Rob Bell and Hell, ooze interview


The Dialogue…

You recently preached a sermon called “God wants to save Christians from hell.” I was discussing the message with a guy who after hearing this message was a bit disturbed and somehow came to the conclusion that you didn’t believe in a literal hell. Let me ask you, do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?

Rob: Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this.” My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?

I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. Like your friend, does he want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side? Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.

Especially when so many fail to recognize the hell that many people are experiencing today and do little about it.

Rob: Yeah, I would think it would be your duty as a Christian to hope and long and pray for somehow everybody to be reconciled to God. If you are really serious about evangelism, as I’m sure your friend would claim, and you wanted to save people from hell, then wouldn’t your hope be that everybody reconciles with God? Why would you hope for anything else? It would be your duty to long for that. I would actually ask questions about his salvation.

Read the whole thing here.

Now for the problems…

1. Rob, “My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace? Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?”

God’s love and grace won on the cross in that he made provision for the salvation for the world. God offers salvation to all who will believe, but he does not force salvation on anyone!

2. “I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. Like your friend, does he want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side?”

I argue passionately for a literal hell because I argue passionately for literal interpretation of the Scripture. If we don’t believe in a literal hell, how then can we believe in a literal heaven?

3. “Yeah, I would think it would be your duty as a Christian to hope and long and pray for somehow everybody to be reconciled to God.”

Actually our time would be better spent preaching the gospel so that individuals can escape the fires of hell and enjoy abundant life in Jesus Christ, which starts now, but culminates in heaven. What a waste of time to hope for something that God has already said will not occur.

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  1. #1 by clearly on July 22, 2007 - 8:33 pm

    Phil, sorry your comment got deleted. I had problems with this post..

  2. #2 by beuler on July 24, 2007 - 1:44 pm

    Wow. I didn’t know Rob Bell didn’t believe in a literal hell. That is disturbing.

    The whole emergent scene is so concerned with the HERE and NOW, that they make it the ultimate thing, and almost completely ignore the fact that this life is a “vapor”, and after death, there is either everlasting joy in the presence of Christ in Heaven, or there is Hell, eternal punishment for sin.

    I don’t understand it.

  3. #3 by clearly on July 24, 2007 - 2:20 pm

    beuler,

    You make an excellent point. There is a here and now aspect of salvation (already). However, there is also a much larger not-yet aspect of salvation as well! They down-play that as much as possible!

  4. #4 by matt mc on July 26, 2007 - 4:09 am

    Thanks for your site. I just stumbled across it this morning, and I love the fact that you are a young guy with a passion for God and good theology. That’s something that is clearly missing these days.

    And I’ve been more and more leary of Bell lately, but I wasn’t sure why. Thanks for the post.

  5. #5 by clearly on July 26, 2007 - 6:34 am

    Matt mc, It’s encouraging to know that the site has been beneficial to you. Praise the Lord — that’s its purpose!

  6. #6 by Henry Frueh on August 1, 2007 - 7:47 am

    There are many distasteful truths that are true nonetheless. Do I argue that there is such a thing as cancer because I want there to be cancer? Denying the existance of a literal hell not only exposes a disdain for Biblical truth, it diminishes the cross!

  7. #7 by Ryan on August 2, 2007 - 10:23 am

    I can’t believe Rob Bell actually questions the faith of someone who believes in a literal hell. Seems like he’s drawing a line in the sand about something… I thought the Emergent/ing Church was all about ambiguity.

    I’d like to add that Hell will not be “eternal separation from God.” See Luke 12:5; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 14:10. (Heaven & Hell, Edward Donnely)

  8. #8 by ekenosen on August 2, 2007 - 6:43 pm

    Thanks for actually putting the scripture up there Ryan!! That’s what we need in the blogrolls these days. Bring it on Rob Bell!!

  9. #9 by cannon on August 4, 2007 - 9:50 am

    hell is eternal separation from God, “Depart from Me… (Matt 25:41”. If we are departed from God, we are separated from Him. But I will agree that separation isn’t the whole answer. There will also be everlasting torment as poor souls burn in an unquenchable fire and are reminded of their sin for all eternity. Either we will afflict our souls as Leviticus says on the day of atonement, so that we may repent and be saved, or God will afflict us for an eternity.

  10. #10 by jimbo on August 18, 2007 - 7:13 pm

    Seriously, Everyone is missing the point. I am actually laughing of how many comments were made on Bell’s comments totally taking what he said out of context.

    Does Bell believe in a literal hell – yes!!

    His point was this:
    Why focus on this to Non-Believers?
    Have you ever told a Non-Believer about hell, and therefor converted him. I would bet NEVER. As a matter of fact, you most likely will drive him away from Christianity forever. Bell’s comment is take care of the here and now, not discrediting what will happen to us when we die. If you give a Non-believer “bread”, or shelter, or money, or do something for them that they really needed vs. Saying “Do you know there is a hell, and if you don’t repent, youy are going there”, they become a friend(and maybe a future believer). Talking about a literal hell turns them off. Trust me on this. I see it every day.

    That’s it. That is all Rob Bell is saying. Nothing more. Don’t make more out of it.

  11. #11 by Teddy on August 18, 2007 - 8:25 pm

    Further comments by the “Ooze” interviewer that aren’t published here. See that site’s comments to see them…

    I wish I would have had more time to explore this issue further with Rob, however I had already exceeded my interview time with him. I want to say that the emotion of what he was saying, which may not come through in a manuscript was that many Christians get so hung up with the doctrinal issues and miss the heart of evangelism which is to love those people who don’t know Jesus and do everything possible to keep them from being separated from Him. If we had as much zeal for people as we do doctrine sometimes, it would overshadow the need to hammer those issues so hard. Maybe it was more like “yeah I believe in hell but let’s focus on loving people and showing them Jesus, rather than telling them where they are going to go.” Also, during the session earlier that day at the conference (Isn’t she beautiful), Rob did specifically say “of course I believe in a literal hell”.

    vic

  12. #12 by jimbo on August 19, 2007 - 7:23 am

    Right on the Nose Teddy!!!!!!!!!
    This is alot of what Rob Bell gets hammered on, people caught up in doctrine, taking what he says out of context. Well said.

  13. #13 by clearly on August 19, 2007 - 12:48 pm

    Jimbo, I’m caught up in doctrine. I admit.

    But so was Paul, Timothy, Titus, Peter, James, etc.

  14. #14 by clearly on August 19, 2007 - 12:51 pm

    Jimbo,

    You wrote, “Have you ever told a Non-Believer about hell, and therefor converted him. I would bet NEVER. As a matter of fact, you most likely will drive him away from Christianity forever.”

    I have never converted anyone. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. However, I have had opportunity to lead individuals to Christ. When I share the gospel, I usually (if not always) talk about hell.

    Jesus told us that he is convicting the world of sin, of righteousness and judgment. There is judgment coming; I will teach and preach the whole counsel of God.

  15. #15 by clearly on August 19, 2007 - 12:53 pm

    “of course I believe in a literal hell”

    vs.

    “Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this.” My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win”

    Which one does Rob believe? How can you reconcile those?

  16. #16 by jimbo on August 19, 2007 - 4:07 pm

    Clearly,

    Let me first admit that my schooling is not theological based. I have a minor in Religion from Mount Union College(LOL). I also have to admit, that alot of my comments could be due to my lack of understanding, BUT, I truly believe that most Christians do not do a good job at “The Great Commission”. Tony Evans from Dallas’s Oakcliff Bible Institute likes to refer to them as “God’s retarded children”. We have alot of them. I think they want to spread the Word Sooooooo much that they lead with,”Are you Saved”, or “Do you know hell is real?” You would have to agree with me that this is very detrimental to the cause.

    As far as your comment:
    “I have never converted anyone. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. However, I have had opportunity to lead individuals to Christ. When I share the gospel, I usually (if not always) talk about hell”.

    I agree with you, it is 100% the job of the Holy Spirit.

    As far as talking about a literal hell, I like to focus on other parts of the Gospel. Not that your focus is bad, just not my style(nor the style of Rob Bell). I will go there if that is the direction the conversation goes, I have just found that it is not a positive “seed planter”.

    It is part of the Gospel as you mention, but not the ONLY part. When you are speaking with Non-Believers, you cant possibly cover the entire Gospel and its dept, you choose what you feel is “the juice”, or what the Spirit leads you to say. Again, if mentioning hell is beneficial in your “seed planting”, then fire away.

    As far as your statement:

    “of course I believe in a literal hell”

    vs.

    “Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this.” My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win”

    Which one does Rob believe? How can you reconcile those?

    I truly believe that we need to find other sources to really get the jist of what Rob Bell thinks hell is all about. I can tell you from reading both of his books, seeing him speak live a couple of times, and watching all of his NOOMAs, that he does believe in a literal hell, just doesnt lead with that, and chooses to focuses on other parts of the Awesome Gospel of Jesus.

    By the Way – I would like to take this time for thanking you for holding this forum. It is very constructive, and I appreciate you making it available.

    Have a Great Evening.

  17. #17 by clearly on August 19, 2007 - 4:41 pm

    Jimbo,

    Your interaction here is welcomed — thanks for joining in.

    Just think about this for a moment: is a gospel without judgment really a gospel at all?

    I don’t think we have to choose what to focus on in the gospel. It’s not that long of a story. The good news is that the cross has eliminated both the power and penalty of sin for all those who will believe. The result: abundant life in Christ now and for all ages to come.

  18. #18 by cannon on August 19, 2007 - 6:36 pm

    Amen clearly. You can’t have good news without the bad news. If we don’t present hell as a real place to non-believers, then why do they need a savior? Jesus came to save us from our sins and the sting of hell.

  19. #19 by cannon on August 19, 2007 - 6:39 pm

    Plus, if we use social methods to bring people to Jesus, how is that different from the pegans using social methods to join their club?

  20. #20 by jhorneck3723 on August 19, 2007 - 10:43 pm

    The gospel does not need to be narrowed down to being solely focused on hell to be relevant, but it certainly can’t ignore it. I definitely would agree with Dave’s post, but I have never gone up to a person and confronted them straight up off the street with their coming judgment. However, it definitely enters the conversation. I choose not to lead with, “Hi! my name is Jeremy, and I just wanted to tell you that you are headed for eternal damnation in hell!” Ultimately judgment is a significant motivator for salvation. Why bother if there is no coming judgment?

