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This started on Facebook but a running post here on Wired Jesus might make a better venue for discussion, especially considering my next podcast that is in the works is on the larger issue of the evangelical uproar over the book. Rob has not said anything new, as he says, but I would say the difference now is that you have an entire institution, industry, and theology built around the need of a literal, eternal hell of torment as a motivator to make a decision for a loving Jesus, join a church, and be a consumer of evangelical media that perpetuates the belief. The longer the discussion goes on, the more I see parallels with the Reformation – instead of using words like indulgences or a building project like St. Peter’s as the beneficiaries of hell, this strand (please not, I am not branding all evangelicals with this) of Christianity is following the same pattern: In order to be saved from a wrathful God you must turn to Jesus and give your life and cash over and then spend your remaining days spreading the same message lest you fall under wrath again.

All in the name of Jesus.

At this point I’m halfway through the book but I would be interested in hearing from everyone what they are taking from the book and if you are involved in a congregation, what the response is there.

Let the games begin!

5 Responses to “Love Wins Discussion Post”

  1. Tom Lyberg says:

    Let me start with this. So far I think there are several issues being raised in the book and by the larger conversation, so have at any of them:

    Condemnation Out of Ignorance – It sounds like heresy, so I’ll condemn without reading, lest I become compromised/have to think for myself.

    Investing In Hell – A segment of evangelicalism is so invested in the reality of an eternal hell of torment for those that do not accept Jesus now or missed out because they were born before, that their pillars of biblical literalism/idolatry, decision based evangelism, and their stream of Christian media will collapse.

    Rob – Love Wins reads like a conversation, not systematics. Is the book a work of 21st Century theological language colliding with that of the 19th Century?

    Mainliners – Where are we in this conversation?

    Favorite quotes – Post ’em and lets’ discuss them.

  2. Roy says:

    I have experienced personally the “condemnation out of ignorance” just recently. The teaching leader of the bible study I attend blasted the book and Rob for being a universalist, without even reading it. I respect this man and know his heart is for the Lord – so it really disappointed me when he came out and publicly dismissed it without the benefit of even giving it a read. Sort of like saying a movie really stinks, because you read a bad review of it. I’m not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with Love Wins, he raises a good many questions in shades of grey.

  3. Tom Lyberg says:

    There is part of me that wonders what is so threatening about the prospect that God will save everyone in the end. The Bible is certainly clear that this is God’s desire and I do think Rob does a good job in addressing it.

    I think that part is the age old desire to believe you are special and set apart from “the other.” Saved and unsaved; in crowd and out crowd; good and bad; affluent and poor; etc… And when we make those distinctions, we place ourselves on the “right” side.

    If God is a universalist, then my right deeds don’t mean any more than a person’s wrong deeds. That’s offensive to all good and decent church going people. “But all have sinned and falled short of the glory of God… there is no distinction.” So God is free to call thieves, murderers, hedonists, and tax collectors into his kingdom… like Jacob, Moses, Samson, and Matthew.

    If God is a universalist, then God is free to change God’s mind at any time, including what may be in the Bible. That’s offensive to a literal biblical interpretation, an unchanging Bible without error. But then God changes his mind repeatedly and in those literal word in the OT. In Acts 15, the Apostles discard the entire OT purity code without instructions from Jesus or words spoken by God – only prayer and the conviction that the Holy Spirit calls them to. Its scary to consider that if God changes his mind in the Bible, God probably is not confined to the Bible today.

    I can’t speak to your leader but my experience of those who have taken the same approach on this book and on similar issues (“I don’t have to read it to know its wrong…”) is that the root cause is fear, the lost of personal certainty. If I can’t be certain about the Bible, about God, about salvation (knowing who are winners AND losers), then what do I have left?

    Complete and utter dependence on the love and grace of God alone.

    And that’s offensive.

  4. Roy says:

    Well put Tom! I’ve had that same feeling. After a little contemplation, I think I’ve found the fulcrum in the dispute I’ve encountered. It seems to hinge on accepting Jesus for sure, but those who would condemn Ghandi (in his promo video) seem to think it is only in the timeframe of your life that your opportunity to do that accepting exists. I remember reading a quote from Ghandi where he said “I like your Jesus, it’s your Christians I have a problem with” (paraphrased) Does that make an acceptance of Jesus and only a rejection of the church? What if accepting Jesus isn’t a proclamation made while we are here but a conversation face to face with Jesus when we are there? “Mr Ghandi, I’m Jesus.” “Sir, it is excellent to finally meet you!” I know it isn’t biblical, but an interesting concept non the less…

  5. Rus Yoak says:

    Just finished it myself…the words “realized eschatology” kept bouncing around in my head. Found nothing particularly heretical or astoundingly groundbreaking. I find it slightly funny that through people like Rob mainline American Christianity (by that I mean folks other then us old line denominations) are starting to test the waters of higher theological thought. All in all Rob does not pose definitive assertions or provide appologetics for any particular position so much as ask a series of “what if” questions. Questions us old liners have been asking for hundreds of years, which he is up front about in the first chapter. He seems to be asking the fundamental question that scares the pop-Christianity crowd the most: “what if God is bigger than our box?”

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