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After controversy, Baptists affirm belief in ‘eternal’ hell

By ADELLE M. BANKS
c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS) Southern Baptists on Wednesday (June 14) called hell an “eternal, conscious punishment” for those who do not accept Jesus, rebutting a controversial book from Michigan pastor Rob Bell that questions traditional views of hell.

Citing Bell’s book “Love Wins,” the resolution urges Southern Baptists “to proclaim faithfully the depth and gravity of sin against a holy God, the reality of hell, and the salvation of sinners by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.”

Several leaders during the Baptists’ two-day meeting in Phoenix coupled warnings about hell with pleas for evangelism — especially in areas where there are no churches or missionaries.

“Is hell real? Is hell forever? Did God really say sinners would perish in eternal torment forever and ever?” asked pastor and author David Platt of Birmingham, Ala. “Oh, readers of Rob Bell and others like him, listen very carefully be very cautious, when anyone says, `Did God really say this?”‘

Bell’s book, released in March, criticizes the “misguided” view that “select Christians” will live forever in heaven while the rest of humanity will suffer eternal torment in a punishing hell.

Earlier this year, the Southern Baptist-affiliated Lifeway Christian Stores quietly removed warning labels from certain books — including Bell’s — that “could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology.”

“At the center of the Christian tradition since the first church has been the insistence that … hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins,” Bell wrote in “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Has Ever Lived.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright prayed that Southern Baptists would take to heart the statement they passed on hell.

“Father, because the reality of hell is so real, the permanent separation from you is so real, and our hours here on this earth are so limited, we pray that you will give us a fresh sense of conviction of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he prayed right after the resolution was adopted.

On Tuesday, Baptists elected a black pastor from New Orleans as first vice president, the highest office in the denomination ever held by a black man. Pastor Fred Luter of New Orleans is already being talked about as a prime candidate for SBC president next year.

“It’s a great feeling,” Luter said in an interview Wednesday, comparing his election to the accolades he received when he was tapped as the first African-American to give the convention sermon in 2001.

The mostly white denomination, which traces its roots to Civil War-era defense of slavery, voted Tuesday on specific measures to increase the ethnic diversity of its top leadership — which Luter cited as a genuine shift.

“I think the change is that the denomination is purposely at the point where we know we have to open up the doors for more ethnics to be involved in leadership roles in the convention,” he said.

As for a possible presidency, Luter said he’s not campaigning.

“I do hear the people talking,” he said. “They talk to me about it. But I’ve been telling them, ‘Let’s just take this one day at a time, one year at a time.’ … I’m praying about it and just praying that God will just lead us.”



  • http://readyourbible Griffin Savard

    Anyone who seriously reads their bible will know the truth. Quit blindly following these wolves in sheep’s clothing
    how come its not mentioned in the opld testament?

  • http://readyourbible Griffin Savard

    Hebrews did not believe in eternal torment. The Greeks had a metaphysical idea of torture. The catholic church started this doctrine of demons

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    I am sure certain demonic personages will be glad that the SB’s still believe in Hell. In this era of extended uneployment, I would not want to see out of work imps and devils in the soup kitchen lines. Of course, there may still be work for them in the financial sector, and congressional lobbyists may have jobs in the mail room for them as well. But if the SBs are keeping Hell in business, I guess all is right with the world. It is good to know on what they orient their outlook on life.

    Of course, I always thought we were supposed to keep looking ahead and that God’s realm was at hand. But I guess playing keep away is more fun for some folks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Well, I KNOW I’m seriously worried,being Pagan and all! NOT. They are the Southern Baptists after all and it is their job to continue the Hellfire and Brimstone theology. If they didn’t do it—who would? Good Grief!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Grumpy Old Person

    They invented it, let ‘em live in it, say I.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dave

    It’s a shame this actually had to be done. People these days will be anything BUT the Truth. I’m sure it makes it a lot easier believing there’s no eternal consequences for your actions.

