So how does the biblical doctrine of total depravity destroy Rob Bell’s position that men will eventually repent of their sin, if not in this life, then in the next. First, men will never repent of their sin unless God first opens their hearts and minds to do so. II Cor. 4:4 says, “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.” Moreover, Jesus said that the unregenerate are not even able to hear His word. (John 8:43) Jesus said that people who are not of God do not hear God’s word. (John 8:47) This is a real problem. Can a person go from ungodly to godly without divine intervention? Jesus said the only way this can happen is for a person to be born of God. (John 1:13) An unregenerate person rejects the things of God. (I Cor. 2:14) Second, repentance itself is actually a gift from God. (II Tim. 2:25) An unregenerate person does not just decide that Jesus is the best choice of all the religions in the world and become a Christian. Christians are born from God, not man. Hence, the nature of man is hostile to God. (Rom. 8:6-8; I Cor. 2:14) Men are evil. The world hates God. (John 15:18) Unregenerate do not decide to follow God. (Romans 3:10-18) The condition of fallen man is utterly hopeless outside of Christ. The Christian religion is not like Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion. People do not simply decide to subscribe to Christianity. They do not simply decide, on their own, to follow Christ. God chooses us to follow Christ. (John 6:70; 15:16, 19) God gives us a new nature. Without this new nature, we would NEVER come to repentance and faith!
By total depravity, I do not mean that man is as utterly wicked as he can be. The great theologian, Robert Dabney says it this way: “We mean, first, that as to the chief responsibility of the soul, to love God, every soul is totally recreant. No natural man has any true love for God as a spiritual, holy true, good, and righteous Sovereign.” [Dabney, R.L. Systematic Theology, 323] Man is not the standard by which true love can be measured. Moreover, the hyper-emotional condition of western culture is by no means a good measure by which we can measure genuine religious affections. That measure is Scripture alone. Yet we live in a culture that is convinced that love is a feeling. Worse, we have Christians who think that if they become warm, emotional, and tear-up during Amazing Grace, this suffices as proof that they really love God. These ideas promote false security and self-deception on a wide scale in the visible church today. Pastors and teachers would do well to remind believers what is meant by love and affection for God according to Scriptural proofs. Men’s souls are, after all, in grave danger.
It seems somewhat unambiguous that Rob Bell believes that hell is a state of loving below God’s intentions to some degree. Since we all do this I am not sure where Bell draws the line between an imperfect believer battling sin and an actual unbeliever living a life defined by rebellion against God. It is hard to say. Bell does not address this. It is also difficult to say what the state of the unbeliever is on the other side of the grave. Bell seems to recoil at any thought of real fire and torment at all, even though he doesn’t quite say so as directly I would like to see him say it. However, he says enough to make such a conclusion altogether reasonable. The problem that total depravity presents Bell is that it takes the selection of Christian followers out of the hands of man and places it in the rightful hands of a Sovereign God. If it is true that God is the one who selects men to salvation, and it is true that God must change man’s nature in order for man to repent, then it begs the question; “why would God wait until someone dies to change their nature if He could change it now?” That makes no sense whatsoever. Given the condition of fallen man, God could wait an eternity for him to repent of his self worship and it would not be enough time. Man needs a miracle.
Another Silly Observation worth Noting
Rob Bell says that God will get what God wants. Moreover, God does not want to be separate from any men for eternity. Therefore, God will eventually reconcile all things to Himself. After all, He is God. Hence, the entire premise is that the reason Love Wins is because God gets what God wants. That is the God of love! That is the God of Scripture. Follow me very close here. Pay particular attention to what I am about to say. If God gets what God wants, then that means God wants men to sin against him NOW. God wants abortions now. God wants rape, murder and oppression now. Bell would answer that men have free will. However, he also believes that freedom will never be lost. Therefore, if that is true, then man may always fall back into sin after enough time. Satan did! I would contend that if Bell is right, then God must be getting exactly what he wants now. Why wait to the end? Why is it that God must wait to get what He wants? Bell does not answer. Why does God get what he wants then and not now? Does not God want us to love one another now? Yes He does. Does God want us to love Christ now? Yes He does. However, we hate him instead. If it is okay for God not to get what God wants right now, today. Why does the argument hold up that God will get exactly that in the end? God gets what God has sovereignly decreed. That decree serves to glorify God and benefit those whom God has chosen from out of a world of wicked sin. The argument that God simply gets what He wants does not hold up given Bell’s logic. This argument just does not ring true with Scripture nor does it comport with simple and plain reason.
Thank God for the love of Christ demonstrated at Calvary. While we were still enemies God directed His love toward us and while we were still sinners he saved us. Only the precious blood of Christ could provide for our redemption.