Coffee Talk: A Pastor Friend and I Discuss Universalism, Hell, Reviews of Rob Bell
A coffee-talk-type IM conversation I had earlier today with good friend Jay Sampson, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Shawnee, OK...
Jay Sampson: My guess is your blog-o-world is blowing up over Rob "Hell is Mean" Bell.
Shawn McEvoy: pretty much
Jay Sampson: Sweet. It is amazing to me, watching the video, that he doesn't see the fallacy of his own arguments.
Shawn McEvoy: did you read Challies' review? it's completely and absolutely brilliant. we're running it Tuesday.
Jay Sampson: I have not yet, but heard about it. Will read now.
Shawn McEvoy: can i admit that i've always been frustrated with the "how can a loving God SEND people to hell?" argument? perhaps unfairly, b/c it's so clear to me. Bottom line: He doesn't send you there. he's not really "punishing" you. that's just your sinful destiny, and he loved you enough to throw you his Son's body as a lifeline. if you don't want to grab it? uh...
Jay Sampson: You have to ignore / explain uniquely some wide swaths of Scripture to make hell a non-reality.
Shawn McEvoy: honestly you do. i think it'd be easier to justify and believe God's down with all manner of sins than it is to believe there's no such thing as damnation
Shawn McEvoy: ...which would logically assume there's no such thing as salvation
Jay Sampson: good point.
Jay Sampson: saved from WHAT afterall?!
Shawn McEvoy: exactly
Shawn McEvoy: but like you said, "Hell is mean." and dangit, i'm tired of people thinking we're mean. so... to quote the Simpsons... "I bring you love..." "hey! it's bringing love! break its legs!"
Jay Sampson: Gah!! This review is great, but is just making me mad.
Jay Sampson: In his video Bell says something to the extent of - "some make it seem like we have to be saved FROM God..." Um, yes. That is exactly what it SHOULD seem like. See? I just don't get how you do all this study - enough to write a "book" and still float it out there. It's not like this idea is "new" or "ground-breaking", it's a recycled old argument - it's just frustrating.
Jay Sampson: "Exegetical Gymnastics" ~Challies. Awesome.
Shawn McEvoy: a former sunday school teacher (who himself was much like rob bell -- VERY dynamic teacher/leader, once taught a lesson using U2 lyrics, showed several Nooma vids, but who eventually admitted he's a non-inerrantist), also came dang close to Universalism several times, once making the point, "who are we to say God can't pursue whatever soul he wants to pursue as long as he wants to pursue it, even into the afterlife, with His compelling love?" guy might coulda written the foreword to "love wins."
Jay Sampson: So, b/c I can't explain ALL of God's work in salvation, I am to abandon the simple, forthright things he HAS said - in his Word. Of course, it has mistakes, so I will take the parts I can understand and scrap the others.
Jay Sampson: I love the "who are we to say" argument. I saw it recently in a conversation b/t a friend and a guy who is a sabbatarian (didn't even know what that was). Essentially, the sab guy was saying that (due to massive adherence to not only divine election, but divine, monosyllabic, disguised election), God can very well save someone who has never heard the name of Jesus simply b/c He chooses to: i.e. Hindu, Muslim, Bahai, etc. Sounds theologically superior. I say it's just theologically lazy and narcissistic.
Shawn McEvoy: people with that view love to cite the end of Narnia when Aslan admits to his kingdom a server of another "god," but says, "when you were serving so-and-so, you were actually serving me"
Jay Sampson: C.S. Lewis is a good place to develop your theological certainties.
Jay Sampson: Look, I have NO problem if God, in his wisdom, saves people who never heard or knew His name... and, God wouldn't care if I DID have a problem with it. If he chooses that I look like a tool for defending the exclusivity of Jesus based on what I read in the Bible, so be it. But, from what I read (and what those who are arguing against it have read), there is no other way. Interesting thing about those he "might" save though they have no knowledge of Jesus... they are not part of the argument b/c they have no idea there IS an argument.
Jay Sampson: I TEND to think that the name / person of Jesus is revealed to those whom God is saving via vision, dream, etc - but that is not my realm into which to delve.
Shawn McEvoy: we agree
Jay Sampson: Anyway, ol' RB is helping me as I prepare to teach on Habakkuk 1:5-11 this weekend. So... God would not do something like eternal punishment, eh? Okay, how's about he "raises up" a vile, evil, unstoppable nation to kill and exile HIS OWN PEOPLE instead... b/c (Rob), in the end, love DOES win - and this is the way it does it, by not letting His people ignorantly go on worshipping worthless things. Blah. I'm off to McDs with my cool kid who does not care about Rob Bell's view of "an intense hard time".