    2 Timothy 4:3 – For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

  • http://Www.lovefreedomandevil.com Lewis

    As an FYI to those interested in Bell’s theology: A full length book has recently been released challenging Bell’s assumptions in Love Wins. It’s entitled Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authrntic Love Require Free Will? published with Rodopi Press (New York/Amsterdam, June 2011). You can find out more here if interested: http://www.lovefreedomandevil.com

    Blessings!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Dave, Not everyone has the same “truth”.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    I’m going to go with the Principia Discordia on this issue, which teaches that hell is reserved for those who believe in it, with the worst part set aside for those who believe because they think they’ll go there if they don’t.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Darrel

    The willful ignorance of men is nothing new. Wishing that the eternal damnation that awaits those who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God and that salvation resides in Him alone, will have no solace when they find themselves standing before the Holy God whom they chose not to believe existed. Hell will become immediately real as will the fact that reconciliation to God by Jesus Christ is now impossible-you have mocked Him for the last time.

    Repent of your inate wickedness and call on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you now. Soon enough it will indeed be too late.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    OMG Darrel. Looks like you have had a large cup of Kool Aid. Enjoy.

  • http://www.logosapologia.org Cris Putnam

    “Not everyone has the same “truth”. ”

    There is only one truth. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Now people may be uninformed or misinformed as many posting here appear to be, but the truth does not change due to your knowledge or lack there of. The truth is that no one taught more about hell than Jesus Christ. He said things like, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”(Mt 5:29-30)

    Hell is a serious matter.

    You can believe Jesus or not. What is not an option is to call yourself his follower when you don’t.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Yes, Hell could be a serious matter if one happened to believe in it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    pagan you don’t have to believe in it but that does not make it untrue, its just easier to not believe for many like yourself. I personally don’t care if you don’t believe although I do care that you will as a result of your actions suffer it unless you see the light at some point in your life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Darrel

    All of us are evil to the very core of our being. There is nothing that any of us could do to change that, or to appease the righteous wrath of the God who created us. An honest appraisal of our lives would find sin to be present on a daily basis. Whether we want it to be there or admit/deny it’s existance does not change the fact of it’s presence and hold on our life. Inspite of this “He is kind to the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35). Our sin is so great that we love (and spend coutless hours) to try to convince ourselves and others that He does not exist. But if He does exist, we have dumbed Him down to a level we can understand and control. “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God'” (Psalms 14:1). We know we have sinned against Him and have conjured up a vision of Him that He will wink at our sins and let it pass. Inspite of our endless list of sins, there is ultimately one sin that seals our fate for eternity: we refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross to satisfy the righteous requirement of His Father for the payment due Him on account of our sins. The Father gave His Son as a sacrifice on the cross and “laid upon Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6) so that we would not have to pay for our own sins-a payment we could never make. The Father showed that He was pleased and satisfied with the sacrifice that His Son had freely and willing ly made by raising Jesus from the dead three days later. The Father and the Son have provided the means of salvation for men and the Holy Spirit now works in the hearts of men to convince them of their need for this salvation. Most men turn a deaf ear to His overtures. They refuse to turn from their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to the saving of their own soul.

    It is the rejection of Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind that condemns a person to eternal hell. John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.” Two verses earlier: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cld912

    “He fashioned hell for the inquisitive. [Lat., Curiosis fabricavit inferos.]”
    Saint Aurelius Augustine

    i guess st A thinks anyone who uses google is going. :-?

    “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell”
    Oscar Wilde

    hence the need for therapy :)

    i wonder if those SBs who supported slavery are going now that the SB know slavery is bad or does believing in Jesus mean you can say or do anything?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    Darel
    You bought the “company line”, swallowing hook & sinker and all.

    God said of all creation “It is Good” – that includes a’dam (of the soil). God blesses all humanity first, condemns us for our sinful misdeeds and basic obstreperous, obnoxiousness; and blesses us once more by grace. Two blessings beat a single damn.

    Hell is used to try and control people like they are four years old and the boogiemonster is in the closet or under the bed. Take threats out of the equation and the whole picture changes. All of a sudden people realize they don;t have to operate from fear, that Hell is not the light at the end of the tunnel (nor is a train), and that hope is for heroes, not sissies. Grow up, accept responsibility, and bein to live as if you are indeed a citizen of God’s realm, not mortgaged to some overeager loan officer with questionable fashion sense and no sense of humor.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    jest how come Jesus spoke of hell so often, how dare you place your teachings above the bible, is it just an attempt to tickle the ears of your atheist buddies and promote homosexuality? After all why not sin if there is no punishment for it a holy God who condomes unholy behavior is that your sermon for this week?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    jestrfyl: Like I have said so much in the past—if indeed I return to a Christian church one day—it would be back to the UU’s or to a UCC, hoping the minister is simular to you. Excellent post.

