tim Keller about this the other day. Keller's review went something like this:

He didn't comment on the content of the book because he didn't think Bell was clear enough about what his content actually was. So he didn't want to give him a hard time over that.

However, he was saddened by the tone of the introduction. Keller argued that gracious engagement means demonstrating that you have really heard the side of that you disagree with. Keller felt that Bell caricatured the traditional position to such an extent that it was bound to wind up traditionalists.

In other words, in his opinion, Bell's target audience is not the unchurched but rather Christians disaffected with conservative Christianity.

My guess (but I'm willing to be put right on this) is that we have two conversations going on here:

1. People show their non Christian friends a nooma video or talk to them about its content and their friends respond warmly to it. something like, "If I were interested in Christianity, this is the kind of Christianity I'd be interested in."

2. However, if we were to follow up that up with the question, "are you now interested in Christianity then?" their response would be - No.

[ 19. April 2011, 13:50: Message edited by: Johnny S ]

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Jolly Jape
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quote:
originally posted by Johnny S
My guess (but I'm willing to be put right on this) is that we have two conversations going on here:

1. People show their non Christian friends a nooma video or talk to them about its content and their friends respond warmly to it. something like, "If I were interested in Christianity, this is the kind of Christianity I'd be interested in."

2. However, if we were to follow up that up with the question, "are you now interested in Christianity then?" their response would be - No.


Fair point, Johnny, but then that's pretty much the majority response to any flavour of gospel presentation. Apart from issues of what the whole message of scripture actually is (something which, I guess, we would both think the absolutely key issue, even if we disagree as to what that message is), the "utilitarian" question should rather be, "as a component part of a larger work of the Holy Spirit in bringing a person to Christ, does Bell's sort of presentation push more "truth buttons" amongst the average non-churchgoer, than the modernist approach favoured by more conservative apologists. My hunch is that, yes, most non-churchgoers are suspicious of the black-or-white simplicity of traditional evangelical thinking, and that it does no harm whatsoever to get people to think outside the box of received evangelical wisdom.

Anyway, I'm going to Liverpool to see RB tomorrow night, so maybe I'll have some further insights after I've actually heard him - I was one of the thousand or so people who could not get into the venue at last year's Greenbelt.

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Schroedinger's cat

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The audience was Christian yes - and he was talking to Christians. We may have been disaffected, but they were all there to listen to what he had to say, and he talked to us as people who had heard about the book, and may have read it.

The question of "if there is a real hell, we should preach about it", I think the response would be that we do not know what happens after death - and the bible does not actually tell us much about post-mortem existence. According to the book, most of the references are better interpreted in terms of the here and now, not the future - and I think he has a point there. The reflection of it as representing post-mortem judgement and damnation is more an interpretation.

So I think we know far less than some people think about what happens after death, and our focus should be on making heaven here and now, and opposing hell here and now. As he says, those who focus heavily on the hell hereafter tend to not focus on making heaven now.

My view - which I think RB is reflecting - is that we should focus our attention on making things better in the here and now. If we preach that heaven is available here and now, then we have a positive message to people who don't care about the future after death. It is about being good news now, not just then.

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PaulBC
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But to focus soley on the here & now loses sight of the need for holiness and right living. Thus univerralism is heresey.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulBC:
But to focus soley on the here & now loses sight of the need for holiness and right living. Thus univerralism is heresey.

You have three things here that don't add up. In fact, I'd argue that focussing on the present means a much stronger orthopraxis: your behaviour now has immediate, not postponed consequences.

And your third is a non sequitur - it simply doesn't follow from the first two, even if you were correct.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulBC:
But to focus soley on the here & now loses sight of the need for holiness and right living.

No it doesn't. It just loses sight of the need for eternal retribution for lack of holiness and right living. Or, what is more common among Christians of every stripe, for lack of believing exactly the right things.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Anyway, I'm going to Liverpool to see RB tomorrow night, so maybe I'll have some further insights after I've actually heard him - I was one of the thousand or so people who could not get into the venue at last year's Greenbelt.

Great. Please post your thoughts on this thread afterwards - I'd appreciate that.
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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by The Revolutionist:
We need to tell people what we actually believe, rather than sugar-coating our beliefs by selecting what we think people want to hear...

Also, people are at least as likely to be put off by any attempt to market our beliefs or perform any kind of bait and switch. Being honest and consistent in our beliefs is the best policy, whatever you believe about the existence or otherwise of Hell.

