When the great theologian Karl Barth was charged with being a
universalist, he reportedly denied it, but then quoted 1 John: "Christ
died for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the
before Rob Bell's book Love Wins (see
by Peter Marty)
came out, conservative evangelicals lit up the blogosphere with their
insistence--against Bell--that God's condemnation of the wicked to hell is a nonnegotiable part of
Rob Bell fights every impulse in our culture to domesticate Jesus, reminding
readers that Christians do not believe in Christianity; they believe in
the Christ who wants to "draw all people" to himself.
I am not a particularly confident pastor and preacher. I
don't think I am neurotic about it, but I do harbor my own sense of doubt. It's
not that the doubt freezes me in place and keeps me from functioning. It's more
the kind of doubt that sits off in the corner somewhere, creeping up now and
then to poke at me, asking questions like, Does anything you do really make a
“No religion” is now the single largest group in England and Wales, according to British Social Attitudes data. Consisting of nearly half of the population, this group is twice the size of those who identify as Anglicans and four times the size of the Catholic population. A similar pattern prevails across Europe. The decline of Catholics in Britain would be more severe were it not for Christian immigrants from Africa and Asia. The data show that the church is poor at making converts and at keeping cradle believers. The Anglican and Catholic churches lose at least ten members for every convert (Guardian, May 27).