God Wins Chapter 7 – No questions, Bad Theology, Bad History, No Context

Click to Order

The review of the last chapter, 5, came in at over 3000 words. I don’t think that chapter had that many words in it; therefore, I am trying to cut down my critique of Galli’s book. I’m not sure it will work, however…

The chapter is Galli’s attempt to answer what he sees as the mythical universalism monster which many claim to see in Bell’s work, Love Wins. Of course, along with Bell, other defenders have not that those who say that they have read the book, and come to the conclusions of universalism more than likely haven’t really read the book. Bell’s work is a warning to not condemn or consign anyone to hell, something that I think Galli would agree with, at least if he didn’t have a book to sell. Galli even admits that Bell never commits to universalism, but yet, the entire chapter is dedicated to getting the reader to Bell’s book in that light and then to silence any questions about that view. Love Wins is called “most aligned with… universalism.” In this, as he has before, Galli shows his ineptness in understanding Bell’s work, or even the various avenues at play. Universalism is indeed the belief that all people will be saved, but Bell isn’t teaching that, far from it, but what Bell is teaching, and what Galli fails to see, is more along the lines of universal restoration (Acts 3.21, NRSV). Of course, I would comment that Bell is not the theologian to prove this doctrine. Finally, on this topic of whether or not universalism is actually Bell’s point, Galli would seem to agree that it doesn’t matter, because somehow, Bell and Love Wins have become two separate entities,

Regardless of the ultimate viewpoint of its author, Love Wins does attempt to justify the legitimacy of universalism.

I question myself, in that Galli refuses to separate God from His actions, and yet willingly separates Bell and his work as if the book and the author will not share the same goal. Here, I think, the shallowness of God Wins comes through. There is little wonder why it is billed as the “first direct market response”, with the word and concept “market” taking front and center.

I wanted this chapter to tackle the question which Bell asked, as have others, in relation to what type of sovereignty does God practice, although realizing the recoil in fear of the question in of itself which Galli no doubt had. He never gets around to answering it, and instead, posits God as one who, and I am being kind here, maybe prioritizes His wants, as if He has to choose what He gets. Galli gets into this argument later, of who’s God is more sovereign, but the God which Galli writes about loses to Bell. For Bell, God is sovereign because He will eventually win whereas for Galli, God has sovereignty on a budget and while He wants (later, it becomes “wishes”), the Sovereign wants other things first, leaving the infinite Grace of Jonathan Edwards (Galli quotes him and this phrase later in the book) butchered. Galli notes that Love Wins “fails to account for all that God wants.” Well, that’s true, accept neither does God Wins. Indeed, what the author thinks God wants is based on a poorly proof-texted passage, based on Isaiah 61.8, which notes that God loves justice. Yet this passage is at the end of an exile, wherein the Children of Israel was cast off into destruction, into the grave, into hell, but brought out again and restored, with their sin and punishment removed–YHWH’s restorative justice. This is justice, not the idea of eternal destruction, but of punishment necessary to effectually remove the sin from the sinner. Purgatory. But, before that, Galli notes that the prophets proved that God wants justice. This is the first clue that Galli will not not get the Old Testament right, in that the Prophets called Israel to repentance, to turn back to God, but they didn’t. That’s why they were exiled, to be purged of their wickedness.

Galli, again, goes on the attack, trying to get the audience to believe that Bell is suggesting that God is prioritizing His wants, and that we must “discern what God wants the most.” And yet, again, I do not get that from Bell. Bell’s mantra is, “God gets what God wants.” Galli never answers that, but puts up as a stumblingblock that God wants Justice, although Galli never defines God’s justice. Where are the answers to Bell’s statement here? It leaves the attempts herein made impotent, so much so that once again, he goes on the offensive, suggesting we should not question God, noting that God “has revealed himself to us, but not completely.” I wonder about John 17 or Colossians that talks about God being revealed, fully, in the Son. And yet, Galli says otherwise.

As in other places, Galli’s refusal to consult modern scholarship in favor of the “plain reading of scripture” leaves his arguments with gaping wholes. To argue that the bible “clearly teaches about a Last Judgment and eternal consequences for rejecting Christ,” he quotes Luke 19.41-44, in which Jesus bemoans the fate of Jerusalem. He fails to note what salvation is, in this sense, as well as judgment, or soon coming end of Exile which would allows for the Jewish people. He, further, confuses the judgment about to take place at Jerusalem with the national judgment on Israel. I would counter the usual reading with a reading grounded in certain areas of Scholarship, but if one is enamored with the “plain reading” would it help for him to hear about context? I expect that my answer, besides the “no”, would be criticism first for asking the question and second for asking the questions about the context. This scene is not about eternal destruction, but about the Salvation, i.e., Jesus who was coming to Jerusalem.

In the section entitled, The History of Universalism, Galli shows that the greatest extent of his research seems to be the internet. He believes, for one, that “throughout Christian history it (meaning universal reconciliation, which I understand Galli to mean from his previous paragraph, although I although that the author may still be getting the two concepts/words mixed up) has been decidedly in the minority. He is correct, however, in noting that an ecumenical council in 435 condemned Origen’s view. Further, he notes that Christians of the three communions, Orthodoxy, Rome, and Protestantism rejected the view, believing that save for George MacDonald and William Law, the number of prominent Christians who believe in universal reconciliation can be counted on one hand. I suspect, then, that Galli is a mutant with fingers which number past the usual five or six. Returning, first, to the point of the “minority.” Galli ignores the masses of Christians noted by Basil and Augustine. As to the rejection by the three Communions, I would caution him to read much more Orthodox theology than he apparently has. For Rome, read Redemptor Hominis by the late Pope John Paul II. For the Protestants, read Barth, Willimon, and a host of others who may in fact reject universalism, but hold to the hope of a universal reconciliation, or as older Protestants called it, a universal refurbishment. And as far as the limiting of prominent Christians to five, I would suggest he read about the Gregorys of Cappadocia (x2), Eusebius, Marcellus Ancyra, Irenaeus, Diodorus of Tarsus, Origen, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Victorinus, Hilary, Titus – Bishop of Bostra, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and even Jerome not to mention Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis, Robin Parry, William Willimon, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Truly, the greatest weakness to Bell’s argument from History is that he clearly failed history. But, so does Galli who would insist on arguing against the universal reconciliation found in Gregory of Nyssa and Clement of Alexandria , without, no doubt, reading them and continuing to rely upon the Constantinian enforcement of doctrine.

Next, Galli moves on to debating the meaning of ‘all’ which, using his preferred hermeneutic should, without question, plainly mean all. He opens by muting the statement in Isaiah 52.10 regarding the fact that all the earth will see the salvation of God. He says that is is merely about recognition of the salvation, and not acceptance.  I would contend, as Bauckham does in Revelation 5.9-10 (]], p75), that ‘seeing’ is much more than just viewing with one’s eyes, but in realization of what salvation is, and thus, in bowing before God. In Philippians 2.9-10, in the remnants of the Christological hymn, Paul notes that it is more than seeing, but in bowing and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. If we were to remain completely narrative in our theology, we would then note Romans 10 where in we are saved by our confession that Jesus Christ is LORD. But, Galli’s failure to use his own hermeneutic (ignoring 1 Timothy 2.3-4′, admitting it only as a key verse for Bell) doesn’t stop there and is only confounded by a blatantly false misreading of James 2.19, which reads,

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. (Jam 2:19 NLT)

Galli’s says of this verse, “But even demons acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and shudder at the thought.” He says in response to the use of the above mentioned Phil 2.9-10. In effect, his response is again made impotent due to not only a bad exegesis, but an awful use of the verse (James 2.19) which leads only to a shallow attempt to ignore what Scripture actually says. He does go on to note, that universalists use other verses, without actually noting the verses used, allowing that “most of those” (those meaning verses with the word all in them) simply refer to “all Israel” (a key concept Galli misses) and the usual response of ‘all kinds of people’. There is no exegesis here, but a simple repeating of what others have written, without source, leading to more bad theology as the work is moved from one to another.

He calls attention to 2 Corinthians 5.19, pulling a single verse out of a passage, say that it accords with Colossians 1.20. He sees these verses and stating the Gospel message as he knows it. Yet, here, I find it troubling. First, for Galli and many, many others, a response is need, an acceptance on our part, as if we can choose Christ, or reject Him, allowing the final work of salvation to fall upon our shoulders. When Galli is speaking of God’s sovereignty later (which he takes on Bell’s notion that throughout hell, one may have a choice to accept Christ), I have to wonder, as he requires a response, if the fact that a required response actually mutes the sovereignty of God. Galli says that we are called to be reconciled to God, and yet, in the verses he noted, all of the action of reconciliation is centered on God in Christ! In pulling those verses out of the larger narratives, I believe that Galli misses a great deal. For example, 2 Corinthians 5.19 is part of a larger pericope beginning in verse 11. In that section, we find that the Apostle is speaking about his mission, in that God has sent him, through the love pf Christ, to preach. Why? Because they “are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” Note Paul’s words in Romans 5 where life is now said to be for all. Returning to 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the congregation there that “the trespasses of the world will not be counted against them.” And, finally, he notes that today, today is the day of salvation! This is a point, later, that Galli misses. Christ has already died, was buried, and rose again. He brought Salvation once. It is the day which Salvation has wrought.

He ends this section by turning to and essay written by Richard Bauckham in 1979 who noted then that the exegetical scholarship of the time had turned “against the universalist case.” Indeed, by then, it surely had, but, in 1993, Bauckhamn published a book on the theology of Revelation which allows for a universal kingdom of Christ. For Bauckham in 1993, the narrative of Revelation was central in the narrative of Scripture as it made all theological perspectives focused on the whole of Creation (163-164). In Revelation, everything is tied to a restoration of all things. (Behold, I make all things new…)

In the section entitled, Divine Math, Galli takes on what he assumes to be Bell’s anthropocentric notion that if it doesn’t make sense to us, then God won’t do it, such as sending those who had never heard of Christ to hell. This is a causality of Bell’s style. Galli is correct in that Bell does seem to posit that certain things need to make sense. Of course, this isn’t just Bell’s problem, but generally most of the West’s. Yet, Galli doesn’t answer Bell’s questions, in that for many Christians, history is not tragic. He uses Romans 9  as his starting point to dismiss Bell. This is a sensitive topic of discussion, and if not handled correctly, leads to a variety of doctrines which, in of themselves, led to horrible excesses in the name of Christ. By pulling out chapter 9 from the usual 9-11, and indeed, then, out of Romans, he has All Israel rejected, failing to note the theological language of that phrase, or the promised restoration, after being cast off, of Israel. For an author who follows themes in the Text, he misses a very central theme found throughout Scripture and articulated by Paul in regards to Israel. Instead of answering the question or trying to exegete the passage, Galli returns to the familiar refrain of abhorring questions. He treats the Bible as it is has a role to play ignoring our questions, saying that it does so to direct us to trust more in God, which I assume was completely blind in the Old Testament as he says that since Christ came, our trust is no longer blind.

He moves on them to address the topic of how many will be saved, not what Bell was getting at, by relating to the reader the metaphor found in 2 peter 3.8. He takes this 1000 year:1 day ratio, which he actually gets right, and applies it to Bell’s ‘billion’, again, which wasn’t the point. Galli, however, allows that God “manages the population of heaven” well enough and that we should leave him alone. I have serious doubts that Galli read the book, but if he did, then his hyper-literalism has transferred and confounded him in reading other texts. And it is in his hyper-literalism that I found one the lowest points of the book. He quotes Revelation 14.1, with the 144,000, as specific number “regarding heaven’s population.” He notes the different interpretations, but fails to note that more than likely, and I believe Bauckham could help him on this, represent the tribal armies, reunited, following the King Messiah into war, according to the ancient methods proscribed in the Torah. It has not only to do with the New Creation, but also a more political imagery consistent within John’s Jewish-Christian Apocalypse.

In trying to prove that God’s and our own actions are eternal, especially in regards to our lives, he quotes from Ecclesiastes 3.11, which, given his earlier statements on the Old Testament, I have no doubt that he believes that the book has a solid view of the after-life in it. He first notes that the eternal God creates things which brings about eternal consequences. This, without scriptural support or further explanation, is followed by his attempt to answer Bell’s question on why, if we only sin for 70 years, do we spend an eternity in torment. He answers this by relating sin to a marriage proposal in that, he takes the idea that ‘if you don’t it right the first time, you’ll regret it forever.’ I’m paraphrasing him, of course, but that is generally the idea. While his marriage proposal may have flopped, the fact is, is that they were indeed married and have a wonderful family. How is stammering over asking the love of your life to marry you comparable to sinning? Or, further, to rejecting Christ? He is wrong to say that certain events can only be navigated once – only this life can be navigated once. But it is life, a vapor, as the author of Ecclesiastes noted. Yet, eternity is not. Further, again, eternity is more than Galli is allowing it to be.

Finally, in this chapter, Galli ends with Bell’s misguided notion that throughout the course of Hell, one may be able to choose God, finally. Bell’s view does not fall into the realm of hope offered by earlier commentators, and Galli is right to take him to task on it. But, again, Galli’s argument of freedom of choice which is a slap in the face of God’s dynamic sovereignty, is brought low by the fact that be believes that a response must be made on this side of the great divide. This is a larger topic than this chapter, or Bell’s book, could hold, but it is one which I think would help both authors understand their respective statements better.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

#lovewins, #godwins, @harperone wins

Kevin has perhaps the best line of any review of Rob Bell’s Book…

In the end, “Harper Wins”

He goes to defend Bell and argue against the misconception that Bell is a universalist. He’s not. But that hasn’t stopped Piper and Mark Galli, among others, from declaring him as such  and using that declaration as a reason to ignite the fires.

Anyway, you can read Kevin’s review here:

Love Wins: Rob Bell may be an inclusivist but he’s not a universalist | New Epistles.

Posted on

God Wins Chapter 6 – No Questions, Yes to Paradoxes, but don’t look at them

Click to Order

At the end of this chapter-by-chapter response to God Wins, I will post a review in which I will try to find some redeemable qualities of this book. Thus far, in six chapters, I have found few. Laden with missed opportunities for real discussion, mischaracterizations of Bell’s work, and a fine showing of an inept understanding of Christian theologies as well as current biblical scholarship which is, no doubt, in Bell’s mind, God Wins is little more than a better written tract which you find in a fast food restaurant. Chapter Six, entitled Hell and Judgment, combines the deficit of the previous chapters into one giant intellectual fiasco filled with the very best clichés of Christian apologetic; however, there are several points with which I will agree with Galli, but they are few.

The chapter opens with Galli comparing the Christian who wants answers (questions seem to be almost a sin, if not so, with the author) to General Patton, the notoriously bravado-filled general of World War II. I am unsure if this is the best comparison, for a variety of reasons, but the more so since Patton generally cared little for answers or questions, but was only adamant of winning. What this analogy does, however, is to reinforce the idea that questions are bad, although as I have demonstrated, questions are indeed biblical, not to mention that Galli gets Bell’s scope of questions wrong. In this opening salvo, he goes on to note the incoherency of Bell’s thoughts on hell in Love Wins. He assigns this to Bell’s misunderstandings “about what the Bible means by certain words and ideas, and partly from assumptions that drive the discussion itself. As we shall see, Galli rarely knows the actual meaning or context of the “what the Bible means” and relies heavily up assumptions to drive his doctrine on hell.

The first section of the chapter, Hell, begins by noting that the “Greek word that we translate as “hell” is Gehenna.” Yet, this is actually false. There are at least two other words in the Greek New Testament which regularly find themselves translated as ‘hell’, especially in the older translations. First, ταρταρώσας which is found in 2nd Peter 2:4 and second, there is the familiar one, ᾅδης, which is found throughout the Greek New Testament, most noticeably in Luke 16.23, which Galli actually, erroneously, labels ‘hell’ when he is speaking about Bell’s interpretation of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. While Galli is accurate about Gehenna not being a ‘garbage dump’ as our medieval interpreters would have us believe, I find it ironic that he has allowed himself to question that centuries old interpretation but doesn’t carry himself to the next step and then hypocritically criticizes those who question other words in the Biblical use, although arguably, he doesn’t say he questioned anything. He goes on to say that “it can be safely assumed from Scripture that hell is just as everlasting as heaven (see Matthew 25.46).” Of course, I would then push him to note the difference in parabolic and hyperbolic speech as opposed to literal dialogue, but that may not be necessary, as we will later see. Galli falls into the classic fallacy which we know of scriptura scripturam interpretatur, although he willingly allows “Greek dictionaries” in from time to time. There is a huge problem of “safely assum(ing)” anything from Scripture, in that it is based on subjectivity rather than objectivity (as much as possible). In this, he misses the rediscovered meaning of “everlasting”, which we will get to later.

He goes further to comment “There is no talk anywhere in the New Testament of people ever leaving hell.” Except that there is. In 1 Peter 3.18-19 and 4.6. Further, there is Paul’s imagery in Ephesians 4.8-10 which uses Psalm 68.18. Or from the Prophets, Zechariah 9.11 which may in fact be used as a companion piece to the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Further, Isaiah provides back drop to Revelation 21-22 when the words of the prophet declares that after a certain time spent in prison, the sinners will be visited by the LORD Himself. Further, there is a long standing Christian Tradition among the oldest of the Communions which relate to the Harrowing of Hell, based in Scripture, based among the earliest Apologists. For such an  important topic, Galli’s section on Hell is as short as Bell’s proscribed stay in such a place. Here, here is where Galli again shows his ineptness of Christian Theological Tradition and I’m afraid, an exegetical prowess. He ends this section by noting that this doctrine “comes packaged with other ideas” but I have to wonder if we, regardless of the facts, are the ones actually packaging these ideas together.

Ironically, after Hell comes Judgment. He begins up acknowledging God as the judge of the whole earth, as well as he should, but goes on to state, “the New Testament intensifies the Old Testament ideas of judgment” (italics mine). He never fully explains this view, leaving us open to make assumptions that Galli sees the New Testament about Judgment to the exclusion of Grace. I am unsure as to the Scriptural support for such a statement, as he doesn’t provide any, but for the theme of the Last Judgment, he draws heavily from parables leaving me wonder if he would actually pluck out an eye if it caused him to sin. There is a danger in drawing out doctrine based on a literal reading of a segment of Scripture not meant to be taken literally. Of course, this idea of understanding genre and the proper way to read the Scripture is a pitfall of Galli. For example, he quotes Romans 1.18-32 as a sign that God is allowing sin to multiply in intensity, although a proper reading of Scripture shows that this passage is set in Romans as a means for Paul to argue against the Jewish understanding (ironically, the view expressed in Romans 1.18-32) that Gentiles weren’t able to be saved. If this passage is about judgment, then it is Galli who is being judged for holding a viewpoint which Paul has already condemned as invalid through Christ.

He ends this section by nothing that this and the previous section is a “basic overview of the biblical teaching of hell and judgment.” Yet, there is only a smattering of verses, no exegesis, no sourced foundation and no real clear teaching of any kind, except to restated centuries only errors masquerading as truth. Ironically, and again, Bell and Galli are closer than he thinks, he notes that there are “nuances and differing interpretations,” calling them secondary matter. He goes on to note the different images of the eternal torment in Scripture which are sometimes exaggerated, but says that the sames teaches which he espouses have been held from the beginning, although he quotes from the Creed of 381 (not the Nicene Creed as he calls it), which was a reformulation of the actual Nicene Creed. While it is nice to say that the same beliefs which we hold now are those held for 2000 years, but as scholarship as shown – and not just scholarship into the New Testament thought world, but into early Christian history as well as the Church Fathers (for example, Athanasius was pre-Chalcedonian), it is impossible to actually say that.

In the next section, A Judge We Can Trust, he opens by stating that the teaching, which I guess is the teaching he just gave us although I think that partial regurgitation of half-thought ideas based on bad exegesis should not be regarded as teaching, makes Christian feel uncomfortable. He is correct, that  Christians react differently to the more difficult doctrines, and he is correct that this should not cause us to shy away from it, but I do react to his idea that to teach something different than the traditional view of hell is to somehow soften up the bible. I have to wonder if perhaps the message of Revelation is missed in that the Kings of The Earth and those who had formerly persecuted the Saints are now given Grace, and that in this, the persecuted must welcome the persecutors. Think of the acceptance of Saul of Tarsus as an Apostle. How much harder is the doctrine of Grace than the doctrine of hell. And what if this Grace was extended to those who had persecuted Christians in this life, but find grace in life eternal? But, I digress.

Gallis is correct to connect judgement to the person of Jesus Christ. In this, I think that Galli and Bell would agree, as would Wright among others. We cannot separate Christ and Judgment as only through Judgment, I think, we come to know Christ, and vice versa. But, I do take issue with this image of Jesus which Galli is, which helps to highlight his earlier statement about the New Testament intensifying judgment. Galli’s Jesus is one who has a “moral backbone.” But, Galli, again, gets a few things wrong. First, he misquotes John the Baptizer’s words about Jesus baptizing with fire, associating this wording with somehow having a backbone and not with the Spirit. Further, he misquotes the age old statement that Jesus took a whip to people, and not to the animals as the Greek says.  At this point, Galli is playing up to preachers like Mark Driscoll, who want to shape the Jewish Jesus into the image of a Mixed Martial Artist. While we want to see Jesus as a brash warrior, bringing the heat and whipping people into shape, the New Testament doesn’t give us that picture, although to be sure, Jesus wasn’t a hippie either; for both images are hopelessly trapped in a game of enculturating a Jesus, often European, but rarely Palestinian. But, Galli and I agree that the “perfectly just” and “perfectly merciful” Jesus will judge, however, Galli never goes on to define Justice or Mercy.

Telling the Right Story begins by blatantly twisting Bell’s work which leaves me, again, questioning the journalistic integrity of Galli or wondering if Galli has even read Love Wins. He quotes Bell’s characterization of “the Christian story” and then begins to deride it as if Bell was actually presenting it as the actual Christian story. Instead, Bell presents the story as one often heard by sinners, and one which prompted him, in part, to write the book. Bell takes a hardline against that type of story, one in which God loves to send people to hell if they don’t follow, exactly, his rules, and yet Galli doesn’t get that. Instead, he wants to pretend that Bell is actually selling that story as the Christian Story which gives him room to rail against both Bell and that story. He notes that “some” Christians have gotten the story wrong, which again is what Bell is saying. Further, he takes issue with Bell noting the progressive revelation of Scripture when Love Wins refers to the fact that the after life is rarely clearly defined in the Old Testament. Galli takes this to pound his chest as a bible believer, as one who doesn’t question Scripture, and one completely devoid of knowledge of actual scholarship, believing, I think, that the bible somehow came about in a vacuum, removed from the time in which it was written.

I find that I agree most with Galli in the section entitled, Hell Today? He’s absolutely right that Bell undersells the hells of this life, noting that often times, the sinner receives no punishment in this life. His only error here is misusing Romans 1.18, but beyond that, he is correct when he says that because people do not receive punishment in this life, the “idea of judgment is stressed in Scripture”. This is a section is may be among the only redeeming qualities of this book, in that he acknowledges where Bell doesn’t that sometimes, the wicked grow wealthy and live their lives to the fullest extent while the righteous suffer and die miserably.

More Odd Exegesis focuses on Bell’s interpretation of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Here, Galli’s ineptness in surveying modern scholarship, or even commentaries on Luke becomes more readily apparent. He dislikes Bell’s thought that the parable is about social in/equality, but in reading Luke and recent scholarship on Luke, one cannot help but see the use of rich/poor in this parable as the author of Luke does throughout the Gospel. The parable may actually be seen as pointing to social issues, especially given that the story involves inversion, a common Jewish story-telling method of the time. Further, as Wright notes in Jesus and the Victory of God, this story carries with it an undercoat pointing the then-present Resurrection which was happening around them. The story is similar to the Prodigal Son in many elements. Wright also notes, in the just mentioned book, something that Galli needs to pay attention to, “scholars who presuppose the real referent of the parable to be the future post mortem state (e.g. Nolland 1993, 827) tend to reject the importance of the known story – despite the wealth of evidence discussed by Hock and Bauckham, to look no further.” But, Galli is still living and thus reading in a world where heaven is up and hell is down.

According to his “plain reading” (which is only a means to reinterpret the passage according to how he wants to read it), Galli takes on Bell’s version of the parable by noting that this story couldn’t possible being about the Rich Man thinking that Lazarus “as beneath him” because “Lazarus has made it to heaven, while he is in hell.” Of course, and I refer back to the issue of that several words are often (mis)translated as hell, Galli thinks that the Rich Man is in Hell, or perhaps below. He then declares that Bell is wrong, that Jesus wasn’t speaking about equality, but about mercy needing to be shown in this life. Galli is wrong, but I have to wonder how he views equality as far apart from mercy? He concludes the section by states that one again “Love Wins attempts to retell the biblical story” and of course, for Galli, Bell gets it wrong. Yet, for those who are following along with the narrative of scholarship which is revealing to us how the earliest audiences would have understood the stories, it is clear that Bell is actually expressing some knowledge of said Scholarship which brings substance to the”biblical story” where as Galli is stuck on the “plain reading.”

Following this section, Galli takes on Bell’s notion of punishment and judgment as pruning in What Type of Judgment. Bell notes that “Kolazo” (which from the construction of it, shows that Bell is parsing ideas about Greek instead of relying upon the Greek) means “pruning”. Galli, without sourcing his work (which is a problem I have with both authors) note that “Greek dictionaries define kalazo as …” and lists several definitions, none of which includes “pruning”. Yet, Thayer’s Lexicon does. Further, Liddell-Scott includes the word “correction” in its definition. He goes on to quote Scott McKnight’s review of the book found on this blog, but does so only in part:

My point: it is simply disingenuous to say without qualification that it means pruning, and it is unfair to readers not to say that most — if not almost all — instances refer to a kind of retributive punishment and chastisement — there is very little emphasis in this word’s usage that suggests punish to improve and much more punish full stop. Here’s the big point: this is about Life and Kolasis/Punishment in The Age to Come. The Age to Come is everlasting.

From there, I get the the impression, not found in Galli (the bold words are Galli’s quoted section), is the McKnight’s problem with Bell’s exegesis is that is without qualification (italicized words above). It may be that Bell is thinking instead of κολάζω a construction of the word he noted and meaning pruning according to several Greek Lexicons. Further, it is used in 4 Macc 2.12 to refer to the punishment which parents afford children to help them grow.

καὶ τῆς τέκνων φιλίας κυριεύει διὰ κακίαν αὐτὰ κολάζων

In the first of the two last sections, The Problem of Choice – Again, makes the salient point that a choice after death, one in which the soul experiences hell has a chance to choose heaven then it is not a choice, but coercion. Further, it is not love, but fear. It is a not a fear which causes us to grow and to be pruned, but one in which we build up resentment to God the Father, making the blood of the Son invalid. While I agree with much of his statements here, I take issue that he would leap to assumptions that Bell’s scenario would allow the saved to choose hell, but what cuts to the bone is Galli’s notion that we only “tend to learn and grow because we temporarily reject the love and goodness of God.” He is attempting to counter Bell’s vision that in life eternal, we will grow, but in doing so, Galli makes it seem that we must sin and perpetuate evil in order to grow. This is neither biblical nor anthropological. Human growth is not due to sin, but in fact may be said to have been slowed due to the evils which we ourselves create. Yet, in life eternal, in the New Creation, we will grow to assume what our place is in God, to what the image of God actually means, and this doesn’t take sin, but God.

The final section in this chapter is, as if he is taunting me, As for Those Questions. He accuses Bell of universalism, but anyone who has read the book knows better. He accuses the book of focusing on “a God of love” than the God who we know through Jesus Christ (John 3.16?). He goes son to say, again, that it is not just about love, but about justice as well, but never, and I am running out of hope and patience, defines justice. He says that God “has plainly revealed to us” the realities of hell and the final judgment, and yet, provides little scriptural support and what he does, relies on a “plain reading” and not rediscovering the biblical text as the authors intended. He even acknowledges that the “Bible doesn’t give us much beyond these few, bare truths” and “We do not know a lot about hell and the Last Judgment.” What truths is he actually talking about and if we don’t know much about them, then why is he so adamant about defending what he says he doesn’t know much about?  But, he goes further, to caution us against judging anyone, even Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, due to what we can only call ‘death bed confessions.’ (Here, I think back to the Christian Story Bell railed against, as if the final work of salvation is not in Christ, but in what we do.) He draws this chapter to a close by writing, “We can let such matters lie with him. We do not have to reconcile paradoxes to which he has chosen not to reveal the solutions.” I would agree.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

God Wins Chapter 5 – The Pitfalls of Literalism

Click to Order

The hermeneutical trend of reading the bible in such a way as to take literal the words on paper allowing for no genre, context, or apocryphal meaning is a not only a danger to serious biblical interpretation, but so too which forms a hermeneutical blind-spot for other fields as well. In studying the move between oral and written cultures, one must notice the dangers in having something written as opposed to having heard something. For the hearer, he or she is able to noticed the facial features of the speaker, for hidden cues, or the tone and pitch of the voice. In a written performance, that is missed and indeed, the reader becomes the speaker. This is, I suspect one of Galli’s pitfalls in understanding Bell, if he ever really attempted to do so. In this chapter, The Point of Heaven, Galli shows his subjective literalism not only in reading Scripture but in reading Bell as well.

He starts the chapter off by declaring that “someone more or less” is missing from the picture, which I assume he means God. I am unsure as to how he thinks that God is missing from Bell’s heaven, as I suspect that it is more of a matter of perspective. As an example, God is not missing in Esther or the Song of Solomon, but ever present, even if He is never mentioned. But, as we proceed with the chapter, Galli’s literalism obfuscates Bell and Scripture. He correctly notes that “Heaven is also used to describe the reality where God rules.” Yes, it does, but Galli goes on to say that “Wherever this heaven is, it is not on earth.” And yet, we are commended to pray “thy kingdom come (to earth), they will be done on earth as it is in heaven” which is seeking the joining of the realm of Heaven to the realm of Earth, which we see not just in the final pages of Revelation but so too the very first chapters of Genesis. He cites John 14.2 and Philippians 1.23, giving the allusion that Heaven is some far off distant realm only coming to earth in a quantum superposition. And yet, this is due to the abject hermeneutic which Galli is using. While it does not behoove me to give a fully sourced critique of this work (at this time), Galli ignores the use of language in John which doesn’t mean a far distant heaven, but one here on earth, inaugurated by Christ – the Kingdom of God. Galli is not so much arguing against Bell but showing that he hasn’t read much of the Kingdom Theology or is enveloped in current scholastic studies about the ancient Jewish understandings behind the New Testament books, which oddly enough, were not written by medieval European white men. I would suggest, especially for a better understanding of the passage in John reading ]]’s book, ]], published by Tyndale House Publishers.

He concludes this section by giving into the last few centuries’ doctrine of escapism (I’ll Fly Away!) by saying that both Jesus and Paul acknowledged “this dimension of heaven” then it would be accurate to “think of heaven as… a destination to be arrived at.” I would counter that Galli should read Perrin, Wright, and others of the New Perspective on Paul as well as the Book of Revelation which doesn’t have us going to heaven, but reverses that, to reunited humanity with God where humanity was first given dominion, on earth. While the pilgrimage themes are important, as Galli notes, we have to understand that all of Creation was and is moving towards a New Creation. Oddly enough, he notes the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land, failing to note that Jacob was there at first, but took his family into Egypt, and only later, after the Exodus event, did they return to where they started. While I appreciate narrative theology, and I supposed that this is actually what Galli is following, I think that we have to be careful not to focus too much on the reoccurring themes as a permanent fixture of human existence or the Divine-human relationship as we miss that often times, these story lines are concluded in Christ.

In the next section, A Tangible Heaven, we see again a re0ccuring theme in Galli, that of being anti-experiential, as if experiencing God has somehow ceased. He again ignores, or is perhaps unlearned, in modern scholarship which should help us out of that abject hermeneutic, but it seems that Bell is at least familiar with recent scholarship and theology based upon said scholarship. He quotes Bell in trying to explain eternity who writes that eternity is “intensity of experience that transcends time” (pg57, Love Wins). Galli goes to the Greek lexicon which admittedly may not support the meaning of the word, but are lexicons meant to provide context and usage or to translate the word? This is a different in the use of ‘word-for-word’ bibles and those bibles translated, such as the NLT, using the dynamic equivalent model. That’s because literalism, even in translation, can obscure the actual meaning of the word. So, while Galli is right that the literal definition of the word does not mean what Bell writes of Eternity, he is wrong in that eternity doesn’t mean Bell says it describes. Bell is not alone, either today, or from history, in describing eternity as an experience rather than a length of time. Dr. Alexander Melnyk notes that the 5th century Christian theologian, Boethius, saw heaven as experience as well. Dr. Melnyk writes,

We sometimes, mistakenly consider eternity as if it were a never ending stream of time. This is not what is meant by eternity. Probably the best definition of eternity was given by Boethius, who lived in the fifth century. He pointed out that even if time were unending, it would still not be eternal. Eternity is a special quality which enables all moments to be present. Thus God experiences all times as if they were here present in this very moment. But that is not the whole story.

While the light from the East is important, I want to now rebuff Galli with someone closer to his belief, a more conservative pastors, Rev. George Cutler*, who in a sermon, writes,

There is a difference between the succession of events in time and the “intensity of experience” in eternity. The intensity of experience will envelop the manifestation of extensity when time ceases to exist. The word “extensity” denotes the quality of having extension or the attitude or sensation by which spatial (pertaining to space which also involves time) extension is perceived. The word “intensity” refers to the quality or condition of being intense, i.e., extreme (absolute) in degree, power, or effect, as the essential quality of eternity is intensity rather than extensity. Even though the anthropomorphic axioms “everlasting” and age-enduring are the widely accepted descriptive terminology conveyed in the scriptures; to think of length as the essence of eternal life is to suppose that the reality of it is to be measured by how long it lasts.

And while N.T. Wright doesn’t expressly confirm Bell’s view, he does in fact come close to calling the view which Galli is seemingly espousing, platonic and gnostic,

In this clip, from an interview regarding his book, ]], we see Bell’s line of thinking expressed academically and theologically by N.T. Wright,


Galli and Bell are more alike than Galli would assume. Neither source their material and they both offer nothing more than bare-bones proof-texts to support their statements. Yes, while he can pull from Isaiah and other Old Testament books, he doesn’t offer context nor real exegesis, only falling for the centuries old misunderstanding of the New Creation which has led us to this present notion of escapism (I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane…..).

One of the issues which has begun to bother me about Galli’s approach to Bell is two-fold. First, he sorely mischaracterizes Bell’s position and then, he forgets that the Christian world doesn’t turn on a small group of Protestant believers. He fails his Theological History exam in recognizing Arminianism and Wesleyanism, and in this case, accusing Bell of the age-old anti-Catholic heresy of “works-based righteousness.” He calls Bell’s interpretation of the story of the rich young ruler wherein Bell urges the audience to “become a person of peace and justice and worship and generosity” a “serious (if inadvertent distortions of the gospel.” Yet again, Bell is not new in this, but is showing his theological heritage in both Wright and long before him, Wesley to some extent. Further, I would argue that, as I referred to earlier, Galli’s literalism is carried over from Scripture to Bell which removes Bell’s context. Bell is not preaching to sinners here, but to those who are already following Christ which is why, as he notes, “there is not a word in the book” about the grace needed to live in Christ. As well, he criticizes Bell for not focusing on the “Follow Me” part of the story which, again, the audience should already be doing. If sermons to edify and upbraid your congregation is a “works-based righteousness”, then many people are guilty of something which may actually be found in Scripture, although not to the error we have made it out to be.

As I have noted before, Galli hasn’t either grasped the theology behind the New Creation, the key of being which the body of Christ our Lord resurrected, or has refused to interact with it. While writing a response may not entail such things, to be honest to the opposing party, one should at the very least seek to understand where he or she is coming from. We meet this lack of interaction or refusal to understand again in the section, What Heaven is About. He first criticizes Bell’s claim that “heaven has the potential to be a kind of starting over. Learning how to be human all over again.” (p50-51, Love Wins) Galli says that Bell must be compared to the “fuller biblical picture.” Yet, for all of this blustery grandstanding of being more biblical than Bell, Galli doesn’t do much better, as in describing ‘heaven’ Galli starts and seemingly stops at Revelation 4.8-11. He does note the vision of the “last days” in Isaiah 2.2-3, which takes place on earth, using metaphorical language. He goes on to state that the “central activity of heaven will not be creativity or work but the worship of God” (referenced by Revelation 4). I don’t get the sense that in Bell’s heaven, worship is denied, but I do think that this is an interesting divide enumerated by the words which we use. For Galli and others, they speak of the Life-After as ‘heaven’ while for Bell, Wright, and even myself, I use the term most frequently as “New Creation.” It is a return, as the final chapters of Revelation puts it, to Eden, where the creativity first took place. In quoting chapter 4 of Revelation, he dismisses the notion that humanity is not yet present with God as well as the vast difference which we see in the heavenly situation when God brings heaven to earth. I admit that Bell’s more philosophic attributions to the Kingdom of Heaven is a bit off-putting, I am reminded that Galli’s extreme literalism is only the other side of the coin of Bell.

Galli is correct, however, that Bell doesn’t mention God nearly as much as perhaps he should have, but again, I go back to the (perhaps excuse) that Bell is preaching to Christian with a different focus than Galli would have him to have. To accuse Bell, however, of coming close to the “Eastern religions” (a term Galli has used several times) is to misunderstand other Christian theological traditions, such as Eastern Orthodoxy and the Apophatic terminology which Bell can easily been seen as fitting into. A different view is not always unbiblical or wrong. Further, our views are not automatically right since we hold them. Bell is not automatically wrong because he espouses theology differently, and neither is Galli. I’m not sure that Galli understands that, but I am sure that he is missing out on the grand narrative of Christian theologies which is a detriment to himself personally, and indeed, leaves a gaping whole in his book.


Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

God Wins Chapter 4 – Calvinism ≠ Biblical, Galli’s view ≠ Bell’s words

Click to Order

I am hesitant to post such a title, especially about Calvinism, especially since I do think that Calvinism contains biblical doctrines, although I cannot attest to it as a completely biblical doctrine (and thus the idea of ever Reforming, I would gather). However, Galli takes the approach that Calvinism and ‘biblical’ can be interchanged, although admittedly, he never uses Calvinism nor such words as predestination or election while allowing the concepts contained there in to shine forth. To note as well, his Calvinism is not the absolute variety, but is one which demands a response. Further, the concept of irresistible Grace is present in Mark, and without Scripture, proceeds that it is at once the only biblical doctrine and thus because Bell is clearly Arminian, or Open Theist, then he is preaching a false gospel. While this may play well in some quarters, many who assume themselves to be ‘biblical’ would see Galli as unbiblical for many of his statements in this chapter! For many, such as C.S. Lewis, whom Galli quotes several times, we place ourselves in Hell. This is the idea that Grace is resistible, that while God has given us the free gift of grace, He has equally given us the freedom to refuse it. In short, what Galli is arguing against is not new or even unbiblical as he supposes, but the biblical doctrine of Free Will as argued by many Christians. I would assume that had Galli actually studied theology, and not parsed theologians and he seemingly has done, he would have recognized Bell’s ‘new’, ‘American’, ‘Enlightenment’ theology as some of the core beliefs of Wesleyans, other Arminians, and Open Theists.

This chapter is short, and that is saying something for an already short book, but it is focused on Bell’s words that “Yes, we get what we want.” For Bell, this means that we get to choose whether or not to accept Salvation or refuse it. Here, again, I turn (like Galli often does, seemingly missing the ultimate hope of the generations-past author had) to C.S. Lewis who wrote in the Great Divorce,

“Finally, it is objected that the ultimate loss of a single soul means the defeat of omnipotence. And so it does. In creating beings with free will, omnipotence from the outset submits to the possibility of such defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle: for to make things which are not Itself, and thus to become, in a sense, capable of being resisted by its own handiwork, is the most astonishing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the Deity. I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”

Bell is no C.S. Lewis, but how is this quote different in the intent and philosophy which Bell has written in that we receive the hell which we create for ourselves in refusing salvation. Barth noted that it was the possible impossibility. Barth, another theologian which Galli quotes and has an admitted admiration for. Yet, Galli has decided to take on Bell, armed with what? Two theologians who would support Bell before Galli. But, I digress. Here, Galli clearly gets Bell wrong and tends to see Bell as a semi-Pelegian, holding court without Augustine, or perhaps fails to understand Bell’s theology as Galli launches into a sophomoric explanation of what we understand as Calvinism and then holds Bell up to that. In this measuring, Galli misquotes (Bell doesn’t say that the Gospel is that God gives us what we want) and overstates Bell’s position (Bell doesn’t say we judge ourselves and nor does he remove God from that position).

There is not much in the fourth chapter, unless he removes the diatribes against Bell and fully explores the tension between the Sovereignty of God and Human Free Will. For me, in reading Willimon, I am coming to believe that Grace is irresistible.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

God Wins Chapter 3 – Mischaracterizations, Hypocrisy and the Substitutionary Atonement

Click to Order

With three chapters completed, I have become convinced that Galli hasn’t read Love Wins, or has read Love Wins in such a way as to be able to write a book against it. His mischaracterizations in this chapter of Bell is hardly worthy Galli’s journalistic capability, and yet, it happens at least twice. It is growing increasingly difficult not to see Galli as a person who is simply trying to profit from the fear caused by the furor over Rob Bell’s book. As I noted, Bell’s book was more pastoral than theological, and doesn’t claim anything else. Yet, Galli posits the book at the be-all, end-all of the theological discussion on the universal restoration and proceeds to attack it on that grounds. This is false position because Bell doesn’t claim anything for his book which would give anyone pause to think that it is a theological treatise. In this chapter, entitled, Becoming One Again, Galli is attempting to make points against Bell, but he actually writes in favor of Bell, although I doubt he would see it that way.

I note how often people turn to Eden as the picturesque metaphor of God and Humanity. Galli does as well, saying that Christians know of the perfect reality construct as Eden, and yet, what many, such as Galli fail to see is the in Eden, all of humanity is both present and presented to God. If in Adam, all were present and all sinned, then in Eden, as the metaphor of the perfect relationship between God and Humanity, we find the great unspeakable hope that when Eden returns, all of humanity will be present. This is the biblical picture which we often miss because we are convinced that the whole of the Bible Narrative is seemingly contained at the beginning with our purposed ignoring of the ‘End.’ In the Book of Revelation, when Eden has again returned, all of humanity is shown presenting themselves to God and Christ. Surely, if Galli was interested in the “biblical picture” he would note that all flesh will see the salvation of God (Luke 3.6) and that every knee will bow (Romans 14.11; Phil 2.10) and that after the great battles of life, even the ancient Kings of the Earth will find healing among the leaves of the Tree of Life (Revelation 21-22). I note here as well that Gallie sees that God will “heal the brokenness” but according to the way I read Galli, God has simply placed the medicine in the room, or perhaps only heals a small part of the wound. This is not the healing and restoration of the “whole world” as Galli later writes, and thus, is the healing of the Scripture. If the Scriptures promises healing and restoration, then it is not in part, but to the whole of Creation; and if Eden is to be returned, it is to be returned in full. Although the idea of restoration goes again Galli’s later statement that, “”humankind’s unity with God has been lost forever.” What a sad, unbiblical picture and a complete denial of the Christian’s “Eden.”

Galli notes several cases of injustice, such as the one in Rwanda, and betrays his hand as what he views as justice. Justice in Galli’s mind is human justice which requires court room dramas and jail cells, as he is against forgiveness, albeit, ignoring the forgiveness that is part of God’s justice towards us. Indeed, he demands a “forgiveness that punishes injustice”.  Galli, in orthodox American-Evangelical fashion, see God’s justice as solely retributive justice–justice as payback.  In the United States Constitution, one of the powers afforded the President of the United States is the power of the pardon. This pardon has been abused in recent years, as all powers of authority are, but it was intended to be used to heal wounds. For instance, Washington issued it against the participants in the Whiskey Rebellion when forgiveness and forgetfulness was needed. That crated good. While pardons were issued after the War Between the States, they were almost counterfeit as the Union sought to exert justice over the Confederates. There was no forgetfulness. Unlike the Whiskey Rebellion, the Country has yet to fully heal from that war. If this the sort of justice which Galli would have for us from God? If we were to base God’s justice upon human terms, we could only connect it to the Presidential Pardon, used to heal divisive wounds of a nation. Further, the punishment would always be rehabilitative, corrective, purgatorial, instead of final. Instead, he demands a “miracle”, a wholly unbiblical concept, to wrought our salvation. The death of Christ and His resurrection wasn’t a miracle.  In other words, God did not break any “natural laws” in the raising up of His Son. It was fully God interacting in humanity; YHWH behaving entirely in covenantal favor on behalf of Israel’s Messiah. To classify it as a miracle is to somehow diminish it.

Galli, for as much as he wants to dismiss Bell, is consumed with the same hope which Bell has, and others have been, unless of course he does the drastic and illogical thing of reinterpreting ‘all’ and ‘world.’ He notes that the atonement brings God and humanity back together again. He goes further in saying that this restores, heals and reconciles the “whole world.” His words. Bell’s words. Scripture. He almost immediately writes, “Jesus Christ judged sin for what it is so that no one else would have to endure the just consequences of sin” and then, “He puts the whole universe  back together again, and together with him.” His words. Bell’s words. Scripture. If they can agree on these things, then why the fuss? What then is the impetus of Galli’s book? I believe that it is, more than anything, Galli’s attempt at preserving the ‘honor’ of the Substitionary Atonement theory. It is this defense which Galli becomes the most shrill.

In the section of the chapter entitled Sacrificing Sacrifice, Galli in no less than two times mischaracterizes Bell’s words. First, an almost singular point of agreement with Galli, in that he acknowledges that Bell’s description of the Incarnation as “divine in the flesh and blood” is lacking, as is Bell’s theological notions. We depart our unity when he misquotes Bell in ascribing to primitive cultures the symbols of sacrifice. What Bell said was that primitive cultures who practiced animal sacrifice saw sacrifice in such a way as to present something we need to move past. Isn’t Bell correct? Does the Crucifixion amount to an animal sacrifice? No, and I doubt that even PSA theologians would describe it as such. What is more interesting is Galli’s push-back against Bell’s notion that we finally discard the primitive terminology often associated with animal sacrifice but now applied to the Crucifixion. He notes that the symbolism of PSA is somehow as inspired as Scripture, “This suggests that these ideas were of human origin and not divine revelation…. The implication is clear when it comes to substitutionary atonement: it’s artificial, irrelevant, and disposable.” Bell is not critiquing the Holy Writ, but the way later Christians developed their terminology, contrary to what Galli wants to make Bell say. I would note that both Bell and Galli have it wrong, that PSA was not developed until a millenia or more after the first Christians. As has been identified, Christus Victor is older than PSA. But, beyond that, the idea that an interpretation is anything by artificial or even more, inspired, is ridiculous. Later, he decries Bell’s marginalization of PSA as if it alone (Galli contradicts himself several times by allowing various atonement theories but then only wanting PSA) is Gospel. I think that it is Bell’s take on PSA, misunderstood by Galli, which is the impetus of Galli’s book and not anything else. His support of PSA doesn’t stop there, as he goes on to criticize the ‘moral response’ theory, something Galli has no room for, as we discovered in the previous chapter.

One final note in this chapter. He criticizes Bell’s use of rebirth as a description of the Cross and Resurrection. I might not take Galli’s understanding of Bell’s metaphors, but I will agree that it may allow for Galli’s view to be rightly expressed. My contention with Galli then is his ignorance of the developing notion of resurrection and rebirth in the bible. To point to nature as a symbolic expression of the Resurrection, is, contrary to Galli, biblical. First, Paul in Romans 1 noted that we may look to nature to explain the Godhead. But, it was Job, Galli’s favorite book to misunderstand, who first compare resurrection to the natural cycle of rebirth. The author of Job writes,

“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.
Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays,
at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. (Job 14:7-9 NLT)

So, Bell is not as unbiblical as Galli tries to make him out to be (and catches himself in doing as he as to assure his readers that he is not saying it is a pagan expression).  For many Christians, the Death and Resurrection of Christ means the initiation, the very birth pangs of the Kingdom of God (Mark 13:8; Romans 8:19-20 NLT).  For one who continuously notes that Love Wins does not reflect the “thickness of biblical revelation” Galli shows a slight ineptness of his own in understanding ‘biblical revelation.’


Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on

Mickey Maudlin on Love Wins

As a young evangelical, I was socialized to see the biggest threat to the church as theological liberalism. But now I think the biggest threat is Christian tribalism, where God’s interests are reduced to and measured by those sharing your history, tradition, and beliefs, and where one needs an “enemy” in order for you to feel “right with God.” Such is the challenge facing the church today and what the reaction to Love Wins reveals. So the success of Love Wins fills me with both hope and fear. But it has also made me thankful that I work for a publisher that is independent of these church wars and allows us to concentrate on books that offer hope and light. Because, with Rob, I really do believe that love wins.

Rob Bell’s Hell by Mickey Maudlin | News and Pews from HarperOne.


Posted on

Roger E. Olson on God Wins

Dr. Olson is a friend of Mark Galli, not that that actually seems to matter as he generally is pretty even handed about Galli’s book, God Wins. He sums what what I’ve been trying to say about Galli’s attack on Bell’s questions succinctly,

I wonder, however, whether Mark (I am not calling him “Galli” out of disrespect but because I know him personally and it would be awkward to call him by his last name when we are on a first name basis) is confusing interrogation of ideas about God with interrogation of God.  When I read Love Wins I did not sense Bell intending to interrogate God.  His questions, I thought, were aimed at traditional notions about God.

A good new book responding to Bell’s Love Wins | Roger E. Olson.

Exactly!  Anyway, as I muddle through the book, take a read at Dr. Olson’s review. So far, and I don’t want to read past his review of chapter 2, but I agree with everything that Olson is saying.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted on