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Rob Bell needs to hear the gong!
Rob Bell started his church in 1999 and it grew to 10,000 in a few years. In
2007 Rob Bell was ranked as the 10th most influential Christian in America (thechurchreport.com).
Though he may have become instantly popular, he is among the many Emergent
church teachers reshaping Christianity by introducing universalism, and a new
age form of Christianity.
Bell, an emergent church liberal insists he is not a universalist. Not
wanting to be categorized as this, he has reinvented his views for public
consumption, but he actually holds to “modified” universalist views.
Bells standard statement is that Christianity is this, a “vast
and diverse conversation that has been going on for thousands of years” (said on
America in the interview with George Stephanopoulas). Which in emergent language
continue challenging the doctrines held by Historic orthodox Christianity.
Rob Bell has recently brought on a controversy with his new book “Love Wins: A
Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Bell has
taken his liberal views to the public through interviews on the news. His
liberal associates are standing alongside in his public offensive. Brian McLaren
says of the book: “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.” (Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity and
Naked Spirituality). That’s it in a nutshell – new alternative answers; which
are really ancient heresies in modern day language.
Going on TV to promote his new book did not always elicit a warm welcome as seen
on MSNBC with host, Martin Bashir. This interview was particularly good because
he was actually challenged Bell, Bashir put him on the ropes. One of Martin
Bashir’s questions to Bell: Why does it matter what we do here on Earth if we
all go to heaven?
Bell answered MSNBC reporter Martin Bashir with clichés that said a whole lot of
nothing. He basically embarrassed himself by not being able to answer his direct
questions. This media person interviewing him did his homework, saw the illogic
of his new touted theology and challenged him directly. Bell became
uncomfortable trying to answer the tough questions, because Bell has no Biblical
answer but his own feelings.
His philosophical musings are far from theology found in scripture. It is
embarrassing for a pastor to still be asking questions and without having
Bashir interview (he assumes Bells wrong in everything and says so)
In the Preface of his new book, Love Wins, Bell lays it all on the line by
stating why he wrote the book; he claims millions or people are turned away
because “…A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few
Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while
the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no
chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts
the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy…”
To question an interpretation that one received as wrong can be a legitimate
pursuit. But to arrive at what is correct can only come from studying Scripture
itself, all of it in its context. Otherwise one is not correcting a wrong
interpretation they received but is inventing one.
Within Bell’s own statement is his answer to his quandary: few Christians are in
heaven vs. rest of humanity in hell.
Let’s begin with the Bible. It is Jesus that gives the qualification for
salvation and unless one meets his criteria then He does not enter. John 10:9:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” IF is an important
word when coupled with a response; one must decide.
Luke 13:23-24: Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He
said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you,
will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Strive, agonize, but not according to Bell’s doctrine of “I’m okay your okay.”
There is no need for effort, since we all make it in the end. Here Jesus is
saying that not everyone is on the narrow road and many will try to enter by a
Luke 8:12: “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and
takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.”
The point is that all Christians are part of humanity, but they are not born
Christian but at some point believe in the message that will make them a
Christian. When they enter the door Jesus spoke about, then are they removed
from the broad road that leads to destruction and walk on the narrow road. But
Bell makes it unnecessary, it is a non issue to become a Christian.
In another interview of Rob Bell on Fox and friends. Gretchen Carlson introduces
him by stating he has an optimistic message of the afterlife challenging
traditional Christian ideas about hell and names his book…
Gretchen: “traditionalists are saying that you’re actually changing the way the
Bible is interpreted to make it more palatable for more people, how do you
Bell: “First off, I wrote the book because I believe God loves everybody
everywhere and at the essence of the Christian message is this announcement that
Jesus has come to offer us this love invited to everybody, this is the most
orthodox straight forward gospel of the world that God sent Jesus, so in many
ways the book is simply trying to reclaim first and foremost that beautiful and
compelling essence of the Christian message” (Rob Bell with Gretchen Carlson on
“Fox and Friends” April 4, 2011).
