Misplaced Jesus, Theology — February 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

Farewell Rob Bell (or, John Piper’s Inferno)

by

“Farewell Rob Bell. http://dsr.gd/fZqmd8

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With this three word tweet John Piper — senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and elder statesman of the neo-reform stream of American Christianity — triggered an online firestorm over the weekend. Within 24 hours “Rob Bell” became a trending topic on Twitter, fueled by a steady point / counterpoint barrage of new tweets and blog posts that amounted to a whole lot of heat, but not much fire.

The fact that this controversy became the most dissected piece of news in the evangelical world at the same time the regime of Libyan President Muammar Gaddfi was escalating violent attacks on its own people this weekend offers a sobering commentary on the priorities (and irrelevance) of too-many evangelical leaders.

But I digress; that’s another blog post entirely.

The controversy is over the content of Rob Bell’s next book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Or more specifically, the controversy is over what people like John Piper think the content will address, since the book hasn’t even been published yet.

Before diving any further into this controversy, I would suggest you first watch Rob Bell’s video (below), where he frames the questions raised by Love Wins in his own terms. It’s well worth three minutes of your time:

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

At stake are huge theological questions about what Rob Bell — an influential evangelical megachurch pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a huge national following – believes about the afterlife. Does he believe God condemns people to hell? What does Bell think about heaven? More importantly, who’s in, who’s out, and where does the line fall between the two? For example: Is Gandhi in heaven (even though he wasn’t a Christian)?

We won’t know for sure how Rob Bell answers these questions until the book comes out. Nevertheless, this controversy offers an important opportunity for Christians to reflect on a few principles that should inform this debate as it moves forward:

1) Christians should hope that all people can be (and will be) saved.

Hell: Population 0

Those who believe God modeled the ultimate example of true love in the person of Jesus – and who, therefore, aspire to love their fellow humans as they love themselves — should also believe that, in the end, God’s love will win the day. So is it really that radical to suggest that this belief should accompany the earnest hope that it is actually within the scope of God’s sovereign power and unrelenting grace to reconcile all things to himself?

For biblical passages alluding to this idea, read: Colossians 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 15:22,28; Romans 5:18, 11:33-36; and Philippians 2:10-11. This is just a limited digest.

I haven’t read Bell’s book, but I suspect that this is one of the ideas he explores. This would put him in good company. Far from being unorthodox, this idea has captured the imaginations of theologians since the early days of Christianity. In 2001, Richard John Neuhaus – founder of First Things, a religion and policy journal, and (though a Lutheran convert to Catholicism) featured on TIME Magazine’s list of The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America – reflected on this idea and its long Christian history in an articled titled, Will All Be Saved?:

The question of universalism—whether all will, in the end, be saved—is perennially agitated in the Christian tradition. A notable proponent of that view was the great Origen, who, in the third century, set forth a theologically and philosophically complex doctrine of “Apocatastasis” according to which all creatures, including the devil, will be saved. “Origenism”—which is not necessarily the same thing as Origen taught—has been condemned from time to time, with the Emperor Justinian trying, unsuccessfully, to get a total condemnation at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553

After touching on the history, Neuhaus unpacks the idea further:

The hope that all will be saved is precisely that, a hope. It is not a doctrine, never mind a dogma. But some respond that we cannot even hold the hope, since it clearly contradicts the revealed truth that many, if not most, will be eternally damned. A different and much more troubling objection is that it makes no sense to be a Christian if, in fact, one can be saved without being a Christian. In this view, the damnation of others, maybe of most others, is essentially related to the reason for being a Christian. The joy of our salvation is contingent upon the misery of their damnation. If it is possible that all will be saved, it is asked, why not eat, drink, and be merry?

Neuhaus concludes:

… Such a perverse view is also more than a little like that of the laborers in the vineyard who complained that those who came at the last hour received the same reward as those who had worked all day. The master replies, “Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20). Some of the critics of the hope for universal salvation do indeed seem to begrudge the generosity of God entailed in that outcome. Theirs is a position of resentment dressed up as a claim of justice. “What was the point of my working so hard and so long if God is going to let in the riffraff on equal terms? It’s unfair!” The eschatological upsetting of such attitudes (the last will be first and first last) is a constant in the teaching of Jesus.

In other words, regardless of what Christians think about Hell, and more specifically, the question of who’s in and who’s out, Christians should not only hope and pray that no one meets this fate, but believe that God has the final say in these matters — even if this means confounding our best theological assumptions.

2) Jesus draws dividing lines, but his lines are different than our own.

Christians throughout history have disagreed about who’s a real follower of God and who’s not — who’s in and who’s out — and who will enter paradise at the culmination of history. These debates have not always been civil; they’ve even led to violence between Christians, and also between Christianity and other religions.

When these conflicts break out, they are almost always over questions of “right doctrine” rather than because a particular group did too good of a job of acting like Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I believe good theology – what we believe about God, people and the world – matters; for this reason, I take the gospel accounts about Jesus seriously.

Anyone reading the gospels will see that Jesus not only responds to the “lines” drawn by the religious leaders of his day; he draws lines of his own. But Jesus’ lines are almost always different than the lines drawn by the religious leaders, and even more startlingly, his lines are different than the lines Christians draw today.

Compare and contrast the stories of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25: 31-46), Jesus’ words to the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-23), and finally, his famous late night conversation with Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3:1-21). Each of these passages are about dividing lines, but that’s where their commonalities end; in each passage Jesus seems to be redrawing the boundaries.

What’s most remarkable about these four passages is that Jesus changes his message depending on what each group of listeners needs to hear to bring them to a place of repentance and transformation. To use the crass language of today’s marketing world, Jesus offers a “customized value proposition” — a message that’s tailored differently for each unique market segment.

My point here isn’t to say that rich people will be in hell, and that poor people will be in heaven. My point is that it doesn’t make any more sense to take a passage like John 3:16 (you must be born again) and universalize it as the basis for drawing lines separating who’s in and who’s out than it does to do this with a passage like Matthew 25.

But isn’t this what many Christians, including John Piper, do today? We pick our favorite biblical passage, where Jesus’ vision for “who’s in” includes people like us, and excludes people who aren’t, meanwhile, we ignore other passages that redraw the boundaries that would force us to change in order to be included in Jesus’ “in-group.”

