Popular evangelical Rob Bell makes the case for universal salvation.
While his detractors hurl claims of “Universalism” at him as an epithet, Bell himself refuses this label. “I believe in heaven, and I believe in hell,” Bell told the congregation he serves while addressing the controversy of Love Wins, “and I’m not a Universalist because I believe God’s love is so great God lets you decide.” Which is to say that Bell would probably reject the imagery of the Rev. Dr. Gordon McKeeman*, the great Universalist minister, who imagined some people as “dragged kicking and screaming into heaven.” Interestingly, Bell does not limit our capacity to choose to our mortal life on Earth. He imagines that choice as, perhaps, eternal. At the same time that Bell insists that the freedom to choose is a gift that God gives to us out of love, he also argues that, “God gets what God wants.” (Bell’s God is not gendered.)
Correction 8.29.11: The version of this article that appeared in the Fall 2011 edition mistakenly described the Rev. Dr. Gordon McKeeman as deceased. We regret the error. Click here to return to the corrected paragraph.
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The Rev. Thom Belote, minister of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, edited The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality (Skinner House, 2010). He blogs at RevThom.
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