Pastor Rob Bell of a Michigan church has published a book called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived that denies the existence of hell as it has been popularized over the centuries.
I can hear the chants of protest now.
Rob Bell says their ain’t no hell!
But when he arrives at those pearly gates
God will have something to tell,
You cannot deny my son,
My justice is true,
and I shall show you, Mr. Bell
your book has sent you to Hell.
Admittedly, I have not read the book, yet I imagine that the good pastor has not written his book out of spite for traditional beliefs, but as a treatise on what his study of scriptures has inspired him to learn. Some of his fellow pastors from around the country have disowned him for putting the issue of hell in the context of the realm of speculation.
“Friends, this is the most serious of matters,” he told the congregation. “I’m not the judge but there are pastors that are going to hell. So be careful who you trust.” – Pastor Mark Driscoll, Seattle Washington
Bell denounces the idea that a loving God would banish somebody to eternal torment, for not believing in Jesus, especially those who come from non-Christian parts of the world. He starts out his promotional video sharing how at an art show somebody posted a note on a piece about Ghandi that read “Reality Check, Ghandi is in Hell.”
Let’s put this in proper context. Those who stake their claims of a belief in hell according to the images of Dante don’t believe that non-believers will suffer for a few hundred years in hell, but that they will suffer for thousands, and millions, and billions of years. They will suffer not for committing some heinous crime, but for mere ignorance in not being lucky enough to figure out that Jesus was the only true God during their short 80 year stay here on the earth.
It seems to me, that those who believe such an elitist doctrine should be listening to Pastor Rob Bell rather than deriding him. Such a belief in eternal damnation for ignorance shows that they have no sense of justice. No, those who criticize Pastor Bell are more interested in setting themselves up as an exclusive club, ignoring their luck in being born in a Christian tradition, and unjustly and without authority condemning entire civilizations to eternal torment for not believing as they do. Those who hold so tightly to this idea of Hell have missed the point of the New Testament and the notion of a loving God, which after all, is probably what Pastor Bell is trying to teach. And for teaching the God loves all his children, the fundamentalists in Christianity are hell-bent on condemning him as a heretic.