Tag Archives: Heaven

Book Review; Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Ooookkaayy… this should be interesting.  So, my philosophy is not to comment on something either glowingly or negatively unless I’ve read or watched it myself, especially if it is of a controversial nature.  It seemed like everywhere I turned in Christendom people were discussing this book, or warning others not to discuss the book…so I knew I had to read it and review it.  I have to be clear; this is my introduction to Bell.  I have no former gripe or praise for him, no angle to work for or against him.

Hopefully, I’m going to do something a little bit different in this review, as other reviews have already rightly attacked the factual flaws in Bell’s work.  If you want that style of review,  you can get one here: God is Still Holy and What you Learned in Sunday School is Still True: A Review of  “Love Wins.” I don’t agree with everything in the review, but it gives a good overview of many of Bell’s problems.

No, I want to approach this a bit differently and talk about implications.  First, let me say…I can’t believe this book, Love Wins, was actually published…I mean, I get why.  It’s going to make a ton of money, but it’s content is illogical, and its style is unpolished.  I’m really struggling with this review because I can’t believe that people would change their view on God, Heaven, or Hell based on this book.  The “gotcha” questions Bell proposes in the first bit of the book are easily answered by anyone versed in Apologetics, not just well-versed, just versed.  They are “milk” type questions…and are eerily reminiscent of the list of “questions” found on fundamentalist atheist websites.

For example, Bell asks, “What saves someone?”  I answer, and the Bible answers; Grace through Faith.  Bell asks, “Well, isn’t faith an action, and hence a work.”  I answer; No, something can be an action without being a work.  The Israelites were not allowed to work on Sabbath, were they allowed to think?  Sure.  Were they allowed to love?  Sure.  Where they allowed to trust (that’s faith)? Sure.  So, the big answer to all Bell’s rhetorical style questions is; we make it in by grace through faith, and faith is not a work.  QED.

So, moving on, what do I mean that I want to approach this review by implications?  I mean, what are the implications IF Bell’s thesis is right?  The implication of Bell’s thesis is that God is a monster…in fact He’d be the very monster Bell decries.  Bell clearly says that love can’t be forced, but the logical implication (reading Bell) is that it can be.  In the end, says Bell, everyone will succumb to God’s love and turn to God willingly.  That is a logical contradiction.  To be free will there must be true choice, but in this case, just by looking at Bell’s title; Love Wins, one can see there isn’t.

“Love wins.”  I didn’t know love was in a competition.  I didn’t know it was out to beat me.  But, I guess I was wrong.  Bell feels that God will so smufficate a person with love, they WILL respond and turn to Him either in this life in the next.  I resent the implication.  I resent his maligning of God’s character and God’s love.  God is not a rapist, nor is He a brainwasher.  Bell’s thesis is creepy in the extreme.  If you want to debate Hell, fine.  Annihilation vs. punishment, fine. Universalism, fine.  I even love to discuss the possibility CS Lewis raises that Hell is locked on the inside. But by claiming that God “wears you down” over long periods of time til you cave…why would anyone think that is acceptable from a Holy Loving God?

Bell’s implication is that God is neither Holy nor really Loving in any true sense, nor Just; He’s just interested in making sure every human being can be put on some Heavenly tally sheet.  Bell’s implication is also that evangelism is pointless, and so is suffering in this life.  What I mean by that is that everything winds up the same for everyone given enough time in the life to come.  A rapist that rejects love and God in this life gets an infinite series of chances to accept God’s gift of salvation, and in fact, will indeed come to accept it because nothing can stand up to God’s love.  We call that brainwashing.  A brainwashed individual is not acting under free will.  Jesus suffered when He observed that He had tried and tried to get through to the Jewish people, but “they would not.”  Why so upset if they were all going to be A-OK through all eternity?

Now, I completely understand someone being frustrated by evangelists trying to scare the crap out of someone to get them to believe in a loving God.  Fortunately I wasn’t raised that way.  For me, it has ALWAYS been about love and choice; true love and true freedom in choice.  I trust God to be just while still believing that Hell is real.  If we want to talk about Him giving every human an equal and fair chance at Heaven, I’m there.  If you want to point out that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, that they choose it, I’m there.  If you want to point out the Devil is not in charge in Hell, and that it may not be all physical torture and pitchforks, I’m there.  But I draw the line at clearly maligning God, Our Father’s, character.

