In his book, ]], Rob Bell, quotes Luther’s letter is Hans von Rechenberg. Here is the text from Martin Luther’s letter to Hans Von Rechenberg. Bell’s Quote (108):
In a letter Martin Luther, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, wrote to Hans von Rechenberg in 1522 he considered the possibility that people could turn to God after death, asking: “Who would doubt God’s ability to do that?”
Luther’s Letter in Context
If God were to save anyone without faith, he would be acting contrary to his own words and would give himself the lie; yes, he would deny himself. And that is impossible for, as St. Paul declares, God cannot deny himself . It is as impossible for God to save without faith as it is impossible for divine truth to lie. That is clear, obvious, and easily understood, no matter how reluctant the old wineskin is to hold this wine—yes, is unable to hold and contain it.
It would be quite a different question whether God can impart faith to some in the hour of death or after death so that these people could be saved through faith. Who would doubt God’s ability to do that? No one, however, can prove that he does do this. For all that we read is that he has already raised people from the dead and thus granted them faith. But whether he gives faith or not, it is impossible for anyone to be saved without faith. Otherwise every sermon, the gospel, and faith would be vain, false, and deceptive, since the entire gospel makes faith necessary. (Works, 43, ed. and trans. G. Wienke and H. T. Lehmann , 53-54; WA 10.ii, 324.25-325.11)
Well, that’s a problem, Rob. Try as I might to like your book and you, when you take things out of context and actually use it wrongly, you lose me. Thus far, I have found Bell to be a poor exegete and a proof-texter. He is pastoral, no doubt, but for my mind, I need sources and supported thoughts. Don’t just tell me what the Scriptures say; tell me why you think they say what you think they say and further, tell me that you are not along in this.
You don’t have to agree with Luther to see that Bell took the quote out of context.