Sorry, I think I got the wrong end of the stick a bit. I'm 100% with you both on the need to tell people what we actually believe and on the unhelpfulness of marketing. Thanks for explaining.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by PaulBC:
But to focus soley on the here & now loses sight of the need for holiness and right living.

No it doesn't. It just loses sight of the need for eternal retribution for lack of holiness and right living. Or, what is more common among Christians of every stripe, for lack of believing exactly the right things.
Indeed I'd say "holiness" motivated by fear of punishment (hell) or in hopes of getting a reward (heaven) isn't holiness at all; it's merely enlightened self-interest.

[ 20. April 2011, 02:06: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Indeed I'd say "holiness" motivated by fear of punishment (hell) or in hopes of getting a reward (heaven) isn't holiness at all; it's merely enlightened self-interest.

But might not such self-interest be a possible first step in the right direction, one that motivates us to learn so that we can later come to love? I'm not saying that such an attitude is inherently a good thing or that it is something that should be taught, but neither would I denigrate anyone for holding it. I know very little about theosis, so I'd be interested in hearing about how the attitude you describe does or does not fit into it.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Indeed I'd say "holiness" motivated by fear of punishment (hell) or in hopes of getting a reward (heaven) isn't holiness at all; it's merely enlightened self-interest.

But might not such self-interest be a possible first step in the right direction, one that motivates us to learn so that we can later come to love? I'm not saying that such an attitude is inherently a good thing or that it is something that should be taught, but neither would I denigrate anyone for holding it. I know very little about theosis, so I'd be interested in hearing about how the attitude you describe does or does not fit into it.
I think we should believe or disbelieve things based on truth, not utilitarianism. So maybe belief in Hell leads people to eventually develop a right relation with God. Trying and killing an innocent scapegoat can potentially deter people from murder. That doesn't make it right. If there is no eternal punishment in Hell, then using it to scare people into heaven is wrong, even if it sometimes works. I don't think this dog hunts.

I've never heard theosis tied into fear of Hell, but I'll admit my reading in that area is far from exhaustive.

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W Hyatt
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I agree with what you say, but because I agree, I'm not wondering about the problems that inevitably come with teaching or advocating the fear of hell. I'm wondering instead about what we say to someone who already has a fear of hell or a desire for the reward of heaven. I wouldn't be able to tell them that they should not be afraid of hell or that they should not desire the benefits of heaven. I also would not tell them they're just being selfish. I would be able to tell them that I think it's possible to move beyond fear and reward to a more mature spiritual attitude and my guess is that you might do something similar. Or do you think someone who already has that attitude needs to unlearn it before they can learn something better?

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Ethne Alba
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The idea that we all need to 'tell people what we believe' seems to be fraught with two main problems.

1) Even a cursory glance at these boards shows vast disagreement of even basic belief.

2) Lots of people have an inbuilt loathing of being told what to do, let alone what to think ( normalspeak for what to believe)

While we continue to hope that we can tell people what to believe...as over against learning how to have conversations about this...Bell et all will never really communicate easily with the more dogmatic sections of Christendom.

( and no i'm not calling anyone here dogmatic)

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Evensong
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Just heard via FB Rob Bell is in Liverpool.

You lucky bastards.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Ethne Alba:
While we continue to hope that we can tell people what to believe...as over against learning how to have conversations about this...Bell et all will never really communicate easily with the more dogmatic sections of Christendom.

Yes. But hopefully we can tell people what we believe (and why), without then going on to say 'And you should / must believe it too'. I think it's so important to have conversations about faith and belief without getting into angry criticisms of each other's positions or pressurising people into believing the 'right' things.

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LeRoc

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quote:
Schroedinger's cat: 1. God loves people immensely. He loves you, me, and everyone. That is good news - for everyone.

2. We do not know what happens after death. Stop worrying about it, and see Heaven and hell here on earth. Our calling is to work towards promoting heaven here on earth, and against hell. That is good news.

I can certainly live with that!

TBH, I don't care very much if this attracts new believers or not. If our religion needs the threat of Hell to attract new believers, it isn't much of a religion IMO.

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Ethne Alba
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Telling anyone anything though does require a desire on the Others part to have that knowledge imparted to them!

Sadly all too often the desire to Tell our truth, is greater than our desire for another to Receive it. Leading to an "I've done my bit" attitude.

Many people think that Bell et al are merely trying to maximize the chances of this Telling being received. At all.

