Review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins (Part 4)

Chapter 2: Here is the New There

This chapter had a lot more going for it than chapter one. There were a lot more moments I was in total agreement with him than I had been in the preface and in chapter one. I really like the point he was making that heaven really isn’t about pie in the sky by and by when we die but has a lot more to it than that,

“Are there other ways to think about heaven, other than as that perfect floating shiny city hanging suspended there in the air above that ominous red and black realm with all that smoke and steam and hissing fire?” I say yes, there are. (26)”

I agree. That is a vision of heaven worthy of deconstruction. It is not really the picture of heaven we find in scripture nor does it represent the purpose of heaven as outlined in scripture very well either. I particularly like the way he made the point that if we view eternal life correctly that it will improve our ethics. I needed that reminder. If you have kept up with N.T. Wright and others some of these points were really review but I thought he communicated that there is more to heaven than we have given credit in the past.

He starts the chapter with a smattering of things people think are important about heaven. He doesn’t offer any real commentary here other than make the point that what people are curious about heaven is varied. He talks about heaven from the perspective of where it is (p.23-24) to who will or won’t be there (again…no answer here yet, just saying this is what people are curious about – p.25), and from who to what do we have to do take part (p.28) and last from what to when does this take place (p.30). These are all narratives people have that give meaning to or take meaning away from what they think heaven or eternal life will be like. This book is about having the right narrative and the central narrative in this chapter is from Matthew 19/Luke 18 about the rich young man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to receive eternal life (aionios in Greek). Before he tackles that question with what Jesus did answer he takes a little potshot at the typical Christian response to that question by examining what we might expect Jesus to say, as Christians, but was not actually said by Jesus. But here he makes a category mistake. He writes,

“He’ll show the man how eternal life isn’t something he has to earn or work for; it’s a free gift of grace. Then he’ll invite the man to confess, repent, trust, accept and believe that Jesus has made a way for him to have a relationship with God. Like any good Christian would.” (p.27).

The difficult I have with this is you have Jesus, a Jew, teaching another Jew, who is under the Law, what living as God intended is all about. Rather than read it and interpret it in its historical, cultural or religious context he takes opportunity to blast what mainstream Christians believes the Bible teaches about salvation.

Now, I do agree with Bell’s assessment that what Jesus was doing was changing the man’s heart so he could embrace that kind of life. That is because we aren’t waiting to die to begin experiencing eternal life. The thing we are waiting for, as Christians, is for God’s kingdom to fully break in and God to redeem us but new life has already begun (2 Cor 5:17). Bell highlights the Greek word found in Luke 18:30 “Aion” that is often translated as “eternity.” He says it can mean one of two things: 1) a definitive period of time that has a beginning and an end (p. 32) or an “intensity of experience that transcends time” (p.57). It is possible to translate that word as an “age” which is a set period of time with a beginning and an end. That is not the primary definition but it is one possible definition. The primary definition according to BDAG (one of the best lexicons out there) is “a long period of time without reference to beginning or end” (BDAG, p.32).I cannot find any reference material that says anything close to his second definition. It appears to me that in an effort to swing the pendulum back to the fact that eternal life should really impact us here and now that Bell twists a few things here to fit his presuppositions (the old Procrustean bed approach). So he pushes for the second definition and leaves out what linguists and Greek scholars have deemed the primary definition of the word entirely to emphasize a point that may not really be in the text at all.

Also, he seems to confuse (or at least mix together carelessly) aion and aionios (a word that has to do with a long period of time, basically eternity and is often modified by the word zoe, which means life = eternal or everlasting life). The example he uses from Matt 19/Luke 18 to make his point about aion doesn’t use that word at all in 18:18. It only uses it in 18:30. 18:18 is the word aionios. So he is picking these things apart and is fine tuning definitions of words that aren’t really core to the verses he is choosing to illuminate those words. He would make a fine statistician but that doesn’t make for good theology. It is important that we get this right because eternity and eternal life are important concepts. Why else right a book about it. So we have to be accurate and fair with these things. I hope I am being fair with him on this. If someone sees this different who knows the languages better than I do feel free to correct me on this.

Next he tackles heaven. He defines heaven as meaning one of three things: 1) a word used in place of God’s name for the Jews, 2) the “future coming together of heaven and earth” (p.58) or 3) our “present, eternal, intense, real experiences of joy, peace, and love in this life, this side of death and the age to come.” (p.58-59). I am not certain what verses he would cite in favor of #3. I think he is reading that into the text in Luke 18 that it is what Jesus is calling this man to. The man didn’t ask for what he needed to do to have more joy or peace or love…those things do characterize eternal life but they are not the definition of what heaven is.

