Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rob Bell Fixes Calvinism

Right, so I did all those posts on "Love Wins" before it came out and then just one short one when I got it and then I never got around to giving my final impressions on it.  Not that anyone asked...

I'm sure that by now you can find all kinds of reviews of the book online both positive and negative so I'm not going to do a review.  The book was interesting and well written but not quite what I expected.  Not that I'm all that sure exactly what I expected.  Rob came out both for and against orthodox Christian theology.  Simultaneously.  In short, Rob Bell fixed Calvinism.

See, Calvinists say that God is the omnipotent, omniscient King of the Universe.  Therefore it's impossible for Him to fail - to even suggest that people go to Hell because God failed to save their souls would be blasphemous.  Therefore, people only go to Hell because God ordained ahead of time that they were meant to go there.  Thereby, the Majesty of God remains unblemished because everything happened exactly the way He wanted it to all along.  This is why Calvinism always left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Rob took the same concept and turned it around.  He pointed out that salvation, Heaven, Hell (and how you end up there) is nowhere near as neat and formulaic in the Bible as Christian theology suggests.  (Fun fact - he uses the Bible to prove it! )  He tackles the unblemished Majesty of God slightly differently than the Calvinists.  Simply put, God wants to save the world and therefore God will find a way to save the world.  This means everyone.  Even the bad ones.  If it takes you some time in Hell to be cured of your evil then so be it but in the end, Love/God wins out and everyone is reconciled with Him.  Not that he suggests Hell is more like Catholic Purgatory.  In fact, he mused that Heaven and Hell may even be the same place.  For if Heaven treats all races with love and respect then that Heaven would be Hell to a racist for instance, or if everyone shares freely then it would be Hell for the selfish and so on.  Anyway, point is that you don't just die and end up either immediately perfect or eternally damned.  Everyone gets sanctified over time until they are able to fit into Heaven's way of doing things.  So really just like the Calvinist, Rob believes that God is the omnipotent, omniscient King of the Universe.  This God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to save it and this God cannot fail since He is the omnipotent, omniscient King of the Universe - eventually then He saves everyone and to suggest otherwise would be blasphemous.  That's a taste I can live with.

Is he right?  I don't know, but I hope so.  Having a God that actually turns out to be benevolent and good at the end of the day is really good news.  I can totally see why so many people were upset with this book though!  Lots of believers aren't that happy with the Gospel being good news.  It was that way even in Jesus' day...  


2 comments:

GumbyTheCat said...

Christians tend to get highly upset when someone suggests their god might not be quite as one-dimensional and robotic as they think he is. "You mustn't twist scripture to make it say such blasphemous things!", they say ironically, while twisting scripture to mold God into their own image. While still a liberal Christian I never had a harder time than trying to convince the hardcore fundies that they, too, interpret the Bible, no matter how "literalist" they believe themselves to be - and that their interpretation is no more right than anyone else's interpretation.

James Jordan said...

The whole concept of the need for salvation is a joke. Where does Genesis 3 list GOING TO HELL as one of the results of the so-called "fall"? It doesn't. So the only people who need "salvation" are the extremely bad, the ones who will be annihilated per Psalm 37:20.