Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heaven and Hell in the Face of Evil

by Sara Lowe

When a pastor changes his mind about the inclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ and chooses to embrace universalism, the belief that everyone will go to heaven because of “God’s love,” that’s tragedy.

Rob Bell, author (“Velvet Elvis”) and pastor, (Mars Hill Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.) has been in the media, from Christian to secular, the last couple of weeks. He has a book coming out March 15, “Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who has Ever Lived.”

Since the book is not out yet, the controversy stems from the title, the book description released by the publisher HarperOne and a video by Rob Bell, easily Googled. These hint at universalism. Rob Bell has been a provocateur before.

One Christian blogger/author/book reviewer has written a review of the book (there are probably many more, but his is the one that I found.) He had to have received an advance review copy.

Blogger Tim Challies writes in his review, including quotes from Bell in the book: A God who would allow people to go to hell is not a great God, according to Bell, and the traditional belief that He would is “devastating … psychologically crushing … terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (pp. 136-7).

God is at best sort of great, a little great—great for saving some, but evil for allowing others to perish. Dangerous words, those. It is a fearful thing to ascribe evil to God. His review is available here: http://www.challies.com

I would like to add my 2 cents worth, (and with more esteemed, scholarly people writing about it, my opinion is probably worth about 2 cents.) But it’s important.

Evil has touched many lives. More than touched, it has attempted to disintegrate and in some cases, it has disintegrated. While evil can be aggressive, ugly, predatory, there is one aspect of evil that relates back to universalism.

The Bible delineates evil throughout both the New and the Old Testament. We can increase our knowledge of evil by reading the Bible. Both Erich From (“The Heart of Man”) and Dr. Scott Peck (“The People of the Lie”) have written wisely about evil human beings for those who are interested in reading secular authors.

Evil at its center possesses inertia, a complete complacency, against wrongdoing. Evil people feel no desire, compulsion, or conscience, to stop evil, even when it is their own, and they are acting on it. There is Nothing there. A void, a hole exists at their center in regards to any uprising against wrongdoing.

I believe this is one of the reasons that evil horrifies us. When we hear about some terrible act done against someone, we think, “How could they do this?” They can do this because they have inertia about/against debasement.

For God to give everyone a ticket into eternal life spent with Him in heaven based on inclusiveness, rather than on the atonement of Jesus Christ, is inertia in the face of evil.

It is complacency. It is passivity. It is the attitude that all the evil actions didn’t really matter. As one of my family members put it, “I don’t want to spend eternity with the man who killed Adam Walsh.”
God has made a way for man’s wrongdoing to be swept away, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, through the repentance of coming to the Lord Jesus and asking for His forgiveness, cleansing and help in living a new life following Him. The repentant man chooses to break from a past lived under the dominion of sin.

God has not made a way for ugly, base behavior to be swept away by ignoring it.

God is not passive when it comes to evil and injustice. Universalism says that He is.

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