Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Is Rob Bell a Universalist?
It's been over a year, so I figured addressing this would be a nice circular return to form.
He's an Arminian inclusivist who believes in the possibility of post-mortem salvation, and hopes that all people will be saved. Universalism seems to demand a specific level of certainty. Meaning all will eventually be saved. Keith DeRose contacted me and offered a unique and challenging perspective, in that "hopeful" universalism seems to be a personal preference or feeling, rather than an objective view of the data.
Instead of certain, I offer "highly probably" universalism as the best way to define "certain" universalism. "Hopeful" universalism will be termed "possible" universalism from this point forth.
I think Thomas Talbott, Eric Reitan, Robin Parry, Jurgen Moltmann, George MacDonald and Keith DeRose are "highly probable" universalists.
I think Rob Bell is not a universalist, but he believes it is possible. Possibility does not seem to grant universalism. It merely presents it as an option. That is all Rob Bell did. Presented an option and stepped back.
Rob Bell is not certain of whether or not all will be saved. He has said that the afterlife in regards to heaven/hell is speculative. But he hopes all will be saved, and he is open to think it is possible. But he is not certain, and since he cannot be certain, to tag him with the label is simply incorrect. Most "highly probable" universalists will correct you on the label as well.
No need to read anymore into his book. If you want universalism, read the above mentioned gentlemen. Besides Rob Bell, of course. The literature offered by the above gentlemen (particularly Moltmann and MacDonald) is quite compelling.
And I think only one of those labels (arminian/inclusivist/postmortem salvation) is incorrect. I'll be like Bell and maintain some level of certain cheekiness by not saying which one.