Feb

26

2011

Justin Taylor|11:44 am CT

Rob Bell: Universalist?

Update: A careful and devastating review of Bell’s book can be read here.

Note: I’ve added an update at the end of this post.

John Piper once wisely wrote, “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.”

It is unspeakably sad when those called to be ministers of the Word distort the gospel and deceive the people of God with false doctrine.

But it is better for those teaching false doctrine to put their cards on the table (a la Brian McLaren) rather than remaining studiously ambiguous in terminology.

So on that level, I’m glad that Rob Bell has the integrity to lay his cards on the table about  universalism. It seems that this is not  just optimism about the fate of those who haven’t heard the Good News, but (as it seems from below) full-blown hell-is-empty-everyone-gets-saved universalism.

Here is HarperCollins’s description of his next book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

I haven’t read the whole book yet and was hesitant to say something based on the publisher’s description (which usually isn’t written by the author). But this video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity:

Update: Thanks for all of you who have weighed in. I cannot respond to each comment, so I thought this might be the best way to make a few points.

1) One of the things I get criticized for is having comments in the first place, but this is a place where you can tell me if you think I’ve done things wrong or in the wrong way. I want to be open to correction, and this is one forum by which to do it.

2) I updated a couple of things on the original post. First, I deleted “seems to” with regard to Bell’s moving farther away from biblical Christianity. Second, I changed “unambiguous about his universalism” to “lay his cards on the table about universalism.” Third, I deleted the 2 Cor. 11:14-15 reference at the end. I do think it’s important to recognize the biblical theme that false teachers look like cuddly sheep and like angels of light. But let’s wait for the book so we can see all his cards laid out on the table.

3) I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me. When the book is published there will be detailed reviews, and I will link to them. I think that the publisher’s description combined with Bell’s video is sufficient evidence to suggest that he thinks hell is empty and that God’s love (which desires all to be saved) is always successful. I should have been more careful in my original post not to imply that Bell is definitely a universalist. He may believe that some people go out of existence and are not thereby saved. The materials I have seen sound more like universalism though (note it sounds like no one goes to hell, and that the title promises to talk about the fate of everyone who has ever lived, which sure sounds like it’s the same for everyone).

4) I highly doubt that this is a mere marketing stunt or that Bell is merely asking questions or playing Devil’s Advocate. If it turns out that the full book is diametrically opposed to his publisher’s description and to the conclusions he wants you to reach in the video, I will make that clear on this blog.

5) If Bell is teaching that hell is empty and that you can reject Jesus and still be saved, he is opposing the gospel and the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ. You may think that’s judgmental to say that; I think it’s being faithful. I would encourage a careful study of 1 Timothy to see what Paul says about false teaching and teachers.

6) For those who are not regular readers of this blog and think that the perspective advocated here is totally out to lunch, you may want to check out Kevin DeYoung’s post, “To Hell with Hell,” which gives a nice brief summary on the importance of understanding the wrath of God. As H. Richard Niebuhr wrote 75 years ago, too often we want “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross,” (Kingdom of God in America [1937], p. 193). Also see Denny Burk’s post where he seeks to answer Bell’s questions from a biblical perspective.

7) Let’s remember to pray. Rob Bell needs to know and teach the liberating gospel of grace—including that Christ absorbed the Father’s wrath on behalf of those who trust in him and repent of their sins. And there are tens of thousands of folks who look to Rob Bell as a biblical teacher and leader. May God give much mercy.

Update 2: Announcement from The Gospel Coalition:

Rob Bell’s forthcoming book Love Wins has already raised perennial questions about universalism, exclusivism, the love of God, and heaven and hell. So what does the Bible say about these weighty matters? What did Jesus himself say? And what’s the best way to relate this teaching to a skeptical culture?

Don Carson and others will address these questions in a special session just added to The Gospel Coalition’s national conference in Chicago, April 12 to 14. A panel that follows Carson’s address will field questions from the audience.

Update 3: Kevin DeYoung has a helpful post about whether or not (1) I needed to go to Rob Bell first before airing public criticism, and (2) I needed to remain silent until Rob Bell’s book is published.

1,506 Comments

  1. Seems to confirm?

    Seems to confirm?

    This man is a wolf, plain and simple.

    • Good point. I adjusted the wording.

      • I farted

      • When did “If you eat you shall surely die” morph into “If you eat you shall burn forever and ever in the firest of hell?” If the original sinners didn’t get that kind of ‘punishment’, why would we?

        The only thing I can figure out, is that hell believers don’t REALLY believe any of their loved ones are in hell or are going there. Because if they imagined, for even a second, what hell is all about, they’d go insane.

        Andrea Yates got it… everyone else is just a hell-believing wanna be.

    • What a naive statement. Have you ever met a wolf? I’m sorry my friend but there is a huge difference between possibly being wrong on a theological level and being a wolf. It is not plain and simple. Thats the issue. There are places in all of our lives where an outsider could look in and say “This man is a wolf, plain and simple”. If you deny thi,s then my friend you have more than Rob Bell and Universalism to worry about. That is quite an arrow you sling, you may want to trade it in for something less damaging.

      • “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Acts 20:28-31, NAS95.

        No, John, not naive at all. Yes, I have met wolves. Do you even believe they exist? Of course I am a sinner. What does that have to do with Rob Bell being a heretic? And yes, a wolf.

        • This is what you get when you don’t have ecclesiastical authority…any Dick, Tom, or Harry can say that one is a heretic…..Hey Stephen…you’re a heretic….there you go.

          I give judgements of charity until an ecclesiastical court judges him a heretic.

          • So, until that day comes, we just sit there and suck in everything that spews out of anybody’s mouth? We warn nobody because we don’t have ecclesiastical authority? Have I got an indulgence to sell you!!

          • So, by your reasoning, any Tom, Dick or Harry can say whatsoever they choose to say about God and truth regardless how blatantly they are against the revealed truth of the Scriptures and we have to wait for cloth to confirm it? What if there is no synod gathering specifically for Bell? He gets the free pass?
            Why would Peter even bother to warn ALL CHRISTIANS against false prophets?

            It takes a Universalists to accept one.

            • Do you think this attacking approach “it takes a universalist to accept one” is the approach our gracious and loving Jesus would take?

              And I think this video has been misunderstood- Rob Bell is saying the reason people are so put off by Christianity is that our God can be portrayed as a vicious God who created hell to punish ‘evil people and unbelievers’ when really he is a loving God who sent us Jesus- Rob Bell still talks about the Good news in this clip- he’s saying that that’s the bit we should focus on- he did not once deny that there was a hell in that clip but hell is not what we should be focused on- that’s why it’s mentioned a lot less times in the Bible than heaven is. yes it is there but it should not be something we attack people with!!

              I think it is also very unwise to make such a condeming judgement of a book no one has read all the way through yet!

              • I have to agree with you, I don’t know exactly how someone could garner universalist themes from what Rob Bell is saying. He doesn’t deny that Hell exists and is real, he simply shifts the focus from a God full of vengeance and wrath to a loving God. I do not believe that it is God that sends us to Hell for not believing in His Son, I believe it is our rejection of His Son that does the sending, and a just God cannot and will not compromise His stance on sin.

                It is not God that sends the unrepentant sinner to Hell, it is the unrepentant sinner that does the choosing and sending.

              • Joanna, actually the Bible has so much to say about hell. And Jesus talks about it all the time in the gospels.

              • Joanna, you make such a great point. I don’t claim to know everything Rob Bell has ever said, but I have not read or heard him deny that there is a hell. In fact, I have read the opposite.

                I believe Rob Bell has done a great work by choosing to focus on the love of Christ rather than the wrath of God. Haven’t we learned that fear is not a lasting motivator? Only love is. Preachers for so long have tried to scare people into heaven, and it doesn’t work so well. Bell is trying something different. He’s spreading “good news,” and it kinda breaks my heart to read so many people being so critical of what he is doing.

                Besides, what have you gained if you are right and he is wrong? So…you are more right. What do you win? If Bell is outside of the gospel, should we pray for him and those who listen to him, or should we write blogs and degrade him? Post pictures of him and call him names? Doesn’t this seem strange to anyone else.

                And if he is wrong, does that limit what God can do? Where is your faith, friends? If Rob Bell is wrong, shall heaven be empty? God can use even me, a complete idiot, to bring people to Him if he wants. And He can use wolves too.

              • @Benji, It is good to focus on the love of Christ, but we must be careful not to ignore God’s wrath as well. Because if we preach only God’s love, and never God’s wrath, then unbeliever’s will think “Why should I accept Christ? I’m going to get to Heaven anyways!” Yet, if all we preach is God’s wrath and never his love, then unbelievers may think “This is all bad news, what has God done for me that I should turn and follow him? There is nothing but wrath in him!” It is a fine line we must walk…

              • JOANNA, NO NEED TO READ THE BOOK, ROB BELL IS A hERETIC, READ HIS OTHER MATERIAL, WATCH NOOMA VIDEOS, HERETIC AND IM TIRED OF IT, JESUS DIDNT DIE FOR THIS.

              • Yeah Joanna….Jesus didn’t die so that people could make mistakes..He died so that people would be perfect and never need to grow, learn or change!!!

            • Let’s see, how did Jesus treat false teachers? Matthew chapter 23.

              Wide is the gate that leads to destruction. Only a few find the way that leads to life (Matt 7:13). No one can enter the kingdom of God, unless he is born again (John 3).

              All of these contradict Rob Bell. If you don’t like any of those statements, take it up with Jesus. He said them.

              Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in the Bible. Stop Reading Bell’s junk, and read your Bible.

          • Scott, first it’s every Tom, Dick and Harry and secondly we are to test the spirits, 1John 1 and with that allow God’s Spirit to lead us into all truth, John 16:13. I have a long history in reading and listening to Bell and if what he is handing out is truth then I want no part of it. A lot of what he is teaching is not what my Jesus of the Bible is teaching. I am not angry with Bell, he has to answer to God but it does spur me on to dig deeper into God’s word so that when a wolf comes along I can spot him immediately and then warn others!

            • You are all acting like Ayatollahs! “Kill the heretic!” “Stone him, crucify him”, just like the religious leaders did to the “heretic” Jesus. Study your bibles and consider who did the writing and who built the religion on the words. The majority of you up to this point are pathetic haters of someone who dared challenge mainstream Christian theology. Go live in Iran where your hatefulness will be more appreciated!

              • Wow, Dave, have you studied the Apostle Paul? From your comments I don’t think you would care for him either.

            • Dave, no one has said stone him or crucify him yet… He doesn’t deserve the effort. My opinion is he needs to be shown the truth, not killed. And as much as I disagree with him I do not think he should be killed, and I would fight to save his life if the opportunity arose… As long as I got to debate with him afterwards…

        • Its good that you can quote this scripture to call Bell a heretic. Funny thing, members of the council that canonized scripture (325 AD) went to the catechetical school of Alexandria where the Didascalia was a textbook for ministry prep. Wait. . . doesn’t that affirm universalism? Strange thing that these wolves in sheep’s clothing through the power of the Holy Spirit gave you the very Bible to retroactively prooftext them out of the church. Oh another thing, what about those Cappadocian fathers from 381? You know the ones who God worked through to show us the divinity of the Spirit, made known in scripture, laid out in the Nicene-Constant. Creed (381). . . yeah, weren’t they universalists too? Wolves and heretics, huh. If we censure them (as Paul would have it with the wolves in the church and as the cry of heresy would *appropriately used* have it) perhaps you should call into question the books in your bible — the very ones you use to implicate Bell (and many of the early church fathers by default). And scrap the trinity while you are at it!

          There is no responsibility behind the cry of heresy anymore.

          • Not to mention the fact that the early church was still arguing about who and what Jesus was quite a while after he was gone (not good with dates, but I want to say about 100 years after he died).
            The early church hashed out a lot of hard topics and we just take if for granted and get offended when anyone revisits these topics.
            Besides the fact, that the video was critiqued on things that it didn’t even say. And I say praise the Lord for intelligent people who are willing to ask questions and learn about where the ideas actually came from! If you have a belief you’ve never questioned then I would argue that it does not belong to you!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Photography-by-Megan-Rieff/199317661612#!/photo.php?fbid=10150148812206613&set=a.10150148809051613.336371.199317661612&theater

          • Funny, because regardless of who put all of the books of the bible together, the scriptures are still written by God and what it says in the scriptures are the words of God.

            • Good point Moaty, I can affirm what you say in good faith. But I don’t think I was clear. Is Rob Bell a “wolf” and thus an enemy of the church ***if*** he is a universalist? If so, should we consider the manifold “church fathers” who affirmed universalism to be wolves as understood by 2 Peter? Does this discount the work of the spirit in their lives to formulate doctrine (i.e., the trinity), and if not theirs why Rob Bell’s? Do we need to “bid them farewell” and to what extent? Their teachings, their lives, their salvation, their theological produce? “Farewell, Rob Bell” sounds like a discounting of the authority or relevancy of his ministry to me? But perhaps Piper should be clearer if he is going to tweet on such a serious issue as heresy and rejection of someone’s ministerial authority. But if he is going to do so haphazardly without knowledge of the book (or if he has knowledge of it without responsibly including this in his offhand rather self-righteous tweet of all things) perhaps he should tweet farewell to Clement of Alexandria, the Cappadocian fathers, Karl Barth (if he even is on his shelf), and a host of others whose theology we clearly know to be universalistic. The church has never called wolves (taylor) or bidded farewell to (piper) these because of their flagrant/leaning in the direction of universalism. But, lets be reminded again of the presumption — Rob Bell hasn’t even affirmed universalism outright. A strong farewell with so little knowledge, heh?
              Rather uncharitable to say the least. But funny thing I haven’t heard Piper explaining why trinitarian theology is still valid despite the universalism of many of its original proponents/constructivists. If only Rob Bell was born 1700 years ago perhaps he wouldn’t have been such a wolf, huh?

              • If Rob Bell was born 1700 years ago or 20 years ago, it doesn’t matter. If he’s speaking against the Lord God Almighty, if he’s not taking what the Lord says as THE WORD and thinks it’s something he can argue against and make better or bend and break, therefore turning it into what HE wants to say instead of what God actually says- AND he’s preaching it as the Gospel- then yes, he is a wolf and needs to be moved out from whatever position he holds.

              • Nathaniel,

                Piper is both well educated AND informed on the emergent church. He is not simply speaking to speak,or tweeting to tweet! I wouldn’t be surprised if he or someone on the DG staff has an advanced copy of Love Wins.

            • Dear Bible: 1) self-testimony of your greatness, correctness, completeness, and absolute authority as “the Word of God” is unremarkable evidence of your truth, even in the light of faith. 2) Your words have been the basis for 1000′s of deaths of “heretics” over the centuries. That’s not very nice. It takes hate to kill, not righteousness. 3) The character of the God that I know, love, and live with, would not have written many of your words, or chosen fallible men to channel his truth into infallible doctrines. 4) Who put the doctrine of “eternal torment in hell” onto your pages? Which of the ancient controlling and paranoid church fathers did that? Did they vote or anything? 5) Why do you say that Jesus died for the all the sins of the whole world, if that’s not really what God meant? 6) Bible, too bad you can’t self-edit – I’m sure there is a bunch of ungodly interpretation that you now realize you let in that really discredits your self testimony of being the perfect and complete Word of God. Can you self destruct and start-over with more clarity and vetting of the human authors? Think about Bible 2.0. That could really help Christians love each other better. kthx.

          • With all due respect to you Nathaniel, Scripture was canonized because of its truthfulness and apostolic authority. The flaws in the lives of those who recognized its authority has nothing to do with its authority. Much of NT theology contradicts the Didascalia. Because those who helped recognize the canon of Scripture went to a school where bad information was given does not discredit the authority of Scripture nor the truth in it. Scripture can and will be used to reject heresy, and it is not impaired in doing so because those who canonized it were exposed to heresy during their lifetime. Also, the validity of trinitarian theology has nothing to do with other misconceptions those who formulated it may have had. Guilt by indirect association doesn’t apply in these cases. Your argument is akin to saying that I am a criminal because I ate food prepared by a criminal. Bottom line, Jesus talked about Hell a whole lot, and even warned people to “fear” the One Who has the power to cast people into it (Matt. 10:28). While Bell cannot automatically be rejected as a universalist, he sure is off in that regard.

            • I suppose I will try this once more, but I am beginning to think that carrying on a conversation or having my questions answered will not happen. Jared (et al.), I want to know by what authority is the charge of heresy leveled? Are you an elder of some sort? Have you written Bell? What does it mean for piperites/gospel coalitionists to gratuitously use this word “heresy”? Are they prepared to make these statements about anyone who, according to their sliver of the Christian faith, have constructed bad theology by misinterpreting scripture, and what exactly does this body of bad theology include (do I have to be an inerrantist, 6 day creationist, or a “7 point Calvinist” (as piper says) to be a Christian or not a heretic or not excommunicated or whatever the word means?)? Is John Piper ready to bid farewell to a great deal of the supposed church triumphant? And what is this farewell? If it’s *John Piper’s* reading of scripture that allows him to “bid farewell” or disavow Bell’s ministry because of **Supposed** universalism (or whatever it may be), the problem is Piper’s dilettante-ism, is it not? How many church sessions does it take to throw up a tweet so soon after a promo video is posted revealing… very little? Did Piper confront Bell about this? Surely at least one of these numerous questions could be answered, honestly and with a straight face.

              Also, I have no problem affirming the humanity of the ECFs and their propensity to theological error. In fact, I am quite fine with seeing this in all theologians and their theological produce (and if I am to say this of the creeds you can be certain I will say it of John Piper). I understand why and how scriptures were canonized. I am aware of the history. Let’s be clear though: these theologians weren’t simply exposed to “heresy” (which still hasn’t been defined) but subscribed to it? Does this mean that they are in hell/shouldn’t have been teaching in churches/etc.? My argument is not that they universalism is right because they espoused it. God forbid! My argument is that no one seems to know what they are saying crying “heresy” on Rob Bell — when the church hasn’t done so on a host of theologians who espouse universalism. Part of this, I believe, is born from an ignorant, rhetorical use of the word. Would it not be wise and in good order to suspend use of the word til we are sure of its implications — until we have come to an informed opinion of its legitimacy, semantic range, and effectivity?

              I hate to say that if it’s John Piper v the history of the church on its anthemas on people who hold to universalism (or lack thereof), I have confidence in what Paul has to say about the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, and a tweet farewell isn’t going to do it for me.

              • On what authority? The Bible. You should read it sometime. and so should Rob Bell.

              • Nathaniel. I think we could be friends. Your words echo the very depths of my heart. This issue isn’t even *really* about Rob Bell as it is the heart of those who are so quick to accuse, so quick to ‘bid farewell’, and so quick to hurt and slander others.

                I am angry and disgusted by this and the very people who would put down the book without even READING it. I stand behind Rob Bell to this point because he has given me new perspective, opened my eyes to see that the theology I have been taught was all a bunch of hogwash and that Love DOES win. In the end, He will set all things right and to this truth I hold tightly.

                you on facebook?

              • I think most people are more concerned with the video than the book. I am not judging the book; I have not read it. I am judging the video. Bell pretty clearly is articulating a message about God, wrath and Hell that is opposed to what Scripture has to say about them (Matt. 3:12; 7:22-23; 10:14-15; 13:40-50; 25:1-46; John 3:16; Hebrews 9:27; Romans 2:6-8; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Colossians 3:25; Hebrews 2:2-3; 1 Corinthians 10:26-27; 2 Peter 2:4,9,20; 3:7; etc.). Bell is ignoring vividly obvious Scriptural teaching about the nature of sin, judgment, Hell, God’s relationship with man, etc. The video makes this clear. This is what we are judging, and it is not a difficult thing to label it heresy. This is not some “sliver” of Christianity rising up and presumptuously judging a man who is a victim of misinterpretation. This is people crying against a man who is rejecting obvious truths of Scripture. If you think this is not so, reconcile Bell’s video to the Scriptures stated above (and there is plenty more) and let’s talk again. The video is direct and directly in opposition to clear Scriptural teaching. And if you think we need to calm down and accept every statement Bell makes in the name of “love” and “unity,” you have no idea what love and unity are. This is about the souls of thousands whom Bell influences who very well may be led to Hell because they are told something other than the true Gospel of salvation from sins. Let the hermeneutical gymnastics from the Bell supporters begin :)

              • Jared Griffin

                I don’t understand how the writer of this blog can criticize Bell’s new book, when 1) he hasn’t read a word of the book and 2) hasn’t read any one of his books completely. Quite honestly I’m dumbfounded. There are obviously pre-conceived notations about Rob Bell that this writer must have. Try reading his books, then writing about him. You will be much more creditable.

            • Wow. As far I can tell you ALL are the some of the most cold, churchy, religious people I have I ever come across…And if God truly is LOVE, and his followers really do dwell and walk in the love OF Christ, I don’t see it..It seems like more people are concerned with impressing quotations and opinions, stated for the sole purpose of sharing with others the depth of their own personal knowledge of the kingdom of God…if the sole purpose of all these conversations is to feel “right” or good about yourselves then I hope you do…But to be completely honest..If I were in the lowest depths of my life, needed to have someone there, and REALLY NEEDED TO EXPERIENCE the love of God…I cant imagine calling anyone included in these pointless conversations…honestly…I don’t even know who this guy is…and I cannot say for sure..but it seems that whoever made this video, and/or those who agree with it, might actually show up…

              • well said, wally.

              • Wally, I guarantee you I would spend as much time as you needed if you were in a down point in life and needed comfort and encouragement. If you needed someone to show you that they cared, I would do that for you.

                The contention on this blog is about fighting for the truth. Would you let a friend stand in front of an oncoming semi and do nothing to get him out of the way? Similarly, would you rather us say nothing and let this video spew its untruth and influence vulnerable and searching people away from the Gospel? This video is pointing people away from Jesus Christ as the One Who forgives sins and removes God’s wrath. It deserves the utmost challenge, far more than screaming to a person in the middle of a highway to get out of the way of a semi. What would be more loving: to just not say anything and give our approval of the video by our “loving” silence and just agreeing with everyone or to contest it? This has nothing to do with sharing personal quotations or trying to impress people with the depth of my knowledge. This is about pointing people to the truth of Scripture and not letting the lies in this video persist. What is more loving than helping someone avoid Hell and pointing them to Heaven? This is what is being done here.

                I guarantee you, I care about you as a person, Wally. Hit me up at jared.lafitte@gmail.com if you want me to prove it. Blessings on you.

                Again,

          • Seriously don’t they call these little blurbs and videos “teasers”?
            And that is exactly what it has done with you all! Wow!
            Throwing stones, name calling and pointing fingers over a TEASER?
            How about you wait for the book, and read it, THEN you can come to your conclusions. My gosh… Jesus said the world would know we are Christians by our LOVE for EACH OTHER! How is any of this loving towards our brother Rob Bell? Other names have been mentioned as well… along with words like false teacher, heretic, wolf… is that LOVE??

            If there is one thing that I know about Rob Bell is that he wants to leave a legacy of love for this world. He lives this, and he teaches this to his church. Anything I have ever read from him was from him doing his homework..digging deep into the times, culture, politics and ways of ancient Hebrew. I am very interested in what he has to say about hell and heaven. But the beauty of being a follower of Jesus is that the very Spirit of God is INSIDE me. HE is the one who keeps me from falling, and will lead me into ALL truth. Not a man, but the Spirit.
            I have read all of Rob’s books, and I don’t agree with everything. But that doesn’t mean that I throw the whole person away because of that. What is wrong with you all?? Why do you do that?? Why can’t you disagree with a person, but still LOVE them?

            I am absolutely convinced that the world will not be changed until we can grasp the simple gospel and law that Jesus left us with… ” LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

            • Amy, with all due respect, what is the most loving thing one can do for another? The most loving thing we can do is tell another about the most loving thing anyone has ever done… Christ’s death on our behalf (Romans 5:8). We are dead in our sins and deserving of judgment and Hell (Romans 6:23). But Christ can forgive sins if we call on Him (Romans 10:9-13). It would be the most vicious hatred to withhold this information from someone, would it not? Would it not be evil and unloving to lead a person away from the Gospel message which saves them from Hell?

              This is what Bell is doing, and it is not implicit. His video openly challenges Scripture’s teaching on how we are made right with God, and a nonChristian who buys into this video’s message is being led into Hell. It’s plain and simple. We are challenging what Bell is doing because we love him and we love the tens of thousands who are listening to him and being led astray by his teaching. What is the most loving thing we can do for Bell other than call him to change? Sometimes a strong rebuke is needed when a man is throwing people into Hell by his words. Whatever legacy he may be leaving on earth means nothing if he is denying God’s Word with videos like this.

              What is love if not calling him and others to the Gospel? We had best not tolerantly and gently pat each others’ backs as we walk into Hell.

              • “Sometimes a strong rebuke is needed when a man is throwing people into Hell by his words”

                Jared, it has been said that your words do not reflect Christ’s love yet you continue to defend what you are saying. Good intentions or no, your words may be turning people away from Christ. You may ask yourself if you really want people to know the truth or you just want to be right.

          • Nathaniel,

            Couldn’t have said it better myself.

            Quite frankly, this is really embarrassing when you think about it.

            We have a video briefly promoting a book, a guy writing a blog about the book based on a few chapters of the book and we got people on here calling Rob a “wolf”.

            This is what I wrote on Jay Bakker’s page. What is giving Piper, Driscoll and the Gospel Coalition the right to be the “Christian Police.” No one has talked to Rob Bell about the book..

            Yep sounds exactly like Matthew 18….

        • Leonard Vandenberg

          Have any of you actually read Bell or listened to him. This blog is based upon an excerpt and a small video oh and then the limited opinion of others. Do you honestly believe that we have God in a box. I am sure the pharisees thought that. They would say we know all there is to know about God. Then Christ shows up and says “I have so much more to reveal to you!” Don’t get caught putting God in a box and believing that you have Him figured out. If you do what reason is there for a God, you can be your own.

          • Leonard Vandenberg – I have actually read some of Bell’s stuff, watched his numerous videos and researched those he allows to teach in his place when he is out of his home church.

            He is not preaching the gospel truth. Rob Bell teaches, ‘you are the gospel’. NO!!. God is the gospel!!!! It’s about HIM not us.

            If anyone says they know all about God– which I have never heard that from the Gospel Coalition group– they would be going against scripture, Deuteronomy 29:29…”The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

        • Let me first confess my heretical-ness: I don’t believe those who refuse Christ’s gift of salvation will burn forever; I think they’ll be destroyed–they’ll simply cease to exist. And mercifully so, because why would someone who rejects Christ want to live with Him forever?

          My question is this: does my lack of belief in eternal torment make me “soft on sin?” Have I neglected “God’s justice” or “God’s wrath?”

          I’d really like to hear people’s thoughts!

        • a WOLF

      • But the wolf may very well not know he is one.

        • Yes GLCampell…I often wonder how many false teachers/prophets even KNOW they ARE one. I doubt many. I think Bell is deceived and just leading others down a path he genuinely thinks is the right one. (or one of many that he THINKS takes him to God)

      • Jones, are you saying one can be saved and at the same time believe that God allows the unregenerate into heaven? We’re not talking about one small theological error; universalism affects so many things in the Bible. It messes up all Christ’s teachings, the idea of God’s people as His inheritance, the redemption by blood and punishment of the unrepentant (very clearly seen in the Exodus story), etc etc. There’s no true repentance and arguably no atonement. People are given the excuse to not love God for the excellence and beauty of His holiness and glory because universalism diminishes that with its unbiblical view of God’s love.

        One does not need to meet and get to know this wolf to know he is a wolf. Did not Jesus say, “You will know them by their fruits”? Bell’s teaching will produce hell-bound followers with quieted consciences and no responsibility towards God. I fell into the same trap by a less heretical, but equally damaging, teaching from a church I once was a part of.

        On another note, we really do have more than Bell and Universalism to worry about. The New Testament is filled with warnings against false teachers. And, that isn’t a foreign idea when you consider Christ’s words in Matthew 7:13-14.

        • Well Said PK & Stephen.

        • WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WERE LAWS BEFORE THE WORLD OR THE UNIVERSE WAS EVER CREATED AND EVEN THOUGH GOD IS ETERNAL THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, BEGINNING AND END, I BELIEVE THERE WERE LAWS EVEN BEFORE AND ONE SUCH LAW WAS THAT SIN HAD TO BE PUNISHED BY DEATH, THIS LAW EXISTED BEFORE OUR WORLD, OUR UNIVERSE, OUR LAWS WERE CREATED, THIS DEATH IS NOT THE NATURAL BODY THE EARTHLY BODY DEATH BUT THAT OF THE SOUL WHICH IS A CONCEPT THAT EXISTS BEFORE THIS WORLD. I BELIEVE SUCH LAWS EXISTED EVEN BEFORE AND ARE TRULY ENGRAVED IN OUR SUBCONCIOUS. IT IS NOT GOD THAT DECIDES TO PUNISH US FOR OUR SINS IT IS A LAW THAT CANNOT BE BROKEN, THE ONLY WAY WAS THRU SACRIFICE OF A SINLESS MAN, WHICH WAS JESUS. IT IS ALL VERY CLEAR IN SCRIPTURE, I DONT UNDERSTAND HOW ROB BELL CAN CONTEST THIS. IT IS STUPID FUTILE AND WILL ONLY AFFECT A VERY MESSED UP SOCIETY.

          • But uh, God made that law right? So…God decides to punish right?

            And you think that the law punishable by death is justice right? So, a person steals a candy bar, and, hypothetically that’s the only sin they ever commit, and they never decide to follow Jesus and recognize him as their saviour. So, they must be punished in hell for eternity. That’s justice right?

            • first I would like to meet a one time candy thief
              secondly, if there is a pre-established law that requires punishment for an action it is the person committing the act that activates the necessity of the consequence

              • that’s kinda funny lol… i met a guy who’s only sin was stealing some hostess… jk, but stealing a ‘bit o honey’ or ’3 musketeers’ from 711 is different from the sin nature that dwells in each of us and is too vast to quantify… like the saying “get a whif of yourself, you stink” or something like that…

            • Jordan,
              I understand where you are coming from. From our own human perspective, a crime of stealing a candy bar is not worthy of death because of the small limited scope of that crime. But we must see and understand that sin is never as small and as limited as merely stealing a candy bar. Sin is an offense against an infinitely holy God. Now, stealing something from me could be repaid by the amount of what was stolen. But when we sin against God, we sin against His infinite righteousness, which He demands of us. Therefore, our price is infinite, deserving of infinite death in Hell. So sin is never as simple as we see it from our human perspective. Sin is always deeper and more sinister because of the one from whom we are stealing from, that being God Himself. When we sin, we are telling God that He does not deserve my complete respect, or that I do not need to glorify Him. This is what makes sin so horrible.

              But praise God that Jesus, the perfectly righteous Son of God came to pay the penalty for all those who place their faith in Him so they can live by His righteousness and not face the infinite penalty of death.

              • I’ve certainly heard arguments like that before, and I expected to get something like that. But honestly, all I can say is that that makes it difficult for me to distinguish between God and the devil. Not impossible, just very difficult. Similarly to my difficulty with the (certain kinds, maybe all) God of Calvinism who decides that some will be saved and others will not. You know, the elect and then the others. I mean, the logic just goes against our basic sense of justice. And yes, you can say that God is so supreme that his justice is different than ours…but then, really, is it even useful to call it justice anymore? And do we really care or want to serve a God like that? Here is where, if we look at Jonah, we see this tension. The view then was of Sheol (well, actually, there may have been no concept of the afterlife then…the idea has never been uniform throughout the the times of the creation of the bible and the stories it references)…for everyone after they died. Thus he wants justice (that is, punishment) in this life for Ninevah. Not the afterlife, because the afterlife was the same for everyone (or, just nothing). I feel like, perhaps, this is our same wish…that people would be punished for not believing the same things as us, for not living pious and righteous lives. So, we demand hell and promise it. And say, its justice. Its curious to me that Jonah still thought God would destroy Ninevah and that he was sad and angry when God did not. That’s what it sounds like to me when people insist on “clear” and “hard” teaching on hell. That we are disappointed when God might work in other ways than we know.

                And yes, I didn’t mention that the people were warned and then they repented and it could be said that this warning has now been given through Jesus, and the saving is happening to some. Maybe. But there are still many who have not heard, what for them? And, none of this precludes the possibility that later on, “when judgement comes”, there won’t be repentance and then mercy.

                And in all that, is why we should consider what Bell is actually arguing. Dismissal because he is a “universalist” before finding out, first, if he is one, and second, his reasoning for that position. Then there may be, at least, some sympathy with his position…even without holding the same one.

                I should also say that a lot of what I said, you weren’t addressing at me. That’s mostly my reply to various parts of numerous comments above or below, and since this is up here, maybe someone will read it.

              • Jordan,
                First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I believe that this kind of discussion can help us grow.

                I would like to address one thing you made mention of in your post when you said that we look forward to other people who do not agree with us to receive justice from God. That is as far from my own personal feelings as I can get. The story of Jonah is there for us to teach us the compassion that God wants us to have for those who are perishing. Jonah is the example for us NOT to follow. Hell is a horrible doctrine, and by horrible I mean that I do not desire for anyone to go there. I hate the thought of people actually going there. But I believe in it, not because I want people to go there, but because the Bible teaches it. And if Hell was not real and there were no consequences for people who disobeyed God, then why would God have sent Jonah to Ninevah so they might repent? Because if they did not repent, then they would have perished and gone to Hell. If God never sent anyone to Hell, there would be no need for us to go and tell people about Jesus. We would all eventually make it there anyways. But Christ demands for us to go because He has chosen to work through us to make the good news known to those who have not heard so that they might repent and find life, because without Him they will die and go to Hell. It definitely does not have anything to do with me wanting them to go to hell, because I do not. It has to do with God’s holiness and righteousness. God is a just God and He cannot excuse sin. In fact, all sin has been and will be punished. Either the person will bear the punishment for his/her own sin, or by faith the person’s sin has been dealt with by the punishment of Christ. If there were no hell and everybody went to heaven, then the death of Christ was all in vain. In fact, this is what shows us God’s love for us is the fact that Christ really took upon Himself the punishment that was reserved for Himself.

