The Good News is Still Good News
February 26, 2011 Leave a comment
I was heartbroken today to see the “trailer” for the new book Love Wins by Rob Bell, Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The book hits stores March 29 so obviously we cannot be completely sure of all of its content. But the trailer features Bell doing his usual NOOMA-esque, follow-the-camera technique in which he compellingly gives us the scoop. The trailer’s short time span does not stop Bell from cutting right to chase: He says, “…what subtly gets caught and taught is that Jesus rescues us from God. But what kind of God is that, that we would need to be rescued from him? How could that God be good? How could he ever be trusted?”
This is not a novel question, and Bell’s countenance in the video conveys a subtle arrogance in asking it, as though he is the first to really wrestle with it and ask it properly and provide the answers.
But this post is not a critique of the book or even Bell himself. Not that Bell’s seeming Universalist stance on salvation doesn’t require a response, but we’ll wait for the book to speak for itself.
Nonetheless, Bell undermines the gospel in the trailer for Love Wins. He replaces the bad news with false good news, and so there is no good news. Bell gets the name of his church, Mars Hill, from the location at which the Apostle Paul gave one of his most famous public sermons. In Acts 17, we read that speech, which was given to Athenians. Paul preaches that God created everything and spread all peoples over the earth in order that they would seek him (vv. 24-27). He acknowledges the Lord’s mercy in overlooking the ignorance of men, who tried to fit their deities into objects of gold, silver and stone (v. 29-30a). Then Paul shifts and says, “…but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (vv 30b-31).
That appointed man is Jesus Christ, Son of God and yet fully human, who’s sinless life was offered to God as an atonement to cover the sins of ignorant, repentant men. That atonement is sufficient and perfect – the conduit by which we receive the grace of God. That atonement actually accomplished something – the expungement of our warranted guilt and condemnation. That atonement is precisely efficient and never fails; it is applied, with joy, to those who have seen Jesus Christ for who he really is.
On Mars Hill, Paul proclaimed that this appointed man is coming on a day when he, the true judge, will administer justice in its totality. That judgment will be the great and terrible wrath of God. And, yes, Jesus will rescue us from it.
This was good news then; it’s good news now; it’ll always be good news, for the gospel is the summation of God’s Word. God’s Word never fails because God never fails – the same yesterday, today and forever.
Universalism, at its core, mocks the perfect atonement of Jesus Christ. Universalism means Jesus spilled his blood in vain.
*To see Justin Taylor’s take on Bell’s newest claims, and the video itself, visit Taylor’s blog.