John 10:1: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
I recently read an article, written by Tim Funk, entitled Christians too often ‘massacre, misquote’ Bible to make political points, says Rob Bell.
By way of background, Rob Bell is a writer, and a former pastor, who several years ago wrote the Universalist Manifesto Love Wins.
Wikipedia defines Christian Universalism as follows:
Christian Universalism is a school of Christian theology which includes the belief in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, the view that all human beings will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God in Heaven and the New Jerusalem.
(Please note that there is no biblical basis for the so-called school of Christian theology that has everyone – believer and nonbeliever alike – receive eternal life.)
In reading the article about Rob Bell, and in reflecting on comments I have read from others who have drifted into, or toward the false doctrine of universalism, it seems evident that at the heart of universalism is man’s works, not God’s grace. After all, God wouldn’t send a non-believer to hell, especially if he were a really good non-believer. And, since there is no quantification standard for what constitutes a good person, God will let everyone in. Right?
Wrong. The Bible is explicitly clear that we must be perfect, not just good, to get into heaven.
Revelation 21:27: And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The Bible is also explicitly clear that eternal salvation comes only to those who believe in Jesus as Savior – who have Christ’s imputed perfection.
John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The Bible also says that our works are not at issue in determining whether or not we have eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9:  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Rob Bell doesn’t seem to believe the truth. His inflection point in rejecting these biblical truths seems to have been his inability to reconcile his sense of justice with God’s justice. Following is an extensive quote from the article:
What sent Bell down his current path can be traced to an art show held by his church. One attendee saw a piece of artwork quoting Gandhi, the Hindu apostle of non-violence, and left a note reading “Reality check: He’s in hell.”
That prompted Bell to write the best-selling “Love Wins,” and release a video promoting it that began with the pastor saying: “Gandhi’s in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure? And felt the need to let the rest of us know?”
Bell concluded the video by saying that, in the Bible, love wins.
As for the idea that God would cast into hell a Gandhi as well as billions of non-Christians, he said: “This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith. They see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies and they say, ‘Why would I ever want to be part of that?’ ”
So, because he cannot reconcile the truth of God’s justice with his own sense of justice, Rob Bell has wrongly determined that the biblical plan of salvation is not true.
There is nothing inconsistent or absurd about God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Rather, it is beautiful and amazing! And, while we can’t know whether or not a specific person, such as Gandhi, has eternal life, we do know from the Bible that only those who have believed in Jesus as Savior have eternal life.
In a similar way, the Lordship “salvationist” (LSer) cannot accept that his sense of justice varies from God’s justice. But, the Bible makes it clear that man’s ways and God’s ways differ.
Isaiah 55:8: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
The LSer believes that Jesus is necessary for eternal life, but that He is not enough. Please see below for a definition of Lordship “salvation”:
In contrast to Rob Bell, the LSer does not think that everyone will be saved. The LSer thinks that only those who believe in Jesus and have the attendant works (never really defined in terms of nature or extent) will be saved.
What Rob Bell and LSers have in common is a rejection of faith in Christ alone as the only path to eternal life.
Jesus had this to say regarding His exclusivity:
John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Who should we believe – Jesus – or those who claim there is some other way?
If you would like to know how to have eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL
my apologies Angela i mistaken your comments as supporting Rob Bell
Oh yes, I see what your are saying now completely.
Thanks for clarifying.
Jason, I agree completely that it is similar to Lordship “salvation.”
Both false systems seek to replace God’s justice with their views of how they think it should work.
Universalism was also once known as Origenism. They also seem to think that unbelievers will eventually repent of their sin. It is lordship, like everything else.
Angela, I didn’t think you were promoting this belief.
I think we may be making an artificial distinction, based on the definition of “unbeliever.”
My definition of “unbeliever” is someone who dies in unbelief. The universalists would say that the person who dies in unbelief eventually becomes a believer. So, the universalist would say there is no such thing as an “unbeliever.”
So, I would say, based on MY definition of “unbeliever,” that universalists think “unbelievers” are ultimately saved. The universalists would split the hair and say “actually, they are not “unbelievers.”
Like I said, it sounds like a definitional issue.
Let me clarify again,
I only know a little bit about this belief called universal salvation from a biblical studies course my son took.
I have Not read the book by Rob Bell. I have only heard his name.
Andrew Jukes (1815 -1901) an English theologian/pastor did write a book on it called The Restitution of All Things.
My only point was to clarify that they do not believe that unbelievers go to heaven (since this is a common misconception) they believe that all will become believers.
I do know they do not support annihilation.
I am not sure where they place every knee shall bow, I have not studied in any great depth beyond what I have stated.
I did not say I was a believer of this doctrine, I just wanted to clarify because of some background knowledge I had.
