Rob Bell Is (Not) a Universalist: The Thief on the Cross

All this week, I’ll be posting about Rob Bell’s controversial new book, Love Wins. And this Sunday, April 10, I’ll be guest hosting Doug Pagitt Radio from 12-2pm CDT, talking with Keith DeRose, Michael Horton, and a special surprise guest! The entire two hours will be devoted to a discussion of the book, in advance of Rob’s appearance the following night at Wayzata Community Church.

I was sitting in a college course entitled, “The Theology of Augustine,” when the estimable and eccentric professor, Charles Stinson, asked us what episode in the Bible most clearly accentuates the doctrine of grace.  As the rest of the class looked at the tops of their shoes, I timidly raised my hand and answered, “The thief on the cross?”

“Yes, Mr. Jones, that is correct,” he responded, “That is the archetypal example of a person who has done nothing to earn eternal favor yet is promised a dwelling in Paradise.”

In Love Wins (pp. 54-55), also wisely turns to this episode to make his point that God’s pursuit of us is inexorable, and that we have a choice. [Read more…]