The Bible and Bell are clear that there is an “already but not yet” component of eschatology (study of end times). I agree. I think Bell is trying to swing the pendulum here a bit. In the church we tend to give a ton of emphasis to the “not yet” part of eternal life – living with God, no more tears or death, etc. But we don’t always do a good job of connecting that to the “already” components of eternal life 0 “all spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:3), God working all things out for the good, fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5), etc. We need both. I think he is trying to make a corrective here to help us understand eternal life is not just about waiting to die and go to heaven but that it should have a real impact here and now. I agree but I think in his corrective he overshoots a bit and it almost sounds like it is almost all about now and very little about later. I also agree with Bell that there is more continuity to eternal life than we often talk about. But there is still a separation that is very real. Why else would God’s kingdom need to break in here someday if there was 100% continuity between here and there and why would Jesus need to pray for God’s will to be done here as it is there if the two were basically the same? Why else have two aions? (p.32).

Last, I want to point out the difficulty this book has with keeping things in context. He makes a lot of points about how the prophets talked about God reigning on the earth and the earthly implications of the messianic reign.The point made in the prophets was that God was up to something and the big climax of history was going to be God making things right with the world or the “entire universe” (p.32). He goes on to quote from Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos to show that God was interested in all people and that what God was ushering in was on the earth. As Rex has pointed out on his blog Bell is really good at pulling scripture from its context and pointing it any number of directions except where the author seemed to intend based on careful study and interpretation. I am not saying Bell hasn’t studied these things careful. It just feels like he is not presenting them with as much care (in my opinion).

For instance, on pages 32-33 he cites a bunch of verses from the prophets. He doesn’t mention much of these words had to do with the exile and returning (although I do get dual fulfillment and believe that is a possibility here). He also doesn’t tell you that in all these verses about God reigning and people being blessed here on the earth that at the same time there is judgment and destruction right there in the context. He is stressing the inclusivity of God’s reign as the prophets used phrases like “all people’s” and “everybody”. But on some people God says he will bring disaster (Isa 3:9-11), the wicked will be slain (Isa 11:2) and slay those who oppressed his people (Isa 10:10-16). In the same verses that talk about the salvation of people (Isa 25:7-9) are verses that talk about God crushing other people (vs. 10) but he stops a verse short. I am only including chapters that he cited in the book here and didn’t cite any verses way off somewhere else in these prophets. So which is it? Will all people, everywhere, be blessed? Sounds like some receive judgment and destruction. There are many other examples of this but I will stop here.

But that brings up the point of God’s judgment in scripture. Bell deals with that some on pages 37-39. Basically what he says is that God will not stand for injustice. He will bring judgment upon that. So judgment is real. He says, “God acts, Decisively. On behalf of everybody who’s ever been stepped on by the machine, exploited, abused, forgotten or mistreated. God puts an end to it. God says, “enough” (p.38-39). I agree but how often are we, ourselves, the one doing the stomping? How often do we take advantage of people? How often do we sin and rebel? Sin is not just about powerful organizations or evil systemic machines. It touches all of us. Some choose to partner with God in his redemptive acts (p.36) while others continue to destroy and rape and kill others. Is there room for both or is God’s wrath, destruction and slaying a slap on the wrist?

Last on context, he tells the story of the rich young man but doesn’t address Jesus concern for the ability of the rich to enter the kingdom (Matt 19:23-24). He alludes to the parable of the banquet and the surprising action of the host to invite those least expected to attend. But he doesn’t tell you about those the master got angry with and said they would never have room at the table for them (Luke 14:24). Why not tell the whole story? Instead, Bell is focused on everyone being at the table but the Bible is clear that the opposite is true (at least that is how I read this chapter…anyone disagree?).

So we have three things going on here if you boil it all down: You have eternal life that we aren’t waiting for because it begins when God renews and restores us as Christians and continues on after we die. We have talk about God’s kingdom and how it will break into this world and begin a new age. And we have heaven and how it fits into space and time. At the end of it all there were some good take away points about kingdom living and whether or not we are living lives that actually embrace God’s calling on us here and now. But in swinging the pendulum so hard it seems the pendulum knocked over several other biblical concepts and ignored many contexts, that seemed to be teaching the opposite of the points he made, along the way. It is hard to find balance when someone writes a book in reaction to theology/views they disagree with.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

34 Responses to Review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins (Part 4)

  1. You are making a lot more sense of this book than I did!

  2. Bob Bliss says:

    Matt,
    Rob Bell was interviewed today on Fox & Friends by Gretchen Carlson. It was certainly a more softball interview than with Martin Bashir. I think Gretchen gave him more of an opportunity to explain himself and his teaching. I think what he said about “eternal life” being more of a quality of life than just never ending I would agree with. In fact I’m preaching from 1John and last night that’s how I explained eternal life. However, he did not deal with what happens after judgment. I don’t know what he says in his book but he certainly didn’t cover that in his interview. The interview was short so it really didn’t reveal all that book could cover.

