Free?

The Rob Bell book “Love Wins” is still stirring the pot!   I have now read the 3 major rebuttal books.  But apparently enough has not been said… I still regularly read blogs on the subject.  This last week this one caught my attention and it had a few good insights.  If you don’t already know the name Karl Barth, he was a Swiss theologian who died in the 60’s.  He was famous for his critique and challenges to main-stream orthodox teachings.  He really knew how to rattle cages.  The author quotes Barth as he reflects on how “free” Gods grace is and its implications about hell.  Although I think he uses the idea of “free” grace out of the full context of New Testament teaching, I think he is right on about the “anxiety” that many christians (especial Christian teachers) have about heaven and hell and the way Bell’s book questions our assumptions about them…

Karl Barth… placed so much emphasis on God’s grace that his critics called him a universalist. But in Barth’s view, both universalism and its denial are errors. The important thing is to uphold the absolute freedom of grace: if grace is free, then we should neither deny nor affirm universal salvation. It’s not our decision to make – ‘salvation belongs to the Lord!’ (Psalm 3:8). Yet Barth thought the ferocious condemnation of universalism exposed something pathological in the Christian mindset. When he was accused of promoting universalism, he once replied: ‘Strange Christianity, whose most pressing anxiety seems to be that God’s grace might prove to be all too free …, that hell, instead of being populated with so many people, might prove to be empty!’

The full article:  http://www.faith-theology.com/2011/09/will-hell-be-empty-rob-bells-love-wins.html

One thought on “Free?

  1. In his new book “Love Wins” Rob Bell seems to say that loving and compassionate people, regardless of their faith, will not be condemned to eternal hell just because they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

    Concepts of an afterlife vary between religions and among divisions of each faith. Here are three quotes from “the greatest achievement in life,” my free ebook on comparative mysticism:

    (46) Few people have been so good that they have earned eternal paradise; fewer want to go to a place where they must receive punishments for their sins. Those who do believe in resurrection of their body hope that it will be not be in its final form. Few people really want to continue to be born again and live more human lives; fewer want to be reborn in a non-human form. If you are not quite certain you want to seek divine union, consider the alternatives.

    (59) True mystics transcend apparent manifestations of the theatrical production called “this life.” Theirs is not simply a search for meaning, but discovery of what is, i.e. the Real underlying the seeming realities. Their objective is not heaven, gardens, paradise, or other celestial places. It is not being where the divine lives, but to be what the divine essence is here and now.

    (80) [referring to many non-mystics] Depending on their religious convictions, or personal beliefs, they may be born again to seek elusive perfection, go to a purgatory to work out their sins or, perhaps, pass on into oblivion. Lives are different; why not afterlives? Beliefs might become true.

    Rob Bell asks us to reexamine the Christian Gospel. People of all faiths should look beyond the letter of their sacred scriptures to their spiritual message. As one of my mentors wrote “In God we all meet.”

Leave a Reply