Friday, March 25, 2011

Love Wins for all the fallen?

Forgive me. I couldn't resist writing this in my best Bell-style prose.

In this whole whirlwind that Rob Bell has stirred up, there is one group that has been conspicuously absent from the wide net of universalism that he and others have cast out.

One group that has been neglected.
And they cry out for their just defense.

I speak of course about Satan and the demons.

After all, if God is a God of love, and if he loves all of his creation, and if he wants to see it all brought into shalom, and if God will indeed reconcile all things unto himself, and if no temporary rebellion is worthy of eternal punishment—well then why not? But let me put it in Bell's own words:

At the heart of this perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God's presence. The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most "depraved sinners" will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God.

And so, beginning with the early church, there is a long tradition of Christians who believe that God will ultimately restore everything and everybody, because Jesus says in Matthew 19 that there will be a "renewal of all things," Peter says in Acts 3 that Jesus will "restore everything," and Paul says in Colossians 1 that through Christ "God was pleased to . . . reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven" (Bell, 107).

We're told more (and more often) about the final state of rebellious human beings than we are about the final state of the demons. Especially by Jesus. So if God's love overcomes all that has been revealed about judgment toward fallen humanity, certainly it can do the same for the demons.

But if.

If one accepts the reality of wicked, fallen spiritual beings whose rebellion is as continuous and ongoing into eternity as their existence . . .

If one accepts the reality of a just judgment and eternal confinement and punishment of such beings . . .

. . . well then demons aren't the only ones who fit that description and deserve that end. It would seem to me that demons—more so than "those who have never heard"—have the better argument for the unfairness of the Gospel (since it in no way, shape, or form is available to any of them). Yet I don't hear anyone fighting that theological battle.

So can we expect Love Wins II: Stryper Was Wrong* any time soon?

Of course not. Because even though it's logically consistent with Bell's reasoning as to why all humans will be saved, that's just not good PR for the universalist camp. Or perhaps Rob doesn't actually believe that God's love wins out over all resistance and redeems all hard hearts.

Rob, for a universalist, that's not very inclusive of you.

*Sorry, that was probably a very obscure reference for many of you. Stryper had a hit album called To Hell With the Devil.

1 comment:

Brian Roden said...

I caught the reference. Child of the 80's.