  21. #21 by Henry Frueh on August 20, 2007 - 2:41 am

    Here is the bottom line. If you believe in a literal hell but you do not desire to focus on that, then say it clearly. His interview would not be read by many unsaved people, so he did not have to worry about that.

    To minimize, or even outright deny its existance, at the very least changes the urgency regardless of anyone’s claim to the contrary. And at its core is a denying of the truth of Scripture itself.

    Take a stroll by Golgotha and witness the crucifixion and then tell me what was being paid for there. If Bell doesn’t believe in hell then he has two options. He either believes in soul destruction or universalism.

    God doesn’t ask us to believe what makes the unbelievers comfortable, it commands us to speak the truth in love. Bell’s coy theology is just the beginning of what is to come.

  22. #22 by jimbo on August 23, 2007 - 7:08 pm

    I have to be honest here. I love the interaction from you other guys, but it really makes me want to vomit. I say that in LOVE, but it does.

    I would bet that 90% of you know nothing more about Rob Bell than that interview that we are speaking about, and you may have read a book by him. I bet that is the extent.

    BECAUSE, if you knew him, you would know that he does believe in a literal hell, therefore we shouldn’t even be discussing whether or not he does – HE DOES.

    I STRONGLY recommend something for all of you guys. I recommend that you go to your local christian bookstore, or go to http://www.nooma.com. Purchase the NOOMA called Bullhorn. This is Bell chatting about the negativeness that can come out of focusing on hell as your central theme.

    Horneck was close when he said he wouldnt go up to a person on the street and say, “Guess what, you are going to hell”. That is all Bell is saying. Thats it.

    I KNOW.

    If you really want to know about Bell, watch all of his NOOMAs, better yet, go to http://www.marshill.com. You can get the last 20 sermons for free, or you can get any of his lecture series for $1 per sermon. You will agree that this man is FULL OF THE SPIRIT. The things that Mars Hill(the church he pastors) has done, and are doing, is out of this world. They really are the hands and feet of Jesus.

    Bell stresses action. He stresses love. Its easy for us in here(me included to talk about what we are talking about), its hard to get out of our comfort zone and actually feed the hungry, give medicine to the sick, give a home to the homeless, the list goes on and on. BELL DOES ALL OF THIS.

    Let me say it again to all of you who want to say Bell doesnt believe in hell. HE DOES. To those who say he has a “coy theology”, to those of you who say, “we cant use social methods to bring people to Jesus”(btw – I do it all the time, you know why, because I love them, don’t judge them), those who say”the gospel doesn’t have to be narrowed, its not that long”. I challenge you – BE CREATIVE!!

    Make the word of God sound awesome(because it is), make it appetizing(because it is), make it alive(because it is), make it entertaining(because it is). I plead with you, don’t turn people OFF to the message all together. Don’t be a Bullhorn guy(as Rob Bell would say).

    Help me to bring Christianity back to Being Cool. Help me to make it the “in” thing – DONT BE A BULLHORN GUY.

  23. #23 by Sean Gautusa on August 23, 2007 - 7:27 pm

    Hi there,

    Why do people seem to think that there would have been no point to Jesus’ death if there is no hell?

    Why do people think that if there is no hell then people don’t need a saviour?

    There are people in terrible situations and horrible circunstances. people who have made bad choices, taken wrong turns and cannot see how to get out of them. Poeple who think that killing themselves is the only alternative left to them. Regardless of whether there is a hell or not, don’t these people need a saviour today? Don’t they need to know that God loves them now? That God cares about them here and now?

    Some people quickly point to scriptures like Matt 25:41 to justify their belief of hell but fail to look at the verses preceeding which detail exactly why Jesus said these words. According to these scriptures, if you want to go to heaven, it doesn’t matter what doctrine you believe but what you actually do… remember, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    Cheers

  24. #24 by clearly on August 24, 2007 - 2:46 pm

    Jimbo

    “I would bet that 90% of you know nothing more about Rob Bell than that interview that we are speaking about, and you may have read a book by him. I bet that is the extent.”

    How about this: I would bet that you know nothing more about anyone in here than what they have written on this post, and you may have read their blog for a few months straight. I bet that is the extent.

    Would you have a problem with that? You are insinuating that listening to an interview and reading a book tells you nothing of true worth about an individual and what he really believes. Sometimes, when I read emergent/emerging authors, I feel the same way — but only because they say nothing of substance on which to grab ahold. However, in typical, life scenarios, if you have read an author, then you know something of what he believes.

    For instance, if you read what Paul writes in the book of Galatians, you know that he believes salvation to be by faith alone in Christ alone and is willing to pronounce damnation upon those who preach otherwise.

    So, from reading one book (letter) by one person, I know much about him.

    I am not claiming to be the Rob Bell expert here. But your post seemed to go like this.

    “I know Rob Bell — that establishes my authority on this topic. You don’t know Rob Bell — you have no authority to speak on this issue.”

    The fact is: Rob has said some very contradictory things about hell. He has to. He holds to this unique universal view on the atonement and it leaves him absolutely floundering on the doctrine of hell.

  25. #25 by jimbo on August 26, 2007 - 7:06 am

    Clearly,

    Thanks for the response. You definitely make some good points.

    I do not claim to be the Rob Bell expert AT ALL, actually far from it. BUT, I can tell you that he DOES believe in hell from listening to large number of his sermon series. My ritual is usually to download an Ed Young Sermon, or a Rob Bell sermon onto my Ipod, and to then go for a run. So, I usually get to listen to Rob Bell about two-three times/week. NOT enough to be an expert, but enough to know someone’s beliefs on a certain topic.

    Its kind of like someone meeting my wife, and they ask her if she believes in donating 10% of her income. Her response is, “not necessarily”. What exactly does that mean. Those hearing her say that, could come to multiple conclusions. BUT, me, being her husband, knows that giving 10% of her income isnt the focus for her(or us) for that matter. I know that her focus is in helping others, and in giving with a joyful heart, in her knowing that it is all Gods anyways. There are alot of people that give 10% because they feel that in doing so, everything else will be OK. Her and I would argue that if you give 10%, but still don’t acknowledge that its all his, he doesnt want your money. As you can see, the simple question of, “Do you believe in giving 10%”, can be simple, but at the same time very complex.

    I have the advantage of knowing her heart, and knowing what she meant by answering the questions, “not necessarily”. Others knowing her from maybe one or two conversations, wouldnt have that knowledge. What I am saying is that I THINK I know what Rob Bell believes based upon his actions, and based upon his heart. He wears his heart on his sleeve. His church is up for examination. Check it out, they are the living, breathing body of Jesus.

    He has helped thousands of people who used to think church was judgemental, boring, or for the select few – to think of church as something cool, as something that is the “in”thing to do, as something that can transform lives because of what Jesus did. I can’t think of too many that can do this. I put Ed Young in the same category. He is drawing to those who have been turned off to Christianity to come back. He is making the Word relevant to 2007 people. THATS the CHALLENGE.

    As for whether or not, Rob Bell believes in a literal hell, I would say he definitely does based upon what I know about him. I understand those who like to focus on doctrine and this person said this, and this person said that, because we have to watch out for “false or misleading” prophets so to speak. I like to focus on the “fruit”. To be honest, with Rob Bell, I see ALOT of it!!

  26. #26 by Henry (Rick) Frueh on August 27, 2007 - 3:55 am

    The bottom line is this.

    If a person does not believe in a literal hell, that is a major problem with wide ranging consequences including interpretation of Scripture.

    If a persona believes in a literal hell but shys away from focusing of that, well then that is a problem we can debate.

    I have always thought that Bell was the latter, however, just when I’m ready to let my guard down he says something that seems to contradict what I thought. All he would have to do is say it once and move on. He is so intelligent that it gets in the way of clearity sometimes.

  27. #27 by jameswillisisthebest on September 8, 2007 - 1:38 pm

    This is my first post
    just saying HI

  28. #28 by Silo 11 on October 26, 2007 - 7:35 pm

    Hell in fact does not have to be a part of the salvation message. As a baptist minister in fact I find that often times it becomes the reasoning for a person’s desire for salvation rather than the true reason. If hell is the deciding factor on whether someone chooses to follow Him or not, are they really interested in following Him or covering their own behind. The fact the we are CURRENTLY separated from God and the only way to abolish that separation is Jesus, should be the focal point and the desire someone wants to follow Him.

    Getting down to the real nitty gritty, it doesn’t even matter what we say when sharing Christ. The Holy Spirit is who sets up the engagement, does the convicting, and then the converting. We do nothing but be obedient to His leading. When we see the first personal conversion in Scripture we see the Spirit told Phillip to go 50 miles south of where he was currently for no real reason. He was obedient to the Spirit went and found the Ethiopian reading Scripture. He really did nothing but be obedient to God. It is one of the few places we even see a individual conversion and how it took place.

    I have heard Rob Bell many times, read just about everything he has written, and yes watched all the Nooma videos, and I do agree with Jimbo, Rob Bell does believe in a eternal separation from God in a literal hell. And he is very much challenging that we don’t even need to use that in sharing Christ. We live in such a world where we have to make a decision on consequences and whether or not they are bad enough for us to choose a certain way. That is how we present the Gospel now, turn because if you don’t you will burn. We see Jesus telling us about the consequences of hell, but we rarely see Him use it as a way of “converting” people. He didn’t tell the Samaritan she was gonna burn in hell, he loved her, cared for her, and revealed himself to her…..and she desired to follow Him.

  29. #29 by Rescuer on December 3, 2007 - 11:06 pm

    “We see Jesus telling us about the consequences of hell, but we rarely see Him use it as a way of “converting” people. He didn’t tell the Samaritan she was gonna burn in hell, he loved her, cared for her, and revealed himself to her…..and she desired to follow Him.”

    Jesus then said, “Go and leave your life of sin.”

  30. #30 by Oscar on December 7, 2007 - 11:07 am

    HI! First timer..
    My 2 cents….I agree most of us would not start a conversation with a non-believer with ” hey accept jesus or your going to hell”. But I do know that it is in the word of God. When I speak of the Lords word I know the effect it has promised it will have.
    Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    The holy Spirit guides us and knows what an individual needs. Wether it be love or conviction.