                As for those who have not heard, Paul tells us in Romans 1 that nature gives us enough knowledge of God that we all stand condemned for not believing in Christ. So even never having heard the gospel will not be a good excuse for not receiving Christ, because we all in our sin have rejected God Himself.

                And Jesus tells us quite a bit about Hell and the consequences for not believing in and following Him. Every time he mentions being thrown out to where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, He is referring to Hell. So, hell is not something I believe in because I want to see other people be punished for not agreeing with me, hell is something I believe in because Christ and the whole of Scripture preaches it. And He taught His disciples about Hell to encourage them to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus so that some might be saved. Hell should encourage us to share Jesus out of our compassion for others.

                The truth of hell and everything that Scripture teaches about it must be taught to help other people find the only salvation that comes to us in Jesus Christ alone.

                Finally, one last point. This all really began to make sense for me when I heard Louie Giglio speak at a Student Life Camp. He was preaching on 1 John where it says that God is love. He proceeded to talk about what it means to be loving. Being loving is not just allowing the people you love to do whatever they want. Loving someone means making sure they have the absolute best. The absolute best is God Himself. So in order to be loving, God has to make His glory primary in the life of His people. If He were to look at me and say James, I’m going to let you glorify yourself, He would be unloving because He would be giving me infinitely less than what is best for me. Therefore, He punishes me whenever I sin and steal His glory, because He must maintain His own glory. To do any less would be unloving and He would not be God. That is why God says that He is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with any other. To do so would be to give less than the best to His people and would be unloving in itself. Therefore, as hard as it might seem for us, His justice to keep His glory central to all He does is loving because He is making sure we have the best He has to offer, Himself. And those who do not want His glory, but would rather glorify themselves get exactly what they want, to be separated from His glory in Hell. Again, it’s a horrible thought, but I have to believe it because it is what Scripture teaches, which is why God has commissioned us to share with the lost how wonderful and beautiful God is so they might receive Him and glorify Him with their lives in joyful obedience.

                Without the doctrine of hell, much of Scripture would have to be thrown out, which is why this topic is such a big deal for believers. Bell was right in the video, what we believe about heaven and hell is extremely important because it does affect our view of God. Either we see a God who does not care what His people do and allows them to do whatever they want, even if it hurts them, and therefore He is an unloving and unholy and unrighteous God, or God is a God who so cares about His people that He ensures they will be satisfied with only the best, namely Himself, that He will punish those who do not glorify Him in Hell because His righteousness and holiness and love demands it.

              • Thanks for, at least (haha), engaging me civilly. That’s fairly delightful given much of what’s been going on around here (and the rest of the internet).

                I realize that probably no one actually wants hell to exist (and the other things I mentioned). But, the rhetoric makes me feel that way (generally; I didn’t get that from what you said). And that seems to push people away as much as anything. Not the possibility of hell itself, but that others kind of wish they’d just go there and pay for their sin. I’m basically just frustrated with some of the other comments read, and, say, Piper’s tweet.

                I’m not sure I accept the glory proposition. It seems to feed into what I mentioned before about having difficulty telling God apart from the devil. (but that’s more in the frame within Calvinism, whereby God ordains everything for his glory, and thus, ordains that some will be his followers and others will not and they will burn and in this God is glorified. But, if this is determined, predestined, that some will be saved by God and the rest will suffer…that God is a monster. Tell me then the difference between God and the devil; it seems to cease to be a meaningful difference.)

                If we try to get rid of some of our baggage about hell, and read Jonah as would have been understood by the Jews in exile up to the 1st century or so, I think we get a pretty different reading. One, I suppose, I’m suggesting is a better interpretation. The concept of the afterlife that we see in the Hebrew scriptures is of Sheol. It is the place you go when you die…and everyone goes there. The cosmology of the time had, below the earth, Sheol (the place of the dead, the netherworld, etc), on the surface, where the living are, and above that, heaven (where God is…I’m sure you realize that, I’m just trying to be as clear as possible). So, as we see in this picture, Sheol is the farthest place from God, but it is also where everyone is bound to end up, in death. Part of the punishment of sin; death. It should also be noted that water (like deep water-lakes, seas, etc) was seen as an abyss- representative of Sheol and death. Which gives an extra layer of meaning to Jonah’s being cast overboard into the deep water to die (and also when Jesus says he is doing something similar). But in Sheol, nothing much seems to happen. Job wants to go there to be spared the suffering he is undergoing, Hezekiah prays to have his journey there delayed (that is, to not die yet), the Psalmist mentions Sheol plenty, and so on. But the idea is never that it is anything like the lake of fire and brimstone. Nor that it is a happy place. Men go to be with their fathers, or perhaps to Abraham’s bosom, but this seems to be the only mention of a bit of separation between good and bad people. Because in the end, that distinction may not actually be possible. That is, all have sinned, all die. But, because there was equality in Sheol, we see such an emphasis on justice in this life. Particularly in the prophets. This is why Jonah wants them to be destroyed, not because he thinks hell is waiting for them, but because they are an affront to God now, doing terrible things, oppressing others, etc etc. But God decides to show mercy when they repent? They deserve to die! That is justice. I need to say again though, it is not because they are going to hell for more punishment. Death is the punishment.

                In the Christian scriptures (should have said earlier, if I’m starting to sow confusion, these would be the new testament and the hebrew scriptures are the old testament, but I’ve become PC enough that I feel jerky towards Jewish beliefs when I use those terms), since they are written in Greek, Sheol is translated as Hades. Which the Greek understanding of, is fairly similar to the Hebrew understanding of Sheol. Only, the Greeks had more stories about what it was actually like. Otherwise, its the place of the dead, all who die go there, there isn’t coming back. Except for, it seems, things like summoning. Recall that Samuel was summoned by the seer of Endor.

                With most of this in mind, I don’t see how its actually necessary for there to be a hell of eternal suffering and how that shows God’s righteousness. Sheol is already separation, the furthest you can be from God. It seems to correlate to the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, so much talked about by Jesus. So then we get to Jesus, who is the one who conquers death and frees us from its power.

                I have more to say, and that stuff is actually to address when hell is mentioned (some of that is translating hades as hell, which, in overstepping my boundaries as not anywhere near an expert in biblical studies, I think is sometimes (at least) a mistranslation. At least one that adds to confusion). What I was trying to say though, is that I am just getting too tired to write anymore. It feels extraordinarily late. Hopefully this has remained cogent, aieee!

              • well articulated! thank you!

              • Jordan,
                You do pose a very good question about the difference between God and the devil. We have been taught that it is wrong for us to seek our own glory because in other words,that would be selfish. And it is completely right. But when we see God seeking His own glory, we see Him doing what we’ve been taught not to do. But the question is, who deserves all the glory? Who is the highest, most majestic, most powerful, most beautiful being in all existence deserving all the glory? The answer is God Himself. If there were someone else higher than Him to give His glory to, He would, but there’s not. He is the highest being in all the universe, and therefore the One who deserves all the glory. And for God to give His glory to someone or something else would make Him idolatrous because He would be worshiping something else as God that only He deserves. The devil on the other hand, just like us, does not deserve any glory because he is a created being, just like us. I do not deserve any glory, no person on this earth deserves glory, no created being such as angel or demon or created thing like sun, moon, or stars deserve glory. Only God alone deserves all the glory because He is God. And to keep from worshiping a false god, He must remain God-centered. This is why God must seek His own glory. He is the only One who deserves it.

                With that being said, I understand that you may still not accept all I am saying, and that’s alright. The truth of the matter is that knowledge of God cannot come from human reasoning like I just gave you, but from the Holy Spirit Himself. Let me encourage you to do something. Pray for God to help you through this issue. Could it be possible that I am wrong, sure. I don’t believe I am because of what I see in Scripture, but I cannot convince you to believe what I believe through my own words. The only way you can be convinced of the truth of Scripture is by the power of the Spirit Himself. So pray for God to show you the truth of His word. Pray asking Him to help you show how beautiful He is and why He deserves all the glory and why He alone is worthy of all our praise and devotion. Ask Him to help you see why His justice demands Hell for those who do not believe and give Him glory. I am not saying you have to agree with me, I am saying, please seek God’s answer to these questions.

                I hope you have a blessed day and I do pray that God shows you the answers to these questions.

              • So, what I am trying to suggest is that the general concept of hell is not entirely accurate, and it is not coming from a “plain reading” of the text. At least, that it is an eternal suffering place for those who reject Jesus. It is never said explicitly that one who ends up in “the lake of fire” will be there forever, punished forever. And that, actually this is necessary because God is holy and must do this. You can find parts to support your view of this, but there are also other parts that cast doubt on that interpretation. Not to mention that much of that theology is coming by extension from those verses. The truth of scripture seems to be a lot less straightforward, a lot more nuanced. Hell was not a necessary concept for belief in a just God, a perfect and holy God, in the Hebrew scriptures. Sin was serious then, and I’m not diminishing its seriousness. But, when it is mentioned that there will be judgement, it does not say “burning in hell for all eternity”. It just says judgement. Then, in a few cases, references are made to the lake of fire. It may burn for eternity, but it doesn’t say that they will be there suffering for eternity. And, in Revelation, after the last mention of the lake, the new Jerusalem comes down, and in the city are those who have eternal life. Outside, there are still people. The “dogs” and whatnot. They aren’t experiencing heaven, but they are not necessarily stuck in “hell” forever. There may be the possibility that their “garments can be washed” and that they might have eternal life too. And then it might be possible that all could be saved. Its at least a tenable position, even if it is not ultimately persuasive to you. Much as your’s is tenable but not persuasive to me.

                P.S. for those below…and maybe some above(I did, yes, use a bit of a trivial thought experiment with the one sin thing. Of course, sin is more than just the act, but so often what is said is “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…You too have sinned. Remember, you have lied, etc. And that’s all it takes. Because of that you deserve death, and the bible says hell as well.” )

            • Jordan, do you believe that God is infinitely holy and infinitely just? Do you know that when the angels declare God’s holiness they cry out, “Holy, holy, holy”? If God is THAT holy, do you think an inkling of sin can ever enter His kingdom?

              James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” The KJV and Geneva versions says that the sinner is GUILTY of all of it.

              That’s how holy God is; sin is so abhorrent and so disgusting to God, He will absolutely not allow a single sin in His kingdom. Otherwise, it would contradict His character and nature and He said he is unchanging. If you think God will let anyone who commits even one sin into heaven, in your mind you destroy His nature by calling Him a liar and unholy and unjust, and thus destroy our hope in Him.

              • If you read scripture where it talks about “the kingdom of heaven” it is WITHIN …. Not in the sky somewhere ;) It is to be attained. If you understand the Greek use of “the kingdom of heaven” in those chapters, then you will better understand what Jesus is talking about when he references it. That would would make what your explaining sound like false teaching….

              • God has cleansed us of our sin if we repent. Therefore, this is theologically deeper than what you have stated. Is our God not mighty enough to cover our sins, no matter how atrocious, if we turn from them and call on God? If we truly believe in Christ then we are children of God and we are holy and beloved. God’s grace covers us. We are free.

            • it is the rejection of Jesus that is the greater sin, not the stealing a sweet.

              sin is not a humanly subjective act of evil. sin is the natural human failure to meet God’s set standard for us. that’s why forgiveness is necessary, and that’s why Jesus is necessary.

            • So I live a perfect life and all i do is Murder somebody, should i then not go to jail?

              • Uhh, yep, exactly. Some might deem execution fitting even. But, torture for eternity? Doesn’t seem to fit the crime does it?

              • Jordan, if God is not so holy, then yes the punishment does seem disproportionate to the crime. If He wasn’t the ultimate Judge, then eternal punishment is far too great of a consequence.

                Our theology of God is not so small that we begin to question what He has clearly decreed in His word. I want you to understand that sin is more serious than we realize because it’s active rebellion against an infinitely dignified God. We have not sinned against a fellow man but against the infinite God.

                Think of it this way; Paul Washer, a Southern Baptist preacher, brought up this point: the seas, the animals of the earth and sea and sky, all the mountains and valleys, the Sun and Moon, and even the great stars more massive than we can imagine; they all obey God. God gives a command, and they cry, “Amen.” But, He commands us, and we say, “No!”

                That’s how serious sin is. It’s why Uzzah, who tried to steady the Ark of the Covenant, died instantly for touching the Ark no matter how seemingly good the intention. Aaron stayed silent when God destroyed his two sons for using unauthorized oil for sacrifice because he knew that God is just and holy.

              • From what I’ve been able to read in these discussions, sin is being characterized as something one does, as opposed to a condition one is IN. The actions of a person merely reflects their heart’s condition, the operating dynamic of their heart. If you live, supposedly, a perfect life – yet are not regenerated from your former Sin condition, not given an new heart and a new mind, not granted repentance, and a New Life as a New Creation in Christ, one is, as Jesus put it, ‘condemned already’. But the perfect behaviour of what scripture calls a continuously evil heart in constant rebellion (evil because it was born into the Curse, Rebellion the inherent result thereby) is a flight of fancy. It is a straw man.

                Heaven is not a reward. It is not an attainment. If it were, then going there would be something earned or deserved. One could boast about attaining it by their performance. It would be the one who ‘wills’ and the one who ‘runs’ who make it. But scripture says it is not the one who will, or runs, but God Who shows mercy.

                On ‘sending’ one to Hell: is not getting in the way of someone willfully hellbound ‘sending’ them? If I warn a person that the bridge is out, and they scoff and drive off the bridge, did I ‘send’ them? And as they crash on the rocks below, are they angry at me because they rejected my warning? And if I pull the keys out of someone else’s car, preventing them from that same fate, was I unfair to the other fellow dashed on the rocks below? Or am I duty bound, now, to remove EVERYBODY’s keys? (a form of Universalism)

                If all men have become unprofitable, and not one seeks Him, no, not one, if each goes their own way by their own choice fashioned by their own reasoning (let’s say Free Will), and that ‘way’ is uniformly at enmity with and in rebellion against God, whether or not they actually manifest their hearts by actions of commission or ommission, resulting in judgement from a Holy God, then would not confronting them with the error of their choice be seen as an act of kindness? But would not binding some from such a fate, waking them up from their death-sleep be seen rather as a rescue? We tend to see God’s sovereign election as dragging people kicking and screaming into Hell. I would submit no such scenario exists. Rather, the opposite: Individuals are ‘seized’ for Christ, awakened to Him, their hearts supernaturally changed even while in the midst of open rebellion! Correspondingly, others are graciously left alone, relatively unmolested, to seek the thing they really want and desire without interference from God, (although annoyingly warned along the way by those who would have them know of God’s grace.)

                Nobody ever went into outer darkness against their will. They fought hard for the fruition of their self will. It would be an unkindness to drag people kicking and screaming into Heaven to spend an eternity with a God they spent a lifetime rejecting and rebelling against.

                What Rob Bell exhibits in his books, especially Velvet Elvis, and what is implied in his book review and in his video trailer – is simply an extension of his already stated concepts of his ‘springy faith’ of the spiritual trampoline, or the ‘spongy faith’ of his wall-of-faith in his “Brickland” (where he omits that Scripture does not describe a wall, but rather, a solid foundation) – simply points to his own post modern philosophy that God cannot be known, that the Scripture, therefore, are just finite and failing words in a book reciting a narrative where truth might be in the midst, but not definatively articulated, that scripture must be interpreted by each generation as a group for themselves, and that all people are part of God’s family whether they know it, or want to be, or not. A sort of reverse Reform Calvanism.

              • I think what some are not seeing is that salvation is about the relationship with Christ and not just about what we do (our works). The deeper sin here is the rejection of God, not the sin that is committed. I’m not demeaning sin here, it’s something God tells us not to do, but repentance is the key. I believe you can commit the most atrocious sin ever (besides blaspheming the Holy Spirit), truly turn to Jesus, and find salvation in Him, thus saving your eternal soul. That is His grace that’s available to all.

                BUT, if you don’t accept him, there’s no way for you to get that grace, primarily because you’re not seeking it. So then, if you murder or steal a candy bar and reject Christ, then Yes, eternal punishment is the result of eternal separation. But if you murder or steal and accept Christ and repent, then you are made clean. God’s gift, and sometimes curse, is that He doesn’t interfere with our free will. He doesn’t send us to Hell, it’s not His will for us to go to Hell, but we are the ones who choose separation. I don’t want to discuss predestination because i’m not sure about it, but just because He knows what we will choose, doesn’t mean He determined it. So I believe, but i know there are other opinions! :)

                Also, there’s a huge difference between God and Satan. Namely, God is the revealer of His truth and Satan is the Accuser (“you’re not good enough.”). Satan brings guilt for our sins, while knowing God’s forgiveness (which He promises us if we just ask) brings joy, peace, and thankfulness. When you seek God and really, really get to know Him, there’s a peace and a harmony and a goodness that’s way beyond this world. You know that you know that this relationship is what we were made for, and it is good. This is as opposed to following the world and the ruler of this world (Satan) which is fleeting pleasure, a rollercoaster of emotions, and relying on a flawed self.

                Satan is the real enemy here, pulling us away from God’s goodness. Why does everyone blame God for bad things when Satan is the one who instigates them? Again, it’s the issue of free-will that God created all beings with and something He doesn’t mess with. He doesn’t want robots with no free will to love him. Satan, the World, and the Flesh are our enemies, and we can decide how we will rely on God’s strength, or not, to get through this short life and into the eternal one.

            • Throughout this string of posts and replies I have seen where several people have made mention of God “sending people to hell.” God does not send people to hell!!! It is true that God laid forth the mandate that sin is punishable by death, however God provided a substitute, someone to stand in our place and take the punishment of death upon Himself. That substitute was Jesus and all we have to do is accept His FREE gift of salvation. Therefore, it is upon us whether we die and go to hell or die and go to heaven. God sends no one to hell!! “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

              • Justin (Staton), I’m not sure that kind of oversimplification is helpful. There are billions who have died without ever even hearing the name “Jesus” uttered, let alone the meaning of his atoning work. To pretend that God threw the doors open and invited everyone in doesn’t take into account the actual world in which we live – a world in which millions are dying while you read this having never even had the opportunity to know about sin or repentance.

              • Justin, I believe you’re missing one very important thing here.

                Jesus never said we must simply accept Him to be saved. In Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel”. In Luke 13:3, He said, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” In other passages, He said that unless you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him you are not worthy of being His disciple. He said that one who places his hands on the plow and yet looks back is not worthy of Him. Interestingly, He said all this in context of His gospel of grace. Believing in Christ has so many implications to it than simply believing in your mind and intellectually acknowledging Him. The reason why salvation is a gift is because in our nature, we would have rejected Christ. But, God, being merciful, through the Holy Spirit, changed us and freed us from the bondage of sin so that we are able to choose, love, and follow Him. It’s all because of Jesus that you are alive (as the song goes). Therefore, how can you not desire to obey Him or live your life entirely for Him unless you did not understand the gospel clearly nor come to Him in genuine faith? We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). But, such love can only come from God; faithful living is by grace, produced by the work of God and not of ourselves or for our boasting (Ephesians 2:8,9). That’s how salvation can both be free and cost us everything.

                I’m curious to know what you are implying by using 2 Peter 3:9.

              • Amen! We choose hell by rejecting Christ.

              • John,

                Billions HAVEN’T died never hearing the name of Jesus, Gods WORD says ALL will have been given the chance to know Jesus. Unless your talking about babies & young children who aren’t at an age of accountability.

                Please tell me you KNOW that some have died never hearing his name or given the chance to except him into their hearts. You KNOW their hearts? because if you do than that would make you God.

            • C’mon Jordan, it’s not the stealing of the candy bar that will send him to hell, it’s not excepting Christ as their Lord and Savior that does that. John 3:16

          • put the bullhorn down man

          • i think you left your caps lock on.

          • First, it doesn’t matter what you believe. It matters what the Bible says.

            Second, there WAS no sin before “the universe was created”. Remember? God created man and woman- Adam and Eve- in perfect union with him. There was no need for lawS, as the only law was “don’t eat from that tree”.

          • To state that before creation sin was punishable by death, is to grossly misinterpret Scripture, giving light to the very thing that Bell talks about in this promo video, “… it sounds as if Jesus was rescuing us from God.” That’s not the heart of God, and it never has been. In the time before a loving God created the world, He was not, in His foreknowledge of their sin, deciding how he would punish them for it… He was determining how He would save them from it. All this strife, all this division, all this attacking of one another, is not serving to further the Gospel. It’s distracting from the truth of the Gospel. Jesus did not come to save you from Hell. He came to save you from sin… and from yourself. Hell was not created for people, it was created for Satan. Yes it is real, yes it is Biblical, yes it is an end destination for some. But it is misrepresenting the heart of God to insinuate that His plan was to start off sending everyone to hell, and to let Jesus pluck them out one by one. He desires all men to be saved, and will use any means necessary to accomplish that… sending His own Son to die. I haven’t read the book, and I think it’s important to remember that none of you have either. But the OTHER articles available to summarize the book, DO NOT seem to imply not that Hell doesn’t exist or that God would never send people there, but rather that a life lived in sin, and without Jesus, creates enough turmoil here on earth, such that “we can have all the hell we want now.” It seems, AGAIN WITHOUT HAVING READ THE BOOK, to imply not that hell is empty or that the cross eliminates the option for ANYONE to go their regardless of beliefs, but rather that hell as the main focus takes away from the beauty of what was done on the cross. Yes, the gift of salvation is eternal life, and Jesus is the only way to obtain that… but salvation sets you free from sin NOW, while you work it out with fear and trembling, He is at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The work of the cross rescues us not just from Hell, but from sin, and from ourselves! It’s goal is to show not that sending Jesus to the cross was an act of LOVE (love wins), not Jesus saving us from the clutches of a God who condemns us all to hell.
            This is just wasting time. Is anyone preaching the beauty of the truth of the gospel, or are we too busy criticizing literature we haven’t read?

        • Honestly all of the arguments are valid that I see. I only mean to mention that calling someone a wolf is quite an accusation, and not something you can take back. I should have been more clear, I am in no way condoning universalism. My best advice is to maybe wait to read his book and really pray for discernment as to his motives before we make accusations like this. To think anyone of us are 100% right in our theology is quite arrogant. Please keep that in mind. Great discussion everyone, thanks for the insight :)

        • PK – thanks for your thoughts, well put.

        • I think that Rob Bell is simply going to give an answer to these questions. I dont believe he is a Universalist but that he is simply trying to draw people who have had similar questions about faith and the bible into reading his book. Do you see what has happened here. This has brought up such controversy that now everyone is wanting to read his book. I do not think his goal is to contradict the word of God but rather to explain the word of God to those who contradict it.

          • also to make money… Why spend so much money on a very well made promotion video if he doesn’t assume the book will make way more. We are ignorant to think that Rob Bell and other emergent friends write these books without any desire to make a buck. In fact it is possible that maybe more of a motivator than anything else.

        • WOW-spewing dogma and judgment here. well done, sir.

      • … and the fact that others do not see the wolf is no evidence that he doesn’t exist.

      • Hi John, thanks for this crucial point. “……there is a huge difference between possibly being wrong on a theological level and being a wolf”.

        A wolf knows it’s a wolf.

        Being wrong on a theological level is also identifiable by repentance (turning away) from error when it is pointed out in meekness. While meekness is crucial, its absence shouldn’t deter dropping wrong/false teaching. Repentance is sheep nature!

        Wolf is a nature and as such, repentance is not natural to it- it shows itself by defending error with more error.

        Patience will win since everything hidden is programmed to be revealed later. Is now a waiting game!

      • Justin…
        God certainly does send people to hell. He does pass sentence, and he executes it. Indeed, worse than that. God does not just send he throws. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown (Greek eblethe) into the lake of fire(Revelation 20:15; Mark 9:47; Matthew 13:42; 25:30).

    • While watching the video the first thing that came to mind is Gen 1:3 …Did God actually say…

      • AMEN. AMEN AMEN. yes Bell, God did say that. READ it

        Trust in the Lord with all your heart

        and lean not on your OWN understanding;

        6in all your ways acknowledge him,

        and he will make your paths straight.a

        7Do not be wise in your own eyes;

        fear the Lord and shun evil.

    • i think that if half of you knew what your pastors really believed about everything you are taught, you would lose your minds.

      just goes to show you that a few buzz words can set the world a blaze.

      and before anyone else comments, spend 4 years in seminary and then reply because there is a lot of uneducated hear-say, which is just as bad as heresy.

    • What exactly are you so afraid of? The questioning? How does this make him a “wolf” and who are you to judge your brother? Are you not assuming God’s role then? Are we not allowed to question and ponder the mysteries of our mighty God? It does not make God docile, it allows us to be human. If you just take every word that comes out of the mouths of John Piper and Justin Taylor and even Rob Bell as gospel then who are you serving? That is something Rob Bell addresses directly, that he is merely a commentator and God’s word is where we should turn to allow God to reveal himself.

    • I don’t think you can call RB a wolf. I believe his intentions are good. He might be wrong, but I don’t think that is fair for him to be labeled so harshly. A wolf in sheeps clothing is someone who is tricky. They are putting on a nice facade, but they are doing it for evil. I don’t think Rob Bell is doing that.

    • If Rob Bell is a wolf, calling him that isn’t going to help anyone. It only alienates and angers those who follow him and hardens their hearts against you.

      If you’re wrong, however, then you are bringing false witness and false accusations against your brother and you pile curses on your own head.

      Therefore hold your tongue until you can learn to speak of your brother with love.

    • HE’S BRILLIANT! HES GOING TO MAKE A FORTUNE OFF THIS BOOKS JUST BECAUSE HE’S STIRRING THE POT. HE’S GOING TO SIT BACK AND WATCH YOU CHRISTIANS HAVE A PISSING MATCH, AND BANK!

      HES GOT YOU GUYS RIGHT WHERE HE WANTS YA.

      • If you mean that he has us all discussing, then maybe. Do you know him so well that you can speak of any malicious intent on his part? Is there a reason that you can claim that he has a hardened and evil heart to invoke fear and anger among Christians? That is a loose and unraveled assumption.

    • Condemnation. That’s what the church at large is know for these days. It so sick and so sad, and so NOT the way of Jesus. Sure, he did have some harsh words for the self-assured, self-righteous Pharisees; your self-assuredness and harshness reminds me more of them than of Him. I’m glad that “love wins”.

      • You are right that there is condemnation in the church, but to stand up for righteousness, to call false teaching false teaching is not condemnation, it is an obligation. Read about the watchman in Ezekiel. If I knew you were about to drink poison, shouldn’t I say, “hey, that’s poisonous!” Shouldn’t I warn you? I can’t stop you from drinking it, that is your choice, but I have a responsibility to speak up. Just the same, it is the duty of a Christian to call out those who are leading the sheep astray. You will find instances of that in the Bible if you look. Jesus loved/loves but when it came to the truth he was no pacifist.

        • When you warn someone about drinking poison, you can do so without condemning the person. Imagine if a dentist condemned you for not properly brushing your teeth, resulting in cavities – that would be totally out of line. One can diagnose without condemnation. But that’s NOT what I see here – I see the spirit of the Pharisees rising up to crucify one without really wanting to hear him out.

    • John Piper once wisely wrote, “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.”

      This is hilarious. John Piper has TERRIBLE theology.

      Rob Bell isn’t saying that Ghandi is in Heaven, just that WE don’t know he’s in hell. Can we give the just God we serve permission to decide who has accepted the work of Jesus on the cross as atonement? Can we stand in the tension between love and justice? He is a both/and God, not an either/or God. Where is the discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit? How is it any man’s job to decide who is a member of the Bride? Why are people so uncomfortable with God’s mystery?

    • Chris Whitelaw

      so i watched the video, read the review and read quite a number of the debated comments…. i am distressed by how many people have been deceived in their teaching!

      Rob Bell in short pretty much says everyone goes to heaven because God is Love, and Love always wins.

      Yes God is Love. But God is also the Just and Righteous Judge.

      The fact that everyone goes to heaven even those who haven’t accepted Jesus is not biblical!!

      Before reading the book, or watching the video please read ROMANS 3.

      I believe the bible’s theology (God’s Word) far surpasses the theology and knowledge of Rob Bell any day!

    • How can you even say that? Have you ever thought to pull the wool out from over your eyes to think for yourself for a moment?

      If God is “all loving” and “desires all to be saved,” then what is the point in creating a hell? If God wants no harm to befall humans, then why does he have such a sharp wrath?

      Rob Bell is simply looking towards the opposite end of a colossal biblical contradiction.

      Think about it.

      Why didn’t this powerful God squelch evil at the source? Are we but a board game? Did he create an enemy for the sake of passing time?

      The loose ends are completely endless, and before you call someone a wolf, think about the way Jesus was looked at by the Pharisees. I’m not calling Bell a modern Christ, but Jesus completely flipped the script.

      You can hide from your doubt forever. But this book is great for those who embrace the thought that a book written by man (and you know it was.) may not be “theologically correct”

  2. Whoa. His questions are like those that a young brother of sister in the faith ask. Misunderstandings that are brought to correction by the Word giving a knowledge (however small) of God’s holiness and glory and ultimately of our sin. This sets up the good news. It’s why it’s good news. I don’t understand this video or his litany of focused, misleading questions. I’ll pray for me, then him. Hoping my frustration will turn to compassion over this.

    Geez.

  3. Did Barth say something similar to this when he said, “God’s yes is bigger than man’s no.” Barth may not have come out and said he was a universalist but he certainly didnt do much to remove that highly possible interpretation of his words. I look forward to getting this book when it comes out.

  4. Karl Barth also said when asked if he believes in hell: “No! I believe against it!” The right posture for every Christian, I believe.

    Barth was the greatest theologian of the 20th century and I believe Bell is one of the greatest preachers of the 21st. Can’t wait to read this book. I’m glad he’s here.

    • I’m not glad.

      He is in direct opposition to Jesus’ teaching. That puts him in direct danger of that which he is now denying and leading others there with him.

    • He never said that he didn’t believe in Hell.

    • Chad, please dont misunderstand me. I dont agree with Barth’s statement nor Bell’s theology. The fruit of his emergent theology has finally come full circle as did McLaren’s. Bell is dead wrong. For all of the contributions Barth made toward theology he is dead wrong as well.

      • Well, thank God for your certainty about who is and who is not “dead wrong.” Does the virtue of humility mean anything?

        • There is nothing arrogant about saying that something that contradicts truth is wrong. Jesus, Paul, Peter (just to name a few) taught exclusivity, that is that Jesus is the only was to be forgiven of sin(and its consequence, Hell)(John 14:6; Rom 2:12-16;10:9-10; 2 Peter 3:1-10) Universalism is heresy and it will result in the death of missions and evangelism in its followers lives.

          • In all those quotes where is hell mentioned? No one comes to father, but through Christ does not automatically imply a “therefore everyone else goes to hell and burns for eternity”. One is more reminded of Jesus saying that those who have seen him have seen the father. But there seem to have been other examples of those who were not part of the Abrahamic (and his descendants) covenants, who yet were in good standing with God. That is, Melchizedek.

            All to say, it seems that the issue is not as clear cut and dry as we seem to think of it as being. The scripture that is often quoted, may not be saying what we actually think it is saying.

          • Elliott,
            I am not a universalist but your assumption that universalism ends with the death of missions and evangelism is a pretty weak one. It embraces a very limited view of what missions and evangelism are to accomplish.

            The role of missions isn’t simply to pack the stadium of heaven by getting confessions for Christ(a poor theology in and of itself as our destination is not heaven but instead the new heaven and new earth).

            A universalist could appropriately pursue missions in the hope of bringing others into the life abundant in Christ in the present. Too many believers are sitting around waiting for heaven when we are to be coworkers with God in his redemptive work now. Universalist or not, at least Bell is not regurgitating theology that he has not studied or wrestled over.

            For those in the middle of this debate,see the book No Other Name by John Sanders.

          • There are plenty of people that will still need saving- like all the thousands of people who were murdered and raped in the Congo recently, or the millions of teenage girls born and kidnapped into sex trafficking ?!?!? Just to start. What a different world we would live in, if the church actually thought this way ….

        • Elliot said “it will result in the death of missions and evangelism in its followers lives.”

          Dude, look around. Missions and evangelism is suffering greatly – and you can’t blame it on universalism – and it ain’t because Rob Bell wrote a new book.

          Maybe it’s because we spend too much time fighting over theological issues that have been unresolved for centuries.

          You guys have proven Rob Bell guilty before the book has even been released! It’s your arrogant dogmatism that is killing missions and evangelism. Whatever happened to love? Oh, sorry, that’s the title of the heretic’s book, Love Wins.

          • Gene, I could not agree more. The real heretics are the ones who present false information against his brother in order to put him down. True judgement should come only from God. We are in a lot more trouble if we assume God’s role and start judging others. Especially judgement without love. We are not supposed to just go through life finding wrong in others, we are to love them. That is all we’re called to do is to LOVE and yet we keep fighting and keep slandering our brothers and sisters.

          • Thank you, Gene, my thoughts as well. It would be nice if those who criticize would actually read the book.

  5. Wow, I pray God’s will be done, and that that includes this book not being used to deceive people.

  6. This breaks my heart and makes me so angry all at once.

  7. Memorably, D.A. Carson once said that the gospel is God saving us from God, by God, for God. Rob Bell just said the opposite. So sad. I don’t doubt that he himself is saved, but those who hear is message now are being pointed towards Hell.

