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What is functional universalism?

I’m glad you asked.

Mark Lauterbach points out something that could easily be overlooked in all the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins.”  Mark asks those of us who consider ourselves orthodox some probing questions.  Yes, of course we believe in hell… but do we act like it?  It’s easy to reject the doctrine of universalism, but do we act like universalists?

Is our personal lack of evangelistic engagement anything but functional universalism?  Are we more concerned with orthodoxy than with orthopraxy?  Are we equally grieved with a lack of engagement with people outside of Christ with the Good News of Christ?

Isn’t it remarkable that followers of the One who came to seek and to save those who are lost, could think they are following him, and simultaneously live with no serious and thoughtful engagement with people outside of Christ, in order to present the Gospel to them?  (Read the rest)

Those are stinging questions.  They might make you squirm a little, like they did me.  They probably need to make us do more than squirm.  Do I care enough about the people I come in contact with everyday to try to lead them to Christ?  Do I weep for those who are lost?  Do I do everything in my power to persuade them to turn from their sins and follow Jesus?

Even if we strongly disagree with Rob Bell (and I do), we may well benefit from the current controversy by taking a good hard look at ourselves.  I’m reminded again of the searching words of Charles Spurgeon.  In one of his sermons, he makes this passionate plea…

Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

…and in another, he offers this sharp rebuke:

…he who really has this high estimate of Jesus will think much of him, and as the thoughts are sure to run over at the mouth, he will talk much of him. Do we so? If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love. Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him.

There’s nothing more I can say.  I close with my face in the dirt…