  31. #31 by Gene on December 8, 2007 - 10:00 am

    If it doesn’t really matter what we say when sharing Christ, then why bother? Buy them some groceries and pat yourself on the back; give the homeless drunk guy a buck and move on. If hell doesn’t need to be mentioned in a conversation or salvation message, then neither does God’s wrath toward sinners (Rom 1:18-32). So what reason then do we give to the lost that will convince them to “come to Jesus?” The message of the church for over a century has been “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life,” and we’ve created false believers and a Christianity full of sinfulness. Years ago, I personally led many people through the sinner’s prayer by telling them this (see my blog above for more details–“I’ve Done My Friends a Disservice”). With this message people come with the wrong motives, ie., what can Jesus do for me?

    The Gospel means “good news,” as someone already said. Ephesians says we who are converted were dead in our trespasses, followers of Satan, and that God raised us up w/ Christ (Eph 2:1-5). It’s not that we had some sin here or there and that at times it hurt others’ feelings; we sinned against the Most High God and are deserving of death. Our sin is vertical, not horizontal. An “addiction” isn’t just hurtful and unkind, it’s sin. Adultery isn’t just wrong, it’s damnable. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Revelation 21:8.

    I have been using the Way of the Master (as a starting point) for a couple of years, and have found that not only does biblical evangelism make sense, but it works. Paul said that the Law of God brings the knowledge of sin, that apart from it he wouldn’t have known what sin was. When I witness to people I go through the 10 Commandments with them every time and get them to admit which ones they’ve broken. They admit their guilt and I don’t judge them. They see they’ve sinned against God and I tell them that God will judge them in righteousness and if they are in their sins on Judgment Day they will go to hell. I tell them with love in my voice that I don’t want that for them, that there is another way. If they are not still trying to justify their behavior and I can see that they are concerned about their eternal destiny, I encourage them to do two things found in scripture that are necessary for salvation (besides God regenerating their dead soul): Repent of your sins and believe in the gospel of Christ, then you’ll be saved. That’s the good news, in a nutshell.

    See, without mentioning the bad news, the gospel makes partial or no sense. People think, “Why did Christ die for me? I’m a pretty good person…” Scripture says we’re wretched, and I plead with those of you here who don’t see your own sin as filthy in God’s sight (in fact our righteous deeds are as filthy rags), study the doctrine of sin in the Bible. Look at God’s wrath and judgment. How much does God hate sin? Look at the cross! He killed His own son because he hates sin so much and wants us to be reconciled to Himself. “He that believes not is condemned already…” (John 3)

    Over and over Paul talks about us being justified, washed, cleansed, forgiven, etc. Why? Because we were enemies of God, not just erring kids who stayed out too late and wouldn’t eat our veggies, enemies! If hell is real, which we seem to all agree on here at this thread, we should be warning people of the wrath to come (Matt 3:7-12). Without repentance there is no salvation. I don’t condone “hellfire and brimstone preaching,” but speaking about hell is essential. God is holy, righteous; He is love, and because He’s love He must punish sin. If God doesn’t punish sin, then He is a corrupt judge. And if we don’t tell sinners about the whole counsel of God, they either come to Christ for life enhancement–which eventually will bring disappointment–or they remain impartial to the Truth and hold that “truth is relative, Jesus is good if he works for you.” That’s not truth at all.

    Jesus didn’t shy from talking about sin with the Samaritan woman at the well; she was humble and ready for grace–she didn’t justify her adultery. And if she did follow Jesus long enough, she’d have heard him say, “go and sin no more.” Now look at Jesus with the rich young man. Christ brought up the Law and didn’t give the guy the gospel because he wasn’t willing to put down his sinful idol: money and possessions. The guy went away sad. 2 Tim 2:19–“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” We must tell people that they need to flee from sin, and the reason why.

    I highly recommend 3 sermons by Ray Comfort: Hell’s Best Kept Secret, True and False Conversion, and Consequences of Failure to Use the Law
    http://www.wayofthemaster.com/audiolessons.shtml

    All that said, once I tell someone about the good, the bad and the ugly, I will continue to put out my hand to them in love. James says that true religion is taking care of orphans and widows; faith without works is dead. I in particular try to reach out to drug addicts and alcoholics, because I’ve been there. If they don’t believe right away or say they aren’t concerned about going to hell, I’ll try to reason with them further. Later, in continued contact, I try to help them to overcome their addiction. But it’s the gospel of Christ that sets us free from sin, and this is the foundation of breaking from from any sin. So I’ll continue to share the Scriptures with them and help them however I can. The same with anyone else.

    Sorry about the length of this. No, I’m not. It’s just that I feel so passionate that if hell is where the unbelievers end up when they die, then we as Christians must not feel afraid to tell them the truth. If you saw a blind man running barefoot toward a busy intersection with music blasting from his headphones, you wouldn’t try to give him some Nike Air’s and a bottle of water in hopes that he would stay away long enough from the cars, afraid that he might get offended if you told him about the danger. No! You’d warn him about the traffic–you’d take off his headphones and make him listen to the sound of the cars honking and braking, etc. Let us help sinners in their hurts and disappointments, their trials and difficulties, all the while telling them the entire truth. If they refuse to listen, that’s between them and God. Then we have shown them the true love of God in Christ, who died not so we could be comfortable in life, rather to save us from our sins and hell. That, my friends, is the True Gospel.

  32. #32 by brandon cloud on December 10, 2007 - 11:02 am

    Wow, everyone here should consider spending half of the negitive energy you are focusing on rob and the other posters here to go join god in his redemption of the world… and dont give me the “we have to correct others because we are right because of these 6 random verses” argument- someone else will give you 7 other random verses that make it seem like they are right. we have spent the better part of two thousand years arguing this [edited by the owner of the blog, for another failure in emergent orthopraxy], why dont we be really radical and go love someone the way jesus told us to.

  33. #33 by Seeker on December 12, 2007 - 9:05 am

    Rob seems to be searching and searching for reasonable and logic explanations for some topics.
    He strikes me as a seeker full of questions but at the same time he is trying to make sense of things he cannot understand with his own understanding.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting, yearning and trying to find logic related with Gods word or world issues, however we must talk and seek and yearn for Gods explanation of all things by praying and finding a real encounter with the author- God.
    I find a commited prayer life can also bring insight and enlightening to Gods word. So keep on seeking, but it may be wiser to not lean on our own understanding.

  34. #34 by Gene on December 14, 2007 - 3:07 pm

    Brandon,

    Which 6 random verses are you referring to? Also, what would you suggest one do in “joining God in his redemption of the world,” and loving people “the way Jesus told us to?” What does that look like for you I guess is what I’m asking, Rob Bell and other topics aside?

  35. #35 by Ben on January 9, 2008 - 10:57 pm

    Emergent/ing is not all about ambiguity. Or lack of truth. But that is what is said isn’t it?

  36. #36 by Ben on January 9, 2008 - 11:04 pm

    Rob Bell’s theology comes from a lot of authors. NT Wright, and others that have emerged since the Sander’s Revolution and follow something called the New Perspective (Wright calls his the Fresh Perspective). Whether you (who ever ends up looking this up) find out, I hope that you will give the intros to one of these authors books a read because most of them begin with a history of interpretation of scripture since Martin Luther… and regardless of your/my conclusions… it is sobering.

  37. #37 by Steve the Aussie on February 3, 2008 - 3:28 am

    Hi all, and especially Jimbo. I did not know a thing about the Emergent Church, Mars Hill , or Rob Bell till recently, when I read Velvet Elvis and watched ‘Bullhorn Guy’ at the suggestion of a friend. I spent many days circling sections, making notes, checking against scriptures etc etc. As I read it I thought there were a few jarring notes but I initially found much of what Rob said to be plausible, if not downright spot on..

    however, when I added up the jarring notes I found I was shocked. There was so much in opposition to the bible! I had to conclude that this man must be opposed, he is teaching some serious leaven disguised amongst some very tasty bread. I was unaffected by everyone elses hype about the issues, as I had not heard any of them at the time…these were conclusions I came to by comparing Robs book IN DETAIL to the bible.

    But really, what else should we expect in these last days? if someone were to say “this sunday we welcome as our guest preacher the local warlock from our neighbourhood satanist cult”, we would recognise it for what it was and either oppose it or walk out. However our enemy the devil is far more subtle, wooing our hearts and minds by degrees…a ‘little here, a little there’. We are warned that in the last days this very thing would occur. Never mind that Rob and others like him visit slums in Rwwanda, give people food or toasters…on the last day MANY will say to Jesus “didn’t we, in your name…..”, only to have him say depart from me you evil doers. Good works are NO excuse for teaching falsehoods and “distorting the word of God”.

    I would seriously, seriously counsel you Jimbo, to not just listen to sermons on an ipod while jogging. Do that if you want…ive done the same while driving to work. I would plead with you to also take the time, yes take the actual time, to go beyond sound bites and compare what is said to the whole counsel of scripture. Ive concluded that Rob is the master of the plausible sound bite, backed up by the plucked verse of scripture, and he has this characteristic i both his book and his videos. Remember, “There is a way that seems right to a man that in the end leads him to death”.

    Part of the problem is that these days there seems to be a famine of the word of God, something else predicted by prophecy. People are living today (in their too-busy modern lives) on sound bites of scripture, or even just on sound bites of people who claim to know scripture.

    If you want me to email you my detailed analysis of Robs Book, tell me and I will put my email address on a post (is that allowed?) or just copy and paste the whole thing here (also allowed? Its lengthy!)

    and incidentally, why do you want to help ‘make the gospel cool?’. The bible says that the gospel will forever be the stench of death to those who are perishing. Now, we ARE called to make the gospel as attractive as possible so as to “save some”, but what the world calls cool will often be what is squeezed into its mold…so lets not try to set out and achieve something that God says will not occur…like saving the world, which God says WILL pass away and be replaced by a new earth that comes out of heaven (something, incidentally, Robs book contradicts, as he teaches, in writing , that we will make THIS earth so good that God will come here, and heaven will be here).

