Fundamentalist Christian darling Rob Bell made a bit of a splash when his book Love Wins came out this past spring – and fundamentalist Christians were none too pleased with him. The center the controversy was the contention held by many Christians (fundamentalist and not) that only Christians escape Hell when this life is over – that and the question, is Bell espousing Universalism (the belief that all humans are saved through Jesus Christ)?
I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how to answer the question (though the Mars Hill website contends Bell is not espousing Universalism). However, the whole issue of fundamentalism and hell got me thinking.
The whole notion that there is an eternal divide between those who are saved and those who are not, leads to “us/them” thinking. As long as any religion argues (rightly or wrongly) that some (read: “we”) are saved and some (read: “they”) are condemned, the supposed eternal dividing line is going to be imported to this world. And when people embrace dividing lines, they subconsciously embrace the emotional foundation to self-justifying violence.
I am a Universalist. I focus much more on John 3:17 than on John 3:16. I focus on God sending Jesus into the world, not to condemn the world, but that whole world would be saved. I realize, too, that embracing this belief I am embracing an emotional foundation that makes violence harder.