Well Hell’s Bell
Hell. Bell. Well?
Hell, thanks to author and hipster pastor Rob Bell, is in the news. Or rather the absence of hell—or its maybe-absence—or its maybe-temporary-reality. I stole that sentence (because that’s what I do) from an excellent article I don’t want you to read by David French, found at patheos.com, entitled, The Perfect Justice of Hell. OK, go ahead and read it.
This Rob Bell dude is taking some hits for his views on Hell, among other things. Many asked me to weigh in for obvious reasons, but I wanted to wait and let Christians and those who call themselves Christians bicker and fight a little longer.
I find musings on Hell to be amusing. Down here we delight in the fact that, as Mr. French noted, many “progressive Christians” are embarrassed that most evangelicals still believe in Hell.
So why all the fuss about hipster pastor Rob Bell?
It seems he wrote a book entitled, ““Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Of course, there already is a book about Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. What does Mr. Bell think he has to add to that one?
According to CNNs Belief Blog, critics contend Mr. Bell is ”playing fast and loose with heaven and hell, salvation and damnation.” According to these critics Bell “was preaching universalism, a theology that suggests everyone goes to heaven and hell is empty.”
What does Bell have to say in his defense? In the Belief Blog piece, said this about Hell:
“Greed, injustice, the sex trade in Far East Asia, we see hell all around us, whenever people reject what is good and human and right and peaceful and all that.”
And all that?
And he said this about people:
“I begin with this world right now and the observation that we are free to choose. It’s the nature of love. So then when you die, I would assume [given] the nature of love you can continue to make these types of choices.”
My servants, let me be frank. I have not read Bell’s book, and I don’t know his heart; only God does. But the two statements above show a fundamental misunderstanding of Hell.
I’m not sure if I like that or not. On the one horn, I’m a little prickly when it comes to acknowledging my abode; you might say I have some pride in that area. On the other horn, however, I take much delight in people being led astray by falsehoods. Such led-astrayers rarely cause trouble for my kingdom.
Let me do this, my servants. Why don’t I tell you my most popular lies about Hell. Then go read Rob Bell’s book and you decide for yourself if the hipster pastor is a hero or a heretic.
Lie: Hell is not a real place.
Lie: Hell is not a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked.
Lie: Hell is not a place of unquenchable fire.
Lie: There are no truly cursed, who will be commanded to depart into eternal fire, created for me and my angels.
Lie: No one deserves Hell.
Lie: Hell is “on earth” all around us.
Lie: After death, deceased humans can continue to make moral choices, including to follow God.
That should get you started. Each of these lies represents a statement opposite to the clear teachings of Jesus and/or the Bible. So to the extent that Rob Bell teaches something different he is, indeed, a heretic of the Christian faith.
It pains me to do so, but I urge you to read Mr. French’s take on Bell’s position:
“Rob Bell’s is an old argument: there’s no such thing as true damnation, and indeed the very idea is cruel. Progressive Christians argue that it’s repellent to our generation, and it may very well be. But it’s repellent not because orthodox Christianity is wrong. It’s repellent because we are wrong. Our unwillingness to acknowledge Hell is a marker not of our love and compassion but of our sin, our self-justification, and our utterly false sense of self-worth.”
Rob Bell expounds on his “old argument’ quite clearly when he responds to the question Is Gandhi in Heaven? According to Belief Blog:
Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.”
Ha ha ha ha ha.
My servants, listen to Mr. Bell.
Because Hell has a few surprises of its own.