Thursday, March 17, 2011

The latest controversy

My friend and I were talking the other day and he said, "All I know is, if I get to heaven and Ghandi's not there, I'm going to be confused. And if Hitler is there, I'm going to be confused." A conversation ensued that has been rattling around in my head since then.

If you have your ear to the ground at all, you know that evangelical Christians are worked up about Rob Bell's new book "Love Wins." Some famous evangelicals have been flippant and rude. Others have launched complex theological treatises. It even came up in my Sunday School class this week (during the prayer request time, actually), so I'm going to say a few things about it. I may come back and say a few more things about it later. Or not.

1. I haven't read the book. Until yesterday, neither had most of the people who were commenting on it. Whether they loved it or hated it, they hadn't actually seen it.

2. Several people have suggested reading it along with another orthodox book on the same subject. I've decided to read N. T. Wright's book, Surprised By Hope. Being pretty firmly non-Calvinist, it makes sense that I would read Wright. Besides, I've been really wanting to pick it up and this bumps it to the top of the list. (As an aside, the "list" is literal--there are about 350 books on my wish list.)

3. I love the title. Whatever the book is about, the title is absolutely, 100 percent true. That's the heart of the gospel: Love Wins.

4. Whatever this particular book has to say about heaven and hell, we all need to acknowledge that our thinking about eternal bliss and damnation is far more influenced by medieval art and Roman Catholic theology from the middle ages than any of us realize. If this helps us begin a conversation about biblical thought--in the biblical context--it will be a blessing.

5. Lots of people have had lots to say about this. Quite a few people have had some really thought-provoking, interesting, meaningful things to say. Here are a few: this one from a non-evangelical source and this one from a top emerging church thinker and this one from CT, which is a pretty mainstream ecumenical/evangelical source.

6. Whatever you think about what this book has to say about heaven and hell, don't forget how to act, okay? As my mother liked to say, "We can disagree agreeably." As the apostle Paul liked to say, "Speaking the truth in love . . . " Just because we disagree--and we will--doesn't mean we have to lose our minds and our salvation, you know?


pmcd said...

Totally agree with and embrace your points! I got up early Tuesday morning (the day the book was released) to download it on Kindle but haven't looked at it yet. I've been listening to and reading some of the pre-book talk and am really anxious to get into the actual book. Honestly, this is an issue that I really struggle with! Love the statement by your friend about Ghandi and Hitler! I'm with him! I'm also with Jesus! Therein, the struggle. There are many things that I will never know for sure, but I do know that I can TOTALLY trust Jesus to do right by everyone! Love will win and I'm sure that we will all be surprised at how God pulls it out in the end. He does have a way of doing that! :-) Thanks for adding your voice to this issue! (and I love you!)

Siahsmom said...

Matt just finished reading -Surprised By Hope- I'm sure you could borrow ours/ talk to him about it. ;)