I decided to attempt to enter the modern world of communications by beginning to follow blogs. This began with my friend's blogs and has since spread to a few stranger's blogs. My own blog has not really reflected my recent thoughts/struggles with my own belief system but that struggle exists. In an effort to examine and test my beliefs I've been reading and thinking a lot (too much?) and one of the things I've been doing in reading various Christian writer's blogs, some being very liberal and some conservative.
Little did I know when I entered the blogging world that I was jumping in right at the time the Christian subculture was all in a tizzy over the book Love Wins which explores the idea (one that is not new) that maybe the prevalent thoughts and beliefs about heaven and hell aren't necessarily accurate. Bell dabbles in the idea of a more Catholic/purgatory view of the after-life and the possibility of post-mortem salvation. Essentially, he posits that God is all powerful, God loves everyone and if they will receive and return that love, then love will win. If you really want to understand what he's saying, do not google it, read the book.
But I'm not writing this to talk about Rob Bell's book. This is really a rant post because I've been frustrated, angry, confused, overwhelmed and baffled by the reaction of so many Christians to the message of God's love maybe being bigger than we had imagined. I can understand the fear and wariness of Bell's message but honestly, even if you don't agree with him, does not any part of your heart wish for that? For salvation for everyone? Mine does. Maybe I'm being naive or stupid.
Another example. The song White Man by Gungor says that God is not restricted by our conceptions of him but God is love and God is good. When I first heard it I got teary-eyed because I was so thankful to hear such a positive, wonderful message. But check out the link (or don't if you don't want to find yourself considering throwing your computer) and you will find the youtube comments quickly turn from the inane but cute comments of "great song!" and "God loves you! yay!" to
"Yes, God indeed loves everyone. However, this song makes it seem as if everyone can continue to live sinful, unrepentent lifestyles and make it to heaven. Yes, as Christians we should love everyone, regardless of their lifestyle. But we must also teach that God hates sin (not the sinners), and we must repent of our sins and live a new life through Jesus Christ. Does God love murderers, terrorists, and homosexuals? Yes, He absolutely does; but He HATES their sin (and we're all sinners)."
Must we? Must we teach that? Does Jesus say that anywhere? Because I honestly don't remember the verse where Jesus says, "verily I say unto you, tell others how deeply God hates their sin, yet not them (if they repent)." I missed that one. And frankly, I think Jesus specifically did not tell us to "hate the sin and love the sinner" (though you would think that was in the Bible with the way people throw it around) because he knew that we suck at love already and trying to love a person while hating what they do is not really going to work. I used to ramble about loving sinners and hating their sin until I realized it was ludicrous because that was not resulting in real, true love if for no other reason than that I was standing in judgment of someone else. (oh, hey person. You're a sinner, not like my Christian friends or myself. I will love you but I will hate your sin. Too bad you're such a sinner. So sad.) Don't worry about hating their sin, that's not our job, our right or our calling. Just freaking love people.
Ummm....what god is this? No mention of the law of God, sin, hell; therefore no need for a crucified; risen Savior. God is love, it is true, but He is also holy; the righteous law of God condemns us ALL to hell , we all are by nature objects of His wrath (see Psalm 5:4-5, John 3:36; Eph. 2:3). But, God, in his rich love; mercy sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fully God; fully man to reconcile sinners to Himself (John 3:16, Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:1-9) through the cross.
To this person and those who have a similar reaction: GET A GRIP! Are you crazy? Firstly, since when does every song related to God have to encompass the whole freaking Bible? Secondly, SHUT IT DOWN. Stop converting the Bible into a gospel of fear made up of scare tactics and threats (God loves you BUT you better do what he says or YOU ARE GOING TO HELL.) Enough! Enough already. Was there an asterisk when Jesus said "Love your neighbor as yourself"? Was it really "Love your neighbor as yourself and be sure to tell them that if they don't behave they will burn in hell for all eternity. And definitely picket the heathens. And engage in culture wars because if you win, everyone will become Christians for sure." Oh... wait.... nope, no asterisk! Just "Love your neighbor" and pray for your enemies... hmmm...
I can't stand this crap. I really can't.