We should at least consider the idea that Jesus’ purpose for drawing lines was not for the sake of making his prospective followers feel more comfortable about their place in his kingdom, but to challenge them, shake them out of their complacency, and call them to repentance for the things in their lives keeping them from participating in God’s best hopes and dreams for this world. This message still resonates 2,000 years later.

3) Millennials don’t resonate with the stupid battles Christians fight.

Yesterday, I almost tweeted, “Looks like @JohnPiper has doubled down on being a belligerent jerk since his sabbatical.” Except I would have used a different word than “jerk” (I’ll leave that word to your imagination).

To be clear, I don’t think John Piper is a jerk because of his theology.

I think he’s a jerk because of who he picks fights with and how he picks them. Rob Bell now stands alongside a growing pantheon of brothers in Christ — Greg Boyd, Brian McLaren and N.T. Wright among them — who Piper has thrown under the bus (and even called “heretics”) simply because their theology doesn’t neatly jibe with his own.

For a generation harboring increasingly negative perceptions about (and is distancing itself from) Christianity, there’s no question that controversies like these have played a big role in making these trends worse. When asked to describe present-day Christianity, the second most reported description of young people (ages 16 to 29) was that it is “too-judgmental”, with 87% of young non-churchgoers and 52% of churchgoers holding this view.

(Here’s a great example of this Millennial Generation sentiment, expressed as a prayer: “Young Evangelical’s Prayer for John Piper and Rob Bell” via Austin Dannhaus.)

I have no doubt that people like John Piper earnestly believe they are doing their own cause a favor — imagining that God’s Kingdom is well served by the mere act of standing up for truth, no matter the means, method or tone. But even if John Piper is right about everything, shouldn’t he be all the more careful about how he broadcasts the truth?

I’m not saying there’s no place for robust conversation within the body of Christ about important theological matters. However, we also need to realize that people in the real world who are struggling to negotiate their relationship with God in light of the brokenness of the world (and too-often, the brokenness within Christianity) are put-off by these debates. That’s not necessarily a reason not to debate, but we can’t ignore basic virtues like love, charity and empathy in the process – at least not while following the biblical call to be salt-and-light and Ministers of Reconciliation.

Which is why I finally chose not to send the tweet. My first instinct was to be angry with John Piper and fight back with a self-indulgent broadcast. It might have felt good in the moment, but it would have done nothing to break the rhetorical cycle of violence that has engulfed Piper, Bell, and their respective tribes over the weekend. It would have only made things worse.

In fact, if I could take John Piper out for a cup of coffee, I would confess my anger, ask for his forgiveness, and then earnestly seek to better understand how he thinks about this particular issue. My prayer is that in the weeks ahead, John Piper extends the same charity towards our brother Rob Bell, even if none of us ever hear about it.

70 Comments

  • Point number 3 is particularly important right now. Shame on Piper for, once again, being irresponsible rather than pastoral.

    • come on, be more constructive than that. do you really think piper hasnt at least tried to privately get in touch with bell?
      maybe it was an unwise move (even if just for the sake of discussions such as this one which are focussing on men, not the God they serve) from piper, but be carful about slandering him for it. He is not the sort of man who just writes someone off. there is reasoning. go on to desiring god and look at it…

    • Heretics are not supposed to be pastored or tolerated. Paul had harsher words for heretics. You have to remember that teachers of the law have a harsher judgement waiting for them. This is a matter if life and death.

  • Well written piece.

    “We should at least consider the idea that Jesus’ purpose for drawing lines was not for the sake of making his prospective followers feel more comfortable about their place in his kingdom, but to challenge them, shake them out of their complacency, and call them to repentance for the things in their lives keeping them from participating in God’s best hopes and dreams for this world.”

    Totally agree. Thanks for bringing a sane perspective to a conversation that is about to get out of hand quickly.

  • Jesus’ line in the sand is the Gospel. And I don’t think I would be too quick to say that Jesus has “customized value proposition[s].” Piper is not “bidding farewell” to Bell simply because he wants to. It is because he is assuming that Bell is going to be unorthodox and taken together with many of Bell’s other teachings, has betrayed the Gospel of Jesus Christ (take him to task for his assumption, not for his desire to be biblically sound).

    Second, Bell has long ago departed from historical orthodoxy (as I would argue Boyd, Wright, &c. have as well). My largest contention with what Bell is saying, is not based on my assumption of where he is going to come down in regards to a literal hell (though I doubt it will be orthodox). My largest contention is that love does not win in the end (at least in the sense that modern evangelicalism defines it). Have we forgotten that Christ comes in Revelation with a double edge sword of judgment to make holy war on the nations?

    Last, almost everything you’re espousing in this post is from a liberal perspective and does not hold water in light of the Scriptures. Your meanderings also won’t be listened to by the majority of conservative Christians, because they are posed in such a way that invites dialogue. I would hope you would extend as much grace to these conservatives as you to do people propagating false doctrines.

    • I was going to put my comment here, but I decided not to after reading yours. Agreed.

    • Hey Michael, Long time no see, hope you’re doing well. You raise some good points. Obviously these would be better discussed over a round of discgolf (maybe the next time I’m in Minnesota), but for now comments will have to suffice.

      1) We’re in agreement about the centrality of the gospel, with the caveat that I don’t believe the gospel can be reduced to a message. The gospel is a person: Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel transformed the lives of those he came into contact with 2,000 years ago, and still changes lives today through the holy spirit and through those of us who are members of his body.

      At the risk of oversimplifying, I think one of the main differences between Piper and Bell is that Piper focuses on proclamation of a message (rooted in a particular reading of scripture that leaves little margin of grace for doctrinal differences within the body of Christ) while Bell focuses more on incarnating the virtues of the Kingdom of God (or the fruit of the spirit) as a witness to the authority of God. I’m not saying one is right and the other is wrong; we need both. I AM saying it’s wrong to point your brother to the proverbial exit sign for focusing on one over the other. This is my primary issue with Piper; not his theology.

