|Pastor Rob Bell|
Recently Pastor Rob Bell has made headlines with his new book "Love Wins" in which he explains, as the title suggest, that in the end the Love of God has the final word. He puts forth that the traditional views of hell and eternal damnation are overbearing and for one to emphasis them over God's Love is to not fully understand or appreciate the power of that Love. He proposes that believing in Hell and eternal damnation over the transformative Love of God is..well...not very Christian like! Pastor Bell, a graduate of Wheaton College, has been challenging and expanding the consciousness of his audience for years. His previous books;
- "Velvet Elvis" - Commentary on Christian Culture and the post-modern era.
- "Sex God"- Exploring the endless connection between sexuality and spirituality.
- "Jesus Wants to Save Christians" - A Manifesto for the Church in Exile .
have all served to challenge various aspects of the "status quo" within Christian culture and theology. Bell's ministry, Mars Hill in Michigan, is one of the fastest growing churches in America. His sermon series such as "Everything is Spiritual"(a personal favorite of mine) and his short film series NOOMA have become huge hits on the internet.
Here is Pastor Bell in his own words describing what the book is all about:
I gratefully welcome Bell's voice to the collective conversation. His ideas are obviously very compatible to a New Thought way of thinking about the same topics of Hell, Spirituality and Love. It seems that a growing population within the walls of Christianity are ready and hungry for these questions and a new conversation. In the end Rob Bell is teaching consciousness and Principle. I may not agree with all of his theological views but such alignment is not necessary. Bell is shaping a new conversation in which he is asking his readers to think in terms of Principle and consciousness and doing so within the context of his Christian culture story. The result of which I believe will be a revealed and renewed richness to the depth of the spiritual power, wisdom and transformative quality of the Christian Story.
Of course Rob's voice is added to a growing chorus of writers who have challenged the status quo; authors like Marcus Borg, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Brian D. McLaren, Bart Erman, Bishop Carlton D. Pearson, Pastor D.E. Paulk and the great 20th Century Theologian Paul Tillich (the list extends all the way back to first century Christianity). Now, Pastor Rob may not appreciate me adding his name to some of the other listed here - he seems to avoid labels and boxes, he opposes the idea that his writings reflect "universalism" or that he is a part of the "emerging church" movement. That's fine with me. After all, when one is teaching consciousness and Principle, one must realize that the teaching itself is that which transcends boxes and labels. It's not about the label, its about the message and consciousness - a statement I think most of the authors listed above would agree with.
The list is Growing:
Methodist Pastor Chad Holtz was dismissed from his pulpit for posting a facebook note that was in support of Rob Bell's book and message, namely - Pastor Holtz loosed his belief in a "literal Hell"
So, What's going on here?
One of the chapters in Bishop Carlton D. Pearson's latest book, God is Not a Christian, is titled "Get the Hell Out of my Bible." It seems that a growing number of faithful not only want it out of their Bible, but also out of their churches and pulpits. And why? Of course one reason is that our collective consciousness is growing and the out dated, misguided and divisive notions of "us and them" is no longer serving (if it ever did). People are waking up to the magnitude of the power of Love. Even more importantly it seems that we are increasingly being given the opportunity to be the Love of God. Earthquakes, tsunami's, and economic meltdowns are all providing us with a critical choice; to be driven by Love or to continue fear based "us and them" thinking and behavior. While our reptilian brain is driven by fear, our higher consciousness is driven by Love. Our outdated notions of Hell are breaking loose from our consciousness because we've come face to face with the hell (separation) we've created on earth - so much so that it is threatening to our very survival as a human race. Our biological mandate is "create (express) or perish" and creation is an act of Love. Quite literally - for the Love of God (choosing our biological mandate over fear), all Hell is breaking loose (falling away). In other words, Love Wins.