Rob Bell, Hell and Why I Hope I'm Wrong

57 Comments

Many people have challenged me for tweeting my dismay over Rob Bell's new book when it hasn't been released yet. I think the content of his video alone is concerning enough to be challenged. But I will read the book and if it contradicts the publisher's description and the content of the video I will rejoice and I will apologize to Rob for jumping to conclusions. (At which point I hope Rob will forgive me and also thank me for helping to make his book a best-seller.) Honestly, I would loved to be proved wrong and look stupid on this one. But based on the trajectory I've observed of Rob's teaching, and the content of his video and the statement of his publisher, I have a sinking feeling.

We also need to remember that all discussion about hell (for those of us who believe scripture teaches its existence) should be done with heavy hearts. Hell is what our sin deserves (Eph. 2:3). Hell is what God in his love has rescued us from. And we are not rescued from hell by our merit or the rightness of our doctrine. We are rescued from God's wrath by the self-giving love and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (Rom. 5:8-9). We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). So there should be no glee or triumph in our tone in seeking to proving this biblical doctrine. Our hearts should break for the lost and for our own coldness of heart towards their spiritual condition. This conversation should lead us to redouble our prayers and our evangelistic, risk-taking efforts to proclaim the hope of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, to the ends of the earth.

I am praying for Rob Bell. Though we've never met, I have a genuine love for this man and I pray for him often. He is one of the most gifted communicators of this generation. But I am gravely concerned about the content of his teaching.

I am trusting God will use the dialogue and debate stirred up by his book to help the church study God's word on the topic of heaven and hell and be sobered with questions of our eternal destiny.


Denny Burke has sought to answer the questions that Rob Bell raises in his promotional video. I found this helpful:

In the video Bell begins with an anecdote about a person who once suggested that Ghandi is in hell. Bell is astonished that someone would make such a pronouncement, and it leads him to pose a litany of questions--questions that he apparently intends to answer more fully in the book. I thought it would be worthwhile to take a crack at answering each of his questions here from a biblical point of view. So here are my answers to Bell's queries.

Bell: Ghandi's in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure?
Answer: The Bible teaches that there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). The Bible also teaches any person who does not believe in Jesus falls under the judgment of God (John 3:18). Anyone (including Ghandi) who refuses to trust Christ alone for salvation will die in their sin and will not be able to follow Jesus into eternal life (John 8:21).

Bell: Will only a few select people make it to heaven?
Answer: Yes, that is true. Jesus taught that a select number of people would make it to eternal life. Most people will choose the broad way that leads to destruction, but a few will choose the narrow way to life (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-28). Nevertheless, the Bible also teaches that there will be a great multitude which no one will be able to count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Revelation 7:9).

Bell: And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?
Answer: I don't know if anyone knows what the exact number will be, but the Bible teaches that at the end of the age there will only be two groups of people: those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life and those whose are not. All those whose names are not written in the book will be thrown into the lake of fire. This will no doubt be a countless throng of people (Revelation 20:10-15).

Bell: And if that's the case, how do you become one of the few? Is it what you believe? Or what you say? Or what you do? Or who you know? Or something that happens in your heart? Or do you need to be initiated or baptized or take a class or be converted or be born again? How does one become one of these few?
Answer: There is nothing that any person can do to be counted among the saved. Salvation from the penalty of sin is all of grace. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God offers us His Son, and the only way to receive Him is by faith. Jesus said it this way, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent" (John 6:29). If you want to become one of the few, then you have to trust in Jesus alone for your salvation.

Bell: And then there is the question behind the questions. The real question: What is God like? Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus, is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God?
Answer: What is God like? This is the ultimate question and how one answers this question will determine how all the others get answered. God is holy. He loves righteousness, and He hates sin. He is the most valuable, precious being in the universe. He is worthy of all our worship, devotion, and obedience. All people fall short of their obligation to love and worship God, and this falling short is called sin (Romans 3:23). Through our sin, we all have earned God's just sentence of death (Romans 6:23). In fact, God says that He is angry with those who do not repent of their sin. The Bible says that God is storing up His anger for impenitent sinners (Romans 2:5) and that it will be a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of an angry God at the judgment (Hebrews 10:27, 31). The Bible teaches that God is both the treasure of heaven and the terror of hell. God will punish His enemies.

