Rob Bell on the resurrection

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjXYlwvS5LY] [ht my good friend Robin Parry] A glance at my blogging over the last few weeks will reveal that I am far from an uncritical supporter, but I maintain that any preacher who does not stand in awe of his gifts in communicating demonstrates so little understanding of her calling that she should give up right now. The video above? Let me put it like this: if someone donated a 4 min advertising slot to the churches during the Superbowl, we could not do better than to play it.

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Rob Bell (insert stupidly large number here)

In chapter 5, ‘Dying to live,’ Bell turns to give an account of the atonement. He begins with a reflection on the ubiquity of the symbol of the cross, and the slogan, ‘Jesus died on the cross for your sins.’ (122) But what does that mean? Bell explores a ‘multiple metaphors’ view of the atonement, where different stories are told, which each hint at a part of the truth. It’s no secret that I think this is just the right way to approach atonement theology (see any of several publications on the theme); having tried to write a popular-level book on this theme it is humbling and irritating in equal parts to see someone who can really communicate have a go: Which perspective is the right one? Which metaphor is correct? Which explanation is true? The answer, of...

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Rob Bell 8

Bell’s next chapter is entitled ‘Does God get what God wants?’ The title begs the question, of course: what does God want? As I said before, I take it that the real subject of the book is theology proper. Who is God? What does God want? We begin with statements of faith from church websites, and the apparent disjunction between the claims about who God is – almighty, loving, and full of grace and mercy – with the assertions about the eschatological fate of the lost. Says Bell: I point out these parallel claims: that God is might, powerful, and ‘in control’ and that billions of people will spend forever apart from this God who is their creator, even though it is written in the Bible that ‘God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of...

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Rob Bell, Love Wins 7: hell

Chapter 3 of Bell’s book turns to hell. I have read this chapter several times, and I confess that I am struggling to see how it fits together. I think Bell is aiming at two, widely separated, targets, and so is in danger of missing both. On the one hand, he wants to take on (what he regards as) a traditional doctrine of hell by suggesting that it is not there in the Scriptures; on the other hand he wants to construct an apologetic aimed at those who have already dismissed any account of hell as unpleasantly medieval. The problem is, those who are wedded to their traditionalism might have gone with him on the Biblical exploration, but will find his apologetic to be far too tentative and allusive, whereas those who are in need of hearing the apologetic are...

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Rob Bell: Loves Wins 6: Heaven

Chapter 2 of the book discusses heaven. As various people have pointed out, the approach is very reminiscent of that of my colleague Tom Wright. I think Tom is just right on most of these questions (I’d say that even if I wasn’t with him and Maggie for dinner this evening…), but let’s hear Bell out. He begins by criticising wrong understandings of heaven. Heaven is not ‘somewhere else’ (23-5); we deal with the subject badly if our core question is ‘who gets to go?’ (25-6). ‘Eternal life,’ Bell wants to insist, is not about endless duration, but about a new ‘era,’ a new age to come. He explores this by reference to the prophets, ending with the comment ‘if this sounds like heaven on...

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