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March 24, 2011


I agree! As a matter of fact, I had that same challenge leveled at me on my personal blog, and my brief response was something like this:

I agree, God IS love. But I think all of us agree and understand that God doesn't love everything in the same way. Jesus said that God values us more than the sparrows.

God's love for humanity is greater than His love for the sparrows.

And God the Father's love for his Son is greater than his love for humanity. So when a conflict arises between that which God loves (love for His Son and love for humanity), it is not only just but loving for God to defend the glory of the Son over and against rebellious humans.

God does not love humanity to the dismissal, disdain, and neglect of His love for the Son. The Father's love for the Son and his glory trumps all (and vice versa). I would hate to live in a world where it was otherwise.

Yes, it seems like a lot of these disputes arise as a result of one party over-simplifying God and almost putting Him in a box. Another argument I heard recently was:

1. God desires all the be saved.
2. Nothing can thwart God's will/desire.
3. Therefore all will be saved.

But it is obvious to me that everything God desires does not come about. For example, God clearly does not desire for us to sin, but we do sin. That is an example of something wihch God desires that does not turn out.


You state the conclusion doesn't follow, but it does. Consider:

1. Melinda is a blogger.
2. All bloggers can read.
3. Thus, Melinda can read.

Per your argument, the first premise is false, because you're not just a blogger-- you're also (presumably) a Christian, a female, et cetera. However, that objection doesn't seem fair. The argument is still valid, even if you're more than a blogger.

There's a difference between saying God is love and God is loving. The Bible states the former. There's a difference between stating God is justice and God is just. I agree that it states the latter; does it state the former?

The logical form appears correct, but God's love attribute is one of many that we can biblically say He has. The statement "God is love" is not an absolute equivocation unless love is defined by God's other attributes. So the fallacy may be Misplaced Concretion or some such. You mentioned justice, for example. If the statement is equivocal, then love must be defined to include justice. Since the Bible also refers to God's wrath, His love must also be defined to include wrath... if "love" is equivalent to "God".

Even without this philosophical exercise, we can determine that Rob Bell's definition of love is not biblical. Nowhere in the Bible is love defined the way that Bell defines it: (to paraphrase) "God's love is letting us choose our own fate." It is, in fact, somewhat defined differently: "Greater love (agape) has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Therefore God's love, recognized as agape in the Greek, is sacrificial.

If Bell is not biblical, then He's a heretic anyway. But if he is otherwise biblical, then we must understand that if God had left it up to us, we would all have rejected him and be doomed to hell. The fact that any of us get to spend eternity with God is because He decided not to let us choose for ourselves and instead gave some of us a desire for Him.

The rest, according to Romans 9, are prepared for destruction and serve as an object lesson in the glory of God's mercy.

Hi Melinda,
I think this is the second time I've seen/heard "penultimate" used on this blog or the radio show. It doesn't seem it is exactly what you want to be saying.

pe·nul·ti·mate (p-nlt-mt)
1. Next to last.

Just a heads up in case I'm reading you correctly.
My apologies if I'm not.

Good catch, Aabye.

Yes, logic is simple, and the line of logic you attribute to Rob is correct. Of course, what it means for God or Love to "win" is probably debatable.

God is Love

God's love for goodness and truth requires that He pour out wrath against those who trample such.

God's love for His elect sons requires Him to scourge every son He loves.

God's love for His glory requires that He not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

God the Father's love for His elect required that He used wicked men to crucify Jesus and to also pour out divine wrath upon Him to preserve His love of justice.

This could go on, but I think you get my point.

Where do Scripture or the Fathers teach Melinda's view of God as presented here to be accepted?

I thought ‘God is love’ is a metaphysical statement. Love is God's nature, His very being. It is not an attribute of the Godhead. Therefore, it is a complete identity statement, isn't it?


Please read Jim's statement.

I also think you should watch what you say. Pretty sure the Catholic Church would anathematize you if they heard you were espousing or aiding in the espousment of Universalism.

Hi Austin.

221 But St. John goes even further when he affirms that “God is love”: God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.

257 “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!” God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”. This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.

258 The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine persons. For as the Trinity has only one and the same nature, so too does it have only one and the same operation: “The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle.” However, each divine person performs the common work according to his unique personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New Testament, “one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are”. It is above all the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine persons.

259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.

260 The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: “If a man loves me”, says the Lord, “he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him”

733 “God is Love” and love is his first gift, containing all others. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance"...

This reminds me of the issue that CS Lewis raises. When you only seek after a single thing, such as love, you ultimately praise a monster rather than God. If love is the final judge of things then it also becomes the excuse for every action. Lewis also illustrated this excellently in The Great Divorce where a mother loved her son so much she didn't see why he should be in heaven instead of hell with her.

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, it is his completeness that is the first thing.


We agree God is love, and that the RCC does not believe in predestination. But does this amount to Universalism? Is the official position of the RCC that every man goes to Heaven? That would be news to me if it was...

Also I really think you should read Jim's post and not ignore it.


