RENEGADE US pastor and author Rob Bell is heading for a fresh clash with evangelicals following his decision to author a teen version of his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, which left fundies in a state of shock when it was published in 2011.
So great was the outrage that Bell had to leave the Mars Hill Bible mega-church in Michigan, which he founded.
In a promotional video created for Love Wins: For Teens, Bell explains that his latest book – due out next month – is designed to teach youth that God is the life of the party, rather than the one that spoils everyone’s fun.
What do you believe about God?” Is God somewhere on a cloud with a long beard, making a list of no’s?
For a lot of people, when you mention God, the first thing they think of is, ‘Oh yeah, God shuts the party down. But when Jesus talked about faith, when Jesus talked about God, one of the dominant images He uses again and again is that of a party.
He then explains that Christianity is not about saying no; it’s about saying yes.
It’s not about long lists of regulations and things you can’t do. It’s about saying a giant ‘yes’ to the world. So what you believe God is like really, really matters. It shapes you and it forms you in a thousand different ways.
But the book’s central theme focuses on misconceptions about Hell. He writes:
What if the idea of Heaven and Hell that we have been taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches? What if Jesus meant something very different by the concepts of Heaven, Hell and salvation from how we’ve come to understand them?
Although the original release of Love Wins achieved best-seller status, many who read is were left in a state of shock.
Reviewer Elliott Nesch noted that even in the preface of the book, Bell lamented that:
A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in Hell.
Bell then asserted that such a belief is “misguided and toxic.”
Is this belief truly misguided and toxic or is it the truth? Why is it that a staggering number of Christians believe that only a ‘select few’ will be saved while many will be damned? Because Jesus said so.
Nesch pointed to Luke 13 and Matthew 7 and decried Bell’s universalist insinuations that all men will be saved.
Rob Bell asks, ‘Will all people be saved, or will God not get what God wants?’ Bell likens God not getting what He wants to failure. Bell goes on to say that ‘God does not fail,’ obviously implying that all people must go to Heaven.
To Rob Bell, if Hell is real, then God is ‘terrifying, and traumatizing, and unbearable,’ and ‘can’t be loved.’ To Bell, the whole idea that ‘God will punish people for all of eternity for sins’ is an ‘unacceptable, awful reality. Thus, Bell is exchanging Biblical reality for his own reality, and teaching a god of his own image.
He breathlessly concluded:
Bell is operating under the fear of man and not the fear of God.