Ben Witherington re: Rob Bell

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Ben Witherington re: Rob Bell

Postby roofus » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:22 pm

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Re: Ben Witherington re: Rob Bell

Postby TGB » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:03 am

Is EU really that difficult to understand? Is Bell really THAT difficult to understand?
BW: One of the things Rob Bell’s book Love Wins seems to suggest is that there may be a get out of jail free card for those who go to Hell…

Well, no, that’s not what Bell suggests. What I understand Bell to be arguing is that the SAME opportunity Ben had to escape hell (faith in Christ and repentance) continues to be available in hell. Unless Ben thinks he escaped hell by turning in a get out of jail free card, there’s no reason to think the fundamental metaphysics of love, freedom, relationship, etc., change in hell.
BW: He argues this [the get out of jail free card] case on the basis of the great love of God for all human beings, but at the same time he argues that love woos, rather than makes an offer one can’t refuse. In other words, there is some internal incoherence to that kind of argument.

No incoherence as far as I see, since Bell isn’t arguing a “get out of hell FREE” card. He’s arguing that God’s love doesn’t stop pursuing people and that people in hell remain free on SOME level to turn Godward and ultimately to trust Jesus to rescue them. Same deal.
BW: If you are going to say that love is freely given and freely received, then one has to allow that whether it’s now or later in eternity, the receiver may say— ‘no thank you’…

True. And I believe Bell says as much. But what Bell also believes is that persons cannot determine themselves irrevocably with any single “No, thank you.” They cannot irrevocably foreclose upon themselves all opportunity of changing their minds and saying “Yes, thank you!” at some point.
BW: …in which case, God’s love doesn’t win in those particular lives, which is a tragedy, not a triumph, and certainly nothing to celebrate.

It’s a tragedy SO LONG AS people say “No, thank you.” But so long as God loves and pursues and creatures are able to choose, love hasn’t FINALLY lost. This, I think, is Bell’s essential point.
BW: Firstly…look once again at Rev. 22.14-15, the very last reference to ‘insiders and outsiders’ in the entire Bible. What it says is that the blessed have the right to enter the city gates and the right to eat of the tree of everlasting life. The contrast in the next verse is with the outsiders—the ‘dogs’, the sorcerers, the fornicators, the murderers, the idolaters, and ‘everyone who loves and practices falsehood’. There is certainly no suggestion at all that the outsiders listed could become insiders and enter the city gates.

But neither is there any suggestion that outsides CANNOT become insiders. And the open doors (and mention of the kings and nations of the earth bringing their spoils into it) may certainly justify a pious hope that the opportunity does continue.
BW: No, they are parked outside, looking on from afar, and they are still alive and conscious.

Where does it say they “look on from afar”? I missed that.
BW: If one also looks at Rev. 13.8. 17.8, and 20.15 these references suggest at a minimum that God has always known, even from before the foundation of the earth, that some folks were never going to respond to him positively, not ever, and that they would end up in the lake of fire… it sounds very clear that in the case of those folks, those who refuse to be saved, that they will never turn and live, and will never be rescued from the lake of fire.

I don’t see this at all. It doesn’t follow from God’s foreknowing that at some point in time (the day on which God judges the world in Jesus Christ) there are a great many people who will not have believed and who will go to hell that those who go to hell will NEVER subsequently believe.
BW: I would also finally like to stress as well that in neither case are we talking about a scenario in which all persons end up being saved, and in neither case are we talking about anyone being saved who is not in the Lamb’s book of life. In both views, Jesus is the only savior for all the world, and having a positive relationship with Jesus in the end is the only way love wins.

But EU agrees that in no case are we talking about anyone being saved who is not in the Lamb’s book of life (Ben’s already agreed that names can be entered and erased from the book, which shows that its contents are coterminous with the ACTUAL identities of God’s redeemed, not an eternally fixed membership in the mind of God). And in no case are we talking about saviors in addition to Jesus or anyone being saved outside of a positive relationship with Jesus. That relationship is the only way love wins. UR can certainly say that too. So what’s Ben’s problem with conceding to EU the same status as theologoumenon that he does to annihilationism and ECT?

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Re: Ben Witherington re: Rob Bell

Postby Alex Smith » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:13 pm

Thanks TGB, I started reading the article, but just got too frustrated with it so couldn't be bothered to finish reading it :oops: (there's been a lot of anti material to deal with lately, which means at least people are finally engaging with it at some level, although as you say, many still aren't even getting what we are trying to say :? )
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