Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Open Letter to Adrian Warnock Re: Discussion With Rob Bell

Mr. Warnock,

In the last couple of days I was looking back over some on-line material related to the recent controversy concerning Rob Bell. One thing I was considering was your discussion with Rob Bell on the "Unbelievable" radio program. In this regard, I wanted to write you this letter of both appreciation and caution.

First, I want to thank you for asking Rob Bell difficult questions that drew out answers from him that were much more specific than he has offered in other venues. As I understood it, it seems that Bell is truly agnostic concerning universalism; his assertion that "love wins" (as he explains it) seems to indicate that he thinks everyone will eventually be saved, but his commitment to 'free-will' drives him to statements that seem to indicate people can continuously choose to reject God. On the other hand, this commitment to 'free-will' is so strong that Bell does NOT seem agnostic about the strange idea of postmortem salvation; he seems to clearly believe that people will ALWAYS have the opportunity to choose repentance, even into eternity (one wonders if this 'free-will' works both ways and if someone in Heaven might have a bad day and choose Hell, according to Bell's belief). As mentioned above, I think that Bell expressed his thoughts on these important issues- universalism and postmortem salvation- much more clearly on "Unbelievable" than he has in other venues, and I think that your insightful questions were a big part of why Bell was not able to simply answer a question with a question, as he has done in the past and as he attempted to do on "Unbelievable." I also thank you for properly expressing concern over how Bell's views will impact gospel proclamation.

I was, however, somewhat disappointed with the tone that you took toward Bell at points in the discussion. You seemed particularly keen on affirming that Bell is a brother in Christ. I think that this is a mistake. Not so much because of the universalism and postmortem salvation, as important as these issues are, but especially because of his inclusivism, which, I would argue, impacts his basic understanding of the gospel message. In his promotional video for Love Wins, Bell raised the question of what makes the difference whether one goes to Hell, and he said (among other things), "Is it what you believe? ... Or who you know?" if Bell cannot proclaim a hearty "yes!" to these statements (based on Bible verses such as Romans 10:9-10 and Luke 10:21-22), then one wonders if he has understood the gospel at all. Especially when, in Love Wins, Bell asserts, “There is inclusivity. The kind that is open to all religions, the kind that trusts that good people will get in, that there is only one mountain, but it has many paths. This inclusivity assumes that as long as your heart is fine or your actions measure up, you’ll be okay” (p. 155). By this statement it seems that Bell thinks that there are "good people," people whose hearts are "fine" and whose "actions measure up," who will be "okay." But this is not Christianity. It is Pelagianism. Christianity teaches that we are not "fine," that we are, in Adam, naturally sinful rather than "good people," that our actions fall short, rather than measure up, to God's standards, and that we will not be "okay" without a special work of God's grace found only in Christ Jesus. If I have understood Bell and have represented him accurately, then, instead of assuring him that we think he is a Christian, we ought to, at least, express deep concern over his soul due to his errors concerning the gospel message.

Peace in Christ,
-Andrew Lindsey



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