I am a little taken aback that my post was read in such a way that I was promoting this belief, I reread it several times but I guess I must not have been clear, I hope this clarifies.
thanks for posting…. your comments make know biblical sense you are attempting to draw me into talking about Topics and opinions verses the Text of Scripture.
would love to see how you would attempt to back your statements up with Text. or do i read a Rob Bell book to find out?
basic 101 4 points biblical interpretation :
Angela, thanks for your comment.
According to their beliefs, what happens once someone in the Lake of Fire comes to belief? Are they annihilated, continue in the Lake of Fire, or get removed from the Lake of Fire?
The Bible says every knee will bow and everyone will confess His name. Do they think that happens for nonbelievers before, or after, they have been purified in the Lake of Fire?
With all due respect, while I do not ascribe to the doctrine of universalism this is not what they teach.
“Please note that there is no biblical basis for the so-called school of Christian theology that has everyone – believer and nonbeliever alike – receive eternal life.)”
They believe that all will eventually come to belief, they belief that the lake of fire is for purification to belief.
We can disagree with this and look at scripture to support our beliefs, but I think it best to represent their doctrine correctly. Just as we do not like it when we charged with easy believism
I am not familiar with Rob Bell and how he presents it, but historically speaking from the 1800’s their belief is all come to true repentance.
I also know that this website prefer not to engage in other topics but I felt I would be remiss if I did not at least offer this for thought.
with the 1. 2. 3. test a person could redeem the time by eliminating 95 percent of the weak and or false teaching out there on the internet and as we go in the world system. To keep renewing our mind and re-orienting to Grace. Practicing The Truth of The Gospel. The Gospel of Christ
Went looking for to remember Jack’s tagline
NOT “BALANCED” BUT HONEST.
and also found Johninc’s 1.2.3. Test
1. Is it consistent with salvation by grace through faith?
2. Is it consistent with eternal security?
3. Is it consistent with the doctrine of assurance?
None of the works-based systems of salvation pass these tests. If one believes he must modify his behavior (or promise to modify his behavior) or do anything as a requirement to becoming saved or staying saved, he is trusting in works and not trusting in Christ.
Moreover, if one believes that acts of righteousness are in any way evidential of saving faith, he would always look to himself and his works to justify himself.
It wouldn’t be complete without Bell. He says, chocolate wins. Even the criminals on death row line up to receive their god-given entitlement to government chocolate. The Tea Party would love to throw chocolates into the sea, but they are banned. Now, I’m done.
And mine, too.
mans justice and Gods are not the same im glad you mentioned this
good point it always comes back to mans idea of justice vs Gods…glad to hear someone mention this..
Then Creflo Dollar shows up asking for a 100 Grand Bar with Michael Brown in tow asking if he can get a Marathon bar but unfortunately they have been discontinued.
Ok now it is out of my system.
The Parable of the Merchant and the Cocoa
Then Michael Wurmbrand comes in with a bleeding hand and disgustingly licks it, and says, “this is my chocolate”. A scramble for the bathroom ensues. He continues, “your chocolate will send you to hell, and mine will get me to heaven”. And he proceeds to quote John 6:53 out of context.
Then Joel Olsteen walks in with Oprah and he ask “is everybody happy?” as Oprah gives out granola bars and trail mix.
This could go on and on…I think I got it out of my system.
Then Richard Abanes comes along and publishes a new book called, Free Grace and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick. He calls the Biblical gospel witchcraft and condemns books by Cucuzza, Hixson, and Stegall. He plagiarizes Lou Martuneac and rehashes his spurious accusations about triangles. He willfully mischaracterizes the simple gospel as name-it-and-claim-it and magickal thinking.
Then JW appoints Abanes the head of the Department of the Prevention of Magic. All books mentioning magic and wizards get banned. A new Bible version is authorized which omits all references to magic, lest the children are enticed. Eugene Peterson oversees the project. All other Bible versions are banned. That includes the King James. Willy Wonka gets banned. Can’t have any of these devilish magickal chocolate bars around.
And Richard Dawkins comes in and demonstrates an orgy of chocolate consumption in front of the crowd. See, he says, all that chocolate is the product of nature. Seeing is believing. No divine agency required. Evolution at work.
And then JW announces that debates are closed. An new dispensation is about to begin. People will be united on the essentials, which the state church has defined. People will be believing nonessentials no more. Anyone who promotes a nonessential will be declared a heretic and severely punished.
And the essentials are a hodgepodge of CRI’s statement of faith, liberation theology, and eastern orthodoxy. Free grace is declared a heresy and anathematized.
Hank would definitely ban all “benighted Zionist” churches and make his world head quarters in “Palestine”.
And we forgot Hank Hanegraaff. He will be appointed head of the state-run government church. All house churches will be banned.
