Skip to comments.Pastor stirs wrath with his views on old questions (says no hell)
Posted on 03/05/2011 11:00:45 PM PST by OrthodoxKirkPresbyterian
A new book by one of the countrys most influential evangelical pastors, challenging traditional Christian views of heaven, hell and eternal damnation, has created an uproar among evangelical leaders
In a book to be published this month, the pastor, Rob Bell, known for his provocative views and appeal among the young, describes as misguided and toxic the dogma that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Those who will not accept the Biblical teaching of Hell have usually not grasped the righteousness of God. Even in the first century of the Church there were those who would not accept the God of the Old Testament because He was not the loving God of the New Testament that they wished to worship.
God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, both Spoken and Incarnate. This revelation is ours to understand, not reinterpret to suit our own whims and desires.
Rob Bell is simply advocating an unsound doctrine not based on Scripture. The Lord is a Just God and everlasting punishment is as much a part of His Almighty Plan as is eternal happiness in His Glorious Heaven.
Interestingly, the early Christians didn’t really believe in Hell. Instead, they believe in the Jewish Sheol, a zombie-like place where the dead went for eternity.
They believed that Satan and his minions would be cast into the lake of fire eventually, but not man.
I disagree with this. Having read the OT and NT several times, I find that the greatest 'hellfire and brimstone' is in the NT, not the OT (particularly in Revelation, as well as in Jesus' own warnings in the Gospels). In book after book of the OT, God's love and patience and care for the Israelites despite their failings is endlessly demonstrated. The depiction of God as an ogre in the OT and a loving marshmallow in the NT is mythical nonsense born of biblical illiteracy.
“The depiction of God as an ogre in the OT and a loving marshmallow in the NT is mythical nonsense born of biblical illiteracy.”
In my experience, it’s mostly atheists who have that opinion.
A major difference between the Old Testament and the New is that the New Testament has Jesus Christ. And as He died for our sins, maybe there is no need for hell?
Not true, in revelations we read about hell. Only the universalist unitarian cult believes in what this pastor is teaching.
re: “Interestingly, the early Christians didnt really believe in Hell. Instead, they believe in the Jewish Sheol, a zombie-like place where the dead went for eternity. They believed that Satan and his minions would be cast into the lake of fire eventually, but not man.”
It is true that the Old Testament is a bit vague about what Hell exactly is. It is also true that the word “hell” is the English word for “sheol”. However, Jesus was very clear about Hell. He taught that it was a real place of conscious eternal punishment - a place to be avoided at all costs. So, I believe you are greatly mistaken about the early Christians’ beliefs regarding Hell since they believed Jesus’s words implicitly. The Apostles were also clear about Hell being a place of torment.
The only place in the New Testament where the lake of fire is mentioned is in the book of Revelation which also declares that all those who reject Christ and whose names were not written in the “Book of Life” were also cast into the Lake of fire - along with Satan and the fallen angels. So, once again, I think you are mistaken about what early Christians believed. Since Revelation was written by the Apostle John, who was widely known among the early believers, I doubt that his writings were unknown to them either.
Only the elect will be saved. John 10:11, 14-16 says clearly that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep only. Only the limited elect will be saved and the others are going to hell.
Let me direct you to the TULIP doctrine which explains this very well why there is only a limited atonement only for the elect. Most will not be saved, but will be punished in hell as reprobates. Only the pure, elect, chosen by God from before time will be given their places in heaven
“The Apostles were also clear about Hell being a place of torment.”
True, although as you point out, the lake of fire is only mentioned in Revelations as being the place where Satan and his minions go after the Last Judgement.
So although Hell is described as a place of torment, it’s hard to say what that means exactly. Some theologians think that the condemned simply wander forever in a state of darkness and misery, knowing that they cannot be with God.
Which is a bit like the Greek Hades (described as a dark, shadowy place where the dead wander).
The OT doesn’t mention much about hell because the ancient Israelites, like most people at that time, gave little thought to life after death. This was true of the Europeans, Semites, and Asians. All were mainly only concerned with this world, and only the Egyptians really had a strong belief in the afterlife.
People who reject Jesus Christ will go to hell.
Read the Bible. Jesus spoke more about hell than he did about Heaven.
“Interestingly, the early Christians didnt really believe in Hell.”
Horsefeathers. They certainly did. Jesus Himself warned about hell.
>>Those who will not accept the Biblical teaching of Hell have usually not grasped the righteousness of God.<<
I’m finding with a lot of controversial issues, it is not the biblical teaching they rebel against, but their church’s interpretation of biblical teaching. Here is a good discussion of biblical teaching about hell, though many will not like reading it:
>>The Lord is a Just God and everlasting punishment is as much a part of His Almighty Plan as is eternal happiness in His Glorious Heaven.<<
Where did you read that?
I like this analogy of the concept of eternal hell (not mine):
Suppose for a moment that a wonderful manMr. Right, if you willoffers a marriage proposal to the woman he loves. “Marry me,” he says, “and I will give you a life like you’ve never dreamed of before. You will be loved with the greatest commitment and passion that any woman has ever known. I will give you the finest house with all of the wonderful things you’ve ever wanted, and you will be happy for the rest of your days!”
Now suppose the woman is very flattered by the proposal, but is uncertain about whether or not she is ready for such a commitment. Asking for a few more days to think it over, Mr. Right answers, “You are welcome to take more time, but it’s only fair that I warn you what will happen if you decline my generous offer. Your only option, other than spending paradise with me, is to be thrown into my underground dungeon, have your eyes gouged from their sockets, and be subjected to unimaginable pain every hour, on the hour, for the rest of your long, miserable life.”
What do you suppose would be going through the young woman’s mind at a time like this? I imagine that would change the way she feels about the man considerably. She might have previously accepted Mr. Right’s proposal because of her love for him, but is there much chance of that now? Surely not. If she takes him seriously, she’ll undoubtedly marry him, but not as much for love as out of genuine terror at the alternative.
Is this God’s way of doing things? Does God want His people to turn to Him out of fear that they will be tortured otherwise? Where is the love in that? If everyone really believed in this doctrine, wouldn’t that properly tarnish their concept of the Savior? I would imagine some might even have a hard time calling Him “Savior” at all. How merciful can it be to create a never-ending torture pit for everyone and then save only a few from it?
The answer is linked to why those who have rejected Him are removed from His presence eternally after the Judgment.
...as He died for our sins, maybe there is no need for hell?...
Technically, except for fallen angels and OT unbelievers, this would make some sense, except there also are humans who have fallen into the same rejection of what He provides as those fallen angels.
He laid down His life for His sheep, including those not of His fold.
Unfortunately, I believe your analogy is incorrect. If we are considered to be the “bride-to-be,” then we must also see ourselves as one who cheated, or sinned against the loving husband (original sin, or the fall of man in the Garden of Eden). That act in the garden of wanting to be like God was enough for Him to turn his back on us. However, God so loves us and wants us to be with him for eternity that he sacrificed Himself through his Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept His sacrifice and live lives worthy of His sacrifice to be with him forever.