Origen:c. 185-254, distinguished Egyptian scholar and theologian in the early church; largely responsible for collecting Christian writings which became the New Testament; taught in and revived the Catechetical School of Alexandria where Clement of Alexandria had taught; produced a corrected Septuagint; wrote commentaries on most of the Bible; articulated one of the first philosophical expositions on Christian doctrine; and, oh… did not believe in eternal torment.
Rob Bell is at it again. He has a new book coming out in March and to say it’s stirring up controversy is putting it mildly. This time, he’s talking about heaven and hell and what he’s saying is really pissing some people off. The book’s not even out yet and he’s being called a heretic and accused of teaching a false doctrine. In fact, the uproar isn’t about preview chapters that some reviewers have gotten, it’s about a teaser his publisher released. Here it is:
Saturday, one of those reviewers, Justin Taylor, wrote a blog post where he pretty much labeled Rob as a universalist. John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota tweeted “Farewell, Rob Bell”. Several others tweeted that they were “praying” for him. None of this isn’t new, Calvinists have been accusing him of heresy just about as long as he’s been around. I would show you some video of this phenomenon, but there are just too many to choose from. Pretty anything by Todd Friel on Way of the Master Radio covers it, though. The problem with all this is that what Rob is talking about isn’t universalism; it’s Arminianism.
But, what if he was talking about universalism? Would that be so bad? As you’ve seen above , some folks would have you believe that anything other than strict Calvinism is heretic and has no standing in the Bible. That, however is not the case. Scripture can be interpreted to back up all sorts of ideas. But as Jason Boyett pointed in his excellent post on the subject, to make any of it fit your particular belief you have to elevate, explain or just plain ignore some passages of scripture. Saying that yours is the only way and everyone who disagrees is a heretical Satan worshipper doesn’t make you right or loved. It makes you an ass.
What do I think about all this? I think I cannot accept the image of God presented by hard-core Calvinists. Bart Campolo says it better than I ever could:
If you’re still unsure what I’m saying, any God who requires blood in order to forgive anyone and not condemn them to eternal damnation is a dick and unworthy of being followed. Safe to say, I’ll never be a Calvinista (stole that term from Tony Jones).