Magazine article The Christian Century

Something Game-Changing

Magazine article The Christian Century

Something Game-Changing

Article excerpt

WHEN AN ATTENDEE of Rob Bell's congregation said that he was certain that Gandhi is in hell, Bell responded, "Really? Gandhi's in hell? We have confirmation of this? Somebody knows this? Without a doubt?"

Some of Bell's evangelical brothers and sisters are horrified by his wavering on the doctrine of hell, and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, is "theologically disastrous." "When you adopt universalism ... you don't need the church, and you don't need Christ, and you don't need the cross.... This is the tragedy of nonjudgmental mainline liberalism."

But Peter Marty, who writes about Bell in this issue, believes that Bell is on to something important--maybe even something game-changing. And as Bell himself says, "[I've] long wondered ff there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian.... Something new is in the air."

Something new is happening. Denominations are struggling to discover new ways to be church. New partnerships are formed between different Christians who share a common sense of mission, and people of every faith are struggling to relate to people of other faiths in a world that has brought us into closer contact than ever before. Within Protestant Christianity, Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are examples of leaders who graciously reach across the old conservative-liberal theological divide to make common cause with others concerned for a just society and an authentic, respectful evangelism.

It distresses me when people on my side of the divide are accused of arriving at our theological and ethical positions out of a desire to be politically correct instead of out of vigorous study of scripture and theology. …

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