    Why all this “picking on Rob”, one may ask…well, those who put themselves forward as pastor/teachers have to be careful, lest they ’cause one of these little ones to sin”, and deserve being flung into the sea with a heavy weight to prevent further leading of others astray. Paul commanded his lieutenants to “watch their life and doctrine closely”. Doctrine, doctrine doctrine…you cannot get away from it, and frankly, who would want to?! Doctrine just means truth…why play around the edges so as to come across as cool? we don’t have to intentionally insult, or be insensitive to those who we live amongst and preach to, whether we do it quietly or on the street. But neither do we have to, nor should we, be masters of the half truth in order to try and ‘please all men’. Jesus said woe to you IF all men think well of you!

    We are called to “judge ALL matters in the Church”, and to test and approve…why is Rob – and his defenders – so defensive against that? Its because it suits his agenda to not be criticised. I tried contacting Rob to give my detailed critique, but the Mars Hill folks tasked with filtering contacts naturally said he gets too many requests to answer them personally. A convenient way of staying surrounded by acolytes and avoiding those who may have a contrary message.

    I would not bother with all this if the TRUTH were not so important!

    Cheers

    Steve

  38. #38 by JIMBO on February 4, 2008 - 4:22 am

    Gene,

    Very well said, I love your passion for the Gospel!!! Bottom line with Rob Bell is this:
    Make Christianity a beacon of Hope, Joy, and Love. Don’t make it about a bunch of rules that unless you believe these rules, you can’t join. Rob opens up his first book(Velvet Elvis) with a great analogy that really struck home for me. Do we want Christianity to be like a Brick Wall with all its bricks, or like a trampoline with all of its springs.

    Do we want Non-Believers thinking that they must believe every brick in the wall before they can be a “Christian”, OR, do we want to invite them onto to trampoline to jump with us(even though one or two of the springs may be missing). They will get the truths(springs) later, but lets invite them NOW. Let them experience the Joy and Happiness that Christ can Bring.

    There is nothing wrong with leading with Hell and Eternal judgement, it sometimes works. It is the reason Christ had to die. There is no denying that. I would rather invite someone to jump on the trampoline with me, and through our friendship, tell them about Hell and eternal damnation.

    Grace and Peace.

  39. #39 by Gene on February 25, 2008 - 6:27 pm

    Steve,

    I agree with your statements, especially: “I would not bother with all this if the TRUTH were not so important!” Paul said that in the latter days people would want to have their ears tickled, and that is just what is happening…I’m sure it’s nothing new. We must guard our doctrine closely and accurately divide the word of truth.

    Jimbo,

    you’re right. Christianity is a beacon of hope, joy and love. And since it’s the Truth, as Steve said, it’s actually the only real beacon. That’s what drives my passion to reach the lost, and I hope that when you (or any of us) “jump on the trampoline” with friends that we don’t wait until the 50th jump to tell them the gospel. If we wait too long, we may be too late.

    There’s a video, not sure if it’s on the web, but it’s a testimony of Ken Rundus. He’s a brother in the Lord and worked with an atheist who had cancer. Ken thought about visiting him in the hospital on a Friday, but figured he’d share the gospel with him on Monday I think. By the time Ken returned to work on Monday, the atheist had checked himself out of the hospital and took his own life. The man is likely in hell right now. It’s been said that as we preach the gospel we should keep one eye on hell (the sinner’s destiny) and one eye on the cross (where the conversation should head).

    As we faithfully proclaim the full counsel of God, we can certainly take comfort that He is the One who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, and He is the One who regenerates, saves and sanctifies sinners.

    One word of caution though. You said, “They will get the truths(springs) later, but lets invite them NOW. Let them experience the Joy and Happiness that Christ can Bring.” A lost sinner cannot experience the joy of the Savior. A natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). If the truths you are talking about are deeper things such as “the end times” or “glorification” or “Christ’s return,” then those things can wait. But fundamental truths such as future punishment and sin must be brought up with our unsaved friends before/with the gospel in order for it to make sense. Paul warned the Galatians (in chapter 1:6-10) not to believe those who distort the gospel. The gospel is Christ dying for our sins(1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so if we leave out the sin and hell part, we present half a gospel which is not the gospel. It can all be presented with great tenderness and compassion to the willing listener, especially if we go in with a healthy hatred of our own sin against God.

  40. #40 by Gene on February 26, 2008 - 3:27 am

    Hope I didn’t seem to be minimizing the Lord’s return in my last statement. I meant just that certain aspects of it (time frame, manner, etc) may be non-essential in sharing the gospel, though the fact that Christ will return is important because that is when the Lord will judge the earth.

  41. #41 by Dave on April 28, 2008 - 8:53 am

    “Seriously, Everyone is missing the point. I am actually laughing of how many comments were made on Bell’s comments totally taking what he said out of context.

    Does Bell believe in a literal hell – yes!!”

    But that’s the problem – you’re saying he said ‘yes’ when he never did. If he believes in it, why can’t he just say it? Does he feel like he’s going to alienate his church by doing so? When someone levels a point-blank question at him – ‘Do you believe in a literal hell?’ – he goes on for 2 or 3 paragraphs without saying yes or no.

    Furthermore, it seems like he doesn’t want to talk about it because he fears it will alienate seekers and won’t win anyone to Christ. Sorry, Rob, but there’s plenty in the Bible to alienate new seekers (homosexuality is wrong, hell exists, nobody comes to the Father except through Christ, etc). But we can’t just kick out the verses we don’t like and claim ‘multiple interpretations’ or ‘ambiguity in the translation’ every time this happens. I sometimes fear that this is the reason the emerging church is growing so quickly; all the ‘uncomfortable’ verses are getting whittled away.

  42. #42 by Justin on April 28, 2008 - 9:53 am

    Dave said:
    “Furthermore, it seems like he doesn’t want to talk about it because he fears it will alienate seekers and won’t win anyone to Christ. Sorry, Rob, but there’s plenty in the Bible to alienate new seekers (homosexuality is wrong, hell exists, nobody comes to the Father except through Christ, etc). But we can’t just kick out the verses we don’t like and claim ‘multiple interpretations’ or ‘ambiguity in the translation’ every time this happens. I sometimes fear that this is the reason the emerging church is growing so quickly; all the ‘uncomfortable’ verses are getting whittled away.”

    May I just accuse and admit that EVERY “label” (liberal, conservitive, fundamentalist, post-liberal, Calvinist, Armenian, etc…) is guilty of EXACTLY what you just said. Picking and choosing verses to validate your (universal your, not picking on Dave here) own personal beliefs. I’m not going to say that the Emergent Church isn’t guilty of it (although many who are affiliated with it are at least cognitive of it and admit that it happens and TRY to avoid it), overall, it is. But so is EVERYONE. I think that one thing that the emergent movement has to it’s advantage is that it isn’t approaching the Bible from the standpoint of (for example), “I know homosexuality is wrong, I’ve always been taught that, but where in the Bible does it say that?”

    Instead many are saying, “wait, let me throw out what I’ve always been taught and read EVERYTHING i can find in the Bible about the topic of homosexuality! Let me put aside what I THINK, and approach it as if I were reading it for the first time. Also, let’s not just look up homosexuality in a concordance, but let’s take the overall message of the Bible and Christ. Let’s look at how he treated others and try to come up with a more exhaustive and comprehensive understanding of what our response and belief SHOULD be about said subject.”

    We all pick and choose our scriptures. We also pick and choose in what fashion we want to use those scriptures. Thus, there are few people who truly try to look at ALL of the passages on a subject or topic, and those people get attacked for it; Wright, Borg, Ehrman, etc…

    I’ll give 2 better examples of how we pick and choose verses. How did Judas die? 2 different stories there??? Also, where was Joseph originally from? Luke says that he and Mary are from Galilee, and that is the Christmas story we always teach. However, Matt. has an interesting statement we often overlook or simply ignore, Matt. 2:19-23. It seems in this that after Egypt, Joseph intended to go back to Bethlehem but was told instead (for safety reasons) to instead go and make his home in a new town called Nazareth in Galilee. Most interesting statement: they are told to do this so (in order) that Jesus can fulfill a prophesy and be “called a Nazorean.”

    And there are many more examples of passages, laws, even whole books that different groups ignore based on their own preconceived theologies. NO ONE takes a holistic approach to the Bible, but I think that there are many out there who are TRYING to do exactly that. I for one am TRYING, but it is hard when you’ve been brought up in an environment that has taught you to do the opposite.

    Sorry, I wanted to set that record straight. We all do it, and that was simply a “pot calling a kettle Black”. No disrespect, like I said, I am trying, but I still pick and choose too.

  43. #43 by Joshua on April 28, 2008 - 10:22 pm

    “We all pick and choose our scriptures.”

    Sounds like moral relativity and the concept that no one can really know what’s true. And if your trying to argue that no one can know what’s true, we don’t have a lot to hope for here. If truth is relative to the individual because we, as you say, all pick and choose scriptures, then we can’t even argue. Truth becomes an abstract thing defined by each person on their own.

    I don’t believe that. Truth is absolute, concrete, and very real. The Bible in context gives us that truth.

  44. #44 by Raquelamisto on April 29, 2008 - 8:23 am

    My husband and I have been spending quite a bit of time lately learning about Islam because the Islamic population in our area is growing. What I find REALLY interesting is the VAST difference between a Muslim convert here in the US vs. a Muslim who’s moved to the US.
    My husband has a friend (from Morocco) who invited him and our kids over for dinner with a promise of authentic Moroccan food. Excited at the thought, my husband walked away and then realized that I (his wife) hadn’t been invited. He then asked his buddy if I could come. His buddy’s response? ‘My wife is out of town now, so when she comes home then that would be alright. When she is home then you and I can sit in one room and the women in another. This is our custom.’ So basically, I wouldn’t be able to talk to the guy anyway.
    And yet the US Islamic converts somehow skip over passages in the Koran about how women are 4 times stupider than men and are and that they’re only half human. They also skip over the violence that it teaches (don’t take my word for it. read it).
    Why skip those portions? Why not be true to the religion that they claim to be a part of? My opinion is that it’s because they will win no westerner over (not many, anyhow) by being honest with what the Koran truly teaches.

    Is this what we’ve come to as Christians in the US? Afraid that we won’t win anyone to Christ because… the Bible talks about hell but because hell sounds so unfavorable, then we’ll just push it aside and talk about the aspects of Christianity that people would probably like better???