1696 The way of Christ "leads to life"; a contrary way "leads to destruction."[20] The Gospel parable of the two ways remains ever present in the catechesis of the Church; it shows the importance of moral decisions for our salvation: "There are two ways, the one of life, the other of death; but between the two, there is a great difference."[21]

While it is true that God is love, love is not God. Therefore, love may not win, while God does. Therefore it is possible for Bell's logic to be completely wrong.


Against CS Lewis, if God is love, then love is God. Consider:

1. Louis is blogger
2. Thus, blogger is Louis.

That's false, right? The reason it's false is that it's grammatically incorrect. Louis is "a blogger", not "blogger". In other words, Louis is a member of the set of "blogger", not "blogger" itself.

Now, consider:

1. Louis is happy.
2. Thus, happy is Louis.

Again, we object to this from a grammatical perspective. There is not an object, "happy", that has the property "Louis"; it's the other way around. However, suppose we had:

1. Louis is happiness.
2. Thus, happiness is Louis.

This, I'm afraid, is much stronger. Its argues that "x = y", where x and y are both grammatically correct entities. It certainly does follow that "y = x".

Thus, it would seem that, per Christianity, God is love. God is just, but not justice. God is holy, but not holiness. God is glorious, but not glory. However, God is certainly not only loving, but love.

From this, we know that Justice is not God, but Love is. Holiness is not God, but Love is. Glory is not God, but Love is. Indeed, is Love not just, holy, and glorious?


No, love and justice are incompatible. Love's response to application of justice is self sacrificial mercy, which is satisfying justice without directly applying it to the one deserving of it. It is the judge taking the penalty that justice imposes on the guilty on himself and thus satisfying justice and offering mercy to the guilty simultaneously. Mercy is a bridge between justice and love. Without such a bridge, God could not be both just and loving. He would become at odds with His own nature. Mercy facilitates harmony within the Godhead when dealing with fallen human beings.

So Eluros,
When we notice two newlyweds cuddling on a park bench, looking deeply into each other's eyes, we can accurately say, "Look, there is God" when we would normally notice love?
I understand the statement in Scripture that God is Love, but we must not push that further than the text allows. It just seems absurd to make some sort of identity claim between God and love, which seems to be what you are doing. Forgive me if I am misunderstanding you.


To say that love is God, without proper qualification, is to ignore that if the two are identical, then justice must be taken completely out of the picture for internal contradictions to be removed. Of course the qualification I speak of takes mercy into consideration. So, love by itself is inadequate to be equal to God in all His glory.

If God=Love and therefore Love=God then:
Love created the world ex nihilo;
Love cursed man to death;
Love cursed Creation to travail and groaning;
Love killed all but eight humans;
Love struck dead Aaron's sons, Uzza, Ananias and Sapphira;
Love raised up Pharaoh and hardened his heart;
Love smote Egypt's firstborn and 185,000 in the Assyrian camp;
Love kept Eli's sons from heeding advice so as to slay them;
Love created Hell for the devil and his angels;
and Love condemns those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.


So, quite a few comments, and I'm not going to be able to single-handedly respond to every element of every post. I'll do my best, though.

Louis (1st Post),
If Love and Justice are incompatible, God has two contradictory desires, which seems bizarre. I'd recommend you recommend you check out Leibniz (I believe it was) who argued, quite effectively, that neither love nor justice (nor any other virtue of God) are incompatible/inconsistent.

Would you say, "look, there is love", either? They might be in love, which is a different matter, entirely. However, if you witness an incredible act of love, such as a person laying down their life for another, you may in fact say that you've seen God.

Louis (2nd Post),
False. Why do you think love and justice are incompatible? I maintain that, if you're going to say that God (who is perfectly loving and perfectly just) holds two inconsistent values to the fullest degree possible, you're on the verge of saying the concept of God is contradictory. Hey, scratch that; you're saying the concept of God is contradictory.

For every statement you made in which replacing "Love" with "God" would yield a correct statement, I agree. Love did create the world (possibly ex nihilo), and Love did raise up Pharaoh and harden his heart. It'd debatable whether most of the others are actually accurate with respect to God's action, but if they are, then yes-- Love did them.

Three things will last forever, but the greatest of them is love.


"False. Why do you think love and justice are incompatible? I maintain that, if you're going to say that God (who is perfectly loving and perfectly just) holds two inconsistent values to the fullest degree possible, you're on the verge of saying the concept of God is contradictory. Hey, scratch that; you're saying the concept of God is contradictory."

For God to be incomplete, is for Him to be contradictory. God is complete within Himself. Without mercy, God would be incomplete and thus contradictory. It is not possible to slice bits and pieces of God off, we must accept Him as a complete package as He is in Himself. The two references I can think of in the bible where it states that God is love..1 John 4:18 and 1 John 4:16 are used as a tool to determine the status of our relationship with God. It is only in this context that the phrase "God is love" is useful. To have it ripped out and place it in context of trying to define what love/God is, is not appropriate, I think. The passages were not intended for that purpose and do not serve it well.

