Friday, March 4, 2011

Bell Hell?

Recently, there has been an intramural evangelical internet flame war (I think that should be the name of a sporting event) regarding Rob Bell's newest promo video and the comments made by some about that video and Bell's fidelity, or lack thereof, to the orthodox teaching on hell, and the comments questioning whether those comments were justified based solely on the promo video, and not on the book the video was promoting (since it hasn't been released yet). Look at what this has done to even me. It's caused me to publish this terrible run-on sentence!

Joking aside, I must say I'm pretty sympathetic to the Calvinists on this one. 1) Bell has given ample reason in the past to doubt his adherence to orthodoxy. 2) He's taught patently bad theology in his Numa videos and basically said that it wouldn't matter if Jesus hadn't really raised from the dead or hadn't really been born of a virgin in one of his books.

To point out this seeming lean toward universalism even before the release of the book isn't necessarily bad. Could the way the rhetoric was formulated have been better? Perhaps a couple of them could have toned it down a bit and been a bit more charitable, saying something like, "watch out because it looks like Bell could be promoting universalism here," or something, instead of condemning him to hell. However, some of the responses haven't been too spiffy either.

Bell has no one more to blame than himself for this situation. As Michael Patton points out, even if he doesn't hold to universalism, he released that silly video that gives the impression that he does. Look at what this dishonesty has done in causing separation among brethren (Jude 18-19). That alone should tell you something about Bell.

12 comments:

The Apologetic Front said...

"Bell isn't actually saying anything. He's just asking questions" is a comment I hear a lot of. The problem is not that Christians can't ask questions about hell and the necessity of Christ for salvation; its when Christian leaders with an influence like Bell stand on a very large platform and proclaim his doubts in a provocative way with a very large megaphone.

If Bell is having doubts about such things, that's fine. But he should consider stepping down rather than bringing many thousands of people alongside him in his doubts.

The Apologetic Front said...

(subscribing to comments, please delete)

kilo papa said...

Just wondering when you might do a post on how the central doctrine of your religion-the offering of blood from a barbaric human sacrifice up to the invisible man in the sky-is not the single most disgusting,
revolting,sickening,evil,Stone Age,Cro-Magnon,absurd,immoral bunch of lunacy that the human mind has ever concocted in the entire history of mankinds existence on this earth?

Did the multitude of cultures that practiced this inane garbage long before your Jesus appeared have the right idea but just had the wrong guy?

If there is a god somewhere, s/he is surely either astoundingly embarrassed or else laughing her/his ass off at deluded morons like yourself.

Is is truly possible that your deluded mind really doesn't realize how stupefyingly ridiculous that your religious belief is?

A.M. Mallett said...

kilo papa, you seem to have an awful lot of emotional investment in something that is so completely foolish in your estimation. Why is that?

kilo papa said...

@A.M. Mallett

Not emotional investment.
Just curiosity as to how otherwise rational people can believe the most irrational nonsense imaginable.

Thomas Jefferson said it well.
"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act on them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity."

He could just as easily have been talking about the virgin birth, blood sacrifice for atonement, penal substitution,etc.

Christine doctrine is asinine and absurd. So it needs to be met with the ridicule with which it so richly deserves.

thechemistscorner said...

I generally find that ridicule is a ruse intended to hide a lack of substantial argument. If you have a killer argument, it should do just fine on its own.

blogforthelordjesus said...

I don't see any problem with someone promoting universalism as long as Jesus Christ is exalted as the One whose propitiation was sufficient to get us all into heaven.

William Watson Birch said...

I want to purchase and read the book before reviewing it, so that I can quote from it directly, refuting its errors. I want to jump on the bandwagon because I'm not a fan of him or his theology, and that video promo was ridiculous and way too provocative (if he doesn't hold to Universalism -- which, to me, seems like he does in part at least). Ugh.

bossmanham said...

blog,

It's a problem if it luls people into a false sense of security in thinking they can do and believe whatever they want and, whatever the case, they'll be no ultimate consequence, especially if it's not true.

It's also a problem because it's a heresy, a false teaching brought in by wolves and deceivers.

Read Jude for starters.

Tony-Allen said...

Joking aside, I must say I'm pretty sympathetic to the Calvinists on this one. 1) Bell has given ample reason in the past to doubt his adherence to orthodoxy. 2) He's taught patently bad theology in his Numa videos and basically said that it wouldn't matter if Jesus hadn't really raised from the dead or hadn't really been born of a virgin in one of his books.

Bingo. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it opens its mouth...chances are it's going to quack again.

While I'm all for holding off judgment until a person has stated their case, Rob Bell's past history has only hurt him here (and the current reviews of the book seem to suggest fears were correct). What can we expect him to say when this topic comes up? The only possible way he could say anything to the contrary is if he's repented for his past teachings and wants to exposit a biblical theology. We can only expect a bad tree to bear more bad fruit, therefore Bell really needs to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matt 3:8).

It's a problem if it luls people into a false sense of security in thinking they can do and believe whatever they want and, whatever the case, they'll be no ultimate consequence, especially if it's not true.

One interesting dilemma I've found is in the Christian universalist argument that a person is judged according to how much they know. Of course, that's nowhere in scripture. However, my argument is that, logically speaking, that turns missionary work (commanded by Christ in Matthew 28:19-20) into one of the greatest hell-filling devices known to man.

Let me demonstrate this. Suppose you don't believe in Christ, and have never heard a proper demonstration of the gospel. Then I come along and, encountering you, preach the gospel to you. You reject it...and I've just condemned you to hell. It's my fault, because otherwise you were going to heaven! So if God loved all the world in a squishy, hippie-like sense, why did he command the disciples to go out and preach the gospel that He knew many would reject and therefore go to hell? Why didn't He just forbid missionary work and therefore keep everyone going to heaven?

Just my two cents on that matter.

bossmanham said...

Bingo. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it opens its mouth...chances are it's going to quack again.

Lol. Tony, you might find this post familiar.

Tony-Allen said...

Wowzers. I totally swear I was not trying to rip you off :P I plead the fizzeth, lawl.

Well, they say great minds think alike...now if we could find the other great mind besides you, that would be awesome...hmmm...