I have not thus far weighed in on the controversy surrounding the publication of Rob Bell’s Love Wins. But I will call attention to an astute analysis of the “new universalism” by Calvin College’s James K. A. Smith: Can hope be wrong? On the new universalism. I was especially struck by the following paragraph, addressed to those who persist in believing that “I-can’t-imagine-a-God-who-[fill in the blank]” is a persuasive argument:

The “I-can’t-imagine” strategy is fundamentally Feuerbachian: it is a hermeneutic of projection which begins from what I can conceive and then projects “upwards,” as it were, to a conception of God. While this “imagining” might have absorbed some biblical themes of love and mercy, this absorption seems selective. More importantly, the “I-can’t-imagine” argument seems inattentive to how much my imagination is shaped and limited by all kinds of cultural factors and sensibilities—including how I “imagine” the nature of love, etc. The “I-can’t-imagine” argument makes man the measure of God, or at least seems to let the limits and constraints of “my” imagination trump the authority of Scripture and interpretation. I take it that discipleship means submitting even my imagination to the discipline of Scripture. (Indeed, could anything be more countercultural right now than Jonathan Edwards’ radical theocentrism, with all its attendant scandals for our modern sensibilities?)

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