I'm not denying that God is merciful; is Love not merciful? You would imply that Love is not just, which I disagree with. Love is just.

I'm not intending to use that phrase out of context. In 1 John 4, the author argues that God is love-- and whoever lives in God lives in Love, because God lives in them. To live in God is to live in Love, and to live in Love is to live in God. We may not be able to see God literally, but if we love one another, God lives within us. It's all there in that chapter. If, as you assert, the passages were intended to "determine the status of our relationship with God", then why does 1 John 4:12 state that "if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us?" That's not about our relationship with God; it's about loving others.

It'd debatable whether most of the others are actually accurate with respect to God's action, but if they are, then yes-- Love did them.
Other than questioning the accuracy of the Biblical account this is a good response to my comment. I agree that these things are done out of love and by Love. So we start to get a clearer picture of what Love is in the context in which we can say that God is love. Love is not merely good feelings, or sentiment, or even forgiveness or mercy. If God is love, as He is, then Love is also just, holy, and wrathful. But hat's not really what the Bell syllogism is meant to convey.


Thanks for the response! I have not read Bell's book, and my response was more a criticism of the blog article in response to the book than to Bell's Syllogism in particular. Let's assume that the representation of Bell's Syllogism (as I'll call it) is accurate, though. It's meant to convey that, even when God is wrathful, holy, and violent, he is still essentially loving, and his Love is never divorced from any of his actions. Thus, Love wins. Is this not compatible with both scripture and Bell's Syllogism?

A few questions for clarity.
Do you think that the 1 John passage is making an identity statement that God=Love?

If so, as we know from the Law of Identity, then all of the properties assigned to God must be all of the same properties assigned to love. Therefore, love would have the properties normally assigned to God such as omnipotence, omnipresence, etc. Is that what you think the text is saying?

If we go that route, it seems like we are redefining what love is to the point that the words and definitions are ad hoc changed to fit what we want them to be.

Or am I missing something here? I could be as I am writing this hastily between bites of some leftovers for lunch at my desk.

Hi Eluros,
Absolutely! If 'Love' is redefined to mean 'God', with all His attributes (as above by Wooly), and attributes then, certainly "Love Wins" is accurate and consistent with the Bible.
But if that were what Rob Bell meant the title would not likely be 'Love Wins' but 'God Wins'.

But my copy only shipped yesterday so I won't get it for about another week. Until then I have to rely on what others have said about Bell, including his defenders (like McLaren referenced below).
As Mohler said on this issue:
"We do not know who God is by knowing what love is," Mohler wrote. "We understand love by knowing who God is. But Brian McLaren seems quite ready to judge God by human standards of love and justice."


This is where things start to get a bit tricky... It's unclear, from a Biblical perspective, whether or not God is omnipotent, so I don't want to jump to that too quickly. However, as far as the application of the Law of Identity, yes, that was what I was implying, and perhaps the intention of the author of 1 John. Everything that is true of the one is true of the other. Of course, there are many types of Love, and there is obviously something specific here that is being referenced.

There's no intent of committing an ad hoc fallacy; would the instantiation of the fallacy be in that we only assume God is Love because 1 John tells us he is? If so, that's revelation, and thus exempt from Ad Hoc (for the sake of Christian dialogue). If you're arguing that 1 John isn't consistent with how we normally talk about love, perhaps the issue is that "love" is an overly ambiguous word. I'm happy to explore this further, if you'd like to phrase your concern as an argument.

Indeed, Bell might be committing a mistake by arguing that Love demands something it really doesn't. I'm not sure. However, that's an epistemological problem. The Syllogism still holds. Consider the problem of evil:

1. If God exists, God is Love.
2. The idea that (God is Love) is incompatible with the existence of human suffering.
3. Humans suffer.
4. Thus, God does not exist.

If you were going to object to this, you'd probably object that the second premise is false. We have a mistaken understanding of what Love entails. The argument, however, is still valid. Bell's Syllogism would work in a similar manner:

1. God is Love
2. God has property Q
3. Thus, Love has property Q

That's valid. Now, Bell might be mistaken that God has property Q, but otherwise, if the premises are true, the argument is valid.

I can actually understand Bell's perspective by considering what it means to say that "God Wins". Does God really win? He desires that no man should perish, but it sounds like a good number of them do. Does that mean God really wins? For God to "win" (which may or may not be Biblical), it would seem like his ultimate will would have to come to pass, and this would involve no man (collective, not gender-specific) perishing.

I think that there are several options to receive the meaning of 1 John 4's use of the term "God is love". I wont have time to develope any argument for these options at this time, but maybe someone can comment.

The literary device "synecdoche" not at all foreign to biblical writings. Here's a definition:

•Synecdoche ( ; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech in which: * a term denoting a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (Pars pro toto), or * a term denoting a thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it

Another way to look at this scripture is under the lens of a relationship similar to the trinitarian relationship. That term is perichorisis. It is a term very familiar to Orthodox believers because it describes an interpenetration of relationship--usually between persons. The sword in the fire anology is a good way to understand perichorisis. The steel of a sword put into fire can then burn something like fire, but it is never fire itself.

