A hell of a discussion

Like him or not, pastor Rob Bell has again stirred the waters with his new book on hell, Love Wins. I haven't read the book, so I will not attempt to critique it. However, I have heard Bell in short segments, and I will say what I think the debate is really all about. It's not about hell. It's about God and postmodern culture.

Apparently Bell teaches that God will be welcoming the vast majority of people, if not all people, into heaven. Bell might even teach that God will give people the chance to repent and choose Jesus after they die. That teaching is not in the Bible, by the way. But I don't want to get stuck on that point. What Bell finds so repulsive is a view of God that as stern and condemning -- a God who by default is sending everyone to hell and only allows people out of hell who have stated an explicit belief in Jesus as savior. That kind of theology is familiar to people in Western culture, because various versions of it have been taught especially in conservative churches for a long time. That view of God has led many people to be "dechurched" and "unchurched" in post-Christian America. Bell is passionate about meeting our culture in a missional way, so he wants to tell a story that portrays the God of love who emerges from the Scriptures. Bell may represent a pendulum swinging too far, but it is important for us to see what the real issue is: who is God, and how should we talk about him in our culture? 

If you want to hear Bell directly, listen to what he says in his promo video for Love Wins. Notice that he talks a great deal about mission. I applaud his sensitivity to culture, but if he strays from biblical teaching in order to connect with postmodern America -- as many accuse him of doing -- then that is where we part ways.

Regarding hell, many have condemned Bell before even reading the book. Others have taken a more circumspect approach. I like what pastor Mark Driscoll has done -- instead of entering into the debate over Bell's book, Driscoll has simply stated what he believes about hell. It is a well thought out position. You can read about it here


  1. I'd like to read the book myself, but some of what Bell seems to be saying is similar to things that Lewis and MacDonald have said in the past, no?

    Maybe it's more offensive when you're not old or dead. :)


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