Briefly; other problems.  Horrible hermeneutics, flawed logic, sloppy writing, and whoever set up the actual book format…well, they shouldn’t win any prizes.  Plus, Bell dances around any reference to eternal contempt for some alongside eternal life for others, and ignores bulk passages that clearly indicate that faith in Christ is required to enter Heaven, that we die and then the judgment happens, etc… Not to mention he tries to describe Heaven, and it’s implications…he should’ve left that to Alcorn’s book “Heaven.”

I love books that make readers consider things from a new angle…this wasn’t one of them.  I’ve read another book recently that I guess I should’ve reviewed instead; “If Grace is True: Why God will save every person” by Gulley and Mulholland.  I didn’t agree with them either, esp. since they deny Christ’s sacrifice was necessary; however, their book was set up logically enough to review in a succinct way.  I feel Bell is theologically and intellectually dishonest, either unconsciously or on purpose.  He seems to be the type trying to “out moral” God…it just won’t work, and this isn’t the reference I’d turn to if I were to try.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Ministries, Reviews, Theology, Uncategorized

Feedback; Judgment for Believers?

This post is in reply to a feedback question I recently received from a reader.  This is a very common question, and one the is talked about a lot amongst believers; what awaits believers after death, since we know that our sins are forgiven us, is there any kind of judgment upon us, and how do “our works” play into it?

The main thing to always keep in mind, and the reader pointed this out, is that our sins, and the punishment for those sins has been, is, and will be completely covered by Christ’s sacrifice.  They are over and done with, completely washed away.  This means that the Law has no more power to condemn us and our salvation is not in question.  However, we have freedom with responsibility, we are still called to yield to righteousness.

I believe Paul talks about this idea of our works being judged here in 1 Corinthians chapter 3:

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  13Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Notice this important point; it is our works that our judged, not us.  At this point, Paul is talking about a believer, already saved.  Look at verses 11 and 12.  The foundation is Jesus Christ, then the discussion turns to what we put or build on this foundation.  This is a time of rewarding of deeds; and I believe everything contained in this passage is a reward, even though many people see a negative here if one’s work is mainly wood, hay, stubble, etc…

Let me explain with a question; what greater reward can await we believers than to see all of our bad deeds go up in smoke?  Seriously, regardless of anything else we might receive, this is the one thing that I’m definitely looking forward to.  My sin is already covered, then, at this time that Paul is describing, all my bad works, anytime I’ve failed to respond in faith to God’s leading, or His word, will be burnt up…the works will be burnt up, NOT me.  I emphasize this lest anyone think this passage is talking about something like purgatory, which is not biblical.

As for those works that are not burnt up, I believe those consist of those times we yielded to righteousness.  Nothing truly good that we do originates with ourselves, but rather with the Holy Spirit.  There is some clue that we might take those rewards we receive for yielding and place them at Christ’s feet (look at the elders example in Rev. 4:10), which would make a lot of sense.

So, as Paul clearly teaches, there remains no condemnation for those of us in Christ; our works do follow us but NOT in regards to salvation.  There is also no room for fear at the thought of our works being tried, God loves us and has accepted us via His Son.  What we can take from this, and other teaching of Paul is that we should try to yield to God whenever we can, in whatever situation we find ourselves in.  Not all the rewards are going to go to people who lived fast-paced exciting lives, but rather they will go to anyone who yields in faith to God in big things or in small, everything else including our mistakes and our slip-ups will be burnt up and blown away, praise God for that!

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Filed under Christianity

Homesickness…

When I was in graduate school, one of my areas of interest was homesickness.  I was often surprised at the lack of journal articles and research in this area of psychology.  Humans often suffer from homesickness, and it is on a continuum; from mild to severe.

I, as a Christian on this earth, suffer from another type of homesickness as well.  This homesickness isn’t because I’ve dwelt in a physical location for a long period of time, storing memories there, interacting with loved ones.  No, this homesickness is different because I’m homesick for a place I’ve not been to yet…and I know for a fact that I am not alone in this homesickness.

Michelle Tumes, in her wonderful song Untame Lion, sings: “I’m filled with longing for a place; A place I’ve never seen…” Does this homesickness have scriptural basis? Certainly.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

We know that Christ is preparing a place for us, and will someday come and get us (hopefully soon).  If we arrive via death or rapture it makes no difference.  This is why we are instructed to store up “possessions” in heaven, and let our hearts be there as well.  This earth isn’t our home.

