Love Wins: Questions and Answers

[amazon_image id=”006204964X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person[/amazon_image]As I tweeted last week, while in Grand Rapids I bought Rob Bell’s recent best-seller Love Wins. I was hoping to get it autographed, but Rob was a little busy. I finished reading it last night.

I am still wondering what to make of it all, about the book mainly, but also the response to it, even though I’ve purposely avoided most of that until after reading the book. I was left with a lot of [I edited that out of my daughter’s book report this morning, so I’ll edit it out of mine as well]… I was left with many questions and some answers. I may write more about those another day.

While in Grand Rapids, I also picked up the [amazon_link id=”1587430940″ target=”_blank” ]Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Acts[/amazon_link] by Jaroslav Pelikan. Leafing through it this morning I came upon his section on Acts 3:21 vs. Acts 4:12 about “Universal Restoration/Salvation Only by the Name of Christ”. He finishes with this interesting quote:

“All of this put together still leaves more questions than answers, confirming the nineteenth-century maxim: ‘Anyone who does not believe in the universal restoration is an ox, but anyone who teaches it is an ass.'”

Others have pointed to this maxim in connection to Rob Bell’s book (see this review or a variant in this review). For me, it highlights an important tension.

I want Rob Bell to be right. I want love to win. I pray for all kinds of people, believing that this is right and pleasing to God since he wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:1-4). I long for the time when all things will be restored (Acts 3:21). I hope for the day when all things will be subjected to the Son and when God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). I pray that our Father’s name will be regarded as holy, that his kingdom will come, that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-10). I believe that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11).

And yet, there is salvation in no one else; there is no other name revealed to us by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Will I be surprised at the final outcome? Undoubtedly. Are there “rocks” where I don’t expect them? I’m sure there are. There are, however, some examples that do not seem to fit that pattern of universal praise and restoration. A couple are given in Jaroslav Pelikan’s commentary on Acts. The disciples did not pray for forgiveness, let alone salvation, for Judas Iscariot, but chose Matthias to replace him among “the Twelve” (Acts 1:16-26). A significant reason that the word of God increased and multiplied was that Herod, the persecutor of the church, was immediately struck down by an angel of God, being eaten by worms because he did not give glory to God (Acts 12:20-24). More could be highlighted through the pages of scripture and the flow of history.

Does love always win? I answer, “No.”

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