I subscribe to a few different online news services. Each day, they send me a list of news headlines with links to the full articles. One of these alerted me to a controversy regarding a new book written by a man named Rob Bell. At the risk of providing publicity to Mr. Bell's book, Love Wins, I'll ask you, gentle reader, to view a 3 minute YouTube video promotion of his book. In this promo, Mr. Bell uses the subtle tactic of the Socratic Method to influence you to consider the reasonableness of his opinions.
Well, I seem to recall another rather "subtle" being who, a great many years ago, used this same tactic to instill doubt in the mind of his listener.
In response to this video, I am going to attempt to undertake a bit of conversation with Mr. Bell and provide answers to these questions that he asks you to consider.
Here is the link to the YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODUvw2McL8g
Rob Bell: "Gandhi is in hell? He is? Someone knows this for sure?"
Gleno: That's an unanswerable question. It's also a very leading one. Bell would like us to think that since we cannot know the answer with certainty that the only reasonable position to assume is his position, which stresses the inclusive nature of God's love. God created us all, therefore God loves us all. God is good. Thus, how can we think that a loving God would send anyone to hell?
But, as a minister, Bell should know scripture better. Certainly Bell would maintain that only God knows the heart of a man. In this, he is correct. It is written, "Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men)." (I Kings 8:39)
Thus, we mere mortals cannot know for certain where Gandhi is. However, the Bible offers quite a bit more about what can be known.
Scripture is very clear on what it would take for Gandhi to get to heaven: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) According to this, if Gandhi chose to accept Christ as savior before his death, then he is invariably in heaven. It is in this offer of salvation through Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on the cross that God's love "Wins".
My modest question to Mr. Bell is how likely is it that Gandhi, whose life was so firmly and famously founded upon Hinduism and its tenet of ahimsa (the avoidance of violence), decided in his later years to forsake Hinduism for Christianity? I can only hope it may be so.
Rob Bell: "Will only a select make it to heaven?"
Gleno: A rather unusual question from one who, by profession and training should know what the Bible says in answer to this. Is Mr. Bell being rhetorical or is this question planted to help me to make my point more easily?
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Acts 4:13-14
Rob Bell: "And if that's the case, how do you become one of the few?... How does one become one of the few?"
Gleno: What a great question, Rob; I thought you'd never ask! The Bible lays out everything one must do to gain entry into heaven. We need only look there to find out.
In Christian circles, there are a number of methods by which one answers this question for the earnest inquirer. (And, before I go on, let me be clear that each of these relies solely on the words of the Bible and each is in agreement with all the others.) Some Christians use what is known as "The Five Spiritual Laws" to share the plan of salvation. Others use that old standby "The Romans Road" to walk a person through the logical process of the salvation decision. Certainly, other Christians will share the salvation message with you with their own personal list of scripture references.
Talk with any number of Christians and you'll likely find that no two will use the same exact collection of scripture passages to explain to you how you can get to heaven.
They may call it by different names too: "conversion," "being born again," "the new birth," "getting saved," "accepting Christ as Lord." Whether you're "getting religion" or you're "seeing the light", the point is the same: namely, that you are doing what the Bible says you must do in order to enter into heaven when you die.
So, what's the plan, man?
Well, I think the answer is important enough that I'm going to devote my next post to this question entirely.
As you delve deeper into Rob Bell's own brand of religion, it becomes more obvious that Bell is merely rehashing "universalism"; that is, the belief that, in short, God loves everyone and therefore everyone will ultimately be saved. It's what has been called a "Love Gospel" and "Easybelievism." It's contemporary; warm and fuzzy; and it is utterly lacking in scriptural basis. It's a farcical notion that has been ripped to shreds by numerous theologians, and is it intuitively obvious to anyone who has made even a half-hearted attempt to understand the Bible that it is not what the Bible says.
According to Bell, there is no hell, and no matter what you believe in this life, you will ultimately end up in heaven. Sounds great.
So tell me again why Christ was crucified?