Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Bigger Issue...

That's right, we're still on the same topic.

The bigger issue with denying hell as Rob Bell does in Love Wins...Okay, okay, I know he says he believes in "hell" but he is using a radically different dictionary. For Bell, hell is not the just punishment of a holy God poured out on the unrepentant but a temporary kind of earthly mess we make for ourselves by not letting God love us.

As I was saying, the bigger issue with Bell's style of "Christian universalism" or inclusivism is that it is ultimately a denial of the atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners. Bell entirely dismisses the substitutionary atonement of Jesus (the heart beat of the Gospel) as an outmoded metaphor entirely unhelpful for advanced people such as ourselves. Indeed he mocks the very idea of Jesus dying for our sins as a propitiation.

“There’s nothing wrong with talking and singing about how the ‘Blood will never lose its power’ and ‘Nothing but the blood will save us,’” Bell writes. “Those are powerful metaphors. But we don’t live any longer in a culture in which people offer animal sacrifices to the gods.

“People did live that way for thousands of years, and there are pockets of primitive cultures around the world that do continue to understand sin, guilt, and atonement in those ways,” he continues. “But most of us don’t. What the first Christians did was look around them and put the Jesus story in language their listeners would understand.”
After the obvious heresy, I'm not sure which is worse: the historical revisionism or the generational arrogance.

Tragically, Bell's "good news" of a God who is not angry over sin has deafened him (and who knows how many more) to the truly good news of a holy and just God who marvelously sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Rob's shrunken god simply does not have the capacity to provide that which he requires. His "gospel" cannot proclaim: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1) because there was no condemnation to begin with. Bell cannot rejoice in the fact that "since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand..." (Rom 5:1-2). There was, according to Bell, no justification or reconciliation necessary for "the gods are not angry."

Rob Bell's draining of hell from the biblical narrative is merely a symptom of his draining the life blood from the Gospel.

Russel Moore has written an excellent article on this connection.

Dr. Moore writes:

Blood means judgment. When the Holy One of Israel wishes to remind Pharaoh that he is a man and not a god, he turns the king’s life-giving Nile River into blood (Ex. 7:17-25). The Apostle John sees the same judgment on a self-worshiping humanity. The waters they need for life turn to blood (Rev. 8:8).

By removing the blood language, the language of sacrifice, we remove what it means to sing with the redeemed of all of the ages, “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). If you remove the blood from the doorposts of Egypt, all that’s left is judgment. The same thing happens when you remove the blood from the gospel.

Jesus offends us with our own blood, reminding us that what runs through our veins will one day run cold. He tells us then that in order to live, we must be united to the life-blood of another, a blood spilled for rebels like us. Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than Abel’s. It tells us precisely what Bell would like us to ignore: God is just and judgment is sure.

The people around us already believe in hell, and not because they’ve heard a guilt-inducing message from the church. They may deny it consciously; everyone does, at first. But the Scripture tells us that, apart from Christ, we are all in captivity to the devil who holds us in bondage “through fear of death” (Heb. 2:15). How does anyone get free of this? It’s only by countering the accusations of Satan, and that can only happen, if there’s a just God, if there is a judgment. In Christ, we’ve already been to hell. In Christ, the devil’s indictments are answered. We have conquered him “by the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 12:10).

That’s why every church that has embraced universalism had died out, withering away from the gospel. In order for people to see Christ, they must see sin and, yes, judgment. In order to see justification, you must also see justice. If you drain the blood out of the church, all you are left with is a corpse.
Read the entire article HERE.

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