August 7, 2011: Is Hitler in Heaven or Hell?

Posted on : Aug 4th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Rob Bell rocked the religious world earlier this year with the release of his book “LOVE WINS – a book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived!” For progressives, Rob’s writing wasn’t all that revolutionary; but Rob is not a progressive.  He’s one of an emerging group of clergy called “the young, new evangelicals.”

Historically and within church circles, the word “evangelical” (lower case “e”) refers to Christians whose primary emphasis is on salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s personal “Lord and Savior.”  When the term “evangelical” first began being used it was in no way connected with the religious right as a political party or movement.  It was in fact, used by Baptists, Four-Square Gospel churches and others who found “earthly things and certainly politics” quite suspect of sin and the work of the devil.  Their emphasis was on “witnessing” and inviting others to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  Some people know that as “being born again.”

It really wasn’t until Jerry Falwell comingled politics with religious belief that evangelical faith became politicized.  Falwell was an evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and a conservative commentator. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, one of the first mega-churches in the US. In 1979 he cofounded the “Moral Majority” (a faith based political action committee) and thus began the marriage of the political right and the religious right.

There is now a group of “new evangelicals” who are separating themselves from right wing political and social conservatives and speaking out for women’s equality, GLBT respect – if not equality – humanitarian HIV/AIDS policy, those living in poverty, and a host of other “justice issues.”  Rob Bell went one step further.  He challenged one of the evangelical’s most sacred beliefs:  the existence of Hell.  Needless to say, Rob Bell is “under attack” – big time.

So, this summer, Kobie and I are going to address this “hot button topic.”  This Sunday we begin with a focus on the question “Is Hitler in Heaven or Hell?”

Blessings!

Dan

This Sunday’s Scripture

1 JOHN 4: 7-21

In this simple, yet difficult teaching, the writer of the first letter of John challenges the people of the first century Church who were severely “beaten up and abused” to know that God is not a God of vengeance, but of Love.

 

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God,

and those who love are born of God and know God.

Those who do not love,

do not know God;

for God is LOVE.

 

In this the Love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent Christ Jesus into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent Christ Jesus to forgive our sin.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; yet if we love one another, God abides in us and God’s love is perfected in us.

The way that we know that we remain in God and God in us is that we have been given the Spirit.  We have seen for ourselves, and can testify, that God has sent Jesus as Savior of the world.  When any acknowledge that Jesus is the Child of God, God dwells in them and they in God.

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them.

Love will come to perfection in us when we can face the day of judgment without fear – because our relation to this world is just like Christ’s.  There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in Love.

We love, because God first loved us.  If anyone says, “I Love God,” and hates another person, that person is a liar; for those who do not love other persons whom they know and can see, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

And this commandment we have from God, that those who love God should also love all other persons of this world, those who are our brothers and sisters of the world community.


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