Bell: How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?
Answer: You are asking how can God be good if He sentences sinners to eternal damnation, but I think you have the question backwards. The real question is how can God be good if He doesn't send sinners to judgment. In other words, how can God be good while forgiving sinners? This is the question Paul wrestled with in Romans 3, and he concluded that God set forth His son Jesus as a propitiation for sin. That means that all of the wrath and anguish that would have taken us an eternity in hell to endure, God poured out on His Son in the moment of the cross. God is good because He settles our sin debt in the cross of Jesus Christ, our substitute. This is good news because God clears away guilt through the cross and offers eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus. Anyone who believes in Jesus in this way can have forgiveness and eternal life. This is more than good news; it's the best of news.

Bell: This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith. They see it has an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies, and they say, "Why would I ever want to be a part of that?"
Answer: Sin will always appears as a trifle to those whose view of God is small. If you were to discover a little boy pulling the legs off of a grasshopper, you would think it strange and perhaps a little bizarre. If the same little boy were pulling the legs off of a frog, that would be a bit more disturbing. If it were a bird, you would probably scold him and inform his parents. If it were a puppy, that would be too shocking to tolerate. You would intervene. If it were a little baby, it would be so reprehensible and tragic that you would risk you own life to protect the baby. What's the difference in each of these scenarios? The sin is the same (pulling the limbs off). The only difference is the one sinned against (from a grasshopper to a baby). The more noble and valuable the creature, the more heinous and reprehensible the sin. And so it is with God.

If God were a grasshopper, then to sin against Him wouldn't be such a big deal and eternal punishment wouldn't be necessary. But God isn't a grasshopper, He's the most precious, valuable, beautiful being in the universe. His glory and worth are infinite and eternal. Thus to sin against an infinitely glorious being is an infinitely heinous offense that is worthy of an infinitely heinous punishment.

We don't take sin seriously because we don't take God seriously. We have so imbibed of the banality of our God-belittling spirit of the age that our sins hardly trouble us at all. Our sin seems small because we regard God as small. And thus the penalty of hell--eternal conscious suffering under the wrath of God--always seems like an overreaction on God's part. If we knew God better, we wouldn't think like that.

Bell: [You] see, what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.
Answer: You couldn't be more right. But I question whether the god that you are describing is the same One I am describing.

Read Denny Burke's original post.

57 Comments

someone who has read it - http://being-the-body.blogspot.com/2011/02/love-wins.html

"Love demands freedom. We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God's ways for us. We can have all the hell we want." - Bell in love wins

Dude. Great post. Thank you.

@taylor.
This is what I believe Rob Bell means by "you can have all the hell you want" in the explanation that the blogger posted to defend Bell as an orthodox teacher.

He isn't speaking of a future eternal hell but a current life of hell, where we don't live the way that "God" intended things to be. (which is a line he wrote a few lines before "you can have all the hell you want")

I really hope there is more clear evidence in the book that makes Rob Bell a solid orthodox teacher. From my studying of him, he raises too many questions and fails to clearly express where he lands.

Another problem with raising those questions and ultimately leaving the congregate or reader to answer for themselves; is that we will be tempted to answer intellectually and emotionally, rather than biblically.

But I hope I'm wrong. It's definitely very hidden, and even deceiving if I am wrong.

Hector:
though it's from his section on Revelation...
Wright, Lewis, and Keller all have a nearly identical lines like this in regards to the afterlife.

Taylor:

I do believe Keller, Lewis and others maybe even including Joshua Harris would say that line. But they would most certainly be speaking of the hell in the after life. And not a current "life sucks" kind of hell. I just read Denny Burkes original post and all the comments that others made and the ones he made to his own post. From what he said, he read the preface, 1st and 2nd chapter and concludes that Rob Bell is kind of universalist. I would urge you to read his other comments about the chapters he read.

It isn't about the "sport" ( which it's not a sport) of calling false teachers out. But like Peter in 2 Peter 2:1-3, or Paul in 1 Timothy 6:3-5. That ultimately no one will be led astray from the true Gospel of Christ, lest they perish into damnation for eternity.

Much love!

By "that line" I mean "you can have all the hell you want".

I like what you've done here but I still think we all need to reserve judgement on Rob Bell until we've all actually READ his new book. Yes the video is provokative but if you've ever seen anything by Rob Bell then you'll know that's his usual style of teaching by asking thought-provoking questions to get us thinking about what we believe and lead you to a pace of understanding to make your own conclusions based on what he said, rather than just spoon-feeding people answers so they don't need to think.