Maybe some others can develope this more.

Hi Eluros,
Correct. The syllogism is fine if the premises are accepted. And it is true that in your first iteration I would deny the second premise.
The point is that in conflating God and Love Bell is bringing properties of Love, humanly derived, into the equation and using them to define God, rather than let God define Himself and, thus, Love.
Bell is not saying that whatever God is Love is and we know that God wins. He is imposing his ideas of love back on God.
Again, I am speaking as one who has not read the book.

As with Bell's hidden presumptions we see a similar one in your final sentence. Why do you take it that it is God's ultimate will that no man perish? Why isn't it His ultimate will that a maximum of men come to fulfill their ultimate end of worshiping and glorifying their Creator? Since there is a will that God actually sets about accomplishing why would we not say that He wins when He accomplishes this? Since He created everything by His own good will and knows the end from the beginning how could He possibly not get His ultimate will?

Notice that my comments have been based upon the assumption that God and Love can be viewed as synonymous. I think this does a disservice to language and accept it only for the sake of argument. For instance, God is also Spirit.
Does that mean that Love is Spirit?
Love in the sense being argued here is not, then, something we can express as humans as I neither fall in God with a beautiful woman, nor do I Spirit a good milkshake.
Thus, premise 1, God is Love, is not a true premise as it is being used here.


1. 2 Peter 3:9 states that God wants/wills no one to perish, but that all would come to repentance. I'm not quoting correctly, since I don't know what translation you prefer, but I think that's a fair account. This is all throughout the Bible. Here's a link that show a bunch of other verses:,%20Romans%2011:32,%202%20Corinthians%205:19,%20Ezekiel%2018:23&version=NIV

2. If it's true that God is Spirit, then Love is Spirit. However, I think it's better to say that God has been known to manifest in Spirit. He's also manifested in flesh (Christ). Thus, I might respond that Love has manifested in Spirit, as it has manifested in flesh, but it's unclear that it necessarily exists as either. If you think God is essentially Spirit, which may be the case (I'm not accusing you of being wrong, merely admitting my lack of knowledge), feel free to present a citation.

3. That being said, your method is legitimate. If you can find a quality that Love has that God doesn't, or vice versa, you've certainly shut down the interpretation of 1 John implying that "God is love" means "God = love". Of course, humans can be wrong about what love is, and we're not talking about human mistakes. However, if what Love actually is turns out to be different than what God actually is, there is certainly a substantial argument available.

Hi Eluros, to whom is second Peter addressing? I think it has bearing on what to make of the statement you bring up. It surely doesn't mean what you are implying, since obviously not all will be saved if in the "all" you include every single person.

The Universalist may be right… I don’t know….there are some strong arguments there. There are some equally strong arguments which counter them too. I don’t know. I think to be a Universalist, we must agree that all will be saved, and further, that those who Will-To-Self, and would rather be King, will be "made" to change their mind. Forced Penetration, as it were, as opposed to Forced Exile, as in Pharaoh, who, having made his choice, is then finally and permanently hardened as God says to him, "Thy will be done". All may perhaps be saved. Very well. But then, we must account for those who Will-Not, and you can lead a horse to water, and even give him full appreciation of the goodness of the water, but to make the choice for him is to have created a world of, at best, Automatons/Robots, or, at worst, Raped Victims: Forced Penetration against the Will. Perhaps God knows of what sort of species we really are, and in fact we all do come to choose Life, or Day, or Water. Perhaps not. I cannot find a concrete answer to this in scripture that does not involve some degree of extrapolation, or that does not have a counter scripture that, with some extrapolation, does not imply the opposite view, to some subtle degree.

All choose the Day. Some choose the Night. I can make a strong case for both; and yet my experience with Him, or His rescue of me, or His salvaging of me, has had nothing to do with these specifically, but rather with His incredible patience, and forgiveness, and persistence, and, I would add, His, at times, incredibly blunt, frank, even painful, handling of me. There was a moment, for me, and this is just about my own experience, in which I found myself facing a very evil place, and, had I proceeded, there was only “that” before me….it would have ended “there” for me…. I think I chose then to run another way….partly out of fear…but looking back, I was involved in the process….looking inward back on that day I know I could have Willed either way, there on that day….My subjective experience of Love’s hand in my life is such. I Willed. That is all I can offer from my own experience.

