o captain.

you might have gathered by now that i’ve stopped caring about rob bell’s book, love wins.

i just can’t get in to the way he writes. i am left with more questions than answers about matters that, i believe, he is splitting hairs over. like he’s making something out of nothing and the rest of us are making more something out of his nothing. i was fine before not to ask the questions, not for ignorance, but because i was okay with not knowing the answers to questions i didn’t think about asking. makes me think he was just writing just to write.

yikes. this is all hyper-critical of me, isn’t it? i LOVE TO READ and i can usually find something redemptive about a particular work or author. perhaps i’m naive, but it usually takes me a while before i see the forest for the trees. that is, i believe the best in people until we have a knock-down, drag-out fight and true colors shine through. 

listen, i am certain rob is a nice person and it’s safe to say that i might like other bodies of work by him. i love the nooma videos that i’ve seen. as far as sara and i have read into sex god, i’ve followed him well. i was a big fan when he first came on the scene a few years ago.

but…this.

i’m just pretty unmoved by his text and, honestly? i haven’t been challenged in a way that makes me love god more or recognize my own need for him. rather, it just makes me irritated with what’s-his-face. i don’t get his point and i don’t understand what he is or isn’t saying. he talks in circles and doesn’t resolve very much throughout. then he comes in from the backside, making it all flowery and poetic but i can’t tell you what he just said in order to get where he ultimately lands, otherwise i might appreciate and actually like his closing statements.

anyone else feeling me? am i the only one? what do you propose we do about this conundrum?

i could not be less interested in this book anymore. i’m no more found at the end of chapter four than i was before we got started, only more cranky as a result of reading it.

and i want to punch its author in the face.

um…WOW. HOW’S THAT FOR HONESTY?

y’all, for REAL! i’m ALL ABOUT loving people. like, it’s my mantra, my mission, my purpose for living is loving people. yet, here’s this book about ‘love wins’ and it’s making me a hater. eek.

god, help. please? i’m sorry, lord. (and y’all.) i know he’s my brother and your child. but right now i’m annoyed with him. love, me.

i still don’t disagree with his final points of chapter four. in fact, i haven’t disagreed with much of what he’s said at all.

i just don’t get his point. rather, he takes w a y t o o l o n g to get there and isn’t saying much that’s interesting, educational or inspiring until the very end of his chapter and, at that point, he’s already lost me.

i guess…i’m disappointed in him, yes. but also in myself for what i’m about to say…as a writer? i think i have a little bit less respect for him. not because of what he says but because of how he says it. or doesn’t say it. and that is just not like me, to lose respect for someone so easily.

that’s really all i can gather as a result of reading chapter four. i’m willing to press on and press in if y’all want to keep reading it. i originally thought it would challenge us and the discussion would be good for us. but from previous comments y’all have left, i don’t think i’m the only one distressed over it and i’m not sure the discussion is making us better people. i don’t have anything to prove or not prove in finishing or not finishing this book. i would be more than fine to abandon it but will keep going if y’all want to. (and i promise to be less ornery should that be what we decide.)

tell me what you’d like to do. keep going or abandon ship? i’ll do either. i really want to know what you want to do.

in the meantime, please, PLEASE feel free to address any thoughts or insights about chapter four that i might have completely overlooked.

hell. yeah.

welcome to the chapter 3 discussion of rob bell’s book, ‘love wins’.

if you are just joining the conversation, please read previous posts here, beginning with the disclaimer.

and if you are not reading the book with us, please refrain from the discussion. (but come back tomorrow and talk to your heart’s content!)

is it true that there is no actual reference of hell in the hebrew scriptures? i don’t know. i think it would be great if that were the case.

but, really? there is absolutely NO reference to the word ‘hell’? because…huh? who made it up if that’s so? i hope he’s right on this.

let’s keep going…

as to the ‘actual destinies’ of abraham, isaac & jacob, he makes a really interesting point. one that i haven’t thought about before (which doesn’t mean anything because there are a lot of thoughts i haven’t had before).