Let me give an example: When I cross our city centre, I am often harangued by a zealous public preacher. I am told that I am going to hell unless I repent and that my evil deeds separate me from God. The assumption is that I ( and the rest of the evil masses) are filthy sinners and we need telling.

All too often i fear our Telling ( unless it is surrounded by relationship) ends up being just as badly received when we persist in majoring on hell.

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The Revolutionist
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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
I agree with what you say, but because I agree, I'm not wondering about the problems that inevitably come with teaching or advocating the fear of hell. I'm wondering instead about what we say to someone who already has a fear of hell or a desire for the reward of heaven. I wouldn't be able to tell them that they should not be afraid of hell or that they should not desire the benefits of heaven. I also would not tell them they're just being selfish. I would be able to tell them that I think it's possible to move beyond fear and reward to a more mature spiritual attitude and my guess is that you might do something similar. Or do you think someone who already has that attitude needs to unlearn it before they can learn something better?

That's a good question - I think there is a need to move from a fear and reward understanding to an attitude of love.

I think one important thing is to teach grace - that God accepts us freely; there's nothing we do to deserve God's acceptance - it's a gift.

The second key is to help people understand that the gift that God gives us is Himself. We don't become Christians to get forgiveness or whatever - that's just using God, that's not really worshipiing him. Being a Christian is not about getting from God, but getting God, starting now. It means knowing him, loving him and becoming like him. The real reward is to be turned out from our selfishness, and to delight in loving God and loving other people.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ethne Alba:
Let me give an example: When I cross our city centre, I am often harangued by a zealous public preacher. I am told that I am going to hell unless I repent and that my evil deeds separate me from God. The assumption is that I ( and the rest of the evil masses) are filthy sinners and we need telling.

When I was an undagrad, there was a haranguer on campus the students called Holy Hubert. (I have no idea if Hubert was his name.) His schtick was to point at specific students walking by (or standing watching him, goading him as often as not) and tell them they are guilty of some sin -- usually fornication but not always. Eg, "You are a fornicator! You are going to hell unless you turn from your evil ways" and so forth.

Nobody but nobody took him seriously. He was an object of universal ridicule. I suppose there may have been some ultra fundamentalists who supported (in thought) what he was doing, but you never saw them speak up. If he pointed at some student and accused him/her of being a fornicator or whatever, they would as often as not either keep walking, or give that "whatever" brush-off hand wave.

In short, he wasn't convicting anyone of sin.

As I noted above, students would often gather around him to see what he would say next, and to heckle. I suppose this made it easier for him to point at people since they were already paying attention, but that was just part of the fun for the students.

The kingdom was not advanced, and I daresay it was hindered/set back for a lot of people.

In contrast there was a jug band that would also play on the Hub lawn (in front of the student center). (I forget the name of the group.) They were pretty good. They each had a stage name -- the one who played the spoons and the forks and a lot of other interesting percussion instruments was called the Master Gadget Gadget Master. (That's the only one I remember.)

They sang pretty good songs that we all took to be self-written, among which were some that had a reasonably subtle religious (moral even) message. At least they made me and my friends, MOR evangelicals, go "Hmm." Dunno what effect they had on non-religious types. They certainly drew a pretty good crowd, and no heckling.

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Schroedinger's cat

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I think the message and challenge I got from RB was just what others have said - that the Good News is a positive message - Rob Bell was relevant, explaining his theological points using contemporary references, which was excellent. He was prepared to engage with contemporary culture, and within that, say that Christianity was good news. The condemnatory attitude that many churches have had ( from the Westboro people down - many churches tend to be condemning or excluding ) is not relevant or Christian. The Westboro and Terry Jones incidents highlight this - the problem with them is their condemnatory hatred.

And yet God loves people. And that simple message is at the core of the bible message, and the core of what we should say. Bell may not be the best at saying it, he may get it confused with other ideas, he may push it a little too far, but FFS it is about time someone started saying it.

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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by The Revolutionist:
I think one important thing is to teach grace - that God accepts us freely; there's nothing we do to deserve God's acceptance - it's a gift.

The second key is to help people understand that the gift that God gives us is Himself. We don't become Christians to get forgiveness or whatever - that's just using God, that's not really worshipiing him. Being a Christian is not about getting from God, but getting God, starting now. It means knowing him, loving him and becoming like him. The real reward is to be turned out from our selfishness, and to delight in loving God and loving other people.