We want, or at least I want, to figure out the Whole Show, from Top to Bottom….and Scripture doesn’t allow me to. Scripture, and my own intimate experience with Love Himself, deal to a much larger percentage with, not The Whole Show, but with me, and my sins, which need to go, and my strengths, which need to grow, and my love of others, and my love of Love Himself, and my own bits of darkness, or light, and my own handling of the same sorts of darkness or light I find in others. The Big Show, for Now, for Us, or at least for me, lies in that direction…..some things Only God Knows…. “The Son does not know the day, or hour, but only the Father”. I cannot kill, or hate, or inwardly spite, the Universalist crowd, or the Some-Will-Not-Choose-Day crowd….my own experience with Love Himself has told me nothing whatsoever about The Whole Show on those two points of question, but only about Our-Show, and my reading of scripture has allowed me to make rather strong cases in defense of both….for a subtle tinge of extrapolation of some counter-scripture always makes it “reasonable”. But we love to go down those subtle roads of reasonable extrapolation, and search the scripture….. we think in them we will find Real Life, Real Solutions. A bible didn’t rescue me. He did. I couldn’t have cared less about “scripture” then, when He found me. Love Himself has never given me a Concrete, Indisputable All-Saved or Some-Will-Otherwise…. I mean personally, within our own intimate moments together. And in scripture I have never found a Concrete All or Some to which some other scripture could not as readily, and equally reasonably, counter-weigh. Some go about doing good and sacrificing-self and loving freaks and bastards and telling people to come into Light, and Love, and offer that some sort of “accounting” may one day find itself at our door and some of these find themselves bleeding as they love even their enemy. While others go and search the scriptures endlessly and know every last line therein for therein Real Life, Real Solutions, will be, they think, found. A certain Nazarene found the same two sorts of folks too…..The Whole Show is important....and yet Corinthians tells us that as long as we are in this world we see all of “That” which lies over the horizon through a dense fog, in a riddle, blurry at best. “I don’t know” is too humbling for me though….but that’s just me.

CS Lewis has a thought…’s not about the Whole Show, (only the Father knows that?) but about Our Show, here in the Now: "There is kindness in Love; but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object----we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense." C.S. Lewis

God is Spirit.
John 4:24

God is light.
1 John 1:15
So light is God?
God is Love is Light is Spirit? Light is Love is Spirit?
I think exactly not.

God's will.

God's thwarted desires:
"To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice," (Prov. 21:3)

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

"For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord God. "Therefore, repent and live," (Ezekiel 18:32).

"Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked . . . (Ezekiel 33:11).

Hey Daron and Gang,

Is there such a thing as a Created Being with Will and Personhood and Voice who Falls and goes unredeemed? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Starting with “God is Love” we can trace the footprints:

Love is an odd state; it is that acquiescence of the Self for Other, or Gethsemane's Thine and not Mine. You and not I. Other and not Self. When we see Love, we see this Pattern. That Eternally Sacrificed Self. It opens its arms wide, and it dies. Self Giving. And I suppose the inverse is Lucifer's I will be as God. I. I. As is seen in Eden's promise to Adam: you will be as God. As is seen at the tower of Babel: we will be as God. I-First. As opposed to Love's Other-first. It seems there is "that which is" the inverse of love, which is a kind of self focused lens, which is by default "outside of love". From all accounts, Lucifer had the full light of a fully informed consent standing in the very presence of God, and still his Will chose the Self over "Other" . I will be as God. I suppose it is therefore possible that such events occur. For angels I don't see a Cross, as I do for Adam. But I consider Lucifer to be a Will, a Self, a Person, at least of sorts, and we are told "hell was made for angels and not for men".

I would add my own thought, and that is that I feel most men do not have that same level of “Full Light” (standing in the very presence of God) and therefore MAY not have Lucifer’s sort of full guilt….hence Jesus' statement on the Cross of 'forgive them for they don't know'.

And this brings in an odd notion of importance to my struggle with hell: that on some level it seems some Real Self’s, Created Beings with Will and Personhood and Voice, will not wholly give-away-the-self, will not open their arms wide, and die for Other, will choose Self rather than Love’s “Thine and not Mine”. And the reason I struggle with the notion of hell is that I feel the following TWO statements cannot BOTH be true: First, God is love. Second, Created beings choose to be outside of love, and go un-redeemed. In Lucifer we find a Person, of sorts at least, but still a created Being with Will, and Personhood, and Voice, who seeks the Self, and so by default lands outside of Love, which is Ultimate Reality (God), and is left there without redemption. Even if I accept this (which I do), I still feel that this is not a species to whom God has said "I love you" (as is the species of Adam), nonetheless, it proves me wrong in that the two statements "God is Love" and "Created Beings with Will and Personhood and Voice can choose the outside, and go un-redeemed" can, it seems from all accounts, BOTH be true. From here multiple issues can be added, and argued, such as “there is Extinction in Hell” vs. “we are Alive Forever in Hell” or “this has to do with Angel's Will” vs. “ this doesn’t have to do with Man/Adam's Will”, and all the rest, but these do not in the end detract from what is very clear, namely, God is Love, and, simultaneously, a species with Will and Personhood and Voice, standing in the full light of day (in heaven) and thus possessing fully informed consent, can choose to exit Love (exit God) and go into the Alone of the Pure-Self, and go un-redeemed, with no mention whatsoever in scripture of that Will's redemption (speaking of Lucifer/Satan/Angels).

