The fourth chapter of Love Wins proposes that if God wants to be with all people. This is what God wants. And if God doesn’t get what God wants then God fails. This implies, if God fails he obviously isn’t who he says he is and thus, is either a liar or ceases to be God. For me, the logic is all skewed. Failure to get what you want is not failure, even if you are God. For Bell, God has to be great enough to achieve what God sets out to do and God has set out to be with people. For me, God is great enough to achieve what God sets out to do and God has set out to glorify himself.
Bell’s argument appears on page 108, “Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, ‘Sorry, too late’? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: ‘Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late.”
The reason I think this falls apart is because of God’s holiness and grace. The Bible is pretty clear that there is a current reality and another, coming, reality, often called the new heaven and the new earth. In this new reality those who are ‘with’ God will exist ‘with’ him and those who are ‘apart’ from God will exist ‘apart’ from him. In each case the environment in which they exist is reflective of the choices made as far as their ‘with’ or ‘apart’ relationship with God. Now, to be separated from God would not cause someone to be repentant and to go to the door of heaven and start knocking. Call me a Calvinist if you must, but to be separated from God is to be separated from the grace and mercy of God, without which what could be the motivation for repentance? Pain? Suffering? I have a hard time imagining that because people who are in pain and suffering currently would be flocking to God. I would even say that the Bible teaches it is the kindness of the Lord which leads us to repentance.
So, while Bell’s proposal that you get another chance in the afterlife and eventually everyone will choose heaven is interesting, I don’t feel like he gives adequate motivation for people who are in hell to choose heaven.
This, of course, is a terrible thing to say, that people who are in hell won’t even want heaven. However, it makes sense. The hellness of hell can totally make people not even want to escape it. This is why we compare addictions to hell – the people who are addicted often don’t even want to escape from it…even though it is destroying them.