I can’t really say I’m impressed by the interview either way:
1a.) Bashir ambushes his guest off the bat with a sceptical dilemma that doesn’t have anything specially to do with the topic;
1b.) Bell replies with what sounds like a modified version of the prepared statement on what he thought the opening question was going to be, slightly adjusting for the topic live and on the fly but not really answering the question (which, in his defense, is hard to do);
1c.) Bashir presses on the dilemma;
1d.) Bell calls it a paradox he would rather not get into; Bashir chuckles and finally agrees to move on to what the interview was supposed to be about in the first place (after flashing photos of people suffering in Japan);
2a.) Bashir quotes Bell from the book (or appears to do so) as saying that God’s love will eventually melt every heart, and goes on to ask if Bell is a universalist who believes that everyone can go to heaven regardless of how they respond to Christ on earth;
2b.) Bell doesn’t deny (or affirm) this is basically what he said in the book; denies he is a universalist; insists that “that” (apparently meaning the position that “given enough time God will win everyone over including post-mortem”) is a perspective in “the Christian stream”, which Christians have always been debating over;
2c.) Bashir gets that there have been disagreements about this in church history, but presses the question of whether it is immaterial or irrelevant about whether how one responds to Christ in this life determines one destiny;
2d.) Bell answers that “it” (apparently meaning “how one responds to Christ in this life”) is “extraordinarily important”, but is unclear about whether he thinks it’s important (or how so) in determining one’s destiny in the next life;
2e.) Bashir, “But in your book you say that God wins regardless in the end”.
2f.) Bell believes “Love wins” means “God is love, and love demands freedom”; still hasn’t clarified whether Bashir (or his source) reported him correctly in the book;
2g.) Bashir, “You are asking for it both ways.” Repeats question.
2h.) Bell, “It” (apparently answering Bashir’s question about how one responds to Christ in this life) “is terribly relevant, terribly important”; how it works out, eh, that’s “firmly in the realm of speculation”; complains about Christians building whole dogmas about what happens when we die; must be careful about not building whole doctrines and dogmas on what (emphatically) is speculation;
2i.) Bashir says Bell seems to be saying in this book (Bell “yep”) that God will melt everyone’s heart eventually, some of those being post-mortem, “So you’re the one making the speculation about the afterlife”.
2j.) No interrupted correction from Bell as Bashir continues. No correction from Bell about what he says in the book either.
2k.) Bashir, repeats question about responding to Christ now in this life being relevant or irrelevant to determining eternal destiny. (Obviously he wants Bell to give a clear answer on how it is relevant to determining eternal destiny or destiny in the next life. Bell has insisted that it is, but hasn’t bothered to answer how or why it is relevant.)
2l.) Bell, “I think it has [emphatically] tremendous bearing.” So again he thinks it’s really important… somehow. In some unstated way. That he again doesn’t bother to answer. “But it raises a bunch of questions and that is why the discussion is so lively and vibrant” such as “what about people who haven’t heard” or the woman he talked about a couple of weeks ago for whom Christ is connected as baggage to the abuse she received from her pastor. “I assume God’s grace gives people space to work those sorts of issues out.”
3a.) Bashir quotes from what sounds like Kevin DeYoung’s protracted critique of the book, “The history is inaccurate, the use of scripture indefensible.” “That’s true isn’t it?” Bashir basically states to Bell.
3b.) Bell, kind of surprised sounding (probably surprised that Bashir simply stated the question as a rhetorical ‘yes’), “No, that’s not true.”
3c.) Bashir, “So why choose to promote Origen instead of Arius?”
3d.) Bell, instead of answering that Origen was a trinitarian theist and Arian wasn’t, answers, “Because first and foremost I’m a pastor.” He talks for a while about meeting people on the ground with their needs. But this doesn’t at all answer the question of why he would choose to promote Origen instead of Arius. Mainly it sounds like he’s using pastoral responsibilities as justification to avoid answering technical questions, even when they ought to be easy to answer. The people he meets have “questions and hunches” and he just wants to give them the gift of “by the way, within the Christian tradition there scholars and theologians who have had the same questions”. (That wasn’t an editing error on my part, that’s the gift he just wants to give them.)
3e.) Bashir: but you’re confirming that essentially “you’re creating a Christian message that’s warm, kind and popular, for contemporary culture, but it’s frankly, according to this critic, unbiblical and historically unreliable. That’s [emphatically] true, isn’t it!?” Bell tries to answer no with a stuttering smile but Bashir presses on, “What you’ve done is amended the gospel of the Christian message so that it’s palatable for contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell–and heaven!–very difficult to stomach.”
3f.) Bell: no, in fact there’s an entire chapter in the book on hell (but doesn’t mention what the chapter says about hell), and “over and over again in the book our choices [emphatically] matter about whether we extend love to others or not”; “whether we resist or open ourselves to God’s love is [emphatically] incredibly important…” He kind of trails off there. Doesn’t bother to say how they’re incredibly important or what this has to do with hell.
4a.) Bashir, after a moment to let Bell continue: “How much of this is you working out your own childhood experiences” of being brought up in “a cramped Evangelical family” and finding this difficult to accept as an adult?
4b.) Bell “totally owns up to that”; “we’re all on a journey” “we all spend our lives question and probing” where we are and what we were given, “that’s what makes it so… engaging, so…” Smile! “…part of the joy of life!”