Universalism is definitly wrong.
But we should be careful by judging who is going to hell and who doesnt (although I dont see an eternal hell for the sinners. In my opinion the bible teaches an elimination of sin and sinners. Why should the bible speak of a second death in revelation, if the sinners doenst die a second time?!)

Nevertheless.. I think there is the possibiliy that you will find Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists etc. in heaven and some Christians will be missing. I relate to Romans 2, 1- 16.

Because if someone of an other religion never heard of Jesus, but is doing the right thing.. dont you think there is the possibility that he could be saved as well as any lukewarm christian, who says he is a follower of Jesus but doenst live that way?!

I think God will judge depending of people hearts and insights. Of course not everybody will be saved, but to exclude everyone who isnt a newborn christian could also be wrong!

Most important: I dont know if Ghandi or others will be in heaven.. but I also dont know if they will be punished!

So we should be careful with our judgements, for we shall not judge!

Surely we should require more than a 'sinking feeling' of ourselves before rushing to judgment on such a serious matter. Those who cry 'wolf' at this premature moment risk losing credibility that the Church might have need of in the future.

Surely we should require more than a 'sinking feeling' of ourselves before rushing to judgment on such a serious matter. Those who cry 'wolf' at this premature moment risk losing credibility that the Church might have need of in the future.

I'm not sure if these answers to Bell's questions really get to the real issue underlining it all. They're pretty cool answers, but I think the real issue is in this question:

And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?

The issue revolves around 'forever and ever'. If Rob is a Christian Universalist, or Restorationist Universalist as it is also called (which he well may be looking at the book title etc.) he would advocate that hell is real and God sends people to hell -- including billions and billions. It's just that hell isn't eternal in duration, meaning God uses hell for 'correction' so that someday those people in hell will also come into eternal life.

I think we need to make sure we get the definitions right and address the real issue. The issue here is 'forever' not whether people, billions of them, will actually go to hell -- but how long they will be there. Now that's where I think the debate should center around.

I'm not a universalist in this sense myself, but I hope as this book comes out the debate and the issue will be placed in proper perspective and I'm not going to hear someone tell me about how 'Rob Bell denies hell' when actually he is denying the duration of hell.

The duration of hell I think is also a debate we should have.

An Open Letter to Justin Taylor Regarding His Condemnation of Rob Bell
http://bit.ly/fLawpU

- Gifted communicator? Where is Rob's birth certificate?

- Remember when Rob wore a Che T-shirt? Two sinless lambs you will spend eternity with: Ghandi and Che Guevara. Obama and the Dali Lama couldn't be reached for comment.

-Isn't it weird real Bono is more orthodox than the wanna-be Bono?

- Driscoll and Piper are just upset because Rob is outgunning them in the number of churches planted?

- The question Bell won't answer: Will we see the POPE in heaven?

- Rob: Will I see Glenn Beck in heaven?

Very gracious article, Josh. Well done. Link to Burk's post was just what was needed in the larger discussion, mostly at JT's site where things really got reactive.

Great post man, I do think that you should maybe consider getting in touch with Rob. This may be seen as slander or gossip. I think that if you are taking this approach to call Rob out that you need to get in touch with him.

@ Ryan, the Bible teaches that hell is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23... There would be no point of contrasting death with eternal life if death were not eternal). If what you're saying is true it is just like the Catholic view of purgatory, which isn't Biblically backed up at all.

@Alastair, Joshua Harris has to write this because he is helping lead a lot of people in his church. He needs to protect his sheep from what could be potential bad doctrine. Also, if you read how he prefaced this whole blog, he never condemned Rob Bell. He simply stated that he hopes he is wrong about Rob, but thinks that the video is concerning enough to talk about.

@Densel, I believe that it is our role to call each other in sin as Christians and if you are preaching univeralism you are sinning because that is not the Gospel. Thus, as Christians we need to call Rob Bell out if this video concerns us enough and leads us to think he is sinning. I do think that someone who has been openly calling him out via blog needs to reject passively bashing him via blog and actually talk to the man (I am going to try to get in touch with him after I post this. If you have any suggestions email me at bmtendi@ilstu.edu).

It's really a shame that you, Piper, and Driscoll all tweeted out a disparaging post about another man that was based on no fact, but pure conjecture derived from a publisher's description. Irresponsibility at its highest level. (And on the part of the Gospel Coalition as well).

