My last three posts (here, here, and here) have been about subjects peripherally related to Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” The purpose of this post is to provide you with links to a well-reasoned and well-written series by author Timothy J. Stoner which interacts much more directly with Bell’s book than I have in my posts.
I suspect the series is a work in progress, which means (for now at least) you’ll have to find subsequent posts on your own. Unfortunately, that’s not easy since (a) there’s no landing page for the series on Tim’s site, and (b) some of the posts seem to fall into different categories, which makes it impossible to find all of them by clicking on, for instance, the Blog category or the Essays category. (Edit: Tim just added a landing page for the series under the Articles category.) Once the series is complete I may edit this post to include any additional articles.
Passionate, honest, intelligent, articulate, biblical, engaging–those are all words I would use to describe Stoner’s writing. Here are his posts, with a brief excerpt from each:
For Bell, God’s love is circumscribed by the frailty of our own human feelings. Bell repeats the same dreadful mistake made by so many teachers scandalized by God’s self-disclosure through the ages. Rather than humbly submit, he deconstructs what is unappealing and crafts a more tolerable God in man’s image.
We have all been made drunk on distilled spirits that have distorted our view of reality. Man is now great and God is made small; man’s rebellion is marginal while God’s infinite justice is monstrous. This is why Bell has to ask: “How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted?” In asking these rhetorical questions Bell discloses more than he realizes. He is unpacking for the world his view of God.
If Hell is the place where demons rule, where all restraints on iniquity are dissolved, and where the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit is silenced, man is left to spin in ever tightening concentric circles. There is nothing to stop the downward momentum for the brakes and the pads are gone. The man who has chosen to worship himself rather than God is turned in upon himself and there is no external power available to reverse the centrifugal force and cause him to spin outward. Having said yes to his own will and no to God’s, he is now left to his own devices in the grasp of purely malevolent beings.
When Jesus used that word He was thinking about Moloch. He was envisioning little children roasting in honor of a demon-god and of implacably cruel priests pounding drums to cover up the sounds of the shrieks. He was seeing in His mind’s eye glib prophets assuring His people that by offering their innocent babies they would gain the favor of the god. And when He added the words “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (seven times), maybe He was not thinking about dogs chewing on human limbs. Perhaps what Jesus was recalling was the response of parents watching their infants writhing in pain on glowing red arms.
This is how Jesus depicted Hell.
I think Bell asks good questions. In the middle of the book he devotes a whole chapter to one of his better ones. “Does God Get What God Wants?” On the surface this appears to be a simple, straightforward question with a rather obvious answer: God is God therefore God gets whatever He wants. The positive response bursts from the mouth almost before the interrogatory is affixed to the last word. But as the assent dies on the lips a niggling thought interrupts: but does God want sin, and death and evil? Does God want Hell?
I was asked a question about Rob Bell that I will admit made me just a little bit upset. It was from a friend. This is why it stung so much…
My friend explained that while he did not think he agreed with everything in Rob’s book he certainly disagreed with how “religious people” had responded to it. His question to me was: “Why are you so threatened by this?” I had a choice. I could have shrugged it off by interpreting the personal pronoun as an indefinite plural rather than a pointed singular.
I refused the dodge and took the blast full in the chest.
Jump on over and join in the conversation.