Last Spring, a book was published by a popular pastor/author, causing quite a controversy in evangelical circles. Rob Bell’s Love Wins suggested that a literal Hell does not exist and that ultimately everyone will experience eternity with God. However, this belief – Universalism – does not line up with orthodox Christianity. Just as the title of Bell’s book focuses on God’s love, many Christians focus on that attribute of God to the exclusion of His other attributes. Thus, the same Good News that God has entrusted to us to share with others for their salvation can be distorted, ensuring that they never hear it in its completeness. Indeed, God is love, but He is also holy and just (“the wages of sin is death,“ Romans 6:23).
In this week’s Radical workbook study, we were asked how many verses of Scripture we know that relate to the love of God. Next, how many verses do we know that relate to other attributes of God. Most people I asked said their lists were heavily weighted to the “love” side.
Is there a problem when we emphasize one character trait of God over the others? Yes! Although we struggle with God being a wrathful, jealous, and an angry at sin kind of God, failing to balance our understanding of Him may cause us to lose the sense of concern and urgency about the plight of those around us. While we may theoretically deny universalism, we may be practical universalists. We like to focus on the “but [God] is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), but forget verse 7:
the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Are you a functional universalist? Do your interactions with others represent a belief that apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ they are destined to spending an eternity in hell?
Take a look at this video by David Platt on the subject.