Thank you for those suggestions. After rereading my posts, I realize that I left out an important part of the context of my questions: I help respond to people who contact our church through the church's website.

Many of the messages that we receive are to tell us that we're going to hell for our beliefs and are leading others to hell by advertising them. I find that with a little patience and a few well-worn proof texts, these are not particularly difficult to respond to, although it does take a little more thought to respond graciously and gently to the people who are clearly more concerned about our eternal welfare than about making sure we know that we deserve the punishment that God has in store for us.

However, more to the point of my questions, a fair number of people write to us asking for help because they are overwhelmed by their struggles with things like anger, promiscuity, and drug addiction. They are sure that they are going to be condemned by God to hell for their lack of success and because they know that they don't deserve the reward of heaven. These are some of the people I have in mind when I ask what we say to those who already fear hell and desire the reward of heaven. Others are trying to do as God wishes, but are afraid of making a mistake and being condemned to hell for it. Still others "know" that God is supposed to love everyone, but are more convinced that they are excluded from that love for one reason or another.

I very much agree with what Ethne Alba, South Coast Kevin, LeRoc, and mousethief have posted. I would not presume to tell people what I believe if they have not asked me, and I certainly would not try to teach anyone that hell is God's punishment for anyone (mostly because I don't believe it). But in this particular situation, these people have explicitly asked us for help. This is the situation I have in mind when I say that I cannot tell them not to be afraid of hell, or not to desire the benefits of heaven. I also cannot tell them that they are being selfish. I see them as having personal experience with hell and hungering after heaven as a result - I sincerely believe they are some of those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness."

So my question is whether these kinds of beliefs about punishment and reward can serve as a starting point for a more mature faith, or if they need to be unlearned first. My own view is that the former is a more productive approach to use, and not only for people afflicted by feelings of guilt and failure. I also think it's a more productive approach to use when responding to people who are not so much afflicted themselves as actively afflicting others. We can be very confident of ourselves when we tell them that they have no right to afflict others with their unsolicited views, but are we likely to meet with any more success than they do? We may be causing less damage than they are, but we may also be missing the opportunity to search for common ground first and then go from there. Unless, of course, there is no redeeming value to be found in these kinds of beliefs and they can only be replaced rather than grow to become more mature. Hence my questions.

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pjkirk
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
If there is no eternal punishment in Hell, then using it to scare people into heaven is wrong, even if it sometimes works. I don't think this dog hunts.

I quoted MT here for the animal reference.

Growing up on a farm, the best way to ensure an animal would never bond to you or love you was to use fear and threats of retribution. I have seen no reason to think that humans work any differently.

I'd call this a dangerous way to try and get converts. Very dangerous, shallow, and frankly inhuman (or perhaps all too human).

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Kaplan Corday
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C.S. Lewis points out somewhere that one aspect of God's grace is that he accepts us even when we come to him for the dodgiest of motives - fear of hell, need for a crutch or a friend or a father figure, desire for the family ambience provided by a church, or whatever.

Let's face it, we can never be 100% sure of our motives, and we can be pretty sure that no-one ever became a Christian out of a pure, disinterested love of truth.

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Kaplan Corday
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I should have added that a group of us were once sitting around laughing about some eccentrics (I think they're Exclusives) who shout the gospel at the passing traffic down at our local shopping centre, when someone piped up and said, "I got converted through them".
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Johnny S
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I'm getting a bit confused here between how the church communicates its message and what the content of that message is.

Throughout church history Christians have sought to enculturate the gospel. That's why churches look so different around the globe. Occasionally some groups get stuck in a cultural ghetto but the norm is working out how to communicate the gospel to the next generation and a new people group.

However, at the same time, there has always been a strong resistance to changing the message to suit the culture. Frequently in the gospel people turn away from Jesus because his teaching is too hard to take, and yet Jesus never wavered because of it. We find the same in the rest of the NT. Indeed 2 Timothy famously warns against gathering teachers around us who will say what we want them to say. This is not just from a few select proof-texts, I'm talking about a major theme of the gospels and letters. You don't have to believe in the inerrancy of scripture to see how wary the church has been of accommodating its message to the current culture. (Indeed one criticism of Rob Bell I heard was from a Korean who said that the culture of his non-Christian parents would not find Bell's message more attractive at all - i.e. that Bell may appeal to middle class anglo culture but he won't to the rest of the world.)