And then Phil Johnson walks in and says “you heard the man” and the people in line nod with agreement.
And the nonreligious customers can protest all they want, that they tasted, chewed, and swallowed. And they were full, and used the potty. But to no avail, because JW says they don’t have it.
Suddenly, shots are heard. It happened. Bull horns announce that all freedom is illusion. The economy is predestined. The store is a government building. Workers will have their fruits inspected, and if any be unprofitable, they will be thrown into the ovens.
And the party elects JW by a sham election in which all other parties are banned. JW had all along been having dialogues with the party leaders, was converted to the party ideology, and climbed its ranks, while pretending to be a conservative theologian.
Ah, but you all forgot John MacArthur who says he has eaten free chocolate, but it is hard to believe the chocolate is free. Not only that, in order to get that free chocolate, one must do a long list of things before they truly have the chocolate in hand, and they can’t really know if they have the chocolate itself, or if it’s a fake bar of Evanescent Grace, or if they thought they had it, but they way they acted towards the guy who was giving away the free gifts, it is apparent he never TRULY had the chocolate.
Then the Calvinist walks out disheartened, and as he is walking home, he comes upon a crowd with raised fists. The leader tells him, “this party is Calvinist, and after the revolution, we won’t allow Pelagian stores to exist”. And so the Calvinist sells his freedom.
And then James White walks in and wants to see a receipt and he then tells the customer that he is eating the chocolate bar all wrong and needs to watch all his debates to do so properly.
The customer asks for the two bucks. The cashier says, “sorry, this store is Pelagian. Every man is born with no debt and no assets. You have to earn every commodity you get. But if you want more debt, here’s a MasterCard”.
The chocolate bar is free – as long as you sign into a permanent contract with the store owner for a weekly payment of $2. This is in order to maintain the ongoing freeness of the chocolate bar. As long as you keep up the weekly payments, you have the free gift of the chocolate!
My head hurts.
RAS, very good!
The $2 must be imparted versus the chocolate being imputed.
I recall that books from CRI (spiritually dead) were “free, for a gift of $20”.
“Free chocolate bars – $2 each!” The LSer interprets that sign as the store owner giving the customer the $2 to pay for the free chocolate bar. The $2 must be imparted to the customer, it is the gift and it must pass to the customer in some way in order to get the chocolate. That the customer had $2 in his hand must be evident because the chocolate is a side bar (bad pun unintended).
Brad, agree. It is like pouring salt on a slug and then rinsing it off.
It is amazing when I see people say “salvation is free, but costly” or some variant of that. If they walked into a shop and saw a chocolate bar for sale and the sign said “Free chocolate bars – $2 each!” I bet they would notice the clear contradiction, but when it comes to the eternal destiny of their soul they don’t notice any problem!
The false teachers today are just doublespeakers, it makes it even easier for them to appear outwardly as sheep if, part of the time, they preach the true gospel.
And lordship is far more dangerous than anything in the fiction section. The devil would have people repent of witchcraft and miss grace. Witches have been stereotyped as riding brooms since the middle ages. But Satan appears as an angel of light to lead people away from the one Person and message that can save.
Agree. Lordship is some piece of fiction.
Jason, at the local bookstore, I have trouble differentiating between the “Christian” section and the “Christian Fiction” section.
In Mere Christianity, Lewis once said of salvation: it is easy, and it is hard. Free grace and lordship? That is double-mindedness right there. There are zillions of reasons not to be a fan. It seems that “mere” christianity has plenty of additives.
No one has recommended to me an alternative to Narnia whose author isn’t confused. John White is charismatic. Tolkien was catholic (and in my opinion boring). I’ve enjoyed some authors who aren’t professing Christians. Literature seems to transcend beliefs, and Christian fiction in general seems mediocre.
Jason, agree regarding POS. Many Southern Baptists, who do not identify as Calvinists, adhere stuanchly to POS.
And yet Lewis did not agree with Calvinistic predestination. Predestination is almost never the essential with Calvinists, but POS is absolutely non-negotiable. Yet again, atonement for the elect only is precisely what leads them there. I have seen Calvinists who are clear about the gospel when they don’t have election on the brain. Yet change the subject, and they are back in confusion land again. With that doctrine, one cannot be sure, so one inevitably goes looking for signs.
Jason, C.S. Lewis seems to be the darling of some in the Calvinist camp. I have never been a big fan.
Agree, it is a garbled mess. Gary Amirault’s lake of fire bears eery resemblance to the GES outer darkness. Very discomforting.
A quote from CS Lewis: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done'”.
That quote is popular out in the land of confusion, and it is not as clear as people think. It could easily be taken to mean that unbelievers will have a chance to repent at the White Throne Judgement by submitting to God’s will (universalism) and that believers who think their will is more important will suffer eternal torment (lordship), neither of which is according to the gospel.
