Love Wins - Rob Bell
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. — Mother Teresa
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels … and though I have the gift of prophecy … and have all the faith so that I could remove mountains … and have not love, I am nothing. — Saint Paul
Pictures at an Exhibition.
A quote from Ghandi.
A note is pinned.
Ghandi is in hell.
How do you know?
Are you sure?
If Ghandi is in hell, what hope is there for the rest of us?
If darkness is the absence of light, then evil is the lack of good.
Good cop v bad cop. God the bad cop, Jesus the good cop.
What is good, what is evil? Why are some thrown into hell, not others?
We sit in judgement on others. How do we decide what is right, what is wrong?
Why would a loving God wish to throw us into hell, see us suffer?
Those who wish to see us cast into hell, always seem to belong to the group who will be saved.
Jan Hus, a Czech religious reformer, was burnt at the stake in 1415 for heresy for offering the chalice of of communion to the laity as well as the clergy. Even today there are those who can and those who cannot accept Holy Communion.
In the Witch of Portobello, Athena is denied Holy Communion when it is learnt she is divorced. She curses the church. Jesus is portrayed outside looking in saying even He would not be welcome there.
During His life Jesus welcomed all. At the Last Supper, he offered the wine as His blood, the bread as His body.
The popular misconception of heaven is as an otherwordly place some place else where people wander around aimlessly looking lost. St Peter is a bouncer at the gate ensuring only those on a higly selective guest list gain access.
The one word to describe this heaven would be boredom. For many it would be hell.
In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus explicitly said where heaven was. It was not some place else. It was all around and within us. Seek and ye shall find.
Christians mumble some half undestood litergy. Sing His praises, but everyone else can go hang.
Do we do good to gain that much valued ticket into heaven, or should we do good because it is the right thing to do?
The Koran recognises and preaches tolerance of other religions. Those who believed in the one God and did good had a special place, theirs was the path to salvation.
Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in the last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from the Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
What do I have to do to do good for eternal life, who is my neighbour? These were put to Jesus. He answered with the story of the Good Samaritan.
I am convinced that human nature is basically affectionate and good. If our behavior follows our kind and loving nature, immense benefits will result, not only for ourselves, but also for the society to which we belong. I generally refer to this sort of love and affection as a universal religion. Everyone needs it, believers as much as non-believers. This attitude constitutes the very basis of morality.
To understand the life of Jesus and what he said, we have have to understand the first century context, the Roman-Greek-Jewish culture.
Many prophets spoke of heaven. It was not someplace else but the earth in another age, an age to come.
If our behaviour is bad now, greed, failure to care for the environment, why should it be any better in heaven? Why therefore should we be granted access to heaven?
It is what we do now, we bring heaven into our era.
Our role is as custodians of Gaia, partners with God.
The Greek word aion has two meaning. Another era or age but also a different state. Heaven was also used to mean God. There are some who even today, for example Canon Andrew White, who out of respect and awe, use G-d not God.
If our popular misconception of heaven is wrong, what of hell? Is it not a pit of burning flames and nashing of teeth into which we will be cast?
Would a loving God cast us into hell to to be tortured for all eternity for wrongs in a finite life? Worse still, because we do not believe that which fundamentalists say we must believe?
Do we not have free will? Are we not free to choose? If yes, then we have to be free to choose what we believe.
When Jesus spoke of hell he was talking of a valley outside Jerusalem where the rubbish was dumped. Fires burnt day and night to consume the rubbish, wild animals fought over the scraps of food.
Man is more than capable of creating his own man-made hell.
The trenches of World War One.
The Soviet Gulags.
Nazi death camps.
Pol Pot killing fields in Cambodia.
Hell is when we love someone, we think they love us, then they go out of their way to destroy us.
The eyes are a window into the soul. Look into the eyes of a heroin addict to get a glimpse of hell.
A paradox: Those who work hard to eliminate hell on earth seem less concerned about a mythical hell in a mythical afterlife. Those who worry about hell in the afterlife turn a blind eye to the hell here on earth.
Fundamentalists use hell to generate fear, a crude control mechanism. If anyone is to be cast in hell, they must surely be first in line.
Jews asks questions, Christians seek answers. Jesus answered questions with a question. That is the style of Rob Bell.
There are those who do not go into church for fear a thunderbolt will strike. There are those who think themselves superior to those weaklings who need a crutch. There are those who just feel uncomfortable.
Rob Bell sheds a much needed spotlight on the perversion of scripture, the damage to people’s lives by Christian fundamentalists.
Unpopular with Christian fundamentalists? Yes.
Whilst reading Love Wins, passages from The Shack kept coming to mind. Love Wins is the ideal companion to The Shack, but read The Shack first.
Aleph is a good follow on to Love Wins.
Francis Chan has written Erasing Hell as a counter to Love Wins. It begs the question why?
Christians are hypocrites. They are quick to tell Muslims to put their house in order, to deal with Muslim extremists, then turn a blind eye to their own extremists and the damage they do.
Christian funadamentalits are not envoys for Christianity, on the contrary they cause a lot of harm and give Christianity a bad name.
Meddling by Christian fundamentalists in Iraq has led directly to the slaughter of Christians.
Love Wins is a breath of fresh air, Rob Bell shines a light onto the activities of Christian fundamentalists, their perversion of Scripture, the spreading of poison, the destruction of lives.
Some of the most unpleasant people I have met have been Christian fundamentalists, rude, intolerant, ignorant, lacking in grace.
- What is it with evangelical Christians?
- Why are evangalists such a pain in the arse?
- A lack of grace
I was in the courtyard of New Mosque in the old city of Istanbul. I had an interesting discussion with three young Muslim women on whether or not the Koran demands the wearing of a headscarf. The discussion was held without rancour, in good humour. I cannot imagine a similar discussion with Christian fundamentalists.
Jesus was offered an easy route when he encountered the Devil in the desert. He declined. His disciples asked that he used his powers to gain believers. He said no.
Dostoevsky tells a story, retold by Philip Yancey and Paulo Coelho, of Jesus visiting Spain during the Inquisition. Jesus is recognised and thrown into prison. He is told he will have to be executed as he cannot be allowed to undo the good work of the Church, that he should have accepted the offer from the Devil. [see The Grand Inquisitor
Paulo Coelho in Aleph has a chilling account of the Inquisition. People were tortured to confess their sins, thrown on a fire so that flames could cleanse their unclean souls.
You cannot force people to believe. They will not believe in their souls.
Rob Bell welcomes debate and discussion. A Christian bookshop invited discussion, then censored the discussion.
Muslim fundamentalists are not brainwashed by evil clerics, they are self brainwashed. They read a book or watch a video from a Muslim bookshop, or hear something in the mosque. This changes their worldview. This worldview then filters what they see, reinforces itself. before we know it, they are on their way to a training camp in Pakistan.
It follows, Christian bookshops need to be very careful what they are promoting, that they are not on a slippery slope to hell.
We saw in Norway what happens when Christian fundamentalists have access to weapons. Slaughter of the innocents follows.
Intolerance is not a pleasant characteristic, on the other hand there are things we should not tolerate. The sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the cover-up by the Church. The rape and pillage of the planet. The lack of clean water. Torture.
Synchronicity: I had almost finished reading Love Wins when I read The Redeemer. Much of Love Wins can be found in The Redeemer.
- The Shack