by Rob Bell (a summary by Pat Evert)
Millions of us – God loves every one of us. But, what is the gospel? Have we lost its essential message?
1 – What about a flat tire Are a select few going to be saved and multitudes lost to eternal torment? Is my salvation in the hands of someone else, or others salvation in my hands?
2 – Here is the new there Heaven is not somewhere else. Heaven is and will be a transformed world on earth, the age to come. Use your wealth to move this world forward. Heaven = God. Heaven and earth will be the same place. Pursue Heaven here and now. All that is not heavenly will be burned up and no longer exist. It is a quality of life that starts now.
3 – Hell Hell is not a place of eternal torment. Rather, it is a space/time where God allows some to bare their deserved consequences until they melt before the unfailing love of God.
4 – Does God get what God wants? Yes, and He has ordained it so we get what we want also. Is God great and nothing too hard for Him? Has He so loved the world and yet billions will go to an eternal hell? Restoration brings Him glory, not torment.
5 – Dying to live there is a kind of death that leads to new life.
6 – There are rocks everywhere Christ is everywhere. He cannot be fully possessed or contained. He does not belong to Christianity alone, but to the whole creation.
7 – The good news is better than that God’s love can be resisted. We can be enduring hell among those who are now celebrating Heaven. We can refuse faith because of a distorted view of God.
8 – The end is here Love is ours. Now is the time to trust Him and be transformed and filled with His love. History moves forward only and God and us are progressively experiencing His eternal will.
In his book, Inventing Hell, Jon Sweeney points out that our Christian notion of hell largely comes from several unfortunate metaphors in Matthew’s Gospel. Hell is not found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. It’s not found in the Gospel of John or in Paul’s letters. The words Sheol and Gehenna are used in Matthew, but they have nothing to do with our later medieval notion of eternal punishment. Sheol is simply the place of the dead, a sort of limbo place where humans await the final judgment when God will finally win. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, in the end “God will be all in all” (15:28). Gehenna was both the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem–the Valley of Hinnom–and an early Jewish metaphor for evil (Isaiah 66:24). “The idea of hell as we most commonly view it came much more from Dante’s Divine Comedy than the Bible. Dante’s Purgatorio and Inferno are brilliant Italian poetry, but horrible Christian theology.” Richard Rohr