    • Yeah the way Bell said that was as if to pit Jesus against God.

      • Right!

        He’s building his whole outrage on the fallacy that people believe “Jesus rescues us from God” …words from his mouth in this video. Really? Think about that in light of the Trinity.

        Slippery words. You know, 99% water and 1% arsenic will still kill you.

      • it sounded to me more like he was trying to point out that there is something not right about pitting Jesus against God, not that he himself is pitting Jesus against God

  8. ‎”One cannot forever whistle ‘There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy’ in the darkness of Hiroshima, of Auschwitz, of the murder of children and the careless greed that enslaves millions with debts not their own.”

    — Wright, Surprised by Hope, 180

    While I’m no longer sympathetic to outright universalism, it is important to distinguish what kind of universalist Bell may be: (1) A pluralist (all roads lead to heaven); or (2) “Trinitarian universalist” (universalism maintaining the exclusivity of Christ)?

    The former is pagan; the latter, while misguided, has typically slipped through the cracks throughout the church’s history. Nevertheless, I agree, Bell sounds like a kid who’s just starting to think for himself—only worse, he’s thinking out loud on a big platform and has no accountability (hey, kind of like the majority of our cultic personalities . . .).

    • Which is more wrong: shooting someone with a gun or stabbing them with a knife? It might be a fine academic debate or a good distinction in a court of law, but I real doubt the person hemorrhaging blood wishes one was done to them instead of the other.

    • Chris, you know about his accountability? Really? It’s these kinds of naive, ignorant comments that fuel the infighting. Too bad.

      • Sam, he’s an independent Protestant. I’m speaking with respect to ecclesiology.

        • and if he was say, a southern baptist that would automatically mean he was accountable to someone? Isn’t it a bit more than just being part of some denomination? I think he probably is accountable to many people in his life, I’m sure he’s not alone in his christian walk and has spiritual fathers, mothers brother and sisters. You cannot know anything about something as personal as his accountability so you shouldn’t post things like that openly on the web.

          • You see, Vicky (and Sam), that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We’re using “accountability” differently; you’re using it in the typical, modern, evangelical, individualistic, and sentimentally pious way (i.e., “accountability partner”). I’m using it in the way the church has for the past 2,000 years.

            In Bell’s case, since he is an independent Protestant, the point isn’t about denominations; it’s about whether or not Bell is following the trajectory of God’s story revealed in Scripture and protected by the universal church (most especially in her “undivided” years). Assuming he needed it, he has no one above him to tell him to shut up and sit down; we can only (weakly) hope he does so on his own. In every instance (except maybe for Athanasius), when a person within the church who is already serving in the midst of an accountability structure says something unorthodox, he says it by shunning the very (God-ordained) structure of which he is a part.

            I know all this talk of “church” is strange, not least in the midst of our hyper-individualistic American ethos. But like that early 90s mantra in politics stated: “It’s the church, stupid.”

            To the specific matter at hand: I’m granting Bell a lot of leeway here. I don’t take nearly as much umbrage with so-called Trinitarian universalists as I do pluralists (assuming he’s the former and not the latter, but admittedly the video is ambiguous on this point). And you won’t hear me talking about “praying for Rob Bell” in some kind of sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing manner.

    • Chris: that’s the best comment I’ve read on here so far. good food for thought.

  9. Toldya so!

  10. There is so much wrapped up in the video, it is like a tornado of presuppositions. But I found the part about the basics of the gospel the most interesting. Bell says, “The real question is what is God like? Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center, of the gospel of Jesus is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God?”

    Of course, a proper trinitarian theology transforms the statement, “Jesus rescues you from God” into something closer to “God rescues you from God” and this leads you from a dualist sort of evil-God vs. good-Jesus into an all-loving God balancing perfectly mercy and justice. I wonder if Bell is going to talk about that in his book or if he is just going to retreat to the shallow pop-theology of “Loving God can’t hate so nobody goes to hell” that he seems to be leading towards.

    • Jeff, I appreciate what you’re saying, but is there anything ambiguous about this blurb? “arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.” Done deal. Sure we can hear the details later, but that sentence fragment alone is enough to set Bell and Jesus at odds with one another. All that’s left at this point is parsing out the details.

      • You are on target, Adam P.

      • THANK YOU, Adam. Just what I was coming to. I don’t need to read the book- this little blurb is enough to know it’s complete crap. A true follower of Christ would never think of putting anything like this out there b/c it’s not true in the slightest.

        • Are you afraid to read and discuss what you claim to disagree with? I think it strengthens our faith to discuss and hash out within our own hearts the many questions surrounding our faith. Which is exactly what Rob Bell is trying to do, to bring us closer to God by asking questions. If anything, those so vehemently opposed and closed off are the bigger problem because you cannot find grace to love your brother and you cannot fathom questioning outside of your own box of understanding.

        • @Jen – so a “little blurb” is enough for you to pass judgment on Rob Bell and suggest he is hell bound? Your closed mind is sad, as it could deprive you of learning something beyond what you are being spoon-fed in your fundamental church. Do you ever question your pastor, teacher, or God-forbid, the bible? Or is everything simply “yes and amen”?

    • Oops. This was meant for the comment below Justin’s. I can never get these “reply” buttons right.

    • Justin,
      Rob Bell is raising some questions that I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time. When I consider that there are 7 billion people on the planet right now. (National Geographic was trying to describe that number and said if you we count to 7 billion starting today you wouldn’t be done for 200 years!) Most of these people are not Christians. How can we be so certain that all “non-Christians” will burn in hell for all eternity? It feels like a sort of spiritual aparteid to me. It’s like we let our favorite speakers define who is in and who is out. I mean, if you have to claim Jesus as Lord to go to heaven, does that mean every person, or virtually every person, who lived before Jesus is doomed to hell? That makes no sense. Is God ok with billions upon billions of people roasting in eternal judgement? Really??? I need to read the book for myself, to listen to God’s voice, to consider the Scriptures, and to make a reasonable judgement. I hope God gives us all his grace and his insight.

      • Seriously! We all need to stop assuming and judging that we know what Rob Bell believes. No one has read his book. How about we instead pray that we and everyone is guided by God to all truth. Gods grace is massive and so what if everyone goes to Heaven. Really does that change Jesus and his love and sacrifice for us. NO!!!

    • Justin,

      Good point. “But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God?” How about, a holy one? Why is it so difficult for us to acknowledge our spiritual and moral bankruptcy?

      These questions only seem profound and perplexing when asked in the abstract about “those other people”. Jesus does not deal with people in the abstract.

  11. I’m not a Rob Bell supporter by any means, and everything this article fears may very well be true about Rob Bell. However, I wish this had be withheld until after the book is released so that its statements can be fully confirmed, and not mostly speculative. Seems to me the more responsible and decent way to approach it. I know that Rob Bell has become known for asking controversial questions just like those in this video, and while I certainly don’t agree with all of his answers, I’d rather know for certain what his answers (as stated in this yet to be released book) are before calling him out for them in such a public venue.

    • I agree with Jeff. I’m sure you’ll write another article after the book releases though.

    • From this very blog’s guidelines: “I hope this can be a place where we “seek understanding” before critiquing, where we are quick to listen and slow to speak, where we judge others charitably not critically”

      Just wait till March 30th, then post it if its all confirmed. I’ve seen too many people be made a fool of because they spoke before they should have. Seems like there might be a Proverb or two about that….

      • I would normally agree but in this case he has gotten the gospel wrong. After making these statements and asking these question, how could he possibly explain them all away?

        • Just seems to me the right thing is to wait and give him the chance. Bell is known for asking questions like these to garner hype for his books and tours. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is more of the same.

        • I agree, Robert.

        • how do you know he has got the gospel wrong? All I get from this vid is that Bell is posing questions, not answers or statements… which is typical bell. He’s trying to get you to think. To know why you believe what you believe. Which is never a bad thing.
          Also I forgot when did God make us the judge of each other? did I fall asleep for a second there and miss that the old testament trumps the new testament now? because it seems from this feed that, that is the case now…? who made us God?
          Bell always throws out extremes to show us how incredible this gospel really is, how great our God really is, how love really does win. unfortunately people like to take what he says out of context…hmm that seems to happen a lot… I would suggest that the book will bring context for all those questions. just a thought

          • Meelia: He made us the judge of each other in 1 Corinthians 5:12

            • Judge or be responsible for?

            • DD, are you God to judge so swiftly? I believe the Bible says clearly to not judge one another but to hold one another accountable. Not aimlessly placing blame on everyone we find fault with, but in love approaching others with Godly wisdom.

          • BINGO! Thanks meelia. People are freaking out over nothing here. While we argue among each other, there are so many people who have never heard the gospel at all. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with them?

          • how do we know he;s got the gospel wrong? Because the bible says so! Bell is using fallen human reason to dedduce reasons why there shoul be no hell, not biblical reaasons. It like me asking, Why is murder wrong? why is stealing wring, Who says? by the way, this is not placing blame on BELL HIMSELF its the teaching that we should be forewarned about. Thedefinition of saving means saved FROM something. Jesus clearly teaches the doctrine of hell himslef there are countless versee that answer Bells questions and yet he ignores them I dont know why hes messing with the foundation for Chrsitianity.

    • While this is sometimes good advice, in this case Rob has already denied the historic Christian gospel in many videos and talks. While he may be trying to be provocative in this video, I don’t think he’s going to do a 180 and support what he appears to deny in the video.

      • I wholeheartedly agree. He isn’t going to say anything new, only that which tickles ears and makes God a God of love only.

        • Remind me as to why God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins? Love. It would seem to me that this love is conquering sin, making it the most important piece of Christian faith.

          • God’s love is never overshadowed by any of His other attributes or vice versa. Love without Justice is not love but a false premise where wrongs are not righted and there is no remedy for sin. It is by His divine decree that His love was demonstrated for sinners on the cross saving those who would believe from Hell.

            Hell is the complete absence of God and the eternal degradation of the person as they are given wholly to their sinful desires: They get what they ultimately wanted which is freedom from God and their own autonomy.

            The absence of Hell is truly God forcing Himself upon those who rejected the gospel.

      • then call him out on what he’s already said. calling someone out for a book you haven’t read is never a good idea. goes against what Justin Taylor even states are the guidelines for this very blog. you can wait 4 weeks and release this post then. Doing so now in my opinion violates the heart of the Word of God. You can be “right” wrongly.

        • I would expect premature attacks like this in the world of Politics, but Jesus teaches us in Matt 20 to be different than that. So my opinion of what Jesus means? He means be different than that. Be humble. Be loving. Be unassuming. Not quick to speak. ect. ect. Blogs like this aren’t in conformity to the heart Christ is trying to relay, in my humble opinion.

          Again, all of these things may be proven true in April. But the right thing to do is wait till april and read these things first. For all anyone knows Rob Bell could use that book to totally lay down a solid biblical teaching on heaven and hell and lead the many young people who follow him to Jesus. Or, he could become a true universalist. But we don’t know for sure till the book actually drops. Claiming otherwise is irresponsible journalism at best, and poor pastoral leadership at worst. That’s all i’m saying.

        • Kevin DeYoung’s post about the same topic was handled much more skillfully, stating truth without jumping on Character or making assumptions about the writer before having read it. I’d rather see a writer like DeYoung reinforce the foundation of truth going into a book like this rather than a writer doing as Justin Taylor did, attacking the writer himself without yet finding out what the answers even are.

          But I do love you, Justin Taylor, and respect you immensely. Disagree with your approach here, but love your calling to Christ and your heart for His people

      • @Gabriel
        I would like to see a link that shows Rob Bell denying “Historic Christian Gospel”. Since there’s “many video’s and talks”.

      • And even if he were, denying biblical Christianity, or hinting at doing so, for the purpose of generating book sales is… Well, it’s certain worth a blog post worth of rebuttal.

    • Sharon Weatherly

      I believe the video itself and Rob Bell’s presentation is enough to indicate a heretical belief system (universalism and more) … the book will only further underscore his “video advertisement for the book.” No one “wants” to believe in Hell … but that doesn’t make it any less scriptural and real. Jesus spoke about Hell frequently – yes, He also spoke of Heaven — thank goodness… He is omniscient and knows all! I believe the Gospel IS a gospel of LOVE … and should be expressed as such … However, you don’t really love a person if you do not tell him TRUTH while speaking in love … Jesus solemnly warned about getting rid of sin (another unpopular subject) in order to avoid Hell in Mark 9 (see below)… and He showed the greatest love by giving His life for us. As far as the concept and belief that only a select group will not go to Hell … there is an easy answer … Only those who believe in Jesus Christ and make Him Savior and Lord will avoid Hell. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men , whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

      “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell . And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:45-48

      There are many scripture references on Hell and other words meaning Hell. This site provides excellent research on the subject of Hell and underscores its physical existence: http://carm.org/hell

      • Don Marvin Schiewer

        Hell is literal in that passage of chopping off appendages – yet I see no one footed/no footed – eyeless Christians hobbling about.

    • Jeff — if as you suggest might be the case this is a publicity stunt and the clip is not representative of what he believes, then we should call a brother to repent over the issue of giving untold thousands of people so much material, even in a few seconds of video, to support their false cause. Having just written my own response to the video I realize we are staking a lot on a small amount of info, but that small amount of info is very misleading. If he is going a different direction, than those few seconds area lie. I suspect, however, that they can be understood at plain face value.

      http://blog.alerque.com/archives/459

    • I agree with you.

      There are so many on this thread that have been waiting for this moment and now licking their chops that they finally have some “concrete evidence” to pound Rob Bell with. It’s pretty sad. I’ve heard people say Rob Bell is a heretic after Velvit Elvis came out and they hadn’t even read the book! What scholars!

      Wait until the book comes out people! Unless you received omniscient power recently, you don’t know what the guy is going to say.

  12. I recommend another book – “Who Will Be Saved?” By Will Willimon (Bishop in the UMC). Wonderful book which truly makes the Gospel GOOD NEWS (as Jesus proclaimed it to be) rather than “potential” good news for some, and bad news for most.

    Bell, I believe, is right in line with Jesus’ message.

    • Chad – what part of Jesus’ message does Bell align with? How do you get around “no one comes to the Father except through me”? There is no need for a book to “make the Gospel Good News”. The Gospel IS Good News.

      • @ Jamie
        John 14:6 has nothing to do with Bell questioning the reality of Hell.

        • @Dhovanas – it doesn’t? Bell is doing much more than questioning the reality of Hell. He is questioning the authority of Scripture. So what happens to those who attempt to reach God outside of Jesus? What happens with our sin? Is heaven just a really corrupt place where the same type of evil and suffering exists as it does in this world today?

          • No he’s not. He’s asking questions. When did it become heresy to ask a question? (unless your mormon) You have no idea what the words are in his book. You have no right to say he is a heretic from this video.

            • Was the word heretic is my post? I said he is “questioning the authority of Scripture”. But why ask questions that are clear as day in Scripture to anyone that holds a high view of the Bible? We aren’t talking about paedo vs. credo-baptism here. We are talking about the core elements of the Gospel. “Is it what you believe?” I mean that is John 3:16 right there. Why don’t we ask questions like “Is Jesus really God?” Because that battle has already been fought and won by the early church.

              • AMEN to that. I think bell is fooling with a fooundational belief of the Gospel one of my favorite quotes by ravi zacharias is this:

                “Postmodernism tells us there’s no such thing as truth; no such thing as meaning; no such thing as certainty. I remember lecturing at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in this country. I was minutes away from beginning my lecture, and my host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts. He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.” I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?” He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.” I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?” He said, “That is correct.” I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?” All of a sudden there was silence. You see, you and I can fool with the infrastructure as much as we would like, but we dare not fool with the foundation because it will call our bluff in a hurry.

            • Hear! Hear! Dhovanas….all these guys and gals are judging before even reading the book! Heaven Help us!

              That is what you get when the American Church totally disregards Ecclesiastical authority…any tom, dick, or harry can call one a heretic. Hey Dhovanas…you’re a heretic….there you go!

              I submit we show a judgment of charity until an ecclesiastical court rules otherwise…..that will ruffle some feathers I’m sure.

    • The bad news is the law(that we are sinners and cannot keep it) the Good news is that Jesus kept the law and paid our penalty for breaking it. The way that is applied to us is laid out in Rom 10:9-10 and Luke 13:3(13:1-5).

  13. Chad and Craig, you’re highlighting one of the major problems with Barth’s theology. For reasons like that, many have resolved to try and profit from his theology where possible but to remember that he is unscriptural on the doctrine of hell. He is against Scripture, teaching contrary to it (see Isaiah 66:23-24 and Revelation 20:10, for starters; the excellent book Hell Under Fire outlines the biblical testimony on the matter). I appreciate many of Barth’s insights and eloquent writings, but I think there are better theological mentors than he.

    Niles, if I could just chime in, you’re RIGHT to feel “frustration” over this. This is falsehood. Rob Bell, a very gifted communicator and creative thinker, is directly challenging and questioning first matters of theology. When you see this being done, it’s right to pray for him, I would say. It’s right to ask God to turn him from his unbiblical teaching. It is also proper to respond in one’s heart and in conversation with humility–that must be in place.

    But it is not wrong to condemn teaching, to oppose it, to be upset by it, to stand against it, and to work to help other believers see the same. The well-known examples of Jesus condemning the money-changers (Matthew 21, eg) and Paul publicly opposing Peter are instructive for us. As Edwards showed, those whom God saves He gives us a passion for truth–and a desire to combat false teaching. We should watch our hearts, but we should also stand up and speak out boldly in faithfulness to Christ.

    • Owen,
      I disagree. Just because you or I claim someone or something is “unscriptural” does not make it so.

      • Yet you have no Scripture to support your position.

      • Chad, appreciate the dialogue. You are of course right. I’m not claiming that it’s unscriptural because I say so. The Bible speaks plainly on the matter. Some things in the Word are complex (aeschatology, Melchizedek, the holy kiss) and some are not. Luther’s hermeneutic works pretty well, seems to me.

        Like many have, I’ve written several papers on the challenge to the orthodox doctrine of hell, and I can’t get past the simple, plain testimony of Scripture. The point is made with crystalline clarity in several places. The place where the worm does not die, Gehenna, is referenced by Christ in Mark 9:43-48. Can’t get away from that, much as I am horrified by the reality of suffering in hell.

        Andy Naselli’s done terrific work on this subject for 9Marks. The whole eJournal issue is excellent. http://www.9marks.org/ejournal/hellfire-and-brimstone-interpreting-new-testaments-descriptions-hell

  14. BELL SAYS —

    1. JESUS RESCUES US FROM GOD???? SERIOUSLY?

    Jesus doesn’t rescue is FROM God He RESTORES us to God!

    God’s holiness, wrath, and justice are made known clearly in hell as well as on the cross.

    2. Bell say’s What do you have to do to get into heaven??? Again, Seriously.

    Jesus, who is God in the flesh, warns us unless we repent we will perish in hell.

    I guess Ghandi trumps Jesus.

    • Amen- again and again!!!

      • I did a study with my kids of God’s words to Adam and Eve and the serpents’. Satan didn’t change the words God used to warn Adam and Eve, he only twisted them!

    • Yeah Ben, I was also confused when he said, “Jesus rescues us from God.” Jesus rescues us from sin which leads us to hell. God didn’t send his Son into the world to rescue us from him, but to rescue us from ourselves and draw us to Him. I’m glad someone made mention of that fact.

    • I agree with you Ben. However if you look at the video below this post you will find R.C Sproul, a sound teacher, claiming that God saves us from God to God.” The problem with the way Bell worded it is that he wants to suggest that we believe that Jesus is good and God is bad.

      Jesus said “fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” Matthew 10:28.

      who destroys what in hell?

      God destroys the wicked in hell.

    • GREAT response Ben!!!!

    • +1 Awesome! Rob Bell’s Church is local to me (Mars Hill) – Wish there was something I could do to put down this wolf!

    • You’re being so ignorant. He is clearly just posing questions on opposing sides. You all will take the words in this blog as gospel rather than approach it in a Godly manner. All of you are so maliciously attacking someone for presenting the gospel in a way that is uncomfortable to you. As in, he is allowing for questioning. How dare you attack your brother by saying things like, “put down this wolf” you sound like ignorant fools. Do you count yourselves as Gods? How dare you assume the authority to “put down” any of your brothers or sisters. How atrocious that you would jump to the conclusion that he needs to be abolished. Pray for yourselves first. Worry about your own souls because God is caring for us all. God is the one in control. Or maybe you have forgotten that much.

    • Ben, you are wrong. Bell did not say those things for us to believe them as truth. He asked them to make us think. For anyone to believe differently is ignorant. By the way, how was the book? You talk like you have read it so I am just assuming that you have.

    • Amen and Amen! Jesus rescued the elect from the wrath of God, not from God.

    • Go and listen to it again.

      Bell is saying that the way we Christians present the Gospel the non-Christians think that we’re saying that Jesus rescues us from God. He’s saying we need to rethink how we communicate God & the Gospel. He’s clearly not advocating that Jesus saves us from God.

  15. This is so very sad and disturbing. Rob Bell and his Nooma videos were very instrumental in solidifying my newly found Christianity. Coming from a LDS (Mormon) background where I have been misguided and deceived most of my life (40yrs), it is very hard to see where he is taking so many in teaching this theology. I really hope that we can all just go back to the Bible, pray and know for ourselves what God has for us through Jesus. I don’t subscribe to universalism and I pray that Rob will pull his head out and see that he is leading many down the wrong path. Dump his pride and humble himself before the creator and change his ways.

    • Briana Montgomery

      AMEN, Arthur. I’m so glad that you are able to reconize this error. the Bible is our map for accurate theology!

    • Arthur, Read the book first. I hope God does not judge you as quickly as you’ve judged Rob. Goodness.

    • Cindy VanGelderen

      Thank you for writing this. It is astonishing to me that as Christians we are so ready to throw other believers under the bus. I have been a member of Mars Hill Bible Church since it began, a believer who is grateful every minute of every day for the sacrifical love of Jesus Christ on my behalf. At Mars Hill the challenge is not to question my faith in Jesus Christ, but to examine what that means in how my life is then lived – not some time in the future but today as well.
      I’ve heard Rob share his reasons for writing this book and I have a copy. Maybe the conversation could wait until you all read the book? Many people come from backgrounds and churches where their view of God is anything but loving. They are turned away from Jesus, not because they have encountered his love and mercy, but because they see the infighting and critical messages of people who call themselves Christians and they don’t want any part of it. This is incredibly sad.

  16. This is so disturbing I can barely stand it. Bell reflects basically zero understanding of man’s thorough corruption nor the incomprehensible love of God as displayed in the Cross of Christ. He is seeking to narrow the chasm between man and God by making the former appear better than he is and the latter appear not as good as He is.

    I agee with the initial posting: this man is a wolf.

  17. Wait until he comes out with the book. Guys like him love it when we attack. He uses it as ammunition to paint us as the bad guys to promote the book.

    These guys also love to say things controversial, so that we get all riled up, and thus bring more publicity to their book.

    Let’s wait for the book because right now he’s being ambiguous to stir up some publicity.

    • Yes

    • I agree. I wish he wouldn’t think it Christian to play so many games though.

      • Actually Steve, Justin’s words were in print. An article is in print, therefore it would be libel, not slander. Slander is spoken. And furthermore, it would have to be both malicious and incorrect or untrue for it to be considered libel and/or slander. Since the book isn’t out yet, we can’t prove that what he is saying isn’t true so we will have to suspend judgment on the matter for the time being.

        Justin, I love this post and I appreciate you taking a stand for truth…truth that is absolute and not open to mere opinion or up for negotiation.

    • Jim, the spiteful ignorance that is coming from your post is astounding. Have you ever listened to him speak or read his books? I highly doubt he feeds off the negativity of others to better himself! This isn’t a political scheme, he is not trying to lure the sheep to the slaughter. You are just looking for an outlet to posit your fear and anger. Is that Godly to put down your brother and judge in ignorance? Doesn’t the Bible speak strongly on those subjects as well?

  18. Justin, maybe you should wait and evaluate with discernment and grace after you read the book? Sounds to me like he is just asking questions in this video – that doesn’t make one a heretic does it? Jumping to conclusions and assigning labels just stirs the pot and will help him more books sell. There is wisdom in letting things be revealed for what they are. Your not going to do anything but slander the man by judging him without all the information. More than that, isn’t it our responsibility to talk the person before we post and twitter about them?

    • I stand by my post.

      • I am glad that you posted this video. It needs to get out there, and Christians need to address it and discuss it.

        Universalism is not a minor issue.

        At the root of Bell’s theology is a dismissal of Scriptural authority, and that needs to be exposed.

    • Steve,
      Bell’s views are not unclear in the video. His questions are rhetorical indicating the answer he is driving for. Justin is not judging Bell. But he is rightly judging his views. Scripture commands this of us. Further, this is not a Matthew 18 case. Bell is a public figure with a world-wide ministry. He is propogating serious error through his videos, books, and speaking tours. His denials of the clear teachings of our Lord is nothing less than grievous sin and spiritual violence against unblievers.

    • Actually Steve, Justin’s words were in print. An article is in print, therefore it would be libel, not slander. Slander is spoken. And furthermore, it would have to be both malicious and incorrect or untrue for it to be considered libel and/or slander. Since the book isn’t out yet, we can’t prove that what he is saying isn’t true so we will have to suspend judgment on the matter for the time being.

      Justin, I love this post and I appreciate you taking a stand for truth…truth that is absolute and not open to mere opinion or up for negotiation.

  19. Why not wait till the book comes out, read it, and THEN make your opinion on Bell and his view of hell. You presume to know all with an editor’s description and an extremely vague video.

    I’m not saying he’s right, but it doesn’t seem fair to jump all over him… just yet.

    • Bell makes his views quite clear in the video. He is clearly denying what Jesus and the apostles made plain. His ‘questions’ are clearly rhetorical. He is denying what Jesus said about the narrow way that leads to life. He is denying that Jesus was a propitiation on our behalf. Rob has been giving clear signals of his universalism for some time. Now he is making it clear.

      • Looks like promo videos are all we need to discern someone’s theology. I think he’s playing the devil’s advocate in the video so people will be intrigued and read. Might want to wait to be oh so sure of Bell’s theology of hell until you read the book.

  20. This man is a wolf???

    I always find it interesting that people who claim Scriptural authority (over and against the person they condemn) always fudge on the part, “Do not judge, lest you be judged.” Amazing.

    Can someone explain to me where the Bible states that one must believe that X amount of people will suffer eternally in hell in order to be a Christian or where one must teach such teaching in order to be a pastor?

    Would someone kindly point me to one sermon Jesus or any apostle preached where they said, “Believe the good news or you will go to hell for all eternity!”

    • I think the “judging” in the comments have been more based on 1 Cor 5:12-13.

      • So it’s a good thing Paul trumps Jesus, right?

        How do you “judge” something no one has read yet? And wasn’t Paul speaking to a church community of people who all knew one another pretty dang well?

        Anyone here ever have a meal with Rob Bell before you sent him and all his hearers to hell?

        • Chad,

          Question. Why can Rob condemn, in this video, all of those who teach the exclusive claims of Christ (as given clearly in John, Romans, etc) and yet when we point out the Bible’s disagreement with Rob, we’re “judging.”? Just curious.

          I mean Rob basically “judges” churches who teach these doctrines and says they are the reason people don’t like Christianity. He can make those statements and yet nobody can critique his?

        • Since Paul was commissioned by Jesus, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, that is a false dichotomy. I was simply pointing out the basis for their “judging”.

          However, I do agree with you that people need to be careful about jumping to conclusions, and about determing one’s salvation status.

        • Hey Chad, I’m curious what you thought of the verse that mamajn posted about Scripture affirming that people who don’t believe in Jesus go to hell. I didn’t see you respond… here it is again incase you missed it.

          “… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
          (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 ESV)

          • Chand Holtz- take a look at the bible again, OK< Paul NEVER disagrees wiyth Jesus. The heretic that mad ethat wup was based on his misinterpretation of it!. PAul AGREES WITH Jesus. Okay. JEsus saya WATCH OUT FOR FALSE PRROHPETS. paul says watch out for false prohpets, he say sdiscern teaaching. How much more clear is that "YOU willl know thm by thier FRUIT: WHAT is the pruit of a prohpet??? WHat they SAY as well as what they do in accordsanc in the scriptures. JESUS SAyS :IT IS WRITTEN. a key question here is "what would Jesus DO? I think he would react like he did to Peter when peter told him that he would not die on the cross. Jesus says this "AWAY from me satan!. you have not the things of god in mind but the things of men!jesus called his DISCIPLE Satan. thats pretty strong. Jesus teaches us to be DISCERNING. discerning Truth from Lie, why are we taught to tell the TRUTH when we are young? becasue it is important. you have apperenlty forgotten this, what on earth are you talking about? discerning does not equal judging

    • “… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
      (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 ESV)

      This is one example.

    • Brother Chad, keep reading in that passage you just quoted. Jesus gives the reason for Matt 7:1 in Matt 7:2, and then offers an illustration in Matt 7:3-4, before giving us instruction on how to offer judgment properly in Matt 7:5.

      No one taught on hell more than Jesus did, but I’ll only point to one of the parables, Matt 22:1-14, which fairly clearly points to what happens both to those who reject the king’s messengers and to those who attempt to enter without the proper garment (an allusion to the righteousness with which God clothes us, c.f. Zech 3:1-7).

      Other passages are more explicit. Owen mentioned Isa 66 and Rev 20 for starters. I might add 2 Thess 1:5-10, pointing out explicitly v. 8.

      But I’d ask you to stop and think for a moment. What do you think it means when the Scripture says that apart from God’s mercy to us who believe in Christ that we are subject to wrath? That cannot simply mean something in the here and now, not when we have so many references to the judgment seat of Christ when he returns.

    • John 3:16 perhaps? The lack of tolerance for absolutes is getting annoying. Jesus’ own words confirm that whoever believes will not perish, but have everlasting life. Therefore, whoever does not believe will not have everlasting life. Is that so difficult?

      Honestly. For all the talk about a “loving” God not sending anyone to hell, few seem to see the irony in that falsehood. If God is loving, and he loves us, and he is perfect (all are true), then he hates sin, and a perfect, loving God will punish and pour out his wrath on sinners whose sins have not been paid (refer to John 3:16 again.)

    • How about John 3, Jesus speaking:

      Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  21. Also, I might point out, that suggesting that a person is a wolf if they do not agree with your “doctrine of hell” (whatever that is) nullifies any ground one might have had who claims to preach a gospel of grace and rather sets up a gospel of works.

    In other words, the tone here suggests that one must believe THIS about hell or else they are damned, or shouldn’t be teaching anyone anything about Jesus. Friends, that is a far bigger heresy than any believe about the after-life will ever be.

    Guess what? Jesus is still on the throne, despite what you or I believe about hell.

    • thank you! agree!

    • Hey, they are “reformed.” They are right and everyone else is wrong. I’m convinced that some of these people worship John Piper first and Jesus second.

      • And i’m convince you worship Bell frst and Jesus second. See how fallacious your argument is? you have said the same thing. you say we know that were right, but then you say you are right?? which one is it? You just made the same EXACT stement we make, although yours is based on nothing bt a want to determine what right for yourself, a refusal to subit to a LORD, jesus, what every chrsitian is called to do.

        By the way, i do not submit Piper as my authority, i SUBMIT to god’word as the authority.

        We are reformed becasue we go by what WORDS MEAN. not our “interpretation”

  22. To all those asking Justin to wait until the books comes out:

    As far as I’m concerned, the video pretty much says it all. And as someone who has read Bell’s books, and even defended the value of certain elements of his teachings (I actually think Velvet Elvis is a beneficial read, on the whole), I can tell you that, if I know Bell, there is no possible way the book is going to MORE clear than the video. That’s Bell’s entire schtick: He never comes out and says “I”m a ______” He values ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake, and more than likely the book will simply be a history lesson on how Rabbis through the years have understood the afterlife, with the conclusion being “Embrace the mystery.”

    Bell is a talented man and a gifted communicator. I hope somewhere along the lines he decides that the words of Jesus can be taken at face value.

  23. wow, i’m upset and not at rob bell – he’s incredible and IF ANYTHING, i now have MORE respect for him. i’m upset at the blatant idiocy or christians and how they take it upon themselves to measure someone’s salvation.

    the last paragraph of this, essentially calling bell a servant of satan?!? wow. idiot.

    i’m with chad.

    • Rob Bell is clearly saying that Ghandi would gain access into heaven because of his “good” deeds.
      The Bible says something completely different.
      It says that no one is good. That includes Ghandi, RobBell, Tad and Amy.
      This means that Ghandi, Rob Bell, Tad and Amy all deserve to go to hell. And ultimately God is just and good because he sends sinners to hell.
      It just so happens that God is also gracious and merciful and sacrificed His Son so as to pay our penalty.
      Paul called out false teachers multiple times in the epistles, and this is no different. We need to call out “pastors” and “teachers” who are greatly distorting the Gospel like this man.
      I would study your Bible if I were you Amy, to make sure the teaching your receiving from Rob Bell or anyone else lines up with the Bible.
      I am not judging yours or Rob Bells salvation, but I do know that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

      • Tad,
        It has nothing to do with “good deeds.” It has everything to do with Jesus – who he is and what he has done.

        Read the book.

