Archive for December 13th, 2008

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.” – Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass.

Many of the Arm-chair Discernment Ministries have expanded the words of Mr. Dumpty to: “When [insert name of some post-modern, pseudo-ancient, cult-of-the emerging-heretic, not-really-a-brother-in-Christ, leaven-spreading, Obama-voting, cult-of-the-liberal-evangelical, spiritual-mystic, Roman, bad guy preacher/author]… “when THEY use a word it means what WE choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

In other words, what the heretic of the day actual meant is irrelevant and to be ignored. Previous comments are to be ignored. Context is to be ignored. What THEY really meant is simply what the ADM’s say they meant – after all, is that not the goal of discernment… to take plain speak and decipher it?

Case in point: On a recent post at CR?N Ken Silva lifts a couple quotes from a Bell interview from one and one-half years ago. These quotes are supposed to show that Bell either believes in, or hopes there will be – Universal Reconciliation. Of course, to do so Silva must become Dumpty… as so much more.

Let’s take a look at that interview. Bell is responding to a question about the existence of a literal hell. The question was: “Let me ask you, do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?” Bell’s first response was: “Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say ‘no I don’t want any part of this.’” When asked if he believed people would be separated from God for eternity Bell’s response was to assume this to be true. Silva didn’t include this part of the answer.

Bell then continues his answer providing the first comment which Silva lifts and twists. Bell’s point: why focus so passionately on the existence of a literal hell? At this point Bell went beyond the question of hell’s existence to the question of why be so passionate about the literalness of people burning for eternity. This shift in subject Silva misses or ignores.

Responding to a follow-up, Bell then gives his hope that all would be reconciled to God. This will not happen, of course, Bell has already admitted that… but he asks, if we are serious about evangelism, if we want people to be saved from hell, should we not hope that everyone we share with will be reconciled to God?

Bell is not denying hell. Bell is not affirming universal salvation. Bell is questioning obsessions and hope as we tell others about Jesus.

Here in a nutshell is what you must do to “silvanize” these comments into an affirmation for Universal Reconciliation and/or a denial of hell:

1. You must ignore (or also silvanize) other clear statements wherein Bell has affirmed that reconciliation comes only through Jesus.
2. You must ignore (or also silvanize) other clear statements wherein Bell has affirmed that only those who trust Jesus will be reconciled to God.
3. You must omit the portion wherein Bell affirms that some are and some will reject the grace of God and be separated from him.
4. You must ignore (or just miss) the switch in subject from hell itself to an obsession with a particular kind of hell.
5. You must ignore (or forget) that Bell affirms that there will be some separated from God and take comments of hope for all as belief that it can or will happen.

Only if you engage in manipulation of meaning that would make an anthropomorphic egg blush can you come to the conclusion that Bell, in this interview, is advocating Universal Reconciliation, aka Christian Universalism.

[HT to Amy for pointing out these quotes]

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