Are we to function in the world, doing God’s will? Absolutely.  We were also originally meant to be caretakers, in some form, of His creation; so us longing for our heavenly home does mean we should destroy this one.  But, it does mean we should have the idea of our heavenly home in our minds, and remember it.  We do not belong here.

We are to be about God’s business in our lives, which will be different from believer to believer.  We are to see to our earthly responsibilities; but always remember, this is only the beginning.  For those of us who place our trust in Christ, there is a far far better world that awaits.  Be of good courage!  No matter what befalls us here, and things can get really hairy really fast, but no matter what; better times are coming.

If anyone reading this has yet to read the Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis, you really should.  Here is a quote from The Last Battle; the analogy is how I believe we will feel about this “old” earth and our old dwelling place, when we finally get to behold our new home:

The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then he cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

And, for an extra; Here is Michelle Tume’s Untame Lion used in a YouTube vid featuring clips from Narnia (and yes, if anyone is wondering, she was inspired to write the song based on Aslan, who of course is a picture of Jesus).  This vid was put together by scipio28cato34.

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Filed under Theology

Pets in Heaven…

Will there be animals in heaven?  Will my pets be in Heaven?  Will my pets go in the Rapture, and if they don’t, what will happen to them?  If you’ve been around Christians long enough, these questions will and do come up.  They are not meant to be taken lightly, nor should they be.  Humans have strong bonds and emotional attachments to animals; animals, our pets, our work companions, are a part of our lives, and most of us believe gifts of God.  When we have a pet pass on, or a pet growing old, we begin to contemplate these issues.

First, there is no Biblical evidence decidedly for or against our pets being resurrected or taken to Heaven.  It disturbs me when I see someone pronounce a definite decision either way.  In this post, I’m going to talk about my opinion, but first a clarification on the issue.  When people ask me, or ask this question on a message board, “What about my pets?” I have one question to ask back that will supersede all others; “Do you trust God?”  That’s the real issue, do you trust Him?  If you can answer that question, the animal questions are covered.  If you can (and you should) answer “Yes, I trust Him completely,” then you can totally 100% rest your heart about your animals, no matter what happens.

Second, I do think there is Biblical evidence of animals in Heaven.  After all, the army of the Lord rides down on horses, do we not?  So either there is indeed a Heavenly stable, or they are conjured for us between Heaven and Earth.  Heaven is beyond our ken; 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

We also know that animals are precious in God’s sight; He sees every little sparrow that falls, and values them, though He values humans more, as we are made in His image.  We know that living animals have nephesh or a soul, though theirs are different than ours.  We know that love and loyalty are wonderful things, also gifts of God, and what allows us to show both love and loyalty better than our pets?  Adam was put in the garden to tend it, and was responsible for naming the very animals.  We have a connection to the furballs/hairballs that cannot be denied.  Our ancestor Noah, under God’s direction, help, and guidance, built the ark that carried their ancestors to safety, we are assuredly connected.  For a glimpse at the deeper side of animals, make sure to read the story of Balaam’s Ass in Numbers chapter 22, I’m sure many times they are quicker to catch on to Spiritual things than we are…

It is also possible that they will be resurrected during the Millennial Kingdom; we know for a fact animals will be on the Earth at that point, living peaceably side-by-side.  Or, it is possible that our pets will be made new when the Heavens and the Earth are made new; after all, He did say He was reconciling all of creation to Himself, and was going to make all things new.

In my family, our animals (we’re a dog family) are a part of our family.  I’ve cried tears onto their fur while mourning loss, or guilt for something I’d done.  I’ve cried tears without them after they’d died.  I’ve laughed at their antics and my life has been made richer for them; they’ve reminded me of how God is master of creation, and a God of love, life, and joy.  Do I think we’ll be seeing them again? Yes, but I’m not going to pretend to know for sure.  But, I do know for Truth and for Fact that I can trust God to deal with my pets, and yours, completely Righteously, Mercifully, and with Love for them and us.

Perhaps a fitting question to end this post would be, “Will your pets be seeing you in Heaven or on the new Earth?”  Never forget that we need our Shepherd, to believe on Him, to have faith in Him, for we are but “sheep” gone astray.  And, our relationship with Him is what takes center stage.

Trust God, have faith in Him, fear not, everything will turn out just as it is meant to.

Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail,” –Martin Luther

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Filed under Of Interest, Theology