Now, none of this means that Rob Bell is a false teacher or that he is selling out the Christian gospel. However, it does mean that it is a question that Christians have always asked and therefore it is entirely legitimate to ask it of Rob:

1. How can we communicate the good news effectively as possible?

2. Is the way we communicate it changing the message at all?

3. If so, is that a change that brings us closer to the good news of Jesus, or is it simply accommodating to what our culture wants to hear?

I remember once a student telling me (seriously) that if churches had bars with topless barmaids at Christmas it would get him along. I know this is a ridiculous example (I still can't believe he said it) but it is pretty obvious that we must not simply change our evangelism to 'whatever brings people in'. (And yes, he was sober when he said it - before we went out for a few beers.)

Once more, I'm not saying that Rob Bell is doing this, just that it is only fair to ask the question of any new idea or approach. Christians have always done it. Just asking the question doesn't mean that Bell is guilty as charged, but neither does it mean that the person asking it is a monster either.

[ 21. April 2011, 07:59: Message edited by: Johnny S ]

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Martin60
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Western Christianity has been in a cultural ghetto since Augustine.

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Jolly Jape
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As I said, I went to see Rob Bell last night. Funnily enough, his universalist (or not) views didn't feature much in his talk, though they were addressed at some length in the Q&A session afterwards. My feeling was that he was largely speaking to the converted, and that the more "contoversial" points (let the reader understand) were the ones most warmly received. His talk was peppered with allusions to American (ie US) culture, which did not always connect with his audience, but he was warm, funny, assured and honest. Because of the acoustic properties of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, it was not always possible to hear some of his asides, despite the efforts of a very professional sound team.

I would say that, from both reading his book and his presentation last night, he would sit, in a UK context, well towards the less conservative end of the open evangelical spectrum, but not at the extreme. I think he would probably consider my views, had he known them, as being to the "left" of his, but that, of course, means very little.

quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
1. How can we communicate the good news effectively as possible?

2. Is the way we communicate it changing the message at all?

3. If so, is that a change that brings us closer to the good news of Jesus, or is it simply accommodating to what our culture wants to hear?

I remember once a student telling me (seriously) that if churches had bars with topless barmaids at Christmas it would get him along. I know this is a ridiculous example (I still can't believe he said it) but it is pretty obvious that we must not simply change our evangelism to 'whatever brings people in'. (And yes, he was sober when he said it - before we went out for a few beers.)

Once more, I'm not saying that Rob Bell is doing this, just that it is only fair to ask the question of any new idea or approach. Christians have always done it. Just asking the question doesn't mean that Bell is guilty as charged, but neither does it mean that the person asking it is a monster either.

I wouldn't disagree with any of this, Johnny, but it does, of course, beg the question of whether, historically, there has been one universally held view of what the essential nature of the gospel is, in order that we can discern whether a new teaching is a step in the right or the wrong direction. Bell's argument is that his teaching is merely a reaffirmation and enculturation of a teaching which has been there ab initio; in other words, it is a radical (ie back to the root) message.

[ 21. April 2011, 10:29: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Johnny S
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Thanks for the review JJ. Interesting.

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Bell's argument is that his teaching is merely a reaffirmation and enculturation of a teaching which has been there ab initio; in other words, it is a radical (ie back to the root) message.

I've got no problems with that - it means, therefore, that Bell has to demonstrate that his message really is radical in it's original sense. And what is interesting is that even his supporters seem to think that where he attempts to do that are the weakest parts of his book.
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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Western Christianity has been in a cultural ghetto since Augustine.

The more times you say that the more complicated your argument becomes and therefore the more parsnips you have.
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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
(Indeed one criticism of Rob Bell I heard was from a Korean who said that the culture of his non-Christian parents would not find Bell's message more attractive at all - i.e. that Bell may appeal to middle class anglo culture but he won't to the rest of the world.)

Which is fine, because he can address some parts of anglo culture, but he cannot be expected to appeal to all people. The point is not that one person can appeal to everyone, but that reflecting it against the culture is a good way of communicating. He used a few expressions that were pretty theological, and would not have been grasped by anyone outside the church, but he then related these with contemporary references, which made his points clear.

The challenge between enculturing the message and redefining the message has been a constant issue. As Newbiggin said, it is almost impossible to interpret your understanding of your faith without it being related to your culture, without it being seen through your cultural glasses.

