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“A Massive Shift Coming in What it Means to Be a Christian?”

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TIME Magazine Considers Rob Bell

The real question is now whether the church has sufficient biblical conviction to resist this doctrinal seduction. Otherwise, it may well be that Rob Bell’s “massive shift” is the shape of things to come.

The edition of TIME magazine timed for Easter Week features a cover story on the controversy over Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins. Interestingly, the essay is written by none other than Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former editor of Newsweek TIME’s historic competitor. Meacham, who studied theology as an undergraduate at the University of the South, helpfully places Rob Bell in the larger context of modern theology, even as he offers a basically sympathetic analysis.

Meacham explains:

The standard Christian view of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is summed up in the Gospel of John, which promises “eternal life” to “whosoever believeth in Him.” Traditionally, the key is the acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God, who, in the words of the ancient creed, “for us and for our salvation came down from heaven … and was made man.” In the Evangelical ethos, one either accepts this and goes to heaven or refuses and goes to hell.

Bell, Meacham writes, “begs to differ” with this “standard Christian view.” He then relates that Rob Bell “suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal — meaning that, as his book’s subtitle puts it, ‘every person who ever lived’ could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be. Such a simple premise, but with Easter at hand, this slim, lively book has ignited a new holy war in Christian circles and beyond.”


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  • Thomas

    It is my opinion that Rob Bell fails to understand the Word of God. Jesus loved us, but His Father is sciptical of mankind. His Idea was to repair the system through His Son. This put a twist on the creation, one that involved a heavenly creature, or Spirit, equil to God the father to come to earth to teach of a way that would spare people the condition of Adam’s sin, and while they were sinners, yet through Christ they could be healed and retrived.

    I doubt that Bell ever read; “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

    There is nothing done without God. He makes peace, put here for all good; and creates evil, not the evil of sin, but the evil of punishment. He is the Author of all that is true, holy, good, or happy; and evil, error, and misery, came into the world by his permission, through the wilful apostacy of his creatures, but are often restrained and overruled to his righteous purpose. This doctrine is applied, for the comfort of those that earnestly longed, yet quietly waited, for the redemption of Israel. The redemption of sinners by the Son of God, and the pouring out the Spirit, to give success to the gospel, are chiefly here intended. We must not expect salvation without righteousness; together the Lord hath created them. Let not oppressors oppose God’s designs for his people. Let not the poor oppressed murmur, as if God dealt unkindly with them. Men are but earthen pots; they are broken potsherds, and are very much made so by mutual contentions. To contend with Him is as senseless as for clay to find fault with the potter. Let us turn God’s promises into prayers, beseeching him that salvation may abound among us, and let us rest assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

    Also, I would say that Bell never read Hebrews; “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

    For when we – Any of us Christians. Sin wilfully – By total apostasy from God, termed “drawing back,” Hebrews 10:38. After having received the experimental knowledge of the gospel truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins – None but that which we obstinately reject. However, the case of a deliberate apostate – one who has utterly rejected Christ and his atonement, one who denies God, and renounces the gospel system is indeed lost.

    However, of the apostate Christian, it has nothing to do with backsliders in the common use of that term. A man may be overtaken in a fault, or he may deliberately go into sin, and yet neither renounce the gospel, nor deny the Lord that bought him. His case is very dangerous, but it is not hopeless; no case is hopeless except that of the deliberate apostate, who rejects the whole gospel system, after having been saved by grace, or convinced of the truth of the gospel. To them there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin; for there was but the one, Jesus, and this they have utterly rejected. This is refering to the warning given in Heb. 6 regarding the final and total apostasy of persons who were once true Christians, concerning whom it was affirmed that it “is impossible” to renew them.

    No, Bell does not understand the Word of God at all.

    • ned kelly

      THOMAS, youare correct that the soul that totally turns away after the truth is lost but what about all the ones that will go to hell by their own sins ,the ones led astray by false teachers , ones that lived a carnal life with no knowledge of Christ ?? according to my scriptures these will have the chance of excepting christ in hell but not raised until the second resurection after the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. death and hell have a limited existance.

      • Wendy

        Noone has a chance to accept christ in hell. Remember Jesus’ parable, “The Rich Man and Lazarus”. THis man did not have a second chance. People who die go to hell and wait for Judgement Day where they are judged and cast into the Eternal Fire.

        People are not judged for rejecting Christ if they didn’t know about him. They will be jedged for what they did know and do. Then if there names are not found in the Book of Life, they will be cast into the eternal fire.

        The current hell is temporary as is the current heaven and earth. In Revelation 21, is the new heaven and new earth, and around there, the eternal hell, or Gehenna, or lake of fire.

