How can a loving God banish people to hell? This is the question that Rob Bell, rock star pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, asks in his new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. As this video promotion shows, Bell refuses to believe in a god who would even consider such an action:
No, as of this writing I have not read the book. What I can say is that I have been writing actively about Rob Bell for more than a year and these are the same teachings that I have heard in so many subtle ways. The difference is that in this video he is explicit about his inability to believe in a God who could seek the kind of justice that would make hell a place for those who do not belong to Christ. Do some research on your own and you find examples including his appearance at the Seeds of Compassion conference, sharing the stage with the Dalai Lama, and never mentioning Christ in any capacity.
The Bible contains numerous teachings about hell; to say otherwise undermines all Scripture. If what he says about heaven and hell is true, if Rob Bell is correct, it would mean at least some combination of the following:
- God is a lair.
- God makes up stories to win our alliance.
- God cruelly takes us as his own, but has no way to protect us from evil. (Remember sin and death themselves are banished to hell.)
- The Bible is an unreliable source of truth about God.
- God makes up things as he goes along so we are at his unpredictable mercy.
- God is powerless to do anything about evil in the world.
Please, do not hear that I or any Christian celebrate that people will be sent to hell. Prayers from thousands of Christians daily are for all people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Christ came not to rescue us from God, but from ourselves and our complete incapability of pleasing God on our own. Jesus came to do what we could not do for ourselves. Christ came not to make bad people good; he came to make dead people alive. The Son of God came to set the world right again, to correct the wrongs of the world, and to bring us back into right relationship with God. Jesus came so that we could be adopted as children of God and to become joint heirs with him.
This is not about right belief, but it is about trusting in the one and only person who was able to do what God requires and then take that righteous, exchange it for our sinfulness, and wipe our debts clean. All that is required is that we look: look to Jesus!
Rob, Christ himself was rejected and said that we too would be rejected and persecuted because of this message. Why do you feel so obligated to make it anything else?
What is so hard about looking? Where is there a need for correct doctrine, right belief, good moral fiber? We not only trust Christ for our salvation, but believe that he will return as he promised to remake the world and set all creation right again. The justice we seek is in Christ! But if hell is not a real place, it means that all those promises could have easily been written on toilet paper and flushed.
All our hope as Christians rests on God’s word enduring, that his promises will be kept, and that our hope is assured. Without that, well, it does not matter in the least what religion you decide to follow because they all teach the same thing: you have to work really hard to be absolutely perfect and then pray that god will decide that you have done enough to make it in.
There is no other way to look at this: if what Rob Bell says in this video is what he is writing in his book, then he will argue how Gandhi got to heaven without belief in Jesus. And the only way that works is for Bell to argue that he was good enough to get in. Which puts us back at the argument from his last book: Jesus came to die to show us that he knows how it feels to be human.
Rob Bell is drawing a line in the sand: will you side with him or with the Word of God?