    My vote is that we just let the Bible say what it’s trying to stay and stop trying to intellectualize the parts we don’t like away. It seems to me that if you don’t actually know what you’re getting into nor what you beleive, you aren’t a true convert anyway. At that point, you’ve just invented a cropped version of the original religion.

  45. #45 by Justin on April 29, 2008 - 10:19 am

    Joshua,
    I think you should go back and read my WHOLE comment again. I think you’ve jumped to tag what I’m saying into some preconceived label that you have. No where in there do I even hint at the idea of Moral Relativity. If it helps, throw out the EXAMPLE of homosexuality…that’s all it was. Focus on the other examples I give. If anything it is more of an issue of scriptural integrity…not in the terms of questioning the integrity of scripture, but the integrity of how we use and interpret scripture. What I was saying is that none of us do it holistically.

    It is present throughout all denominations, and throughout history. Yes there ARE moral issues. Slavery was justified by picking and choosing verses. But I’m speaking doctrinally. As mentioned above…EXAMPLES are Elect verses free will (both concepts are in the Bible, but depending which side you are on to begin with determines which passages you raise up and which you ignore. Same goes with the different theories of Atonement, or how about the doctrines of the Eucharist? Scripture has been picked over and uncontextualized to run the gambit of differing views on gender roles/rights. As Raquel points out in the Koran about passages they skip over…lets take a look at the Laws we pick and choose to obey from the OT. We’re quick to follow the rules that make sense to us, and ignore the ones that we can explain away as outdated or any other way to logically dismiss them. Again, It’s not a moral issue it’s an interpretive reading issue.

    Best example, please look at the 2 birth narratives. How much have we gotten away from what is scripturally accurate there? The wise men in our nativity sets? That’s neither historically or BIBLICALLY accurate (they visited Jesus in a house after the birth). Or where Mary and Joesph were from… two conflicting accounts there. Same with Judas’ death. But we pick and choose what we will teach and represent scripturally.

    So please, I think you need to reread, because I’m not talking about Truth or morality, simply what is present in the Bible. I’m making the case that EXACTLY what Dave says about one group truthfully goes towards everyone, whether they realize it or not…or usually they simply deny that it’s true. I’m not denying it’s true, and am admitting that I am guilty of it too!

    hope that helps to clarify that. thanks:)

  46. #46 by Don on May 6, 2008 - 9:54 pm

    Jesus had much more to say about a literal Hell than he did about heaven.

  47. #47 by Phil Miller on May 7, 2008 - 7:46 am

    Jesus had much more to say about a literal Hell than he did about heaven.

    That’s only if you’re very generous with the word “literal”. Jesus talks about Gehena, which was a literal garbage dump outside of Jerusalem, and he talks about Sheol, or the grave. The fact is that Jewish thoughts on the afterlife were different than Greek/western thoughts.

    To the Jewish audience, either one was included in the resurrection or not. There was some idea about a judgement after death for the unrighteous, but it was not completely developed. N.T. Wright explains this quite well in multiple places.

    The thing is when Jesus warns the Pharisees of judgement by telling them they are at risk of being thrown into Gehena, He is trying to get them to change now. A real, literal, hell on earth is about to come, and they need to change or else they will be thrown to the trash heap of history. They will miss out on God’s plan. They will not be part of the resurrection. So yes, Jesus is warning them of consequences, but how it relates to heaven and hell as we in the west view it is not cut and dry.

    I mentioned N.T. Wright before, and I think his new book Surprised by Hope is very, very helpful. If you want to see what Bell believes, I would say look there. Bell has pretty much said in so many words that he has stolen a lot from Wright.

  48. #48 by Justin on May 15, 2008 - 2:36 pm

    “Jesus had much more to say about a literal Hell than he did about heaven.”

    Hmmm….if this is true, then what does that say about heaven?

    Being the “good news” and the Bible’s overall theme of HOPE…. why would it speak more about Hell than heaven? That just doesn’t make sense, you think Christ would speak more about the hope of heaven than he does the punishment of hell… or maybe he DOES speak more about hope… but it isn’t bound to the afterlife.

    Along that line of thinking: The Bible speaks more about earthly living and deeds done on earth than he does about heaven (or hell).

    sorry, if I’m a little behind :/

    And Phil is dead-on about the translational/theological implications of the Bible talking “literally” about hell.

  49. #49 by Nicole on May 16, 2008 - 3:58 am

    “or maybe he DOES speak more about hope… but it isn’t bound to the afterlife.
    Along that line of thinking: The Bible speaks more about earthly living and deeds done on earth than he does about heaven (or hell).”

    I spent alot of effort discussing ghenna/hell/eternal punishment on my own blog, as well as another blog, and just don’t think I’m up for it again… http://daughter0fzion.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/question-of-the-day/

    But, I will say that the other issue you bring up is the one topic that first led me into questioning the Nooma videos being presented at my former church. Bell was clearly focused on the life here and now, and seemed to mock a pastor that was living for the hope of eternal life.

    1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” And while you may say you did not say Exclusive hope in this life – I think the point remains the same – if we are too earthly focused, we are of no heavenly value (that borrowed from I don’t know how many authors – Tozer, Ravenhill, Piper). The only hope for martyrs, and saints in China, and many other tormented Christians is the promise of their crown of eternal life. If I have any hope on this earth, it ought to be for the surpreme delight I will experience in heaven. My earthly living ought to be a daily dying to self, and a hating of the things of this earth….

  50. #50 by Justin on May 16, 2008 - 8:09 am

    perhaps it isn’t one or the other. I can’t speak to the Nooma vid. But I’m not sure either extreme is biblical (afterlife only focus, or world only focus) or healthy!

    you say “If I have any hope on this earth, it ought to be for the supreme delight I will experience in heaven.”

    Why can’t you have more than one hope? Can we not hope in both the promise of the afterlife AS WELL AS a better life on earth for ALL people. Even those that sacrifice themselves (or are killed) can hope that their death will benefit the life of others well-being; both in the here and now, and the life there-after.

    just a thought. I don’t think it is WRONG to hope in an afterlife, I was just following the logic of that individual statement. I’ll read your post on Gehenna later. thanks for linking it.

  51. #51 by Nicole on May 16, 2008 - 11:04 am

    I guess where we differ (perhaps) is I lean towards the doctrine of total depravity – I don’t believe life on this earth IS going to get any better. That doesn’t mean I don’t recycle – I just think it unbiblical to put alot of emphasis on this life when people are destined to spend an eternity somewhere or other.

  52. #52 by Phil Miller on May 19, 2008 - 4:57 am

    I just think it unbiblical to put alot of emphasis on this life when people are destined to spend an eternity somewhere or other.

    This used to be exactly the way I thought, too. But over time, my view has changed quite a bit. I’m not saying we don’t focus on the eternal-ness of life, but I think that God created the earth to be good, and that we were put here to enjoy and nurture the earth. Because of the fall, what was originally created as good is corrupted, and I think God through Christ is redeeming mankind and the earth. Our choice is whether or not we will be part of this or not.

    I think that the Jewish people lived a good appreciation of life on earth. They lived in close connection with the land. In fact, the health of the land was a barometer of their relationship with God to some extent. They certainly didn’t have an “it’s all gonna burn” attitude.

  53. #53 by Justin on May 20, 2008 - 10:58 am

    I agree Phil.

    I think there needs to be a healthy balance of the two. I know this is a product of what churches have shoved down my throat, but I usually focus MORE on the here and now than on eternity. It’s not that it isn’t important to me, it’s just that it has, again, been shoved down my throat all of my life.

    But once I realized that focusing (to me) on ONLY the eternal emphasis (both the passages that DO speak about immortality and the passages that we INTERPRET to speak about immortality) was missing a big (the biggest?) chunk of the Bible I feel as if perhaps I have many years of skewed focus for which I need to make up. so I admit, I prob. need some balance too.

    I think it interesting (not putting this down, just find it interesting from a psychological and anthropological POV) that the biggest assumption of Christianity is that mankind is the pivotal point of creation, and that we take priority ABOVE all other things on earth. Again, I’m not criticizing that philosophy, simply pointing out that this idea of thinking is the foundation of our whole religion! Everything we believe, think, and argue about (not just within our religion, but amongst all religions) is balancing on this assumption.

    very interesting, and has continually led us (Christian History) to some interesting conclusions based on that.

    After that side note, adding to what Phil has already mentioned, there are commentators and theologians who have pointed out that the punishment presented in the “fall story” is not so much that man will “dominate the land”, but part of the “laboring process” would be the push and pull of our impact on nature as well as it’s impact on us. It would not be that food would simply grow for us, but we would continually have to “labor” to keep the land balanced, fresh and healthy in order for it to provide for us and our descendants. Farmers have continually understood this for centuries. In the story, before the “fall”, Adam and Eve had 99% free reign and no responsibility for the land, their relationship to the land was parasitic in nature. However, after them being ejected from the garden, the reality changed for them and their relationship with the land would then become forevermore Symbiotic, forming a NEW relationship with the land.

    Not stating this as my view, but it is an interesting take on the Garden/Adam/Eve story. Sorry, I can’t think of who I should be crediting with this view, the books that talk about this are packed up and stored. Sorry, I hate not being able to give credit to those who are responsible for the ideas:/

  54. #54 by Nicole on May 22, 2008 - 4:45 am

    “Being shoved down my throat.” I just do not understand why this can be a motivator for living differently. If it is truth, than rebelling for the sake of being tired of hearing it is foolishness, isn’t it? Is there something more to why you feel that living earthly minded is more important than living heavenly minded?

    I think living with an eternal focus should significantly impact our life on earth – and that the reason Christians have so little impact is because the don’t. Only what is done for Christ will have any eternal significance.

    As to man in creation – I think Genesis 1:26 makes it fairly clear that God did create man as the pivitol point of His creation. We are the only thing created in His image, and the only thing He said was “very good.” He also told Adam he would dominion over every other creature.

    I think where our theology falls apart is in thinking that because we are central in creation that we are somehow the thing to which God sees as having the most value – which is false. God is of infinite value, not us. He is most worthy of praise, not us. And we were created to glorify Him, not the other way around….