      2) Agree to disagree on Bell and Boyd (as many others within the Body of Christ do). But N.T. Wright? Seriously? You’re drawing your doctrinal lines pretty tightly if you claim that he’s somehow outside the bounds of orthodoxy.

      3) I’m confused by your third point. Within Christian history, liberalism is defined as the formal and informal splits between fundamentalists (Spurgeon, et al) and proponents of a merely social gospel (Rauschenbush, et al), at the turn of the last century — rifts that have never been reconciled.

      In light of the history, you’re redefining “liberal” to suit your own purposes for the sake of this argument to try and pin that label on me. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in virgin birth. I believe Jesus was the fulfillment of OT prophesy. I believe in the trinity.

      Now if by “liberal” you mean “anyone that doesn’t agree with me or John Piper” then, sure I’m a liberal. But let’s at least recognize that most people wouldn’t share your definition. By your definition the following evangelicals are also liberal, as thoughtfully noted by Dave Hall below: Billy Graham, J.I. Packer and John Stott.

      Would you like to add any others to the list?

      • Chris,
        I like your distinction: Piper focuses on proclamation of a message while Bell focuses more on incarnating the virtues of the Kingdom of God. A further clarification: Piper focuses on a soteriological gospel (one that centers on the salvation of individual human beings) while Bell (influenced no doubt by Wright) focuses on a cosmological gospel (one that centers on the redemption of all created things). Piper’s gospel celebrates the glory of God in individual salvation; Bell’s gospel celebrates the glory of God in the Kingdom of God reconciling all of creation to Himself. The former is a truncated gospel; the latter includes the former and is even more glorious for God.

        • I don’t have time to respond in full, but @ Bob and Chris,

          Pre-point #1: I haven’t been disc golfing in a several years… I lived in Indonesia for a couple years and they don’t do the disc golf! Perhaps it wouldn’t be better to discuss it over some disc golf! (for safety reasons!) :D

          Point #2: N.T. Wright, I am serious. And I disagree with Piper on this point, I’m sure. But Wright goes beyond the scope of the historic orthodox position on the crucial matter of justification and imputation. These two doctrines (along with the inspiration of the Scriptures and several other doctrines) form historic orthodox. You might claim that his views are “Scriptural” but certainly not in the way that the historic creeds and confessions have professed throughout the ages, particularly the Reformed and post-Reformed confessions. [I am thankful, that I do not think being doctrinally outside the historic orthodox camp means your not saved, but it does mean that you are teaching false doctrines.]

          I would decidedly disagree with you about a definition of Liberal. The fundamentalist (who said Spurgeon was a fundie?!) split with the social gospel is certainly a form of liberalism… but Liberalism is not a static definition. Even a cursory glance at the history of Evangelicalism in the last century will show that.
          The ideas espoused by Bell & c. (and many of the views I’ve seem purported on this site) carry the same fundamental presuppositions and ideas of a liberal-left-wing agenda. These things are not “new.”

          I think you mischaracterize Piper when you say that he focuses on an individual soteriology while Bell focuses on a cosmological gospel.
          One thought on this note, your comment(s) seems ignorant and naive to not only Piper’s theology but also to Reformed theology in general. The Protestant scholastics of the 16th and 17th centuries (not to mention the later Reformed theologians) that have influenced men like Piper, did not believe simply in an individual salvation. They spoke in terms of a cosmological redemption that takes place as people are saved. So to pit their doctrines of salvation against one another in this light, seems… unfair. I would be interested in knowing to what degree you have engaged the Reformed voices of the past and present (e.g. the Protestant scholastics, the Puritans,Princeton Fathers, and contemporary theologians like Michael Horton, Richard Gaffin, etc).

      • classic left brain, right brain stuff

  • Wow. Without adhering to one side or another, I sense such conviction to dedicate making some space to pray now for our church leaders (Rob Bell, John Piper, et al.) At such times of theological disagreements, much is at stake – most importantly the gospel of Jesus, which is, in truth, love. This headline (accentuated – for better or worse – by our mediacentric world) could be outstandingly divisive, or it could be a demonstration of the outstanding reconciliation that only Christ provides. Blessed are the peacemakers, who shall be called children of God (see also http://restorationarlington.org/sermons/2011/02/february-27-2011/).

  • Personally, I think this conversation needs to happen. Evangelical Christianity has had a monopoly on what is “Orthodox” and what is “heretical” for a long time, and it’s prevented us from having open conversations about important issues.

    Remarks like, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” do not serve the Kingdom of God. They serve the Kingdom of Evangelical Christendom, which, let’s face it, isn’t that great anyway.

    It suggests that our views of salvation and the grace of God are not open for discussion. It suggests that we already know and understand everything there is to know about God, which is a dangerous thing way to live.

    As leaders of Christ’s Church, people like Rob Bell and John Piper need to be able to discuss these matters of theology before labeling the other with pretty serious accusations like “heretic.”

    Personally, I welcome the discussion, because I can’t pretend I haven’t had my own questions about the issue. And I’m glad that someone finally has the guts to stand up and say, “Maybe we’re doing this wrong, and here’s why.”

    Will I agree with everything in Love Wins? Probably not. But I welcome the opportunity to reexamine my faith and deepen my understanding of God.

    One more note and I’ll be done. It is depressing to me that so many of the comments made in reaction to Rob Bell’s promo video are so judgmental. It’s almost as though we don’t even want “nondeserving” people to be saved.

    This is a mindset we have to get away from.

  • Thank you Chris. Incredibly well-put. You basically summed up my view on the entire controversy to a tee. We need more level-headedness, honesty and humility like yours in the church.
    Thanks again

  • Into the last days of the temple, during the siege of Jerusalem, different sects debated and fought with each other inside the walls, the Romans outside waited while they destroyed them selves. Those inside argued, starved and died.
    It’s got nothing to do with whose right.
    Welcome to the past.
    Islam waits.

    Jesus said when you see Jerusalem surrounded… flee.
    time to get the hell outta here.

    It’s not who’s right or who’s going to win the fight. The fight -is the fight. It’s time for flight.

