Pastor Rob Bell’s New Book Sets the Subject of Hell on Fire
Mega church pastor Rob Bell’s controversial book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, arrived in stores last month. Even before then, some of his teachings had been labeled as errant, even heresy by some prominent Christian leaders.
Esteemed by some as a rock star in the church world, Pastor Bell also is regarded by some as a universalist, meaning he believes everyone will be saved from eternal damnation, including those who have not expressed faith in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. But Bell denies that he is a universalist. Because of the widespread attention given to the book, resulting primarily from its controversial views on hell, the Evangelical Alliance published a response to the book on last week. The Alliance’s response was written by Derek Tidball, a member of the Alliance’s board and council, and a former principal of London School of Theology.
“Above all, Love Wins, is confusing,” Tidball said. “I can see now why people are asking whether Rob Bell is a universalist (all will be saved in the end) or not, because it’s unclear.”
In the book, Pastor Bell attempts to paint a more appealing picture of hell. He questions the traditional Christian teaching that most persons will go to hell, and relatively a few will be saved. He does not believe that a person cannot repent after death. Moreover, he wrestles with the prospect of scores of people around the world who have never heard the gospel and innocent children going to hell at the hands of a loving God.
The truth is, none of us are all-knowing on the subject of hell and the fate of others. What we do know is that God is love AND God is holy. He is not only love but also He is holy. If He were only the former, the idea of everyone going to heaven on his own terms would be a possibility. But if that were the case—that is, that holiness was not an attribute of God--there would have been no need for Him to send His Son to die for the sins of the world. Hum, so much for that idea.
We must be careful not to try and develop our own theology to provide answers for the things that we don’t understand or that we disagree with, regarding the mysteries of hell. For in doing so, we run the risk of giving multitudes a false sense of eternal security.