  55. #55 by Justin on May 22, 2008 - 6:34 am

    Nicole,
    The “being shoved down my throat” comment…
    I would argue that if someone is teaching “truth”, then it does not require it being forced upon someone through cheap tactics such as fear and guilt. If it truly is “truth” that someone is presenting, then it should speak and compel on it’s own merits; simply by being “truth”. Real “truth” should not have to come by way of indoctrination, it should be able to stand against ideas that are not “truth”, and these practices have shown me that that either a) the “truth” being presented is not 100% wholly considered “truth” (without a single doubt) by the presenter, or 2) that the presenter does not have enough faith in the Holy Spirit to help a person see and accept this “truth” without man’s overzealous coercion.

    I am not rebelling against “truth” (although to be fair I think I have a very different opinion on what I label “truth” as compared to what others here would label “truth”)… but if SOMETHING (doubt? fear? lack of control?) motivates someone to present this “truth” in underhanded methods such as indoctrination /guilt/fear, then it tells me that there is possibly a different/better “truth” out there that they are fearful of me knowing. Thus, I think free/critical thinking, full disclosure, and fair tactics of presentation of “truth” (perhaps similar to what we see Bell doing in his ominous statements) is a “better way to live”:)

    Why? This better way of living means in place of defensive and attack attitudes it forces me to practice patience and trust in God’s sovereignty and the power of the Holy Spirit. To be clear, I am not so much rebelling against “truth” as much I am rebelling against the approach that has been used to transmit/communicate/control those “truths”. Hence why I challenge those who feel the need to “defend the faith” (like God really is so small that we can truly “defend” him?), or attack others openly and publicly who have differeing opinions.

    Allow me to quote a great theologian:
    “Belief is a beautiful armor, that makes for the heaviest sword,
    Like punching underwater, you never can hit who you’re trying for.
    Some need the exhibition, some need to know their trying,
    but it’s the chemical weapon for the war that wages on inside.” –John Mayer

    I think sometimes we all (me included) have to sit back and ask ourselves, what is really motivating me to take ______ approach towards my beliefs and actions out of those beliefs? I think many times it is selfishly derived out of our own doubts and fears. Just my humble opinion though.

    As for the creation story, I am in complete agreement with you that it is CLEAR that man is the obvious apex of the creation narrative. That completely backs up my comments about how our whole religion/philosophy/and way of life is hinged on this assumption. For more insight on the possibility of a different view read Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael” actually any of Quinn’s books, but Ishmael is the best start)…a very very challenging book, not Christian at all, but asks the question, “what if”! Not saying I agree with it, just a challenging philosophical view that gave me a lot to think on, and possibly new insight into myself and humanity in general.

    I bring that up because one key thing that the book, and the philosophy behind the book, focuses on is how much humanity (not just religions, but humanity in general) HAS raised itself up to be “the highest value”. I agree completely that God’s value is immeasurable, and we are but “dust in the wind”. I agree completely with your last paragraph. I think it is a reality check in which many Christians need. But I wonder what implications come from that taken to the logical conclusions? We were created to live in harmony which glorifies him. We were created that all acts we do would be worship…worship itself is not a set of “acts”, rather a way of being. But when we participate in certain “acts”, we are not BEING worshipful. I think most call this sin. So we have to approach each act with the question, “is my action in tune with the mindset of “being worshipful”? I would argue that some of the approaches Christians take in the name of God would have to answer that question, “no”.

    good thoughts, and a good discussion. Thanks Nicole. I appriciate this dialog. Your first comment is a challenging one. If you’ve never felt that (and I don’t know if you have or not)violation that comes from the REALIZATION that you are being manipulated through indoctrination/fear/guilt tactics, then it is truly hard to explain and grasp. Some people are ok with this because they never truly realize that there are other ways to present “truth”. It is not that rebellion has prompted me to “live differently”, it’s more that I found that there is a better way to live out my Christian life, and to share the “good news” without using such tactics. One way is by challenging what it was that was “shoved down my throat”, and realizing that there are other options. Sometimes I have come back to my inherited beliefs, while at other times I have steered away towards newer concepts and ways of understanding God/Christ/the Gospel/faith/etc… I know it seems a fine line, but the key is finding the freedom from the fear/guilt/loyalty that came from indoctrination, and critically thinking about one’s faith and beliefs. It transitions one from an “inherited faith” into an “owned faith”, EVEN if the beliefs themselves don’t change! I submit that the latter is a far better life of faith. See Fowler’s “Stages of Faith” for more on this.

    thanks again… good thoughts and comments Nicole.
    j

  56. #56 by Jonathan Dennis on July 28, 2008 - 12:44 pm

    I think part of the problem with this “debate” about Rob Bell is that somehow there is a feeling of “either this or that”. Rob tends to be ALL about being the hands and feet of Jesus. ALL about loving others and doing good (providing fresh water, etc). These are VERY important things, admirable, and right on with what Christ displayed to us.

    However, if this is what he thinks being a Christian is ALL about, he’s just as bad as the typical “church” he condemns. While a lot of churches and Christians get too caught up in “doctrine” or who’s saved or not saved, and often just forget to love people and actually “work out their salvation”, it is just as dangerous, and probably more so, to only be “good” people, with no doctrine or TRUTH.

    To me, if you follow down Rob’s path WITHOUT also having a very solid theological and doctrinal foundation, you would very likely end up being no different than Oprah and Dr. Phil and other people who genuinely care for society and helping people. The only difference would be that it’s done under the banner of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, being under the banner of Jesus is all the reason there is to do good and help others.

    BUT, we can’t forget that among doing good and loving others and accepting others, there is TRUTH to consider. In the end, there is “saved” and “unsaved”, there is Heaven and there is Hell. We can love people and help them all day, but if we love them all day in the name of Jesus but never tell them who Jesus is, then what’s the point?

    Isn’t Jesus our Saviour? What did He come to save us from? Polluted water? Starvation? No, the only reason the “Word became flesh” was to reconcile us to Him. He came to live, but ultimately to die, and live again.

    If we know an agnostic, or a Mormon, and we love them, and we fellowship with them, and we accept them, and we don’t judge them, but then can’t discuss TRUTH and doctrine, and salvation (which naturally implies being “saved” from something), then what has all of our “goodness” done for their souls? In the end, isn’t Jesus more concerned with their soul than with providing clean water to them? I’m not implying that it’s what Rob thinks, but you can’t just do all the good works to put yourself in position to share Christ, and then not be prepared to defend the faith.

    Remember where I started the post. BOTH things are important. We should be the hands and feet of Christ, helping those in need. It gives us a platform and credibility to then be able to share with them. BUT, once the time is at hand, and the conversation goes that way, and we share, it is of the utmost importance to be able to share solid, Biblical TRUTH with them.

    53 minutes into our conversation with them about “God”, if they ask about Hell, it is no time to skate around it for fear of “offending” them, or for fear of ruffling feathers, or for fear of “judging” them. It is our obligation to speak the TRUTH that the Lord has provided us in His word. When it comes to that, it is not our idea, not what’s “true for me”. It is THE TRUTH, that His Word gives. Not our opinion, His. We are not the judge, He is, but He is a Just God, also full of grace.

    Hell is absolutely essential to explaining God’s Grace and justification. Sure, it doesn’t have to be your leading headline, but you can’t just say “oh that’s the problem with the church, always wanting to argue for the existence of Hell”. You can not watch the news, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone was murdered that day. And just because someone says, “three people were shot in a drive-by shooting yesterday”, the doesn’t mean that I am glad there was a shooting, or that it’s “the side I’m on”.

    In fact, I don’t think I would ever argue so strongly for the fact that Hell exsists, unless it was with the pastor of a church acting like it may or may not be true and that it’s just not really important anyway. That’s where you’ll find me arguing about it. If a Muslim wanted to argue with me about what Hell or Heaven is really like, I would probably be a little vague and focus on more important things in Bible and who Jesus was or wasn’t, that would be a more appropriate or “core” issue to have a dialog about. But the pastor of a Christian church? Sure, that warrants a lively debate about the existence of Hell.

    The mainstream church has to get away from a bubble-Christianity, be willing to get dirty and be the hands and feet. But in this post-modern era of relativism, we cannot abandon TRUTH and scripture and doctrine. We have to be both to the world. We have to give them literal water, but we have to share with the idea of drinking from Him, as he told the woman at the well. And in that discussion comes the WHOLE scripture, the WHOLE truth, Hell and everything.

    It’s interesting to me that Rob mentions Christians living in “fear”. It seems so clear to me that he is willing to be the hands and feet of Christ and do good. But isn’t that the “safe” part of being a Christian. If you just come in and help people, what do you have to fear? What’s harder to do, and what would naturally bring more fear, would be to do those things AND be bold in Biblical truth. Call a spade a spade, Hell is what it is. The fearful thing to do is to avoid the topic, be vague and give an answer that would be comfortable on Larry King.

    We need leaders that break from the mold of the “bubble church” But we don’t need them to leave doctrine behind at the expense of Biblical truth.

  57. #57 by emergent pillage on August 13, 2008 - 9:12 am

    Jonathan–

    I think you make some very good points. It’s not an ‘either-or’ in regards to beliefs and practice, it’s both of them. For me, I would probably say that right beliefs do usually precede right practices, because the beliefs are what help us determine the practices, but both are important.

    I do get a bit weary, though, of the tires argument that churches which stress doctrine tend to not act on it. Maybe my experiences are different then yours, but the churches I’ve known that are good in doctrine are also ones that are active in other and various ways–helping each other and those around them when needed, doing things in the communities, supporting missionaries and sending short-term teams, running and supporting such things as pro-life pregnancy centers, running summer camps, and probably other things I’m not thinking of at the moment.

    The thing is, most churches I know of do their works rather quietly, without much fanfare and without trumpeting them in books.

  58. #58 by Billy on August 30, 2008 - 8:46 am

    I’m skeptical of any man that doesn’t believe in hell. And I’m also more skeptical of any man that says he doesn’t want to believe in a hell.

    I heard on the news a while back that some man and his father took turns brutally sexually assaulting a little five year old boy while the mother of the man watched; then they strangled the little boy and threw his body in a garbage bag.

    I want that man and his parents to go to hell. I pray that my God is a god of justice and that He will punish evil. To love good, you must hate evil.

    But before “I” can condemn, I must remember what Paul said. That I am under that same law, and that I am also guilty of great evil. That’s when I realize how great the news of the Gospel message is.