    But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

  • Billy Graham -

    “I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost and were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that,” he said carefully. “I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.”
    -”I Can’t Play God Anymore”, McCall’s Magazine, (January 1978), pp. 154-158

    C. S. Lewis -

    “Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.”
    - Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1996), p. 65

    J.I Packer –

    “We can safely say if any good pagan reached the point of throwing himself on His Maker’s mercy for pardon, it was grace that brought him there; God will surely save anyone he brings thus far; anyone thus saved would learn in the next world that he was saved through Christ”
    . -Gods Words p.210
    John Stott –

    “I have never been able to conjure up (as some great Evangelical missionaries have) the appalling vision of the millions who are not only perishing but will inevitably perish. On the other hand… I am not and cannot be a universalist. Between these extremes I cherish and hope that the majority of the human race will be saved. And I have a solid biblical basis for this belief.”
    -With D.L Edwards, Essentials: Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue (London, 1988)

    I hope you don’t mind me adding a few other iconic figures to your list Chris.

    Now as Neuhaus stated, “A different and much more troubling objection is that it makes no sense to be a Christian if, in fact, one can be saved without being a Christian. In this view, the damnation of others, maybe of most others, is essentially related to the reason for being a Christian. ” This point makes many people question why on earth we should have missions at all if there are so many verses in the Bible that say you can be saved by Jesus through general revelation of God and a heart that’s seeking “glory, honor, and immortality.” (Romans 2:7) But they forget that people are living in Hell right now! The Gospel isn’t only the good news of heaven when we’re dead. It’s the knowledge of his Grace that frees us from the bondage of works. Take for example the suicide bomber, who is willing to forfeit his entire life for assurance that God loves and accepts him. Or the person in Africa giving his last chicken to the fetish priest so they can be free from the curse put on him by a witch in their village. I’ve met both.
    Now I don’t believe in Universalism….I think God honors the gift of free will too much to force people into heaven who don’t want to be there. (For more on this idea read C.S. Lewis : The Great Divorce) After all the angels in the presence of God and heaven still chose eternity apart from God to be gods of their own.
    But I totally agree that we need to hold out hope. After all, he leaves the 99 to go after the 1.

    • Thanks for these timely reminders Dave. It’s really important to remember that Rob Bell is not the first evangelical to wrestle with these questions publicly.

      • Sure thing;) I thought about listing a bunch of the early church fathers also but I’m trying to tame my fire hose.

    • I literally gasped out loud when I read, “But they forget that people are living in Hell right now! The Gospel isn’t only the good news of heaven when we’re dead. It’s the knowledge of his Grace that frees us from the bondage of works.” Thank you for articulating this so beautifully.

  • When reading this post I was reminded of this short play by G.K. Chesterton which I had interestingly enough just watched again a few days ago. Fairly bad acting, but it gets the point across.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF3BomKYHLk

  • “Millennials don’t resonate with the stupid battles Christians fight.”

    How can this statement be true if John Piper’s statement elicited a twittersphere firestorm? I would beg to differ!

    Whether or not these issues resonate with a certain generation shouldn’t change our dedication to teaching sound doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Tim 4:3-4a). Granted, some could argue what the definition of “sound doctrine” is, but the biblical record is inexorably clear about the reality of final judgment. I do not relish in the perishing of any, but Paul’s words to Timothy constitute a timely and sober warning to us all.

    • Hey Matt, Thanks for your comment.

      Recent studies show that the Millennial Generation harbors increasingly negative perceptions about Christianity (Barna), is less likely to identify with Christianity than any other generation (Pew), is less likely to attend church weekly than any other generation (Putnam) and that over 70% identify as “more spiritual than religious” (Lifeway).

      I’m not ignoring the fact that John Piper has many Millennial Generation supporters. This is obviously the case. However, the neo-reform stream within American evangelicalism is growing (as a micro-trend) among Millennials while, overall, Christianity in America is declining (a macro-trend) among Millennials.

      In my third point I was talking about our generation as a whole, not just those who identify with John Piper. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify.

  • What I am wondering is why we evangelicals are so eager “to deal out death and judgment” (to quote The Fellowship of the Ring). Nowhere does scripture command that we, the church, in this period of the already/not yet, are to publicly determine who will be going to heaven and who will be going to hell – and then proceed to communicate this judgment to the people we have determined God is going to send to hell. Certainly God is depicted as judge, but I can think of no command for the church to do this in any of the Gospels or the Epistles.

    There are, however, plenty of commands to be a positive witness to the Gospel: to share the good news, through word and deed, that Jesus has come into this world to inaugurate the Kingdom of God. To share that, in fact, the powers and principalities of this world stand condemned by his death and resurrection.

    There is also a large section in John dedicated to revealing how important unity in the Body of Christ (the church) is to Jesus – so important, in fact, that Jesus agonized over it in prayer moments before his arrest.

    If scripture sets our priorities, then maintaining unity in the Body of Christ for the sake of faithful witness of the good news should be our raison d’etre. I do not think John Piper would disagree with that. Yet where I diverge with Dr. Piper is that I do not believe playing God should be on the agenda.

  • If there is a heaven, and if there is a hell, the line between them is everything.

  • I would have RT’d you…

  • Having read this article last night, I woke up this morning questioning the sanity of God.

    If love wins in the end, why would God send his Son to die? That would be perverse.

    If love conquers sin, why would God torture His Son, hang Him on a cross, have Him shed His blood to conquer that which He knows his love has and will conquer? That would be cruel. And really really dumb.

    If love wins, why would we, when we come before God, fall down, worship, and shout “Holy, Holy, Holy?” What would be the point? Holiness had nothing to do with it. Sin didn’t matter. It was love. It would seem like such an event would be one of dancing and singing “Love, Love, Love.” For God to make a big deal about His holiness when holiness doesn’t matter is absurd. Only a God bent on His glory would be concerned about holiness.

    What an absurd, perverse, and dumb God we have.

    • Tom, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope I haven’t offended you. I have nothing but love and respect for you.

      In anticipation of Lent, followed by Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter where we remember the triumphal entry, death and resurrection of Jesus, I’m reminded of the darkness present in the world and in the depths of human hearts (my own included).