    BTW: Happy Father’s Day to the men of these threads. Enjoy.

    cknuck: The same can be said of believing in hell—doesn’t make it true.

    Darrel: “All of us are evil to the very core of our being.” Holy Cow. Did you drink 2 cups of Kool Aid yesteday morning? I didn’t even bother with the rest of your long story. I’m sure the rest involved in being saved etc. by a Divine Being. That statement is so far out of truth it, IMO, is totally ridiculous. If that thought was what being a Christian was all about (and I happen to know from experience it isn’t) then this world would be in even worst shape than it is. What a totally pessimestic outlook on the world as a whole. I feel sorry for you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Charlie

    Philosophy learned in the lower academic world (read university system) does not impress me or the god of the bible….rather it tends to melt away when exposed to the real world, and I aint talking about MTV.

    This is why the presuppositions of that university universe, when regurgitated in agnostic posts here, tend to be laughed at.

    All the arguements against a just God actually bow their knee to “Jesus loves me”. God confirming His word thru history and in the present by miracles precludes beleivers from doing much more than laughing, with God, at the pretentious thought police grand standing against Christ.
    I personally see plenty of room in scripture for the anihilation doctrine of the 7th Day Adventists but hearing that the SBs reaffirmed the existance of a literal hell is…well…comforting.

    To those who have left Jesus for self love my hope is that you find a local felowship in the future that exposes how little you actually knew of the faith you now reject.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    a whole lot of southern baptist are African American the whole slave argument is simply a poor diversion introduced by folk whose family tree probably includes slave owners.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    pagan quote, “then this world would be in even worst shape than it is.”
    guess what pagan IT IS in a lot worse shape then your small suburban world view. And you are doing very little about it except championing sexual diversity (homosexuality) So my friend if you cannot even have a realistic worldview how on earth can you possibly be an authority on hell?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    cknuck, can you name a period in your life when there were NO problems anywhere in the world? Since we are, I believe, about the same age (Viet Nam era), then I think that you can’t find a time when everything was just perfect. No wars, no starving children( China used to be a popular example of starvation until the communists took care of that), no threat of some sort—let’s see: WWII, Korea, Nam, etc., etc., etc. In there we had the Cold War—USSR was going to get us with Nukes—-think you get the idea. This world has NEVER had a time when something nasty was happening. Somehow we’re all still here.
    With the attitude of Darrel—he represents the Doom & Gloom Christian, IMO. As for what I do or don’t do? You have no idea what I do in my “small suburban world?” Oh, FYI, I do do other things besides promote equality for everyone—

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Oh, chnuck—how do you know what my world view is? You don’t.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    we all pretty much know each other’s worldview through our conversations of course you can deny it but you know me and I know you, pretty much. If it helps any I don’t like it sometimes when I get called on suff.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Boots

    Poppycock. Religion, money & power are the three roots of the tree of evil. All the wars ever fought were a result of one or more of the roots. If everyone were a humanist all of that would disappear and the world would be a much nicer place.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    In Drivers’ Ed students are told that they will steer toward whatever direction they are looking. So if you spend all your time looking at or looking for Hell, you are sure to drive right into it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Michael

    The Bible is full to the brim with false statements, contradictions and immoral actions committed by the God of Abraham. Without this book the religious zealots that argue for the existence of hell have NOTHING to support their arguments. All they have is circular reasoning, they have zero evidence in the real world. What reason does an intelligent person who has not been indoctrinated in Christianity or any other religion have to become a believer?