And while I take comfort in arguing about “Adam vs. Angel” or “Extinction vs. Live Forever” and all the rest, it seems, at the end of the day, that my CORE issue with Hell (at least for me), namely, a God who is Love can allow this, is in fact a reality. There is no Cross for Angels, that odd species with Will and Voice and Personhood who, standing in the full light of heaven's Day, who possess thereby fully informed consent, yet seek Self over Other, the inverse of Love.

Once this CORE issue (for me anyway) is subjected to this notion, I find myself moving into "Well yes, but Adam is a different case" and "Well yes, but even so, they are to become extinct, and not live forever". But none of these get me out of the core reason I struggle so hard against "hell", namely, I feel, God cannot be love and yet allow a Will, a Personhood, a Person with Voice, go ultimately un-redeemed. But it appears that such can be the case. I comfort myself by telling myself, "Very well, but they stood in heaven, in the full light of day, with fully informed consent, and there is NO man alive who ever had THAT degree of clear and informed choice, and so all men are on some level excused". But even that still does not get us out of this fact, that the following two statements can, and seems are, both true: first, God, Aristotle's Uncaused Cause, is Love, and second, created Beings with Will, and Personhood, and Voice who choose Self over Love, Mine over Thine, I over You, and cry I, I, and only I, go, ultimately, un-redeemed in that which is by default Outside of Love, that fierce imprisonment within the Self.

Looking at all of this, it appears there is a appears created beings with Will and Personhood and Voice who choose Self over Love, Mine over Thine, I over You, and cry I, I, and only I, end up there, not by any sort of Heavenly Notion, but simply by being intrinsically and innately foreign, alien, to what Love-Is, that incredible pattern of the eternally sacrificed self. And yet "God is Love" remains wholly true. And this state, or condition, or territory of "Non-love" is by default “Outside” of Love’s pattern of Other and not Self. Jesus tells us, shows us, that The-Real is comprised of Self-Giving, that The-Real is that which we find in Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, and that which is the inverse of this Pattern is innately Non-Love.

If Ultimate Reality is Love, if the Ultimate Ethic is Love, and if Real Self's with Real Will and Real Personhood and Real Voice actually exist, then the Pattern of the Eternally Sacrificed, Eternally Acquiesced Self is The-Real, and that which is outside of this is so by innately seeking Mine and not Thine, I and not You, Self and not Other. Jesus tells us "All things and all the Prophets all come down to this: Love Love Himself and Love One Another". Everything that is outside this eternal pattern of Self Giving is that fierce imprisonment within the Isolated-Self. It is the Alone.

I do not see a Cross, a Bridge, for Lucifer. I do for Adam. There is no hint whatsoever that Lucifer will be redeemed. There are hints that some of Man may join him. There are hints that all of Man may escape such a permanent Fall. As per my post from yesterday, I can’t make a concrete call here. Jesus, the One who will be Judge, says from His Cross, “Forgive them, because they do not know”. Some of us may know “enough”. Or not. I don’t know. I’m not answering “that”. Nonetheless, God Is Love seems to be a Truth. And, simultaneously, Created Beings with Will, and Personhood, and Voice, who choose Self over Other, Mine over Thine, I over You, and cry I, I, and only I, go, ultimately, un-redeemed in that which is by default Outside of Love’s innate Pattern of Self-Giving, that fierce imprisonment within the Isolated-Self; the Alone.

Hey LoveHimselfRescuedMe.
Have a great day.

If anyone has read the CT article with regard to Rob Bell's book, I would be interested to get a perspective. It seems to me that an appeal is being offered that trades more on the academic opinion of well-known theologians, past & present, rather than a discussion of the Scriptural evidence for annihilation, universalism, hell, etc. Their "logic" suggests we should be open to Bell's interpretation because he is in the good company of scholars.

Hey Daron I'm tempted to write more but I better not =) It seems from my above discussion that there is a hell.....and it seems to be in some concrete way linked with the business of the sort of Self-s who Love, or do not per the discussion....I think that's a strong arguement that "God is Love" and "Created Beings with Will and Personhood and Voice, who choose Self over Other, Mine over Thine, I over You, and hence are innately void of what Love innately "is" end, it seems, in that place or state or condition" are BOTH true statements...and I know I left it off at Lucifer....but the door is thus opened. CS Lewis says the door to hell is, or most likely is, locked not from Heaven's side, but from the inside, as the Will must elect to abandon the Self to exit that prison, and enter the light of Love's day. But the door appears to be there....and so I think there must be a flaw in Bell's logic somewhere....Lucifer is the hard evidence of this.

Love your post about the Light is Love is Spirit having a bit of a flaw somewhere....good stuff =)

How about this Daron?

If there is a Hell at all, then Bell's Logic is, on some level somewhere at least, inaccurate:

Lucifer is a Created Being with Will, and Personhood, and Voice. And Knowledge of Ought and Ought Not. And with Accountability (thus the "punishment" of his hell). This Created Being did not "love" in that he chose "Self over Other, Mine over Thine, I over You". He did not enter into the Pattern of the Eternally Sacrificed-Self (which is the pattern, or what Love Himself "does" or "is" from before the foundation of the world and unto forever, as that is what love does).