To offer, to invite means one can reject or accept, but Bell teaches that one
becomes the recipient of this salvation no matter what. Does Bell grasp what he
is saying? Because it is the opposite of his conclusions. This is not what we
see in the gospels as Jesus goes from village to village, nor is it afterwards
with the apostles. What is missing from Bell’s “most orthodox straight forward
gospel” is choice and consequences. Bell believes “all will be reconciled to
God” (p. 109 Love Wins). NONSENSE!
Gretchen: “so you talk a lot about heaven and hell,… here’s what you say “
eternal life is less about a kind of time of life when we die and more about a
quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God. What do you mean by
Bell: “Well one of the things I trace, is, we have a modern concept of the word
forever, which essentially for us means time without end, like year after year
after year after year. That word forever, the biblical writers didn’t really
have that kind of word… there’s a Hebrew word olam and a Greek word aion and
they essentially refer more to a quality of life, so aion means when your
really, really being bored in class and the clock slows down or when you fall in
love and those conversations that, that… we were talking for 6 hours, it feels
like it went by in 6 minutes (ed. Note: Think about this word applying to God
who actually lives outside of time) what happens for us in the most intense
experiences of life we sort of leave the clock behind in essence. That’s
actually first and foremost what the word aion means in the New Testament, so
when they are talking about eternal life, and Jesus said I have come to give you
eternal life it’s a quality of life lived in connection with God right now.”
This is the crux of Bell’s argument for his interpretation. The first problem is
that the Bible uses more than the two words aion and olam to describe “eternal
life”: aion and aionios can mean “age” or a “period of time,” they also mean
“eternal.” The context of the words determine its meaning. Bell focuses on the
meaning as a quality of life. I would like to know when Bell thinks they are
used as eternal, if at all.
In Matt 24:3 the disciples ask Jesus “And what will be the sign of Your coming,
and of the end of the age?”
The word age is aion. Are we to accept Bells assertion that they are asking
Jesus what will be the end of the quality of life? Or, as in Jewish thought the
end of the age when the kingdom of the Messiah would begin to rule.
In Matthew 25:32-34: “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall
separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then
shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: V.41:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: V.46 ‘And these
shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
We see the separating between the sheep and the goats, the dialogues between
Jesus as the judge and the persons judged would be meaningless if we take Bell’s
position. In fact, this would mean the devil and his angels have a second chance
and are potentially to be saved alongside the people. That is rank heresy. Bell
focuses on the word eternal ignoring the context and the actual point, Jesus
said of those to depart, they go into punishment that lasts without end. Bell
insists this is wrong.
Mt.25:46 describe everlasting punishment and everlasting life, both are eternal.
The Greek for everlasting (aiones) means always, continually, a forever concept.
The actual word used in Matt. 25.41, 46 is “aionion” which is from the root aion.
It is not the same meaning because it is not the exact same word. It means an
Let me refer to some actual scholars the church knows: “Matthew 25:46 [Into
everlasting punishment] The original word translated here as “punishment” means
torment, or suffering inflicted for crime. The noun is used but in one other
place in the New Testament-1 John 4:18: “Fear hath `torment.'“ The verb from
which the noun is derived is twice used-Acts 4:21; 2 Peter 2:9. In all these
places it denotes anguish, suffering, punishment. It does not mean simply a
“state or condition,” but absolute, positive suffering; and if this word does
not teach it, no word “could” express the idea that the wicked would suffer.”
“The original word-aionion (NT:164)-is employed in the New Testament 66 times.
Of these, in 51 instances it is used of the happiness of the righteous; in two,
of God's existence; in six, of the church and the Messiah's kingdom; and in the
remaining seven, of the future punishment of the wicked. If in these seven
instances we attach to the word the idea of limited duration, consistency
requires that the same idea of limited duration should be given it in the 51
cases of its application to the future glory of the righteous, and the two
instances of its application to God's existence, and the six eases of its
appropriation to the future reign of the Messiah and the glory and perpetuity of
the church. But no one will presume to deny that in these instances it denotes
unlimited duration, and therefore, in accordance with the sound laws of
interpretation and of language itself, the same sense of unlimited duration must
be given it when used of future punishment-Owen, in loc. (from Barnes' Notes).
