Posts Tagged ‘Love Wins’

How Do We Thrive In God’s Good World?

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

We thrive in God’s good world by living not with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth but with both feet in both.  ”The life that leads to heaven is not one of withdrawal from the world but a life in the world. A life of piety apart from a life of kind service does not lead to heaven at all.”  (Heaven and Hell)

That entails work.  This week we looked at the “New Jerusalem”, God’s prophecy of a new church descending onto earth. In this city, the gates were always open, the light always on.  At the center was no longer a temple but a tree – and not just any tree.  It was the tree of life, the same tree from Genesis – creating a beautiful bookend to the Biblical narrative.

We thrive when we get that this life is not something to escape from but something to engage.  Much of that work will be living into the prophecy of the New Jerusalem – gates open, light on.  That may feel vulnerable.  But we always must question what vulerability is.   This scene from Blood Diamond tells a very different story about vulnerability.  It is a scene in which a father finally finds his son – a young boy kidnapped and trained to be a child-soldier in Africa – and attempts to bring him home.

A different view of vulnerability isn’t it.  And it is what the world needs.  As Brian McClarren noted:

“Perhaps the most promising possibility lies with the thousands of SBNRs (spiritual but not religious) who are waiting for something very much like Progressive Christianity to emerge and get down to business. By “business,” I mean the sacred endeavor of loving God and neighbor, stranger, alien, outsider, outcast, and enemy. I mean the work of healing our broken world, the vocation of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. I mean the spiritual work of forming Christ-like people, and the social enterprise of seeking the common good, beginning with the last, the least, and the lost. Moving forward, little by little, in the robust organic process of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven—that’s the progress that Progressive Christianity is about.”

Sounds like the New Jerusalem!  Sounds like thriving in God’s good world.

What Kind Of God Is That?

Friday, June 10th, 2011

The next 3 Sundays we look at “Love Wins.”  Imagine that love for God for other people “embrace within themselves everything that is true.” (Heaven and Hell)  The ultimate truth is love.  The ultimate discipline is learning how to be loving.  Join us!

“Love Wins”

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The changes in Christianity are immense.  Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”, may just be as this author notes a “game changer.”  I love that idea because Bell’s concept so clearly resonates with many of the core concepts of New Church Christianity.  There is a bigger picture.  Change is occurring in the New Church and throughout Christianity.  It is a change to be embraced.

A Game Changer

May 04, 2011 by John M. Buchanan

When an attendee of Rob Bell’s congregation said that he was certain that Gandhi is in hell, Bell responded, “Really? Gandhi’s in hell? We have confirmation of this? Somebody knows this? Without a doubt?”

Some of Bell’s evangelical brothers and sisters are horrified by his wavering on the doctrine of hell, and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theo logical Seminary, says Bell’s new book, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, is “theologically disastrous.” “When you adopt universalism . . . you don’t need the church, and you don’t need Christ, and you don’t need the cross. . . . This is the tragedy of nonjudgmental mainline liberalism.”

But Peter Marty, who writes about Bell in this issue, believes that Bell is on to something important—maybe even something game-changing. And as Bell himself says, “[I've] long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian. . . . Something new is in the air.”

Something new is happening. Denominations are struggling to discover new ways to be church. New partnerships are formed between different Christians who share a common sense of mission, and people of every faith are struggling to relate to people of other faiths in a world that has brought us into closer contact than ever before. Within Protestant Christianity, Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are examples of leaders who graciously reach across the old conservative-liberal theological divide to make common cause with others concerned for a just society and an authentic, respectful evangelism.

It distresses me when people on my side of the divide are accused of arriving at our theological and ethical positions out of a desire to be politically correct instead of out of vigorous study of scripture and theology. It’s also a mistake to lump conservative evangelicals together and accuse them of narrowness and bigotry. I come to my positions on ordination and sexual orientation, reproductive choice, health care and relations with people of other faiths not in spite of scripture but because my study of scripture leads, nudges and prods me. Maybe both sides need to stop relying on generalizations and unkind accusations and give the other the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he or she takes scripture and biblical authority seriously.

Rob Bell is accused of universalism when he imagines Gandhi in heaven. Any of us is subject to the same kind of accusation whenever we suggest a little less certainty and judgmentalism about whom God finally favors and blesses. The point is that when some of us come to that new openness it is not because we ignore the Bible but because we are compelled by scripture’s certainty about God’s steadfast love, the amazing grace of Jesus Christ and St. Paul’s assurance that in Jesus Christ, God intends to reconcile all things.

When the great theologian Karl Barth was charged with being a universalist, he reportedly denied it, but then quoted 1 John: “Christ died for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” If you are worried about universalism, said Barth, “you had better begin worrying about the Bible.”