  • Nils Jansma

    These are interesting comments and opinions to read because it would appear that all the commenters believe they personally are “saved.” What if it turns out that they have been unknowingly deceived? Obviously, there would likely be a hewn cry of “foul, that’s not fair.” In my opinion, it is astounding to hear such comments about other people’s salvation prospects. The Scriptures are clear about what you believe regarding the judgment of others will likewise be how you are judged. (Matthew 7:2) Therefore, if you decide to comment upon Jesus’ standard of judgment, you should pray that he is capable of saving everyone in the hopes that he will save you also. (1 Corinthians 4:5) I am sure that Peter thought he was lost after he denied Christ and apparently was too ashamed to even be present at the cross. (Matthew 26:72; Luke 22:61) However, Jesus was said to have appeared personally to Peter with, no doubt, a message of forgiveness when you consider Peter’s later involvement without additional comment by Jesus. (Luke 24:34) At the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive all those responsible for the crucifixion because of their ignorance. (Luke 23:34) Apparently, this included Judas who later confessed that he did not know he was betraying “innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) Paul even stated that all those in authority who were involved in Jesus’ death were ignorant of what they were doing; otherwise they would not have crucified him. (1 Corinthians 2:8)
    Maybe the saddest aspect of all these comments is that they display an extreme lack of confidence in God’s power to save through the man Jesus Christ. I believe that they all mistakenly base their conclusions on the carnal power of “works” which, incidentally, can neither save nor un-save anyone Scripturally and logically speaking. Everyone is to be disciplined because of their works, good or bad, but it is only God’s grace that saves. (Hebrews 12:5-8; Ephesians 2:8) Revelation, speaking of the final judgment, leaves the matter open with a conditional “if” statement. (Revelation 20:12-15) “If” the unbelievable happened, that Jesus couldn’t save a lost soul, then their works as “written in book of life” would condemn them. I say “unbelievable” because Jesus made it clear that the salvation of one “lost sheep [soul]” was more important to him and his Father in heaven then all the other sheep who were not lost. Can anyone deny that Jesus and heaven cannot find and save, through a judgment of discipline, every “lost sheep” no matter what their life’s works have been? Jesus said that his “Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones [sheep] should be lost.” (Matthew 18:12-14)
    In my opinion, that commitment by God can be summed up in the implied policy found in Paul’s advice to Timothy when he said not to appoint a newly converted man to the position of Elder for fear he will fall into the temptation of the Devil. (1Timothy 3:6) Most people I know apply this Scripture without even giving a second thought to who appointed the Devil to his position in the first place; it was none other than God. (Luke 4:6) Since Jesus was also appointed as savior of Adam’s children, no doubt in view of God’s appointment of the Devil before the creation of the heavens and earth, I am positive that Jesus will be able to complete the work that Adam and Eve were unable to do because of the Devil. According to Paul, that would include saving all that are lost due to Adam’s sin. (Romans 5:18; 1 Peter 1:20) It is true that Paul says that unless you confess Jesus as LORD, you will not be saved. However, he adds in another letter that the time will come when “every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11) So, in my opinion, if we are going to interpret the Bible’s judgment passages, we should do so in accord with Paul’s advice to the Roman brothers.
    Romans 14:10-13 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (11) It is written: ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ ” (12) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (13) Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

  • Nils Jansma

    Hebrews 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, (27) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
    I wanted to make a brief comment about this Scripture. A great deal of effort was made in the above comments to distinguish this Scripture from ordinary sin. Many people I have ministered to have wondered out loud whether they have committed an unforgivable sin because of their willful actions and sometimes use this Scripture as their basis. This Scripture, like many others, places in a possible perspective of what it would be like to no longer have God in your life by using the conditional conjunction “if.” A simple reading of the text indicates that it is metaphoric and indicates an extreme possible consequence of disobedience to God. Unlike other passages, this fire “will consume the enemies of God.” That it is not a final condition is referenced in verse 29 which speaks of degrees of punishment waiting for the worst of the worst. What does God’s punishment do, it changes hearts (Proverbs 20:30), and results in repentance. Jesus says one who is forgiven much loves much. (Luke 7:47) This is a win, win situation for God. The Devil, by enticing people to sin, has delivered into God’s army, a vast host of souls who love more than any of us who may have been raised “in the truth” and by comparison, sinned little. We, of that more protected number, will probably never be able to fully appreciate quality of a recovered gross sinner’s love. Another indication that this “if” statement is not to be taken literally is found in the concluding verses which indicates that the possible group of unforgivable sinners will be empty. No one will ever commit “the unforgivable sin” and be “destroyed.” (Hebrews 10: 38.39; (38) But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (39) But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.)

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