Hell. It’s one of the most controversial doctrines in all of Christianity right now. Personally, I think it’s great to get these conversations out there. One of the biggest problems in the church today is Biblical illiteracy, and it’s these conversations that often drive people back to the Bible to search for what it actually says on the subject. There are two popular authors at the center of this conversation right now, Rob Bell and Francis Chan. And the cover story of theis an article called Repainting Hell which features a sidebar Q&A from these two men. The full article is definitely worth a read, but I wanted to highlight a few key quotes from both Bell and Chan from that Q&A with each of them.
Rob Bell and Love Wins
It was Bell’s book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived that really kicked off the conversation. He was blamed for being a Universalist (everyone goes to Heaven) because he asked questions about what we know for certain. Here’s the video trailer for the book that stirred the pot, followed by a handful of quotes that I’ve pulled from the Neue Magazine Q&A with Bell.
- “This book comes out of [my belief] that Jesus came to show us, teach us and invite us into a relationship with a God who is good, and a God who is love.”
- “One of the things I traced is that heaven and hell in the Bible are present realities, they are dimensions of existence, they are choices we can make every day.”
- “The dominant story of the Bible is a God who wants to restore and renew and reconcile and redeem this world, which is our home.”
- “I try to help people [see]: ‘This is what the Bible actually says. Now, you’re free to believe whatever you want, but don’t make the Bible say things it doesn’t say.'”
- “Central to Jesus’ call was confession and repentance and owning up to the ways our hands are not clean in this.”
- “People choose hell now, I assume people, when you die, you can choose hell. So there’s no denial of hell here. There is a very real awareness that this is a clear and present reality that extends into the future.”
Francis Chan and Erasing Hell
Chan has since followed with a book called Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up. The book is his response to the questions that Bell raised in his mind, and the result of some deep study on what he believes the Bible says about hell. Here’s a video from Chan about the book, and the key quotes that I pulled from his Q&A in Neue Magazine.
- “If [Jesus] was trying to not have us feel any fear, I feel like He didn’t do a very good job at that.”
- “[Hell is] very real. It is a place we need to avoid at all costs.”
- “I was also surprised these passages are written to people who call themselves ‘believers’… It’s a very sobering thought and a very interesting warning.”
- “I’m most concerned about the people who don’t believe, and that they may have more of passive attitude toward it.”
- “If I tell someone there’s a hell and there really isn’t, I’ve ruined their lives. They carry this unnecessary burden for the whole time they’re on Earth.”
- “If I say there is no hell, and there is, then by the time people figure it out, the one’s I’ve convinced… I don’t even want to think of the consequences.”
Study it for yourself. One thing that I take from both of these men is that it’s important to study the Word for ourselves. We should never rely on what one person or popular culture says on the subject. We should only rely on the actual Word of God for answers like this. Where it get’s tricky is that there’s this overwhelming message of Love, but at the same time a realization that some will be punished. We have a difficult time reconciling those ideas, but the Bible does teach both. As far as I’m concerned, like Chan says, I don’t want to pretend that I know more than God… the same one that created me and the whole Universe. I struggle sometimes figuring out how to balance my checkbook. It would be unrealistic for me to think that God should do things according to my limited thinking. What do you believe about hell? And why?