      Critical self-examination (and examination of our own religious tribe) is at the heart of personal repentance, rooted in Jesus’ teaching to not look for specks in the eyes of our neighbors without first removing the planks in our own eyes.

      In light of this evidence of our fallenness, Jesus’ death was, indeed, necessary for the forgiveness of our sins. But I also believe his death was also the inevitable consequence of how he lived is life.

      The authorities did not crucify Jesus because they perceived him to be a spiritual savior, somehow connected to an invisible, supernatural, cosmic plot to defeat the powers of sin and death (even if their actions served God’s ultimate purposes for Jesus’ death).

      They killed Jesus because his method of teaching, serving and empowering those at the margins challenged the status quo and threatened to undermine their power — a ministry that culminated in the week leading up to his death, with a march to Jerusalem (the political and religious power center) and forceful expulsion of money changers in the Temple court.

      This is the historical context of Jesus trial, torture, execution and (finally) burial in a tomb — sealed by religious power-brokers and spineless politicians to ensure no-one would steal his body and start a revolution.

      And then, in humanity’s darkest hour, God breaks in and conquers. Jesus’ resurrection takes place in the heart of this darkness. Hope shines out of an empty tomb, overcoming not only the spiritual power of sin, but the physical power of death — the only real power that history’s violent cowards, rulers and tyrants have ever been able to lord over people.

      Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a friend of Nelson Mandela who shared in the struggle to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, once said that in spite of the darkness, injustice, and violence in the world, as Christians we are to be “prisoners of hope.”

      Jesus’ death and resurrection give me the courage to believe the otherwise absurd idea that — in spite of the evidence — the darkness of our world will one day scatter. That in the end, love wins, and we can begin today by living as if this all were true: as prisoners of Jesus’ resurrection hope.

      • Thanks, Chris, for your reply.

        No, you haven’t offended me …but I don’t speak for Christ.

        I’ve known you since before you were born. I’ve walked ice-covered Siberian sidewalks with you. I’ve followed your quest for authentic Christ-following.

        I like your challenges to the evangelical world – they are very much needed. I like your outside-the-box thinking. I like much of what you say and do.

        You write about lines and where they’re drawn. You seek the place where Christ draws them. In doing such, you draw a new line on hell. You call it love.

        You can put me down for a “like” on this. I would love, and I know no one who wouldn’t, for this to be true. It DOES help make God’s love more understandable if for no other reason is it fits our reasoning.

        But does it fit God? Does it fit who He is? Does it fit ALL of who He is?

        My ability to understand God is limited to a cauliflower sized “brain”. If such a devise could comprehend God, God would have to be rather simple, without the mind-blowing and mind-bending complexities He claims He has.

        Yes, I believe there are ways for God to reveal Himself, to reveal Christ, to those who seem to be outside of earshot. I believe in a just and gracious God. But because God does not say this, I dare not pronounce it as “of God”. God does not say how, or even if, He has special mercies on those I haven’t gone to, those I have not followed Christ’s command to go to.

        I have no issues with “what if” speculations. They can be good. But they need to be called what they are – speculations. Just because others have also made similar speculations does not make a speculation true.

        In the end, its not about what you or I or Piper or Bell think, it’s about what IS, what is authentic, what IS God.

        What causes me to write you on this is this: If you are wrong, if your teaching proves false, if hell is authentic, I would hope no one spends eternity there because of you. I don’t say this lightly or to pick a fight but because I believe love wins.

        Be authentic. Be true to Christ. And love will win …on Christ’s terms.

        Love you, man!

  • Thanks Michael. I was having a hard time organizing my defense for .. not Piper, but God’s word…Which is where Piper is seeking truth.

    I am thankful that I have been rescued from my sin … not from a condemning God, but from my own sin. I am also thankful that I do not need to wait with bated breath for Bell’s interpretation of this because scripture states it clearly.

  • Chris-
    You just “broadcasted” your own rant… publicly. Piper posted 3 words…you posted many more my friend. A response laced with incendiary remarks and personal pet peeves were plain bro.

    I personally have found Boyd and NT Wright helpful in many areas(i am not as familiar with McLaren.) BUT, will say that when I sniff around the blogs and videos they post, they criticize Piper VERY often. I very rarely see it the other way around(I am aware of Piper’s response to NT Wright’s book, with another book. Which, I thought was done respectfully. AND I am aware of the Piper/Boyd debates many years ago where Piper publicly apologized for criticizing Greg.) Are you still hanging him for this?

    You may want to reconsider the Bethel system that you yourself have been molded by. I have seen too many products of Bethel have the same combative disposition.

    In the end love does win. God’s kindness leads us to repentance. What an amazing gospel of love.

  • Well the arguments on this post are to be kind absurd. It is too bad that you so publicly declared how woefully ignorant you are of Scripture. But this argument is not new by any means. People have struggle since the inception of the church, with a God who is just and righteous. They have also struggled with God’s justice and holiness being on part with His love and mercy yet one does not trump the other. Bottom line is that we are His enemies and we wilfully rebel against His law. He has ever right to annihilate all mankind and yet the fact that we are not consumed at this very minute is a grace of God. We should not be asking the question, “What kind of a God wouldn’t save all mankind from hell?” But rather, “What kind of a God would save any man at all?” Since He is not obligated to save anyone. He is God. We should be praising that fact that He would save anyone at all instead of arguing that or assuming that He is somehow obligated to save all.

  • Some people have taken issue with me calling John Piper a “jerk”. I brought up this point as more of a confession than a provocation, which is why I later say I owe Piper an apology for having this first instinct.

    That being said, someone just sent me an interesting link. It’s John Piper, in his own words, defining the word “jerk” in a 2009 blog post:

    “A jerk is a person who nitpicks about the way a question is worded rather than taking the opportunity to address the issue in a serious way.”

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/why-i-dont-have-a-television-and-rarely-go-to-movies

    Am I missing something here, or isn’t this exactly what John Piper did through his tweet about Rob Bell?

    Rob Bell raises serious theological questions in a three minute video and Piper bids him farewell as a brother in Christ in a three word tweet. Piper doesn’t even engage the questions — he doesn’t even nitpick — he just points Bell towards the exit sign.