I have had several friends quote that to me. In fact, the quote comes from none other than The Great Divorce, where Lewis defends the doctrine of hell in an imaginative way, but in so doing has opened the door to universalism. During the bus trip to heaven, George MacDonald makes a cameo appearance, and he was a known universalist.
Jason, what a garbled mess!
I get sick and tired of panentheistic ideas. Third world “martyrs” throw them around. I don’t even like God being “in” believers if that comes to mean that the believer becomes everything that God is, including the infinite.
One thing I notice about universalists is that they typically think the lake of fire is a literal place where the wicked are consumed. It is an awful fate, even if not permanent. And you don’t escape it by simply believing that He who died for your sins guarantees eternal life, but by repenting of sin, dying daily, living the crucified life, submitting to the lordship of Christ, the whole nine yards. Salvation and discipleship are confused by the universalist.
Gary Amirault is typical. He is just as full of lordship as Ray Comfort. He promotes Voice of the Martyrs, which is full of the worst lordshipping and mysticism. When I had email correspondence with him, he was yet another voice of doubt. He also had the strange notion that Jesus did not die for my sins, past, present and future, but only for the national sins of Israel. He also, if I recall, expressed a teaching about what Jesus became on the cross, which was similar to a Word of Faith teaching and blasphemous. When I said his teachings smack of pantheism, he replied, “it smacks of the bible”. He quoted a verse that mentions something about “all in all” (probably Colossians 3:11, “all, and in all”, KJV) to make both his universalist and new age points.
Brad, moral relativism is at the heart of LS – the thought that improvements in behavior are essential to receiving/proving that one has received eternal life.
Chas, that would explain a lot of Bell’s errant “theology.”
It is God’s will that everyone be saved, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will accept the free gift of eternal life through faith in Christ.
Moral relativism is rampant in our society. I think we would all be sorely surprised to see how many people believe that truth is subjective. It is the idea that “everyone has their own truth”. You see it in all the world religions too, people have the idea that there are many pathways to heaven and yet it is always the gospel of Jesus Christ that is conveniently left out as one of those ways. The Catholic Church is especially sickening in their claiming of being Jesus Christ’s one true church, that their church is the body of Christ and that their creed and catechism is given to them by the Holy Spirit. When they are criticized, they always fall back on the arrogant excuse: “well we are Christ’s one true church, so if you are against us you are against God”.
Great comments, as usual, in this “oasis of grace”. Bless everyone!
Bell is panentheist. He believes that God is IN everything. The logical outgrowth of that is that God is IN every person, so God can’t send anyone to hell. The darkness runs strong in Bell.
jason, I agree. That is why it is so essential to both advance and defend the gospel. People who use derisive terms like “cheap grace” are neither advancing or defending the gospel, but are attacking it.
It is even hard to tell if anyone has understood the gospel, since so many counterfeits are going around. There may be more “unreached” people than we think. In any case, there is only one gospel, and it is not universalism. When people use epithets like “cheap grace”, their rejection is evident.
Jason, we can never know anyone’s heart. Yet we do know that both Rob Bell and the LS community reject faith in Christ alone as the way to receive eternal life.
Gandhi’s imperfections have been pointed out by other articles that I have read, including the fact that Gandhi was a racist, who believed that Blacks were inferior to Indians. When he was protesting South Africa’s segregation policies, he only wanted reforms that benefited his own people, to the exclusion of the oppressed indigenous people. So much for martin luther king’s promotion of Gandhi as a model for social action. Gandhi was clearly exposed to plenty of churchianity. He was attracted to the sermon on the mount and to lordship “salvation” and not the simple gospel. Yet he remained a Hindu, convinced that Christianity was inauthentic for lack of love. How Hinduism has more love than churchianity is hard for me to fathom. I don’t know Gandhi’s heart or if he ever secretly believed the gospel, but all have fallen short, and he is no exception. Nothing has greater love than Christ (John 15:13).
Max, agree. thanks for your comment.
Before God’s love can be demonstrated, His Justice and Righteousness must be first met. Through Jesus’ payment for our sins, His justice was met. Sin was condemned and paid for on the cross. “It is finished.” But, for it to be effective for an individual, one has to accept it by faith and faith alone. Without God’s Justice being met, there can be no reconciliation. Without the righteousness of God being satisfied, there is no reconciliation. God’s forgiveness has to have a vehicle. He cannot just overlook sin. Therefore, Christ came and suffered on the behalf of the world. This satisfied the payment required. But, without the acceptance of this unspeakable gift prior to death, man is condemned already. God cannot bypass his Righteousness out of love, or he would not be Righteous. Out of Love, He made the payment by sending God the Son. Upon acceptance of Christ, one is given the righteousness of God and thereby enters into an eternal state of fellowship with God.