Rob Bell has gone to Harper Collins to publish his new book, due out in a month, and already the marketing hype is beginning. It seems the new church isn’t content to bring you a message, they have to sell you a message.
In the rather ambiguous promotional video(thanks to apprising.org for the transcript), Rob Bell makes the following statement :
Several years ago we had an art show at our church and people brought in all kinds of sculptures, and paintings, and we put them on display. And there was this one piece that had a quote from Gandhi in it; and lots of people found this piece compeling. … Somewhere in the course of the art show somebody attached a hand-written note to the piece, and on the note they had written: “Reality Check—He’s In Hell.”Gandhi’s in hell? He is? And someone knows this, for sure; and felt the need to let the rest of us know? Will only a few, select, people make it to heaven? And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell? And, if that’s the case, how do you become one of the few? …
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. And so, what gets, subtlely, 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? How could that God ever be good; how could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news.
…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. What you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, and beautiful, that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the good news is actually better than that; better than we could ever imagine.
Without seeing the book we really don’t know where Bell is going with this, but I think it is obvious that he follows others of his kind, in his order, that don’t agree with hell. He does try to cast into question what you’ve been taught by others who have brought their teachings from the Bible. No, what Bell promises is his interpretation from the Bible, which is better than Sunday school and hellfire preachers. No fear of God here at all, because love wins.
And look, this again is an issue with authority. Rob Bell doesn’t necessarily submit to the authority of the Bible. He says “what kind of God is that; that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good; how could that God ever be trusted?” Basically, it sounds like he doesn’t like the God of the Bible. It is the old “Would a good God do that?” The tired old “would a good God send people to hell.” Nothing new to see here folks. This is rebellion. Rebelling against the God of the Bible because Bell doesn’t seem to like him. Trying to use our own concept of what we think “good” should be – our own standard – to disprove hell and promote universal salvation. Sorry folks, a good judge demands a penalty according to the law. A good judge doesn’t abolish prisons the way Bell sees his god abolishing hell.
I’ve been stuck in 2 Peter lately and I think there’s some wisdom to be had here, if you do believe the Bible is the Word of God. From 2 Peter 2:
2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.
In order for Bell to acknowledge what 2 Peter says about hell he would also have to acknowledge what Peter says about false teachers and where they will be headed – and that doesn’t fit Bell’s theology. God casting down angels to hell when they sinned and bound them in chains, flooding the ancient world, condemning cities to their extinction for their wickedness, causing wrongdoers and ignorant blasphemers to suffer wrong for their wrongdoing – would a good God do that? I think some need to re-examine their own definition of what “good” is.
In other words, you have to ignore a lot of facts placed in evidence to arrive at the pop culture quip and book marketing campaign, that “love wins.” No, the real Good News according to 2 Peter is that while a good judge gives what is due to sinners, he also preserves the godly from that same fate.
I don’t want you to go to hell for eternity. But there are some who, instead of telling you how to escape hell, would rather spend their time trying to convince you that there is no hell, no eternal punishment and nothing to lose. Just like a politician on a disinformation campaign.