I think the truth is that Christianity is only valid when it is encultured, when it is expressed by people within their own groups. Which means that the idea of a "pure message", unencumbered by any cultural baggage, is a myth. That is one of the things that makes Christianity so strong, and so universal.

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Ethne Alba
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I wonder, did anyone go to hear Rob Bell talk....and change their mind?

Either go feeling they would agree with him and now know they Just Don't?

Or has anyone gone under sufferance...and come away really glad they went and having changed their mind?


I only ask as I ( for many reasons and none of them valid) did not go to any of the venues and i've spent some time wondering if i Would have agreed with the dear man after all.....

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Alogon
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
Why is there this vehement opposition to Universalism in some parts of the Church?

It makes people feel less special if God loves everyone.

It's an ego thing.

The ability to scare people to death and then promise that you can keep the worst from befalling them is also obviously a power thing. It is reminiscent of how the mob extorts money: "Nice little life you have there. We wouldn't want anything to happen to it, would we?" Hence the tendency of successive generations of preachers to outdo one another in depictions of hell, as documented in The Legend of Hell by Percy Dearmer. I'd be interested in seeing what Mr. Bell has to say that Dearmer didn't figure out some eighty years ago.

I had a chance this afternoon just to skim the recent cover story of Time occasioned by Rob Bell and the book. The loudest complaints were blatently self-serving, from clergy who saw themselves marginalized if they could no longer terrify the world into obedience. He's a heretic, because without hell there's <gasp> no reason for the church! The question of whose claims were more plausible or had more evidence behind them seemed to be a distant second in their concerns.

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Evensong
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Love Wins today


[Yipee] [Yipee]

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Horseman Bree
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NYT review here

This quote addresses the issue of exclusivity:

quote:
it offers them a way to hold on to Jesus’ particularity in a pluralist world, a world in which wondering about the eternal fate of, say, a Hindu is not an abstract question but a question about your college roommate.

But then I have my doubts about anyone who can say, to the point of condemning just about everyone else, that he/she has the only grasp of The Truth, so I would agree with that quote, wouldn't I?

quote:
So, too, Rob Bell is articulating the concerns of a generation of Christians schooled in toleration, whose neighbors and coworkers and siblings are Muslim or Buddhist or agnostic, a generation whose pluralist social commitments are at odds with theological commitments to limited salvation.
Kind of puts the Pope and Pastor Terry Jones in the same boat, doesn't it? "They" can't be saved because "I" said so just won't work in an age when we all know people of many faiths and none.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Horseman Bree:
Kind of puts the Pope and Pastor Terry Jones in the same boat, doesn't it? "They" can't be saved because "I" said so just won't work in an age when we all know people of many faiths and none.

Getting to know real people of different faiths and none tends to put a spoke in the wheel of exclusivity.

Just like Jesus really.

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Horseman Bree:
Kind of puts the Pope and Pastor Terry Jones in the same boat, doesn't it? "They" can't be saved because "I" said so just won't work in an age when we all know people of many faiths and none.

The Terry Jones/Westboro crowd who like to define who is in and who is out are precisely the types of people who Bell is standing in opposition to. And quite rightly.

The Pope would also be included if he would still hold onto the view that "outside the RC chuch there is no salvation". I don't know that he ( or more significantly the church as a whole ) would really stand by this.

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Horseman Bree
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Unfortunately, i can think of quite a few adherents/members of otherwise-relaxed churches who are quite exclusive of their particular persons-to-exclude

Even when they bleat about how inclusive they are.

Try being a celibate gay in my province (or diocese, which has the same boundaries), for instance.

Try being a woman in the same space. The "official" church line is quite different from the practical one.

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Schroedinger's cat

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Horseman Bree - I think there is a difference between a church which preaches exclusion as a prime part of its doctrine, and churches which, by their actions tend to excluse people.

The difference is that the former are wrong in their doctrine according to Bell ( and me ), whereas the latter just need to put into practice what they claim to believe.

Bell is criticising the former, but challenging the latter. I think the challenge is to pretty much all churches, that we need to preach the good news nere and now, to everyone.

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Schroedinger's Cat, neither the Pope nor the RC Church as a whole has taught that for some years now. If anything, they're much more flexible about who is 'in' and who is 'out' than many Protestants.

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Martin60
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Love Wins. The best book in 1900 years.

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Love wins

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Evensong
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Why Martin?