  3. Gina Morrison says:

    Are you aware that basically everything Rob Bell and the emerging church movement says is unscriptural? Take the one simple example you’re discussing. Eternal life means more of a quality of life than just never ending. I’d really appreciate a complete biblical defense of this position. Instead, i’m reading, well i think so too?

    Just read this one short article about Rob Bell and also note that he’s, as well as other emergents, are discussing reaching consensus with Muslums. I’d love for you to support Biblically what unites us with muslum and what is biblical about eastern mysticism. Scripture warns us about blending new age or mysticism with our true God. The warnings are thru out scriptures.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Everything? That is a very broad statement that I don’t think is warranted. I am curious though, how can you read my critique of Bell’s book and think I am siding with him on any of this enough for me to give you a biblical response for what he is teaching? Where am I supporting any sort of unity movement with Muslims here? Did you read the critique/review?

  4. Gina Morrison says:

    Oh, here’s the article

  5. Gina Morrison says:

    I never said you were supporting a unity movement with Muslims. I said Rob Bell is actively seeking it. I’ve yet to read anything that Rob Bell says as scriptural. Perhaps you could share with me , in context, what he’s said that is scriptural? This is easier than my posting all of his unscriptural concepts and statement.

    I did, if you note, ask you about what appears to be agreement on his concept of biblical “eternal life” Let’s start with that one. Then move on to others. yes, I did read your critique and am very familiar with the other books you read. I note a trend.

    I suppose I brought up his active participation on building consensus with Muslums because it’s a extreme but true example of how masterful emergents are at utilizing the dialectic to reach their goals. I note you read alot of books authored by emergent leaders.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Let’s start with eternal life. Let me point you back to what I wrote in this post and you will clearly see that Bell and I don’t see eye to eye on this issue,

      “Now, I do agree with Bell’s assessment that what Jesus was doing was changing the man’s heart so he could embrace that kind of life. That is because we aren’t waiting to die to begin experiencing eternal life. The thing we are waiting for, as Christians, is for God’s kingdom to fully break in and God to redeem us but new life has already begun (2 Cor 5:17). Bell highlights the Greek word found in Luke 18:30 “Aion” that is often translated as “eternity.” He says it can mean one of two things: 1) a definitive period of time that has a beginning and an end (p. 32) or an “intensity of experience that transcends time” (p.57). It is possible to translate that word as an “age” which is a set period of time with a beginning and an end. That is not the primary definition but it is one possible definition. The primary definition according to BDAG (one of the best lexicons out there) is “a long period of time without reference to beginning or end” (BDAG, p.32).I cannot find any reference material that says anything close to his second definition. It appears to me that in an effort to swing the pendulum back to the fact that eternal life should really impact us here and now that Bell twists a few things here to fit his presuppositions (the old Procrustean bed approach). So he pushes for the second definition and leaves out what linguists and Greek scholars have deemed the primary definition of the word entirely to emphasize a point that may not really be in the text at all.

      Also, he seems to confuse (or at least mix together carelessly) aion and aionios (a word that has to do with a long period of time, basically eternity and is often modified by the word zoe, which means life = eternal or everlasting life). The example he uses from Matt 19/Luke 18 to make his point about aion doesn’t use that word at all in 18:18. It only uses it in 18:30. 18:18 is the word aionios. So he is picking these things apart and is fine tuning definitions of words that aren’t really core to the verses he is choosing to illuminate those words. He would make a fine statistician but that doesn’t make for good theology. It is important that we get this right because eternity and eternal life are important concepts. Why else right a book about it. So we have to be accurate and fair with these things. I hope I am being fair with him on this. If someone sees this different who knows the languages better than I do feel free to correct me on this.”

      As far as what books I read and mention on this blog there is a huge variety there so I am not sure what you are getting at saying you see a trend. Feel free to elaborate on that.

      Last, you asked for examples of what Bell has said that is scriptural. I will start with Love Wins and give you some quotes and see if you think these are scriptural statements. There are far too many to list but I will give you a handful.

      “First, I believe that Jesus’ story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us. It is a stunning, beautiful, expansive love, and it is for everybody, everywhere.” p. vii

      “Jesus consistently affirmed heaven as a real place, space and dimension of God’s creation, where God’s will and only God’s will is done. Heaven is that realm where things are as God intends them to be.” p.42

      In reference to 1 Cor 5:5 he writes, “His assumption is that giving this man over to “Satan” will bring an end to the man’s sinful nature. It’s as if Paul is saying, “We’ve tried everything to get his attention, and it isn’t working, so turn him loose to experience the full consequence of his actions.” p.90

      “If at any point God overrides, co-opts, or hijacks the human heart, robbing us of our freedom to choose, then God has violated the fundamental essence of what love even is.” p.104

      “Jesus, for these first Christians, was the ultimate exposing of what God has been up to all along.” p.148

      “What the gospel does is confront our version of our story with God’s version of our story.” p.171

