How Much More? [Brief Reflections on Rob Bell] (Guest Post: Alan Molineaux)

‘How much more…….?’

In the midst of all the conversation hitting twitterland about the Rob Bell book and the conservative evangelical backlash it is illuminating to see how much of what is being said reveals what Christians believe about God.

This is, of course, what Rob Bell calls ‘the question behind the question’.

Or perhaps it has become the statement behind the statement.

Many (though not all) of the leaders who criticise Bell believe that God has chosen a select few to be ‘saved,’ and that in this predestination His love is fulfilled.

This is, of course, at odds with the wider hope expressed by Rob Bell and has lead to him (wrongly in my view) being labeled a universalist.

It strikes me that, given Jesus’ revelation that we can approach God as Father, the idea of any partiality or favouritism is out of keeping with a complete expression of love.

I fail to imagine that any book on parenting would give the advice ‘now have a few children and pick one of them as a favourite’.

Good parenting and a lack of partiality go hand in hand for any decent earthly parent.

‘How much more…….?’

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Thanks to my good web friend, Al Molineaux for this challenging guest piece.  Connect with him on Twitter.

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  • A N Hughes

    Alan, I can appreciate your thoughts of comparing this to earthly parenting, but you can also run the risk of projecting earthly experiences upon God when there are differences. You also have to reasonably grapple with the difficult texts on all these issues and not simply dismiss them as something that is hard to get one’s mind around or understand because it doesn’t mesh with human experience.

  • http://openmindedconversations.blogspot.com/ jshmueller

    A N Hughes, you’re partially right but I’d like you to consider one thing we encounter over and over again in Scripture: whenever God’s character and disposition towards mankind IS actually illustrated by or compared with earthly experiences (particularly parenting!) the incredulity consistently lies in how much bigger God’s love and grace is than the feeble examples we know from our broken human experience. This is both true for Jesus’ sayings and parables, as it is true for the prophetic outlook regarding God’s ultimate purposes in the Old Testament (Is.49:14-16; 55:8-12).

    • A N Hughes

      jsmueller, this is good point and i totally follow you. yes, the comparision is there to show how God is that much larger/bigger/better/more perfect. but, we have to determine in each scenario what part of the comparions that are being used. that is, the every facet of the analogy/illustration is not always transferrable. instead what is the exegetical point specficially being made and compared?

      • http://openmindedconversations.blogspot.com/ jshmueller

        I applaud your reminder about careful exegesis but it still baffles me that in all the good news (which you admitted is usually so much better than even our wildest imagination would assume) you seem to be still trying to find something that would somehow contradict or lessen our human understanding of “good” or “love” when it is applied to God. Could you give me a specific example from either Old or New Testament where God’s portrayal as a parent would be any LESS kind, gracious or accepting than we’d expect from a human parent? What exactly, in your opinion, is the consistent bigger picture regarding God’s disposition towards mankind, particularly in light of His supreme revelation through the perfect God-image of Jesus?

      • http://openmindedconversations.blogspot.com/ jshmueller

        P.S.: I’m also wondering what you think of the similar rationale in the following post:

        http://tinyurl.com/3m9j7x6

  • http://mystic444.wordpress.com Stephen Parker

    jshmueller – you’re so right. To make the comparison with Alan’s statement, Isaiah would no doubt say: “Even if a parenting guide did suggest that a parent pick one of his/her children as a favorite, God’s love is so much greater than human love that He would never do such a thing!” That’s precisely the argument he used in Isaiah 49:14-16, to which you referred.

  • Alan Molineaux

    I understand that there is a danger of projection but I think the words of Jesus gives us licence here. He specifically broke into their understanding of prayer (approaching God) to present them with the Father image.

    Then later in making the direct comparison with earthly parents he shows us that God’s fathering is bigger are better than ours.

    I am concerned that some representations of God present Him as having favourites and therefore less than and not more than.

  • Spencer

    God Loves each of us but he can’t force us to love him back. There are three kids in my family and i’m sure that my parents will tell anyone he who asks that they love us all the same. Now does that mean my brother loves my father as much as I do. My brother choose to leave my family when he was sixteen and change his name. Now if he ever chooses to return my Dad would of course welcome him with open arms. My dad how ever can not force my brother to come home and unless he does he will miss out on the joy that comes with being with my father. The same goes for God we choose to dis own God when we sin and refuse to come home to him. God can’t force us to come to him because he has given us free will. Unfortunately those who don’t come back to the father and except his free gift can not be with him. The wages of sin is death and unless we are cleansed by the saving blood of Christ we will not be with him in eternity. Period. It has nothing to do with him choosing some over others it has to do with us rejecting him.

  • Alan Molineaux

    Hey Spencer.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    My concern is with the idea of predestination as presented by the Calvin.

    In your analogy that would mean that the parent makes the choice in advance which children are going to respond in love.

    Hope that helps.

    Al


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