Tag Archives: controversy

Love Wins by Rob Bell & Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

love-wins-erasing-hell

This Past Weekend I Preached About Hell

This past weekend at Basileia, I preached a sermon addressing the question, “How Could a Loving God Send People to Hell?” It was a challenging and sobering sermon, and I can honestly say that I’m glad I don’t have to address such emotional and sobering topics every week. You can listen here if you’re interested.

In preparing to address this topic, I thought it might be prudent to reacquaint myself with the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. When the book came out about two years ago, I knew I didn’t agree with Rob’s view, but frankly I just didn’t feel like getting overly involved in the controversy. As it was, a few off-handed comments I made on Facebook got me more involved than I meant to be. But I’ve waited to read the actual book until an opportune time presented itself.

So this past week, I quickly “audio-booked” a copy of Love Wins. I followed my reading by checking out a few reviews by people I trust, and then I decided to go ahead an “audio-book” a copy of Francis Chan’s book, Erasing Hell, which is sort of a rebuttal. To call Erasing Hell a rebuttal is a bit of stretch honestly, it does address Bell’s views, and it was written in response to Love Wins, but it’s basically just a fresh look at the biblical teaching on heaven and hell.

I’m Not Sure There’s Much of a Point in Writing a Detailed Review

There’s really no reason for me to get into a detailed review of each book (because there’s a ton of reviews on the interwebs). However, I will say this: I think Rob Bell is a great writer and a compelling communicator, but I also think he’s misrepresenting the Bible on the issue of heaven and hell. Bell can claim that he is technically not a universalist because he still believes in the concept of heaven and hell, but readers should know that he completely redefines the definitions of both. Rob’s somewhat unique ideas have been alluded to in his other books and sermons for quite some time, but he really fleshes them out in Love Wins. Love Wins is an extremely convincing book until you begin to look closely, and then everything falls apart.

When I Was in Junior High, Starter Jackets Were All the Rage.

When I was in Junior High, Starter jackets were all the rage. To be cool, you had to have a Starter jacket. And I really wanted one, but I didn’t have a hundred dollars, and neither did my parents. However, my best friend, Chris Medina, had a step dad who was overseas in the military, and he could get Starter jackets for thirty-five dollars. Finally I had my chance! I could afford thirty-five bucks! I chose a Washington Redskins jacket (I still have it to this day) and I couldn’t wait for Chris’ dad to ship it back from overseas. However, when the jacket finally arrived, things just weren’t quite right. It looked like a Starter jacket, and it felt like a Starter jacket, but I noticed the stitching was a little off. Starter’s normal high quality seemed a little bit “jankey.” The Starter logo didn’t look right, and the tags on the inside of the coat didn’t seem authentic. I quickly realized that I had a fake. It was a pretty good looking fake, but it was fake. Everything seemed ok, until I looked closely. Rob Bell’s theology in Love Wins looks and sounds great . . . at first. But as you begin to examine it more closely, you begin to realize everything is a little off. The facts don’t add up. It begins to seem “jankey.” It looks good at first, but it’s a fake.

Like a 300 Pound Linebacker

The best way to examine this reality for yourself is to read Bell’s book and then read Chan’s book Erasing Hell back to back. I actually like Chan’s rebuttal of Love Wins more than anyone else’s. He’s extremely gracious, careful, and thorough. And he writes in a somewhat similar fashion, for a similar audience, and with a similar sized book. To put it bluntly though, Erasing Hell annihilates the theology in Love Wins, but it does so in a really nice way. It’s like getting tackled by a 300 pound linebacker, and then having that linebacker help you back up off the ground. Honestly, it’s hard to even take Bell seriously after reading Chan. You just realize that Bell did really poor exegesis, really poor historical research, really poor word studies, and a really poor job of exploring the Bible’s overall scope on the topic of heaven and hell. I highly recommend Erasing Hell, and honestly I can’t say enough about how helpful a book it is on this entire topic. Thank you Francis Chan!

I know some of you who may read this blog post will disagree with much of what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’re entitled to your own opinion, and I’m entitled to mine. But, I would urge anyone who is wresting with the issue of heaven and hell, or who has read Rob Bell, and read about the controversy surrounding Love Wins, and wonders if Rob Bell is telling them the truth or lying, to please consider reading Erasing Hell. Just give it a shot. And then read the Bible passages that each book mentions for yourself. Read them in context, and ask yourself, “What is the Bible really saying?” And finally, ask God to reveal to you what He has really said on the topic of heaven and hell.

You May Not Like What You Find

If you examine closely and honestly, you may not like what you find. But God continually asks us to trust Him and embrace hard truths throughout the Bible. We have to do this with the topic of judgment and hell too. Honestly, we cannot afford to be wrong on this issue.

Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

confessions-of-an-economic-hitman

I just finished the audiobook version of Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.  The audiobook was read by Brian Emerson, who is one of my favorite readers.  (I believe even a bad book could sound interesting if Emerson was reading it.)