God is Love, and, there is no hint whatsoever that Lucifer, or the 'billions' who sided with him, will be redeemed.

Therefore, the following two statements are both true (and thus there is a flaw in Bell's logic at least on some level):

1) God is Love

2) Created Beings with Will, and Personhood, and Voice, who do not Love, or are Not-Love, but instead choose Self over Other, Mine over Thine, I over You" (instead of Gethsemanie's "Thine and not Mine, Other and not Self" as Love Himself dies for us) are innately devoid of what love "is" and so enter into Hell, which is an imprisonment within the Self, which is a place without the presence of Love, and thereby, without the presencde of God.

"Hell was made for angels, not for man".

"All things and all the prophets come down to this: that you love Love Himself, and love one another."


Kudos to you for the comment, "But my copy only shipped yesterday so I won't get it for about another week. Until then I have to rely on what others have said about Bell, including his defenders (like McLaren referenced below)."

I commend you for at least reading the book before you condemn Bell.

Your comment, "Hey LoveHimselfRescuedMe.
Have a great day.", pulled a big laugh out of me. Too funny.

Now back to watching every shot VCU throws up, no matter how ridiculous, go in.


As an academic who must read far too many manuscripts, I hold to Samuel Clemens observation by way of appeal for mercy:

"Please accept my apologies for the length of this letter. I did not have time to make it shorter."

That is, we often say in many words what could be said in few.

Consequently, I fear many are ignoring what likely are helpful contributions to the conversation because, by their length, your posts appear to have an extremely low signal-to-noise ratio.

Any way you can find pithier ways to express yourself?

Thus my reply to LHRM.
I wasn't mocking, just to clarify, but acknowledging the efforts while finding myself having little to add.


I agree....too much time on my hands perhaps....or I find you guys too enjoyable....but, I do offer that the case of Lucifer gives hard evidence that the two statements (given above) are in fact both true....and hence there may be a flaw in Bell's logic.

Onward we go gentlemen =)

Speaking of Bell, his logic (non sequiturs galore) and my reading of it, I am about 2/3 finished now. I have about 65 pages left in the middle. I doubt it will change too much of my thinking on him.

I have no doubt Bell is a Christian and I very much dislike when people rake Christians over the coals for not quite saying things the way they would prefer. I think that shows a telling lack of grace. On that note, Bell does make some very good points in his book about God's Grace and mercy. He is very strong on the redemption and forgiveness found throughout the OT regarding idolatrous Israel. (Unfortunately, he jumps from this to the unwarranted and illogical conclusion that we are always assured another chance and the die is never cast as far as our bad decisions go). As he states, though, he is not saying anything new and in this he is just repeating what you would find in any evangelical writing.

First of all, for me anyway, it is very irritating to read. He has written it like a piece of free-flowing poetry, with odd breaks, uneven lines and incessant repetition. This is a matter of style and taste, though. Except for the repetitions. Here he is playing the role of a propagandist, as though hoping to convince by saying many times a thing that he does not back up with facts or logical necessity.

Second, he is misleading. He comes out swinging, like he is going to be attacking or deconstructing all these things that some think and that millions have been taught. But when you finally cut through his obscure monologue, when you find something coherent, you find that he affirms just what those have been saying.
If he doesn't, he just leaves vague, floating questions.
For instance, on the chapter on Heaven he keeps telling us that we are wrong to think of it as "out there" somewhere. In so doing all he does is affirm what Evangelicals, the ones, presumably, whom he is debunking, have always said about entering into Eternal life now. On one page he "questions" the wrong concept of Heaven as "some place else" but on the previous page he teaches that Paul believed that Heaven is a "dimension of creation, a place, a space, a realm beyond the one we currently inhabit." By the end of the chapter he affirms that Heaven is a place, now, that is somewhere else. He also tells us, a la the New Heavens and New Earth, that it is the condition of the Earth in the future.
I guess what he thinks is radical, what is the big challenge to what we've been taught, is that Jesus tells us we can experience Heaven on Earth even now. Is that news to anybody?
Bell keeps trying to sound original, as though he has found an error in the way the rest of us think, but then he often merely affirms, if you can glean, just those thoughts.

One thing his fans on this site might be interested in:
"For some, the highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others who don't articulate matters of faith as they do".

Although Bell does not heed his own implied warning, maybe others can.
Yes, I'm talking to you universalist, God is love, heretic-hunters who come here calling your hosts blasphemers and heretics.
Bell, though, has no problem, in referring to others, their articulations of belief, their view of God, etc, with words such as: toxic, venomous, tyrant, cruel, simple, naive, brainwashed, angry, demanding, slave-driver, fearful, vicious, relentless, terrifying, traumatizing, idolaters, mean, tormenter,

Of course, I have no idea whose Christianity he is talking about in his critique. He critiques a view that tells us Jesus is rescuing us from God; but Trinitarians know that God Himself is the rescuer and Redeemer, just as Bell affirms. He critiques a view of a God who is capricious and whose characteristics change moment by moment; but orthodox Christianity teaches that God is the same forever. He critiques a God who views a person differently before and after dying in a car accident, as though God is neither sovereign nor even omniscient. That is obviously not the God of Christianity.