about ‘life’ and ‘death’ as ‘fixed states or destinations’, i agree with him that that is how we read it in the bible. we once were dead but now we’re alive in christ.

i have to tell you i’m a little fixated on the matter of there being no mention of the word ‘hell’ in the bible, yet there are plenty of descriptions about what life apart from christ looks like and it sounds like hell enough to me. i’ve also experienced plenty of life (and by life, i mean ‘death’) when i was not living into the fullness of a life hidden in christ.

but…no mention of the word hell?

rabbit trail…keep going…{it turns out, i misunderstood. it happens, kids. not often, but it does happen.}

although, i have to say – if rob bell wants to keep this conversation alive, like he mentions in the preface, then job well done, rob bell.

hell = gehenna = city garbage dump? mm-kay. still never heard of this but, again, doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

it’s interesting to me, though, that if bell is trying to disprove hell, he listed the references where we find the word ‘hades’ (the one i’ve always heard to be associated with ‘hell’) but he doesn’t actually quote the text. i just think that’s…weird. again, i’m not trying to prove bell is right or wrong. but for the sake of discussion, here are the verses he casually mentions but doesn’t quote:

revelation 1: 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (niv)

revelation 6: 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (niv)

revelation 20: 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (niv)

[for the sake consistency, i stuck with the niv version in all cases and i did not find the word hades in either acts 2 or psalm 16.]

i have to confess to you that i’m reading revelation 20 differently today than i might have previously read it. revelation 1 makes it clear that our god holds the keys to hell, and therefore he (not satan) maintains the power over who enters. revelation 6 says that hades followed closely behind death…well, in christ we have life. not death. and then revelation 20 says that death & hades gave up the dead. then death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire…along with those who weren’t found in the book of life.

does it stand to reason that those who have been to hell will receive a second chance then?

matthew 11: 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. (niv)

[luke 10 tells a similar account of the same event in the above reference.]

luke 16: 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

* * * * * * * * * *

on page 23, bell states, ‘Do I believe in a literal hell? Of course.’ okay, so we know that bell’s not trying to disspell a notion of hell. but then, ‘I’ve seen what happens when people abandon all that is good and right and kind and humane.’ don’t want to speculate, but is he of the camp that hell happens on earth v. in afterlife? i think those children who lost limbs in the genocide would likely agree in hell on earth (i would, too, on their behalf). let’s see what he says about hell in the afterlife.

on page 24, ‘God gives us what we want, and if that’s hell, we can have it. We have that kind of freedom, that kind of choice. We are that free.’ sad, but true.

and on page 25,

There is hell now,
and there is hell later,
and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.

so, now we know where he stands on that matter.

honestly, i’m a little relieved.

aren’t you?

* * * * * * * * * *

 love the next section about jesus’ emphasis on the condition of our hearts, and not using hell as a means to judge others’ destiny.

yes.

this.

* * * * * * * * * *

i get what bell is saying about being hell-bent on something on page 28 and being turned loose as a way of getting (our) attention. don’t you? i mean, ultimately, that’s what god did for me. when it wasn’t enough for him to speak to me quietly, he released me into my own mess, so i would pay the consequences, just so he could point me back to himself. i believe in the god of second chances.

and i haven’t put any thought to it before, but it seems there’s evidence to support god being a god of second chances in the here-after, also.

* * * * * * * * * *

in all, i’m okay with all that he said in this chapter.

i think.

(i just wish i knew where he is heading with all of this. makes me nervous.)

your thoughts?

please read chapter four for next week’s discussion.

olam habah.

I think I’ve said this already but I want to start off this week’s Love Wins entry by saying this: at the end of the day, and Bell even spoke to this in the Preface, there are some things not worth splitting hairs over. I don’t know what he’s referring to specifically because he doesn’t say, but I myself am talking about the details.

