Bell’s Hells! What The Heck?

Pastor Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” is lighting up the blogosphere, and for good reason. He attempts to overturn centuries of established Biblical doctrine with a thought-provoking, artistic flair. He started the firestorm by producing a video trailer of his book that raises questions designed to undermine conclusions embraced by orthodox believers for centuries (something he calls “absurdities and inconsistencies”), and suggests that people do not go to hell forever – that in time, the love of God melts their stubborn hearts and wins them over to heaven. I must confess – it is beyond me that a pastor’s positions and questions could be so incredibly ignorant of the preponderance of Biblical passages that deny his conclusions

On the topic of hell, Bell presents two hells:
– An uncomfortable reality here on earth where people create misery and discomfort in their daily bad choices.
– A bad place in the afterlife (he won’t affirm that it’s a fiery place of torment) where people temporarily undergo some sort of discomfort, are purged of their nonsensical choices, and can eventually walk into heaven.

What the heck!? I can’t think of any passage in the Bible that affirms these views of hell, and the verses that he provides are blatant distortions – indeed, even misquotes that frequently disregard the context of the passage he quotes (Matt 25:46; Rev 21)!

Ask a good question…

Bell asks a lot of questions, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Men of God frequently ask Him questions: Abraham struggled with God’s justice (Gen 18:22-33); Jacob wrestled with the Lord (Gen 32:22-31); Job wanted God to answer his questions (Job 9:13-23).

But when God gives us answers and we refuse to pass them along, we’ve crossed a line into a whole new arena – and that’s a huge problem. Bell has definitely crossed this line. Ironically, despite being such a “question-man”, when questioned by interviewers, he has a horribly difficult time of giving straight answers. It begs the question as to why Rob Bell keeps insisting “that’s a great question!” Well, if it’s so great.. answer it already! Don’t rob us of the truth!

The problem with Bell is that so many of these “great questions” already have great answers in the Bible. Why does Bell act like these answers aren’t there? This is a bizarre kind of Biblical denial to hear from a “pastor”. Is he fooled? Is he trying to fool others? Why pose questions if you’re unwilling to read, let alone believe, the answers that are already given? If he’s not ignorant on the questions, then we must conclude that his questions are ultimately designed to undermine God’s revealed Word. This is the same ploy satan used with his questions in the garden. Listening to Bell confirms that he simply doesn’t like the answers that the Bible gives – so he manufactures a God, Jesus, heaven, hell and salvation to soothe his wayward heart.

Let’s look at just a few of the already-answered-questions listed in his book description.

“Has God created billions of people over thousands of years only to select a few to go to heaven and everyone else to suffer forever in hell?”

John 1:1-4 says that God created everything and that there is nothing that God did not make.
Mat 7:13-14 says that few go to heaven and many go to hell, and that hell is forever.
Eph 1:3-13 teaches that everyone who is saved has been elected by God before the world was even created, and that this is for His glory.
Mat 25:46 says (in the same breath, mind you) that heaven is eternal bliss and hell is eternal punishment.
(there are far more passages for each of these ideas, but those are good places to start)

Is this acceptable to God?

Eph 1:11 says that God’s will in predestination and election is all according to the counsel of His will.
Acts 2:23 says that Jesus’ suffering and death was according to the predestined plan of God. Think about it: God and Jesus planned Jesus’ atoning death for human sins *before* God created the heavens and earth.

How is this “good news”?

Sadly, Rob’s flaunting his misunderstanding of the Gospel.
The “good news” is that salvation is coming to God’s people and He will redeem them with strength (Isa 52:7-25). Although man deserves a burning hell forever (Ps 14; Rom 3), God has provided a way for man to be saved by putting his trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ and His atoning death (Rom 10:8-13; Isa 53). There is no other way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and if man believes in Jesus Christ and actively, perpetually puts his faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31), he will be saved. And THAT is good news! Conversely, if he does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah sent from God, he will die in his sins (Jesus’ words, not mine). John 8:24

We do not rejoice that people are going to hell. Quite frankly, I’m disturbed that such a thing as hell exists and I desperately wish it were not so. But the Bible never affirms my wishes on this point, indeed – it consistently paints  a picture of an infinitely holy God that must judge and punish all sin with a holy and infinite punishment. The proper thing to do when confronted with passages that teach what we do not wish is to bring our thoughts captive to the Truth of Christ (1 Cor 10:3-5). I am compelled to shelve my personal ambition on the matter.

Get a good answer

So why is Rob content to ignore every one of these passages and answers to his own questions? What’s the real question behind his questions? This is precisely the kind of heresy and obfuscation that leads people to the very hell Bell is so desperate to pretend is not there! What’s his motive behind his antics?

As with Bell’s questions, the Bible provides an answer to Bell’s antics:

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 2 Pet 3:15-16

This passage explains why someone would ignore so much Scripture yet pretend to speak with Biblical relevance. It also tells us what their fate will be if they persist: destruction.

I bet Bell has also conveniently ignored this passage:

Teach and urge these [sound teachings you’ve been taught]. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy (“questions” – KJV) and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Tim 6:2-5

Some people get upset if the word ‘heretic” is used to describe Rob Bell.

If Bell is not a heretic for totally undermining the centrality of the Gospel, heaven, hell and the fate of every person who ever lived …then who is?

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