  59. #59 by James on November 3, 2008 - 10:25 am

    Is there a right way to spread the gospel in a way to evangelize non-Christians? What happens when we call out to non-Christians with a watered down message or we try to make the scripture pleasing in a way that we remove anything that would be offensive?
    We are then attracting people to something other than scripture. Scripture should not be modified or edited as to be inoffensive in order to attract. Anyone who is truly called by God should not rebel against such things as they will know it is Gods word and want to understand it. Scripture was given to us so we may know our God and his attributes through history. It also shows us what it is he asks of us. So when we edit scripture who is it that we actually know and what is it that we are following? When we fill our churches and our world with people that have been called in with a message that demands nothing of the Christian how does this affect the gospel? Does it bring good that we draw people in and that they come to church and that they profess to be Christians? Is it good that we have many of these people out in the world proclaiming to be Christians but not submitting to Christ or being that salt of the Earth? Scripture teaches us that the word of God is foolishness to the worldly man. Scripture also teaches us that only God can call man to himself. This yells out to me because this seems to be quite obvious. We change the word so that it is not offensive and does not sound foolish to the world in order to draw them in and sometimes keep them. Why do we do this when it is obvious that if God calls someone they will come and Gods word will not be foolish to them?
    Matthew 5: 11-12 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. The prophets were not persecuted just because they believed in Christ. They were persecuted because they were out there, in the public preaching the boldness of scripture and not withholding anything as to not offend. They were attacked because of the contrast between Christianity and the worldly life. The scripture they were preaching offered salvation but only with repentance of the believer. We are changing the word in order to draw in people that God has not called and diluting the Christian gene pool. One of our greatest missions in this life is to Glorify God and to represent him in our day to day life so that the world may see us. Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown underfoot by men.
    You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
    What service are we doing God when we send so many out there to falsely represent Him in this world. If all we did was preach His word as He did and did nothing to make it enticing to our worldly selves we would only draw in those who were truly called by God.

    What was the drawing card for Christianity during New Testament times? What is the drawing card being used now? Was church back then suppose to be fun and interesting in order to call in new Christians?

    Please for the glory of God, preach the truth, preach it boldy and DO NOT be ashamed of any part of the gospel! If God chooses, the Holy Spirit will work in that person and it will make sense and they will not be able to flee.

    A brother in Christ,

    James

  60. #60 by Tori on December 3, 2008 - 3:30 pm

    Ok, I’m not an expert in theology, but I am a sinner saved by Grace and everybody that has studied the Bible knows that the idea of a literal Hell is expressed throughout the Bible. In Luke 16, the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus clearly states that there is a hell, and it definitely is a literal hell! The dead Rich man in Hell wants Lazarus, in Heaven to give him a drop of water, but because of the separation, he can’t. Now if that’s not literal I don’t know what is. Most people that are not truly Born-again are generally ok with the way their life is. What if you were sharing Christ with them, and they tell you “Oh well I’m fine with my life. I don’t need God. I have my life under control.” and you continue to tell them about sin. Believe it or not, There are some people who just don’t care about their sin. So what else is there to say?? Well if you say there’s no literal Hell, what would their reason to accept Christ be? If they believe their life is fine as it is, and they don’t really care much about sin, they won’t. But if you say how there is in fact a Hell and if Jesus is not your Lord and Savior you will go there, and sin is the one thing that causes that separation, but there is an amazing, beautiful Lord that will save you from that torture, and all you have to do is accept his love and and not only will you be saved from Hell, but you’ll have unending joy because Jesus paid for your sins and you don’t have to! You MUST explain Hell to someone, because that’s exactly what Jesus saved us from!! If they don’t know the importance of sin and grace they won’t budge. I’ve known people that were afraid of Hell, and that’s what led to their salvation! If people don’t know that Hell is serious, then they’ll either not accept Christ, or they’ll say a little prayer, and it will be meaningless, because they don’t understand what God has saved them from! I always loved Rob Bell’s videos, but recently I heard about what all he believes and it just didn’t sound right to me. I just wish this wasn’t true, because the video that I have seen are amazing! And yes I agree if there’s no literal Hell how can there be a literal heaven?

  61. #61 by Gary on February 22, 2009 - 4:19 am

    This is my understand of Rob Bell and this after spending about 80 hours on studying him and comparing what he teaches to the Word of God. 6(A)Do not eat the bread of a (B)selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; 7For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But (C)his heart is not with you.

    Robs bread is his teaching. He claims clearly in The Emergent Mystique, a lengthy interview with Christianity Today (look at the Website link that I gave as my own). Here is what Rob Bell said: “discovering the Bible as a human product,” as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat.

    Also Quotes from his book Velvet Elvis: Heaven and Hell

    “Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.” – p. 146
    “When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about Hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth.” – p. 148
    “The goal of Jesus isn’t to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here.” – p. 148

    Also he recommends to young minds listening to NOOMA to take three months off and read Ken Wilber’s “A Brief History of Everything” Bell goes on to say about Wilbers book: “Mind blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity.” Wilber is respected and highly regarded theoreticians in the New Age movement. He is promoting such things as Yoga, Zen, Centering Prayer, Kabala (A.K.A. Kabbala) , TM, Tantra, and Kundalini Yoga.

    Bell clearly dose NOT believe in the Holy God of the Bible. His message and speech are that of a New Age humanist.

    Study God’s Word, study the history of the Bibles (yes there are 2 Bibles, on is the True Word of God the other is a counterfeit created by Satan not long after the first century), then quickly study Theosophy (You don’t want you mind corrupted so make sure you have read plenty of Scripture before hand). I pray you will see the Truth of Jesus Christ and the strategies of the Devil.

  62. #62 by Dave on March 14, 2009 - 8:30 pm

    Everybody keeps saying “bottom line this…” and “bottom line that…” For me, the bottom line is this: Bell was asked a direct question and he dodged it. If he really does believe in a literal hell he could have easily said, “Yes there is a literal hell, but evangelism would be more effective if we focused on grace…” That would have sufficed. Instead, he was purposefully sly.

    We’ve been watching the Nooma series in our Sunday School class and I’m the teacher. The videos have grown progressively wierder and wierder. Now I fear I’ve subjected my class to a wolf in sheeps clothing.

  63. #63 by former bell follower on April 6, 2009 - 9:07 am

    So, if he doesn’t believe there is a Hell; he doesn’t believe Jesus was down there for 3 days? And he doesn’t believe that Jesus died to save us from hell? And he doesn’t believe what the bible says about hell? So, he doesn’t believe in the bible? So, why is he a preacher?

  64. #64 by david r on April 10, 2009 - 1:41 am

    From what I have seen in this interview along with other reading I have done into what he has said in the topic whether he believes in a literal hell is irrelevant. This is not to say it is not an important issue, it is massive, it is because he firstly seems to say that even if its there nobody is going there and second because he thinks that our main concern is now.
    What I find amazing about Bell is that he is surprisingly biblical in a couple of ways. Here is a good example of it;

    2 Timothy 4:3
    For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    Or when he talks in places about helping people now being the focus we need;

    Matt 6
    19″Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

    Here are 2 wonderful instances of the bible adressing the likes of Bell

  65. #65 by a voice of reason on June 29, 2009 - 3:23 pm

    former bell follower,

    This is not the place for me to argue it at length, but suffice it to say that hardly any pastors/theologians anymore believe that Jesus was in hell for three days. I suggest Karen Jobes’ commentary on 1 Peter to help sort out 1 Peter 3 to start. Furthermore, most creedal denominations now say “he descended to the dead” when reciting the Apostle’s Creed (which is a valid translation), unless of course they are using more traditional liturgy, at which time they retain “descended to hell” for the sake of tradition. So, following your logic, the majority of Christendom at the present does not believe that Jesus died to save them from hell and so forth down your list. Watch the slippery slope as it is often quite slippery even for the one using it.

  66. #66 by big mike on September 14, 2009 - 9:57 am

    I think the real point is that Bell is sooooo confusing we can only speculate on what he means. Is that the kind of pastor you want to listen to? you cant get a straight answer out of the guy if your life depended on it. I want the TRUTH! Jesus, Paul , Peter , John , Luke all gave it to us straight. We dont scratch our heads everytime the speak.

  67. #67 by Shane on December 9, 2009 - 1:37 pm

    Did Jesus ever use the word Hell? Or did he use the word Gehenna? Gehenna was a literal place that everyone in Jerusalem knew about because that’s where they threw their trash.

    Gehenna is translated hell, hades is translated hell, sheol is translated hell, and tatarus is translated hell. why do so many different words all translate into the same english word hell? We already know that when we see the english word love in the bible it could mean agape, phileo, or eros. Maybe the same is true with the word hell- maybe we should use the original words and their meanings- ie yes there is a literal gehenna, yes there is a literal sheol/hades. it might clear up some confusion.

    Why is it that there is no one definition of hell that everyone agrees with, a camp counselor told my son that hell is darker than a black hole and the hottest kind of fire is black fire-huh?
    I’ve heard hell is cold, hell is hot, in hell there is total silence, in hell all you can hear are screams. In hell you wish you could die but you can’t, in revelation it says that hades(hell) will give up the dead in hades Rev 20:13. Why so many different views on this literal place. No one goes to hell unless they deserve it, if you’re in hell than you don’t get out. But then we have people telling us about their conversion experiences of when they died and went to hell and God brought them back.

    Question: is the lake of fire in hell? If so how can a literal hell be thrown into the lake of fire as it says in revelation. Also how is death thrown into the literal lake of fire in the literal hell? How many does it take to throw death?

    If Jesus knew he was going to hell after the cross why does he say father into thy hands I commit my spirit if he knew his spirit was on it’s way to hell?

    Question: will jesus be in hell? Then why does it say in Rev 14:9-10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and the in the presence of the lamb.

    Question: is hell the final punishment? If so why does it say in rev 19:20-21 that some will be thrown alive into the lake of fire and the rest were killed with the sword and eaten by birds?

    Question: are people in a literal hell(hades) alive? Why does it say in revelation 20:13 that death and hades gave up the dead which were in them?

    I’d say this all sounds like pretty symbolic apocalyptic language.

