Somewhere In the Middle - Casting Crowns (mp3)
Everything'll Be Made Right - Superdrag (mp3)
Rob Bell has published a controversial new book, Love Wins. In it, he apparently offers the not-particularly-radical notion that Hell is either very small, temporary, or non-existent. If you want to watch his very intriguing "trailer" video for his book, watch here.
(Side note: For another recent version of this argument, see If Grace is True, a book I happened to like a whole lot, thankee.)
I first read Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis about six years ago and enjoyed it, although it felt like it was written in 5-minute spurts, as if he just jotted stuff down every time he sat down on the john. But it had its moments, and I found it to be a worthy side reading project for wayward lib’ral Christians, much like Blue Like Jazz.
I’ve known four pastors and preachers well enough to have had intense and personal conversations with them, and I’m related to two more, one of whom was my grandfather, whose fiery Baptist sermons were counteracted by private journal entries where he expressed one doubt after another about his own faith. I know two more who are about to finish or have recently finished seminary. Of those six men and two women, every last one of them has “The Gospel I Believe” and “The Gospel I Preach,” and with all of them, those two Gospels aren’t the same Gospel. They have a lot in common. Probably 80-percent of them are the same. But all of them have beliefs or doubts or concerns in their personal beliefs that get covered up, glossed over, or ignored when preaching publicly.
I’m not saying confidently that There Is No Hell. I’m not confident about much when it comes to Christianity. I only know what I hope, and I know this hope has nothing to do with my own selfish desires. It’s not for my own protection or sense of being, but because it seems the most just.
And it’s this: We all get to heaven on airplanes.
The most saintly among us, like Mother Theresa, get private Lear Jets that fly them immediately up. The very faithful and good get first class and are sent off the runway in expedient fashion. The highly flawed are forced to sit on the runway for several years, not allowed to use the bathroom or unbuckle, and forced to sit next to the people you were most judgmental towards in your lifetime. (I mostly put myself in this category, but I might be shooting too high.)
The only way their plane finds a pilot is when they have a Bill Murray-esque moment from Groundhog Day. When they finally accept their mistakes and repent for their destructive or wasted lives, they are granted passage and taken up.
Maybe this makes me a Unitarian, or a Universalist. Maybe this makes me sacrilegious. Maybe this guarantees I’m gonna be stuck in that airport for several painful lifetimes. I’m sure I deserve it.
But one day, somehow, I’ll get there. And so will you. And when we meet, hopefully God will let us listen to some of our favorite music, even if it was a song by Judas Priest.