Rob Bell’s Universalism?

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the trailer for his forthcoming book, Rob Bell has confirmed what many have long suspected, he is a Christian universalist…or, at the very least, a proponent of a soft form of annhilationism . 

Both Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung have weighed in.  DeYoung’s thoughtful and Biblical response is well written and is definitely worth your time.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

and

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/

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Comments
  1. An Open Letter to Justin Taylor Regarding His Condemnation of Rob Bell
    http://bit.ly/fLawpU

  2. Revolution says:

    Carson,

    I appreciate what you are saying but if I see a trailer for Hallpass and conclude that it will contain vulgar material, am I justified? It is obvious that, at the very least, Bell is proposing a view of hell that runs counter to evangelicalism. Yet, Justin also stated that he has read SEVERAL chapters from an advance copy of Bell’s book. Do you really think it is unfair to make a broad theological judgment after reading the bumper, seeing the trailer and reading several chapters of the book? Moreover, Justin said he would happily retract his statements if after reading the whole book he was proven wrong.

    However, all that being said, the rumors have been flying out of HarperCollins for some time that Bell is indeed coming out as a universalist and he has done nothing to refute it. There is a reason Bell left Zondervan for HarperCollins.

    I don’t think Justin’s statements are really that presumptuous. Thanks.

    • Here’s my thing:

      You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. You and I have little influence on American Christians’ perception of Bell, but others like Justin Taylor are in a different position. Would not the appropriate thing be to reserve judgment till the book has been published in its entirety? Yes, I am seeing a lot of people say they’ll retract their posts/comments if the book proves that Bell isn’t a universalist, but isn’t that a case of shooting first and asking questions later? I find that method troubling. It’s like saying, “Yes, I wrote a blog post accusing my pastor of adultery after I saw him in his office with a woman other than his wife. If it’s proven to me that he was only counseling her, then I’ll happily publish a retraction.” What??

  3. Revolution says:

    I still don’t think from the evidence at hand that it is a giant leap. In fact, I think it is pretty straightfoward. I have played the trailer for people without any commentary and they have all said the same thing, “Does he think anyone goes to hell?”

    If Love Wins does not contain an unorthodox view of hell (i.e., implying that a moderate hindu may be in heaven…because of works???) then it is a poor trailer, a poor bumper and very poorly written advance chapters because everyone who has seen all three have said the same thing….it’s universalism.

    This also piggybacks off of Bell’s advocacy of works such as A Brief History of Everything by a neo-pagan scholar who argues that Christianity is something like the 6th level of enlightenment on a 12 level scale or something like that.

    At this point, if Bell doesn’t expect such crititcism then he is hopelessly naive. If he does expect it then either he needs to do a better job communicating (a communication specialist once told me that communication is 100% the responsibility of the communicator) OR he is being intentionally provocative as a marketing ploy, which is a bit shady.

    Thus, in the end, if Bell is not a universalist or an annhiliationist then he is doing a poor job of communicating. His silence may speak volumes.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Matt,

    Another argument here has been that this is some form of wonderful marketing strategy by the publisher. It may well be, but is that a good thing? If the strategy drives thousands (millions?) of people to buy the book, read it, and believe what’s written AND the book clearly preaches universalism, what a great tragedy will befall Bell for preaching a false gospel!

    If, on the other hand, Bell answers the question in some unforeseen way, like . . . orthodoxically, then HarperOne will be all the more enriched, b/c he’ll have to print several other books making his other unorthodox positions consistent with his new found orthodoxy.

    All in all, I think JT will be proven to have nailed it. Again.

    • Revolution says:

      Jeremy, I suspect that Justin Taylor is correct.

      As he said, in addition to the trailer and bumper, he has read several advance chapters. Also, as I have said, the rumor oozing out of HarperCollins for a few months is that Bell will come out as a universalist.

      Now, I hear what Bell’s defenders, and Tim Challies, when they argue that until the book drops in full that it is speculation. BUT I think that it is clear that he has taken an unorthodox position (i.e., questioning anyone who questions a hindu like Gandhi would be in hell).

      I do think many will read it and follow Bell but that may be more in part to the strange cult of personality that exists in certain Christian circles than the force of his arguments. If so, then they will all have to answer for it and, according to James, will be held to a much higher standard than others.

      It is a shame.

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