Love is what carried Jesus to the cross. And Love is what raised Him from the dead. Our Most Important Job is to Love God and Love Others. I capitalize the L because God is Love. As in, God = Love. Again, Love = Win. And if we are created in God’s own image, then we are also a reflection of Love.

My point is that, ultimately, Love really does win.

And the Truth is, we’re all on the same team when we agree that Jesus is our Life-giver.

The rest is just details.

As followers of Christ, we believe that there is heaven and hell. The details of this, though, are where we might be splitting hairs and not at all the direction I want to go with our discussion. We may have to agree to disagree with Bell (or one another) on the matter of what either place looks like, or who is there and who doesn’t get to go. For me, I have no way of knowing who is there or who is not. I’ve said before that I think we’ll all be surprised in the end. 2 Peter tells us that the Lord is patient with us to come to repentance, so that no man should perish. God = Love created ALL of us, even those we don’t think are deserving of everlasting life. This verse also indicates that we have a choice in the matter, which I think becomes a deciding factor for us in the end. While Jesus doesn’t want to send people to Hell, we play a large part in the conclusion of our story.

As believers, none can argue that there actually is a heaven and hell. But we just cannot know what it really looks like or who is there or not. And don’t you know that if you and I make the cut then neither of us will even care who is there alongside us because we’ll all be made new in Christ Jesus. Plus, we’ll actually be with Jesus. My little, tiny, carnal mind cannot even begin to wrap my head around the wonder of it all, can yours?

Last weekI asked too many questions and I think it was overwhelming for some. While, yes, I do think it’s necessary to ask important questions, I want to veer from the ones that just aren’t that important. My fault, not yours. (At all.) We need to know where we stand as a matter of apologetics, but we don’t need to feel anxiety over any of it. There are some questions, while we can definitely ask them, we just aren’t meant to know the answer -rather, we can’t know the answer- on this side of the veil.

Does this help at all, in terms of going forward with the discussion?

If you are joining us for the first time, please, PLEASE read the disclaimer from last week. We are following certain guidelines in this discussion so that all are free to explore in an open forum their thoughts on Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

Welcome to the discussion of Chapter 2: Here is the New There.

Should we even talk about that picture? CREEPY. I do get his point but I’ve heard the perspective of Matthew 18 being an illustration of how impressionable a child’s mind is; rather, I’ve always taken it to mean how serious God is about the actual people who harm children, in whatever way. Just a note.

I have to agree that if heaven is just one big church service then I hope I get to live forever. Here. Because that doesn’t sound fun.

And I’m willing to go there with Bell, in terms of ‘other ways to think of heaven’ because, for reasons I stated above, I don’t think we can really know til we get there what heaven looks like and who will be there.

So, come on. Let’s go. We’re in this together, I promise.

Can I just say? There is so. much. meat in the story of the rich man Bell references in Matthew 19 that we could spend time unpacking. I don’t want to overlook that, but we’ll just stick to the topic Bell addresses, which is the commandments that Jesus says are the most important ones for us to obey.

Sarcastic Jesus cracks me up. Jesus knows that fool can’t keep that whole list straight so He keeps upping the ante on him. After the defeated man walks away, He confides in his friends that it’s humanly impossible to obey any of those commandments on our own; that is, to get into heaven is just not possible unless we make a decision to follow God. If the man had this understanding, he might have known what Bell says isn’t what Jesus came to do.

And it’s not, is it? Jesus didn’t come just so we could all get into heaven, did he? It’s so much more than that, isn’t it? In fact, the scripture that most anyone can quote is the very core of why Christ came: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, niv)

I think this is the paradigm Bell is talking about when he describes ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’: the present heaven and the one to come, as explained in Revelation 21:1-3. Eternal Life would mean that life doesn’t start when we get to heaven but that it has already begun, in the here and now.

Are you okay with the principle of ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’ as Bell explains it?

I’m not smart enough to argue against Bell as he discusses heaven on earth. I’m inclined to agree with him. We are meant to be partners with God in cultivating a sustainable earth.

Are you able to agree with what Bell says about a “God of judgment”?