While this "somewhat-redaction" of a post can never put the cat back in the bag, it is a good start.

However, waiting until the book had been read would have been a far more reasonable and responsible approach.

"Love demands freedom. We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God's ways for us. We can have all the hell we want." - Bell in love wins

Based on this, it seems that Bell is just reciting standard Open Theist views. In other words, it's not that God punishes us, it's that we punish ourselves by freely rejecting God.

If J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) were alive today, the great Bishop would weigh into Rob Bell with these straightforward words:

“Beware of new and strange doctrines about hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none.”

‘The Reality of Hell’ is quickly dismissed in our day and age, due to its uncomfortable and offensive nature. So sad, yet so true.

it's fairly arrogant of you to say that if he's wrong, he'll have you to thank for making his book a bestseller. as if his work isn't compelling enough to do that on its own.. i think if this book sells well, it will be because it's provocative and fascinating, not because the author of 'i kissed dating goodbye' said some mean things about the author.. seriously

Hi josh,

Just found these words on your site, referring to your own book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye":

"Most people have an opinion about "that book about not dating." Some love it; others despise it. I'd encourage you not to assume you know what it says without having read it."

Double standards?

densel.......

first off you're statement of other religions making to heaven could quite possibly be as terrible theology and doctrine as that of Rob Bells... if you will see the chapter one of Romans it says that man is without excuse and God makes himself known.

secondly with the "lukewarm" christian thing... if you are deriving "lukewarm" from revelation 3 when God refers to the church in laodicea.... it would seem the way He describes them and his word choice are not those of believers. but of those that are neither all for him or all against him. just hanging out. God says he will spit them out of his mouth.. not what i would say is how he describes one who will enter the gates.

lastly for those that do call themselves Christians that hold to the gospel of Jesus Christ you are absolutely supposed to judge them if there are concerns of false doctrine. To not say anything at all would be the greatest act of hate.

also concerning how God will judge.... John 14:6

he's not even commenting on the book you not very smart people. he is talking mostly about the video. and yes someone should be able to make a general opinion about a book from the publishers statement. because rob payed him to say something ABOUT THE BOOK.

Tim Keller on Hell: http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/articles/the_importance_of_hell.html

It is clear he is at odds with the current string of universalist thinking...

@Densel: Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Him. Paul wrote in Romans 1:20 that "men are without excuse." We all will answer to God as to whether we trusted Christ as our Savior, and those that don't, and I mean "everyone" that doesn't, will burn forever in a lake of fire. It can't be written more clearly.

@Alistair, the church will be the church, regardless of any "credibility" the world seems to give it. God's Word is truth, despite any such reputation given by the secular world.

@Ryan Peter, Rev. 20:15 says that anyone's name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. It doesn't say for 100 years, it doesn't say for 10 months. It's a permanent thing. Even if it wasn't a permanent thing, would you want to go there for a day? An hour? A minute? I wouldn't.

@Gerard, I hope you would have some compassion for Josh on this. He's human just like the rest of us. I agree with him that based on the video alone, there is some content that should be discussed, as it seems to challenge doctrine. Sometimes we humans tend to be more reactive than we should be, and he was very gracious in the above article.

Some follow up thoughts on this subject:


The Theology of Rob Bell: Making Evil Good and Good Evil
www.pastormattrichard.com/2011/02/theology-of-rob-bell-making-evil-good.html

@Ben and @Brock,

I think you're missing my point :)

I'm saying we need to make sure our definitions are right and argue the right points. Christian Universalists don't deny hell they deny the duration of hell. My point is that people are saying / are going to say / I bet they're going to say that Rob Bell, if he is a universalist, 'denies hell'. That's not the way that a Christian Universalist, of which most are Restorationist Universalists, thinks about hell. They don't deny hell.

A select few might deny hell but they're not generally placed in the 'Christian' category but rather in the 'New Age' category, with no ambiguousness of their 'new-ageyness'.

I agree with both of you around the finality of hell, I'm just concerned about people jumping on the wrong bandwagon. The finality of hell is the question Bell is asking, or could be asking, at least that's the way it seems to me, and the post implied that Bell was making questions around the very existence of hell -- whether people actually go there -- and in my opinion it therefore didn't actually answer Bell's question appropriately because that's not what he is asking.

Again, if Bell is a universalist as many Christians have been in the past, he is not denying whether people go to hell he is denying if they stay there forever. Simply put, the post did not answer the question appropriately and I think shows that it misunderstands what a Christian Universalist's stance actually IS.

