"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Saturday, May 21, 2011

so what?

I am writing this freely admitting that I have not read “Love Wins”. Heck, I still haven’t read “Crazy Love” and it took a good 6-7 months of owning “Radical” before I got around to finishing it. But, I do admit to reading the different fors and againsts for these books, listening and reading their interviews. So, yes I am writing this without being fully informed for myself. I guess I am a little against jumping on the bandwagon to read them. And in a way, I have no desire to read “Love Wins”, just don’t feel a need to. But the bigger reason is probably because if I were to read it, I would have to take time to study and research and look at Scripture to see what it says. And I just don’t feel up to that right now. In one sense, this whole discussion of heaven and hell has been good-for the believer. I guess I also question if it is a good discussion for those who have little to no Christian background though. If reading a book like “Love Wins” causes you to search the Scriptures, study and reaffirm what you believe, then great! It was a good read. If however, you have little to no background and read something like this and take it at face value and leave it at that, I think you have done yourself a disservice. And I can’t fault the author per se, because we are each responsible for ourselves; at the same time, there is a higher accountability for those who are in leadership. Maybe I have enough of my own questions; I don’t need someone else to add to them. I am all for questions, I just wonder to what end some of them are?

But here’s one of Bell’s contentions in paraphrased form-everyone can make it to heaven. I know that is probably a horrible paraphrase for those who have read it, sorry, but while there is other stuff in the book, the crux of the controversy seems to hinge on this point. He is basically saying it is possible, we don’t know because we haven’t seen a video of what heaven is like, etc. And his own thought process all began when he saw a note that said “Reality check-Gandhi is in hell.” It got him thinking, do we really know that for sure? Who says?

Okay-I have NO PROBLEM saying that God COULD save the entire world and everyone in it, past and present, IF HE WANTED TO. He is God, He CAN DO IT. I personally don’t see that that fits His character as presented in the Bible though. But even so, part of me says “so what?” So what if HE CAN do it, it doesn’t mean that He WILL do it, does it? Because if you go that way, you’re just becoming like *gasp* the other side that says He will condemn people to hell. My point maybe is, what does thinking this way do for you? How does thinking you are going to go to heaven no matter what, anyway, affect how you are living life on this earth? What’s the point of living for Jesus? Believing in Him? In God? I gotta tell you, living for Jesus has really felt sucky for me sometimes here on earth. There are times I would prefer to not deal with it. But as a friend on facebook said, “I don’t know who I am without Jesus.” I have to ask myself, “Is God, God?” And if I believe He is, then I had better live that way. In the review of another book, Bell himself says, “Christian faith only has meaning if it affects the ways that people live their lives.” I wonder how my life would be affected if I knew I was going to heaven no matter what? I don’t know that it would have any effect. In fact, I don’t know that my faith would mean anything-that my life would be any different from one without faith. Why have faith then? Maybe it goes back to that little saying that floats around: I would rather live my life believing that what I see in the Bible about the ONLY WAY to heaven being JESUS and die and find out I was wrong--then to live like I will get to heaven anyways, and then find out I am wrong.

Now Francis Chan is going to write a book with the thoughts from his study on hell. Here is a link to a video about it. I have watched it a few times. He also freely admits to not understanding all of what God does and how He works and gives a few examples. But he knows hell in not an issue we can be wrong about. He plans to present what he sees in the Scripture, lay it on the table, and let you-before God-decide what you believe-because he believes as I do-we can’t afford to be wrong about hell.

We’ll see what happens when that book comes out :-)

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