      “Jesus was very clear that this destructive, violent understanding of God can easily be institutionalized–in churches, systems and ideas. It is important that we’re honest about this because some churches are not life giving places, draining people until there is very little life left. That God is angry, demanding, a slave driver, and so that God’s religion becomes a system of sin management, constantly working and angling to avoid what surely must be the coming wrath that lurks behind every corner, through and sin.” p.183

      There are a few. When I have time I will get into some of the better exegesis he does in the book where he is on solid ground. But it is not limited to this book. Bell has written and spoken extensively and I can’t believe anyone would say, “basically everything Rob Bell and the emerging church movement says is unscriptural” If you agree with any of the above quotes I would like to ask if you still feel that way. I can point to tons of scriptural statements made by many people in the Emerging movement. Does that mean I agree with everything? Obviously not. But we have to be careful when we make broad generalizations like the one you made in your comment. It really isn’t a fair or valid assessment of their views. I say that in love.

  6. Gina Morrison says:

    sorry, I wasn’t notified by e-mail of your response. (probably neglected to check the box)

    First of all, thank you for responding. I appreciate all the detail included in this response but I find before I can respond , I need to know a few things so I can understand if we’re in agreement on some basic fundamentals. Please share with me what you see as “the gospel” More specifically, the gospel that centers around belief and faith that Jesus is our Savior and if we truly belief, the results of this faith according to God’s Word. I don’t know if we agree on something so basic as the gospel. What are the results of we refuse the gospel?
    Also, what is your definition of the kingdom are you talking about the kigdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, has Christ already brought the kingdom on earth today? I’m never clear about what various churches or individuals are talking about. Are christians responsible to bring in the kingdom? If you can clarify this, thru scriptures, i’d love to know.
    Certaily, if you have articles that express what you believe i’ll read those as I don’t believe we always have to respond in our own words when perfectly good bible studies on issues, etc are available.

    To be clear, i’ve never read any scriptural foundational beliefs or scriptural intrepretation by Rob Bell that I see as faithful to God’s Word.

    Thanks so much

    • mattdabbs says:

      Jesus is the Son of God. He was divine. He ministered, taught, healed, raised the dead and performed many miracles to instill faith in God’s people. He was the messiah. He died on the cross for our sins and the redemption of mankind. He rose from the dead three days later and appeared to many witnesses. He ascended into heaven where he is to this day. The Gospel is that mankind was in rebellion and unable to achieve righteousness on our own. God mercifully and gracefully offered up his son to die and be raised on our behalf. If we have faith in him and live repentant lives and are baptized into his death and raised like Him we have eternal life.

      What is the kingdom? Jesus taught so much about God’s kingdom that it is a little hard to sum up. But the gist of the kingdom comes in two parts. There is the “already”: The church and the work God is doing in the world to redeem people. There is the “not yet” – all that the kingdom is about has not yet been revealed. There is more to come as we will live with God forever in perfect harmony with God and man. Jesus has not yet returned to claim his people (1 Thess 4:16-17) and so some things have “not yet” happened (See also Rev 21 & 22). So the kingdom is here in part but not fully just as Jesus promised his disciples that some would see the kingdom before they died (Mtt 16:28). Jesus was serious about that. God is the one who ushers in his kingdom as we see in Acts 2 through the Holy Spirit and the corresponding response by the 3000 at Pentecost (See Acts 2).

      You ended with the statement that you have never read anything by Bell that was in line with scripture. So you disagree with the statements from Bell that I quoted above including these? If you agree with these then you really need to stop saying that everything Bell says is wrong. If you disagree with these then we have more to talk about because I would be pretty concerned about how you are interpreting some pretty serious things in scripture. Let me know what you think…here are some of the quotes from Bell again. See if you agree or disagree:

      “First, I believe that Jesus’ story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us. It is a stunning, beautiful, expansive love, and it is for everybody, everywhere.” p. vii

      “Jesus consistently affirmed heaven as a real place, space and dimension of God’s creation, where God’s will and only God’s will is done. Heaven is that realm where things are as God intends them to be.” p.42

      In reference to 1 Cor 5:5 he writes, “His assumption is that giving this man over to “Satan” will bring an end to the man’s sinful nature. It’s as if Paul is saying, “We’ve tried everything to get his attention, and it isn’t working, so turn him loose to experience the full consequence of his actions.” p.90

      “If at any point God overrides, co-opts, or hijacks the human heart, robbing us of our freedom to choose, then God has violated the fundamental essence of what love even is.” p.104

      “Jesus, for these first Christians, was the ultimate exposing of what God has been up to all along.” p.148

      “What the gospel does is confront our version of our story with God’s version of our story.” p.171

  7. Gina Morrison says:

    i’m sharing the foundational truths of the gospel because it’s important to understand it and if you disgree with this, please tell me what and why? I definitely don’t see your understanding of the Kingdom as Biblical, but let’s just see if we can agree on the gospel. I’m sharing a more Biblical study of the gospel because words if not understood in context of the scriptures may have diffferent meanings to people. So i’m trying to be clear in what the Bible supports when we understand the gospel. Obviously, one could write a fairly intense book about Justification, Santification, etc. This article is definitely a snapshot of the gospel compared to wonderful books by Biblical scholars who really go into amazing biblical depth in studying these issues.

    http://www.gospeloutreach.net/gospel.html

    I’m not ignoring your quotes from Bell rather his quotes, like Biblical quotes, need to be examined in full context.