  • A brief response to your points

    1. You’re correct – even God desires that all men be saved. (1 Tim. 2)

    2. Jesus does draw dividing lines – and spent a tremendous amount of time (as was recorded in the Gospels) telling us about how to live and how not to live. You present the idea that he spoke to different people in different contexts with different messages. There is no reason to think that Jesus telling a particular Nicodemus that he must be born again would mean that it doesn’t apply to others. In fact, the most reasonable position is the opposite – if we err anywhere it should be on the side of “over-broadcasting”.

    3. Jesus didn’t determine the validity of his views based on surveys of the opinions of Western Post-modern 16-29 year olds. Jesus wasn’t “packaging” anything for “market segments”- he was loving individuals – healing them, praying for them, forgiving their sins, and warning them to avoid those actions and thoughts that would lead to a pointless life and an eternity of suffering “where the fire is not quenched”.

    Finally, something should be said about the fact that this discussion centers around a particular man’s internal struggle over whether or not to “send a tweet”. So, instead, he wrote an article calling a man a “jerk” and then apologizing for it.

  • The irony is that you chose not to send the tweet but then blogged about it so the whole world not only knows what you think of Piper but can see how humble and conciliatory you are in choosing not to post it (other than here, of course).

    If you really wanted to respond with a better and more biblical tone than Piper wouldn’t you have chosen not to post it here as well?

  • Does anyone think Rob Bell knew that his promotional video would stir up controversy? Wasn’t that his point? Clearly he has a good read on Christian culture and current theological conversations. I think he knew exactly what he was doing with his promotional video. Posing statements as questions is useful rhetorical technique. Ask any lawyer. Bell did this masterfully in his video. It is not out of line or jumping the gun (or jerk-ish) for Piper, Taylor or others to respond to his video the way they did. Bell was making statements, not asking questions. I’ll read his book when it comes out, but I won’t be surprised when I read his argument for universalistic salvation. I would be more surprised if he didn’t land there. After all, we have enough books about the conservative position on heaven and hell. And I doubt Rob Bell wrote a book simply to echo that. This means our understanding of salvation and history and the gospel are all at the center of this book. Because of enormous significance of these issues, I think the reaction of Piper is warranted. He is a pastor and pastors protect their flock from false doctrine. You may call that bullying or “picking on,” but it is also pastoral. Piper’s flock happens to be a lot bigger than his Sunday morning congregation, so he tweets it. His tweet will probably cause people to be cautious about this book when they read it, and I think that’s ok.

    I don’t think Rob Bell was surprised (or feels picked on) by Piper. In fact, he may have been counting on it. He’s received a lot of free publicity for his book this week, and he’s set to sell a lot of books now. I know I want to buy and I’m not an avid Rob Bell or a John Piper follower.

  • Andy, TJ and CleanupOnAisle5:

    I honestly welcome you challenging a brother in Christ for blogging about the tweet I didn’t send. You’re right. I probably could have left it out entirely. You don’t know me personally, so you have no reason to trust my motives.

    That being said, I think you’ve missed the purpose of me exposing myself in this way. My point was to reveal my angry and flawed first instinct when I saw Piper’s tweet. This is why I closed the post with an apology.

    It was also to illustrate the bigger problem with this kind of thinking — a kind of thinking that we’re all guilty of from time-to-time. Moreover, I believe that to the extent this controversy is fueled by this kind of thinking, all of need to seek repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness for the way we treat each other.

  • I dont understand why Rob Bell can’t pose this question? When did we as Christians stop questioning theology?

    If we stop questioning theology we will be as irrelevant as John Piper and his theology.

  • So… Instead of tweeting a “self indulgent broadcast” you simply blogged what you were going to say… which added to the rhetorical cycle of violence…? Humorously ironic. I’m glad you are thinking things through.

    Piper’s tweet may have been untimely, however:

    Bell’s promo video had about 6-700 words in it. Ambiguous as they may have been, the questions he asked revealed his heart and his premise. Anyone can see that he isn’t just leading people astray in the promo only to tell them something different in the book.

    Piper’s tweet had 3 words. Two of them were “Rob Bell”.

    I feel like you have to read into a small sentence like that to come away with an accurate interpretation of what John Piper meant.

    He could have meant “I am sad to see you leave the foundational teachings of Jesus about Hell” or “fare thee well on your journey into Open Theology.”

    I just think that promo video qualifies for a lot more criticism than the 3 word tweet.

    Just saying.

  • So… Instead of tweeting a “self indulgent broadcast” you simply blogged what you were going to say… which added to the rhetorical cycle of violence…? Humorously ironic.

    Piper’s tweet may have been untimely… however:

    Bell’s promo video had about 6-700 words in it. Ambiguous as they may have been, the questions he asked revealed his heart and his premise. Anyone can see that he isn’t just leading people astray in the promo only to tell them something different in the book.

    Piper’s tweet had 3 words. Two of them were “Rob Bell”.

    I feel like you have to read into a small sentence like that to come away with an accurate interpretation of what John Piper meant.

    He could have meant “I am sad to see you leave the foundational teachings of Jesus about Hell” or “fare thee well on your journey into Open Theology.” or even “God bless you as you seek to create your own version of a Biblical version of hell” the possibilities are endless.

    I just think that promo video qualifies for a lot more criticism than the 3 word tweet.

    Just saying.

  • So… Instead of tweeting a “self indulgent broadcast” you simply blogged what you were going to say… which added to the rhetorical cycle of violence…? Humorously ironic.

    Piper’s tweet may have been untimely… however:

    Bell’s promo video had about 6-700 words in it. Ambiguous as they may have been, the questions he asked revealed his heart and his premise. Anyone can see that he isn’t just leading people astray in the promo only to tell them something different in the book.

    Piper’s tweet had 3 words. Two of them were “Rob Bell”.

    I feel like you have to read into a small sentence like that to come away with an accurate interpretation of what John Piper meant.

    He could have meant “I am sad to see you leave the foundational teachings of Jesus about Hell” or “fare thee well on your journey into Open Theology.” or even “God bless you as you seek to create your own version of a Biblical version of hell” the possibilities are endless.

    I just think that promo video qualifies for a lot more criticism than the 3 word tweet.