Matthew 25:46 “But the same adjective aioonios (NT:164) is used with kolasin
(NT:2812) and zooeen (NT:2189). If by etymology we limit the scope of kolasin
(NT:2812), we may likewise have only age-long zooeen (NT:2189). There is not the
slightest indication in the words of Jesus here that the punishment is not
coeval with the life.”
“The word aioonios (NT:164) (from aioon (NT:163), “age,” “aevum,” aei (NT:103))
means either without beginning or without end or both. It comes as near to the
idea of eternal as the Greek can put it in one word. It is a difficult idea to
put into language. Sometimes we have “ages of ages” aioones (NT:163) toon
(NT:3543) aioonoon (NT:163). (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New
Matthew 25:46; “the same word is used to express the duration of the punishment,
kolasin (NT:2812) aioonion (NT:164), as is used to express the duration of the
state of glory: zooeen (NT:2189) aioonion (NT:164). I have seen the best things
that have been written in favour of the final redemption of damned spirits; but
I never saw an answer to the argument against that doctrine, drawn from this
verse, but what sound learning and criticism should be ashamed to acknowledge.
The original word aioon (NT:163) is certainly to be taken here in its proper
grammatical sense, continued being, aieioon, NEVER ENDING. Some have gone a
middle way, and think that the wicked shall be annihilated. This, I think, is
contrary to the text; if they go into punishment, they continue to exist; for
that which ceases to be, ceases to suffer. See the note at Genesis 21:33, where
the whole subject is explained.” (from Adam Clarke's Commentary)
Fausett dictionary states “the term for “everlasting” (aidiois) in Jud_1:6, “the
angels who kept not their first estate He hath reserved in everlasting chains
under darkness unto the judgment of the great day,” is from a word meaning
Vine’s Expository Dictionary: “The predominant meaning of aionios, that in which
it is used everywhere in the NT… may be seen in 2 Cor. 4:18, where it is set in
contrast with proskairos, lit., “for a season”… Moreover it is used of persons
and things which are in their nature endless… (in other words, it is never used
for a limited or set period of time)… Aionios is also used of the sin that ‘hath
never forgiveness’ (Mark 3:29), and of the judgment of God, from which there is
no appeal (Heb. 6:2), and of the fire, which is one of its instruments (Matt.
18:8) and which is elsewhere said to be ‘unquenchable,’ (Mark 9:43). The use of
aionios here shows that the punishment referred to in 2 Thess. 1:9 (Who shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from
the glory of his power) is not temporary, but final, and accordingly, the
phraseology shows that its purpose is not remedial (as Bell tries to make it out
to be) but retributive
From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 232, 233.3. aidios 126; see
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
It is bothersome for Bell to interpret the verse the way it is written. Bell has
no real ability to explain any of this besides his own feelings. If hell is not
experienced as eternal then neither is life. Because the same word “eternal” is
used for both the wicked suffering, and the repentant, living with God. If the
“eternal” punishment of the wicked is only temporary as cessasionists say, then
a time will come when God will no longer exist! Because the same term is used
for “eternal” punishment is used for the “eternal God” (we will look at this
logical flaw of interpretation after Bells position is made clear.) To try to
have this verse not mean what it says takes some fancy gymnastics, I’m amazed at
In the Fox News interview – Gretchen asks: “Now what do you think about hell
because I know that this has been a topic of controversy with your book, do you
believe that hell exists?”
Gretchen: “But you also believe hell exists currently in, on the earth we live,
in what way?
Bell: “Yes.” Bell then gives a story of a woman that gives him a paper of how
long she has gone not cutting herself. “So I see people in agony all the time.