 He holds up a mirror to us, doesn’t he? One that shows us our own dark parts. Thank God for undeserved mercy and grace, no? One that can only be bought with Christ on the cross.

On page 16, Bell assumes, ‘Jesus then tells him to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, which Jesus doesn’t tell other people, because it’s not an issue for them.’ There’s not another recorded conversation of this kind but I think it’s dangerous for Bell to assume a.) that Jesus hasn’t told other people this and, b.) that it’s not anyone else’s issue. There was only one rich, greedy man ever? Perhaps in that conversation, but…ever? I know this is seemingly insignificant, but I think it’s important we watch out for words when others insert their own theology or assumptions. There are some things we just can’t know.

It’s at this point on page 16 that I’m not sure if I’m just dumb or if Bell is far-fetched and radical when he talks about Jesus dragging the mans future into the present and What does Jesus mean when he uses that word ‘heaven’?

Honestly, I don’t know enough about the day of Jesus to know if it’s true that people substitute the word ‘heaven’ for ‘God’. (Jenny, do you know?) If it’s not true, then, again with the insert your own theology here ___. If it is true (just because I’ve never heard that doesn’t mean it isn’t; it would make sense, I guess), then I’m all for it.

Can I just pause here for a minute and make an observation? Does it seem a little bit like Bell is already contradicting himself? I’m trying to only read what he is saying and not what he’s not saying but I feel like I’m going around in circles a little bit and it’s confusing. Like, he’s trying to make something really simple into something entirely way too complex. Is anyone else with me on this?

Okay, I’ll keep going. But my head is getting mushy.

By saying, “…working for clean-water access for all is participating now in the life of the age to come’…is he suggesting that our current clean-water efforts will be carried forth into glory? He wraps up this point on page 17, saying, ‘What you believe about the future shapes, informs, and determines how you live now.’ In a way, I agree – I want my life to have meaning and to do things that will have lasting value…but I can’t take any of that to heaven with me, can I? And those aren’t the things that are going to be on St. Peter’s list if Jesus is mostly concerned with my heart, are they? Our works here don’t equal heaven for us later, do they?

I believe that Christ wants us to be free from things that worry us here and prove to be a distraction from Himself and His purposes for us on the earth.

But if he’s making the correlation between freedom & heaven…the only thing we have to do in order to move to heaven is to invite Jesus into our hearts, no? If you or I have been slapped by life a time or twelve, we know what freedom looks like. But I don’t think that my freedom in Christ in the here and now is related to whether or not I’ll be welcomed into heaven…Bell addresses this very thing, just takes a while to get there and I’m not really sure what he’s saying in the interim or what he’ll say next…but he does say, ‘Jesus wants to free him to more actively participate in God’s good world…’ Sure, of course I agree with this. But it’s not a qualifier for heaven, it just means that we get to enjoy life on earth as it is, now.

I don’t get the part about flames in heaven. I just don’t.

But then he gets to the core of what I believe: that it’s all. about. our hearts.

And he even calls the speculation (his own?) about heaven confusing. Thank you.

I love what he says about the element of surprise in Matthew 25, and that folks discover they are not confident in who they were on earth. This is what I’ve deduced as well, and I said it in the beginning: In the end, we’ll all be surprised. Story after story, it is very clear that the religious upright are not passable. It’s those who know they are unrighteous whom God invites. Does it stand to reason, then…that those who just don’t know any better…that they might get a second chance with God? I don’t know. Do you?

Love the illustration on page 19 of the single mom to whom Jesus would say, ‘You’re the kind of person I can run the world with.’ Yes. Because, I believe, in the end, it does matter what we’ve done with what we’ve been given. Those are the hearts in which Jesus delights. I think he also delights in those who you and I would consider ‘wealthy’ and ‘successful’ if we are responsible and not selfish with our riches. I have an uncle who freely gives from his pocket, saying, ‘It’s all God’s money, so why wouldn’t I share it?’ Yes.

