Thursday, March 24, 2011

Questions of Heaven and Hell

When I hear people who are up in arms over the potential of a Christian pastor and author saying there is no hell, I wonder, “What is the problem?”  I mean, if Rob Bell wants to believe that, then what’s the problem?  It isn’t like he would ever be pastor at one of their churches.  This post is not about whether I agree with Rob Bell's theology, but what makes his detractors so cranky.    I believe they feel, maybe deep down, that they have something to lose.

I have no problem with people who differ theologically from me, that is, if they aren’t being virulent about it.  My faith and belief is not dependent upon someone else agreeing with me.  As far as being virulent about it, I just don’t like being around nasty people.  People have different experiences, understandings, convictions and interpretations of God.  If people try to say there is only one interpretation of Scripture, then they are arrogantly saying that they can definitively speak on behalf of God, which I believe to be truly what it means to take God’s name in vain.  They are placing themselves in place of God and worshiping their own beliefs as an idol.  Tsk tsk, I’m sure that is frowned upon in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But then I realized that many of these same people cannot handle anyone disagreeing with them.  To me it speaks of insecurity in their own convictions.  I once heard a remark about some people know what they stand for; others only know what they stand against.  I think standing for our own convictions without having to challenge another’s to shore up our self-esteem is important as we profess openly our faith in Jesus of Nazareth.  If we who are called Christian can’t come up with a unified statement of belief amongst us, yet, we as followers of Christ are known by our love for one another; then we have a very powerful witness in the world.  If we who are called Christian cannot come up with a unified statement of belief, and war against and fight each other all in the name of the same Christ, well then all we have to do is look around us to see what the world will look like.  To me, I don't think this is what the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus was talking about looks like.

I am more concerned with Christians who bad mouth other Christians, than if Rob Bell wants to entertain the thought that there is no eternal damnation.  I mean, what a great thought if we can truly look around and understand we are all God’s children and God wants us to quit fighting.  Regardless of your theology, don't we all want "peace on earth?"  That's what we say on our Christmas cards which celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.  Jesus even speaks to this when his disciples were behaving like children.

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. John 9:38-41

Jesus would say that if Rob Bell is not against you, then don’t worry about it.  And believe it or not, Rob Bell is not against you.  He is just sharing his own faith journey and voicing his own convictions.

As to the debate about hell, I have no public opinion. Like many Christians, I have wrestled with this ideology.  I think our continuing to wrestle and seek answers brings us closer to God and more humble in our own assumptions.  It appears that the people who are so vocal about Rob Bell have lost their humility.

If you disagree with me, I am not particularly concerned.  I still believe that you are loved by God, and therefore, me.

1 comment:

John Meunier said...
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