    Saying this, I can tell you that even on the face of many of these Bell quotes, they are absurd. Just for fun, i’ll look at the quote “If at any point God overrides, co-opts, or hijacks the human heart, robbing us of our freedom to choose, then God has violated the fundamental essence of what love even is.” p.104

    Who is Rob Bell to define the fundamental essence of what love even is?
    Who is Rob Bell to use such language about God such as” overrides, co-opts, hijacks “the human heart and rrobbing us of our freedom to choose? This is a serious mocking of God.

    Rob Bell has no understanding of how God defines Himself. Does Rob Bell understand Job ? Does God understand what Scriptures tell us about “the human heart’?
    Does Rob Bell even give Biblical definitions of various uses of the word love?
    Seriously, in or out of context, I could write an extremely detailed Biblical response to this one quote.
    Honestly, I don’t agree with any of these quotes because generally Bell does not bother to give any definitions or borders to his highly generalized and over-arching generalizations. They are without foundation and built upon sand. Nothing is profound. It is soap opera christianity. Sorry.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Gina, do you think you are really being fair to Bell? I am not certain that there is anything I can quote you from Bell that you would be pleased with. It sounds like you have made up your mind and nothing can change it. Convince me otherwise🙂

      Also, can you tell me which of Bell’s books and videos you have read or watched? If you are going to say things like that I would at least like to know you have done some reading.

  8. Gina Morrison says:

    Did you read my post ? I believe I wanted to know if we both have an understanding of the gospel….no response from you yet…
    Also, I did address the “Bell quotes” in general and again, obviously, I should read the book but I fancy myself as a discerner of biblical truth and again I see Bell’s little quotes as lacking any scriptural basis so Bell is simply creating his own god. Do you seek Biblical truth from Scripture or from Bell? I’m certainly not anti-intellectual but again and quite frankly, “Bell is neither an intellectual nor scriptural.
    I’d really like to know if you share my biblical claim to the true gospel? It’s rather difficult to communicate unless we can share critical foundations about the gospel and the Kingdom of God. First, i’d just appreciate a response to if we agree on the gospel.
    I don’t think it’s my responsibility to convince you that a possibility exists that I might see some quote or some thought written by Rob Bell that I might agree with – I’ve given you a rather vague response to one of his quotes but certainly no more vague that Rob Bell himself.
    Unless we can agree on some vital basics such as the gospel, i’m afraid you would not even understand my critique of Bell.

  9. Gina Morrison says:

    http://www.gospeloutreach.net/gospel.html

    In my previous post, I asked you to read the above link that clearly lays out the gospel and asked you if you agreed with it, if not, why. Unless we can agree on fundamental foundations, any biblical criticism I would make of Rob Bell you might not understand. Although, Iust already made some criticisms that should be fairly obvious. For example, if i note a Catholic reading meditations on Mother Mary, I could not simply make an appeal to him or her based on any Biblical understanding they might share with me. They are taught to pray to Mary and that Mary can forgive sins. They also embrace mystic practices. However, i’m hopeful that we can find “common ground” on the gospel. If you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God we can find common ground (although I may have some criticisms of various translations) However it is futile to discuss criticisms of Rob Bell unless we have some basics in common. Since you are a Church of Christ member, I certainly understand the CoC as I was raised in the CoC, my father was practically a life long elder and 3 of his five children graduated from OCU (including me) I have many ties to and a heart for my CoC friends and family. I am no longer a member of the CoC but I do attend a Bible-Believing Church yet we have vast doctrinal differences with the CoC. I even have 2 family members who are professors at OCU, one in the Bible Dept who often speaks at various scholars conferences including Pepperdine. I also knew Darryl Tippens casually as I was his younger sister’s friend and room mate. I can say I read his book, The Pilgrim Heart, but that’s a whole other discussion.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Gina,

      I didn’t see in your post up there that you wanted me to respond to my agreement or disagreement with that article. I will gladly read it and let you know where I stand on that. And of course I agree with 2 Tim 3:16!🙂

  10. Gina Morrison says:

    Do you agree with the sufficiency of God’s Word? 2 Timothy 3:16

    All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

  11. mattdabbs says:

    Gina,

    Have you read all 11 posts to know what I agree with Bell on in this book and what I disagree with him on? Also, I would really encourage you to read the book so that you aren’t just making assumptions but can deal with him fairly and in context. It seems strange to deal with me rather than deal with Bell as if I am here to defend him.

