No, I haven’t read all the requisite material on the case, nor do I care. I am not “damning” (no pun intended) Bell’s position. I realize most of the
annoying Calvino-bloggers Gospel Defenders have jumped on the case. Of those, maybe 1% has read Bell’s work. (Since when is the gospel ever not under attack in Calvinist circles?)
I don’t really care about the larger part of Bell’s arguments, nor whether he is a universalist. I doubt he is. Further, I doubt he is even correct in what he claims. Unlike the Gospel Defenders I think I know what Bell is “getting at.”
There is a mental problem for many to say that God created most of humanity simply to roast them sadistically for all eternity. Quite frankly, in perhaps less loaded terminology, this is an undeniable implication of the Calvinist position. And Bell is correct to say there is just something “wrong with that.” Further, Bell is theoretically correct to say that God “can” reach people in “different” ways. And while Bell probably doesn’t mention this, the early church did not go out joyfully proclaiming that the wonderful gates of hell are now open even wider because of Jesus.
Unfortunately for Bell, though, the Church has condemned this facet of Origenism (and unfortunately for Calvinists, they are still Origenists). Here is what Bell should have said: I reject the theology that God created most of humanity simply to use for firewood in hell. Further, I stand with the Church in rejecting Origenist final recapitulationist views. On the other hand, it is not my business (authority?) to say who can and who cannot go to heaven/hell.
And if he were really bold, he could try to tie in Henri de Lubac’s arguments on Christ uniting humanity in some mystical way with the fact that universalism is condemned (it’s not entirely clear de Lubac was able to manage that). In any case, that is a far healthier mindset that looking at Buddhist babies and chanting, “Firewood, firewood.”