Ben Witherington re: Rob Bell


#1

patheos.com/community/biblea … /#comments


#2

Is EU really that difficult to understand? Is Bell really THAT difficult to understand?

Well, no, that’s not what Bell suggests. What I understand Bell to be arguing is that the SAME opportunity Ben had to escape hell (faith in Christ and repentance) continues to be available in hell. Unless Ben thinks he escaped hell by turning in a get out of jail free card, there’s no reason to think the fundamental metaphysics of love, freedom, relationship, etc., change in hell.

No incoherence as far as I see, since Bell isn’t arguing a “get out of hell FREE” card. He’s arguing that God’s love doesn’t stop pursuing people and that people in hell remain free on SOME level to turn Godward and ultimately to trust Jesus to rescue them. Same deal.

True. And I believe Bell says as much. But what Bell also believes is that persons cannot determine themselves irrevocably with any single “No, thank you.” They cannot irrevocably foreclose upon themselves all opportunity of changing their minds and saying “Yes, thank you!” at some point.

It’s a tragedy SO LONG AS people say “No, thank you.” But so long as God loves and pursues and creatures are able to choose, love hasn’t FINALLY lost. This, I think, is Bell’s essential point.

But neither is there any suggestion that outsides CANNOT become insiders. And the open doors (and mention of the kings and nations of the earth bringing their spoils into it) may certainly justify a pious hope that the opportunity does continue.

Where does it say they “look on from afar”? I missed that.

I don’t see this at all. It doesn’t follow from God’s foreknowing that at some point in time (the day on which God judges the world in Jesus Christ) there are a great many people who will not have believed and who will go to hell that those who go to hell will NEVER subsequently believe.

But EU agrees that in no case are we talking about anyone being saved who is not in the Lamb’s book of life (Ben’s already agreed that names can be entered and erased from the book, which shows that its contents are coterminous with the ACTUAL identities of God’s redeemed, not an eternally fixed membership in the mind of God). And in no case are we talking about saviors in addition to Jesus or anyone being saved outside of a positive relationship with Jesus. That relationship is the only way love wins. UR can certainly say that too. So what’s Ben’s problem with conceding to EU the same status as theologoumenon that he does to annihilationism and ECT?

Tom


#3

Thanks TGB, I started reading the article, but just got too frustrated with it so couldn’t be bothered to finish reading it :blush: (there’s been a lot of anti material to deal with lately, which means at least people are finally engaging with it at some level, although as you say, many still aren’t even getting what we are trying to say :confused: )