    Last, have you considered starting a blog? It gets hard to get much done just by commenting on other people’s blogs. If you did that you could really lay out your objections, thoughts, etc. Just thought I would toss that out there. Have a good night.

  12. Gina Morrison says:

    Are you saying you don’t want to tell me if my biblical understanding of the gospel is correct? That’s interesting since you are a preacher.
    I have no interest in starting a blog. Perhaps because you actually placed a comment section on yours, i assumed you accepted other people’s replies.

    If your saying you don’t welcome me as part of the discussion, just tell me. I’m not that sensitive, honest. but again i’ve only posted on this blog and your salesman video entry. I don’t think i’ve ever been rude and i’m not expecting a quick reply. Just want to make that clear but if you want me to go away, I will. I guess I appreciate directness.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Gina…did I ever say I don’t want you to tell your understanding? I have encouraged the dialog to be beneficial, cordial and respectful. It is probably just your directness that comes across, to me, kind of abrasive. I am sensitive to that sometimes. I am sure you are a very loving person. It is really, really hard to tell someone’s attitude from text on a blog. So I apologize if I have read too much into your statements.

      I read your link. Just to be fair these quotes are not handled in context and cannot be in such a short article with so many verses. I only point that out because of your comment right after that link, “I’m not ignoring your quotes from Bell rather his quotes, like Biblical quotes, need to be examined in full context.” That article fails that text. But that is beside the point. Is the article accurate?

      To your question, do I agree with how that article presents the Gospel? I agree with about 95% of it. It is very well written and does a good job with the vast majority of the scriptures that are used in such a limited space. One thing that is interesting to me about the way the article is written is that as I read it, it reminded me very much of the Simon Sinek video that you referred to as the “world’s method” of presenting things for the “church of salesman leadership training.” But, oddly enough, the model for presenting things is exactly how the article you linked to presents the Gospel. I am saying that is a good things because it is a good model and makes for very good, clear communication as demonstrated by your article.

      Let me lay out how this article fits that model and then use that to talk about what I agree and disagree with in the article. Sinek said that effective presentation of information (in our case the Gospel) is best to start with why and then move to how and then what. That article does exactly that. It starts with why we need the Gospel – we are sinners. Then it talks about how it all works – Christ died an atoning death on the cross for our sins and was raised again so that we can have new life. Then it ends with what – what happens now for us? I lay that out because I agree just about completely with the first two sections (why and how) but would have to tweak the what section a little in order to agree with it completely.

      First, I am not a universalist. I believe people are sinners and are in need of a savior. I agree with how they describe sin. I agree with their description of the role of Jesus Christ in forgiving those sins so that we can be reconciled with God. But I have some questions regarding the last part, the what…what are we to do? I agree that Christ did everything that needed to be done to pave the way for our salvation. As the article says,

      “Jesus did all the works necessary to secure salvation for sinners without their help. He didn’t pay for some sins and then require sinners to pay the remaining balance with certain rituals or with good works. He paid for all sins — past, present, and future.”

      So the article says “without their help”. A few sentences later the article says,

      “Jesus did not do an incomplete work that requires sinners to finish it. He is a perfect Savior who actually saved sinners, not a potential Savior who actually saved no one (Hebrews 9:12), but needed human help for His grace to perhaps become effective.”

      Sure thing. But here is where it gets sticky and I would like to see if you can help me sort out what is going on in this article. How do you reconcile that statement with what comes next,

      “When you understand that you are a sinner worthy of death (Romans 3:23, 6:23) and that you cannot earn God’s love in any way, you are beginning to see your need for a Savior. When you confess your sins to God and accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, He forgives you eagerly, instantly, and completely.”

      Then it says,

      “Scripture teaches that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7). Not just some sin or most sin, but all sin. He was buried and He rose from the grave three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). When you truly believe this in your heart and place full trust in Him your entire life becomes transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

      Can you help me fit those quotes together? The article says Jesus did it completely. It says Jesus needs no human help. It says we cannot earn God’s love. But then it says if you want to be transformed you must confess our sins, accept him, believe in him, trust him and place our full trust in him. What if we don’t? Does that make Jesus sacrifice insufficient? What if we believe but don’t confess? Will we not be transformed? Or what if we believe, confess, and trust him but not invite him in prayer to be a part of our lives? Does that make his sacrifice insufficient? Would we be lost? I am really curious how you see all those things fitting together.

  13. Gina Morrison says:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/

    http://www.bibleprophecyblog.com/2011/04/rob-bells-love-wins-and-biblical.html

    These are some other reviews about Love Wins that go to the crux of the matter (in my humble opinion)
    No need to respond

  14. Gina Morrison says:

    I just accidentally deleted my explanation of repentance not being a work. However, I did find a link that gives a much better Biblical explanation. I ‘m glad you pointed this flaw in how Rolaant L. McKenzie frames repentance. Repentance is a result of the gift of the H.S. upon hearing and responding to the Word of God. Repentance flows naturally from the Conviction of hearing the Word of God in His message of salvation. Unless a man is convicted and has faith in these words and accepts them as truth from God , they don’t understand repentance except perhaps in a secular way.

