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Hell No!

Hell is a serious issue.  Make no mistake about it, there’s no room for theological mistakes when it comes to what you believe about hell.

On the subject of hell, it’s Rob Bell’s questioning of the biblical teaching on hell in his book Love Wins that earned him the notoriety of being on the cover of  Time magazine

In his introduction to the subject of hell, Bell breaks down traditional Christianity into one simple formula:  If you sin, refuse to repent, harden your heart, reject Jesus, and when you die, it’s over (pg. 64). You’re going to hell.

A Loving God Would Not Send Anyone to Hell

The writer then sets up the reader by reminding us that God is loving and kind and full of grace and mercy, and then hints it would be out of character for God to send anyone to hell. What a classic set-up!  Here’s another more creative way of saying the same thing: “Why would a good God send anyone to hell?  After all, people are good and no one deserves to be assigned to hell by a loving God.”

Does Bell even consider the fact God sent His Son to the cross to due for our sins to keep us from going to hell?   I hope so.  (more…)

Imagine There’s No Heaven

As you read Pastor Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, it becomes apparent that as confused he is about the existence of  hell, he is just as muddled in his beliefs about heaven. He is quick to point out that in all the descriptions he finds of heaven in contemporary Christianity, “heaven is obviously, somewhere else”  (Love Wins, pg. 24).

Bell thinks he can make his point about “heaven being elsewhere” by using a nonsensical list of questions he must have pooled from his church’s kindergarden department: “When we get to heaven what will we do all day?  Will we recognize people we used to know? What will it be like? Will there be dogs there?” Because the Bible does not give us a full descriptive response to Bell’s questions, the assumption is that believing heaven is somewhere else is problematic.

The reader is blindsided by Bell when he brings up the fact not all people will be in heaven according to Christianity. Not all our uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters . . .  nor even our parents will necessarily make it to heaven (pg. 25).

Behind Bell’s questioning is his underhanded aim to plant doubts in the reader’s mind whether heaven is a real place and whether God is cruel by not allowing everyone into heaven regardless of their relationship to Christ.

A big chunk of Bell’s chapter on heaven is devoted to  Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. There Jesus  engages a wealthy young man in a conversation about eternal life.

However, Jesus, according to Bell, blows a great opportunity to tell the man how to get to heaven. Instead, the Lord talks to the man about keeping the ten commandments and focuses on his relationships with other people rather than God. Since the ruler thinks he’s kept all the commandments dealing with treatment of others, Jesus tells him to go sell all his possessions and take care of the poor. Bells concludes from this encounter Jesus was not concerned with telling the man how to go to heaven.

(more…)

The Salvation Controversy That Won’t Go Away

Pastor Rob Bell’s best-selling book Love Wins has come and gone despite being plastered on the front cover of Time Magazine in April 2011.  The focus of the dilemma raised by Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI,  is whether hell is a real place and is God going to “send anyone to hell” in the final scheme of things.

Bell’s controversial views attracted the hearts of people who would rather not think about hell and their eternal destiny and just hope for the best when it comes to the afterlife.

In addition, Love Wins caused an upset among evangelical Christians who believe the pastor is denying the fundamentals of traditional Christian doctrine.  Samaritan’s Purse  President, Franklin Graham even went so far as calling Bell a “heretic and a false teacher” on FOX-TV’s Bill O’Reilly show.

Though the heart of the conflict is no longer in the lens of the media, Christians cannot allow Bell’s denial of Christian truth to be ignored. However, the real controversy is not about Bell’s view on hell, but rather on his teaching on salvation.

In his book Bell asks a series of rhetorical questions that would ordinarily come from a fifth grade student inquiring about God’s fairness.  In today’s blog, I’d like to respond to some of Bell’s juvenile questions. (more…)

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