So in my effort to review every chapter of Rob Bell’s _Love Wins_ I only succeeded in blogging about four of the chapters (although I did read the whole book).
This effort of mine took place in the context of a discussion group here in Tyler centered on the book, and on the issues raised by the book.
The discussions of this group of friends has enabled me to hit upon a “simplicity on the far side of complexity,” which, in some ways is what this blog is about in its entirety.
I’m not at all sure if believe in the salvation of _individuals_ at all. (Full disclosure: I’m not sure if I even believe in the _existence_ of individuals!)
What I DO believe in (sometimes this is the only thing I believe in) is THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
I believe that this community of members of the Body of Christ is the New Humanity, and in that sense, which I think is biblical and ancient (though not modern, not secular, and not “scientific”), I am a “universalist” in the sense that it is this “new human race” that God is saving.
I strongly suspect that this is how St. Paul thought; I am certain that this is how a great many church fathers (Ireneaus, Origen, Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa) thought.
I think that Rob Bell is sort of “groping” toward something like this way of thinking, and this is why, on the whole, I really appreciate (and largely agree with) _Love Wins_.
Now, this is actually a radically different worldview from what most people hear about or think about or consider to be “Christian,” but, really, this is where I am coming from, and I think this is rooted in the tradition.
It is from this perspective that I have trouble at times with concepts such as “heaven” and “hell” in the normal way people speak of such things.
If human beings are actually not “individuals” but rather (as John Zizioulas thinks) members of community (that is, without relational community we literally do not exist … exactly like the persons of the Trinity, which I suppose is my “starting point” for all thought) … then it makes no sense to speak of “going to heaven [or hell] when you die.”
Rather, what makes ALL KINDS of sense is to speak of “new creation,” and “new heavens and new earth,” which is actually what the New Testament (along with NT Wright) does in fact speak of, if only people would actually read it.