08 July 2013

Love Wins (Faith Loses)

It was hell that did me in as a Christian. I couldn't believe that my family and friends and billions of other nonbelievers (and religiously incorrect believers) would be tormented forever in hell for their honest disbelief (or their religiously incorrect beliefs).

It was also hell that was the beginning of the end of Jerry DeWitt's faith, as he explained in his book, Hope After Faith.

And it was the same for Charles Darwin. Here's what he said about it in his autobiography:
I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.
But there are some Christians who can get around hell by ignoring "the plain language of the text."

Rob Bell is one of those.

In the first chapter of his book, Love Wins, Bell clearly expresses the problems that hell presents to a believer.

1. It's unfair and incredibly cruel.
2. The Bible is unclear about how it can be avoided.

The first problem is obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought. Here is just one of the many excellent rhetorical questions that Bell asks about hell.
Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number "make it to a better place" and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? ... Can God do this, or even allow this, and still be a loving God?" 
The second problem is a bit less obvious. According to the Bible, how do you escape hell?

It was here that Rob Bell provided me with another half dozen ways to get saved. (I'm now up to 205. Some of these were already listed, but some I added to the list.)
  • Listen to a preacher and call on whomever he tells you to believe in. Romans 10:14
  • Give half your goods to the poor and restore fourfold whatever you have taken falsely. Luke 19:8-9
  • Get saved (or at least have your sins forgiven) by other people's faith. Mark 2:3-5
  • Do whatever a voice in the sky tells you do do. Acts 22:6-10
But besides pointing out new ways to get saved, he pointed out something even more interesting. And that is this: The way most evangelicals believe people are saved -- the only way they believe you can get saved -- is not found anywhere in the Bible.

And what is that way?

It is this: You've got to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

There are 205 ways to get saved that I have found in the Bible, but the one most believers believe in is not one of them. Because it's not in the Bible.

So the first chapter of "Love Wins" is great. Bell demolishes hell.

The rest of the book tries to salvage what remains of Christianity after removing the belief in hell.

What remains after removing hell from Christianity?

If there is no hell, there's no outer darkness, no place of torments, no everlasting fire, no everlasting punishment, no land of immortal worms, no weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

If there is no hell, there's no way to get saved and no need for a savior. Jesus has nothing to say and nothing to do.

And faith loses.


Stephen said...

Well, without a literal "Adam and Eve", there couldn't have been a "Fall" or "Original Sin", so there's another reason there's no need to be "saved".
Good to see things corroborate each other!
Steve Weeks

teavee said...

Update http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/salvation.html
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/salvation.html (list and link text at bottom)

Brucker said...

You know, your list on ways to get saved is another one I considered blogging about in specific as a topic rather than going through the way I'd been doing. I think the problem with your list is that you're categorizing things as different that are really just slightly different wordings of the same concepts.

But I have to agree that there is more than a little confusion with the Bible, and a lot of confusion with it's believers as to what it means. I, too have heard the "one way" arguments, and they're usually pretty shoddy, espcially since the "one way" mentioned is often something never mentioned (have a personal relationship with Jesus) or only mentioned once (be "born again" whatever that means) which seems a poor basis for an all-or-nothing doctrinal cutoff point for damnation.

If I ever feel motivated to restart blogging, that list would be a fine place to start, since it's supposedly so damned important.

Steve Wells said...


If you decide to do a post on the ways to get saved, be sure to let me know. I'd like to link to it -- or maybe you'd like to do it as a guest post.

You're probably right about the similar ways. Some of them are very close to being the same and should be combined. And maybe I should eliminate the negative ones (Don't lust, etc.).

Brucker said...

Point me to the most up-to-date version of your list and I'll consider how to tackle it.

Brucker said...

I'm working on it right now, and assuming this is the best list. Also, note that #23 "Get to know God" might be arguably equivalent to having a personal relationship etc., but I'm not planning on pushing anything that iffy.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, that's the latest list. 206 ways to get yourself saved.

Wayne VanDeveer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Lambert said...

The Scripture labels it 'FOOLISHNESS'(1 Corinthians 1:21)

That's what Naaman thought too! (2 Kings 5:9-15)

Gary said...

No, God doesn't need your help to save you.

Baptists and evangelicals are correct: sinners MUST believe to be saved. But you will not find one passage of Scripture that states that the sinner must make a “decision” to believe. The sinner must believe, but it is God who makes the decision for him to believe.

Acts 13:48 (ESV)
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

This passage of Scripture points out the great fallacy of (Arminian/Free Will) Baptist and evangelical theology: The sinner does not assist or even cooperate in his salvation. The sinner is a passive participant in his salvation. Yes, he believes, but he believes because he was appointed before the world existed to believe, not because HE makes a free will decision to do so.

God chooses who will believe…the sinner chooses to reject Christ and send himself to hell. Christ died for all and desires all to be saved. God has predestined NO ONE to hell.

The Arminians and the Calvinists are both wrong.