    If the gospel is: God created people, then people sinned, then God created hell to burn them all forever, then God sent his son Jesus to save some of them from eternal torture by saying a prayer and if they don’t say the prayer before they die then tough luck. If this is the basic message then why did’nt God spell it out right from the beginning? In Genesis? Why didnt moses preach it, the prophets why didnt they just say look you guys- Because of adam and eve everyone is now destined for this literal torture chamber a trillion times worse than hitler could have imagined and if you don’t accept Jesus into your hearts you will be going there. It would have laid the foundation- but no mention of it. Why doesn’t peter or paul or any of those who preach in the new testament simply say If you don’t say this prayer and accept jesus into your heart before you die then you are going to this place called______ (i don’t even know what they would call it-gehenna, hades, tartarus.) they did’nt know the word hell either.

    I will believe in a literal Hell when someone can explain it to me and make sense. Don’t just repeat what your youth pastor told you. Until then i will continue to believe in a literal gehenna, an apocolyptic lake of fire, and the concept of hades and sheol as understood by David when he says in the psalms “don’t abandon my soul in sheol. If God inspired the psalmist to write these words then either sheol does not equate to our current definitions of hell or David’s theology does not measure up to ours.

    If David was going to hell why do we use David as an example of someone after God’s heart? why should we teach anything positive about a man who knew he was going to hell. We sure don’t use Judas as an example of a Godly man- why david if he knew he was going to hell. And if he knew he was going to hell then he should know that anyone who goes to hell is not going to get out so why pray for God not to abandon his soul there.

    When did we as christians adopt the Egyptian belief of immortality of the soul? That instead of just being dead and then someday being ressurrected- we believe that no one really dies- we just go someplace else. Heaven or hell. That sounds like an immortal soul.

    Anyway i do believe in Jesus born of a virgin Gods only son sent to save the world from the power of sin and death. Not save them from the torture chamber his father invented to motivate people to follow his son who no one can follow unless God gives them the faith to do so.

  68. #68 by Julie on August 29, 2010 - 7:30 am

    so i gather all you who are for a literal hell are out there right now trying to save everyone from hell? like sirriously doing that and that only? beause if not, you must be hartless.

    an eternal hell as you put it is wholy wrong and unjustified, to a god that is never endlingly passionate. think about it? being “in the fires of hell” or “seperated” is horrible enough but forever? nothing justifies that, i woundnt wish that apone anyone, not even the likes of hitler, stalen or pol pot would ever deserve such a thing.

    i think god being an all careing god would not rest until he had rescued each and everyone of his children from that desturbing fate. this is what rob bell is geting at. if you truely beleive in a literal hell then you should devote your every waking breath to saving others, and never ever live for your self.

  69. #69 by clearly on August 29, 2010 - 1:19 pm

    Julie,

    Interesting thoughts, thanks for stopping by. Here’s a couple follow-up thoughts in the form of a rebuttal.

    1. In response to your argument about our usage of time, just know that I and others spend a significant amount of time preaching “be reconciled to God,” so that individuals do not have to face the wrath of God for all eternity.

    2. You argue that a God who is wholly compassionate could not punish sin for eternity like that. You argue that it’s unjustifiable. I would counter that you do not understand the gravity of sin, which is really treasonous rebellion against the one who gave us breath, life, and all things. Further, you seem to fail to grasp that God is infinite in all his attributes, which includes his holiness and justice along with his love and compassion. In other words, God is not compassionate at the expense of his justice. His love, compassion, justice, and holiness function together. If you understand God as infinitely just and sin as rebellion against an infinite God, then an infinite punishment makes sense. But if you see sin as puny, then hell does seem disturbing. But sin is not puny. It’s huge. It’s fatal. So, God in his holiness will punish sin and punish sin infinitely. However, in love He has poured out wrath upon His Son, Jesus Christ, so that all who come to Him by faith will receive eternal life and final forgiveness of their sins.

    3. You mention that God would rescue his children. I agree with this. The issue, however, is who is God’s child and who is not His child. Those who know Christ are his children, and they will never perish. However, those who are not saved, are not God’s children. Therefore, God is not obligated to treat them as such.

    4. Finally, you wrote, “If you truely beleive in a literal hell then you should devote your every waking breath to saving others, and never ever live for your self.” I agree. Thanks for the huge challenge! I do fall so short….

  70. #70 by Julie on August 29, 2010 - 4:29 pm

    to clearly

    that was a very well structured and logical argument. I really apreciate you running though it that well, when i have debated this with others, none have argued so obectively. I find sometimes that some christians are too zealous and passionate in there understanding of the word to have a reasonable response to what i have to offer as my understand.

    in answer to 2. I will agree with you that sin may be wholey offencive to God, but yet i am the greatest amoung all siners and God chooses to forgive me. I struggle under the knowlege that God can fogive me, just for asking but leave others. I also stuggle with the parable of the rich man and lazarus. I consider my self to be wholey and unaceptebly rich. Am i to be afraid that if i do not give; i am to be cast into fire, even if i am reconcieled with the lord? Or is it that i am to ask fogiveness of my riches and as a result of being sorry for it, relenquish some. Is there a perticular amount of giving that will save me? – these thoughts themselves feel self serving, how am i to think of others when my own life seems to hang in the balence? if this is the case how am i saposed to serve God with a serving loving heart when the reason for doing so is to stay saved. – of cource im missing the part where i owe god my very existance and serving him gives me pleasure. Though you can see how some hearts my be in service for salvation alone.

    in answer to 4. your faith and willingness to act rocks my world! If only i had half the faith of one such as yourself.

    – thank you for responding before, i only want to understand.

  71. #71 by clearly on August 30, 2010 - 6:48 am

    Julie,

    There is no amount of giving that can save you. If you love your money more than you love God, perhaps you’ve never been saved. It’s a possibility, but far from a certainty. Keep in mind also that there were many rich believers in the Bible — from Abraham, to Job, to Barnabas.

    Julie, the only way to be saved for all eternity, the only way to have abundant life now in this age, is to turn from your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone to save you from sin and its penalty. After you come to Christ in repentant faith, then you no longer relate to God on the basis of your performance, but rather on the basis of the death of His Son on your account. In other words, once a person is saved, there is no more wrath, but only grace.

    If you want to talk more about this, feel free to email me.

    pastordave 8186 at gmail.com

  72. #72 by Shane on September 1, 2010 - 6:02 am

    Julie,

    Please keep in mind that the PARABLE of lazarus and the rich man is just that a PARABLE. Therefore we are not supposed to look at it literally. Just like there was no such person as the prodigal son, it is a made up figure. We are not to assume that Lazarus was a real poor man and the rich man was an actual person, they are made up.

    I have heard people refer to this PARABLE as proof of hell- and if so it contradicts what they tell me about hell. Like hell is so terrible that all you can do is scream- well this gentleman is having a conversation with Abraham- (not screaming) asking if he can dip his finger in the water and give him a drip to cool his tongue. Is there water in hell? Is this water cool? How does one get cool water in a fiery furnace where everyone’s skin is burning off regrowing and burning off again. (we know this is true because the author of 23 minutes in hell who has actually been to hell and got his skin ripped off by 15 foot demons says it’s true)

    If your whole body was on fire and your skin melting off how can you talk with anyone- secondly why would you care if your tongue is cooled.

    Lastly why does he want his brothers warned? Is that a good thing he’s doing or a bad thing? Does he care for his brothers? Is there some good in him? Is there possibly more good in him than in other people in hell. Are some people in hell more loving, generous, or patient than others? Where do these good traits come from? Do all good things come from God, would this mean that there are fruits of the spirit in Hell?

    All i want is for someone any one to explain the truth of hell clearly so that it doesn’t sound like a fantastic legendary hoax made up by the catholic church to control the masses.

    If it’s true it should be easily explained
    like

    “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to BE THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD” (I John 4:14) Pretty Clear- it says that God sent Jesus to BE the savior of the world, not try to be, not to be the savior of some. You cannot be the savior of the world if you do not succeed in saving the world.

    “For the Son of man is come to seek and to SAVE that which was LOST (luke 19:10) Not to try to save that which was lost, not to make a way for them to possibly be saved but to save that which was lost.

    And He is the propitiation [to atone for, conciliate, look upon with mercy and favor] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD” (I John 2:2)

    Simple teaching 2 groups ours and the whole world. Pretty much covers everybody.

    “God our Saviour Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:3-4) Do we believe the Bible? Then we should believe this verse- it is not a parable, not apocalyptic, not poetry, just an epistle. Pretty straight forward..

    “For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who IS the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe” (I Tim. 4:10)

    “The Lord is… not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

    “…I came not to judge the world, but to SAVE the world” (John 12:47).- do you think Jesus will succeed in what he came to do, be pretty successful, get half way there, or do you think that more than half of God’s creation will burn forever in a torture chamber thereby making Jesus out to be a seeming failure.

    What jesus should have said was I came not to judge but try to save as many as i can.

    Anyway just some thoughts. Looking forward to the day when Jesus will come again and straighten out all our crooked thinking from the last 2000 years of corrupted christianity.

    I think some of those old church fathers who used to burn people at the stake, may have made some mistakes when they put together the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment.

    Maybe i’m wrong but i do know that today we would not buy any book from a theologian who we knew was also burning people in his backyard. That sort of thing is frowned on these days

  73. #73 by Julie on October 6, 2010 - 2:40 am

    -shane

    the reason i question the reality of a hell is that the conception of it is a pagan thought. actully the jewish people belived in a resurrection, and that the earth will become renewed. the jewish faith never mentions “hell”.
    so you can see my confusion…and also the loss of clarity as jesus is the only one to mention a place apart from the rest. some beleive this could be metifore due to jis ambiguity.

  74. #74 by Norma on March 6, 2011 - 7:10 am

    Why focus on HELL because the bible says to warn non believers on what is to come! That is the whole reason Christ came and gave his LIFE to save sinners from eternal damnation!!!!! Don’t hide this Rob Bell!

  75. #75 by Shane on March 6, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Norma, exactly where does the bible say to warn non believers of what is coming?

    Do you have a presuppositional doctrine which you back up with various scriptures, or do you have some specific scriptures that clearly state what you have said. I have posted many specific verses which claim in plain language that jesus is the savior of the whole world. I am curious to read the scriptures you are referring to.

  76. #76 by Pierre Sanders on March 12, 2011 - 11:32 pm

    The question that I want to raise to everyone.

    If there was no promise of a heaven or a hell would you still be a christian?

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