    Just saying.

  • Thanks Chris for the original post and the discussion here. Love your site!
    Who wouldn’t want hell to be empty? And yet, to have a universe of beings who have the ability to love freely, there may be some who choose not to live in love…and so, we see even now, the various kinds of hell people are in and just might continue to be in – hopefully their fear of love won’t be able to outlast God’s love for them.

  • It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the video was to create interest in (and sell) Rob’s new book. Rob is provocative, he always has been. But he raises some interesting questions. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it’s like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz

  • I appreciate your thoughts here.

    I would encourage you to contact John P. and take him out for coffee and share your thoughts. We need that kind of relationship building, in these days of tension and even conflict. Don’t just imagine it – go for it!

  • Piper said three words about Bell’s three minute video.

    Bell’s non/followers said 5000 words about Piper’s three words.

    Remind me again, who spoke too soon?

  • Given the way Rob Bell frames his question in the video is very important. To me (and I could be wrong since I haven’t read the book yet) it seems Bell is opposing Calvinistic/Reformed Theology that is growing in America and not necessarily an orthodox theology on hell and heaven. Which would explain why most (if not all) of Bell’s recent critics have been Reformed theologians.

    At the end of the day, I doubt Bell has anything “new” to offer, meaning: he is extremely well read and what we’ll see in his book could be a combination of lesser held beliefs throughout church history with a dash of Bell awesomeness added to it – which is what gives the book its worth.

  • I can intellectualize my relationship with others by putting organized and structured thinking to their impact in my life, but it does not explain much of the reality of how I live with them. I don’t think I am alone when I state that I am just done with others’ thinking their doctrinal pronouncements to speak for me in regards to explaining how staggered, stunned and humbled I am that Love has invaded my life, mean anything. Piper and others are just irrelevant to me.

    I am done with religion and church and the farther I get away from it, the more I see that Love truly does win. I suppose the fact that I still find encouragement from much of what Rob Bells does, does not fare well for him…lol.

    It’s a nice surprise to have clicked on a friend’s link to this site to see a reasonable response to this issue. Thanks.

  • Lots of good stuff here, but I don’t buy the point that this is a generational thing. A lot of older folks are not evangelicals and a lot of younger evangelicals are seriously devoted to Piper et al. In fact, most of the nasty bloggers against Bell are, in fact, a younger generation of strict evangelicals. This is why Jamie Smith wrote the lovely little book “Letters to a Young Calvinst.” So I think we need to rethink how generational this may or may not be.

    And, by the way, Thomas E, above, thinks that Bell’s insistence that “love wins” makes the cross unnecessary and erodes a sense of holiness. I don’t think that is the case, and, having read Bell’s book twice, I don’t think it is a case that Bell implies. He has a chapter on the cross (which I did not find fully satisfying) but it isn’t a simple view as in Thomas’ caricature. The cross is the place where and the method of how “love wins’ and is a central part of the Biblical narrative and central to any understanding of the gospel. To imply that Christian universalists like Bell deny that is out of line.

  • i’m new to this whole controversy…followed a friend’s link to this conversation… so forgive me if i don’t know all the backstory. i found the discussion & comments fascinating. What really struck me though as i read the article was how the whole christian dialogue about this seems to echo american politics right now…

    …it seems ALOT of conversation is going on without the book having been read (or published yet?) …reminds me of 24 hour news talking heads who conjecture on what “might be happening” in the lack of anything actually happening or prior to its happening.

    …politicians playing to their particular audiences rather than talking openly about their views & opinions to everyone, and increasingly divided views with less middle ground. It does seem that most people, at least who comments on the blogs anyway, seem to be certainly in either piper or bell’s corner.

    Having grown up in the church, daughter of a pastor, I’m all too familiar with christians not disagreeing well, and what happens with power struggles… It’s not pretty.

    What is beautiful though, is people who disagree agreeably, seek & find truth and act lovingly towards one another throughout the process. I’d love to see the Christian community be more an example of this.

  • You will not be dictated to
    You will not be defined by man
    You will not be ruled by anything
    King over every King

    Who can be compared to you? Who has given anything that you should repay them? You are who You are.

    He says, “I am that I am.” And in the same moment, as He identifies Himself, He includes this statement, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

    We say God has to love everyone. God says, “It’s my decision and I reserve the right to choose. I have a free will.” God’s identity is wrapped up in His ability and freedom to choose.

    So is ours. “He that has the Son, has life. He that does not have the Son, does not have life.”

    One other person that to me makes a clear cut statement about the severity of our decisions is Judas. It is said of him, “It would have been better if he had never been born.” If he was to be “redeemed” later on down the road, then Jesus spoke in ignorance.

  • Dear Chris,

    I am even more concerned about your response than I was about Rob Bell’s inability to make perfectly clear many of his beliefs. You sound like a Rob Bell clone when you speak around an important topic like salvation. The bible is clear about a lot of things – and no, i won’t try to list them all, and I will certainly agree that there are many things that the Bible is not clear on… .I’m only going to mention 2 that I think are clear – and every Christian and church should believe and promote.

    1 – There is only 1 way in to Heaven,

    2. – Everyone is welcome, but some will choose not to.

    If you believe these things, then you must also believe that if some do not choose Heaven, then they are choosing hell.. I’m not interested in what it looks like, or debating all the hows – and also know that God is the ultimate authority and he can change anything He wants to.

    I’m just making a point that when you continually muddy the water, like Rob Bell likes to do, and evidently like you do as well, you are doing a great job of confusing such a simple message. And yes it is about the person of Jesus = but his message was very clear.

    I’m saddened to hear how confusing Christianity has become, but wish that you and others – would seriously take a stand on what is important…

    Everything is NOT ok, and given what we know about Heaven, satan, and the poor choices people make – there is a huge likelihood that all will not go to heaven. If God Changes it, that’s his prerogative, but it doesn’t mean that Hell does not exist, or that the Bible is not clear about how to get to Heaven.

  • Thank you so much for a refreshingly balanced (and dare I say it Christian!) article on this current issue.