Bell makes a strong case of the thief next to him who says, ‘Remember me.’ What do you make of this?

I saw both of my grandparents on their deathbed. I looked closely at my dad in his casket. In each case, particularly with my Grandma who I saw right after she took her last breath, I was so profoundly aware that this skin we’re in is merely a shell for our spiritual beings. It turns out my grandma, though I loved her flesh and bones, was more…herself…as a spirit than an earthly body. I can imagine I’m not the only one who has seen death. What was this experience like for you? Because, for me, my own experiences confirm that what he says about ‘heaven is more real than what we experience now’ is probably true. We are actually spiritual beings housed in a bag of bones.

And, yes, I believe that heaven transcends time, like Bell says on page 20.

To say it again, eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God.

I wish he had just made it this plain in the beginning. Seriously.

I have not heard of ‘heaven’ = ‘God’. I can live with it, though.

And I agree to an extent with him, in the way that there are two heavens – the one now and the one in the hereafter.

I don’t have a problem with the summary of his final statements, if that’s where he was going with all those hair-splitting details. But, GOOD GRIEF, too much talking to get there.

Please. Somebody talk to me. But KEEP IT SIMPLE.

(Please.)

{In earnest, I really am dying to know what you got out of all of this.}

Next week: Read Chapter Three. Because I don’t know if I can handle many more of all those words.

which jesus?

welcome to week one of our book study, where we will spend the next few wednesdays dissecting the words of rob bell’s love wins. it’s extremely important that, if you haven’t already done so, you read the disclaimer i posted earlier today. thanks for doing that.

[any time i quote from bell directly, i will italicize or place quotation marks. i invite you to respond to the questions, which are bold. normally, i emphasize my own thoughts; so as not to create any confusion, in posts related to this book, i will only take either of these actions in the case of both. remember: i'm switzerland.]

* * * * * * * * * *

first, i really appreciate bell’s explanation of why he’s written this book in the preface on page viii:

i’ve written this book for all those, everywhere, who have heard some version of the Jesus story that caused their pulse rate to rise, their stomach to churn, and their hearts to utter those resolute words, ‘i would never be a part of that.’

i’ll be the first to say that, if i were to base my opinion on some others’ examples of the gospel message (my own notwithstanding), i might say the same thing. i get this. i’m glad i know well enough to know, though, not to base my relationship with jesus on others’ own mirky reflections of him. but i am responsible for my own and how others view christ through my example.

what do you think of this introduction? (his, not mine. or mine, too. whatevs.)

he goes on to say, it’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief {that is, the matter of heaven and hell} is a central truth to the christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject jesus. 

do you think that’s true? to reject the notion of heaven and hell is to reject jesus himself?

and then he says he’s written this book in order to take us deep into the heart of the questions surrounding topics like God and Jesus and salvation and judgment and heaven and hell. he says, the kind of faith Jesus invites us into doesn’t skirt the big questions… i can appreciate this, too.

do you feel, in today’s church, that we aren’t free to ask these questions? 

on page x, he gives us the example that jesus usually answered questions with a question (which i love, don’t you?)

my hope is that this frees you…much blood has been spilt…over issues that are, in the end, not that essential. sometimes what we are witnessing is simply a massive exercise in missing the point. jesus frees us to call things what they are. 

bell submits that he has not come up with a ‘radical departure’ from anything that has not been said before. as in, this talk has been going on for years (and it has).

and then he invites to join the discussion -this discussion- that has been debated for years, saying that he ‘would be thrilled’ if all this book does is ‘introduce us’ to this discussion. i have to say, whether he’s right or wrong, relevant or no, i think in the end we will all be better and stronger in certain aspects of our faith by leaning into this talk. so, i can support his intentions for writing this book and am excited about the conversation that will swirl about around these parts.

any thoughts before we embark on chapter one?

it’s plain that pages 2 & 3 contains the script for his promo video. 

