Popular evangelical author and “emergent” church pastor Rob Bell has written a controversial book about heaven and hell, and he’s getting some flak for it. As far as I can tell, Bell doesn’t say anything new, which is good, because all those old guys in the first several centuries of the church said things pretty well. And what he says probably isn’t anything, for example, that C.S. Lewis—beloved among those same evangelicals who criticize Bell—didn’t also say.
But Bell currently sells more books. Oh, well… You can’t make everyone happy, and why would you want to? (As Rick Nelson sang so long ago…)
(Or how about Sam Phillips?)
But this post isn’t really about all that. It’s about something that Bell said in an interview about the book—something yours truly has said in sermons and Bible studies many times. It’s in response to a question, in bold, about resurrection.
Resurrection is really central to this whole thing. There are those who would say that if you don’t believe in resurrection – and by resurrection they mean not some permanent essence existing in eternity but you, your physical body, that’s what happens at the end of the world. Your physical body joins your soul in the new heaven and earth. That’s the way it’s taught. So, it seems to me, it is for me, resurrection is the hardest part of the whole thing for me. I don’t really get how that works, and it sounds to me like you don’t really get how that works either.
Christians…this is why the discussion is so, sort of, great and interesting and compelling. What I do think is really important aobut resurrection is that resurrection says that this world matters. What’s so unbelievably crucial about resurrection is this, it says that this world matters and God has great value onthis world and has great desire to alleviate the suffering in this world.
So the resurrection as a sort of floaty – where we evaporate and go somewhere else – to me the resurrection is an affirmation of the goodness of this world. It’s about dirt and sweat and sex and vineyards. It is an earthy, affirmation of this world is good, it was created for you to enjoy it, and effort and the rescue thing is going on through Jesus to reclaim all of this. This has everything to do with how we actually live in the world. It’s not about evacuation.