I can safely say that this book will change the way that you view politics and the economic situation in the world, if you choose to read it.  Confessions of an Economic Hitman is Perkin’s autobiography, his confession, about his involvement as an economic forecaster for a now-defunct company called Chas T. Main.  Chas T. Main was a large, U. S. engineering firm which specialized in designing infrastructure plans for utility industries around the world.  It was bought, and the name changed, in the late 80’s due to mismanagement.

Perkins explains that while his official job title may have been “chief economist for Main,” his real job was to act as an economic hitman.  An economic hitman, or EHM (as Perkin’s calls it), is an economist whose purpose is to produce inflated infrastructure predictions for third world countries.  These inflated forecasts are produced in order to justify the millions of dollars that foreign countries will have to borrow in order to hire American construction companies to build modern utility infrastructures within these third world countries.  Based on these predictions, the world bank grants loans that these countries will never be able to repay.  The country becomes mired in debt, and only a few, privileged people benefit.  In this way, the American “corporatocracy” continues to grow rich, and economic pressure due to debt keeps the governments of third world countries in-check politically.  At the end of the day, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, thousands of indigenous peoples are exploited, and America continues to build its global empire.  Economic hitmen, and the CEO’s of large corporations, work unofficially in conjunction with the NSA to control foreign nations.

Whether you buy all this or not (see the wikipedia entry about Perkins for the controversy surrounding the book), it’s great, thought-provoking, conscious-altering reading.  Much of what Perkins describes about the way in which the U. S. government uses the private sector, free-trade agreements, and economic pressure, seems (in my mind at least) to match real life.  Perkins’ insights into the administrations of several of our past presidents is eye-opening for sure, and he confirms a lot of my own suspicions about the reasons for the Iraq War and the Bush/Cheney regime.  I will say however, that any critique of the Clinton presidency is completely absent from this book, which may point towards some of Mr. Perkins’ political leanings (although I would be remiss to say that I find him a complete leftist).

Perkins ends the book with an epilogue of suggestions about how we, as Americans, can fight the global empire and leave a better world for our children.  As a Christian, I’m inclined to see “the way forward” a little differently than Perkins.  In my opinion, the main reason the global empire of America exists is greed.  Many of the ideals at the heart of democracy, capitalism, and a global economy are sound (not perfect, but sound), except that people are greedy.  The problem with capitalism is that companies nearly always act based on the bottom line.  They hardly ever consider the best interests of others.  They are greedy.  They run over the poor, especially the poor of other countries.  The rich get richer, and the poor are exploited.  Unregulatized capitalism would work perfectly if everyone had a changed heart, but we don’t, so it doesn’t.  Neither will the alternative to capitalism work (i.e. – socialism).  They are both faulted systems because of faulted people.

We need Jesus to do the masterful work of heart transformation.  On its own, this world will always tend towards depravity, and the American government and its capitalistic, self-serving policies, are most definitely included.  I’m not saying that we should do nothing.  We should try to fix the government.  We should try to put men into office that don’t simply support the wishes of a few rich men that help fund their campaign.  We should work hard, promote justice, and involve ourselves in charity.  But more than any of that, we should embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only true, transformational hope that our world has.

My advice:  Read this book.  Involve yourself in politics as a concerned citizen.  Think beyond party lines.  Act like a Christian.  Trust Jesus and the life change that He brings most of all.  And, spend the majority of your time focused on the Gospel because it is the real change-agent in the world.

Derek Webb – The End of Stockholm Syndrome

stockholm-syndromeThe whole scavenger hunt for this album ended on Friday, July 3 in Nashville.  Apparently multiple authorized and unauthorized versions of SS are on the way, some as soon as Tuesday via Derek Webb’s site.  Here is a quick review by a fan who’s heard the album all the way through:

http://convergencereview.wordpress.com/2009/07/05/album-stockholm-syndrome-by-derek-webb/

Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome

stockholm-syndromeJust in case you haven’t been following what’s going on, Derek Webb is on the cusp of releasing a new album named Stockholm Syndrome.  However, apparently some of the content is a bit edgy (imagine that) and he’s offended his record company.  Not to be stopped however, Webb and company have started an online and nationwide scavenger hunt of sorts to somehow release the material and work around copyright issues.  Details are still emerging, and theories abound, but this is really cool stuff! Relevant magazine is calling it a publicity stunt, but I think knowning Webb’s music, that that controversy is real. There’s a lot ot explain about all the websites that you need to know about, so I’m not going to go into it all, but check out these links:

derekwebb.com – kickdrum

paradiseisaparkinglot.com

black-eye.me – youneverknow

derekwebb.net

shemustandshallnolongerexist.com

twitter.com/ssyndrome

twitter.com/derekwebb

I’ve figured out a lot of the current story using derekwebb.net and shemustandshallnolongerexist.com.  However, there’s a lot to take in.  If you don’t research this stuff, what I have listed above will be confusing, but Twitter me @biggzipp and I’ll explain anything I’ve figured out.