Rob Bell: Love Wins And The Problem of Hell

Watch the video of Rob Bell and his promotion for his new book called Love Wins: Click Here

It may seem that Rob Bell is only asking questions, but his question alludes to statements of his beliefs. It is obvious that he is not only questioning, but he is also claiming that orthodox Christianity has gotten the Gospel message wrong this whole time, and that in the end love will win.

I have been reading through the book of Matthew and Rob Bell’s video brought three arguments to mind that I would like to cover: (1) Hell is real and eternal, (2) the Bible speaks clearly about being either for God or against and that each will go to different places after death, and (3) taking hell out of the picture undermines the work of Jesus Christ.

Hell Is Real and Eternal

Rob Bell says, “Ghandi’s in hell? He is?” Again, this may be a question, but it alludes to Rob Bell basically saying that Ghandi is not in hell. Why would Rob Bell say Ghandi is not in hell? The only reason I can gather would be because Ghandi was a good and moral man. Rather, we must “confess with [our] mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in [our] heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Christ and all of the Bible speaks of the reality that hell is where we, all humanity, are headed. One’s morality, goodness, or attitude does not determine whether you deserve heaven. Rather our rebellion and disobedience to God, the Creator, has deemed us “criminals” and we deserve punishment, or justice, in the eyes of a holy God (Romans 5:10). Hell was created for the Devil and his demons and not originally for man, but now this is our punishment too.

However, I must clarify that many have said that Rob Bell doesn’t claim hell does not exist, rather hell is not eternal. He mentions that the word we interpret eternal is wrong and rather it should be translated “correction”, “pruning”, or “trimming”. Not only would I disagree with this idea, but nothing that Christ says seems to support the idea that hell is not eternal:

1. “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and lawbreakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:43 ESV

2. “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50 ESV

3. “Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

4. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46.

If hell were a place of trimming, pruning, or correction it seems that Christ and the rest of the Bible would not use such harsh words and images when speaking of hell.

For Or Against God
“Will only a few select people make it to heaven?” Rob Bell questions in his video Love Wins. Along with the reality of an eternal hell, Christ and the Bible make it clear that there are two sides to choose from: For God, or against God. Even the above verses make it obvious that those two people go to different places when death arrives. We get some very strong images of this: separation of wheat and chaff, sheep and goats, wedding guests and none guests, and much more.

1. “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 ESV

2. “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30 ESV

3. “Before him will be gathered all teh nations, and he will separate people on from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:32-33 ESV

It is obvious that Christ sees either a person for or against God, and that matters here on earth now and in eternity. However, those who are enemies of God go to hell for eternity, and stay enemies of God. The Bible does not allude to or blatantly mention that those who go to hell will eventually be won over by love and all will go to heaven. I do not see that in any of the Bible and I believe anyone who believes the Bible speaks of that is reading into the Scriptures their own thoughts or desires.

Undermining The Work of Christ

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15. We see the theme throughout all of the Old Testament and New Testament that mankind is in need of salvation, not from God (as Bell would put it), but from our sin and disobedience.

When hell becomes a place that is for a short time, and all will leave once won over by love, it undermines the work of Christ on the cross (the central theme to the Bible). Christ came to save that which was lost, and redeem mankind and all of creation. If it is the case that all will eventually go to heaven, then why would Christ come to save the lost here on earth or why would it matter how we responded to the Gospel here on earth? It seems that it doesn’t matter. I could do, say, or act any way I desired and eventually when I went to hell I would have the hope that Christ would win me over with love. Seems pointless.

I do not gather, nor does Scripture show that Rob Bell’s way of thinking is true. I believe that by Rob Bell writing this book and promoting this way of thinking he is leading many in the wrong direction.

Hopefully this post was thought provoking. Please feel free to post your comments, thoughts, ideas, or disagreements. This could have been pages and pages long, but if you want to know the truth about what the Bible says about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived, then read the Bible for yourself.

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2 Comments

Filed under Heaven and Hell

2 responses to “Rob Bell: Love Wins And The Problem of Hell

  1. Yes I agree. Why should God’s love trump God’s justice? He is equally just as he is loving. Does a criminal not deserve punishment? We deserve that punishment, I deserve that punishment. That’s why the good news is so good! “And you who were dead in your trespasses… God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Col 2:13-14

  2. reasonableanswers

    In Matthew alone it speaks about hell, either directly or through other word phrases (a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”), about twenty times. Obviously, Christ found it of great importance to inform people about hell. The descriptions and parables do not portray hell as a place of correction, pruning, or trimming for a time. We get a full taste of the idea that hell is an eternal place and it is not going to a place of correction, rather it will be a place of punishment. Sounds intense, but you, Katie, make a great point and that is it makes God’s grace and love much greater. We can have assurance of salvation through his Son.

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