in reading it, i have to say that i know what he’s talking about. and it is slightly bothersome to me also that folks take it upon themselves to assume who is or isn’t allowed into heaven and who’s going to hell. i’ve said for a long time that i think we’re all going to be surprised in the end. it’s almost as though we, as christians, form this exclusive club and we get to determine who makes it in and who does not. this has always bothered me. and, in all honesty, if that’s the case, i’d rather subscribe to the club of outsiders than those who are in. we keep people out who we should really want in.

what are your thoughts about the ‘no hope’ message he describes?

 what bothers me a little about this is…are we really like that? i don’t want to be. in fact, i almost said that i don’t think i am like that. but…in taking a hard look at myself, i realize that’s exactly how i am. i spend most of my time with my christian friends. i have non-christian friends, and i love them…but the majority of the people with whom i spend my time would be those considered to be in with the in-crowd.

lord, help me.

where do you see yourself in this picture?

is there scripture to back up what he describes as the ‘age of accountability’? i’ve never heard that mentioned and i don’t hear him subscribing to it, just challenging the notion.

i have to confess that i am really challenged by the questions he asks between pages 5 & 6. i have plenty of friends who made decisions to live for christ in an ‘emotionally-charged environment’ who are indifferent to him now. and i know lots of folks who live and whose hearts look more like christ’s than some folks that claim to be his followers. and, quite frankly, i’m not sure it’s worse to be the person who makes a decision to live for him and then doesn’t or to be the person who dies having never heard the message of the gospel. the first scenario leads us down the path of ‘once saved, always saved?’ the second, i can’t imagine a loving christ not giving someone an opportunity to choose him when they die if they weren’t offered that choice on the earth.

i think it *is* important to know which jesus we’re talking about like he mentions on page 7: the jesus, for better or worse, created in our own image? or the i am that i am? he uses some pretty strong examples about a jesus that i don’t think any of us would agree to actually be jesus.

who do you say that he is? i mean, really? what jesus would your friends say you reflect?

…sometimes those individuals’ rejection of church and the Christian faith they were presented with as the only possible interpretation of what it means to follow jesus may in fact be a sign of spiritual health. they may be resisting behaviors, interpretations, and attitudes that should be rejected. perhaps they simply came to a point where they refused to accept the very sorts of things that jesus would refuse to accept. some jesuses should be rejected. -page 8-9 {love}

the flat tire questions should make us uncomfortable. i don’t know the answers to them – i’m inclined to think i’m responsible to the holy spirit and not shirk back when he says ‘go’ but dumb enough to know also that i can’t have so much power that someone’s destiny resides in my hands.

what do you think? is your own future in someone else’s hands? is someone else’s eternity resting in your hands?

the part about ‘personal relationship’ makes me also squirm. goes against the grain of what i believe. is that true, though? that the words ‘personal relationship’ aren’t mentioned anywhere in the word of god? except for the part that, while those words may not be mentioned…isn’t the entire book all about his relationships with different people? so, can’t we take that to mean that he is a one-on-one jesus?

as i read on, though, i realize this isn’t the case bell himself is making; rather, he is using it as an argument that some christians make. but i have to say the conflict he speaks about between doing and the gift of grace is a good point to mention. i’ve never really thought of that before…but the foundation of our faith is two-fold: receiving the gift of grace and accepting jesus as our lord and savior. it’s both/and, not either/or.

and this is where i have no more thoughts because the rest of the pages in chapter one raise an excellent question:

who do we say that jesus is, both theologically and experientially?

is it what you say, or who you are, or what you do, or what you say you’re going to do, or who your friends are, or who you’re married to, or whether you give birth to children? or is it what questions you’re asked? or is it what questions you ask in return? or is it whether you do what you’re told and go into the city?…is it the tribe, or family, or ethnic group you’re born into? – pages 16-17

i think i subscribe to the group that keeps it simple and says, ‘just believe’ if it’s the same group that says ‘washing jesus’s feet with your tears gets your sins forgiven’. (because isn’t that what jesus loves? a broken and contrite spirit?)

i’m looking forward to hearing your first thoughts about the book. feel free to cover any, all or none of the questions. or ask some of your own. remember the guidelines.

i’m also looking forward to how he breaks it down in the coming pages.

so far, so good.

because of the extent to which i want to dissect this book, we will only cover chapter two next week.

just call me switzerland: a disclaimer.

i think it’s fair that, to launch our love wins book study, we would watch rob bell’s own marketing video.