      • Tad…I don’t believe Rob said ANYWHERE in there that Ghandi would access Heaven or that he was in Heaven. He question was how did SHE know he was in Hell. Do we know that. i think the question is why are we so fast to say who is in and who is not. We are more worried over telling people Ghandi, or death bed confession etc are or are not in then we are in telling people about Jeus in the first place. Let’s not rush to JUDGE what this book or Rob Bell is saying. If he is taking a Universalist stance he will be blasted for it but what if he is not?? What if he is being purposefully middle ground to get us to ask the questions…or start this debate? The Rob Bell I know says things to be controversial ALL THE TIME! Let’s remember who we are people….and who we are supposed to be like!

    • …she said with tenderness, love, humility, and wisdom.

  24. Two words; “FALSE TEACHER”

  25. it’s interesting that Jesus’ harshest words were for the religious leaders of the day who claim to have the corner on God. Jesus tells them that even though they have the keys to the Kingdom, they have locked the door…and they themselves refuse to enter. rob bell is asking questions – questions that many ask – questions that many wrestle with. they are not juvenile. when we claim to have the corner on God, we place ourselves in the company of the religious elite of Jesus’ day. when we write articles condemning those who are wrestling with honest, difficult questions about God – before we even read the whole of the question – we step onto a slippery slope. may we seek God’s Kingdom and His ways, honestly and humbly.

    • well said, matt

    • Actually I think Jesus also claimed to have the corner on God, and so did the apostles.

      Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees wasn’t because they claimed to know the truth, but because they were wrong while claiming to know the truth.

    • Rob Bell is a teacher of our day who claims to have the corner on God. He’s a false teacher. I’ve seen his ministry confuse the heck out of people. But hey, he’s cool. That’s what matters.

      • brian – a passive-aggressive argument?
        when has rob claimed to have a corner on God? i think rob claims to live his life honoring God to the best of his ability – in humility – centered on Christ. will he, at times, be wrong? yes. he doesn’t claim perfect theology or a corner on God.

        • Matt,

          If the standard for claiming a “corner on God” is claiming to have “perfect theology”, then I don’t think Justin or anyone would claim to have a corner on God.

          So I’m not sure what you mean by the term, other than to use the term “pharisee” as a generic slur, which is what I think you are doing.

          People have reached theologically-based conclusions about what is essential to the gospel. Rob Bell appears to be plainly wrong on this question. That’s what this is about. Maybe stick to the substance, instead of playing the tired Pharisee card.

          • kevin-
            i can’t see where i connect ‘corner on God’ with ‘perfect theology’. not being defensive…i just can’t find it above.
            and i believe it is the substance. i just see it from a different angle than you. you see it as an article condemning rob based on his theological wrestlings. i see it as an article written from a theological perspective that could be on a slippery slope itself.

            • You said: Jesus had the harshest words for those who claimed to have a corner on God, which I take to mean he had harsh words for them because they claimed to have a corner on God. You also said that when we claim to have a corner on God (insinuating that Justin and others here have made such a claim) we are in error.

              Mike responded: Jesus claimed to have a corner on God, as did the apostles.

              Brian added: Rob Bell claims to have a corner on God.

              You responded: Bell does not claim to have a corner on God. This implies a distinction between Rob’s attitude and the attitude here. Your supporting information is that he does not claim to have perfect theology.

              That gives the impression that having a perfect theology is part and parcel of having a corner on God.

              I don’t want to get into a semantic debate here. My advice:

              Don’t use the phrase “corner on God” anymore. It doesn’t mean anything, and is an exceedingly inept explanation of why they earned the ire of Jesus.

              Don’t introduce the phrase “claim to have a perfect theology” into a conversation unless someone is actually claiming to have a perfect theology, or that a perfect theology is necessary for something.

              Jesus chastised the Pharisees for dishonoring God in their hearts and for being hypocrites. It’s kind of a lazy myth that Jesus criticized the Pharisees for being sticklers for the law as it was plainly written. Why would he do that? Disavow yourself of the notion that he did.

    • “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6-9

  26. Sorry Justin – I have to agree with some of the others – I think its a mistake to publicly call out a guy on his doctrine within a book BEFORE you have read the book. Bell might likely be in error here but wait until March 30th to call him on it.

    • The doctrine in the video is problematic enough. That is the point. We don’t need to wait for the book in order to judge what he says in the video (not to mention his many other videos).

  27. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,
    (Acts 5:35-39 ESV)

    • Be careful who you quote in the Bible. For instance, here you are quoting a unsaved, Sanhedrin member, in a historical context, not quite like quoting Paul, or Jesus. This phrase that you used, while it sounds nice, has been proven wrong by history. If it was true, then how does Hinduism still exist? How do any of the false religions on earth exist?

      • Matan Ben Avraham

        Josiah your example is lacking greatly because they arguement you use against Tony can also be used against your religion as well.

  28. Here are some reflections and concerns (as well as some appreciation) I articulated after listening to Rob Bell speak in San Francisco three years ago, noting a potential trajectory towards universalism.

    http://www.buzzardblog.com/2007/11/14/rob-bell-the-gods-arent-angry-tour-san-francisco-some-reflections-concerns/

  29. A few have noted that we shouldn’t go overboard on this clip, but I don’t see how this blog post does that (maybe it will send some readers foaming who will rant in their own posts, who knows).

    But there is a difference between judging ALL Bell believes from one short video clip (which would be wrong) and saying “what he says in this clip is wrong.” I think this post clearly does the latter.

    Look at the clip: you either have to say (1) ‘Well Bell is naive or stupid for framing the discussion this way and doesn’t realize this is opening himself to universalism and putting down traditional Christianity” or (2) Bell knows exactly what he is doing and is framing the issues to make his idea be enlightened, wiser and more gracious against the traditional view.

    Bell is a perceptive communicator and knows how to get his message across particularly in today’s medium and to today’s culture. I think its more disingenuous to try to argue #1 than it is to just state, “hey in the clip he’s being unbiblical.”

    Is it not fair to say “just what he’s said so far and just aas he’s said it at this point is wrong” ?

  30. Justin,

    “I stand by my post” is simply an arrogant and proud statement.

    I am not defending Mr. Bell at all, but I do wonder if the Publishers stirring is simply a statement akin to the arminian and reformed predestination debate. Could one not read “a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering” as a man-choice in salvation? I do believe Mr. Bell is on a slippery slope and very well may be leading people astray; but I will wait to read the book and then respond accordingly.

  31. I like how he gulps after he says “how do we become one of these few?” haha (I know he gulps because he knows the answer)….There is absolutely nothing wrong with the doubt this man has…the problem is he is relying on his own reasoning to answer the doubt,which in turn makes himself a god, putting the Truth (God) in a nice little box. This man is no different then someone that washes their car instead of going to church on Sunday….Religion is too much hypocritical work. Tradition vs Relationship. I agree. The bible has ALL the answers to his questions. He is using his experiences with outher Christians, churches, people to determine his viewpoint on Jesus. Would a thief look to the police for answers? True Christians pray.

    • “True Christians pray.”

      Josh,
      Please inform all of us about Rob Bell’s prayer life. Enlighten us, please.

    • How does one get those answers? With…their reasoning. So, we’re all making ourselves gods everytime we read and interpret? I mean, really, there is no other option available than to use our reasoning. This is how we can say this interpretation or that interpretation is good or bad.

  32. @sam

    It is imperative that you first understand, before taking something apart. In that regard, don’t you think it is best to first read the book before making statements about its contents from a clip? All your suppositions may be correct, or the clip may be designed to cause controversy to drive up sales.

    I don’t disagree that the bottom line may be “embrace the mystery”, but one will only discover that by first reading the book.

    If you disagree after, fine, blast away.
    If you disagree before, even reading the book, that just shows ignorance of this book, not other elements of his teaching.

    Last I checked this post was about THIS book, not the totality of Bell’s teachings. I think Taylor was correct when he expressed “hesitancy” about voicing his opinion until reading the book, that would have been both wise and informed.

    • That’s a good word.

      My only point here is that if Justin had simply uploaded the video and said, “This sounds like universalism,” I don’t think there’s any question that’s where Bell is going. I might be wrong–but like you said, the video is provocatively written so it’s impossible to know whether this is what he believes, or it’s what he’s gonna use to sell the book.

      I recommend everyone watch some of Bell’s tour, “The Gods Aren’t Angry.” When it first came out I was a little puzzled as to what the point was–now, it makes more sense.

  33. I don’t know; I guess I’m a bigger ignoramus than I knew, because it seems to me that Bell’s words indicate his position quite clearly, book or no book: he questions that any will go to Hell. Will someone please tell me what the doctrine of judgment became a non-essential for Christian orthodoxy?

  34. I normally appreciate this blog very much- even when I don’t always agree.

    This however, has definitely gone too far in making an assumption. I think it is irresponsible to make such a judgment without waiting to read the man’s thesis statement and supporting arguments. That is what academics and theologians do.

    Wait for the book, then, if you still have the same thoughts- go ahead and critique it at that point. There is nothing wrong with that and it would be totally justified. Maybe to you, waiting seems like a formality- but it is a formality that is due nonetheless.

    • Ok. But is it of to critique the video and jacket blurb that state a unversalist position?

      Why are people more upset with Justin not waiting for the book than with what the books’s author and publicist have stated?

      Bell is teaching universalism to tens of thousands, and you’re worried about waiting for a more thorough explanation of his flawed thesis?

      • Sure if you want to critique the blurb and video, that’s fine to do so- but even Justin said he didn’t want to do that because of publicists, etc.

        Justin is clearly making a very strong opinion about something that is based upon an assumption, which I merely wrote, was irresponsible. The blurb and the video are about the book, period. So what is the problem in waiting for the book to come out before critiquing?

        In civil discourse you wait until the person is done speaking before you submit your rebuttal. Justin submitted his rebuttal before the main arguments were even stated. And that, is what I am calling unfair.

        As for Bell’s ‘flawed thesis’ as you put it- that is exactly my point- we don’t know what that thesis is yet. Once it is stated (or read in the book) then one can be free to say whatever they would like about what they think of the thesis or book. This is very simple, but failed here.

  35. “Rob Bell” + “Universalist” = Fireworks. It’s gettin’ hot in here.

  36. Kim-
    Universalism does not negate Judgment. I’d be happy to get into that but this doesn’t seem like the place where people care to really understand (as evidenced by throwing rocks at a book no one here has read).

    And by the way, “Christian Orthodoxy” is not a requirement to be saved.

    • Acts 16:31 (among other places) begs to differ with your second thought concerning Orthodoxy.

      • Ben,
        Note that Acts 16 (nor anywhere else) states, “Believe in Orthodoxy, and the correct Doctrine of Hell, and you and your household shall be saved.”

        That’s my point.

        • Rob Bell openly denies what Jesus himself taught concerning Hell. How can one deny parts of Christ’s teaching (Hell being not the only thing Christ taught that Bell denies), yet still believe in Him?

        • But Chad, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6-9

        • ((i wish there was a “like” button on blog comments like there is on facebook..))

      • Christopher Heward

        So do you believe that if you believe in Christ that your kids will be saved too? Isn’t that what that verse is saying? Surely we’re judged according to our own beliefs not others? And are women saved by their child-baring?

        • No when it says your household it means if you are the Man God intended every married man with Children to be then your Household will be saved. When you invest spiritually into your children and you are the spiritual Leader of the House your children will follow after you, you may bring up situations where there are pastors and great men who’s children do not believe, and that is because its hard to be a spiritual leader sometimes but when you are consistent, transparent, and an example of Christ, your children will follow

    • Well, I would definitely agree that internet forums are not the best place to discuss serious doctrinal points. Even as I am tempted to respond to various things, I think there are too many voices at the moment for anything to be heard very well.

  37. Matthew 25:46 could not possibly be more clear.

    “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

    Peter warns us of these false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-3:

    “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

  38. It’s obvious from the point where he defines the gospel as “You’re going to hell unless Jesus saves you from God”. Obviously, if that’s your thought process, you’ll end up with the hell-is-empty thing.

    He should…well, probably read the Bible maybe? You know, once or twice, just to see if the toxic teachings he’s tossing around are what they are. This is a dangerous thing, and he kind of really needs to be stopped and corrected.

  39. This isn’t new for Rob Bell, nor is it new to Christianity. Rob with all due respect, God sends no one to hell. Man, because of their totally depraved nature, is on a collision course with God’s wrath (hell) that unless God in His grace, love and mercy does not reveal to you your sin through the law (Romans 3:19-21; 7:7-9)you are destined for. Man’s depraved, sinful nature destines man to hell, not God.

    • But Robert, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:4, 5

  40. [...] Entries2 Justin Taylor as well. Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Pastor, [...]

  41. It’s entirely plausible to suggest that Jesus somehow “saves you from God” once you’ve stripped from Him His divinity – His equality with God the Father. And if you’ve listened to Rob Bell with any kind of consistency over the past few years, you’d readily recognize that ship left Mars Hill’s port quite a while ago.

    To his ardent defenders, I challenge you to stop assuming he does believe Jesus was/is God and intently listen to his language instead – what you’ll hear are plenty of statements about Christ’s “divine KIND of life” and prayers that thank God for “THIS Jesus, who teaches/shows/helps us to see…” akin to my thanking Him for “this or that sandwich” and the ways in which it blesses my digestive system.

    More to the point – when asked recently to define the gospel in ten words or less, Bell spouted “Every little bit of hope you stumble across is real.” Really? That’s the gospel? An implication of the gospel, certainly, but the whole of it? Yikes.

    • It is entirely Biblical to proclaim that Jesus saves us from the wrath of God:

      “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:9

      “…and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10

  42. I don’t think he ever says that EVERYONE is going to heaven. What he says is that God doesn’t send people to hell. And haven’t we as Christians been saying that for years? GOD doesn’t send people to hell. People choose to go there themselves based on their decisions in life.

    It’s like being a landlord. If you don’t pay your rent and you get evicted, is that the landlord’s fault? Are they kicking you out? Or did you choose to get kicked out because you didn’t pay your rent? I say it’s your own fault for not paying your rent. You did it to yourself.

    I’m intrigued by what Rob Bell says and will wait to have any further thoughts on this until after the book comes out.

  43. If Rob is right that millions are turned off by Chistianity because of narrow hate mongerers like me that preach eternal damnation then why aren’t unitarian churches packed to the brim?

    • people get turned off of christianity in general and seek something more seemingly “inclusive”, ie buddism or a miss-match loosely labeled “new age”. churches across north america have been dwindling in the crowds they are drawing in, especially youth and young adults. people are quicker to write off christianity in general than to patiently research a denomination that “suits” them. we live in (north) america…we want everything fast. and super sized.

    • Because Unitarians don’t present Jesus as worthy, beautiful, glorious, the one whom died to have relationship with us and reconcile us to the Father.

      Nor do most hell-believing evangelical churches, either.

      What if Rob Bell (or whoever else as a universalist) was right? What if their were no hell? Would we still present Jesus as worthy? Because he still would be.

      We love the Piper quote: “Would you want heaven if God were not there?”

      But how about this: Would you still want Jesus if there were no hell to save you from? Would you be committed to him if there were no consequences otherwise? That’s the real challenge for us.

      It’s about Christ, and Christ alone. We’re missing the boat.

      • Christopher Heward

        YES!!! That’s the point. Why should I care hell exists? If I’m saved, and I’m wanting people to be saved, hell shouldn’t be my focus, heaven should be, and seeing His Kingdom here on Earth now. :)

      • Sean, Do we value Jesus in the abstract of the actual? Do we value him as an idea or do we struggle through the tough things he said himself?

        • I don’t know what the first question means…unless you made a typo and the “of” is supposed to be “or.” In which case, of course we value Jesus in the actual. That’s exactly my point. We have focused the terms of salvation so much on the abstract (going to one of two places we’ve never been to before when we die) that we forget that we have a relationship with Christ NOW.

          And it’s exactly because we “struggle through the tough things he said himself” that we know him. He calls, we respond. We encounter him (now), he changes us (immediately and continually). Count the cost, because it will cost you your life. But he is worthy, not just later, but now.

          I don’t want to utter the forbidden “p” word (it rhymes with toast-wodernism), but with the way the world is going and what people seem to be striving for – something real, tangible, authentic, experiential, meaningful, communal – a heaven/hell paradigm does not make sense for people. Most people’s lives are hell already. They think Christianity is moralism. You’re either on the good side or bad side. We need to present Jesus as living and reigning and desiring to live alongside the lost, adopt them, never forsake them, and do what he said he would do in Luke 4:18-19.

          • Again, Piper asks us if we would want heaven if God were not there. If we had all of our greatest pleasures to enjoy, but without God. It’s about our greatest desire.

            I ask, would we want God if hell were not there? If there were no consequences to threaten us? Would we treasure him and obey him the same? It’s the same question, except we’re more afraid of it in this sense. I don’t know why.

            • Yeah it was “or”, Are people really already in hell? Are they really entirely separated from God’s grace in this world? They are not. I understand using understandable language, but I don’t understand avoiding countercultural language. As much as we need something real we need something transcendent.

              Augustine is credited with saying that if it pleased the Lord that he should be sent to hell he would be pleased to go there. Im not sure If I can say that, but I think thats the better thing to ask ourselves.

  44. At least he is out. Now perhaps there will be enough on the table that his teaching will not be in Christian bookstores.

  45. Pastor Matt,
    Equating unitarian churches with Christian Universalism is huge mistake.

    apples and oranges.

    • Chad, when it’s all said and done, there isn’t any difference between those two groups that is worth wasting time talking about.

    • Chad,

      It was a bit of an overstatement to make a point. However, most mainline denominations have essentially become “Christian universalists” and they are dying but, contrary to popular opinion, evangelical churches, in the classic sense, are growing.

  46. I’m not sure of what to think of this (the video) just yet. I will read the book carefully.

    For the record, if I was promoting a book about the love that I have for my wife, I would not think it would be wise to portray untrue things about her just to get attention.

    And so I hope this is not what he’s doing to get people interested. I also hope that his book points people to the true Christ of the Scriptures, and nothing less.

    We will see. The bottom line is that what is true will last, and what is not true will not. In the end Jesus Christ will separate the sheep from the goats … and He is my only hope.

  47. I hesitate to label other Christians as Satan disguised as angels of light over a disagreement over theology. Doing so jeopardizes myself, as there is no way that I have a perfect theology. Therefore, hesitate to do this as well, lest you condemn yourself of poor theology. Standing before the Lord of Lords, will he say, depart, for you condemned others when you yourself believed in erroneousness ideas?

    • THis is not an issue of theology this is an isssue of scripture. Ive said this before ther are some things that are written in Pen, and somethings that are p=written in pencil. what is written in pencil is the things about calvinism and arminianism. thise scripture can be unclear about. Bu tteh doctrine of Hell is WRITTEN IN PEN. more tan that int in ink, its CLEARLY STATED IN scripture!! so why does bell insist in questionin God I ave no ideas. We must reject him and hold to the Bible, especially when Jesus says “by your words you WILL BE CONDEMNED”

  48. Justin, I have to agree that calling Bell a servant of Satan is unduly inflammatory. I’d like to think that conservative evangelicals would go above and beyond the ad hominem attacks that so frequently come at our direction from the left.

  49. I had some concerns a couple years ago when I watched some of Rob Bell’s videos. This confirms my suspicions about Mr. Bell’s teachings, they seem to be far from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Mr. Bell is right about one thing however, love does win because God is love, but, God also has wrath. This wrath against infinite sin against an infinite God is what Jesus saves us from. Mr Bell I submit this to you and ask that you pray about it as I will pray for you, Galatians 1:8-9

    But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [9] As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
    (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)

  50. Sounds like we need some good articles published on why believing in Hell is important to the Gospel, a point-by-point refutation of Universalism (in all its forms) and a promoting of the Gospel… not just an “attack Rob Bell” article.

    And is it truly a damnation issue that Rob Bell understands the final states differently than you or I? Does he still point people to Jesus? Tell them Jesus brings life? Do we know if Bell professes annihilationism? There’s so much we don’t know to drop such a heavy hammer IMO.

    But it’s clear some apologetics are needed to speak in contrast to Universalism more than combative words to Rob Bell.

  51. Bell needs opposed both on his exegetical theology and also on his example of Ghandi, which is easy to refute. Ghandi was not a ‘good’ man by biblical standards. He was vain and petty in the extreme!

    A MUST read: “The Ghandi Nobody Knew” by journalist Richard Grenier.

    He shows the apalling nature of Ghandi’s Hindu-driven death wish, marching in madness toward the shiva-god of violence, like lemmings to the sacrifice.

    He also shows the rather unusual custom Ghandi had–even by bizarre Hindu standards–of sleeping naked with girls and receiving daily enemas from them, but not having sex with them (sure).

    Still not convinced Ghandi was not saved from hell?

    How about the Hindu temple devoted to the worship of rats? Does that idolatry honor God?

    They myth of Ghandi was a good as Jesus had to be refuted years ago when the academy award winning movie swept through college campuses, and professors required their students to go see the man that was more like Jesus than Jesus.

    Turns out Ghandi was a fraud and very fallen person in need of a Savior, just like me.

  52. Justin et.al,

    Somewhere up there a host of scriptures that speak of hell were quoted at me. I grant that they exist. I could just as easily quote scriptures that speaks to God’s universal redemption. Tit for tat. I’ll simply say a few things…

    First, Jesus stood in line with the prophetic tradition which used hyperbole to make a point.
    Do any of you pluck out your eye when it causes you to sin? Why not?
    Second, his references about hell were directed to the house of Israel – people like you and I today, the religious – and not to the “sinner” as we tend to do it today.

    Two further points:

    1. If there is a hell, I’d wager no one ever went there because they didn’t believe it existed.
    2. The Gospel is not predicated upon a believe in hell. IOW, one need not believe or teach hell in order to bring others to repentance. We see this all through the Scriptures. Paul says in 2 Cor. 5 that you ARE reconciled to God, therefore BE reconciled. He does not tell anyone they are bound for hell UNLESS they do X, Y, Z.

    I’d argue that a salvation that is rooted in fear of hell is not really salvation

    • Paul writes this in the section of Romans focusing on the characteristics of a true, loving Christian community:

      “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Ro 12:19)

      There is a judgment coming. That truth can be supressed but not expunged from the Bible.

  53. Let’s withhold judgement until the book is released.

    It’s one of the things which drives me crazy about Rob. He usually stays vague which doesn’t help people in their search for truth. Of course, some people are really quick to throw him under the “theological bus” b/c he choses different language than they are used to hearing (of course, his language is vague which doesn’t help his cause).

    Giving Rob the benefit of the doubt, in the clip it sounds like he may be just asking questions which seekers ask. He may be just stirring up an interest for people to read his book. (I might add, his target audience is not the “convinced.”)

    Personally, I’ve listened to a few of his messages about hell (“hades” in the messages). He points out that choosing a life away from God is a “hell” here and now, in THIS world. I think we’d all agree that life without God in this world is a form of hell (Human trafficking? Genocide?). But, the Biblical hell will be even worse which in the talk I remember, he chose to avoid the eternity question.

    I’ve never heard outright heresy from Rob. I often scratch my head with questions regarding his theology.

    Again, let’s wait for the book’s release.

  54. There was a time when I wanted to be associated with the gospel coalition because I liked so much of what was said, but something always rubbed me wrong. Following this thread has really shown me why I was uncomfortable…this is very narrow hate filled conversation. Sorry, count me out.

  55. I don’t like the way we’re setting up pastors against each other. John Piper and Mark Driscoll versus Rob Bell and Brian McClaren! I think it’s good to debate theology and to refine what we believe, but why attack each other? Why do we feel the need to call others heretics or servants of Satan? I certainly don’t have the authority to label someone a heretic. What gives you the authority? Who made you the judge of true doctrine?

    I think my biggest frustration with these kinds of debates is, why are you attacking these so-called heresies? What are the implications for those who follow Rob Bell’s line of thinking?

    • Truth is absolute. Someone has got to be right. Driscoll and Piper are basing their beliefs off their interpretation of Scripture. Bell and McClaren are basing their subjectivity off…who knows what.

      The point is, someone has to be right. You cannot say that everyone is.

      So, when you have men who claim to be preaching the gospel, and they say things that are completely contrary to the gospel presented in scripture…they are going to get called out on it, and rightly so.

  56. as a Rhetorical Critic, I find this thread and the arguments there in to be extremely humorous. those of you who have engaged the blog post, thank you. Those of you who have come with the intention of making the side you disagree with look foolish……..thanks for the laughs.

    as a recent college grad, my college ministry was flooded with Rob Bell fans whom I had many “fuzzy” mostly unintelligible theological talks with. from this post, along with the video, it seems that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree

  57. I’m tempted to spend 10 hours thinking about all of this … and NEVER praying for any of you, nor Rob Bell, nor those he influences, nor even myself.

    Please…. stop for a few seconds and do so. Would you? Please.

    Regardless what Bell is or isn’t, just like me he needs the Truth of Christ and the Gospel. Discussion is critical, but please pray. If he’s a heretic, let’s ask that God would transform him. If we have strands of heresy in us, let’s pray that God would forgive us and transform us as well.

  58. i will never,again, click “notify if someone comments.” geez

  59. So it seems as if we all want to either say he is right or he is wrong. What if that is not the point. The point that Bell wants to make is that Christians do to outsiders just what is being done to his book right here, pass judgement and chastise. He wants to push us away from improperly thinking that our salvation is about going to heaven, that is a part, and to thinking that it impact the way in which we are to live right now. He wants to push us to embody the gospel among the people that we live with, and this looks like love. It is a first action others oriented thing. He is right to push back against christian pietism that thinks that I get saved and get to go to heaven because that in no way is the purpose of one’s salvation. Do not be so quick to judge him based on the presuppositions that you bring to scripture and think are right.

    We want to talk about getting back to what the Bible says. I ask whose defining what the Bible says? Are we going to listen to Bell, to Piper, to Taylor, Wright, Carson, or any other big name theologian that we want to throw out. No not a single one of them have it all right. The most important thing that we can, and must, remember is that no one approaches scripture from a blank slate everyone brings things to the text. All scripture is always read subjectively. The best thing we can do is to recognize that and move on. Every theologian gets things right and wrong the fun part is no one can tell what they have right or wrong. We are to look at scripture (read through our lenses) to look at what people say, and to come up with what seems best for us. I know that is not as dogmatic as some of you would like but I think it is biblical. We must also remember that when we want to see the truest picture of god we must look at christ. For god is revealed, nature and character, in the person and work of christ. Therefore any assessment of god that is not consummate with that must be wrong.

    Finally it is in the place of the cross where god’s justice and love meet. It is in the cross where the love of god wins out over the justice of god. The cross is the place where the justice of god is satisfied allowing the love of god to be truly expressed.

    • Nathan, Jesus said I am the way THE TRUTH and the life, NO one comes to the father except through me. AND that THE TRUTH, NOT “your” truth will set you free” ITS not about US it about THE God of the universe not the idol of God we have in our heads.

  60. Chad Holtz,

    I have skimmed these replies, but the statements you have made grabbed my attention. If I picked up your reasoning correctly….. you seem to be stating that “orthodox” beliefs are not necessary for salvation. However, you oversimplify, and seem not to have yet understood that a lack of assent to biblical truth is indicative of a heart and mind that is still at war with GOD (Romans 8:7-8).

  61. Regardless of what we may believe about Rob, the guy still needs out prayers. That much should be obvious. A lot of people are influenced by him, perhaps you should pray that the Holy Spirit lead, and guide him in His Word.

  62. just a quick observation….it sounds like rob doesn’t have a firm foundation about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the apostle paul wrote to the galatians…if another comes preaching a gospel other than what I have taught, let him be eternally condemned. (ouch). Those without Jesus Christ being( born again) end up in what God has in store for the fallen angels and those without Jesus and in the Bible it says that the place is called hell. I know that when we say that word out loud it surely hurts our senses. It’s very difficult to accept or for our fallen human nature to accept. But again our Lord and our God says it time and time again in His Word.
    So Mr rob bell…start over and read what the apostle paul says about the subject..get it clear and precise in your mind and teaching…..you have to account for what you say to these people you teach and preach to.(scarry huh?)

  63. Does anybody know if Robb Bell will loose a bunch of followers becuase of this coming out?

    I remember when Carlton Pearson came out of the closet for universalism and he lost everything.

  64. Matan Ben Avraham

    it all seems to me that it is the blind leading the blind. JC saves you from your sin yet every christian theologian thinks it is acceptable to remain in sin. G-d says that he doesn’t lie and makes good on every promise and covenant. yet every christian theologian says that he changed his mind, that only some of his words will come to pass. if you ask me “biblical christianity” is somewhat of a joke. so you think one guy has gone of the deepend when the rest appear to be drowning in the kiddy pool. i believe that JC said that until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke would pass from the law. and that who ever broke even the least of the commandments and taught others to do so would be called least in the kingdom of G-d, but who ever kept even the least and taught others to keep them would be called great. and what about what Paul says in romans about “it is not the hearers of the law who will be justified but the doers of the law”. i don’t know when you all are ignoring the teachings of righteous teachers one guy saying something against your perception of things doesn’t seem to be such a bid deal. im sorry for the rant but it is irritating seeing so many people who say they follow the G-d of israel tearing each other apart. especially when those apostolic writings say not to tear people apart but to build them up. hmmm if i remember right a great sage once told his students “before you can remove the speck from your brothers eye, first remove the plank from your own eye.”

    • You need to get out a dictionary. Doers of the LAW. ROB BELL is not on of them. He hears people rebuke him, and does not put it into proacitce. He writes a book bout rejecting the true scriptures. Jesus was not a great teacher, he was Lord. as he is named everywhere in the Bible. jesus commands us to hear and do the words of the Bible and jesus. We are not tearing them apart, we are warning against false teachers, as jesu sdid, What about WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? would jesusu sit around and let peole be led astray by false teaching. I know that there are things in the bibl etyhath can be interpreted differenlty but we are dealin here woth thwe ofundational principle of justice. God is just, but more than justice, jhe gave us a way w=through the Lord jesus christ. I rant about tis because Jesus has saved me. HOWEVER. that does not no has it EVER MEANT THAT we are free to sin SIN IS NOT OKAY. if you ever hear a preacher say that, they are false. clearly say that. we have been freed from sins, not freed from responsibliy of growing in christ jesus. Because if the Gospel is why we serve Him. unfortunately, we twist that into a free ticket to sin however we want, but that is not its purpose, it is to be the motivation NOT to sin, and anyone who thinks the converse, needs to seriously look at their faith. We will still sin, but we will know when we DO. and learn from mistakes abnd grow AND MATURE IN JESUS’ likeness

  65. Two of the major conversations in this comment thread so far seem to be:

    1) We don’t know if Rob Bell is truly espousing universalism. We should wait until the book comes out until we know for sure before saying anything.

    2) Universalism (or some version of it) is what Jesus teaches. (i.e. what people are afraid that Rob Bell is saying, is actually OK and good and right!)

    This is what bothers me the most about Rob Bell’s “ambiguity.” Those who have concerns about him are told to quiet down since we can’t know for sure what he’s saying, while those who support him have already filled in the blanks.

  66. I’m a big fan of Driscoll and a big fan of Bell… not sure what that makes me? But from my observation of the video…

    Never once did Bell claim he resonated with the questions he was asking in this video. Could it just be that he is bringing to light the questions that many of the ‘untheologically sound’ (the general public) have regarding ‘church’ and the ‘Christian religion’?

    It seems he’s taking the time to help people understand truth by using people’s perceptions of Christianity (no matter distorted they are) as a starting point. Dangerous? Of course. Impossible? Not at all, by the grace of God.

    • Tyler if, (and it’s a big if), Robb Bell came out in his book and clearly said he did not believe in hell, would you still listen to him?

    • Having no exposure to Bell previously, I did wonder this very thing as well while watching, but he seemed increasingly emphatic in his tone and thus strongly implied support of universalism. Time will tell. Pray, we must.

    • Christopher Heward

      It makes you someone who likes church congregations called Mars Hill.

  67. [...] Justin Taylor’s blog, there is a video from Rob Bell promoting his new book, Love [...]

  68. Bell: “Gandhi is in hell?”

    Jesus: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

    Bell: “Will only a select few make it into heaven, and will billions and billions burn in hell forever?”

    Jesus: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter
    through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

    Can we assert that truth ungraciously? Sure, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

    And it’s not being judgmental to call ‘wolves’ teachers who lead people to put their trust in something that cannot save them, or to tell them they don’t need to be saved, or that God has no wrath towards sinners.

  69. Universalism is deserving of biblical correction.

  70. After watching the video, what I hear Rob Bell say is that the perception of Christianity by non-believers (which is a loaded term itself) is that God condemns all to Hell, while belief in Jesus saves you from Gods condemnation – which is a conundrum for them. And the various habits/confessions/beliefs/acts/requirements from across the spectrum of Christianity (from RC to GO to RO to AC to SB to PC to UMC to SDA to AB to GRBC to ELCA to LCMS to…ad infinitum) do not paint a compelling image by which to present the Gospel story. Rob Bell comes from a deep evangelical tradition, and his faith journey is one we can all learn from as he publishes it to the world. Judging him from a 2 min video, is like evaluating Billy Graham from his conversation with Nixon in 1972 – myopic at best.

  71. I can’t help but wonder if this video is just very clever marketing. He’s inviting seekers to read his book while also guaranteeing that evangelicals will be predictably apoplectic, rushing to buy the book so they can be first to claim heresy.

    I’ve disagreed with Bell in the past, but that video is so vague that it really doesn’t say anything at all other than “buy my book.”

    I’ll withhold judgement until I read it.

  72. “I haven’t seen the book yet.”

    Welcome to Problem Number 1.

    Retract this blog post, and withhold any further statements of nonsense until you HAVE read the book.

    I love the Gospel Coalition and all that it stands for … until you begin publicly spreading disunity through uninformed accusations.

    Problem Number 2.

    Using this video to force accusations is as ludicrous as saying these things without reading the book.

