Rumbling in the background of these posts has, of course, been the debate about Rob Bell’s views on hell – which have been picked apart by everyone despite the fact that his book has yet to be released.
What is so interesting is that the reaction to the press releases about the book go a fair way to proving the point I’ve been trying to make: the traditional idea of heaven is a place that totally lacks any empathy. ‘Fairwell Rob Bell…‘ is how some have taken it – suggesting that because of his (as yet unread) views on hell, Rob is to be dismissed on all counts. Heaven is a place where those who have a certain view of Scripture will go for ever and be really pretty bloody smug about it, for all eternity shouting down ‘I told you so!’ to everyone else.
Reading Josh Harris’ response is so depressing:
Jesus taught that a select number of people would make it to eternal life. Most people will choose the broad way that leads to destruction, but a few will choose the narrow way to life.
Anyone (including Ghandi) who refuses to trust Christ alone for salvation will die in their sin and will not be able to follow Jesus into eternal life.
There is nothing that any person can do to be counted among the saved.
It’s contradictory, and fascist and supremely distasteful. To be honest, if heaven is going to include Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and a few selected, predestined others, and hell is going to include Gandhi and Bob Marley and the rest of humanity pre-consigned to damnation, then I know where I’d rather be.
Rob is right. It boils down to the question: what is God like. And if God is love, and empathy is key, then heaven has to be abandoned. It’s the only way that hell will be emptied. Love will win. And it begins now.