    I’m sharing a link that offers a more studied biblical view of this, however, trust me , i’m sure I could find much more “indepth” “scholarly” studies of this. Also, I am not a Calvinist so I greatly differ with their views on this topic. ALthough, when i’ve ran into forums, atleast they stick to scriptures, more than others. Yet i’ve many strong disagreements about their exegesis -i’m wandering I know. I just want to say that so no confusion that i’m a TULIP kinda gal!
    anyway, here’s the link: http://www.gracenotes.info/documents/TOPICS_DOC/Repentance.pdf

    • mattdabbs says:

      Gina,

      Can you help me understand how you are not a Calvinist but agree with TULIP, which are the Five Points of Calvinism. Also, am I correct in hearing you say that you believe repentance is the Holy Spirit’s work, gifting us a repentant heart. I want to make sure I am understanding you. So are you saying that those who are repentant can only be so due to the Holy Spirit’s work in their life. Does that mean we have no say in our repentance or that our believing heart results in the Spirit’s work in repentance? Just trying to make sure I am following you 100%. I will have a look at that link.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Also, can you help me understand what you mean by our “responding” in your statement, “Repentance is a result of the gift of the H.S. upon hearing and responding to the Word of God.” What is included in that responding and does that mean that we do have things God expects for us to do to be a part of God’s kingdom?

  15. Gina Morrison says:

    Believing in Christ: Repentance for Salvation
    Salvation repentance is that change of mind which occurs when a person understands and believes the Gospel.
    This is the principle of common grace, in which the Holy Spirit takes the message of the witness and makes it a reality in the mind of the unbeliever.
    An unbeliever cannot understand spiritual phenomena, 1 Cor. 2:14.
    Therefore the Holy Spirit acts to bring about perception of the Gospel, John 16:8-11; 2 Tim. 2:25.
    After understanding the issues of the Gospel, a positive volition expresses itself in a change of mental attitude: faith in Christ. Faith in Christ and repentance are two sides of the same coin. A change in mental attitude about the person and work of Christ equals repentance.
    Repentance results in faith in Jesus Christ, salvation adjustment to the justice of God. And it is at the moment of repentance that God the Father provides the whole Salvation package to the new believer.
    Topic: Salvation Doctrines
    Matt. 1:14-15 teaches that first you change your mind about Christ and then you believe. Matt. 12:41; Luke 13:2-3, 5; 15:7,10; Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; Heb. 12:17.
    2 Pet. 3:9, God is “not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
    Growth in the Christian life demands repentance toward human good, Heb 6:1.
    Human good is good works produced by any person, Christian or non-Christian, apart from the filling and control of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
    An unbeliever, of course, does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and cannot be filled with the Spirit. All good produced by an unbeliever is categorized as human good.
    A Christian is, at any moment, either filled with the Holy Spirit (spiritual) or not filled with the Spirit (carnal).
    The good produced by a spiritual believer is divine good (gold, silver, precious stones). The good produces by a carnal believer is human good (wood, hay, stubble).

    I apologize for not finding a better statement of the gospel: i kinda read it quickly and definitely would of found a better one had I noted your point. Good job! I’m a big fan of Dwight Pentecost, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord (that group lol) and when I order books , they are most often Topical Biblical Studies. I would strongly recommend you read Charles Ryrie’s Basic Theology: A popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truths. I’ve given away lots of them when the Spirit calls so i’m actually ordering another one today. I also found alot of Biblical insights in What On Earth Is God Doing? (Satan’s Conflict With God) by Renald Showers. I know you can “Look Inside” Ryrie’s book on Amazon. I’ll even get you a copy from Amazon if you gave me an address or PO Box. (smiling because you might think i’m a stalker)

    NOTE: i’m just suggesting…I don’t expect you to read them now or ever – just my suggestions- and no I don’t want a blog so I can write book reviews or anything else. I’m not a great writer nor have the patience to try. Honestly, I know your a busy man with a family and I think you’re a preacher. Right? So , in a little way, I understand your blog reaches out to fellow people you know and exchange thoughts, etc. I’m an interloper but again, I was and am doing my own personal research on the Emerging CoC and I just could not refrain from making a comment. My daughter would be a Junior at OCU this fall but she needs some medical help (not a big deal) but it will be easier for her to go to the U. of Minnesota for the fall semester. I live in Minneapolis but she’s going to live near the campus. (Praise the Lord) lol Then she will transfer her credits back to OCU. She’s majoring in Accounting/Finance. Gee, I don’t know why i’m saying all this but I tend to ramble – you should see my facebook! I have a huge family and we are quite “diverse” so we debate politics and all kinds of other uncivilized topics. Alot of fun and humor are thrown in all the time.

