Greetings! After dropping my children off at school I came home and turned on the television for a few mins to catch up on the news before starting on school work today. On the ABC morning show, they had a segment with pastor Rob Bell talking about the doctrine of hell. This is his bio from the Church's website he serves if you do not know about him:
- Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He and his wife Kristen have three children and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In his new book, Love wins, in some part he talks about heaven and hell. This is a product description of it off of Amazon(Link footnoted at bottom to see whole description)
Millions of Christians have struggled with how to reconcile God's love and God's judgment: Has God created billions of people over thousands of years only to select a few to go to heaven and everyone else to suffer forever in hell? Is this acceptable to God? How is this "good news"? Troubling questions—so troubling that many have lost their faith because of them…What if the story of heaven and hell we have been taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches?…teacher Rob Bell presents a deeply biblical vision for rediscovering a richer, grander, truer, and more spiritually satisfying way of understanding heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. The result is the discovery that the "good news" is much, much better than we ever imagined.
Some in the Christian community, according to the news report on ABC, are calling him a heretic, false prophet, and teaching false theology. I cannot comment to the first two, but it does seem it is the later(false theology). My biggest concern is that some may look at this issue to simply thus not getting to the roots of the problem. However, time is precious in our busy society and it hard to get deep into study on subjects such as heaven and hell even for students! So how can one be able to get a good pic on the multiple views on the doctrines of heaven and hell beyond sound bites without searching through 700 page commentaries? Two ways you can do this:
1. Make sure you have a good translation of the Bible. What they sell at Wal-mart or even Dollar General is usually good. New International, New Living Translation, New King James, English Standard Version, and King James are all ok (There are others, but these are the most readily available). If possible, it is great to have more than one to compare to the other!
2. Purchase a book that has multiple views of the issue in one volume. Zondervan has put out a book called “Four Views on Hell” that has well educated theologians writing and responding to the other within one volume. Point counterpoint. Most of it is understandable and the parts that are not can be understood at one’s own pace looking at other resources if needed (Bible dictionaries, asking ones pastor, etc). It cost 10.84 without tax and the kindle edition is 12.99 on Amazon. It is 190 pages. Rob Bells book talked about above is 224 pages and about the same price but with only one view. I think the Counterpoint book is a better buy so you can begin to make up your own mind with much prayer along the way.(If you are interested, use the Amazon tool to the left to look up both books with ratings/prices. It will link you to the one you want)
The combination of the two is a great start and may even be enough to make up one’s mind on the doctrine of hell. I urge you not to just look at one side, but all sides. I urge you not to just listen to sound bites from Rob Bell, Al Moheler, and others(whom I have respect for) but the priority be focused on reading about it at your own pace in the Bible with the multiple view book being a aide with prayer.
I hope this helps. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or questions.