Here is something exciting and frustrating: If you ask a hundred people what Christianity is, you’re likely to get 75 different responses. (Which is at least better odds than Judaism; it’s been said that if you ask two Jews, you get three opinions. Maybe Christians are just better at Math?) Exciting because you realize that different people have different experiences with God. Frustrating because sometimes you just want a simple answer.
Some say the purpose of Christianity is to introduce others to Christ so that they escape hell when they die. A ticket to heaven is the point. But when you realize that when the Bible speaks of heaven it refers to “the other, hidden dimension of our ordinary life,” as NT Wright says, the get-out-of-hell-free card loses its luster.
One opinion on the whole purpose of Christianity is that the Christian life is a quest to recover our humanity (See Michael Wittmer’s book Heaven is a Place on Earth).
If indeed the Christian life is about recovering our humanity, the Christian can confidently and curiously explore everything the world has to offer, keeping both eyes open to whatever smells like life, whether it’s Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Atheist, or even Southern Baptist. Whatever is good.
Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” was released on March 15, 2011.
Some people think he might be flirting with universalism. Some think he may deny hell. If the latter is true, he’d be going against a New Testament scholar he seems to admire more than any other: NT Wright. In this Youtube video Wright affirms and explains his view on hell. He ends with this:
“The choices you make here really do matter. There’s part of me that would love to be a Universalist and say, ‘It’ll be all right, everyone will get there [heaven] in the end.’ I actually think the choices you make in the present are more important than that.”
If Bell’s view in “Love Wins” is far from Wright’s he may lose a number of supporters who heretofore have largely considered him to be Evangelical.
I’ve been thinking through the big picture of the bible and wrote down some stuff from books that I’ve been reading, and also from Adam Ellis’ summary on these blogs. Ellis’ words are in bold.
WHO ARE WE?
We are the people of God, created in his image. That image is distorted by the Fall but is still there.
“God created people in his own image.”
“You made us only a little lower than God.”
“They will be masters over all of life.”
“God made human beings precisely in order to care for the earth. We were made to serve this purpose. It is built into our very being; it is our very design.”
“Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world.”
“To image God, then, human beings are charged not only with care for earth and animals (‘subduing’ what’s already there) but also with developing certain cultural possibilities (‘filling’ out what is only potentially there).