  • People have no clue what happens to the Cross when they dispense with God’s justice in the fashion that Bell does. What makes the Cross SO magnificent is what it accomplished. But if there is no hell, there is no deliverance from hell. And if following Christ is a mere decision, there is nothing miraculous about the cross. Nothing! And when we diminish the work at the cross, we also diminish God’s love. You cannot displace God’s justice, His holiness, without at the same time downgrading grace and distorting divine love. This is a trick of Satan and Bell along with his clones, and whatever “young evangelicals” decide to pick up his mantle and follow him. So pitiful. Where have all the critical thinkers gone? Never has there been a time when biblical ineptness been so pervasive. No wonder, how long have we been trashing “doctrine” now? What is a charitable response? A sharp rebuke and stern call to repentance is the most charitable response anyone could give in this case. It is NEVER charitable to leave someone in their error in the name of love.

    • ” But if there is no hell, there is no deliverance from hell. ”

      So, you require others to suffer, or else your beliefs are meaningless?

      Please work on that.

  • People have no clue what happens to the Cross when they dispense with God’s justice in the fashion that Bell does. What makes the Cross SO magnificent is what it accomplished. But if there is no hell, there is no deliverance from hell. And if following Christ is a mere decision, there is nothing miraculous about the cross. Nothing! And when we diminish the work at the cross, we also diminish God’s love. You cannot displace God’s justice, His holiness, without at the same time downgrading grace and distorting divine love. This is a trick of Satan and Bell along with his clones, and whatever “young evangelicals” decide to pick up his mantle and follow him. So pitiful. Where have all the critical thinkers gone? Never has there been a time when biblical ineptness has been so pervasive. No wonder, how long have we been trashing “doctrine” now? What is a charitable response? A sharp rebuke and stern call to repentance is the most charitable response anyone could give in this case. It is NEVER charitable to leave someone in their error in the name of love.

  • The Church would be well served if contemporary leaders would go back to what the early Christians believed about the cross and heaven and hell. The cross was Christ’s victory over death, primarily, not his “satisfaction” of God’s just wrath. The latter is a medieval development rooted in an Augustinian (5th century) notion of grace, a notion radically dependent on the Pelagian controversy. This controversy was regional and much smaller in scope than the great Christological controversies that wracked the Church. Medieval theology, prior to Aquinas, was dominated by Augustinian thought, and the only way out of the distortion that were only amplified by the Reformation is to go back, back to the New Testament. 1 Peter 2:24, Heb 2:14 are enough to get one back into the Church’s traditional mind on this issue.

  • It is clear to me that Rob Bell espouses Universalism in his new book, Love Wins. This is so troubling to me as I have been seeing so much deception of the enemy creeping into the Body of Christ today. It grieves me to know there are so many professing Christian leaders who appear to believe they know more than the written Word of God proclaims…that they, in their finite minds, somehow can understand and attain to the knowledge of our infinite, transcendent Creator God. Surely they know they’ll be held accountable for leading many astray. Certainly there is wisdom in humbly searching the Scriptures daily for accurate interpretation, but only knowing that ‘all’ Scripture is divinely inspired…never questioning as was and is the manner of the cunning Serpent in the Garden…’Hath God said/Surely He meant something else’?! Why do Christian leaders question Jesus’ own repeated affirmations of Hell as though they have the power to reason it away? Why do they no longer ‘tremble’ at His Word as Is.66:2 states? It grieves me to say of many Christian Intellectuals that they, “professing to be wise, have become fools” Rom. 1:22. As others have stated…if Jesus is wrong about Hell, then the Cross would not have been necessary and furthermore, Heaven is only a mirage…and we Christians are of all people miserably deceived! C. S. Lewis said regarding Hell…”There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christiandom; and it has the support of reason.” Oh how we need to stand in awe of Him and His Word! I for one, will alway’s believe God’s Word is Truth from cover to cover…without question!

    • You say that there is all of this deception in the church. Could the doctrine of eternal punishment be a twisted deception? Does this idea resonate anywhere in your being? I mean, the God of Love, according to you and your doctrine is going to torment people for eternity for never hearing of Him, a Bible, or an altar call at the nice new corner American Church. So millions of Native Americans who were born into a Christless culture with literally no choice of hearing about him are eternally damned? Please look beyond your doctrine and listen to your heart.

      • “Please look beyond your doctrine and listen to your heart.”

        Not sure they are allowed to.

  • I need to make one qualifying statement about ‘believing without question’. That is true as long as the translation lines up word for word with the original Hebrew and Greek writings.

    • Believing what? A storyline, learned by rote, that panders to a serious case of separation anxiety?

      It is so simple. “I and the Father are ONE”. If we have to maintain “The Otherness of God” to be orthodox then we might as well pound the nails home our self.

  • John Piper is one of those who pretend to be pastoral, contemplative and ‘biblical’ but doesn’t show of any of these all too often. His objections to N.T. Wright (one of the worlds best known and most learned theologians / historians – of whom Rob Bell is an eager student) are very weak, to say the least.

    Piper, streetwise Calvinist, doesn’t seem to be capable of dealing with an open vision of interpreting what appears to be the original intent of the bible writers (as opposed to creating or maintaining a concordant set of fragments of scripture stewed together to evermore fit within a once established theology).

    Consequently, Piper has become one of those judgmental Christians who don’t like anything that comports according to the dynamics of faith, and Jesus remains as small as the narrowest possible interpretation of the phrase “I am the Way” – which – for some reason – occurs to them as an exclusive phrase – as if it wouldn’t be Jesus and Jesus alone who knows how to get people on His road. Piper wants to sit at the entry of “The Way”, asking those who want to get on it, if they really have the required insight to walk The Way properly.

    But the real Jesus, so it occurs to me, is rather asking Piper if he’s going to throw the first stone. What the bleep does Piper know? That’s Jesus’ business, dude.

    • You are being rather judgmental right now. way to go.
      Who are you to say what my dad is? and yes he is my dad.
      He’s been my dad for 16 years and he’s not a pretender.

  • the best work on Hell that I have come across:

    “The River of Fire: A reply to the questions: Is God really good? Did God create Hell?” by Dr. Alexandre Kalomiros, available from http://www.stnectariospress.com

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