    One of the zealots made a comment here that truth exists outside what Man thinks. Yes, You’re spot on. The truth of the universe and reality exist outside of the delusions and psychological hold that religion has on your feeble mind. And you don’t even realize what it’s done to your mind. I really feel sorry for you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Darrel

    Michael, if you hold the Bible and the God of Abraham in such disdain why do you bother to capitalize both? Perhaps it is that you know that the claims He lays on your life are in fact true and that one day soon enough you will stand before Him alone and give an account to Him for all of your actions, words and thoughts while you were afforded life on His earth. Truth is that you now breath because He is kind to the unthankful-that would be you, Michael. You have life and even the ability to curse Him because He is kind to YOU. He is so kind to you that He has provided a means for you to be forgiven for ALL of your sins against Him: the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ the Righteous. It is by the shedding of His blood and subsequent resurrection that you have eternal life offered to you. Will you spit in His Face yet again by turning down His offer?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Michael

    I capitalize those words because it is proper grammar. I’m referring to a specific deity and it is proper to capitalize “God of Abraham.” Also the “Bible” is a book title, therefore it too is supposed to be capitalized. I’m not going to not follow what I was taught about the English language as a show of defiance nor am I going to follow them specifically in this case as a show of reverence.

    Now I find it curious that you believe that the God of Abraham is a kind and just god. With all his supposed infinite wisdom he has made it that in our very short FINITE life times our only ticket out of an INFINITE damnation is to believe in something we are unable to prove? This isn’t the 4th century anymore, we’re able to seek out information about our world outside of what our parents or what our little village tells us is true about the universe. We can now see that there our thousands of little villages and thousands more little interpretations about our universe backed by nothing but the tradition that it has been handed down generation to generation and their claims about the consequences such as an infinite otherworldly damnation for not believing.

    Secular laws and secular reasoning will always have the potential to be morally superior to the laws of any man made religion. And before someone goes off mouthing off about Stalin, I did say potential. The U.S. Constitution is a fine example of the superiority of modern secular morals in comparison to the laws of the God of Abraham in the Bible. I can worship or not worship any god I choose without the threat of being killed, can’t say the same for the Israelites in the Bible. Also I’m not, in my finite lifetime, subject to an infinite punishment in hell, in the Constitution we have a clause against cruel and unusual punishment.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Darrel

    So, Michael, what happens to the other six billion people on this earth who do not have the supposed benefit of our (soon to be null and void) constitution? Was not our constitution based on the Law that you say is of no effect; of course it was. Perhaps if you would read the Bible as ‘God speaking to you’ instead of trying to make it unravel so as to support your contentions of a godless world and a godless eternity, then you would begin to see just how illogical it is to believe there is no God who will require you to give an accounting of yourself to Him.

    Romans chapter one is a great place to start. After that, the first three chapters of the Book of John. Less than an hour’s worth of reading. An hour that could change everything for you.

    It is grace (the grace of God) through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that saves a man. All of which is a gift from God. And none of which we can do for ourselves.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Michael

    First of all, our Constitution was not based on Biblical laws nor did the founders set out to create a Christian nation. These are easily debunked lies or misrepresentation told by people that are trying to revise history to fit their view of the world. Anyone who has read up on the history of that time and read the words of the various unique men that made up the Founder’s would know that they were extremely well educated and well read into the political philosophy of the time. Political philosophers such as Locke, Montesquieu and Hobbes are the foundation of our Constitution. The social contract, three branches of government, freedom to speech…Where is that in the Bible? There is nothing at all biblical about the Constitution.

    As far as me reading the Bible, I’m very well read in the Bible. I’m curious if, as you should be able to according to Mark, you can as a believer drink poison without being harmed, exorcise demons, handle deadly serpents, speak in strange tongues(this one’s easy) or heal the sick by touching them(This one’s hard) Also I do have to say John is an odd gospel. Written about a century after Jesus’s supposed death and it happens to have the longest and most detailed speech’s spoken by Jesus, of all the gospel’s. But yea, it’s all reliable and believable.

    Also Darrel you want me to read the Bible through a Christian paradigm, correct? Well why don’t you read the Qur’an through an Islamic paradigm? I mean if you read the Qur’an in that way you’ll certainly see that Muhammad was a prophet sent by Allah and Jesus was just another prophet in a long line of prophet’s. All you have to do is suspend all thought and questions, You’ll certianly see that the Qur’an is the word of Allah. Please I implore you to do so in order to find the higher truth.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Michael

    And no I’m not Muslim, I hope you can detect a bit of sarcasm in those last few lines lol.

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