“god’s love will melt hearts.”

“i’m not a universalist.”

“god is love. love demands freedom.”

(our decision to accept christ in the here & now) is “terribly important.”

these are some of the things i hear him saying this morning as i watch him on an interview replay on youtube. i encourage you not to read the commentary that goes along with it (because it’s subject to the mere opinion of the one who posted) and actually hear what he himself is saying. in all things, it is extremely important that we truly listen to what is actually being said and not form an opinion based on what everyone else says a person is saying. as a matter-of-fact, the reporter i am listening to this morning is doing a good job of twisting around bell’s message and really putting him on the spot. it’s good – it’s important that bell know what he’s saying if he’s going to have a convincing argument (as any of us would for anything). but i think his message is more complicated than he’s being given the opportunity to discuss in an interview with someone who may or may not believe in and follow christ at all.

i know very little about the book except what i’ve have read on twitter, from folks who may or may not have even read the book. mostly, the feedback from this book has had commentators declaring ‘heretic’ over bell and his message. i haven’t formed an opinion about him or the book based on these ‘reviews’. i’m neutral.

but, can i be honest with you?

i want to believe bell’s message is true, that Love really does win. and if all i have to go on for now is the title of this book and the these interviews, then i can’t disagree with what i hear him saying.

but that’s not what we’re doing here, is it?

we came to dive in to the discussion.

a few things: if, like me, you haven’t read the book prior to now, then let’s cast off any opinions others have formed for us related to the book or bell and decide for ourselves once and for all where we stand on this issue of love wins.

i understand that this book has stoked controversy. but i will tell you one thing here: we will not feed that fire in this place. all are welcome here. until you’re not. we will not accuse one another here. we will not criticize each other’s theology here. if you’ve come with any sort of agenda, or to pick a fight, then this is not the place for you.

please be cautious to use ‘i’ statements instead of trying to prove one another wrong and/or convince someone that we are right – not even bell. because, whether we decide in the end that we agree or disagree with him, he is a child of god. and so are we. if what he says prove false (ie, contradicts scripture), then it is imperative that we determine whether or not it is actually a battle of theology and is instead a spiritual battle. if that’s the case, then it is not our battle to fight. our job is remains to love, and not fight, each other. 

even passive-aggressively. (please, i’ve had too much therapy for that sort of b.s.)

let’s ask questions and then find real, concrete, Truth answers to them instead.

i reserve the right to decide whether a comment is suited for this discussion or not. i won’t turn on ‘comment moderation’ unless i need to in future posts on the matter (today it is not turned on). i will not tolerate attacks on one another, and i don’t assume that would be the case here, anyway.

we’ll be objective here. and open. and diplomatic in our approach to this book and one another.

and if you are not reading along, and have not read the book at all, then please refrain from the discussion. 

it is very important to me that we honor one another here in this space. that we love one another, speak with kindness and pour grace.

most importantly -above all- i want jesus to be glorified and our souls to be edified in this.

please use the above as the guidelines for this discussion.

HOW’S THAT FOR A DISCLAIMER? Wow, Mare. GREAT JOB. Way to GO. NOW CAN WE PLEASE GET ON WITH IT!?

Here we go…

Actually. I’m going to do something I’ve done only one other time here. (After all of that…Sorry, guys.) I’m going to go on and publish this post and then publish week one a little bit later today. Give us all a chance to decide how committed we are to the matter based on all I’ve just said.

HOW’S THAT FOR A TEASE!?

(I promise I didn’t set out to do this. But it feels right.)

See you back here in a little while.

Love you.

xo

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 547 other followers