Whether his / this stance is right or wrong is of no consequence with regards to my initial comment. First, we must understand his / the universalist stance properly without projecting what we *think* is his / this stance. Even if Bell says, "yes, I am a universalist," we better understand what he means by that so we can engage properly.

That's my point :)

Thanks Josh. Humble and truthful response to the initial video/marketing of Mr. Bell's new book. Evidence of God's grace in you and a good example for me. JJ

Great post, as always. Thank you for posting Danny Burke's responses. EXCELLENT!! and Biblical!!!

Josh, I want to offer you another evangelical perspective on this conversation. No, you may not agree as I am an Anabaptist Evangelical not a Reformer. However, it may give you a window into why I think you and the gospel coalition folks are talking past the issue at hand.

http://thepangeablog.com/2011/02/26/if-rob-bell-is-a-universalist-then-maybe-i-am-along-with-many-prominent-evangelicals/

I am not a universalist at all; hold an annihilationist viewpoint based on scripture. So I will not defend Rob Bell at all.

What I would ask is:
1. If Hell is so central to the gospel, please point to just a single instance in the Book of Acts (over 30 years in hellenistic culture) where Hell is preached? Instead we see life vs. death

2. Does Hell make even a single appearance in any one of Paul's 14 epistles?

3. Is Hell preached in the OT?

4. Finally, in the end, Hell is cast into the Lake of Fire? What is the distinction between these two entities as they are not the same?

Even in the opening OP, all the scriptures Josh uses point to eternal life vs. eternal death. Not hell.

I'm sure that this has been said but I think that Rob Bell is just asking questions that he will be discussing in his book that hasn't even come out yet.

I also think of the Nooma video of the Bullhorn Guy where he is saying that just isn't the way to go about telling people to come to Christ. I could be wrong but the whole Ghandi thing is getting thrown out of hand. He ask the person why "They knew that Ghandi was in Hell" To me we don't know if he is or isn't. No one knows but Ghandi and the Lord whether or not he accepted Christ or not.

Again just to make it clear I do not believe that Universalism is right and if thats what Bell is saying then yes he is wrong in my opinion. But to be honest we shouldn't be jumping to conclusions when none of us have ever read the book.

Like Taylor said he hopes that he is wrong but I feel like many people are just jumping to too many conclusions.

@justin, when Josh said he could thank him for making his book a best seller, I believe he may have been joking.

This blog makes no sense AT ALL. You act like Rob Bell is asking these questions himself. It's obvious that he is just bringing them to light in an attempt to help people understand these issues. That's seriously like a big "duh" to me.

I don't really think that you, Harris, want to be wrong. The more fire that can be thrown at someone in the name of your prideful, judgmental, and arrogant god (little g because I dont think you preach the true God of grace, love, mercy, and restoration, I think it's a conservative, fundamentalist, very small god). How can you sit there, knowing that even your most loyal supporters are concerned with how you and your friends are literally beating on a guy who's book you haven't even read? you've read pieces, but thats like reading the OT and not the NT and saying you know the biblical story. I'm a youth minister and it's hard enough trying to convince young teens that Christians aren't judgmental, prideful, quick tempered, and unloving, but when you and others treat people in the faith the way you've treated Bell, it just puts up even more of a brick wall. There is a loving way to treat someone in the name of Christ, and you have not done it, a very poor example for millions of non believers and follower of Jesus. You're a nice guy, but i think you've been mislead over the years by the wrong people, I hope you can pull yourself away from the Pipers, Driscolls,Taylors, and just focus on growing in and living like Jesus. iT WOULD SERIOUSLY DO YUO SOME GOOD.

I'm Very disappointed, but what do you care, you'll probably never read this anyway. It's easy to sit on a high horse and throw rocks when you don't have to worry about the repercussions of people like... oh, yourself. Do the hard thing, and be patient, read your Bible without a bias lens, pray to be renewed, and watch God do amazing things with you, then see if you're still so quick to lash out at other people. Take this in love, and know that I AM PRAYING FOR YOU!!

This whole thing is so disturbing. I'm praying for Rob Bell, but my spirit aches for the whole situation. The Gospel is so rich and amazing and I just long for those at Mars Hill to hear it clearly and fully, and this development all but confirms that they're not.

This world is aching for the gospel and we need to be bold in proclaiming it!