So not only is Bell very happy to attack, defame, etc., those who do not articulate faith as he does, but he seems happy to invent for them a God that he doesn't believe in (by the way, another annoyance in the book is his repetition of internet answers to skeptics "I don't believe in the same God you atheists don't believe in" as though he came up with them ... as well as his actually sounding exactly like an internet skeptic about half the time when he is questioning other Christians) but that they probably don't, either.

Maybe he is critiquing some kind of Christianity, but it is not Reformed, so it is surprising that his defenders think they can use Bell as a refutation of Calvinism here at STR.

One last thing for now, if you've ever repeated a word so often that it loses its meaning and sounds like gibberish, Bell will do this to you with the word "story".
The way this book is written he gets less than two hundred words per page and "story" can show up a half dozen times or more in that allotment. On page 75 he says "story" five times in four sentences. I find this very annoying and it takes on the feel of a code word, for some in-group that knows his secret, subversive, meaning. And it makes me cringe now to recall the cool lines Aslan would speak to Lucy about telling her her story and not someone else's.

Hey, LoveHimselfRescuesMe,
How's that for too much time on my hands?

Talking about Bell:


So, as the only one here who has actually read Bell's book.....

Is he proposing a universalist view, and worthy to be called a heretic...... or not?

Hi Jeff,
Unlike our "God-is-Love" heretic hunters, I am not willing to say such things about my Christian brothers.
I will tell you that, yes, Bell confirms universalism.
And then he denies it.
Then he confirms it.
I guess you have to decide whether you are defending or critiquing him, then upon which issue, and then decide which statements he is actually claiming. It's unfortunate, of course, that a book purporting to be about Heaven and Hell and the fate of everyone who ever lived, requires one to mount evidence on both sides to know what the author is saying. This is made even the more difficult because when he really wants to make a statement about something he puts a question mark at the end of the sentence. Is this good writing? Is this how one tries to be clear?

As I mentioned above, Bell is absolutely hooked to the word "story". Story seems to be everything to him. And on pages 110-11 he tells us that some stories are better than others. The story of Hell is not a very good story. He says this twice in successive sentences.

In contrast, everybody enjoying God's good world together ... is a better story
He admits that there are many objections to this view, but says we ought to long for it to be the case.
He then tells us that because love can't be forced we have to leave open that there is a "possibility" that the evil impulse that lurks in all of us may win out and stay in some forever. Thus, they are always in their self-made Hell. He even says we are free to leave the question open because we can't actually answer it.
So it seems we don't know, according to Bell, even though we know which he would prefer.

But the rest of the book shows us that he really does think he has answered the question. As I showed above, he does so in the language he uses. If universalism is not true then God is petty, mean, cruel, tyrannical, violent, etc. He is also weak. In Bell's discussion, God's omnipotence demands that He save everyone.

And soon, by page 151 Bell is telling us that Jesus is redeeming and rescuing everything, and everyone.
Jesus is drawing all people to Himself.
"He alone is saving everybody" page 155
And he has an chapter entitled "The Good News Is Better Than That", which sentence he repeats like the refrain of a hymn. He is contrasting it, of course, to the Gospel that includes eternal Hell.
Speaking of which, he defines away the eternality of Hell by saying that the Greek word, "aion", which is normally translated as "eternal" or at least "age", can mean "intense experience". And then, based upon this possible meaning, he uses this to interpret passages about Hell. page 58

One last bit of evidence that he has selected universalism over his allowed possibility, is his treatment from pages 83-86 or so, of God's mercy and selecting of a remnant out of Israel. Bell ignores the fact that God is bringing back only a remnant each time, and He is doing so when they repent, and He is doing so for His greater purpose. Instead Bell treats these passages as universal claims of restoration. He states boldly on page 86 that no matter their sin or state of punishment, for people "there's always the assurance that it won't be this way forever."
The bolds are mine, the italics Bell's.
He has generalized these specific promises to Israel's remnants to "people" in general, and for them, they are always assured. He even tells us on page 88 that these promises are not only for the elect or the chosen people.

Also on page 88 he says,
"Failure, we see again and again, isn't final".
At which point he turns Hell into a purgatory, where it's only purpose is correction. In fact, God never punishes, according to Bell, He only corrects, teaches and trains. Our mistakes are never final, he says, ignoring all we know about Uzzah, Herod, Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, etc.
For all we know and are taught they were punished, not corrected, and their mistakes were final.

He also tells us point blank, using his translations, that when Jesus spoke of eternal punishment He definitely was not saying "forever" the way we say "forever". He knows this for a fact. Then he says that He "may be" talking about something else.

Sorry for the bolds. I obviously did not close my tag. I'll try here.

I will be on the road for the next three days starting tomorrow morning, so I won't be able to follow up for a bit if this is not helpful to you.

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