    NOTE: Let me make it perfectly clear, i’m not expecting any immediate response or a response. On a few other blogs, we go weeks or even moths to respond. You are trying to be too nice in quick responses and it isn’t necessary. Relax!

    • mattdabbs says:

      GIna,

      I hope your daughter does well and has her health improve. God bless. As far as fast response time…you posted that earlier comment while I was checking my email so I saw it pop up. It won’t always be like that for sure🙂

  16. Gina Morrison says:

    Gee Matt, you responded already? That was a typo: I meant to say “i’m not a TULIP kinda gal”

    • Gina Morrison says:

      The other part about repentance and the HS – yes, I understand it this way…..it’s not a formula ; they flow together Hearing, Faith, Belief, Repentance are not part of disconnected chapters.

  17. Gina Morrison says:

    I wish you had a edit botton that lasts longer.(i’m just kidding, i’m not trying to tell you how to run your own blog)

    ” that our believing heart results in the Spirit’s work in repentance”? This is closer but I would amend it to say “that our regenerational heart results in the Spirit’s work in repentance”

  18. mattdabbs says:

    I haven’t read the whole article yet but in the first couple sentences he already misses the point, “Baptismal regeneration is the most widely taught form of salvation legalism, the idea that a person can actually do something (be baptized) to help save himself.”

    Yes baptism has been taught legalistically and that is unfortunate. It has been taught by some as a way to earn salvation, unfortunately. But that is not how scripture speaks of baptism and that is not how we should teach it either. Here is where he misses it from the get go. He says baptism is the believer “doing something” and then says “(be baptized)” to help save himself. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The word baptism in Greek is used almost exclusively in the passive. He even makes the point himself when he writes, “Be baptized” that is passive, not active. So he says you do it yourself then he says you don’t do it yourself. Which is it? It is the second in scripture. No one baptizes themselves. It is done to you. Someone baptizes someone else. You don’t baptize yourself. Therefore, it is not a work. It is something you submit to. It is not a legalistic way to earn righteousness or salvation. It is done to you. Repentance is something you do. Belief is something you do. Baptism is the only one you don’t do but is done to you. So he kind of misses the point at the very start. How is it that people who uphold belief and repentance as an absolute necessary prerequesite to salvation miss the boat on baptism calling it a work and since we are saved by grace, not by works they toss out baptism but keep believe, repentance, confession, etc. Seems backwards to me. More on that when I have more time.

    What do you think about that point? I am going to read the rest of the article but I was caught by that at the very start.

  19. Gina Morrison says:

    again, I can’t defend that article; i should have read all of it. Hopefully if this man is still alive , he might agree that he was a tad careless and confusing the results of the HS work upon belief (faith) But i’ve got a very brief link that discusses it in a simple way. http://grace-for-life.blogspot.com/2010/01/repentance-without-legalism.html

    I happened to pick up a gospel track at my little church home and here’s what it says ( I could not find the contents of the track on-line)
    Very simplified as I can’t type it all, I’m kinda laying it out like a formula but if you ever want to hear powerful presentations of the gospel; It is not a formula, indeed it is the Power of God’s Word – not the preacher – but God’s WORd. WHen I hear my pastor’s sermons, I can say 90% or more is use of scripture………I am always convicted and think that pastor is talking directly to me, that he knows my personal life…he laughs when I tell him and he says “I don’t but God does” He may not even be speaking about sins but abouat maturing in Christ and I hear God thru His Word talking directly to me! This is the Power of The Living Word. GIve me an amen! lol

    Basically, no one can enjoy the blessing of God or go to Heaven without being saved. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:7 “ye must be born again.” God has a simple plan for salvation 1
    Knowing I have sinned Romans 2:23 James 2:10 Isiah 53:6 examples
    2. Knowing the Penalty of SIn
    Romans 6:23
    Galations 6:7,8
    Hebrews 9:27
    3. Knowing God’s Remedy for Sin God has already provided the way of salvation
    1Peter 3:18
    Romans 5:8
    1 John 4:9,10
    John 3:16
    4. Being Saaved
    John 1:12
    Romans 10:9,10
    John 3:36
    5Having Assurance of Salvation after Believing
    John 5:24
    1John 5:13
    Ephesians 1:7

    If we really want to examine Christ’s gospel….many of the people he called His own and it’s not recorded they said “I believe in you as my Savior” but demonstrated their faith alone and he called them His. In Matthew, of course, Christ is presenting the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel. They nationally rejected him and the Kingdom Of God is in abeyance until He returns. (I know, I know…..but that’s a discussion for later if we last that long.

    thank you for your kind words about my daughter .

  20. Gina Morrison says:

    so, do I take this that you agree with God’s Word on salvation and we have unity?

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