I haven't read the book either, but I have read Velvet Elvis and I've watched noomas, and I've even attended Mars Hill on occasion with my family who goes there. Rob Bell has never to my knowledge preached the gospel. And I ache for Grand Rapids and those at Mars Hill to hear the gospel clearly and in no minced words.

What about those who cry out for the name of Jesus on their death bed? Will our God of mercy and grace deny His creation entry into the Kingdom of God? "Everyone who calls out the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:21.

Shame on you for twisting Bell's words without reading the book.

Rob Bell is super great. Just thought I'd let you know!

I'm not into arguing with anyone about whether or not God's love will ever end, whether His mercy is exhaustible or whether or not Jesus is stronger than Adam. 'For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive..' (1 Corinthians 15:22). If Jesus' resurrection life and obedience doesn't fully fix Adam's death and disobedience then Adam was greater than Jesus. The man of the earth was greater than the man sent from heaven? I'm not buying that. And I want you to know that I sold that for 7 years as a Wesleyan pastor who preached eternal torture. God told me to 'come out'. He really is fixing the whole thing as we wade through our religious doctrines and traditions that we believe in more than His cross. Love will ultimately defeat hate, unity will ultimately win out of fragmentation and division and Jesus' Life will swallow all death. Will all be saved, YES!! 'but each man in His own order' (1 Cor. 15:23) so that God will be 'All in All' (1 Cor. 15:28)

www.isleofexile.blogspot.com

Funny, for someone who is worried about the social graces of calling out a false teacher, you sure don't play nice. Mr. Harris has written a book that in many circles in considered THE book on Christian marriage preparation.

I have documented for years the fallacies of Bell's teaching. He doesn't exactly offer his phone number to the public. How is one supposed to talk to Bell? Most of the people I have read on this topic have read the first few chapters of the book. The only thing that would be accomplished by reading the whole book would be to funnel more money and popularity to a heretical teacher. I won't bother to read it, as I have heard the words from his own mouth too many times.

Ask not for whom Bell trolls, he trolls for thee." 'Ready to snatch up those who want to follow a man instead of the King of Kings. His arrogance is beyond belief. He casts doubt to seem as if he is a sincere seeker of truth (ah, he's just like us), while implying he has the answers (you do not have to know Hebrew and Greek to understand God's word), yet leaves enough doubt to be answered in his NEXT book. He is a charlatan, a gnostic and a wannabe Jew.

Bellites:

The wages of sin is death. Wages are EARNED as is our eternal damnation (the second death). The only salvation is by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. You want to know what God is like? Read the Book of Psalms yourself! The new heaven and the new earth will come AFTER the judgement. You will not find those truths in Bell's books, but then again, maybe you don't want to. Get yourself a Bible and a concordance and study for yourself instead of following this wolf. God will bless your efforts as you seek HIM. It's the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth, not Rob Bell.

@Amy2

Yes, you happen to mention Judgment Day. Now there's a sticky little problem with the idea of Judgment Day alongside "everyone goes to heaven". Why bother to have a day called Judgment Day if there is no need for judgment? Or, should we look upon Judgment Day as "Spanking Day"? As in 50 whacks for killing that poor little innocent baby, and 30 for robbing that bank, and 10 for disobeying your mommy and daddy. And, what about that naughty, naughty boy, Satan and his band of banditos? Maybe they'll get a bigger whooping than all the rest. But, after that's over, well...I guess all will be forgiven. Won't that be a nice picture...Satan and Hitler playing checkers together in heaven.

the difference is, I've read the book I've jokingly swiped at, and found it unhelpful. Very few people, including Josh, have even read Rob's book.. and i said nothing about Josh's theology/orthodoxy. So am I guilty of not playing nice? Maybe. But I haven't and won't condemn or criticize anyone's orthodoxy or standing before God. Does that make me a better person? I wouldn't know. I kissed playing God goodbye.

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

And through covetousness shall they WITH FEIGNED WORDS MAKE MERCHANDISE OF YOU: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."

If you are a follower of Rob Bell, the capitalized words apply to you. In other words, he is using his books sales to make money off of you, by casting doubt on God's word and implying he has the answers/solutions/insight you need. Interestingly enough, the next verse speaks on hell and why there is a need for it. You'll have to pick though, on whether you believe Bell or God, because in that verse, you can't believe both.

So dumb.

when Josh says he can thank him for making his book a best seller, I believe he was joking.

