Although I read Love Wins back when it first came out, I have recently wanted to see and experience the enhanced E-book version that includes video and a study guide. That’s not the point of this post, what I would like to focus on is more on the thread of Rob Bell thrashing and a common theme he is hit with in God’s wrath.
As I started looking at the enhanced ebook options I started again looking at the reviews. I was hoping the reviews would talk about the new video and the study guide but instead, as to be expected, much of the reviews were around how wrong Rob Bell is. On that topic what many many people keep going back to is the reality of God’s wrath. That biblical reality is what is used to make the claim that God’s wrath means damned to hell.
Now, not getting in and going deep on whether or not there is a hell I would rather try and present a way of understanding God’s wrath. Let’s take for example this verse which gets thrown in Rob’s face frequently.
John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Establishing a baseline of eternal life. John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. When Jesus said that I don’t believe the bible supports the idea that He only meant life in the future in heaven. Rather I think Jesus was saying eternal life can start right now.
Now eternal life starting now, here on earth, as a bench line let us look at John 3:36’s statement on wrath.
If eternal life starts now and I can start living an eternal kind of life while here on earth, as a human being, truly embracing my humanity and my image-bearingness in the present, then what if God’s wrath is simply the opposite of all of that? What if God’s wrath is living as a broken, deceived, worldly, abandoned, lonely, greedy, lustful, anxious, angry life?
If we could add that perspective then we can view John 3:36 to say. If you obey and surrender to God and seek to live life to the full, free from a less than human life then you have found and will have life. However if you do not obey God you will chase after a less than fulfilling life.
My point is what if that verse is not talking about the future but the present? What if God’s wrath is what happened long ago when earth fell and the less than fully human life reality came into this world?
I tend to believe the bible is very heavily centered on God’s desire for humans to become the true humans who are showing the world who he is and what he cares about by being image bearers in the present. However a lack of submitting to God as the sovereign King would result in the chasing after a life less than what God desires or AKA his wrath.