Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unhappy, though not unexpected news.

Rob Bell
A number of friends posted this article from Justin Taylor's blog about Rob Bell's latest book and what it apparently affirms.  According to the publisher's notes, it states Bell's belief in universal salvation--a Hell without people because they will be redeemed regardless of what they believed about God and Jesus in this life.

It is unhappy news for a number of reasons.  I have friends who have worked at Rob Bell's church in Grand Rapids, and many who have been influenced by his NOOMA videos.  I have heard some of Rob's teaching in the past that was thought provoking and helpful.  But his movements over the years have always been away from orthodoxy as historically understood, and his embrace of universalism would be a logical next step.  Hence the "not unexpected" caveat.

It seems that all those who predicted that people like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, who were "edgy" and "asking the right questions," would lead the church in new directions were correct.  Those directions, unfortunately, are the direction of heresy--denial of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus by McLaren, and now the denial of eternal punishment by Bell.  Add to that the acceptance of homosexual practice by a number of what used to be called "emergent" leaders from the village of the same name, and you have created the perfect storm for "I told you so's" from the traditionalist camp.  They are generally deserved, because in many cases they were right on target.

Let's just make sure we don't make this the proof that we should never change anything or think differently than previous generations about anything--after all, good, historic Protestants have always believed the church is "reformed, yet always reforming."