Mar 15, 2011
In a book entitled Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Pastor Rob Bell expresses some very unorthodox views.
Bell is the Pastor of the 10,000 member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. He is recognized as one of the leading spokesman for the emerging church movement.
Here are some of the unorthodox points Bell makes in this book based on initial reports, and based on comments he has made in advance of the book’s release:
- It is wrong to say that most people will spend eternity in hell.
- Hell is here on earth.
- Heaven is not just for those who believe in Jesus.
Yesterday Bell spoke in New York City to kick off his book tour. He was pressed multiple times during the session about whether hell is a real place. Lillian Kwon reports, “When pressed several times on whether he believes there is a hell, Bell only spoke of a hell on earth and provided no indication that he believes in an eternal place of punishment.”
Kwon points out as well that when asked if he were a universalist, Bell said, “No, if by universalist we mean there’s a giant cosmic arm that swoops everybody in at some point whether you want to be there or not.” However, note that the explanation raises more questions. The reason the question even arose is because his book implies he believes this. And even his answer does not deny universalism. Maybe in Bell’s view everyone will eventually want to be there.
Bell was very fuzzy, but the following points are what he seems to hold:
- There is no hell other than the hellish things people experience in this life.
- No one will be tormented forever.
- Most or all people will be in the Kingdom. If anyone isn’t there, it will be because they choose not to be there.
- If there are any who choose not to be there, Bell doesn’t speculate on what would happen to them, other than that no one will be tormented forever.
Over the past few weeks Bell has been severely criticized by leading theologians and pastors such as Al Mohler, John Piper, and John MacArthur. Here is an evangelistic issue in which Lordship Salvation advocates agree with Free Grace proponents.
We plan to provide an article-length review of this book in the Autumn issue of our Journal (Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society). And I plan to include some comments about Bell’s view in my upcoming book on the ten most misunderstood words in the Bible. Since one of those words is hell, this book will show the importance of clarity on the meaning of key Biblical words.
If you’d like to see a 3-minute YouTube video that Bell released about the book, it’s available online here. It is well worth watching.