    What is the purpose of a promotional video?

    It is to get people to read the book.

    What is Bell’s purpose?

    To get all those who view Hell, Heaven, and the afterlife in a way outside of what the Bible teaches.

    How does he achieve that by video and marketing?

    Present “their” ideas of Hell, Heaven, and the afterlife and make it sound enticing, thus getting them to read the book, and thus hopefully changing their views.

    Bell never once gave his answer to those statements, questions, or theologies. He simply stated them to intrigue people, therefore leading them to read the book.

    It’s marketing 101 and it’s brilliant.

    Bell grays the line.

    Obviously.

    He makes us all uncomfortable at times.

    Sure does.

    He steps outside of orthodox, and even biblical theology at times.

    Yep.

    But I refuse to be the “perfect” one to throw a stone.

    And I reckon we’re all just as “guilty” as he if we write things like this; things that breed disunity in the body and stir strife – all based on mere accusations and assumptions.

    • “He steps outside of orthodox, and even biblical theology at times.”

      Read your Bible bro, you can throw stones at that all day long.

    • But you are assuming that he is within the body. Of course, it isn’t our place to judge who is in and who is out, but when someone flatly denies the gospel, we do not count him a brother. You will respond that he has not answered his questions in the promotional video, but in the past, he has sidelined the “unadjusted gospel”. That is unmistakable.

    • Josh, let’s see your comments after the book comes out. Have you read Velvet Elvis? Does that book make you more than “uncomfortable” or do more than “blur the lines” for you? And did you read the HC marketing copy?

  73. I find it interesting that Rob can freely say, “This is why people hate Christianity” and essentially “judge” all who preach the orthodox truths of the faith, yet we’re terrible hatemongers and judgmental because we dare to “judge” Rob’s video.

    Offenses go both ways. Sure, many Christians offend by their actions. But it is also true that those who claim offense by Christianity also have the capacity to offend. And there is no worse offense for a Christian than to attack the tenets of his faith, as Rob seems to do here.

  74. It seems this video has a whole lot of what Rob Bell has to say and very little of what scripture has to say. Be careful to frame theology around what “seems” right and wrong, as we know that our wisdom is God’s foolishness..

  75. WOW people. Freak out a little more…HE NEVER SAID HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN HELL OR THAT PEOPLE DON’T GO THERE. He’s posing a VERY real question that people outside of the Christian faith ask. Why is it heresy to have that conversation? Get off your soapboxes

    • Thank you Joe. Thank you for level headed thinking.

    • Joe, if he came out in his book saying that he did not believe in Hell, would you still listen to him?

      • Josh, if Bell came out saying clearly that he did not believe in hell would you still listen to him?

        • Ha. Your missing the point mate.

          I’m not defending Bell, I’m accusing Justin Taylor – the writer of this post – for making uninformed accusions and assumptions. It’s unprofessional, unnecessary and it ultimately brings truth to the world’s idea of the church, most unfortunately.

          • I see maybe my question is besides the point you are making. But, i am just asking, would you say that bell is a false teacher if he came out and said hell was not real? thanks.

            • Victor:

              I think the answer depends on what Bell says about Hell. If he says there is no eternal judgment for people that results in punishment, then “yes” he would be speaking unbiblically. But, if he has a divergent view of hell (for example if he believes that hell exists, but people’s souls are destroyed there rather than living forever in torment), then that is not necessarily unbiblical — even if it is not the majority view. Other respected evangelical theologians have thought that (such as John Stott, among others). So, the key is really what does Bell believe and teach. And, to find that out, wouldn’t we have to read the book? :-)

      • That’s a legit question to ask. The answer is a strong no. BUT I’m not about to judge someone before I actually take the time to read it. Forming an opinion about it before you do defines ignorance.

    • This is not just for your comment bro, but for all who have made similar claims. From the book description:

      “Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.”

      Bell argues that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.

      What else do you want him to say to let you know he doesn’t believe God sends people to hell?

  76. Rob Bell has a lot of influence through his Nooma ministry. Really sad. We must pray for him

  77. This is so disturbing because I do not even really disagree with you, but this article is so incredibly misleading and presumptuous. It is a fairly old rule in journalism that if you have to use a question mark in the title, you do not have enough facts to validate your story. You should get a job working for Faux News; you would fit right in.

    Maybe you embedded the wrong video because I did not hear anything in that video that validated this statement: “…I’m glad that Rob Bell has the integrity to be unambiguous about his universalism.” The entire video was ambiguous. He did not really say anything. He asked questions that you may be assuming are leading you a certain conclusion, but C.S. Lewis did the same thing. You cannot assume what the answer is going to be based on the way he asked the question.

    What was your real intention for writing this article?

  78. I would suggest to all of you to read The Evangelical Universalist. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Evangelical-Universalist-Gregory-MacDonald/dp/1597523658

    Don’t judge based on other people’s judgment. Stop worshipping doctrine. Stop worshipping your spiritual mentors. Worship Jesus. Follow him.

  79. [...] Taylor cautiously posted an article for The Gospel Coalition entitled “Rob Bell: Universalist?” The reason this is a question is because of Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and [...]

  80. I am a judge by profession, as well as a law professor. I will be honest. I don’t know what Bell’s position is or whether his views are unbiblical in regard to this book. THE BOOK IS NOT EVEN PUBLISHED AND NOT ONE OF YOU HAS READ IT. Moreover, this video in no way gives us an answer of his view. he just raises questions that are often raised. To me, the greater danger in all of this is that some of you who claim to be Christians and appear to believe you are saved are engaging in conduct described throughout scripture that is condemned: slander. Read Romans 1 again and see that slander is mentioned among the wicked deeds. Until you have read the book or can quote things that Rob bell says he believes, I srongly caution all of you to check your heart and your spirit.

    • Caution, indeed.

    • AMEN!

      • Ray, if Bell came out saying clearly that no one will be in hell would you consider him a false teacher? thank you for you answer in advance, even if my question in perhaps besides the point you are making.

    • Prof. Craig B. if you are a christian you understand the seriousness that is the subject of hell. It is a very serious subject, one that should not be taken lightly or spoken about vaguely like in this ponderouse video. Justin Taylor is cautious when it comes to lableing someone a false teacher, but it is clear to anyone seeing the video that he is ambigious about the doctrine of hell. And no sound teacher would ever put out a video like this. Also go online and see if you can pull up a sermon or anything from bell clearly stating his beliefs on hell, oh you can’t.

      • He is not ambiguous. The video is a “teaser” to get people to read the book. Do you not understand that? He is not “teaching” anything in the video.

        • so what what is he saying? he made a video to ask a bunch of deep questions while not answering any? Should he have not made a video simply saying buy my book, then.

        • Craig your wrong he is ambigious he meanders and questions the doctrine of hell in this video without explicitly denieing or supporting it.

          The reason you are defending him is becuase you are a theological liberal and sympathize with him.

          • LOL! Victor, I see how you are. As soon as you resort to the name-calling and pretending to know where I come from theologically, you reveal your true stripes. I will not engage you any more because I see that it will be unfruitful. I am far from “liberal” theologically or politically, but I do believe in sola scriptura as well as not passing judgment upon things which we do not know.

            Peace and grace to you, Victor.

          • Victor,

            Have you ever thought about the possibility that the reason you disagree with Rob Bell is because you’re a right-wing fundamentalist? Just a thought. I’m not trying to be malicious; however, you cannot simply throw down a label on someone else without subjecting yourself to a label.

    • Great word mate. Could not have said it better myself!

    • Professor of law Craig: You’re correct, the blogosphere is not a courtroom [I too did time in law school, but God had mercy on me.]

      But if it were, and I were Bell’s defense attorney, I’d advise him to not publish this under his name:

      “… arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering… Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.”

      Given Bell’s tendencies, it will be a huge surprise if the book does not espouse uninversalism. It may be a nuanced annihilationism like Stott’s or something similar to McLaren (who proclaimed Bell the next Billy Graham), but if the video and publicist description accurately comport with the trajectory of his other teachings, it will be finally clear what Bell really does believe and teach.

      The posing of endless questions is an old post-modern pastor trick employed by McLaren to disguise and maintain wiggle room. Eventually it gets clear.

      IS THERE STILL TIME FOR BELL TO PULL THE BOOK AND RETHINK THIS?

      The secular company that is publishing it will not understand. But his primary audience is God and His flock.

      • lander:

        If he espouses universalism (which he may, I don’t know), then I will be saddened. But, if he espouses a form of annhilationism (like Stott), then I have no problem with it. Personally, I think annhiliationism is more biblically sound (just look at Malachi 4 or Revelation 20!) than the Dante’s inferno theology that we have in many churches today, but it is not a sticking point issue for me. Either way, hell is real and people will really be sent there if there names are not found written int he book of life. And, whether suffering consciously eternally or just temporarily in the process of destruction, neither will be good.

    • BTW, I added the first part about being a judge and a professor because I was going to include an analogy about a trial and evidence from my background. But, I decided not to because it was goign to be too lengthy. I should have deleted the information about my background because it is not relevant to my comments.

  81. Best Case Scenario: This ambiguous video draws universalists and skeptics of Christianity into a trap of ACTUAL Biblical truth and correction.

    Worst Case Scenario: Rob Bell = Oprah

  82. I really want to read this book. I really hope he doesn’t proclaim universalism. I really hope he writes that Jesus is the only way.
    Oh God please keep Rob Bell from leading thousands astray. Remind Him of your great love, the cross and resurrection, of justice, and grace, and the agony Christ went through for the glory of God and salvation of our souls. Please don’t let him be a universalist O God, please don’t. In Jesus name, Amen.

  83. Hat Bible is he reading? Did he ignore the holy, righteous and just God?

  84. This is the best news I have ever heard in my little life: a post-modernist actually *gasp* landed on what they think it is true.

    Now who is going to proclaim the gospel of God into Bell’s life? Or do we actually believe that the gospel is the power of God in salvation for all of those who would believe, to the Jew first and also the Greek? Do we actually believe that the gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness from His faith to our faith? Do we actually believe that the righteous shall live by faith?

    If we believe that then we know that salvation is of the Lord and He is mighty to save.

    Oh happy day!

  85. If the book is what is implied by JT’s post and Rob Bell has truly embraced universalism …

    I hope no one buys his book. I pray that his support for this message will dry up. I pray that the words of heresy will ring hollow and empty to those who read them.

    What a vaunting of man! What a making of man the center! What a minimizing of sin and of the cross of Christ!

    God is trustworthy because He sends people to hell. God can be believed because He is not like us — He is holy.

  86. I love how soft evan-jelly-cals have become – provides much in the way of thinking material. How long have people been pointing out that Bell, at the least, leans towards universalism? I’ve been blogging three years – I have material from his books and from the reviews of others which points this thread out.

    Heck, even I posted three blog posts – on one of them, Chad Holtz, who has posted throughout this thread commented extensively – demonstrating that at best, he’s lost a grip on the Gospel and at worst, he doesn’t know it – all from his own mouth.

    I’m sorry but if we needed any more confirmation that Bell’s message is a radically dangerous re-invention of the Biblical Gospel, we’re about to get it with this new book. I’d even put good money on it, if I were a betting man.

    • Congratulations?

      • Nothing to congratulate here – this is deeply saddening, especially when others affirm that he has preached the Biblical gospel at some point in his ministry.

        I’m just annoyed with this “let’s wait and see what the book says” when to a good degree, we already know what’s coming, based on previous material from the same man.

  87. Can a person believe that the Bible is the word of God, that Jesus is the only way to God…and that everyone is going to heaven? Yes. For example, I do.

    This does not, however, provide an occasion to avoid repentance or judgment. Indeed, we should all live lives of repentance toward Jesus our gracious Savior. His judgments are just, and there is a hell. But it is in this life, not the next one.

  88. I’m curious, what did Jesus mean when he said, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 KJV?

  89. First of all, to become one of the few as Rob Bell puts it, you repent of your sins and put your faith and trust in Jesus. Which is done when you realize you have sinned against a Holy God and deserve to go to Hell. If you want nothing to do with God here and now, then when you die you go to a place (Hell) that has nothing to do with God. Second – Jesus doesn’t “rescue us from God”, it really bothers me that he stated it that way. Jesus cleanses us from our sins so we can be one with God. It’s our sins that keep us from God, that’s just the way it is, and that is why God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. That my friend is Love. I heard it put this way once – A Pastor was talking to a man about Christ and this man felt that he had sinned to horribly to ever be forgiven. The Pastor explained it to him like this – he said “In this hand we have the book of your life, on the cover it says The life of Bruce, inside it is filled with gross sins. In my other hand we have the book of the life of Jesus, inside is perfection, love and mercy. When you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins all the pages in your book are ripped out by Jesus and they are replaced with all the pages in Jesus’ book. The cover still says The life of Bruce but the inside is beatuiful and acceptable to God.”

    • Jesus rescues believers from the wrath of God. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” Rom. 5:10

      Saved by Him [Jesus] from the wrath of God sounds like “saved from God.” We must understand it is “saved from a just and holy God.”

    • That statement alone Jesus rescues us from God tells me a lot about Bells theology, bad theology. Jesus is God so think about that statement. I want to know how many of you who are posting have read Bells books? Then I would ask how well do you know the Bible, how often do you read your Bible, what is your prayer life like and are you being led daily by God’s Holy Spirit. Why do you think cult leaders have so many followers? They target those who are young and those who are not dependent on God, following His lead daily are led away by their own desires and reasoning’s Don’t you see, there is nothing new under the sun.

  90. Wow, over 150 comments on a book that hasn’t been released yet…Really? Maybe it should be read first before conclusions are drawn!

    • Gary, if Robb came out saying clearly that he did not believe in hell would you consider him a false teacher?

      • All I’m saying is read the book first before passing judgement.

        • I understand your point which is valid, but please answer my question bro. thanks.

          • Why is it so important to you for me to call Rob Bell a false teacher? Unwartented judgements like this are why unbelievers want nothing to do with the Church. Let’s settle down, read the book first and then draw our conclusions.

  91. Has anyone who posted a comment here obtained a copy of the book being promoted and actually read it? Bell never in this video states that he believes that hell is not real and that people will not go there. Bell is a very smart man and has a pretty good knack at marketing his material in the right way. So does anyone actually know that what he says and questions in this video is not actually flipped into a true gospel presentation in the book, instead of an expected universalist proclamation? How often do churches use slogans and phrases that are not theologically in line with their personal stance, but are used to grab the attention of those who actually do fall in line with those statements. I’m not defending Rob Bell and I know he’s a little off in some corners. I’m just saying that I haven’t read the book and I would bet that hardly any of you have either, so why is everyone so quick to jump all over something because of a 2 minute video that was used FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GETTING PEOPLE CURIOUS ABOUT THE BOOK! Read the book and critique the book, that’s fine. But until we read the book and know exactly what stance he takes IN THE BOOK, let’s stop picking apart a marketing strategy.

    • I fully agree with you, Mike.

      Come on, people. Why so quick to judge?
      “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” – James 1:19

      I think the bigger question here is: why do so many Christians feel such an overwhelming need to ‘protect’ ourselves from things that aren’t even proven bad for us? I say ‘protect’ because the form that that ‘protection’ takes is avoidance and, too often, condemnation.

      We must guard our hearts and minds from wrong teaching and things that might lead us astray from God, yes, but we are called to be IN the world and not OF it, and what that means is that instead of shunning ‘worldly’ things and beliefs, we should engage them in debate and bring God into that discussion, not just stand at a distance and point and judge.

  92. Would you still choose God if Hell didn’t exist? A beautiful question at the heart of Rob Bell’s new book I bet. It seems the religious elite are upset.

    • Kaleb, if Bell came out and said clearly that no one will or ever has been condemned to hell would you consider him a false teacher? thanks for you answer, i know that it is beside the point you are making.

    • Kaleb,
      Would you “choose God” if Jesus lied about salvation, hell, and judgement?

      • Todd, I didn’t communicate my point clearly enough.

        There are those who choose to follow God because they don’t want to end up in hell.

        Then there are those who choose to follow God because they’ve truly experienced his grace, his redemption, his saving touch.

        Those who follow God because they love him instead of choosing to follow God because they don’t want to go to hell have a more fulfilling relationship with Jesus (I assume this because I’ve been on both sides of the coin).

        Would I follow God if Jesus lied? Of course not. But that’s not my point. Do you follow God because you love him or because you’re afraid of hell? Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could avoid Hell, he died on the cross so you could enjoy God.

  93. [...] HT: Justin Taylor [...]

  94. No man can be said to have reached the pinnacle of Truth until a thousand people have denounced him for blasphemy.

  95. Miroslav Volf:

    “My thesis is that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance…My thesis will be unpopular with man in the West…But imagine speaking to people (as I have) whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned, and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit…Your point to them–we should not retaliate? Why not? I say–the only means of prohibiting violence by us is to insist that violence is only legitimate when it comes from God…Violence thrives today, secretly nourished by the belief that God refuses to take the sword…It takes the quiet of a suburb for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence is a result of a God who refuses to judge. In a scorched land–soaked in the blood of the innocent, the idea will invariably die, like other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind…if God were NOT angry at injustice and deception and did NOT make a final end of violence, that God would not be worthy of our worship.”

  96. Rob Bell is free to believe and say whatever he wants, but it seems like what he is saying that the Bible says is not actually coming from the Bible.

    Rob Bell: (Paraphrase) “Love Wins. The Bible actually doesn’t paint a picture of Jesus dying to save people from God and it doesn’t picture that whoever doesn’t believe in Him will go to hell. How could that be good news?”

    John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

    2 Things in this verse: 1. Soberingly, wrath (and ultimately hell) does remain on anyone who doesn’t believe in the Son. 2. It is God’s wrath. Jesus saves people from God’s wrath.

    That is GREAT news! God in His mercy made a way for us to get to Him in such a way that He would be just and that we would be, astonishingly,… justified. His just wrath that we deserve had to be satisfied. He great love sent Jesus to satisfy it, by dying in our place. Anyone can be connected to that justice satisfying death and life giving resurrection of Jesus by believing in Him.

  97. I agree with other readers that we should only caution at this point.

    While there is a question mark in the title of this post, the uncertainty gets swallowed up in the midst of the article. It is certainly acceptable to alert people (particularly church leaders, so they read it before recommending it), but for Piper to say “Farewell Rob Bell” seems a bit premature, considering this is a teaser video. This video is simply introducing a topic, and it would be unfair to construct his official position from this video.

    It seems like people were far too ready to dig their teeth in. Granted this video provokes questions, but that is different than fully laying out an argument. Not only that, but “suggests” and “shows” are quite different. It may be true that the book will fulfill what this video suggests, but as with any text, we cannot assume the contents of a book.

    (Even if it’s unlikely, what if his book actually endorsed an orthodox position — responding to the objections that he stated in the teaser video?)

    • Joel, if bell came out and said clearly that he did not believe in hell would you consider him a false teacher?

  98. [...] HT: Justin Taylor [...]

  99. Thanks Justin.

    These are not small issues.
    The video and the questioning of clear, basic, gospel, truth is quite enough to indict any Christian teacher. As teachers of the Word of God, we must not insinuate or suggest anything that undermines Biblical teaching. Bell does all that and more in just the promotional video.

    Very sad. I’m grieved for him and for all those who used to benefit from his ministry.

  100. I don’t know. I mean, I think you made a good point about a publisher’s description – the one written could be purely to stir up controversy and get more books sold to a wider audience.

    The video also didn’t seem to preach ANYTHING heretical at all. It just said: who are you to say who goes to heaven and hell? And what criteria do YOU judge by? When I think the answer, the biblical one, is: I am basically nobody. God judges. God decides. Who am I? (Read through Job for a great example of all of this.) Essentially, it sounds like Rob Bell wants to counter a message that purports a God who’s primarily interested in arbitrary punishment. Certainly that’s NOT the God of the Bible, the God who FREQUENTLY intervenes in people’s lives, ever drawing people (heretics included) back to him, to resign the lives they have and take up his full life – full of love. That Rob Bell would rather paint a picture of a God full of love and redemption, in opposition to a picture of a God who’s full of punishment and has to punish his own son because of some bizarre structure where the whole story is built on the idea of punishment, well, that’s a great idea and just as liberating as the Jesus who died and rose again, defeating (once and for ALL) sin and death, for all who’d choose to be with him, and follow him, and join his kingdom.

    The book title is excellent too: Love wins. After all, what is “Hell”, or even “evil”, that it could possibly rival God and the greatness of his love? Nothing. It doesn’t mean that God, equally full of grace and love, won’t allow people to live lives (including eternal lives) apart from him and therefore diminished, even worthless. But neither God, nor his love, loses – God (who IS Love) wins! Every time. Until I read the book, or Rob Bell’s own words, saying anything different, I certainly won’t believe there’s heresy involved.

  101. I’m shocked that you would write such a blog post, making all types of assumptions and causing controversy without even reading the book. That seems very much like judgmentalism at its worst. Let us decide for ourselves whether or not Rob Bell is theologically incorrect after we read the book.

  102. I think I am going to talk about Justin Taylor’s ministry in a negative light. hmmm….when to begin when to begin. I mean you have to expect it right? If you are going to point things out in Rob’s ministry then it is going to happen to you as well. Sounds biblical doesn’t it?

  103. Ok, I’m showing up late but I got my torch and pitch fork. When we burning this guy?

    Hopefully it’s before his book comes out and we here what he might think.

    Sheeesh.

    • very funny JW.

      But if Bell came out and said clearly that he did not believe in hell would you consider him a false teacher? thanks

      • For myself, I wouldn’t consider him a “false teacher” if he said, “I don’t believe in hell” (out of context). For all we know, he’d just be saying he doesn’t believe in Hell as it’s popularly defined. Well, neither do or have many great theologians and church fathers believed in hell as it’s popularly defined these days. But if Rob Bell said, “I believe that God takes everyone into Heaven with himself, regardless of their attitude towards God, regardless of their desire to know God, or their efforts to submit themselves to God, he takes everyone”, then I’d say, “yeah, that’s false teaching.” It would certainly contradict what the Bible says about some entering and some not. But that’s not what we’ve heard Rob Bell say so far.

        • thanks Adam.

          • Oh, and one more note: If Rob Bell said something to the effect of “Jesus isn’t the only way to God,” or “Jesus isn’t God”, or “People can get to God without Jesus” – then yes, I’d also consider that false teaching / heresy. But I do believe that beliefs about hell are, at best, secondary to beliefs about Jesus. I think someone else on here made a great statement: “what if, in reality, there were no hell (or nothing like we can imagine)? would that make Jesus any less worthy of our adoration and devotion?” My answer is: “certainly not”. Now, we know Jesus entirely within the context of a real separation from God, and that Jesus came, and acted with enough power/authority/whatever, to bridge that separation from God for every person. Now, whether every person chooses to be restored to God and renewed (certainly doesn’t seem like that in the Bible or in real life) and whether or not Jesus would force that on them (again, doesn’t sound like him in the Bible), well, those are again different questions. But not, specifically, questions that invite heresy. The only (in my opinion) TRUE heresy, is to say there’s another god than Jesus, or another goal for humanity than Jesus. Or even to characterize God in such a way that blatantly contradicts who we know he is in Jesus (such as “God is not love” or “God is hateful”). But Jesus is the center of our faith, not some eternal dualist scheme of heaven vs. hell.

      • Victor, good question. I take it to be a big ‘if’ at this point.

        I consider evangelicalism a big tent and Christianity an even bigger one.

        It’s not yet clear what Bell is arguing, and there are some within both of these tents I’ve mentioned that argue for a view Justin Taylor would not agree with…does that mean they are false teachers? That’s a big jump.

        • ok then yes it is hypothetical. But please answer would you consider him a false teacher if he taught universalism.

          Put it this way, if John piper came out and said he did not believe in hell i would consider him anathema.

          • No, I don’t consider it a forgone conclusion that an orthodox Christian could not hold to some schema of universalism and still be within the bounds of ‘orthodoxy.’ I try and take all such questions with a bit of epistemic humility.

  104. What I find incredible is his question, “And what kind of God is it that Jesus would have to save us from?” (forgive me if I got a word or two wrong). As Craig Hurst said in another post, he’s pitting Jesus against God. Is Bell also forgetting the Trinity? Is not the very God who we’re saved from the one doing the saving? Nice move, Rob Bell. Make God the bad guy, the One who can’t possibly be so “bad” as to condemn sin and sinner. You solve the problem by removing wrath and justice from God’s character. God solved it by becoming a man and delivering us.

    • In this statement, Rob Bell isn’t making God the bad guy – he’s “quoting” (more like paraphrasing) a common message that DOES tend to make God the bad guy. And Rob Bell seems to be implying that that’s just NOT true. (And it certainly isn’t, God’s the hero, the victor, he IS good, and he IS love; that’s the story of the Bible.) I think what Rob Bell *could* be saying (and he didn’t finish any arguments in the video and none of us have read his book) is that we AREN’T saved from God. If anything (if we’re in Christ), we’re saved from ourselves. Jesus gave us the ability, completed the work, that allows a man, a sinful man, to be drawn outside his sinfulness and caught up in God’s grace and love. We’re not saved from God, and Jesus didn’t save us from God, He saved us from ourselves. And that’s why love wins. Now, “who goes to hell?” Well, Rob Bell didn’t answer that question, but he seemed to be making a clear statement: “who are we to decide?” Only God/Jesus can decide who’s coming with him, we certainly aren’t privileged with that info ourselves.

  105. “Bell is a persuasive communicator” = Bell is embraced and promoted by corporate (unbiblical) MSM

    Where is Bell’s blog?

  106. Interestingly, this particular video is nowhere on Bell’s personal site, HarperCollin’s site for the book, Mars Hill’s site, Bell’s Twitter, or YouTube. It’s on Vimeo only, and without a description.

  107. What does Rob Bell mean when by hell? No need to wait until the end of March to find out. In movement six of Velvet Elvis (c.2005) he writes that man brought hell to earth (p 149). “Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth” (p 148). He defines hell as “a way of living out of sync with how God created us to live. The word for this is hell: a way, a place, a realm absent of how God desires things to be” (p 147). That explains in part how he can write “Hell is full of forgiven people” and “Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for” (p 146). All this is the logical extension of his view of the extent and intent of the atonement. “And when Jesus died on the cross, he died for everyone. Everybody. Everywhere. [...] All people. Everywhere. Everybody’s sins on the cross with Jesus” (p 145).

  108. Pathetic. Grow up everyone! There are more constructive ways of handling a disagreement. First and foremost, love God, then let’s not forget to love EACHOTHER. Remember how Jesus chose to congregate with lowest of the low everyday regardless of their beliefs! I don’t care what side you’re on, but show each other respect and LOVE eachother!

    • ebeeson would you consider bell a false teacher if he came out and clearly said he did not believe in hell?

  109. Reality Check:

    The Gospel is full of absurdities and inconsistencies, but that doesn’t change who God is and what His Son came here to do.

    Does that mean we change our message to make it less absurd or inconsistent? I don’t think so.

  110. There is a key line in this post that we all need to pay attention to. Fifth paragraph, “I haven’t seen the book yet” and basing a review by what is just written on the book jacket never really worked. I learned that in high school when I failed my book reports. Apparently Justin was able to figure out the entire content of the book without even cracking what Chapter 1 even said.

    Why don’t we wait and all read what the book talks about before we jump, rather in this case, a giant leap, to a conclusion.

    • While I approach this matter cautiously as well, it may well be that Justin, as an editor himself, took the HarperCollins folks at their editorial word when they wrote: “[Bell is] arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.” If that statement does in fact accurately represent Bell’s approach and conviction in the book, then, as I see it, the criticism is entirely, and without equivocation, justified.

      • Not if Bell believes in annhiliationism, which is a view accepted by many respected evangelicals (albeit a minority) and is not, by itself, unbiblical (kind of like free will versus predestination – neither are per se “unbiblical”). But, if Bell says everyone gets into heaven eventually–no matter their acceptance or rejection of eternal life–then I certainly do not see that in scripture anywhere and would cal it unbiblical.

        • I considered that, and it may be so. I guess my difficulty with the possibility is that annihilationism also doesn’t quite comport with Bell’s God’s existence as a being of love (I don’t refer to “Bell’s God” in a pejorative sense; I truly don’t yet know what he means and have read nothing of his previously). Of course, God’s love doesn’t find its locus of meaning in our man-centered definitions, and perhaps he will address the vital term in due course. But were God to simply snuff out the existence of those who reject the Son, this too seems to militate against the more earthy sense of love as intimated by Bell. For me, it’s conjecture at this point. We shall see.

        • Wow! Reading these selected comments is so painful to Christian theology and Born-Again Christians. I find some of the remarks so academically wrong. I shake my head in shame of those that over-cogitate doctrine such as soteriology. If you can’t understand the basics, why do you foment against that which is undefinable/unacceptable to you. Hell does exist, if it were not so Jesus would be a liar. All have gone astray. no one is good except God. Adam and Eve existed, if it were not so, then again Jesus would be a liar. Sin/imperfection severs us from a complete A.K.A. a perfect relationship from God. God is Perfect. Perfection can have no communion with imperfection. therefore the perfect, eternal, outside of time (because he created it.)God made a way in his economy for all mankind to become perfect (only through Jesus) in his presence. Jesus the savior of creation from sin. is the Way the Truth and the Life, he made many promises to all of us being saved through him. And he also clearly said he was God. Panoply of the Holy God breathed Word is to be studied rightly or you go your own way not God’s. Proverbs says, there is a way that seems right to a man but it’s end is destruction. Proverbs also says to, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

  111. Come on Justin! I am disappointed in your assumption. Rob Bell will be arguing what is called “Conditional immortality” which is an evangelical view…although it is not the popular one. THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE NARROW JUDGEMENT OF THE HYPER-NEO-REFORMERS THAT IS MAKING ALL US EVANGELICALS QUITE FRUSTRATED!

    Is Eugene Peterson a universalist? here is what he says on his endorsement of the book:

    “In the current religious climate in America, it isn’t easy to develop an imagination, a thoroughly biblical imagination, that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ in all people and all circumstances in love and for salvation. Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination. Love Wins accomplishes this without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”
    - Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, and author of The Message and The Pastor

    And Evangelical theologian pastor Greg Boyd:

    “Love Wins is a bold, prophetic and poetic masterpiece. I don’t know any writer who expresses the inexpressible love of God as powerfully and as beautifully as Rob Bell! Many will disagree with some of Rob’s perspectives, but no one who seriously engages this book will put it down unchanged. A ‘must read’ book!”
    - Greg Boyd, senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church and author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

    • Thanks for the dose of sanity!!!

    • kurt, you are not an orthodox christian why would you be on this blog?

    • Go ahead, criticize us but you are also criticizing Jesus when he says “narrow is the path, and few will find it” was Jesus being narrow? YES. he was saying that the CORRECT path is narrow and only few will find it. narrow mean narrow. The mistake we reformers make thinking we can judge who the “few” will be based on actions Only GOD really knows the heart, but conversly it is good to IDENTIFY error and clear contradictions of scripture as well, remember, we condemn the teaching, not the MAN, correction is useful, we are corrected all our life by our parents, why is it we can’t be corrected by our heavenly father, who speaks to us through the BIBLE?

  112. It is amazing how peopple have become their own personal dictionary these days. We have no idea what words actually mean today. Paul says we are not justified by works. but by grace. through faith. WORKS MEANS WORKS. GRACE MEANS GRACE. FAITH MEANS FAITH. It has been said: “God made man his own image, then man turned around and returned the favor.” We cannot imagine what life would be like without sin. WE ARE FALLEN, GLORY TO GOD FOREVER, NOT TO US, but to YOUR NAME be the glory? God is the only supreme bieng that is without sin that is why we praise him. GOD IS NOT LIKE US. we are in HIS IMAGE!. NOT THE CONVERSE WE RAIS HIM NOT OURSLEVES. now that seems contradictory, but remeber DEFINITIONS MATTER just because we are in God’s image, does not mean we think like him. REMEMBER: IMAGE of God does not equal MIND of God. DEFINITIONS. we are FINITE. HE IS INFINITE!!!!! I also think it is important TO KNOW God is not the one who wishes death upon us, he hands us over to the devil AS punishment. WE ARE NOT GOD The main puropse of punishment is not to learn from mistakes, if it were, then why do we have life IN prison sentences??????? This form of punishemnt IS akin to what the punishemnt of sin is. sentenced to eternity in the prison of Hell. RAvi Zacharias sums up todays world about definitions in this video best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brU2kEkUFZA

    We’ve lost the ability to understand LANGUAGE.

    FOR WE ARE SAVED FROM HELL, FREED FORM THE PUNISHEMENT OF SIN. YOU MUST decide to come to JESUS to BE FREED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!! GOD LOVED THE WORLD, THE HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, SO THAT (rememeber definitons here) whoever beliEves in HIM will NOT PERISH( perish means death!!!) BUT HAVE EVRLASTING LIFE!! THis is the gospel in a nutshell. Bell is not preaching the gospel. remember bell: THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM!!! remember if Jesus is not saving us from anything, then why do we call him SAVIOUR? “Narrow is the path that leads to LIFE, and FEW will find it!” these are the very words of Jesus. NARROW MEANS NARROW!!!! FEW MEANS FEW!! that is all. i dont think you can argue with that.

  113. There is a key line in this post that we all need to pay attention to. Fifth paragraph, “I haven’t seen the book yet” and basing a review by what is just written on the book jacket never really worked. I learned that in high school when I failed my book reports. Apparently Justin was able to figure out the entire content of the book without even cracking what Chapter 1 even said.

    Why don’t we wait and all read what the book talks about before we jump, rather in this case, a giant leap, to a conclusion.

    John Piper says bad theology corrupts… what about his bad exegesis?