We see hell we made up the phrase someone is going through hell – so I start
right now with the hell on earth.”
What is a false teacher? Someone who departs from Scripture, who rejects one or
more of the core doctrines. A core doctrine is part of foundational teaching
that can affect other doctrines connected to it. Cults are those that major on a
certain point and make it all encompassing. They change the meanings,
reinterpreting it to have a different view than Christianity holds. An example
of this is people that deny Jesus is God who came from heaven and became a man.
They concentrate on certain portions and intentionally ignore others.
Bell thinks the church has been putting words in God’s mouth by our
interpretation of an eternal punishment but it is he that is doing this by
rejecting God’s meaning of the words written by His Spirit, AND replacing it
with his interpretations.
Bell states: “Do I believe in a literal hell? Of course”(Love Wins p.71). This
is hardly an honest statement; of course Rob Bell does not deny the existence of
hell, he just recontextualized it by his own interpretation. “This liberal”
offers new definitions he believes are needed for our current generation. Bell
says Hell is “a word that refers to the big, wide, terrible evil that comes from
the secrets hidden deep without our hearts all the way to the massive,
society-wide collapse and chaos that comes when we fail to live in God’s world
God’s way” (p. 95). And the Scripture verse to back this up is ________. None:
because this is not how the Bible uses this word.
“Hell is a way of life out of sync with how God created us to live” (p. 147).
No, Jesus said it was sin. Hell is the consequence of unreprentant sin in this
life. Bell has substituted hell for sin. Jesus said “it is appointed for men to
die once, but after this the judgment,” (Heb.9:27). What judgment if there is no
hell after, just heaven.
Bell says: “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.” (Bell, “Velvet Elvis”, p.148)
That may be the worlds view (unbelievers in Christ) but not God’s. Jesus warned
of going to hell after ones life on earth. He loved us enough to warn those on
the wrong path to repent (such a nasty word).
Rob says there is a hell but his definition is not a biblical one. He has
adopted the Modern day genre of hell. The phrase someone is going through hell
is indeed made up, it’s a revision of the biblical word, it is not relative at
all to what Jesus actually meant. Jesus meant of someone going TO Hell. It is a
place that can only be arrived at when one dies.
In another interview by a Christian Post Reporter “When pressed several times on
whether he believes there is a hell, Bell only spoke of a hell on earth and
provided no indication that he believes in an eternal place of punishment.
“Is there hell? If not, does that take anything away from the cross?” one
participant posed to him Monday.
“I actually think there is hell because we see hell every day,” Bell answered.
Seeking a clear answer, Dr. Ronald C. Walborn, dean of Alliance Theological
Seminary in New York, probed the author again on his beliefs of an eternal hell.
“Do you believe, first of all, that hell is a real place or just on earth? And
if we do de-emphasize the doctrine of hell, what does that do to the motivation
for Christian mission?” he asked.
Again, Bell talked about the hell people create for themselves on earth.
“It's crucial that ... we come face to face with the power of our choices. We
can choose the way of compassion, of forgiveness, of generosity or we can choose
other paths and those have real consequences in the world,” the author
responded.” (Rob Bell Denies Being a Universalist By Lillian Kwon Christian Post
Bell uses the word hell in a secular manner. Jesus spoke of hell experienced after one dies,
never before. The actual word is Hades. A more accurate translation would be Sheol in Hebrew, which encompasses both Abraham’s bosom and hell. Sheol is used
65 times in the Old Testament. The New Testament Greek equivalent for Hades is
often interpreted as the realm of the dead. We find in Luke 16:23, 25 that Hades
can mean a place of torment, though it may equally be described as a place of
rest, in Abraham’s bosom, depending on which side you are on. The context should
bear it out.
The translation of the Hebrew word “sheol,” which signifies the unseen state.
Sheol is also translated as “pit,” “lowest pit,” “Sheol,”
Isa. 5:14; Isa. 14:9; Isa. 14:15; Isa. 28:15; Isa. 28:18; Isa. 57:9; Ezek.
