Saturday, March 19, 2011
This is a link to an interview with Martin Bashir that took place after his interview with Rob Bell. I think it is worth your time:
As you can see from the video, Rob's immediate answers are quickly undermined by his explanations. I think Rob is a man who is stuck in the middle - between what he wants the answers to be and what they actually are. It is difficult to present coherent points when you are being internally pulled in two different directions.
I understand Rob's dilemma. The thought of God's judgment and the existence of a physical hell where some are sent to endure eternal, conscious torment offends our 21st century Western ideas of justice. I have had talks with my best friend, also a Christian, about this very idea. We are both Bible-believing Christians and yet we both "feel" that this punishment just seems so extraordinary as to dwarf any crime. Rob obviously has had similar thoughts, exemplified by the idea of Gandhi in hell, which have caused him to twist Biblical truth in pursuit of finding inner peace for himself and a more pleasing message for his followers.
God is love. The Bible makes that clear. But what we don't like to talk about is the Bible also makes God's holiness explicitly clear. We are sinners. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been offered the gift to stand holy and blameless in front of God. But we can not be holy by ourselves. Thus, our understanding of what it means to be holy and of God's holiness is non-existent. We see the works of Gandhi or the generosity of Oprah and we say to one another, "These are great people doing great things." However, we are looking at them through our sin-stained prism. We see their "goodness" in the context of an existence marred by sin and imperfection. It's moral relativism at its finest. God sees us through the eyes of a holy and just Creator.
God's love and mercy are ultimately on display through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But they are also on display due to the very fact that you are breathing right this very minute.
"The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death." - Proverbs 10:16
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:22-23
As soon as you sinned your life should have ended. Our idea of being "good people" is far removed from God's idea of good. We use some sort of human scale (which is different for everyone) to determine whether or not someone is a better person than another, and as such, is in someway deserving of a greater reward. God's scale is "holy" and "sin". All have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That doesn't seem fair to us. Again, we don't understand God's holiness. We mock the fact He is just by arguing that we can in some way live up to His perfect standard. Do you see why we so desperately need Jesus?
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
As a pastor, Rob cannot disassociate himself from the idea that God and Jesus are in control of our eternal destiny. But it is also apparent that he cannot disassociate himself from the human idea that our morality and goodness play a defining role in our eternal destiny. So, he is left with this odd mix of the two that is long on questions and short on answers.
"To the Jews (and all of us) who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" - John 8:31-32
Rob is letting go of God's teaching. As a popular pastor this tragic fact has influence over tens of thousands. This is why this situation is of such importance. I have great love and concern for Rob. He needs to be admonished. He needs to be held accountable to the truth. He needs our prayers. Most of all, Rob needs Jesus who is our only hope. Without Jesus there is no hope.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." - Romans 8:1-2
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." - Hebrews 11:6
Here is the latest related article (from 4/21):
Rob Bell debate with Adrian Warnock: