I wish Rob Bell had been my pastor. He’s a man of God who sees the bigger story revealed in the Bible, not one who restricts our world and God’s power. Bell’s book, Love Wins, details the evolution of his thoughts and research findings after a parishioner wrote that Gandhi was in hell because he wasn’t Christian.
Bell’s argument is eloquent and resounds with the truth that I believe God has taught me: You don’t have to ascribe to one religion to ascend to heaven.
Jesus died for everyone, not just Christians.
Bell asserts Jesus died for everyone’s sins, regardless whether they’re Christian or not. God, who brims with ultimate love and possesses omnipresent power, wouldn’t settle for having the majority of humankind rot in hell.
“Given enough time, everyone will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence,” writes Bell. “In Colossians 1 it says, ‘God was pleased to…reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.’ God is omni-potent…would he allow himself to lose by not getting what it said he wanted in Colossians 1?”
Among the many interesting points he raises is the issue of those who’ve had tragic experiences in the name of Christ. For example, how could a child victimized by a church leader be able to embrace Jesus as his only path to salvation? Could God really send that child to hell?
Bell’s take on this: “Millions have been taught that if they don’t believe and accept Christ in a specific way, then die—God would have NO CHOICE but to punish them forever in hell. How can this divine being, who is described as a loving father to the earth’s children, become a cruel, mean and vicious tormenter? That kind of God is simply devastating. If your God is loving one second and cruel the next—what kind of God is that?”
God doesn’t give up.
Bell cites numerous Bible verses that prove God wants everyone, including the errant sinner, to enjoy his love and abundance. One such example is the prodigal son, who squandered his inheritance in questionable ways and returned to a hero’s welcome from his father. Bell writes, “In the Bible, God is not helpless.” Bell cites Philipians 2 as an example: “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose…. The God that Jesus teaches us about doesn’t give up until everything that was lost is found. God doesn’t give up. Ever.”
Near the end of Love Wins, he quotes 2 Timothy 1 to strengthen his argument. “God…has saved us…not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.”
Great post, Kathleen, and so true. Salvation is not exclusive as the fundamental teaches. I would even take it one step further to say that salvation lies within our own selves, and that Jesus showed us the way to that.
Thanks for sharing this article.
Thank you, Joshua. You always add great ideas for us to mull over.