It seems the internets are all a twitter about a new book coming out by Rob Bell. Frankly, I was planning on ignoring this. If this book proves Rob Bell to be an universalist, this is hardly surprising. In fact, it will be welcomed that he’s finally being forthcoming, rather than vague and ambiguous.
Despite my intentions to resist commenting, here I am (Please note that I am not commenting specifically on Rob Bell, for his book is yet to be published. Rather, I am commenting on the belief of universalism). The reason for this is due to my daily Bible reading plan. This morning, I read Luke 12:4-7. And my thought was this: If hell does not exist or is not eternal, the warnings of Jesus are nothing more than the rantings of a lunatic. If hell does not exist, why would Jesus say this? Our only options that lay before us is that Jesus was either crazy or sadistic. If Jesus was crazy, we have reason to doubt everything else he says. We have reason to doubt all of Scripture. If he is sadistic, why do we even waste our time with him? Why would we endure suffering in this life at his command according to his example? It gains us nothing. The logical conclusion here is that without the Doctrine of Hell, the whole Bible is incoherent. And perhaps that’s the end in mind.
The same is true if hell is only temporary. It renders the Bible incoherent. What do we make of the words of the Apostle Paul, who states that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17)? Eternal glory outweighs temporal suffering. The same logic can be applied to a temporary hell. Yet, Paul doesn’t seem to believe in one. He would be insane, if he did, because he suffered greatly. He lost all things to gain Christ. He was beaten, shipwrecked, homeless, poor and imprisoned. And it was all unnecessary, if hell is temporary. Go to hell for a little while and then eternal glory. He suffered loss and gained nothing. That makes him crazy; if hell is temporary.
The solution that universalists propose for the perceived problem of God’s judgement only creates more problems. It creates a god of our own understanding, one we can cope with and handle.
Frankly, if Love Wins like this, I wanna be a rockstar. I could be a rockstar. Which is to say, I could live for myself. It’s much easier to live for myself. You don’t have to put down the computer while you’re in the middle of your post to take the dog out on a cold night when you’re living for yourself. You could ignore the needs of your wife, and still get heaven. You can rightfully seek revenge on your enemies and still get heaven. The universalists creates a world in which you don’t have to change. They sing along with Lady Gaga “I’m on the right track, baby. I was born this way!”
But I believe the Bible is coherent. I take Jesus at his word when speaks of a unquenchable flame; when he speaks of needing to be born again. I take Paul at his word when says that the unregenerate and immoral will not inherit the Kingdom. I take Paul at his word when he says he will not at all be ashamed, but that Christ will be honored by his death. I take John at his word when he says Jesus will slay the wicked with a sword that comes from his mouth at the end of time. I take the Psalmist at his word when he says that God will destroy his enemies and vindicate his people. I take God at his word when says that the Seed of Woman will crush the head of the serpent.
The truth is, I believe love has won. A holy, righteous, self-sacrificing love has won. A love that surpasses all understanding in it’s depth, width and height. A love displayed on the cross when my sin, and all the sin of all who will be saved, was paid for in full. A specific love, one that engraved my name on the palm of his hands.