    • Your point has been made 200 times above but it is good to make again. Though in Justin’s post ONLY the last paragraph should be removed based on your criteria of not reading the book. He’s aloud to post and raise a question about the content of the publicist’s description and the video. The last paragraph of his post, I’ll grant, is premature and should be deleted.

      So if the book espouses some form of universalism or annihilationism that accords with what he has hinted at in “Velvet Elvis” and in sermons and the video, etc., then what?

      Can we call it heresy? Or will that be too harsh? Because it always seems that people just attack the critic rather than defend the position. Justin has taken some whacks here, perhpas deservedly given the prematurity of the last paragraph of his post.

      It is unlikely that Bell gives biblically orthodox answers to his own questions, given his track record and trajectory.

      I hope he pulls the book and consults with some wise counselors.

      • Any one can take a single line or phrase from a paragraph and base an entire judgement from it. That’s what people have done with Velvet Elvis, and I assume that’s what people will do in this case.

  114. Christopher Heward

    To be honest, all the stuff he says sounds different from ‘the party line’, but then he doesn’t state anything, he just asks questions. That’s Rob’s hallmark from my understanding – to ask questions. Now, in a sense perhaps that can be confusing for new believers but for those that have grown it is vitally important. Having said that, Jesus asked questions of everyone, those that were scholars, those yet to be saved, his closest friends. However, it cannot often seem that ‘conservative evangelicalism’ is less concerned about asking questions and more concerned about imposing a set of beliefs upon people. How do you grow in your faith, in your relationship with God, if you can’t ask questions, or put your reasoning to the test? If God is half the being we think he is, then it is likely that we haven’t got it nailed, even the wisest scholar, and with that it is extremely damaging to our relationship with Him to assume that we do (it’s on its way to idolatry).

    With regards to the specifics of what he’s saying in the video and is said in the quote about him, I have three queries:
    1) Is he saying it’s not eternal punishment but eternal death? This is a common question people ask, as the majority of Jesus’s teachings seem to talk about being burnt up in the fire, whilst he does mention on a couple of occasions about eternal punishment (perhaps death is a punishment though?). Likewise Revelation, whilst saying the enemy and the beast will be punished eternally, it isn’t so clear whether others will be, or whether it is a ‘second death’.
    2) Is he saying God doesn’t desire anyone to go to hell? He doesn’t seem to say that no one goes to hell, more about what God’s intention is about hell. As well as universalism, there is of course both Calvinism and Arminianism. Whilst universalism says everyone goes to heaven (or at least people have a choice between heaven and hell), and Calvinism (at least towards the more extreme end) suggests that God designates some to go to hell and others to heaven, Arminianism leaves room for a decision, usually by man, as to whether they respond to God. Therefore only those that believe in Christ and have relationship with Him can be saved from hell, but that opportunity is open to all, and God desires that all be saved. Of course, there is a difference of interpretation, as many take the Calvinist view, citing some of Paul’s writings, whereas lots of others take the Arminianist view, usually citing Jesus’s teachings, as well as parts of the Old Testament (for example Ezekiel 18, particularly verse 32).
    3) Is he, like I say above, just asking questions? He might be a staunch conservative evangelical, but wanting people to arrive at the same conclusions through time spent with God, with His word, in prayer, rather than just telling them ‘how it is’? Or he may think the complete opposite. I just think that his style is to ask provocative questions that help people to investigate their faith in a meaningful way, in a way that deepens their relationship with Christ.

    Finally, with regards to Ghandi, is he just warning about judgementalism, and saying that we can never know who is saved and who is not? We know that “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9), but we also know that some who prophesied, cast out demons and did miraculous things in His name will be turned away (Matthew 7:21-23), and also those who don’t give food to the hungry, clothe the naked,give shelter to the homeless (Matthew 25:31-46). So I find it difficult to know with someone like Ghandi whether he is saved, unless he clearly rejected Christ till the moment he died (and even that we can’t know for sure) and perhaps that is what Rob Bell is getting at? Again, it might just be he is asking questions and he believes that Ghandi won’t get in to heaven but wanted us to think about our faith? After all, that seems to be the point of the majority of the materials he produces.

    Given the amount of questions Jesus asks, surely questioning things is something we all need to do?

    • I am all for questioning thisngs that the bible is unclear about. But it has also been said, the are some tings that are written in PEN, nad some things that are written in pencil, such as clalvinism/arminianism. But what i am upset about is questioning, basically the rock, and central core of salvation. jesus dies a death, he died completely, he says “fathet why have you fosaken me? this is clear, written in all four ofthe gospels, and is central to being SAVED. surely we know being save means being saved from SOMETHING?

      • Christopher Heward

        But just because he’s questioning something doesn’t mean he’s saying it’s wrong. If a kid says to me 3 x 4 = 12 and I say “but how do we know that” it doesn’t mean I think they’re wrong, it just means I want them to understand the calculation, so that when someone asks them what 3 x 5 equals they’ll be able to work this out from the knowledge they have.

        Anyway, I still think his main point is that God wants no-one to go to hell, which is extremely Biblical, otherwise why would Jesus have gone to the cross (not to mention the various verses that specify that – Ezekiel one above and John 3:16-18 as examples).

        • I agree with God not wanting no one to go to hell, but that does not mean no one WILL. it pains God greatly to punish mankind, (remember the flood?) we must be careful not to project human emotions of love onto God, as i said, God does not think like us, he has set a standard that we have all fallen short of, and deserve death. but remember, JOHN 3:16 also mentions perish, according to bell’s theory it should read, “will stay on earth and be saved later” if there is no punishment, then why live morally? if we are not saved, then why live for God I think Bell should ask these question first. I may have been too quick, but i am sure we are doing good to question the questioner, as Jesus did so many times in the old testament. (questioning the pharisees when they asked him his authority) nobody reacts this way when other books are criticized before they are released. it is good to speak out against false teaching. i guess the aim of this post is to warn before it gets into the mainsteam media and becomes heavily popularized. Bell needs to understand that no one knows who will be saved or who won’t be, just to know that “IT is the power of GOD unto salvation for all who beleive” does not say “all will believe” the statement is excusive too al who beleive, definitions matter. i dont thiink you can question that. It is a very short leap from questioning the word of God to denying the word of God, not tha bell will do that, but he taken the first treacherous step. By the way, being a beliver requires some faith in God, and some things about God we will never understand, just what is revealed in the Bible and in nature.

          • Christopher Heward

            My point was though that I don’t think Bell is denying people go to hell. He is (maybe) denying that God wants us to go there. I say maybe because he may just be asking a question.

            Also when you say Bell needs to understand that no-one knows who is saved, that’s exactly his point. You can’t say Ghandi will be in hell. No where does he say ‘but Ghandi lived a good life’, he just says ‘ how can you say Ghandi is in hell’. So he has the same view as you.

            I think it’s fine to anticipate a book based on a promo, but people are projecting things on to Rob Bell, rather than engaging with and understanding what he is trying to say.

  115. Am I missing something here?

    Is there a discussion about Rob Bell and Universalism that has a history beyond this promo video? It sounded to me like he asked lots of questions that could go either way… he is priming his potential audience (probably those who commented on this blog!). I am not a big fan of Rob Bell, and his creative ability has overtaken the Biblical message of justification by faith (judging by the fruit of the Nooma series), but I didn’t see anything in this promo video on Universalism. Many of you could ask the same questions in your sermons on Sunday mornings and start a great Biblical discussion on these often-asked questions. I just hope that he answers those questions Biblically when the book comes out.

    Maybe I’m not in on a very important discussion.

  116. How can someone so brilliant, a certified genius even, be soo blatantly ignorant? This guy IS a great teacher and knows scripture. He knows all the context and yet, he misses the most straightforward message of the whole Bible. A just God, a loving God, MUST punish sin. He will punish you unless Christ is your substitute. That is love that wins every time. That is the Gospel. This is soooo sad.

  117. [...] was saddened to learn this evening, through various members of the body, that you have chosen not to believe in truth as laid out by our Maker. I [...]

  118. What did he say that was so bad? Sounds like any ad, pushing questions. I have yet to read his answers to these questions thus isn’t there is a need to suspend judgment until there is evidence of wrong?

    Also Piper, please tell me you have spoken with him before making such statements. I am a Piper fan but I hope you have asked and clarified the answers first.

  119. I’ve seen this coming for a long time. Though I have to tell you that as I listened to the video, it occurred to me that it could be a tease from Rob and that he won’t embrace full-blown universalsm. He SEEMS to intimate some deadly things, but….we’ll see. It always amazes me that there are so many people who write as if they don’t spend much prayerful time in the scriptures. I figured out why. they don’t spend much prayerful time in the scriptures. StephenBaker above simply quoted one of the most relevant passages to this discussion–the one from Galatians 1, where GOD, through Paul, twice pronounces a curse on anyone preaching a gospel contrary to the one Paul delivered. Do you not think universalism is contrary to what Paul taught? If it is, and Bell is teaching it, then he, like McLaren, is under a woeful curse.

  120. [...] stance from him. Now, this video seems to give everyone that evidence. John Piper tweeted a link to Justin Taylor’s blog commenting on the book and video, and the whole thing has just ignited into a second by second [...]

  121. I don’t even know who Rob Bell is. Should I?

  122. Folks, unless I’m mistaken the release date of the book is March 29th. Unless there are industry insiders posting comments, we don’t know for fact what Rob Bell is saying in his new book. Why don’t we all just relax, take three deep cleansing breaths and remember that God is still God.

    • Thank you Jon! I’m beyond frustrated with the author of this article. You are presuming a man’s beliefs based on a paragraph that was created to intrigue potential readers. It’s going to be edgy and written to catch someone’s attention. It will most likely reflect very little of the book’s essence.

      I’m disgusted that Piper would jump on board with this as well. It’s the very thing I have against Driscoll. They throw these things out there that they stand against without reading them (ex. Driscoll never read The Shack and look at the awful things he said). They bash a person without ever sitting across the table from them to hold a discussion.

      This is unbiblical and in my opinion sin. I have done it. I’m sure we all have done it. Passed judgement without knowing the whole story. We should confess this sin and repent. Start living differently. Start relating to one another differently.

      So…everyone that wants throw the first stone I would say…take a deep breath and remember you may not know the whole story.

  123. This is kinda disappointing if you ask me. Not disappointing on Rob Bell’s side, but disappointing on the Gospel Coalition and Justin Taylor’s side.

    Notice the title – “Rob Bell: Universalist?” (notice the question mark, anybody?)

    It’s a question, not a statement – because we don’t know for sure that he is. none of us have read his book.

    His book isn’t even out, and we are accusing him of being a universalist by what one guy (Harper Collins) said and by a promo video. What if the video is really about something other than universalism? What if the message in the book is not what we think it is? I don’t think we should be making a sweeping judgment about some guy when we haven’t read his book. I believe the Apostle Paul would disagree too (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

    Not to mention, as servants of Christ, we are told to be “kind to everyone” and “correct our opponents with gentleness” in hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We are to be kind to every single person and correct others with gentleness – not with harsh, angry words.

    We are also told not to speak against or judge another, because there is only one judge and one lawgiver – God (James 4:11-12).

    In my opinion, its a pretty big risk to post this blog post. And in my opinion, I think its wrong – especially because none of us have read the book and we are judging and condemning this man.

    • I am not accusing him of being a unviersalist. He is saying some things that are WRONG. Again DEFINITIONS MATTER. WE NEVER CONDEMENED THIS MAN we condemned his VIEWS. This is meant to be a warning post. FOr instance what if a wrote a book called: WHY MURDER IS ok. WHAT MURDER really is, OR WHY Not polygamy? a book about the real way to marry. would you want to be warned about it? THe views he is saying here are dangerous
      For jesus says: WATCH out for false prophets, they will come to you in Sheep’s CLOTHING. now i am not saying he is a false teacher,maybe not even willing to be, just a little confused, i am saying that jesus says that “you will know them by their fruit” Bell is showing the fruit of a false gospel.” the fruit of a false proophet is not only their actions, but what they SAY, in accordance with what the LORD Jesus says.

  124. You’re right, Matt. He asked some great questions in a very provocative (and perhaps, clever?) way! We’ll see.

    By the way, anyone can take the truth of God’s amazing, sacrificial love and deduct that He will find a way to save everyone. It makes perfect sense…..as long as you have your scissors handy to excise the many, many words that fall off the lips of Jesus, Paul, Peter, John….

  125. Rob Bell is simply repeating sincere questions people have about Christianity. Wait for the book, then cry wolf if you feel so inclined.

    • I definitely will hold my tongue for a while, but the reason myself and others have jumped to some conclusions is because I have read his books and heard his sermons… he never talks about sin or the wrath of God and only talks about love and living out eternity starting now. On the outside it sounds good, but it’s always been on the verge of universalism. Nobody will be shocked when this truth comes out.

      • All this talk about Rob Bell. COME ON! Those who have time to write a negative word must realize something… there are FAR better applications of God’s LOVE than to spend moments of thought drawing conclusions on a man like Rob Bell. What a way to use a moment of our brief existence on earth, saving the “world” from Rob Bell.

        • “What a way to use a moment of our brief existence on earth, saving the “world” from Rob Bell.”

          Ya Daniel, like that guy Jude who wanted to write a letter about “our common salvation”, but instead had to write a letter about those who have crept in unnoticed.

    • why are you defending a man who does not take a clear stand on the doctrine of hell. this is insane, I am bewildered by your counsel and others like you. Seriously did Jesus speak about hell the way robb does. No. Jesus took hell seriously and he talked about it regularly, just read Matthew. Please Tyler stand with God, this is serious and Robb Bell is in serious error.

      • Rob Bell hasn’t spoke about hell yet, this is what his new book is about. For you to infer heresy on this issue before you let the man speak, does not that make you in error?

        If I disagree with Bell after I read his book, I disagree with Bell. I follow Jesus, not Rob Bell, nor Driscoll, nor Piper, I seek their wisdom to understand scripture and ultimately Jesus better.

  126. It seems unfair to say that Bell is a universalist just because of that little book description. I mean, couldn’t he just hold an annihilationist view? Meaning, that believers have eternal life but that non-believers are “snuffed out” of existence? That’s enormously different than universalism, which says that everyone goes to heaven regardless of belief or non-belief. I think we have to be more careful about jumping to conclusions.

    • Stephen point me to where anywhere anywhere online or elsewhere where Bell has taught clearly about hell? You can’t

      • Exactly. There’s nothing definite, so you can’t speculate and say he’s a universalist. But the book description leaves room for either the universalist view or the annihilationist view.

        So, swallow your own pill. You can’t say anything definite either. Point me to anything that says he’s a universalist.

        Personally, I believe in eternal punishment, but I think it’s uncharitable to make unsubstantiated claims about a person’s theology when they’ve been ambiguous.

  127. There is a BIBLICAL case for everyone going to heaven: http://wp.me/PNthc-i6

    • There are “Biblical” cases for many things that are incorrect. People tried to justify sins and the wrath of God in many ways, but that doesn’t make it correct. The truth is that any argument MUST been seen throughout scripture from start to finish because God doesn’t make mistakes and God doesn’t change. So the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament also. From start to finish, God reveals in the Bible that man has fallen and will have God’s wrath poured out on them if they do not place their faith in Christ as their substitute on the cross. There is NO case for anything different because this is a constant theme from start to finish. Anything different is not Christianity.

    • Michael, there is a faith once for all delivered unto the saints for which adults and children have bled and died throughout nearly 2000 years of church history. Universalism has no part in it. I beg that you pray for understanding as you read the scriptures, gather the works of sound teachers (Jonathan Edwards, C.H. Spurgeon, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, e.g.), begin attending an evangelical church, and grow in grace. Universalism is simply inconsistent with the biblical record, and you have, regretfully, been deceived.

  128. Briana Montgomery

    Seriously?! This is the type of emo-weirdness that is plaguing my generation and those my generation follow! There’s one word for this: WEIRD! I have a remedy: The Word of God! As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” People like Rob Bell who try to come up with their own interpretation of the Gospel ALWAYS end up getting weird and off. He needs to be sat down and stopped. This is NOT Christianity.

  129. All this talk about Rob Bell. COME ON! Those who have time to write one negative word must realize that are FAR better applications of the LOVE that they have received.

    • Daniel do you believe hell is real and that God sends poeple there becuase he is just and holy and good?

      • Hell is real, and heaven is real. People are in both as we speak. But, where do you find this kind of finger pointing represented in the life of Jesus?

        • Uhhh…Matthew 23.

          “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” Matthew 23:29-33

    • Briana Montgomery

      Daniel,

      If something is extremely off it NEEDS to be exposed!

  130. what bible is he reading?!!?

  131. For everyone demanding that we wait to read what’s actually in the book before we pass judgment, perhaps this might serve as a bit of an “early reveal” -

    http://www.rthawkins.com/music/lovewins.mp3

  132. One telling sign….there is an endorsement in the Harper ad from that out-of-the-closet universalist himself, Brian McLaren. He writes, “In Love Wins, Rob Bell tackles the old heaven-and-hell question and offers a courageous alternative answer. Thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story – from beginning to end.” Maybe Brian is playing along and this won’t be a book that indicts the God of the Old Testament, the way “A New Kind of Christianity” did. Maybe.

  133. [...] what are we really afraid of? I follow John Piper on twitter, and came across this post: JohnPiper John Piper Farewell Rob Bell. http://dsr.gd/fZqmd8 [...]

  134. L. Ron Hubbard is God and Oprah is His prophet.

    See you in Heaven. I’m sitting next to Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler. We saved you a spot. Did you know you get to spend Eternity with them?

    Yes, this is heaven. Trust us.

    • Hi Tom! I thought you were awesome in Minority Report. That’s my favorite Cruise movie for sure. Are you going to do another Mission Impossible sequel?

  135. No wonder people hate christianity…because of people like you guys arguing over who the “false prophets” and “true preachers”. this sounds alot like Jesus’ parable of the speck and the plank. Bell is right. Love wins, it always does and always will so why don’t you just let it? Jesus says you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart. if people are truly in love with Jesus, not just the experience we create on the weekends, then they will find God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. the end

    • I agree with Stefan, god accepts anyone who accepts him. I believe in God but why do I have to express it with pastors every weekend. What makes them better than me? I have my own relationship with God and it doesn’t need to include church. Express your sins to him why go through anyone else. He is my father, my friend, my superior from the beginning to the end.

      • Why go through jesus, because he says he is “I am the way the TRUTH and the LIFE NO ONE AND (I AM SURE HE MEANS “NO ONE” come to the father EXCEPT through ME! just ask yourself this if you had no heard the gospek by means of a church of a chrsitan, you would be lost. Bell correct stement should read “MY version of love wins” not the God if the universe wins, a love which is indescribable, uncontainable, to which we are brought to our knees. by the gracce if god through the LORD Jesus Chrsit. you should ask, If Jesus my LORD, or have i become LORD over what he says???? we serve GOD, not the converse.

        • should be “IS jusus my lord”, or is he lord of MY lifE, OR HAVE I BECOME LORD OFVER WHAT HIS LIFE WAS LIKE???

    • I guess we were schooled by such an erudite expert such as your almost perfect self. If people hate Christianity then that’s on them not us who are sincere enough to struggle with one another on the most important topics in this sin laden world. People please when you write or post whatever it be called. Spell correctly and be not banal. By the way The word of God does explicitly command you not to forsake the assembling of the brethren, unless of course you are not my Brother in Christ. Which is more likely than not. they die from ignorance and downright rebellion. shameful.

  136. Dear pastors and evangelical leaders,

    The kind of comments you see on here in defense of Rob Bell’s indefensible teaching is what we reap from refusing to censure him years ago. Had he been publicly and soundly exposed, no one would question Justin’s very sensible and overgenerous response to this book and video. We shouldn’t be surprised when the sheep turn and bite us for exposing the false shepherds we’ve tolerated in their midst. We let them drink the poison for far too long.

    Instead of backing off, now is the time to step up to the plate and take the blows we should already have been taking. We need to take this lesson to heart and stop hedging. Or even cringing. Rob Bell is a wolf, and he’s been devouring sheep for years. The silence of the church’s shepherds makes us all complicit and liable to judgment ourselves. Enough was enough–years ago. Now it’s just embarassing. And God will be embarassed of us for our timidity.

    Here’s the question you have to ask yourself: Would you rather be judged for failing to attain the appropriate nuance when dealing with a wolf, or would you rather be judged for permitting the wolf to devour the flock of God on your watch?

  137. [...] coming out with a new book.  You can read the description and a little intro video about it here.  If it is true, because, obviously I haven’t read a book that’s not been printed [...]

  138. One can cite Biblical passages which support universal salvation and a literal hell.

    Why is it so may Christians fear there may NOT be a hell?

    That’s just wacky in my opinion.

  139. People are reading into what he is saying. He never once says what this article supposes: that is is saying “hell-is-empty-everyone-is-saved.” He is raising questions that are more complex than our sunday school explanations have been able to answer. He is being Rob Bell, forcing you to think and wrestle. He is stirring the pot, making you think. It’s easy to sit back and say it’s as black and white as I’ve been taught it is. But I don’t buy that it is. Is your life black and white? Is the world black and white? Then neither is our faith. I think this book will raise awesome questions and challenge us all to actually think about what we say we believe.

  140. I’m pulling this from somewhere else I read it, so it’s not original but I would love to hear Justin’s take, or someone else involved in Christian publishing.

    Rob Bell’s new book is being published by HarperOne, while all his previous books were published by Zondervan. Could the switch from a Christian publishing house be due to the content of the book? Just wondering

  141. I have been a Rob Bell fan for years. However, I’m kind of shocked by both the accusations against His theology as well as the confirmation of some of those accusations in this short video. I can only hope that he is simply asking those questions and providing Biblical answers to them and not trying to say that all mankind is going to be saved like Karl Barth most definitely said. I cannot trust a theologian that doesn’t believe in Hell. The Bible is far too specific about it. Luke 13:22-30; 1 John 4:17;5:5; Romans 11:22-24;John 12:47-48; 14:6;Luke 12:4-5,10

    • Don’t worry, Seth. Rob believes in hell. He knows he has to. He just may not believe there will be anyone there at the end of the day.

  142. Ha,I love this! I think Rob Bell is a genius. This is an ad to sell his book. There are some leading questions in there and makes you sit there and say “huh?”. I believe love does win. This is beautiful, and I think the responses it is generating is exactly what they were after. This is brilliant!

    • Yes, controversy for controversy sake. Not a goal nor a method to emulate.

    • Peopl ehwo claim that this argument is just for arguin g sake ate ridiculous. .that means that anytime we argue over different topics such as mrder, rape and incest we are stupid, dont you see how silly it is???? It is cowardice to claims that is foolish to point out foolish remarks. last time i checked accepting false teaching, such as “the world is flat” or ‘”murder is OK” or polygamy is alright” was on the top of the list of the stupidest things to do. We are not arguing for arguing sake, we are arguing for JESUS Chrsit the Lord, who says that NARROW is the path and few will find it. we are called to defend the GOSPEL. thE ONLY GOSPEL JESUS PREACHED the disciples ask jesus “who then can be saved” jesus says ” with men this is impossible, with god, all things are possible” JESUS WINS” not ours entimental versions of love, but the truth wil set you free. END OF STORY. defintions matter narrow means narrow few meeans few. we must rememebr though WE ARE NOT GOD. we serve and praise him, not the other way around EVER. WE DONT DEFINE WHAT GOOD AND EVIL IS He does.

  143. This has been observed for a long time, just as it had been with Brian McLaren. This same virulent reaction to people observing the obvious was present, even when Brian came out and just said it.

    http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/11/does-rob-bell-p.html

    When a person says what he believes, and says it consistently for as long as Rob has, it’s time to start accepting it and stop defending falsehood.

    • Very well-stated, Jason. And if you want to examine the fruit of the emergent ooze, snoop around a little on the site of the errr, church Brian Mclaren founded and pastored for 20 yrs. Or visit it.

      http://www.crcc.org/

      It’s more like a good Kiwanis club than a place that sees people birthed into Christ’s kingdom so they can passionately know God and populate heaven.

  144. Matthew 7:13-14; “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”–Jesus

  145. Moving away from biblical Christianity or what Christianity has become as marketed by today’s churches. No one, including pastors, wants their church business to fail. The narrower the gate can be made, the more special we’ll feel when we’re apart of the “group” thus the more likely we’ll be to purge our pockets.

  146. [...] little discussion for your minds: Who gets in to heaven? Take a look at the article on Rob Bell, written by Justin Taylor. If you don’t want to read the article, at least scroll down and [...]

  147. Rob Bell has occasionally pinged my theology radar through things he says in his NOOMA videos. Nothing has ever made me question his belief in the idea that faith in Christ is the only path to salvation.

    He certainly asks some provocative questions in this video, but he really doesn’t say much of substance. I hesitate to draw any conclusions until my copy of the book arrives. :)

  148. Conversely, Rob Bell is GREAT at marketing. This book is gonna sell because people are really looking for a gate and narrower Christians need something to burn.

  149. In my opinion, if you haven’t read the book yet, then don’t judge it until you do.

  150. This article is extremely leading and very biased while not providing more than a video segment, a few buzz-words, and conjecture.

    Until we read the book, we can’t really argue Rob Bell’s theology unless you know him.

    On sin & hell… isn’t the main point that sin separates us from God? Jesus made a way to reconnect with God outside of the Old Testament laws and covenant… grace through faith. Throughout the Bible, it’s filled with story after story about God trying to reconcile himself to his people, in the garden things were perfect – God walked alongside Adam and Eve. Then disobedience was the outward expression of man pulling away from God – a deeper issue of non-reliance on Him and desire to be closer. God just wants to be our God, a mutual unconditional love relationship. The hitch is that the latter is impossible given who we are, hence Jesus filled in the gaps.

    Hell….. the eternal result of a life outside knowing God, right?

  151. Exactly. There’s nothing definite.

    So you can’t speculate and say he’s definitely a universalist, just as one can’t say he’s definitely an annihilationist. Which I didn’t say.

    The point is that the book description leaves room for either the universalist view or the annihilationist view.

    So, swallow your own pill. You can’t say anything definite either. Point me to anything that definitely says he’s a universalist.

    Personally, I believe in eternal punishment, but I think it’s uncharitable to make unsubstantiated claims about a person’s theology when they’ve been ambiguous.

  152. I hear a lot of people mentioning humility, implying that it isn’t humble to call Bell wrong. But when did humility become an inability or unwillingness to call a falsehood false? I always thought that was cowardice.

  153. From the info page of Justin Taylor’s blog:
    “I hope this can be a place where we “seek understanding” before critiquing, where we are quick to listen and slow to speak, where we judge others charitably not critically, where we encourage and build up each other rather than tearing down and destroying each other.”
    Oh yeah and this scripture was right there too-
    “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

    Wow, I guess that must have been forgotten about with today’s post. I’m not sure whether Rob Bell is a universalist or not. But one thing I do know from reading Rob’s book and seeing his videos- this is the way he communicates information, his thoughts or points. He asks questions and lots of them. He asked questions about subjects or thoughts the way a normal human being would who has never heard anything about God or Christians and he walked into the room filled with Christians who seem to know the answers for everything. If you’ve happen to see anything he’s wrote or filmed ever, you’d know this is his process. As i’m typing this, the phrase i read on this page “we should have censored him years ago” by some genius keeps scrolling in my head. Maybe i watched a different video but i never heard him make any proclamations about anything he believed except that love wins. If asking questions (no matter what the subject matter is) makes them become your beliefs (and its not just simply put,a question) then get ready to burn me at the stake also. I must be the biggest heretic God ever created.

  154. Stefan,

    Jesus’ parable about the speck and plank does not mean that Christians shouldn’t make decisions on whose teachings are in accord with the Bible and whose teachings are not. The point of the parable is to condemn hypocrisy. Christians are given mandates to be discerning and to not tolerate teachings that contradict the Scriptures (see Titus 1:9, 13; 2:15)because they are harmful. So although it may seem hurtful we do this out of genuine concern for others’ souls.

    Second Jesus did not say that. It is from the prophet Jeremiah.

    Third, people can be in love with God, but not the God of the Bible. If the God of our minds does not match the God of the Bible then we have committed idolatry. It seems that the God who Bell describes is not the God of the Scriptures, but rather the god of his imagination. And faithful Christians out of genuine love are calling him out on it.

    • At some point, even the God of the Bible becomes an idol. The living God cannot be captured, settled, or contained on any page, whether it be gold-edged and red-lettered, or published by Harper One. Rob Bell is an idolater only in the sense that any person is (Christian or otherwise) who speaks about God. That includes me, every commenter, and every blogger. Can the Creator be expressed sufficiently by anything in creation?

      As far as I know, it’s only happened once in history (about 2,000 years ago). And we’ve all been partially understanding, partially misunderstanding Him ever since.

  155. I think it is wrong to call Rob Bell a wolf. You disagree with what he says- but do you know for sure what while happen? I’m not a theologian, but if you look at the Bible, God- who is simultaneously a God of Justice and a God of Love, throughout the entire Bible, His Love wins out every time. God found a loophole in his own system of justice so that love would win. He killed himself, bore our sins, rather than us!

    Maybe everyone will be in heaven! Maybe they won’t! I don’t think you can disregard everything Rob Bell says because you disagree with him on this point.

    Rob Bell, through his teachings and writings, has really changed my life by making me realize how much God loves me! First and foremost, God LOVES me. That realization has impacted the way I think and act so much. I doubt a “wolf” or whatever you want to call him would want me to know that.

  156. I’m not so sure that I’d draw the same conclusion from that video that you did. Seems to me that it’s just ambiguous enough to create a stir and sell some books. Let’s read the book first, then, if Pastor Bell truly is denying that Jesus is “the Way,” we can “throw the book at him.”

  157. I love all the people on here claiming you have to wait until the book comes out to get any idea what Bell is trying to say. This is why he made a promo video like the one JT included, so that you can know what the book is about.

    Furthermore, haven’t we all been down this road? Years ago when Doug Pagitt and McLaren where coming out of the heretical closet and also trying to cash in with new books, I heard the same voices saying, “you have to wait until the book comes out to know if they are leaving orthodoxy.” Well no I did not, nor do we in this case.

    Pay attention folks, why do you think this book is being released by Harper Collins instead of Zondervan like Bell’s previous books? Zondervan did not want to touch this book and what it says. Therefore, they farmed it out to their parent company.

    Lets all learn from history here. This story is just a repeat.

    • The reluctance to accept the failure of humans accompanied by the easiness of ignoring passages which teach clearly that many are not on the narrow path is what is so disturbing to me about these conversations. How readily people give in to the cult of personality and the pull of their feelings in a matter while, with sardonic glee, proposing that the bible does not say or may not say what it clearly says.

  158. [...] Justin Taylor posted this and asked the question, “Is Rob Bell a Universalist?” After watching the video below it [...]

  159. [...] Justin Taylor posted this and asked the question, “Is Rob Bell a Universalist?” After watching the video below it [...]

  160. what eugene peterson (the message. orthodox.) writes on the back of Bell’s new book. (let’s wait to judge) Bell quotes Keller and Wright more than most. They have a nuanced view of hell.

    “In the current religious climate in America, it isn’t easy to develop an imagination, a thoroughly biblical imagination, that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ in all people and all circumstances in love and for salvation. Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination. Love Wins accomplishes this without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”

    - Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, and author of The Message

  161. [...] Justin states: “I’m glad that Rob Bell has the integrity to be lay his cards on the table about  universalism. It seems that this is not  just optimism about the fate of those who haven’t heard the Good News, but (as it seems from below) full-blown hell-is-empty-everyone-gets-saved universalism.” (Rob Bell: Universalist?) [...]

  162. Ok, I watched the video twice, and I didn’t see once, NOT ONCE, where he denied the gospel.

  163. I’ve always been a Rob Bell fan, but admittedly this video makes me hesitant. I say hesitant and not yet disappointed because Bell has always had a way with stirring up controversies by starting with a controversial topic, making comments that get a rise out of Christians and hook non-Christians, and then bringing it full circle with scripture to a place neither expected to end.

    I’ll hold out judgment until I read the work itself, and go from there. It’s important to be a conscious Christian when taking in any teachings, but the “Christian right” has painted a target on Bell’s back (which I’m thankful Piper hasn’t yet done here) in such a way that it approaches hypocritical (and sometimes steps way over that line).

    I’m for being conservative in this case – conservative with judgment until I’ve read the book.

  164. [...] debates about beliefs and theologies and doctrines that irritates me. Earlier today I read a blog about Rob Bell and his new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person [...]

  165. A conversation with Rob Bell would have been more fruitful and honoring than a blog. Kudos to Brian McLaren & Scot McKnight for disagreeing well http://bit.ly/b32fYs

    @ryanguard

  166. So who is willing to say Gandhi is in hell? Anyone? I’m not. And I hope he isn’t, for that matter. That’s for God to decide, not us, not this blog, not for Al Mohler or those angry dudes over at Team Pyro. So-called “reformed” people have been angry with Rob Bell for a long time now, and I can’t wrap my head around why.

    • I’ll take you up, Matt. Based on what we know, yes, Gandhi is most likely in Hell. Maybe he repented on his deathbed; who knows? But there is no evidence of it.

  167. “I haven’t seen the book yet and was hesitant to say something … but Rob Bell is a servant of Satan.” Good thing the author didn’t pass an opinion before reading the book.

  168. [...] preview of the book (get it off the following link, his hosting site sucks). Not surprisingly, people are pissed. We don’t really know what he says in the book since it doesn’t come out until March [...]

  169. Did Gandhi believe in John 3:16 Matt? Did Gandhi become a new creation in Christ and become filled with the Holy Spirit? Did Gandhi love Jesus and desire to make disciples and glorify God as he was being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ?

