I have been an avid CS Lewis reader for many years. My Mom introduced me to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe during Junior High and I at once learned to love the insight and magic of Lewis’ writings. His strong vision of good and evil, the ability to take fantasy and anchor it into reality have kept me reading. In his book the Problem with Pain, he touches on the subject of Hell. He refers to it as doctrine, as so it is, and at the same time it is a reality which Jesus speaks of many times.
I leave it to you to read….
There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it. If the happiness of a creature lies in self-surrender, no one can make that surrender but himself (though many can help him to make it) and he may refuse. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully “All will be saved.” But my reason retorts, “Without their will, or with it?” If I say “Without their will” I at once perceive a contra- diction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say “With their will,” my reason replies “How if they will not give in?”. . .
The doors of Hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of Hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.
I concluded Rob Bell’s LOVE WINS last evening lying comfortably in bed. First to say, I did not end the book with any sense that I needed to write a critique of the book, or for that matter write some strong condemnation of his thoughts, questions or theological position. Do I agree with everything he says – that would have to be a no, but as a wise man once told me, when you eat a fish you don’t swallow the bones.
So picking through his thoughts I came to these conclusions:
1. Is it systematic theology – no
2. Does it raise great questions – yes
3. Does it provide some detailed answers – of course
4. Does it create hope – loved it
5. Is it filled with great illustrations of God’s love? – absolutely
6. Is forgiveness explained? – clearly
7. Is it an exhaustive discourse on the subject of heaven and hell – couldn’t be!
8. Are there uanswered questions at the conclusion – has to be.
9. Am I impressed by the book – very much so
10. Am I thankful I read the book – entirely
11. Would I recommend it to others – without hesitation
So if you’vre read the book I would love to hear your comments. If you haven’t read the book but you’ve taken an uninformed position I would ask you to read it and reconsider.
As I look out at The Church in North America I’m concerned that we continue to see people hurt, not healed in congregational life, people more concerned about being right than righteous, and that people put their opinions above Scripture. If The Church, which is God’s representation of His Glory on earth, is going to communicate the message of hope and love, then we need to be open to what He is saying to us, what He is doing in us.
Let me leave you with a quote from Eugene Peterson regarding LOVE WINS:
“In the current religious climate in America, it is easy to develop a thoroughly biblical imagination that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ in all people and all circumstances in love and salvation. Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination. LOVE WINS accomplishes this without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is truly for all.”