With all of the worry these days about people allowing too many people into heaven, it may seem odd to consider the exact opposite.  That is, perhaps no one is going to heaven.

We have been debating and considering the nature of our soul over on Scot McKnight’s blog The Jesus Creed, and one of the ideas that is coming up is that we are somehow a composite being, not a dualistic being consisting of a body and a soul that can be separated.  More specifically, we do not have a soul that can go anywhere when we die since our body will be dead and the only way the soul can exist is with the body.

I admit that this idea rocks my perception of life and god to its core.  I have been taught and never questioned the absolute fact that we have a soul that will live on.  Only in the past year have I been able to even consider such a thing.  Let’s face it, science has never been able to come up with a way to measure or confirm the existence of an immortal soul.  But on the other hand, every major religion out there says that there is an immortal soul, right?

Well, if I am going to seriously consider that there may not be an immortal soul and be a Christian, I need to look at what the bible says about my soul.  There are many approaches that I could take to researching this, but for the first attempt I decided to explore the most immediate implication.  If there is no immortal soul that can be separate from the body, then this soul obviously cannot go to heaven when we die, right?  To examine this I set out to look at all of the instance of the word heaven in the New Testament and see if any of them said that we will ever go there.

If you want to view the raw data then take a look here. These data came from a search on Bible Gateway.com by choosing the word heaven, looking in all books from Matthew to Revelation, and use the NIV, which should be the NIV 2011 edition.  This results in 276 entries while my table only shows 271 entries.  The entries I eliminated were the three occurrences of the phrase “highest heaven” and the two occurrences where the section heading had the word “heaven” in it but did not have the it in the actual text.  I eliminated the “highest heaven” ones because when I looked at other translations and the Greek it seemed that the word heaven was not actually there, just the word “highest”.

Here are the categories I came up with. (after the jump) Post continued, click here…

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I have had awhile to live with Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins now and am starting to feel comfortable with his message and content.  I am a fan of the audio media since I drive a minimum of one hour a day and try to get 30 minutes of exercise in too.  Along with some lounging in bed, mellowing out while eating lunch at my desk, I am nearly able to knock off his book in a day.  With just a little bit of extra time dedicated specifically to the task and it is a one day deal.

One of the very nice things about Rob’s book on audio is that he narrates the book himself.  I have experienced this in a couple of his other books and admit that it makes the experience quite nice.  Rob is an engaging speaker and his writing in the book reflects his speaking style.  I have read some folks who are rather dismayed about his style in writing, well, I suggest that you try the audio version and you will see why he writes the way he does.

The overall tenor of the book comes across as Rob sharing his view of the nature of God and the implications of that nature in the realm of what happens post-life.  He grounds most of his arguments in the bible, though I agree with some other commentators that he sometimes seems to lack precision in his exegesis.  I am going to withhold a firm conclusion on that until I have participated in some of the debates on the content.

Post continued, click here…

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Rob Bell and Universalism

by Dave on March 2, 2011

in General, Theology

I am a bit late to the party since the blow up happened last weekend and I am just getting caught up today, but the debate is not going to be a short term phenomenon.  Rob Bell, Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church (not to be confused with Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church) released a video talking about his new book.  Take a look:

That video has caused commotion in the internet world and this subject is destined to be the single biggest evangelical topic for 2011.

Christianity Today published this article about the goings on with Rob Bell and how people are reacting to it.  John Piper issued a short tweet saying goodbye to Rob Bell (it is linked in the CT article).  So what is the big deal?

The big deal is whether everyone can or will be saved.  That’s it.

I can’t wait for Rob’s book to come out and we let the Christian community get involved in the discussion.  This is going to be good.  As far as me, I currently believe that all people have salvation through Jesus and it is not predicated on knowing him.


Update 1 – Wow, check out this article from ABC. (Is that the same ABC we have in the states?)  It gives you an idea of the magnitude of Rob’s announcement and impact.  Please read it.

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