    I don’t know for sure and would be open to learning, but from what I have read and learned about Gandhi this things would not apply to him.

    And please do away with the stereotype that Reformed folks are “angry” with Rob Bell. This is a trite caricature, more than anything I am sad and heartbroken.

    Could it be that your actually the one who is angry because Reformed people and guys like Mohler might have been right in their warnings? Something to think about…

    • Amen, saying gahndi is in helll is the same as saying Hitler is in hell. it is a lot more people, probably the ones who are accusing us of judging have said the same thing. we really dont know where people are now, but a lot of people have said that Hitler is in hell….

  170. .

    What if Rob Bell (or whoever else as a universalist) was right? What if their were no hell?

    Would we still present Jesus as worthy? Because he still would be.

    We love the Piper quote: “Would you want heaven if God were not there?”

    But how about this: Would you still want Jesus if there were no hell to save you from? Would you still present him as the one who came to save you, reconcile you, redeem you, heal you? Would you be committed to him if there were no consequences to suffer for not believing?

    Do we care enough about having him HERE and NOW? Is he tangible to us?

    I’m not throwing away the eternal .. but I think knowing Jesus here and presenting others so they may have Jesus here is the real challenge for us. Often times we know so little of him that if we didn’t hang our entire argument on eternity, Jesus would have nothing to offer in this earthly life.

    It’s about Christ, and Christ alone. We’re missing the boat.

    • ONE HUNDRED PERCENT AGREE. What Gospel is there without Christ at its center? The rest (what little we really *know* of it) is peripheral.

  171. Since mercy (love winning) means absolutely nothing without justice, it will be interesting to read Bell’s book. I’m hoping the provocation of this video is intentional and that Bell has some grasp that love in a vacuum is logically nonsensical.

  172. Although Bell does not make an outright statement in support of universalism, it’s obvious (to me, at least) that the many questions he raises are meant to create doubt about the reality of hell and eternal condemnation. So, thank you, Justin, for posting this. I think it is important that Christians be warned of dangers like Bell’s soon-to-be-released book.

    Contrary to what some may say, I think it is fair to call Rob Bell a false teacher–a deceiver–because a whole lot of people listen to him and read his books. Neither Jesus nor the apostles minced words when it came to people’s souls. But, we should also remember that Rob Bell has been deceived by the Deceiver, and so, we should be praying for him. And, since the vast majority of Rob Bell fans probably don’t read this blog (and those that do are probably impervious to any criticism of Bell), we should be praying for them also.

  173. All I have to say is don’t judge lest ye be judged. I am a conservative Christian. I went to a conservative Bible School and now i go to a conservative Christian college. You guys just need to calm down and pray for Rob. If you are really that concerned then pray for him. If he is a wolf then he is your enemy and Jesus told us to pray for his enemies. A bunch of you are getting your arms up in the air over a video where Bell neither confirms nor denies anything. Justin, I would suggest another blog be written after the book is released. For all we know Bell is going to affirm the COnservative position on hell. And if he doesn’t.. then whatever. If we put half the effort into loving people the way Christ loves us as we do bickering back and forth I think we would be a lot further along. No wonder people don’t want to come to church.

    • Dave K:

      Have to admire your desire for restraint, but 1 Cor 5: 12 seems to have a call to action that is more urgent. Rob Bell is the pastor of a large church that at least ostensibly calls itself Christian. Consequently, he fits neatly into the category of “those inside the church” who we are to judge.

  174. Love wins. That’s correct. The love of Jesus Christ wins. We find salvation through Him and ONLY Him. The billions and billions that Rob Bell speaks of in this video to promote his BOOK, are in hell if they have not embraced what was done for them at Golgotha, once for all time. I find Mr. Bell’s propaganda to be quite insulting that says that the love extended by Jesus hanging on a cross will prove to be inconsequential because, after all, God is more loving than just. Mr. Bell, God is equally just as He is loving. Those who elect NOT to accept the opportunity given to them to find eternal salvation will, in fact, burn in hell. God hates sin, remember? Not because I think so, but be JESUS SAID SO IN HIS SCRIPTURES!

  175. For those defending Rob Bell and saying we should “judge” until we read the book, have you not read his prior book or unbiblical views? He was already in “Anathema” territory long ago…

    “”When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about Hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth.”
    - Velvet Elvis, p.148

    “Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.”
    - Velvet Elvis, p.146

    “So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.”
    - Velvet Elvis p. 146

    “Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….. Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem, it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of….God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me….God has faith in me.”
    -Velvet Elvis, pp. 133-134

    • Right on. But the people that are saying “read the book, how can you say this without reading the book, it’s terrible that JT wrote this blog before reading the book!” either don’t know Rob Bell, or they haven’t found Velvet Elvis and other Bell books to be problematic. These same people will not read the book, or they’ll read it and continue to defend Bell.

    • Well said.

  176. “Ghandi is in Hell? Really? Someone knows this for sure?”
    Not knowing something for sure does not mean what I know is false.
    I don’t need certainty to be right in what I know.

    First…among MANY, MANY mistakes.

  177. [...] words of Christ himself.  One simply cannot hold to a high view of the Bible and agree with Bell. At the Gospel Coalition Blog, Justin Taylor wrote, “it is better for those teaching false doctrine to put their cards on the table (a la Brian [...]

  178. I know of a vicar in the Church of England, who only a few months ago said to me, “Ryan, wouldn’t it be great if love wins?”, referring to our conversation about hell and the holiness of God and the love of God, and the wrath of God, and the righteousness of God and all these characteristics, inseparable and immovable and equal in nature because they are of the One God who is perfect in every way imaginable and more. The vicar, when pushed, wouldn’t say he was a universalist, but instead chose to teach and follow the “faith of the church”. Unfortunately, with a glimmer of hope in his eyes, the question “wouldn’t it be great if God wins?” remained.

    And my answer remained: But God does win. And so does God’s love, but not in the way the vicar I know nor Rob Bell, believes.

    Ryan knows God loves him. Ryan knows also that God equally hates him. This is not because God is in two minds about Ryan, nor is it because Ryan has a low view of himself, but because Ryan personally knows the deepness and darkness and extent of which he is a sinner. But thank God that Christ is the center, the mediator, the victor, the person whom God loved the most and yet whom God exacted his rightful wrath upon – for his glory. God’s love win’s. God’s wrath wins.

    But perhaps we should thank Rob Bell. Because now it doesn’t matter what we think, or do, or even who we are in our hearts and minds and souls. It doesn’t matter what believe. The greatest commandment doesn’t hold water anymore and we can do whatever the hell we like – because quite frankly, we won’t be going there.

  179. [...] Internet is all abuzz in the Christian world today over what one leader has recently done. Rob Bell is releasing a new book which apparently states that no one is going to hell. Rob is a very well known and influential [...]

  180. For all defending Bell just answer me why Zondervan is not publishing this? Why is Harper Collins publishing it instead? You think Zondervan would pass on a cash cow Rob Bell book unless the content is clearly un-orthodox?

  181. YES Bell is a HERETIC and a WOLF, hopefully he REPENTS….

  182. So apperently they let insane asylum inmates get online nowadays

    • Ha ha. It was so funny the first you were right to try it again. I’m right that you do stand-up somewhere?

  183. what a joke, im sick….. let take the cross, which is the spotless & blameless sacrafice for our sins and minimize it. well, we all have to account for our words…. IF YOU BELIVE. I pray Rob comes to his senses soon!

  184. For those who are saying wait for the book…are you seriously thinking that the copy that the publisher wrote is merely a marketing tactic, and that in the book Bell will give an impassioned Gospel message, feverishly pleading with people to turn towards Christ as their only hope for salvation? “Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—” That’s from the publisher people. Are you really that naive? No wonder so many are following Bell and others. Stick to the Word and you will not be deceived!

  185. Yes yes… read the book. We should all read the book in order to humbly and faithfully interact with Bell’s arguments.

    I get it. I still don’t think Justin jumped the gun with his critique with the video and publishers notes that have already been released.

    We are able to read the release from the publisher are we not? Let’s look at this part:

    “Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.”

    “… arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering…”

    So… IF this is Bell’s argument (which is the point the publisher seems to be making) then he is taking one of three stands:
    1 – there is no literal hell — doesn’t exist.
    2 – Universalism (there might be one but no one goes there) — All go to heaven no matter what (i.e. Ghandi was a good guy so therefore…)
    3 – Open Theism — denying that God’s is sovereign in his graceful salvation of His own. So, someone might go to hell of their own accord but not because God sent them there because he either can’t or won’t based on some combination of his “love” and/or man’s merit.

    There is a 4th option of annihilationism… but I can’t imaging Bell going here (i.e. John Stott).

    There might be some variations of one of the above (someone listed “trinitarian universalism” — which is still universalism and denies the clear Biblical teaching of Jesus as our sustitutionary atonement) but all three of the main issues are theological problems for basic orthodox Christianity. (the 3rd being beyond the bounds of the calvanism/arminianism debate and into heresy).

    YES… we should all read the book BUT that doesn’t stop us from evaluating what has ALREADY been said/written. Bell has inferred some universalist ideas before and this only further clarifies his previously ambiguous position just a little. Perhaps after reading the book we’ll be all the more clearly understanding exactly how unorthodox Bell is becoming.

  186. Ryan, well said…”But perhaps we should thank Rob Bell. Because now it doesn’t matter what we think, or do, or even who we are in our hearts and minds and souls. It doesn’t matter what believe. The greatest commandment doesn’t hold water anymore and we can do whatever the hell we like – because quite frankly, we won’t be going there.”

  187. “No wonder people don’t want to come to church.” Dave K

    People hated Christ. People hate the light. Jesus said, those who hate the truth, don’t want to come into the light. Those who love the truth will come into the light.

    Bell is a false teacher with smooth words, and so he surely is, as JT has shown us, an angel of light, yet he is darkness.

    We shouldn’t be surprised by false teachers. They are in great abundance. Satan has many ministers of righteousness on his team.

    I pray for Bell. And I tell others about his false teachings.
    That’s what you should do Dave. Don’t let others be deceived by this man.

    Have a terrific Lord’s Day JT.
    Thanks for the post.

    Man, 407 comments!!

  188. I have copied this from Mr. Taylor’s own guide for comments on his blog:

    “I hope this can be a place where we “seek understanding” before critiquing, where we are quick to listen and slow to speak, where we judge others charitably not critically, where we encourage and build up each other rather than tearing down and destroying each other.”

    Not a fan or hater of either man here, so I have serious theological quesitons about what Bell is up to, and serious moral questions about why Mr. Taylor would do this before reading the book.

  189. AMEN to that. WORDS HAVE LOST their meaning, apperently so here, when bell says “god does not sentence us to hell” he is arguing against scripture! and reality!!!!! its the same things as saying, a loving judge who is a dad does not sentence anyone to life in prison. we know that is false! A judge must rule with the LAW! God has a law, and the punishment of the law is DEATH. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (not reversing the law, but its cosequences) for all who believe.

  190. I don’t get it. I watched the video. I see nothing at all that is even remotely contradictory to Jesus’ words. If you’re familiar with Rob Bell, a lot of his rhetoric is voicing the questions that many people have about God, faith, and the church. The video seems only to say, “Here are some questions you might have. We’re going to look at these questions in my book.” Those of you fighting about theology before reading the book… that doesn’t seem fair to anyone nor does it help anyone come to Christ.

  191. I find this whole series of comments (of which I am now regrettably participating in) to be pointless. As many have already said, the book is not out yet. So everyone should attempt to stop stroking their egos by way of demonstrating their knowledge of scripture (essentially using the Bible as a weapon to glorify yourself and thereby prove your own point), and move on to something more meaningful than arguing over something that doesn’t come out until March 29th. But hey, look! I can do it too: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8. Thoughts turn into spoken/written words.
    Furthermore, Just because you found a “wolf” does not mean it is worth your while to stand around and talk about why he is or is not a “wolf”. God does not need you to plead His case. Rob Bell is wrong on several accounts (as we all are), so leave it. Stop trying to “win” an argument and go do something.

  192. Justin:

    What scripture can you reference that would indicate that Jesus came to start Christianity, or that Jesus is the founder of Christianity or that Christianity is indeed “biblical.” Do a word search and count how many times Jesus made a declaration in favor of Christianity. Christianity has it’s roots in an de facto grant of authority from Constantine, who had no rights or responsibilities in relationship to the ecclesia. Jesus’ prayer was that the Kingdom would come on earth…as it is in Heaven and encourages us to “seek first the Kingdom of God,” not Christianity, Christian doctrine, or Christian culture. The season has come for the ecclesia to repent of Christianity and to take seriously the teachings of Jesus, the Son of the Living God, the King of Kings!

    • A lesson in words CHRISTianity. means follower of CHRIST. hello, jesus taught in harmony with all the apostles in the NT, despite what you might think. Paul was correct in what he taught, along with THe apostle Peter. THey are TEACHERS. OF THE WORD, NOT OPINIONS, THEIR OPINIONS matter as they are truh, becaus God included the in his WORD. its been said You HAVE TO TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD. all of it. REGARDLESS OF what you think.

  193. I thought Saturdays were slower blog days. Not today!

  194. [...] With Rob Bell, on the issue of universalism, finding the error in his teaching is no longer a matter of reading between the lines. Watch the video at Justin Taylor’s blog post, and you will see Bell himself explain how we need to deny the Biblical doctrine of eternal, conscious torment in Hell because it makes people reject Christianity. Apparently, what the world thinks about Christianity is more important to Bell than what God reveals in his Word. Read Taylor’s post, “Rob Bell: Universalist?” [...]

  195. Wait a sec. In this video isn’t rob bell pointing out the misconceptions people have about the gospel, and then through his book, realigning their views? Or is he claiming that he himself thinks we were “saved from God”. Somebody help me out please.
    thanks

  196. Professing Christians really need to stop listening to Rob Bell’s lies.

    Enjoy the Keith Green song entitled “Lies”…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmU4Yr2CnIo

  197. Imagine a Christianity known more for loving one another than correct beliefs delivered by theologians.
    (John 13:35)

    http://www.twitter.com/gabedutton

  198. Your mom’s a universalist.

  199. I don’t think we can slam a guy over his book that none of us have read. Thanks for posting the blurb and Bell’s provocative video, Justin, but I do believe we owe it to him to read his words before we ultimately pass judgement on the book. No doubt at all that the doctrine of Hell is essential, but let’s give him some room to deny it if he chooses when the book comes out. I don’t see anything truly concrete other than questions posed by a publisher.

  200. I have posted this elsewhere in reference to the same video and the same man:

    Actually, he [Bell] says, specifically, “what gets subtly caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God, but what kind of God is that they we would need to be rescued from this God how could that God ever be good? How could that Go…d ever be trusted, and how could that ever be good news? This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith…they say, ‘why would I ever want to be a part of that.’….what you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, and beautiful that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the Good News is ACTUALLY better than that. It’s better than we can imagine. The Good News is that love wins.”

    A fair reading of this – even without his apparent disdainful inflections – is that Bell casts doubt on what the Atonement is all about. He casts doubt on man’s need of a Savior for the real reasons – Rom. 3:23. He insinuates that what the Scriptures actually teach is some sort of previously veiled mystery that Christians haven’t known, that God doesn’t LOSE as he interprets their view, but wins, as he suspects is posited by his own view.

    I’ve read two of Bell’s books, and I’ve listened to a fair number of his messages, both through the seeker-sensitive Nooma series and sermons. I have seen his blindness grow over the past five years.

    I don’t mean to say that you [anyone here who disagrees with the apparent dislike of Bell's teaching on this blog] might not have read Bell or don’t understand what he’s saying here, but I am saying that I know of his teachings more than just through this video, and that is why I don’t think anyone here is wrong in their assessment that what Bell is preparing to offer is false teaching. He participates with spiritual unity coalitions. He seeks partnership with other religious groups – not for good works even, but for spiritual harmony. This is dangerous teaching.

    As stated in 1 John 4:8. God is love. But, to understand that love, you have to understand what John said earlier to begin the letter, about God being light and error and sin being darkness, about confession of sin, about Jesus as our advocate before God the Father, and then right after that 4:8 quoted above, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). We need propitiation for our sins before God…which wouldn’t be true unless God is planning on something for us for which propitiation is required to alter. I’m not suggesting you disagree, but it would be fair to assume that Bell does with the implications of that truth.

  201. Looking forward to the book, I have enjoyed all his others. Very compelling and comforting to know that there are other views than the Reformed ( or Reforming rather) doctrines.

    • Yes, there are others, but only ONE, IS CORRECT and scripture tells us THIS. JUST BECAUSE YOU ENJOY IT DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT. if i enjoy polygamy does that make it OK? CHRISTIANITY IS NOT ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO MAKE YOU fEEL GOOD! Glory to GOD forever, not to us but to your NAME BE THE GLORY?? WE GLORIFY OUR OWN FEELINGS IF WE USE THEM TO DETERMINE WHAT IT RIGHT.

  202. Well, C.S. Lewis was also a universalist, so he’s certainly in evil company. Let’s get the fire burning… shall we gouge out Rob Bell’s eyes with a hot rod of iron before we burn him?

    I am doctrinally as reformed and evangelical as they come, but it is the never ending witch-hunt and readiness to belittle others that makes me hate to admit it sometimes. As some have astutely noted, are you seriously going to tear someone apart about a book that hasn’t even been released yet? Read it sympathetically (not with a black marker waiting for the first sentence that could be read in some way in or out of context as unorthodox) then come back and you may have something meaningful to say.

    [For the record, I did catch the question mark at the end of the blog title... While my comment is mostly directed at the other comments, it does seem a bit irresponsible Mr. Taylor to post such accusations before even reading the book...]

    • Thankyou, thankyou… I have also been reminded of C.S. Lewis when reading Bell’s writings. Is he being attacked because he’s contemporary and popular?

  203. He is a false teacher for sure. Snake oil salesman.

    Scripture is very clear:

    Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    True and False Prophets

    Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
    True and False Disciples

    Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

  204. are you saying that God wants people to go to hell instead of go to heaven and be with Him, that He set these boundaries with the Word and if you’re on the right side of the line you’re okay and if you’re not then sorry, you’re hell bound, and that Bell’s message is, therefore, heresy? What about 2 Peter 3:9? God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, He wants us all to go Home to Him. He does everything He can to win people over and will do so until the end is here. He loved us enough to sacrifice His own SON to save us, HIS OWN LIFE…how does that kind of love limit anyone from the chance to get to heaven if they believe?

    Is that your issue…that he references Ghandi who, as far as we all know, died without believing in Jesus and because Bell says we don’t know that he’s not in heaven he’s a heretic?

    Well…how do you know that Ghandi didn’t accept Jesus before he died? Max Lucado wrote about this in his book Traveling Light. After addressing how people grieve the loss of a loved one, he addresses this concern:

    “But, Max, what of those who die with no faith? My husband never prayed. My grandpa never worshiped. My mother never opened a Bible, much less her heart. What about the one who never believed?

    How do we know he didn’t?

    Who among us is privy to a person’s final thoughts? Who among us knows what transpires in those final moments? Are you sure no prayer was offered? Eternity can bend the proudest knees. Could a person stare into the yawning canyon of death without whispering a plea for mercy? And could our God, who is partial to the humble, resist it?

    He couldn’t on Calvary. The confession of the thief on the cross was both a first and final one. But Christ heard it. Christ received it. Maybe you never heard your loved one confess Christ, but who’s to say Christ didn’t?

    We don’t know the final thoughts of a dying soul, but we know this. We know our God is a good God. He is ‘not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.’ (2 Pet. 3:9 NKJV). He wants your loved one in heaven more than you do. And he usually gets what he wants.”

    I think that is a perfect picture of God…the same God that Jesus served and was on this earth and is in heaven. And I think that is what Bell is trying to point out in that video and, probably, his book.

    Maybe you should read it before jumping to conclusions.

  205. So, basically, your talking about a book you haven’t even read, and basing it off of someone else’s description? I would think that before you bash or discredit a book or someone else’s work you should read it yourself.

  206. I love how everyone can argue against Rob Bell BEFORE they even read the book! I hope every one against him will AT LEAST read the book, then be educated enough to hold a debate about it.

    • HOwcome critics croticize other books before they are out? have you asked WHY?? there are so many comments on this, what rob bell is apperntly, and yes a know not for sure, is fooling with the foundations o christianity. its like saying”murder isn;t wrong” get it? its a sensitive subject, with a lot of differnt opinions, but only ONE right TRUTH, what jesus SAYS. NOT WHAT BELL THINKS IT MEANS. but this post i think was intendeD to be a warning about the book, not an damning attack on the autor He has many many false lectures based on false assumptoinis and redefining words to fit his own mind. his reputation has brought this on himself. of he would preacha shred of buiblical truth, i bet there would not be near as much comments in this.

  207. [...] Taylor has a post up about Rob Bell’s upcoming new book, and at 432 comments (!) the knives are out. Even [...]

  208. FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH ROB BELL – JULY 2007 “You recently preached a sermon called “God wants to save Christians from hell.” I was discussing the message with a guy who after hearing this message was a bit disturbed and somehow came to the conclusion that you didn’t believe in a literal hell. Let me ask you, do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?
    Rob: Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this.” My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?
    I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. Like your friend, does he want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side? Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.” http://theooze.com/church/an-interview-with-rob-bell/
    BELL’S BOOK IS UNDOUBTEDLY GOING TO EITHER CLARIFY HIS VIEWS THAT THERE IS NO LITERAL HELL, OR WILL DO WHAT BELL SEEMS TO DO BEST, DISGUISE HIS MESSAGE AS LIGHT WHEN IT IS IN FACT DARKNESS.

  209. D and Laurie,

    Why is this book being published by Harper Collins instead of Zondervan? If you know much about the publishing world you will know they are the same company and that Zondervan would not pass on a cash cow Rob Bell book unless the content fell far outside orthodoxy.

  210. [...] *To see Justin Taylor’s take on Bell’s newest claims, and the video itself, visit Taylor’s blog. [...]

  211. The problem with Rob Bell is that he is vague!!!! Love wins…what does that mean? How does Mr. Bell define love? Did he really say Jesus has to rescue us from God? If there is no hell then why would we need a Savior? I always leave Bell’s writing more confused than when I started.

  212. He clearly asked the question, “Are there only a few who make it to the Kingdom of Heaven”?

    Jesus answered it:
    Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    In otherwords. YES, YES, YES, only few are saved!

    The first thing we need to understand is that we can take full security in the fact that God will ALWAYS be faithful to His part of the promise!!!! (Philippians 1:6 etc.)…He will never leave us or forsake us…BUT the question is….Will you ever leave or forsake Him???
    Will you keep your hand to the plow and not look back? (Luke 9:62)
    Will you endure to the end and continue in the faith? (Col. 1:23)
    Will you continue to fight the good fight? (1 Tim. 6:12)
    Will you take up your cross each day? (Luke 9:23)
    Will you stay on the straight and narrow path? (Matt. 7:13-14)
    Will you overcome to receive the crown of life and not get blotted out of the Book of Life? (Rev. 3:5)
    Will you put on the full armor of God each day? (Ephesians 6:11-18)
    Will you continue to love and obey God faithfully with all your heart?
    Will you grow on the good soil, or will you get neglectful and allow the soil that the seed of His word was planted in become ‘rocky’ or ‘thorny’?

    Caution: ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ is a dangerous myth.
    I. Learn the truth:

    What does the Bible teach about concerning if a person can die spiritually after he has once been saved. Jesus, Paul, and none of the apostles taught unconditional eternal security, or ‘once saved always saved.’ We must be exceedingly, exceedingly careful of this widespread doctrine in our day since it has lulled people from truth, has led multitudes away from the fear of the Lord, and has led many even back on the wide road of destruction. It is a ‘safety in sin’ doctrine that gives false security.

    To begin with, salvation is not something to be taken for granted, and we’d better wake up to that fact. Salvation is the Most Wondrous amazing GIFT that can ever be given to someone and it is a gift given to someone completely for free. Salvation was paid for by Jesus’ precious blood and there is NOTHING of more value to ever exist next to Jesus’ blood. If this gift of salvation starts to get neglected (Hebrews 2:1-3), abused (Hebrews 3:12-15), and down-right trampled on (Hebrews 10:29), this gift can and will be taken away if we are not careful to walk with/abide in our blessed and precious Lord. So we’d better wake up from our sleep and learn the outright truths of God before we begin to believe the twisted views of men. In fact the Bible teaches that we need to “Work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12-13). God has no pleasure in those who draw back.(Heb. 10:38)

    Let’s look at what the Bible teaches very directly about those who eventually get careless and one day actually trample on Jesus’ precious blood by falling back into sin, and let’s find out how God will one day deal with people who insult the Spirit of Grace in such a demeaning way.

    Let’s look at Hebrews 10:26-31 very carefully. Here we read: “For if we sin willfully (knowingly, purposefully, deliberately) after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said,
    ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.’And again,’The Lord will judge His people.’It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    These verses are exceedingly clear that if a once born-again believer who knew God’s truths, and was once sanctified, falls back into sin (which is the same as trampling on the Son of God and on His precious blood), there NO LONGER remains a sacrifice for this person’s sins and he will have to face God’s fiery fearful vengeance and judgment! This ISN’T being said to discourage us, but to WAKE US UP to God’s truths that are normally neglected or twisted!!!

    So we can now understand perfectly well that God’s salvation is conditional. Conditional upon if we decide to remain faithful to Him. Now DON’T LOSE HEART …for the Bible is FULL of good news and perfect, perfect guidance.

    The first thing we need to understand is that we can take full security in the fact that God will ALWAYS be faithful to His part of the promise!!!! (Philippians 1:6 etc.)…He will never leave us or forsake us…BUT the question is….Will you ever leave or forsake Him???
    Will you keep your hand to the plow and not look back? (Luke 9:62)
    Will you endure to the end and continue in the faith? (Col. 1:23)
    Will you continue to fight the good fight? (1 Tim. 6:12)
    Will you take up your cross each day? (Luke 9:23)
    Will you stay on the straight and narrow path? (Matt. 7:13-14)
    Will you overcome to receive the crown of life and not get blotted out of the Book of Life? (Rev. 3:5)
    Will you put on the full armor of God each day? (Ephesians 6:11-18)
    Will you continue to love and obey God faithfully with all your heart?
    Will you grow on the good soil, or will you get neglectful and allow the soil that the seed of His word was planted in become ‘rocky’ or ‘thorny’?

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    II. GREEN LIGHT:

    The most important question is: How can we have 100% assurance that we can have complete, absolute security in our salvation? You CAN have complete assurance if you check yourself DAILY (work out your salvation with fear and trembling, and make sure you’re in the faith) and find that:

    1.You have a holy fear of God, and want to completely live to obey Him and do His will as you abide in Him.
    You live to follow Jesus in complete sincerity and to go God’s Way. (Hebrews 12:25-29)

    2.You have a clear conscience before God and man. (Acts 24:16)

    3.You have an intimate personal relationship with God, and you talk/pray to Him as your loving Father.

    4.You love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and see your life as nothing and rubbish next to God, but see God as everything.
    You would be willing to give up everything including your life for God.

    5.You love your neighbor as yourself.

    6.You continue as a soldier for the LordYou continue to fight the good fight, take up your cross daily, put on the full armor of God each day, and are willing to go through persecutions and hardships as a Soldier for God.

    7.You continue to persevere for God You continue to hold on, overcome, endure to the end, keep your hand to the plow, and stand firm through persecutions. If we do so, we will eventually receive the crown of life and hear our Father say ‘Well done My good and faithful servant.’

    8.You continue to walk in holiness, and righteousness, and your ways are true and just. You walk in purity and in the Light, and leave behind all ways of darkness. You battle ways of darkness by the Spirit. You seek God in earnest prayer for help and spiritual power to overcome.

    9.You forgive others, just as God in His mercy forgave you.

    10.You remain faithful to God and will not deny Him or His Word.
    You are not ashamed to speak of Him, but will boldly shine for Him!( Heb. 11 and 12)

    11.You stay on the straight and narrow path.

    12.You have the fruit of the Spirit and are bearing fruits of righteousness.

    13.You continue to sow to please the Spirit and not the flesh, and you are spiritually minded, not fleshly minded. By the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body to live. (Rom. 8:13) (You keep your mind set on the Spirit and discipline your body.)

    14.You continue in steadfast Bible study, fervent prayer, and true devotion to God.

    15.You have complete faith and trust in Almighty God.

    16.You are growing steadfastly in God’s grace, knowledge, maturity, obedience, character, faith, humility, and love.
    Your spiritual direction is being led by the Holy Spirit, and not by your fleshly desires.

    If you find these traits in your life you can have daily assurance of your salvation and right relationship with God!!! God will BLESS you and give you exceeding wisdom! You will be clean and clothed in a ‘white robe’ of righteousness! If you live fully for God, He will KEEP you sealed and in the Book of Life and continue to guide you. If we fully live for Him and to follow Him, God is ABLE to keep us from falling and to help us to endure to the end. What amazingly good news!!!

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    III. YELLOW LIGHT:

    Now…we’re going to look at some not so good news. God is not at all pleased with those who decide to get careless with their spiritual walk. In fact we’re on completely shaky ground with God and could even be on the verge of getting completely separated from God (getting our lamp stand removed, and being ‘spewed’ away from God) and dying spiritually if we continue in such ways as the following:

    1.You get lukewarm toward God.This can happen through developing habits such as excessive TV viewing, excessive time spent on own personal interests and excessive time spent in entertainment/pleasures, listening to questionable music, etc. We had better repent of this lukewarmness and wake-up before God takes His candlestick from us. The following also lead to lukewarmness dangers:

    2.You neglect serious Bible study, prayer and meditation. And be careful not to put any stock in any church Bible studies in this deceptive day, with all their deceptive Bible commentaries etc. In fact you’d be best off to just throw all that in the trash, and not go to any church Bible studies, but instead just get your Bible and your pen and seriously dig deep into God’s Word. (Note: It is best to stay away from ‘study Bibles’ since these may influence your understanding of God’s word in a deceptive direction. It is very risky to read those types of Bibles. Probably the best version to read would be the New King James version.)

    3.You continue to get ‘hypnotized’ by listening to smooth-talking, flattering, watered-down, ‘sugar-coated’ “Bible teachers” with basically NO spiritual meat to share. About all that most of them have to offer is a ‘lovely’ wardrobe/religious robes, an immaculate church building, many forms of entertainment, and many deceptive, empty tracts. You’d be better off taking a nap, than filling your mind with such empty, deceptive teachings. (Unless you listen with a discerning ear like the Bereans did, so you can verify it against God’s Word, to find out if what they are teaching is either truth or deceptive lies; most will be ‘lies’ or half-truths.)

    4.You partake in excessive godless chatter which will not edify you.

    5.You have some friends who are bad influences and are bad company with unholy values. Remember how Solomon followed God for decades, yet he did not heed God’s warning and married women who turned his heart away from God. People who influence us in a bad way will simply turn our hearts from God. (1 Kings 11) Even at the end of his life, Solomon desired the murder of Jeroboam, so sadly from what we read he never returned back to the Lord. Love your enemies, but do not let them become your close friends since they will try to lead you astray. Try to share the gospel with them, but if they refuse, don’t continue to cast your pearls to the swine for they will just trample on your pearls. Choose friends wisely who will build you up spiritually and vice versa.

    6.You are not careful about your thought life and what you put into your mind. Throw out ALL books, magazines, games, music, movies and whatever else that will fill your head with trash, and only allow in highly highly selective music, reading material (in particular the Bible) etc. that will build you up spiritually in the Lord.

    7. You are getting lazy, apathetic, and complacent in your spiritual walk overall. This is very dangerous too since it leads to drifting away, spiritual regression, becoming unfruitful, your love for God and others will grow cold, and eventually you’ll fall back into sinfulness if you don’t wake up.

    8.You are not careful to use your God-given talents to honor God, but mostly for personal reasons. (See parable of the talents).

    9.You are not careful to DAILY review/examine your life and confess any slip in your character that can grow and grow and lead to dark sin(s). Every day in prayer let God know if you had any type of boasting, fretting, bitter thought, lack of patience etc and confess it right away so that this problem will not grow larger, but be stopped dead in its tracks. Remember Jesus warned that even if someone exclaimed “You fool!” that we would be in danger of hell fire. (Mt. 5:21-22) Watch yourself carefully.

    The above lukewarm ways are all exceedingly DANGEROUS practices!! They will only lead you into a stronger relationship with the devil, and a weaker relationship with God. No wonder God hates lukewarmness so greatly!!! Yes, it is true that the Holy Spirit should convict you and God will chastise those who fall into all these different paths of lukewarmness, but we are living in a time of such abundant lukewarmness that most men are like complete zombies spiritually and can barely discern the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Also the Bible teaches that God’s persistent discipline did not work at bringing back straying children many times, for example we read in Jeremiah 32:33 “They turned their backs on me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.” (see also: Jeremiah 2:30, 5:3, and 7:28.) Also in the end it is YOUR call , and you have to decide if you will heed/endure the chastisement (Hebrews12:7) and the calling of the Holy Spirit and turn from your dangerous lukewarm habits and instead start getting ‘hot’ for God…OR…will you continue in lukewarmness which could EASILY lead you from the straight and narrow path and on the road of darkness and separation from God (having your candlestick removed and being spewed from God.) Remember the devil uses subtle tricks very often to try to get us to ignore God’s teachings and get us to try and see sin as ‘no big deal’ and even ‘good’ as He did with Eve. He is an ‘angel of light’ so always keep your spiritual guard up and fight his wicked deceptions vehemently! Your eternal soul and the souls of others are not worth the temporary, vile ways of sin. Whatever you do don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Keep walking steadfastly with God!!!!! He will help, guide, and bless you if you continue to grow in Him.

