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Carl Medearis on Piper vs. Bell

July 11, 2011

Carl Medearis takes a Rally-To-Restore-Sanity kind of approach to the whole hell/universalism/Rob Bell debate.

I think I like this guy.

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6 comments

  1. I like it. And shared it on Facebook. Thanks for passing it along!


  2. Refreshingly non-religious; walking with Jesus who brings LIFE!


  3. mr. medearis, you are deceived, and you are deceiving others.


  4. “I mean I always tell everybody, I want to be a Universalist. I’m hoping Universalism is true. I’m hoping everybody is saved. I mean, do you want someone to go to hell? I don’t. I mean, I don’t think that scripture teaches Universalism, but I’m a fan of it. I don’t know, does that make sense? Is that fair to say? Can you be a fan of something that’s not true?”

    Ultimately, I don’t think so. If God’s plan for us is best and His promises are true and His knowledge is the Truth, then the idea that we could find God, His plan, or Heaven to be disappointing, when we know them as He does, is contradictory. We may judge God, His plan or the Heaven we anticipate to be disappointing as we misunderstand them, but the inconsistency of that judgment with God’s promises of complete fulfillment and the end to all suffering should indicate that there is something more – something wonderful – to still learn.

    “But would it change the way you think about sharing your faith, talking about Jesus, living your life, your relationships here on Earth, even if you knew all men would go to Heaven? Would you say, oh well then, what’s the point? What’s the point?”

    There is a strong case here for not worrying about the possibility of universal salvation, but I would go much further and argue that, yes, beliefs about the meaning of hell and salvation strongly affect every aspect of life because they are thoroughly intertwined with the way God’s love and His plan are understood, which will govern the ability to trust God and the willingness to know Him better, both within the Church and outside. Your argument that fear of hell motivates some people to share the Gospel ignores that the Gospel which is then shared will be fearfully interpreted. If fear is fundamentally what the Gospel is designed to set us free from, so that we can finally trust and love God, then teaching it out of fear can’t serve this purpose. One example of how the belief in an inescapable, useless hell negatively affects daily behavior is in Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies. I have observed that people seem more likely to pick people they dislike, such as Hitler, to judge as being more likely to go to hell than others. Jesus instruction to love our enemies, to pray for them and do good to them, seems to coincide with the teaching that God loves everyone completely. But God’s love is not temporary, and to truly love someone we believe is going to hell is to suffer their loss, and this anticipated suffering would hinder us from loving in the first place. But that suffering, which would not end, is inconsistent with the promise that Heaven entails an end to suffering. This is easier to see with the ones we love the most if they happen to die without taking the actions we deem necessary to be saved – how can we be in “Heaven” knowing they are suffering? If Heaven is a state of greater awareness, not a state of greater ignorance, then we would be more aware of those we love, not less. Either assumption – that all are saved, or not all are saved – is going to leave some questions we can’t currently answer. But we have to live our lives, and every choice demands an underlying assumption be chosen as well. All I’m suggesting, like you, is to choose assumptions that will facilitate fulfillment of the primary commandment, and the rest with it.

    An objection to universal salvation might be that it would require evil men to go to Heaven, and this would seem to defile Heaven, so then only an exclusive Heaven could be attractive. But if salvation requires a complete repentance, like the one in which Saul became Paul, then Heaven could only contain repentant sinners, as we would like to see ourselves. In this case the question boils down to God’s capacity to induce repentance, His provisions for allowing it to occur, and His wisdom in the human design in setting a limit to our tolerance for self-inflicted suffering before relief from it will be sought.


    • I really enjoyed your thoughtful response, Chris. It contains much food for thought, and much hope. Thank you.



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