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Martin60
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It rolls back all of the dogma, all of the narrow, wooden, closed, 'distinctive', denominational, exclusive, esoteric, confusing, alienating, cultic, divisive, dark, complex fumbling of 2000 years. Calvin. Arminius. Aquinas. Anselm. Muhammad. Augustine. The lot.

It liberates the gospel from them AND liberal reaction.

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Love wins

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
It rolls back all of the dogma, all of the narrow, wooden, closed, 'distinctive', denominational, exclusive, esoteric, confusing, alienating, cultic, divisive, dark, complex fumbling of 2000 years. Calvin. Arminius. Aquinas. Anselm. Muhammad. Augustine. The lot.

It liberates the gospel from them AND liberal reaction.

How does it liberate it from liberal reaction?

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Golden Key
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Love Wins. The best book in 1900 years.

Great post and recommendation! [Smile]

The title alone has me. But I've put in a reservation for the book at the library.

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cliffdweller
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impatiently waiting for hubby to finish reading our copy so I can get my hands on it.

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Martin60
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Liberals declare love wins by being lawless, libertarian, insouciant, not fussed about sexual morality, purity and therefore about all depravity. Liberals deny evil. Deny hell. Sin. Deny Satan the Devil. Our murderous, insane, lying fear. The reality of our killers' hearts and the reality of God the Killer. Liberalism is utterly unreal. As psychotic as damnationism.

Love stares all of that in the face and ... beats it. Makes it blink. Tops it. Vaults in to heaven above it and takes us ALL with it. Wins.

I encountered yet another head and faith spinning unspeakable evil last week. I wasn't looking for it. Love will triumph, redeem ALL the humans concerned at least because it, He, has already. I had to tell the person who had to tell me the burden of it that.

Thank Love I could.

Love doesn't push us up the final rung of the evolutionary ladder just beyond our good reach. It drags us up from the infinite, rungless, deluded abyss of meaningless, unredeeming suffering.

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Love wins

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Liberals declare love wins by being lawless, libertarian, insouciant, not fussed about sexual morality, purity and therefore about all depravity. Liberals deny evil. Deny hell. Sin. Deny Satan the Devil. Our murderous, insane, lying fear. The reality of our killers' hearts and the reality of God the Killer. Liberalism is utterly unreal. As psychotic as damnationism.

Is that right?

I didn't realise that's what I believed. Must be a new revelation from Jesus I was unaware of. That's what happens if you don't keep up your reading I guess.


Glad you liked the book. One up on the psychoticness of damnationism huh?

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Martin60
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Hey Evensong, this is just provocative controversialist old me. Yeah I mean it and all, but after I chuck holy hand grenades about from my fox hole, I remember that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. That I'd rather be for stuff than against. I just can't find the way all too often. Bell is superb, he really is. For the unadulterated, pure, good news.

At 57 my immaturity, my compulsiveness, my aggression, my fear shows. I'm horrified at damnationism all around me at church. And I'm so frustrated here, where damnationism DOESN'T, can't overtly abound but everything but neo-orthodoxy does.

The dominant voices here are liberal and (paradoxically) / or closed communions. Although there are a large number of reformed preaching it like Wesley and believing it like Calvin, like my Evangelical congregation.

Looping back again, with Rob Bell I can have my cake and eat it. I can have God the Killer (and how psychotic is that to the good liberal mind?), be 'true' to Alpha-Omega from Genesis-Revelation in the Spirit of pragmatism: the God who kills - including Himself - to save whom He kills by dying at their hand.

Rob doesn't dwell on, even touch on God the Killer (how liberal!), that's me. The psycho in me. Keeping it real.

Love wins, despite EVERYTHING.

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WearyPilgrim
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I just finished Rob Bell's book a few days ago. I loved it. His writing style is very engaging.

I came away with the sense that he's not a dogmatic universalist, but that he simply leaves the question open, based on some pretty tough, no-holds-barred observations that he makes --- things most evangelicals don't dare to voice, and for which he is getting roundly criticized.

I have loaned Love Wins to a parishioner who, after 45 years, is still deeply wounded by her rigid fundamentalist upbringing. I'll be very anxious to know her response.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by WearyPilgrim:
I just finished Rob Bell's book a few days ago. I loved it. His writing style is very engaging.

I came away with the sense that he's not a dogmatic universalist, but that he simply leaves the question open, based on some pretty tough, no-holds-barred observations that he makes --- things most evangelicals don't dare to voice, and for which he is getting roundly criticized.


Why don't they dare voice these things?

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