31:16-17; Ezek. 32:21; Ezek. 32:27; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Hab. 2:5; Deut.
32:22; Ps. 86:13; Ps. 55:15; 2 Sam. 22:6; Job 11:8; Job 26:6; Ps. 9:17; Ps.
16:10; Ps. 18:5; Ps. 116:3; Ps. 139:8; Prov. 5:5; Prov. 7:27; Prov. 9:18; Prov.
15:11; Prov. 15:24; Prov. 23:14; Prov. 27:20; Gen. 37:35; Gen. 42:38; Gen.
44:29; Gen. 44:31; 1 Sam. 2:6; 1 Kin 2:6; 1 Kin 2:9; Job 7:9; Job 14:13; Job
17:13; Job 21:13; Job 24:19; Ps. 6:5; Ps. 30:3; Ps. 31:17; Ps. 49:14-15; Ps.
88:3; Ps. 89:48; Ps. 141:7; Prov. 1:12; Prov. 30:16; Eccl. 9:10; Song 8:6; Hos.
The translation of the Greek word “hades,” which signifies the unseen world
Matt. 11:23; Matt. 16:18; Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; Rev
1:18; Rev 6:8; Rev 20:13-14
The translation of the Greek word “gehenna” Matt. 5:22; Matt. 5:29-30; Matt.
10:28; Matt. 18:9; Matt. 23:15; Matt. 23:33; Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45; Mark
9:47; Luke 12:5; Jam 3:6
It should be evident that Bell’s belief in a hell, is not the biblical version.
To further solidify this fact …
Bell: “For many in the modern world, the idea of hell is a holdover from
primitive, mythic religion that uses fear and punishment to control people for
all sorts of devious reasons. And so the logical conclusion is that we've
evolved beyond all that outdated belief, right?” (Love Wins pp.69-70)
he doesn’t think the church is holding the biblical position of hell. We need to
listen to the worlds view on the bible to be in the truth.
Bell: “We need a word that refers to the big, wide, terrible evil that comes
from the secrets hidden deep within our hearts all the way to the massive,
society-wide collapse and chaos that comes when we fail to live in God’s world
God’s way.” And for that, the word 'hell' works quite well. Let’s keep it” (Love
Wins p.94). How about using the word sin, or a fallen world, corrupt, reserved
for judgment - Not Hell, because that word is not about this world but the one
Bell even gives himself a ripcord as he leaps to his own doom by stating: “the
highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others
who don’t articulate matters of faith as they do” (p. 185 Love Wins).
Is it his articulation that Believers that discern and are challenging or his lack
of doctrinal agreement with what the Bible has taught and been understood
plainly by students and scholars alike. Is Bells opinion the only voice to be
heard. Are we not allowed to speak? We can’t remain tepid when someone
challenges the core teachings of Scripture under the auspices of being a
Christian. Bell acts as if his position is allowed and makes others who stand
for the truth detractors. It is He that is ATTACKING the teaching that the
majority of Christians have held for centuries (except for the very few).
Bell refuses to believe God’s expression and meaning of words and he wants
you to believe his view of God’s love. Because Bell has a more compassionate
God, one who does not judge people or the decisions that are
sin in this life. You can say Rob is ringing his own bell… but in the end Bell
is just another foolish man who does not believe the word of God and thinks his
own reasoning is more compassionate and accurate than God’s Holy Spirit.
His doctrinal view on the afterlife can be classified as inventive and post
theological. He is able to turn an argument inside out with his lackadaisical
mischievous intellectual reasoning so that one ends up divorced from the words
“Love Wins” when it is spoken IN TRUTH. Paul makes it clear in 1 Cor. 13:6,
love… “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;” As we will see
Bell is not presenting the truth but is rejoicing in iniquity. Because, he has
people that live in sin and think they will be fine in the end without faith in the
gospel. Thus he has created a counterfeit love from a counterfeit God.
p2 The tragedy of not understanding the