From the world of entertainment, we have Charlie Sheen.  During the past few months, he has been the buzz with his incoherent, ludicrous, nonsensical babblings. These have intrigued the public and millions now follow him on social networks.From the world of theology, we have Rob Bell.  During the past few months, he has been the buzz with his incoherent, ludicrous, nonsensical comments in his newest book Love Wins. These have intrigued the public and millions have purchased his best-selling volume.This book is an easy read with only 196 pages.  If one suffers from insomnia and wants to go to bed with nothing on his  mind, I recommend it; otherwise, do not waste your money.  I could have used the $16.09 I paid for it (at Wal Mart) to get a tasty meal at Cracker Barrel and received much more value.After I had zipped through the book, I concluded that Rob adheres to the theology of Universalism.  Rob will insist that he is not a Universalist.  This is deceptive.  It is true that he is not a formal member of the Universalist Church; it is also true that he promotes the dogma of Universalism.  It is analogous to a man being a RINO (Republican in Name Only) who, claiming to be a Republican, votes a straight Democratic Ticket.Universalism is the belief that everyone will eventually be saved.  It was first proposed by the heretical church father, Origen (ca185–ca254).  Origen, and Universalism in general, were condemned as unorthodox at the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (A.D. 553).  Most liberal theologians and cults adopt some form of Universalism or its first cousin, Annihilationism, a belief that people who cannot qualify for heaven just go out of existence.  The common belief throughout Universalistic  and Annihilationistic theologies is that there is no eternal punishment.

Rob has mastered a technique used in the art/science of persuasion; that of asking loaded questions rather than stating an opinion or conclusion.  One example:  “Does God get what God wants?”  He reasons that God loves everyone, and wants everyone to be saved; therefore, an all powerful God does get what He wants and everyone will go to Heaven (chap. 4).  God wants many things.  He wants love.  He wants holiness.  He wants good things for us.  He wants justice.  He wants us to “Choose this day whom we will serve”  (Josh. 24:15).  He wants His purpose in election to stand (Rom. 9:11).  God does not want people to sin (The Ten Commandments).  While God does not want man to sin, man is a free moral agent (can choose to sin). If all God wanted were to make us happy,  He would have turned Adam and Eve into robots, and prevented them from falling.  No fall, no pain, no unhappiness.

Rob teaches that people on earth experience “hell” when terrible things happen to them  (p. 70-71).  He holds that there is no eternal punishment for those who reject Christ.  He goes to considerable lengths (and imaginations) to discard the Bible’s simple proclamations on Hell.  He attacks the teaching of Jesus on Hell in Luke 16: 19-31 (p. 74-79).  Rob classifies Hell as a parable.  This is not a parable, in that Jesus used the names of people: “Lazarus” and “Abraham”.  Jesus never used names of people in His parables.  Even if this teaching in Luke were an allegory, the lessons learned include conscious suffering.  Christ did not teach something that is false.  Furthermore, a parable (picture) is not as pronounced as the real thing (a picture of a woman burning in a house is not as severe as the woman actually burning in the house).  Jesus spoke more about Hell than any other person in the Bible.

In Matthew 25, Jesus the Judge separates the sheep from the goats and sends the goats to “eternal punishment”.  This does not fit into Rob’s philosophy, and he proceeds to alter it by saying that the Judge sends goats to Aion, a Greek word that may be translated “age” or “period of time” or “a time of trimming” (p. 91-92).  The actual word used in Matthew 25:41, 46 is aionion  which means “eternal”.  While aionion comes  from the root word Aion, it is completely different in meaning.  For example, the Latin word aqua means water.  One of its derivatives is aqueduct.  “The Romans built aqueducts” is a true statement.  To substitute the root word (aqua) and say, “The Romans built water” is a false statement.  Rob belabors this issue as one who is trying  to hammer a square peg into a round hole;  it just does not fit.  If his incorrect hypothesis were true, and this verse were not about eternal punishment, but an “age” of time, the Judge sends sheep to “eternal life” in the same verse; thus, “eternal life” for them must be temporary.

Rob stresses a tolerance of others but is most intolerant of Evangelical Christians.  His book has a permeating theme that those who care most about going to Heaven care the least about helping people on earth (p.45. 78-79).  This is not true.  The organizations that have helped the most with disaster relief in the United States are (1) The Salvation Army, (2) The Red Cross, and (3) The Southern Baptist Convention (Dr. Danny Forshee).

Rob uses no system of theology while interpreting the Bible. His hermeneutics are so broad and vague that almost any concept will filter through them.  This helps to explain why he equates the Millennial Reign of Christ with the New Heaven and Earth in the Eternal Age.  He makes bold assertions with no citations to document them.  One example of this is:  “At the front edge of science string theorists who are now telling us that they can show the existence of at least eleven dimensions, if we count time as the fourth dimension, that’s seven dimensions beyond what we now know.” (p.59-60)  There is no citation.  In fact, he does not have one in the entire book.  He tries to be philosophical but fails.  (Example:  Concerning salvation he teaches: “It’s not what you believe, but who you are that matters”  (p. 13-15).  The truth is, you are who you are because of what you believe.

It will become redundant if I continue.  I summarize by saying of Rob Bell’s book:  His logic is lacking;  his conclusions are convoluted; his reasoning is reckless.

God is Love, and in the end Love wins and Rob Bell loses.  I could phrase the preceding  sentence in the same way that Rob Bell would:  Is it possible that God is Love, and in the end Love wins and Rob Bell loses?

Now, I am heading toward Cracker Barrel, where  experience tells me, I will enjoy a superb meal and get my money’s worth.

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Next Week: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

About Dr. Mike Harmon

Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary. He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published. He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.
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