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    IV. RED LIGHT:

    If a person decides to continue on their lukewarm path, this could very easily and quickly lead to a path of darkness and lead to complete separation from God once again. What a dangerous and deadly path to travel down. What are the signs that a person has died spiritually and is no longer on the road to heaven, but is back on the road to hell?

    1.They live according to the flesh instead of overcoming the flesh by the power of the Spirit: Paul warns in Romans 8:13 that if you live according to the flesh you will die. We must live by the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body in order to live. Galatians 5:24 teaches “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 6:8-10 tells us that the one who sows to please his flesh, will of the flesh reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit , from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.” For the safety of your soul throw out anything and everything that sows to the flesh!! Throw out all horoscopes, sorcery books, books/magazines/movies/games/music/clothes etc that glamorize and feed to the flesh!! This just can’t be emphasized enough for it’s a dangerous wide road. Plus grow strong in what helps you sow to the Spirit and keeps you strong spiritually. Remember the ‘Parable of the Sower’….If you let the seed of God’s Word implanted in you grow on the good ground(holiness, righteousness, God’s Word etc) you will continue to grow and grow and grow; BUT if you let the seed of God’s Word implanted in you begin to grow on rocky ground (you let the world’s temptations and sins become more important to you than God), or on thorny ground (you let the cares, pleasures, and riches of life have higher priority to you than God), you will stop growing and die spiritually. Be WISE, and GROW on the good ground! Clear out any ‘rocks’ and ‘thorns’ that try to litter on the ‘ground’ of your heart and create only good ground so that the seed implanted and born in your heart by God won’t die but instead will grow and grow!

    2.They will partake in the works of the flesh: There are many areas of the Bible that describe to us the characteristics of the works of the flesh. Paul warns us to NOT be deceived, for if we find that we are living in these ways, we are not one of God’s children and we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of these verses include: Gal. 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5-7, Revelations 21:8 and 22:15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Mark 7:20-23 etc.
    Some of these characteristics of the works of the flesh are evidenced by:
    adultery, fornication, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions (strife and harsh debates), jealousies, outbursts of wrath(fits of rage, abuse etc), selfish ambitions, dissensions(strong discord and disagreements), heresies(believing doctrinal lies that are not in accordance with the truth of God’s Holy Word), envy, murderers, drunkenness, revelries(excessive love for worldly pleasures), covetousness, uncleanness (filthy, foolish talk, course jesting etc.), cowardly (afraid to share the true gospel), unbelieving, abominable (perverted practices, homosexuality etc), all liars (deceivers etc…those who are full of tricky schemes, or lie about God’s truths etc.), the unrighteous, sodomites(homosexuals and vile corrupt ways), thieves (schemers etc), revilers(abusive profane language), greedy, extortioners.

    3.They will walk in ways of darkness and not in the Light: The book of 1 John gives great discernment to know if one is a child of God or not.

    - A true child of God does not walk in darkness(sin, deception etc) but walks in Light(purity, holiness, righteousness) and obeys His commandments. He who is born of God will abide/walk with God and will not sin and cannot sin. He who sins is of the devil. Only when we walk in the Light does Jesus’ blood cleanse us from all sin. Christians should not sin and avoid all sin and have no license to sin, yet if he might stumble and have an unkind thought or impatient moment, confess it right away and don’t allow it to grow! God promises if we confess, Jesus is our propitiation.

    -A true child of God loves his brother. He will do all in his power to see that others come to know the truth of salvation. We can’t force the message, but must share it in love and wait to see if they will accept it or reject it. We will pray for them. We will seek to help those in other forms of need as well. If a person hates his brother he walks in darkness and has no true compassion. This book even tells us that one who hates is on the same level as a murderer!

    -A true child of God will not love this world for it is passing, and the lusts of life are not of the Father, but of this world. Their heart will not be dwelling on the things of this world, but their true passions will be for the will and desires of God which are eternal.

    4. The Jews were unfaithful and their ‘branch’ was broken off. The Gentiles were faithful so they were grafted in as a branch instead. This teaches that anyone can be broken off from God’s family, or grafted into God’s family based on if they continue in His goodness or if they discontinue in His goodness….the faithful receive blessings, but the unfaithful receive God’s wrath; Also see Ezekiel 18:24-28and Ezekiel 33:18-20 which show God’s completely fair and just judgment. Plus check out 2 Chronicles 15:2 (when we forsake God, God forsakes these) and James 1:12-16

    We must remember that spiritual life is not like physical life. When a person dies physically they very seldom come back to life unless great work is done to try and revive them shortly after they die. If a person is born spiritually we know he is born spiritually because he has an entirely new Spirit that now rejects his former ways, and now lives completely for God. Yet, one can die spiritually too…just like a plant that is neglected and uncared for and not given proper nourishment but is instead fed with what does not nourish it. We MUST nourish ourselves spiritually and God WILL help us and encourage us but He won’t force us to follow Him For if we don’t grow we will die spiritually. But what BLESSINGS we receive when we GROW in GOD!! And take comfort in knowing that God promises that He will never give us more to bear than we are able to cope with. We can rest in His complete faithfulness and wonderful promises.

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    V. HOPE….

    Now…is there hope? Is there hope for someone who was a believer and who truly lived to follow the Lord, but who turned away from the straight and narrow path?

    YES, Absolutely!! What amazingly good news…God’s amazing mercy, long-suffering, patience, and compassion never ends. He is so perfect and just in all His ways. All we have to do is read the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He turned away so dreadfully that he was always amongst prostitutes and loved the world so greatly…yet, when he humbled himself and sincerely repented of his wicked past and humbly returned to his Father, he was welcomed back with great joy and celebration!! How wonderful, loving, gracious and merciful is the Lord. No words can express the greatness of His love or the vast long-suffering He endures as He reaches out to us so patiently. Also read throughout the entire Old Testament of God’s intense desire for people to simply heed His Word and return to Him with all their hearts and He will graciously and mercifully forgive and welcome us back to Him. It’s so simple…so wonderful….

    Remember, God wants us to love others SO much that if they fall away from the Lord and fall back into sin, that we truly strive to lead them back to the Lord. This is made so clear in James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth,and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” Also read how Nathan led David back to the Lord after his great fall that lasted at least 9 months. Do not be surprised though if a once strong child of God refuses to return to God after a terrible fall, and such is the case with Solomon. The Lord warned Solomon to return, yet up to his death Solomon’s heart never returned to the Lord. Also the Bible teaches that we are actually responsible for the souls of those who go astray and if we don’t warn them, their blood will be on our hands!(Ezekiel 33:8-9) That is a solemn, solemn warning that we should all heed.

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    VI. THE CONSTANT WARNING SIGN

    Above all don’t believe the devil’s lies, as he tries to twist a few isolated scriptures and trick people just the same way he tricked Eve. One of the devil’s greatest tricks today is to try to make people believe that if they once had a great moment of saving faith, and walked steadfastly with God for quite some time, that they can never possibly get sidetracked and wind up back in sin again and separated from God. The Bible doesn’t teach this, the Bible teaches that God can’t hear those whose sins are separating them from Him and that He only hears when we sincerely and humbly repent.

    Remember, the test of a true believer is not whether someone once had a true moment of saving faith in the past, but whether or not he is a person living and growing and doing God’s will in the present, and on to the end! As we read the Bible it becomes exceedingly clear that salvation is not just merely a single moment, but it must endure to the end of our life. We must work out our salvation to the very end.

    Despite all of these clear Bible teachings and warnings, don’t be tricked by people will still want to cling to the ever so harmful teachings of unconditional eternal security. They will try and find every excuse possible to twist scripture to their liking. They will even come up with bizarre accusations such as people who believe in conditional eternal security don’t believe in God’s grace, or in Jesus’ saving blood, or in His infinite work on the cross and free gift.

    Yet, the Bible never teaches that grace is some ‘free ticket’ to heaven. What the Bible teaches is that God will not be mocked and that what one sows is what one reaps and that those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption, and that only those who sow to the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-10). Also the Bible teaches that if a person one day gets careless and strays back into sin he insults the Spirit of Grace, and treats Jesus’ blood like a common thing to be trampled upon after he was once sanctified by that blood and knew the truth. Such a person as this no longer will have a sacrifice for sins, but will have to face God’s fiery judgment unless he sincerely repents. (Hebrews 10:26+) I think God is very clearly teaching us that we had better not take His wonderful grace, free gift, and His Son’s precious saving blood for granted, for if we do the consequences could be devastating. We should in reality be praising God and thanking Him without end for these unbelievably indescribable gifts.

    People who believe in conditional eternal security will also be so wrongly accused of for believing in a ‘works salvation’/legalism. The accuser’s favorite verse that they quote constantly and know by heart is Ephesians 2:8-9 “For we are saved by grace, through faith, not by works lest any man should boast.” If they do accuse us of this though, then they would also be accusing Jesus, Paul, James etc of also teaching a ‘works salvation’/legalism since all of them taught that we must do the will of God/works of God if we are truly saved.

    Jesus, Paul, James etc were all the True and genuine grace teachers, yet they all taught that the sign of a true living saving faith was made manifest by the works of God done in our lives. How they love to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 and yet won’t quote Ephesians 2:10 which says “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” ‘Works salvation’/legalism is definitely definitely not when a person does God’s will/God’s works. In fact if we don’t do God’s will/God’s works in our lives then we are not even saved! According to the book of James (James 2:14-26) we wouldn’t even have a true saving faith if God’s works are not made manifest in our lives. Remember –not the hearers are saved/justified but the doers. (Romans 2:13, James 1:22, Mt. 7:21-23)

    A ‘works salvation’/legalism is actually when a person believes that doing the works of man alone(ceremonial law, baptism, confirmation, circumcision, traditions, regular church attendance, good deeds alone etc) will gain him entrance into the Kingdom of God. It is OK to do some types of these works if they’re done from the right perspective …(example: it is OK to be water baptized as an outward sign of a true inward change)…BUT these works alone (baptism, circumcision, etc.) have NO SAVING POWER!! The Bible tells us that the TRUE outward sign that we’ve been saved is NOT works like circumcision of the flesh , but circumcision of the HEART! Circumcision of the heart is a brand new wonderful heart that now is completely changed and wants to put behind old selfish/sinful ways and now live to do God’s Way/work and God’s will forever! We are commanded to do CHRIST’S works which is the moral law in being His slaves and leading a holy life, but we are set free now from the ceremonial laws/works (Sabbaths, circumcision, food obligations etc.)

    May you continue to stay vigilant, alert, and abiding completely in God on your journey, and you will know true peace and security.

    • Michael NO it is not a myth. Jesus clearly says it in the Bible he says ” I will say to them away from me I NEVER knew you. I know you probably are going to aru with that but listen to the dictionary: NEVER means NEVER. It does NOT say , I knew you knce, and then i knew you again. It says I NEVER KNEW YOU. Never means never in their life. NOw, i agree that many christians use the gospel as a free tickwet to sin all the time, but they are ignoring the Gospel!! Jesus freed us FROM sIN, NOT INTO IT!!. tHE PROBLEM IS, that people who sya their chrsitstians ask, if jesus dies, then why do i have to try and stop sinning. Paul teaches us this is NOT something a believer should ask. as they do not rightly understand the magnitude of what God has done for them. If you see a person who claims to be a chrsitian fall back into old lifestyles that dishonor god, and they say they aren’t a christian ANYMORE They WERE NEVER A SAVED BELIVER, they are not one yet. good works that glorify God are FRUIT OF A SAVED BELIVER, THEY ARE NOT THE QUALIFYING STATEMENTS that make you saved. “NO POWER OF HELL NO SCHEME OF MAN CAN EVER(WHAT IS THAT, EVER MEANS EVER) PLUCK ME FROM HIS HAND. gOD IS IN CONTROL. iT WHAT gOD WANTS US TO BELIVE. good works are not olny ok, they will be produced from a true bleiver. its not a matter of perfection, but a matter of DIRECTION.

  213. No, no, Mr. Bell. Jesus does NOT save us from God. Jesus saves us from SIN.

    • Jenna,
      Well, actually, that part is true. He seems to be saying “How can God be good, if we need to be saved from Him?” Sin is our action. It is not a being. It is not going to be at the judgement holding us accountable. God will. Failure to meet His standards (righteousness) will result in HIS judgement, His wrath. Our only hope is to be robed in a righteousness that is not our own but Christ’s. The beauty of Grace. In essence Christ endure’s God’s wrath on the Cross so we don’t have to. He saves us from God’s wrath. If God simply chose to lay His wrath aside and forgive us all, He would no longer be just and therefore, no longer be God.

  214. Here are some explicit quotations from Mr. Bell’s teachings. If you believe they are out of context, please grab a copy at your local library and see for yourself if what I’m positing is fair given his videos, sermons, and other works.

    Velvet Elvis, Pages 133-134

    “[W]hat do we find frustrates him [Jesus] to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….it isn’t their failure that’s the problem. It’s their greatness. God has an amazingly high view of people….I’ve been told that I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me…God has faith in me.”

    Velvet Elvis, Page 139

    “I cannot find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners.”

    Velvet Elvis, Page 146

    “Hell is full of forgiven people.”

  215. wow! very sad to hear this false and dangerous teaching from someone who has developed such a following of listeners who desire to have their ears tickled with soft easy words. The Bible revealed this exact teaching would occur and again it is True to its’ Word.

  216. From Dave @ 5:14pm:
    “Actually, he [Bell] says, specifically, “what gets subtly caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God, but what kind of God is that they we would need to be rescued from this God how could that God ever be good? How could that Go…d ever be trusted, and how could that ever be good news? This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith…they say, ‘why would I ever want to be a part of that.’….what you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected, and beautiful that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the Good News is ACTUALLY better than that. It’s better than we can imagine. The Good News is that love wins.””
    I thought this needed repeating. In fact his whole comment is well written, and helpful.

    I watched the video again, and see the subtly of Bell, which I missed the first time.
    Why doesn’t this guy just say what he means, and mean what he says.
    All for the Cross! All glory to God.

  217. Reading this article and comments reminds me why I walked away from what you’d call the “church”–the arrogance of “I’m right, he’s wrong, and this is why the Bible says so.” Justin Taylor, you’re full of shit. I’m sure there’s a Biblical way of saying this, but I’m too weary to read your article again to find out how.

    • It’s funny, because if you actually cared about what was being talked about you wouldn’t feel the same way. The Church wouldn’t be so fractured, messed up, or ungodly if it wasn’t for the fact that we are all sinful and put our desires before God’s desires. Too many people that are not where they should be spiritually before leading flocks of believers have done too much harm to the Church over the years ever since it was established on Peter’s confession in Matthew 16. If you want things to change, usually you don’t walk away from a situation and hope that it magically gets better, because doing nothing is no better than what the people tearing down the church have been doing for far too long. Stop trolling on a blog like this, please?

      • I’m sorry, is this your blog? And my comment is “trolling” because I strongly disagree? And you’re aware of my personal situation and that I was “doing nothing” before leaving a church? My mistake–I wasn’t aware of your incredible importance and intellect. I believe there is more piety than Spirit in your post, my friend.

        • Wow. Lots of anger here, Adam. Joe said something that is a colossal understatement. Half the pastors and priests in America are not even born again,IMHO, and so many others have walked in the flesh for so long that they are sitting ducks for the evil one to deceive them with the latest biblical craze (actually, there is nothing new under the sun). Sadly, precious souls look to these people, and as Jesus said, it is “the blind leading the blind.” May you have a fresh encounter with our glorious, holy, loving God who is “a consuming fire”!

    • Is it ever possible that a teacher could be wrong?

      Justin read chapters in the book sent to him by the publisher. He’s read other things by Rob Bell. We all know what direction this is going: it Bell has moderately orthodox view on hell it will be a surprise to everyone. Even his supporters hope and expect his view will be other than the conservative/orthodox view.

      It’s possible your anger displayed here reflects that the church (at large) will not obey you and accept what you want. Many in the church don’t really care about what you want if that means conforming orthodoxy to you, rather than you conforming to orthodoxy.

      So go ahead and walk away from the church. But come home soon. We’re ALL flawed and forgiven pilgrims on the Way.

    • Adam, you didn’t walk away from the church, you walked away from Jesus. It’s between you and God, so don’t blame others!

  218. [...] that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.” I echo what Justin Taylor has said: “If Bell is teaching that hell is empty and that you can reject Jesus and still be saved, he [...]

  219. 4) I highly doubt that this is a mere marketing stunt or that Bell is merely asking questions or playing Devil’s Advocate. If it turns out that the full book is diametrically opposed to his publisher’s description and to the conclusions he wants you to reach in the video, I will make that clear on this blog.

    HA! Classic. You are going to judge him first then apologize! So do cut and paste scriptures out of the bible about judging? Sheesh! I fear for all the people you are leading astray.

  220. “reminds me why I walked away”

    “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”…..After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6

    Sad these people left. Peter stayed though, and even Judas stayed. People leave the Church of our Lord because they are self-righteous, and blame others for being self-righteous.
    The pot calls the kettle black all the time and can’t see it.

    • Here’s the problem–you assume you know my situation, the “church” I left, that your church is “the” church and my current one isn’t, and that I’ve walked away from the Lord because I’m not part of your church. The fact you don’t even realize your own arrogance and backhanded condemnation is tragic. I doubt you’d be sad to watch me walk away, as it would just provide you an opportunity to build up yourself while condemning an apostate. I pity you, wolf.

      • Because I’m building up myself?

        I’m just calling you out for posting something that doesn’t even contribute to a good conversation. I don’t need to condemn you because if you feel like I am, you probably already feel like people have turned their backs on you. It’s your life, your walk with God, your choices. What’s someone on the internet to have any say into your life other than the fact that things have changed for you and it’s time to move on from being pissed at everyone and everything involved with “”"”"the church”"”"”.

        • It’s easy to paint me as some burnt-out rebel apostate, isn’t it? Throwing the word “pissed” in there, like you did. I’d like to take this opportunity to call you out on judging me as someone who is “pissed at everyone.” You don’t know me, and have no right or reason to judge me as such. But if doing so gives you your “I’m right” fix, by all means, indulge.

          It’s a shame that your idea of a “good conversation” is the roasting of someone you deem an apostate with so little reason.

  221. If I commit a crime, I don’t need to be saved from the judge, I need to be saved from *myself*. Jesus doesn’t save us from God, He saves us from the penalty of our own sin that we rightly deserve. I hope Rob Bell is only playing devil’s advocate in this video. Otherwise, if that is his true belief, I am deeply concerned for those who follow and believe his teaching.

  222. Wow! I can’t believe the author of this post couldn’t just wait til the book was released and post actual evidence of Bell’s belief in universalism? This post is irresponsible at best. Can you imagine if college profs would let you write reviews of books and make judgements on beliefs supposedly included in those books without actually having read the book or quoting the author directly? This is an awful post whether Justin turns out to be right or wrong about Bell.

    • You have just said that because there is no evidence of Bell’s teaching yet which I have supplied a several posts above with direct quotations which Mr. Bell has not denied, Mr. Taylor is being irresponsible.

      Then you say that his post is awful, regardless of whether or not he was right in his assessment.

      So, if Mr. Taylor is right, his post is awful? How so? You have judged him as you claim he has judged Bell, and yet the plethora of evidence available says that Mr. Taylor teaches truth and continues to serve Christ for the building up of the Body of Christ.

      An accusation against an elder, whether on the forum or elsewhere, is not something any of us should take lightly. He is BEING RESPONSIBLE, by identifying one Mr. Rob Bell, who has the tendency to lead others astray. By sounding a warning, Mr. Taylor has done what I hope any Christian with wisdom would do – express concern if there is potential danger lurking.

  223. I doubt Justin Taylor will read this message, but thanks for the update on Rob. I’ve seen his church and his message in Grand Rapids, it makes me weep for my city. I wish the these readers and writers would be united in love, instead of just wanting to be right.

  224. Maybe I’m the only one who noticed, but Rob isn’t making statements of fact in his video. He’s asking questions – questions posed by other people. I’m personally withholding judgement because my faith in Christ compels me to do so and because I assume Rob addresses these questions in his new book. Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but it seems here that Rob is being controversial on purpose – asking really hard questions to make people want to read his book. Well it seems like it worked. I don’t think he’s playing Devil’s Advocate either, but I don’t think it’s him asking those questions. I think he is addressing questions that have been brought up over and over again.

  225. I am so profoundly sad. When love and truth are divorced, we are left with neither.

  226. We went through a major disruption in our church last year leading to the dismissal of a pastor when a lot of the Rob Bell, Brian McLaren heretical teaching in the Emergent Church movement started to creep in. All of this apostasy is a sign of the times when there would be those who “with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” as is stated in Romans 16. Also, 1 Tim 4:1 states that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” We need to know the word for ourselves so we will not be “blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

  227. “The fact you don’t even realize your own arrogance and backhanded condemnation is tragic.”

    The pot calling the kettle black again.

  228. It’s a shame that after two-thousand years, believers still rarely pass up an opportunity to call other believers apostates when they disagree or hold different beliefs. There are many interpretations of Scripture, my friends. I pray we may all understand the potential that each of us is very, very wrong.

    • Yeah, so true. Read James Barr’s work and then one realizes that evangelicalism isn’t biblical.

    • Guess what, Jim in everything is mased on interpretation how do you interpret this: Thou SHalt have no other God before ME! well, it doesn;t really mean that, i can create a god of my own to follow, one that doesn;t care if i deny what he clearly says. Satan said to the serpent: DID God REALLY say… as IS God really say DON”T DO THAT!!

  229. [...] Rob Bell, in his new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, appears to be putting forth a way in which God’s love wins that John the Apostle would vehemently disagree with. I have not read pastor Bell’s book, but I have read pastor John’s books and from the sounds of it they are contradictory. Listen to Bell’s thoughts and HarperCollins’s description of the book here. [...]

  230. I haven’t anything to add that hasn’t already been stated, except that I am really glad that you allow comments on this blog.
    Thanks.

  231. [...] A couple of people made me aware of the promo video (below) and the blog post at The Gospel Coalition (here) [...]

  232. [...] similar a Micah Escamilla quien agregó sus comentarios al video de Rob Bell, en vimeo y menos como Justin Taylor, quien después de ver un video de tres minutos —el cual no desacredita la Biblia, ni declara [...]

  233. My, my, lots of assuming is going on here in this thread. Rob Bell’s video clip never says what he believes. Rob and team are masters at generating interest. Do any of you commenters know what he’ll actually say in answer to the questions he raised in that clip?

    I’ve read “Velvet Elvis”. He asked many similar questions in that book, as well. It’s good marketing to get people talking about stuff like this.

    Those of you who want to crucify him may end up disappointed. Who knows.

    As for me, that clip piqued my interest enough to guarantee I’ll buy the book, especially if it’s available for my iPad.

  234. [...] the doctrine of universalism. It didn’t take long for someone to take the bait. Justin Taylor blogged about it. Josh Harris and John Piper reacted on Twitter. (See [...]

  235. Your update is much more gracious. I still think you assume more than you ought… here was my rebuttal: http://thepangeablog.com/2011/02/26/if-rob-bell-is-a-universalist-then-maybe-i-am-along-with-many-prominent-evangelicals/

    Grace and Peace bro.

  236. Bell has been against teaching about hell for some time. I would refer you to his message Wine and Heaven from a few years ago.

    He has only confirmed what many of us have seen coming. For a long time.

  237. This crap (=the judgment and bad-mouthing someone before you read his book – generally this whole thread) makes me want to continue walking further away from “Christianity.” Thank you Justin Tayor and friends! Best of luck to all of you “who have Truth and people and who’s in and who’s out all figured out.” Peace

    • your assumption is in error, your badmouthing us before you even meet us??? Taylor has read chapters of his book, rread the top, okay, WHY DO YOU ASSUME WE KNOW WHO IS IN AND WHO IS OUT we never said THAT!!!!!!!! ONLY God knows who is saved. Jesus tell us inthe Bible to watch out for false prohpets THe best thing you can do is READ THE BIBLE. Let me ask you this, would it be wise to allow an author who writes about how polygamy is OK, into teh church?? NO, right, well, this man is ALREADY. in the chrich and questionsing part of the foundation of Chrisitanty, which dorevtly means “follower of CHrist alright. HELL EXISTS. But you can be SAVED the definiton of saving is from SOMETHING. i’m pretty sure you know that.

    • thanks for confirming my point and my outward momentum with your sentiment

      and you’re right – no one actually said “who’s in, who’s out, who’s right, who’s wrong” – sorry to have said that in quotes. There’s just a lot of judgment being passed and harsh words said from every direction (I certainly want nothing to do with it). This banter and style of debate just seems to be the way of Christ-ians – kind of what they’re living for – proving their right-ness and others wrong-ness. I’ll keep out of it now and move on. thanks for the push william! Justin (whoever he might be) has gotten enough attention from me.

  238. Before Christ comes, separation is impossible. It is not in man’s power to effect it. There lives not the minister on earth who can read the hearts of everyone in his congregation. About some he may speak decidedly—he cannot about all. Who have oil in their lamps—and who have not; who have grace as well as profession—and who have profession only, and no grace; who are children of God—and who of the devil. All these are questions which, in many cases, we cannot accurately decide. The winnowing fork is not put into our hands!

    Grace is sometimes so weak and feeble, that it looks like nature. Nature is sometimes so plausible and well-dressed, that it looks like grace. I believe many of us would have said that Judas was as good as any of the apostles—and yet he proved a traitor. I believe we should have said that Peter was a reprobate when he denied his Lord—and yet he repented immediately, and rose again. We are but fallible men. We know in part, and prophecy in part. We scarcely understand our own hearts. It is no great wonder if we cannot read the hearts of others.

    But it will not always be so. There is One coming who never errs in judgment, and is perfect in knowledge. Jesus shall purge His floor. Jesus shall sift the chaff from the wheat. I wait for this. Until then I will lean to the side of charity in my judgments. I would rather tolerate much chaff in the Church—than cast out one grain of wheat. He shall soon come who has His fan in His hand—and then the certainty about everyone shall be known.

    -JC Ryle

  239. [...] have been doing this for millenia.  However, it seems that the mere mention of anything that may be interpreted as universalism gets Calvinists like Piper all in an uproar.  But I guess that’s bound to happen when [...]

  240. How about we not judge a book by its cover, and actually read it first?

    Jump to conclusions mat, anyone? Office Space?

  241. [...] Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung at the Gospel Coalition have given Rob Bell [...]

  242. I appreciate the updates but without having read the full book and knowingly publishing this with such a large audience who trusts in your judgment, it seems condescending and irresponsible to include #7 which implies that Rob Bell is not currently teaching accurate theology when the content at hand on which this is based is yet unavailable.

  243. “Disbelieve hell, and you unscrew, unsettle and unpin everything in Scripture.” ~ J.C. Ryle

  244. [...] preaching a Universalist message instead of the biblical message of the Gospel. According to the article, written by Justin Taylor, Bell has put himself in quite an alarming position to say the least. He [...]

  245. Sorry, but I love Rob Bell. He does remind me of C.S. Lewis. I think many christians are still worshipping an “Old Testament God”. God judges the heart, I’m sure heaven will be quite a surprize…. an old-timer (50+ yr believer)

  246. “If I never spoke of hell, I should think I had kept back something that was profitable, and should look on myself as an accomplice of the devil. Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection, beware of false views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of new and strange doctrines about hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all.” J.C. Ryle

  247. This is an absolutely unnecessary post. Justin, this isn’t about warning people – this is about you getting the first “heretic” in there, and GC getting more traffic. It’s a publicity stunt. Any careful critic would read a book before criticizing it.

    By the way, you succeeded. 500 comments!

  248. “I think many christians are still worshipping an “Old Testament God”.”
    Amen! I sure am. He is the same God as the New Testament.

    • nice. this scripture pops into mind : 1 Samuel 16:7 “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” im no expert on universalism and think anyone who is pushing it so hard might be heralding something that the Church is lacking at the present time… let’s be honest …. she’s not a perfect bride, yet… how do you think this is part of God’s plan might be the better question? whether or not crying “wolf” is warranted… i mean God is FOR us, so who can be against us?

  249. I have always been wary of Rob Bell.

  250. Its funny to me how in need we Christians are of understanding regeneration.

    All the people on here seem to be defending Bell under the guise of “God is not just concerned with what we believe.” I agree with that. He is concerned with WHAT we are. Are we new creations in Christ?

    We will continue to have these quarrels until we realize that God is interested in making new people. And this new birth is done through the Cross of Christ and being born again as Jesus said.

  251. I have not read any of Rob Bell’s work, so I will withhold any critique of his theology. But I will say Thank You to you for defending the gospel. I do read a book called “The Bible” (the only book that has ever actually affected me/effected me in any real and life-changing way), and from my point of observation, it does teach there is both a haven and a hell; and my faith if Jesus determines which one I end up in. I will stick with it, it is its own best commentary. I am so thankful for God’s Word, and for those that have the faith to defend it, to preach it, and to live it.

  252. Justin,

    Perhaps it would be helpful to many of the folks commenting here if you posted on why exactly denying hell is problematic and why universalism is dangerous.

    David

  253. Justin,

    Thank you so much for your edits on this article. I pray Rob Bell is baiting people for the kill – for the gospel to win, but I want to be alert and vigilant. However many people read his book, his easy-to-view, far-shorter sounds like universalism at its hipster finest.

    May God give us all mercy to see things to the very end.

    peace,
    nathandidlake

  254. I can tell you, after reading “Velvet Elvis” (which I’ve thrown away), and hearing him speak, before I had any idea who he was, his teaching is NOT biblical, and badly distorts the gospel. Unless he’s repented, the video sounds like an in…troduction of an even bolder proclamation of more false teaching. I left a church I was part of for 20 years because his (and others’) books and teaching had crept in.

    It’s heartbreaking to me, but not surprising, that so many are being led astray. I think we have to remember who our enemy is…”For our struggle is NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. STAND FIRM THEN, WITH THE BELT OF TRUTH BUCKLED ARUOND YOUR WAIST, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:12-15)

    So, pastors, PLEASE keep preaching the gospel of grace as revealed in God’s word, and protect our church from this type of teaching, so that we can STAND against the schemes of the enemy. There are many who are not hearing the gospel and therefore aren’t able to recognize lies. It is so important to preach the Word, and protect your flock from false teaching…whether it’s well received or not. I am deeply grateful for those of you who are not ashamed of the Gospel!See More

  255. 1) Hell isn’t the gospel. – if it is, you need to go read the Bible & study some more.

    2) The central doctrine of the Christian faith? Hmmm, the resurrection. NOT Hell.

    Also, some of you guys need to be a little more gracious in your debates.

  256. there are too many mean comments here. just sayin…

    • not that you’re wrong, and i can sometimes come across as one of those meanies, but let’s be honest, the world is not rose-colored… sin is ugly, and unfortunately we stand guilty in need… not that we have an excuse, just that… i don’t know, i’m just saying…

  257. Justin,

    I’m sure you’ve gotten this comment now a million times, but I think you’re conflating Bell’s questioning of folk-theological exclusivism with Bell advocating universalism. As you say, “…this video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity…”

    Having watched the video, I’m not sure that it does show this. Bell might well be a hard-as-nails universalist, but neither the video or the book blurb show this. Bell could be advocating some form of soteriological inclusivism or who knows what. Anyway, I think that this blog post and the ease with which Piper and others have leaped from the A of the bok blurb and the Z of universalism seems cheap at the best and irresponsible at worst.

  258. Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis—”I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God” Sounds like a Universalist to me.

  259. This whole dialogue blows me away. I made a comment like 4 hours ago. Since which, me and my wife enjoyed a nice dinner date in New Haven. I picked up my kids from the babysitter, helped them make chocolate chip cookie dough batter. I sit myself down and my inbox is flooded with 50 angrily worded replies from some of the same folks who were making the same points 3 or 4 hours ago. Let’s get a grip folks. If you really disdain Rob Bell to such a degree, at least write a book about it or channel your anger into some other creative medium. The God I believe in doesn’t need to be defended by a cadre of angry followers. If He truly is omnipotent & omniscient, do you really think that a book by Rob Bell or anyone else is going to sabotage Christianity?? I mean seriously folks, lets get some perspective. This isn’t greek or roman mythology where the “gods” can be tricked or swayed by the humans. All truth is God’s truth. if Rob Bell is touching on issues that cause such a visceral response, maybe just maybe you need to do some soul searching and try to get to the roots of your insecurity & fears. “There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18

    • good point. now i’m left thinking happy thoughts about gooey chip batter. or whatever graces you were enjoying… i’m grateful for those things!

  260. “No, I’m quite aware that I’m condemning you.”

    Good for you. It matters not to me.

    For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Christ saved me back in 1984-85. He has written my name on His palm, and though people condemn me, and judge me, I don;t need to be bothered. I love my Savior. He is everything to me.

    He also has given me His Word, which through His grace and Spirit, I live by. The truth is what God speaks, and always in love and compassion.

    I pray you would come to Christ, and know His forgiveness and mercy. Amen.

    • Wow–the ultimate “Christian” insult, right donsands? “Well, you’re not even a Christian.” That’s not an accusation to be used so lightly (in a forum, nonetheless), and I doubt it was made in the Spirit, brother.

  261. Leave it to a bunch of Christians to hold a theological debate in the comment section of a 6-paragraph blog post about a book they’ve never read. Well done. Very attractive.

    • How is that pedestal Joshua? Besides what is wrong with people expressing their opinions? You seem to be doing that.

      • i really is annoying ot see people post about arguing, they dont realize they are arguing against arguing! its actually kind of funny.

        • My point is that it is foolish to argue over a book that has never been read… and that’s what makes all these opinions being expressed foolish and unattractive.

  262. [...] Taylor | “…this video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling [...]