The Emerging Church
The Emerging Church, as it has come to be known, has gotten itself into another controversy. Rob Bell, a leader of the Emerging Church, in his book Love Wins suggests that everyone will be saved, and no one will go to Hell. Albert Mohler, a leading voice for conservative Christians, responded to Rob's book, which caused Brian McLaren to responded to Albert Mohler, which then lead to Mohler responding to McLaren.
This clash of world views is a learning experience for all of us. Christianity in North America is moving toward the view of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren. It is very difficult for us to imagine our friends and/or family who are not saved spending eternity in Hell. We don't understand how they could deserve this when in general they are good people.
We don't like the idea of Hell's because we make ourselves the Judge. Knowing our own nature to rebel against God, we find it hard to condemn others. Although this is true of our friends, it is not true of our enemies. What should happen to the murderers, the rapists, and the pedophiles? Should they be saved as well or should they go to Hell? Most people would agree that some people should go to Hell, but what should the scales be? Would it be loving to let those who have committed heinous crimes escape without punishment? Rejecting the idea of Hell simply subverts justice and makes God unloving. Love loses when justice fails.
Not only do murders, rapists, and pedophiles deserve punishment, but everyone deserves punishment. Since we agree that some should be judged, then why do we think it does not apply to our friends and/or family. It is clear even from everyday experience that there are consequences for our actions. I walked into a store the other day that had a sign that said, "you break it, you buy it." I had not seen that for a long time, but I remember seeing it often as a child. This little sign reminded me of a shift in our culture which is very subtle. We now understand justice in terms of rehabilitation instead of penalties for doing wrong. If we break something in a store we expect the store to pay for it, even though it was our carelessness that caused it. The problem with the rehabilitation view of justice is that it denies the consequences that others have to live with. The store still has to pay the cost of the item that was broken, even though it was not their fault. Even if we have learned our lessons we still need to pay the penalty for what we have done.
The consequence for rejecting God is Hell and it is clearly articulated in the Bible. To deny this doctrine is to call God a liar and to hate your friends. If we want to love our friends we need to at least warn them of the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ. If you reject Jesus Christ you have no one to pay the penalty for your sins. Hell is really a reminder of God's love and how much it cost Him. Those who do not believe in Hell should also re-evaluate if they are going to be there. The reason is that they don't seem to have a true understanding of what their actions deserve and that they need Jesus Christ to save them.
Finally, it is not surprising that the Emerging Church is confused on this issue. The hallmark of the Emerging Church is that they cannot find truth. They search with a flashlight even though it is midday. Truth is not as relative as people would have us believe. It is true that there are more opinions than ever before but that does not change the truth.We may not be able to take someones word for it anymore, but we can search it out for ourselves. It is not that truth that has changed, but that we have changed. We have to be careful not to let our experiences dictate how we understand the Bible, even though this is almost impossible to do. However, if we deny what is clearly taught, we are already blinded and have no hope of finding truth.