Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hell and Rob Bell

You may have heard about the controversy surrounding Rob Bell's new book Love Wins. Bell appears to be undermining, if not outright rejecting, the biblical teaching on eternal conscious punishment. While the book has not yet been released, the publisher's description combined with Bell's promotional video has erupted quite a firestorm.

While the Scripture's teaching on hell is not an easy doctrine, it is not something we can reinterpret and redefine without serious consequences. We must hold to what the Scriptures teach with humility and grace. And we must communicate with great love. The doctrine of hell must be partnered with equal teaching that God loves all people and desires to rescue them. But if indeed hell is real, it would be the most unloving thing to lead people to believe it is not.

So what does the Scripture say about hell? Check out this message I did a while back on Jesus's teaching on heaven and hell. Then check out the links and info below for more. One note on the promotional video: read Matthew 7:13-14 before you watch the video and see if Jesus' words square with Bell's thinking. It's amazing to me how Bell seems to contradict the very words of Jesus.

Publisher's Description of Love Wins

Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

Rob Bell's Promo Video for
Love Wins

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Justin Taylor on "Rob Bell: A Universalist?"

Kevin DeYoung on "To Hell with Hell"

Kevin DeYoung on "Two Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha"


  1. Gotta pray for Rob. I do agree that we can't say Ghandi is in hell. I didn't know Ghandi and I don't know if he ever accepted Jesus as his savior.

    Rob states, "God is going to send you to hell....and Jesus rescues us from God...how is that good news? (more or less)". This quote really illuminates why Christians need to study the Old Testament. God pours his wrath on mankind because mankind brings it upon itself. Jeremiah 6:11 shows that God grows weary trying to hold his wrath back from Israel before the babylonian captivity. Hence, God sending himself to take the hit for us could be seen as protecting 'us' from 'him' but really he is saving us from ourselves! We are terrible, wretched, destructive and rebellious creations and deserve nothing. 'Good news' does not give justice to the grace of God.

    I may not intellectually agree with Mr. Bell, but he is still my brother and I have an obligation to love him. And though he may be preaching a message that is skewed or for his own gain, that is something that he and God have to wrestle with. Nevertheless, he is still spreading the Gospel in some shape or form which God can use to reach his children and guide them to think and study the word of God for themselves in order to form their own opinion. Consider Philippians 1:15-18. Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice, amen!!

  2. Oh and on a lighter note, if you watch the Rob Bell video closely...the artist I'm pretty sure is painting Conan O'Brian's hair :)

  3. Good comments Josh. I don't know what Mr. Bell is intending with his book or even the video, but it sure sounds fishy to me. I think Rob's biggest miss in his presentation is the fact that (like Josh stated) we are a guilty people all objects of wrath from a just God. We can't even comprehend what true love is because aside from what we understand from the Love that is God... NOTHING WE EXPERIENCE HERE ON EARTH GOES UNBLEMISHED FROM THE CURSE OF SIN. Earthly love or the capacity we have for love is not by any stretch of the imagination PERFECT love. I'd be interested to see what Rob's mission is, it does seem he's trying to arm wrestle Jesus for authority on the topic of hell... and sorry Rob, Jesus will always win.
    -Micah Oser