Great job, Josh!
I loved your ending line!

Keep to it!

We are all deserving of hell. Our sin is what makes us deserving of it. We have a choice...we can choose God, He is life..salvation. He is love, our Savior. Or we can choose our own way..which is death. I know that there is a big discussion over heaven and hell.. but God has given us a choice.. instead of fighting over whether you believe Rob Bell's point or not, why don't you pray for the people who are your friends, neighbors, family members who are choosing the wrong way. God can use you. Don't fight on this issue..fight on your knees for the lost ones.

In light of your views on Rob Bell's book, you may be interested in this upcoming documentary about hell: http://www.prlog.org/11383848-new-documentary-brings-hell-debate-to-the-big-screen.html

I have not read the book. Yet, after reading a couple of blog entries, along with several comments, here are a few thoughts I've come away with at first glance:

1) I've spent the greater part of my life in an environment of breaking away from the traditions of men that were deemed (in most cases) dead works. Solid principles were in place, yet, the emphasis was the pursuit of a life filled with a vibrant relationship with God, along with the realization of pro-active faith, modeling the early church in the book of Acts. Think relationship vs. religion. It lent itself to opening up our spirit (and emotions) towards God, leaving behind the mentality of a "stuffy" church service that lacked passion with its organ music and smell of old wood. The intent was to live life daily with God as center, not just a dutiful hour on Sunday morning. Because many of us believe God brings more revelation with each Church Age, it would seem appropriate to seek Him and His ways with newness and expectation. Again, not straying from some solid truths, but certainly adding our spin on things. All kinds of people "hear from God" now. Which causes me to wonder if Rob Bell isn't doing the same. Which causes me to ask, "Can we fault him for this?"

Now we have a new generation of believers in the teen - 35 year old group (give or take) who are asking some hard questions of the previous generation's "traditions". Yes, they are seeking newness as well. Where do we draw the line? For the last 3 decades, non-denominational camps have broadened the horizon for possibility through defining faith and bringing with it words like destiny, passion, and purpose. I'm not sure these were concepts that were embraced back in the day as they are presently. Could it be that we have gone too far in our pursuits, without realizing we may have simply been bored with the old ways?

2.) I couldn't help but walk away from reading the reviews of Bell's book without a slightly gnawing feeling that he has inadvertently lowered the bar. In his pursuit of God, he could have measured his conclusions by being misguided by his emotions. In this Church Age, it would be easy to bring lots of interpretations and opinions to the table. Again, while I realize this has gone on since the conception of the Church, I think it's accurate to say that today we see more of it. The only "reasoning" I see is when God says,

"Come now, and let us reason together,
Says the LORD,
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool."

Is Bell using his reasoning skills to interpret God's love? Reasoning skills that have promoted in our pursuits of "hearing from God"?

About God's love. Truly, it encompasses far more than we can comprehend. I am 54 years old and it has only been in the last 4 years that I have finally grasped hold of it. Previously, it was understood and accepted, but it was nebulous. I couldn't get hold of it and pull it close to me. Now it's in my heart and don't ask me how, but I know that it cannot be taken from me. That said, I can only say that God's love demands. Think of how a really strong magnet pulls at an object. It's not the magnet, per se, but the force. God isn't demanding something, ie; performance, etc., but the force of His love is demanding a response from every one of us. It draws us, yes, but it also demands a response. And in the name of that love we can take it or leave it. Many do not take it and walk away. Everything is continually redeemable because of that love. Love covers a multitude of sins. There is nothing that God's love cannot reach or rescue. Yet, every one of us has the ability to turn away from it.

In a small way, we can comprehend it when we give a wrapped gift to someone. Maybe we're really excited about the contents. It was the "perfect" gift and when we give it, the recipient never opens it. The gift demands to be opened or else it is meaningless. God's love may demand in such a way that the force of it will require such an adversity as hell. I don't know, just thinking out loud.

Along with that love is forgiveness. We aren't even smart enough to understand the capacity of our need of forgiveness. Have you ever been forgiven of something? Remember how it felt so humbling? And how wonderful it felt when someone let you off the hook? You feel indebted to that person. And the greater the forgiveness, the greater the feeling of indebtedness. God's forgiveness is wrapped around that love. If we truly understand our propensity to sin, and God's continual forgiveness as we turn to Him each day, we should be speechless. But are we?

So now, I will read the book and get a clearer grasp of what Bell is saying.

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